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Timeline for the ultra-early Archer rush

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  • Timeline for the ultra-early Archer rush

    Early warfare rocks. There's nothing what cripples an AI more than if it loses 1-2 cities early on, in a time, when it has only 3-4 cities. If this happens, this AI civ is usually not able to catch up anymore and will serve as a faithful vassal, punching bag or buffer zone, depending on our point of view. In the result, we are the biggest fish around, the others respect us and fear our might.

    This strategy is nothing new. It's a summary of Vels oscillating wars and several warrior and archer based openings. It's just a try to make some kind of time-based reference guide, for starters. And may be for those, who think, that Archers suck - anyone here around? They don't, believe me. They are cheaper than horsemen and swordsmen, need at most one tech, and if they are veterans, they have good chances against all regular units but Hoplites. Well, and Legionaries, but they come significantly later and can be avoided by iron denial.

    So our goal is it to cripple our neighbors and to be the #1 on our continent, before the civs discover Writing and are able to forge alliances against us. Further, we do not want to fire our GA.

    Difficulty level:
    Tested on levels from Regent to Emperor. It could work on Deity too, but you probably need a good amount of battle fortune... and, probably you can't fight against several civs at once. Also, the effects will be less on Deity, as the civs build very fast, and Archers suck if it comes to Swordsmen. Let's say, best are the popular levels Monarch and Emperor.

    Map preferences:
    Anything but Archipelago is fine. Map size should be standard or less, because on larger maps the civs are too far apart for our slow movers. If choosing a tiny map, it should be a pangea to ensure we have enough opponents on our initial landmass. Map settings do not matter much, although wet maps are a bit better, because they have slightly more grassland. We need 2 green tiles per city, preferably shielded. Wheat or cattle on plains or game in forests is also fine. Forest and jungle don't matter much, since we attack with slow movers. Hills and mountains are good for their defense bonus.

    Production preferences:
    We assume, that our worker succeeds to mine tiles, so that every city has 2 tiles that produce both 2 food and 2 shields. That should be not hard to achieve. If the terrain is very poor, either restart or build a second worker, which means another small delay. We build 3 cities 3-apart from our capital. This means, that we should not suffer corruption in these cities, and can move our defenders around in 1 turn, if the civs counterattack. The first two cities produce warriors to explore and for first garrisons, until they can afford to build settlers. This should give us 6-8 warriors, enough to explore, garrison and fight barbarians. After the first settler is built, we assume, that the mines are ready and that a size-1 city produces 3 shields and a size-2 city 5 shields. After mining is finished, our worker(s) build roads towards the meanwhile discovered neighbors.

    Choosing the right civ:
    We need Warrior code for archers and Bronze working for spearmen. So we should choose either a militaristic or a scientific civ. If we take in account, that we probably can trade for techs with the AI's we discover, other civs should work too, but we want to plan our success. Militaristic civs have my clear preference, because they promote units faster and build cheaper barracks:

    Germans: Best civ for this strategy. Starts with both needed techs and can research Iron Working first. This gives the opportunity to upgrade the city garrisons to swordsmen later, which gives a good backup if one of our waves fails or if the civs counterattack with wandering archers or warriors. Fast promotions, cheap barracks. No ancient UU. Another advantage: If you are the Germans, you can't have them as neighbors. A

    Chinese: Mining and road building is very fast. Starts with Warrior code and enjoys cheap barracks and fast promotions. No ancient UU. A-

    Russians: Scouts allow cheap and fast exploration and can be used to fool and distract enemy counterattacks. Starts with Bronze Working. Expensive barracks though. No ancient UU. Germans as neighbors are a risk. B

    Persians: Mining and road building is very fast. Starts with Bronze working. Strong ancient UU, not necessary for this strategy, but a nice-to-have backup, if something goes wrong. Expensive barracks. B

    Aztecs: Jaguar warriors allow fast exploration, but should not be used in combat, to avoid an early GA. Starts with Warrior code and enjoys cheap barracks and fast promotion. B

    Zulus: Fastmoving scouts to explore and distract the enemy forces. Cheap barracks, fast promotion. Could be a good civ for the Archer rush, but their bronze unit is a fastmoving UU, which doesn't interact very well with Archers, but better with Horsemen. Using this strategy for sure leads to an early GA. C+

    Romans: Have neither a fast moving unit for scouting, nor are they industrious. The iron unit is a quite powerful UU, which is a nice-to-have backup, but would trigger the GA too early. Start with Warrior code, cheap barracks, fast promotion. Start for sure next to the Greeks (Hoplites!), which is negative for this strategy. Thus: C

    Japanese: Unapplicable, unless they manage to trade for one of the two required techs, as they start with The Wheel. They could try it without Spearman, but that's a big risk. Cheap barracks, fast promotion, no ancient UU. C

    Babylonians: Their Archer unit is a conglomerate of the conventional Archer and the Spearman. Only one unit type needed, but unfortunately, it's an UU and ensures an early GA, which is negative. C

    Greeks: Their bronze unit is an early pikeman and very powerful. Unfortunately, it's an UU and ensures an early GA, which is negative. Same as with the Babs. C

    The remaining civs are neither militaristic nor scientific, need to trade for both techs, have no cheap barracks and no fast promotions. They rate D at best.

    Research preferences:
    Depends on the civ. Germans research Iron working first. Their next research doesn't matter anymore. Militaristic civs research Bronze working first and Iron working second. Scientific civs research Warrior code first and Iron working second.

    Time line
    The time line is designed for militaristic civs. Other civs need 4-5 turns more, since they have to build full 40 shield barracks.

    4000BC (Turn  1) Initial Settler founds City1
    3000BC (Turn 21) City1 builds Settler1
    2850BC (Turn 24) Settler1 founds City2
    2150BC (Turn 41) City1 builds Settler2, set to build Barracks
                     Warrior code or Bronze Working discovered
    2030BC (Turn 44) City2 builds Settler3, set to build Barracks
                     Settler2 founds City3, set to build Barracks
    1910BC (Turn 47) Settler3 founds City4, set to build Barracks
    We have four cities now. They support 16 units for free, which is enough for a comfortable attack. Now, we concentrate on building units. We should build veteran units, that's safer, considering the often unlucky combat results. Scientific civs could try to use regulars, but that's risky. As this timeline is for Militaristic civs, we start with barracks.

    1870BC (Turn 48) City1 builds Barracks, set to build Spearman
    1750BC (Turn 51) City2 builds Barracks, set to build Archer
                     City3 builds Barracks, set to build Archer
                     City1 reaches size 2
    1675BC (Turn 54) City4 builds Barracks, set to build Archer
                     City2 reaches size 2
                     City3 reaches size 2
                     City1 builds Spearman1, set to build Spearman
    1600BC (Turn 57) City2 builds Archer1
                     City3 builds Archer2
                     City4 reaches size 2
    1575BC (Turn 58) City1 builds Spearman2, set to build Archer
    1525BC (Turn 60) City4 builds Archer3, set to build Archer
    1500BC (Turn 61) City2 builds Archer4, set to build Archer
                     City3 builds Archer5, set to build Archer
                     First task force with 1 Spearman and 5 Archers leaves
    Hopefully, at this point our scouting warriors have discovered the first victim. Any civ but the Greeks fit for prey. Go guys, capture 1-2 cities and burn some others.

    1475BC (Turn 62) City1 builds Archer6, set to build Settler
    1425BC (Turn 64) City4 builds Archer7, set to build Archer
    1400BC (Turn 65) City2 builds Archer8, set to build Settler
                     City3 builds Archer9, set to build Settler
    1325BC (Turn 68) City4 builds Archer10, set to build Settler
                     City1 builds Settler4
                     Second task force with 1 Spearman and 5 Archers leaves
    The second task force can either backup the first (if you have no luck in combat), or go another direction to rush a second neighbor. Our cities are size 2 now, time to build some Settlers.

    1250BC (Turn 71) City2 builds Settler5
                     City3 builds Settler6
    1175BC (Turn 74) City4 builds Settler7
    After building Settlers, our 4 old cities switch back to Spearmen/Archers, to build reinforcements. The new cities build defenders and new Settlers.

    By now, our first war should be victorious and we should try to make peace for tech, money, and may be another city. The 4 new cities we build towards the crushed enemy, claiming land. Our remaining forces go to the second battlefield, to unite with the other army. After the 2nd victory (about 800BC), the remaining forces should be combined to one army and eventually thrown to crush a third neighbor.

    If all went well, around 500BC we should have about 15 cities (10-12 built, 3-5 captured, a few razed), while our 2-3 neighbors should have at most 3-5. Time to consolidate our empire. Switch to builder and return to war at need, especially when Knights show up.

    Sometimes, there is only one neighbor to attack, or 2 neighbors very close each to other. In this luck case, we need a smaller army (1 Spearman, 7 Archers is fine), which can be completed earlier and sent first towards one enemy, then the close other. Talk about luck .

    Try it. It's fun.

    It's better to take 2 instead of 1 Spearman. First, because with bad luck one could be killed and undefended Archers die like flies, and second, because you'll need defenders for the captured cities. I play the Archer rush in 2 games out of 3 and mostly attack with 2 Spearmen and 4-6 Archers, depending on terrain. Only if I see after Iron working, that I already have iron, I might mix in a couple of Swordsmen, but take the Spearmen nevertheless, because they take the counterattacks and leave the Swordsmen not injured.

  • #2
    I have tried it before

    Sometimes when I do my small or tiny map early rush on deity I find myself stuck with no resources. As I don't like giving up on games I often go the archer rush route... I usually have barracks in some of my cities already and it's easy enough to make the switch usually. First time I tried it I was the Persians, and even though I started next to the Zulus I managed to take them out down to two cities and secure an Iron source for myself... I was well set after that. Only problem with the mixed approach is it takes longer for you to get off the ground, especially if you've already built a few vet warriors expecting to be able to upgrade them.


    • #3

      Thanks for putting in the effort of typing all that up. Here's an idea: get yourself a decent starting spot, get all of that set up, and post saves before & after attacking with your archers. Should be interesting.

      You know my tendencies... I wait a bit longer and hit a lot harder.

      grog want tank...Grog Want Tank... GROG WANT TANK!

      The trick isn't to break some eggs to make an omelette, it's convincing the eggs to break themselves in order to aspire to omelettehood.


      • #4
        Arrian, I will post an example as soon as I get home. May I meanwhile point your attention on this picture, posted earlier. It shows a "half" setup with 2 cities and was complete around 2300BC. With the vet spearman and the 3 vet archers I took Delhi, and with the 2 additional archers (cities are building) I managed to take Washington about 2000BC.

        A "full" setup (4 cities as described) will last a few centuries longer, but is less risky. Of course, what I described, is an ideal, but you can come quite close, provided you have the right terrain.


        • #5
          Yeah, I remember you posting that quick shot w/two cities and a few archers on their way to bring death and destruction to India.

          I'd like to see the before/after shots of the full-blown setup, because I want to compare what you can accomplish in 1500-1000BC to what my games look like.

          grog want tank...Grog Want Tank... GROG WANT TANK!

          The trick isn't to break some eggs to make an omelette, it's convincing the eggs to break themselves in order to aspire to omelettehood.


          • #6
            Very good article, Sir Ralph, congrats!
            I want to ask you a few things...
            First what do you do with your first army? Do you attack a city or do you pillage?
            Second, from your experience what are the chances of taking a city defended by two spearmen?
            Third, what casualties do you expect to have?
            Forth, if you manage to get a city what do you do next? You leave your army there to defend it or you go on with your attack? What do you build in the captured city?

            From my experience (but I play random settings) it usually isn't possible to build 3 cities who are both near the capital and at good sites. In my last game the second city was great, near the capital and at a great site. Next two were near the capital, but on a so and so place. Then the next one I had to cross a desert to build it near some wines.

            In another game, second city again was on a good site and near the capital but from then on no other good spots near the capital. Third city was near the capital but there were mountains in between and the site wasn't very good. Forth city was built far away from the capital and fifth near the capital but on a terrible site. In any case I was on an island

            Anyway, I think your strategy is very interesting in certain situations and I really thank you for taking the time to write down exact details.



            • #7
              Originally posted by Alkis
              First what do you do with your first army? Do you attack a city or do you pillage?
              Main objective is the enemy capital. It's usually the only city I can capture. After I got it, I may try to raze a few more cities, if enough forces remained.

              Second, from your experience what are the chances of taking a city defended by two spearmen?
              If I have a choice, I go for non-scientific civs (e.g. India if I'm China, or England and France, if I'm Germany). They usually haven't spearmen early on. To answer your question: 5 vet Archers kill 2 regular Spearmen almost for sure. The odds are high, but it may happen that you lose though. Bad luck happens.

              Third, what casualties do you expect to have?
              In my experience, up to 50%. It's essential to send reinforcements, as described. Once you took one city and razed another, the AI's will gladly make peace to save their skins, eventually giving you another city. Sometimes it's really stupid. Once they sent 3 barb-promoted Warriors to attack a captured city, which was defended by one wounded Archer. My attack had faltered due to bad luck and I barely had managed to hold this one city. I sued for peace, and instead of saying f*ck you, the AI gladly agreed, gave me one more city, techs and all it's gold. Dumb.

              Forth, if you manage to get a city what do you do next? You leave your army there to defend it or you go on with your attack? What do you build in the captured city?
              Usually nothing, as it will be completely corrupt. If my spearman survived, I usually start Barracks and use it as military base. If not, I start to build a Spearman (or send one from the Motherland) and defend it with Archers meanwhile. Generally, the idea is not to win a city, but to take it away from the AI.

              From my experience (but I play random settings) it usually isn't possible to build 3 cities who are both near the capital and at good sites.
              1 city next to my capital has to be good. The 3rd and 4th city can be in the forest, as they haven't to build quick settlers. That's even good, because you haven't to mine.


              • #8
                Ok, here is a game. I looked up my savegames, but I had none from this early time, so I had to set up a small test game. I wanted to make it cheap, so I have chosen a good civ (Chinese) on a small pangaea map. Difficulty is Emperor. Here are the highlights:

                3600BC: Contact to the Americans (their scout found me)
                3150BC: Contact to the Iroquois (I met their scout), sighted the American borders
                2950BC: Founded City2, sighted the Iroquois borders
                2030BC: Founded city3 and City4
                1350BC: Attacked America <*savegame*>
                1275BC: Washington falls
                1175BC: Boston destroyed, peace treaty for 2 cities, contact to the Japanese, world map and 53 gold. <*savegame*> The same turn I traded for contact with all other civs and caught up in tech. It was a big help, that nobody but me knew the Iroquois yet. - see savegame
                1125BC: Attacked the Iroquois <*savegame*>
                1100BC: Captured Allegheny
                1025BC: Destroyed Oil Springs
                975BC: Got a leader! The same turn lost my spearman. Made peace for 1 city, world map and gold (not much) <*savegame*>

                Result: I'm still in the middle of the powergraph, but look at the space I made to settle and at the tendency. The next moves will see me raise like a bubble. I have a Great Leader for a well placed FP (probably near the Iroquois). I have 13 cities, the Americans 3 and the Iroquois 5, and it's still 975BC. I'm 2 techs behind, but I could easily afford to trade for it. There is a army of 5 archers and 1 spearman near the Americans, may be I beat the 2 techs out of them? At least I have all chances to win the ancient age, and still could wage a horseman rush, for instance on Japan (they are too far for slowmovers).
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  I'll download it either tonight or tomorrow night and check it out. Sounds like it worked pretty darn well in this case, given the fact that you got a leader. How often does that happen? The difference between your gains (and AI losses) with versus without that leader are pretty significant.

                  grog want tank...Grog Want Tank... GROG WANT TANK!

                  The trick isn't to break some eggs to make an omelette, it's convincing the eggs to break themselves in order to aspire to omelettehood.


                  • #10
                    Well, the leader was a bit lucky, as it was only the 4th or 5th elite win. I don't use this approach in every game, only if my enemies are nearby. I think, I get a leader about 1 time out of 3 in this stage. It would be too easy otherwise .


                    • #11

                      American campaign (This one I wrote down):
                      Lost: 2 warriors (my scouts, which I set to pillage roads). 2 of my archers survived with 1 hp only.
                      Killed: 2 warriors, 4 spearmen
                      Gained: 3 cities (+1 razed), 3 workers

                      Iroquois campaign (As far as I remember):
                      Lost: 2 archers, 1 spearman
                      Killed: 3 warriors, 2 spearmen, 1 archer
                      Gained: 2 cities (+1 razed), no workers


                      • #12
                        1 out of 3 ain't bad. That's a .333 average, which would make you millions as a baseball player. But I digress.

                        Hmm... 2 crippled AI civs, 1 leader, 975 BC. A well-placed FP in 975 BC is extremely powerful. You will not have time to build up a large army before the AI fields pikeman, especially on Emperor, but you could probably go with a horseman -> Rider upgrade and then go on an early M.A. rampage.

                        grog want tank...Grog Want Tank... GROG WANT TANK!

                        The trick isn't to break some eggs to make an omelette, it's convincing the eggs to break themselves in order to aspire to omelettehood.


                        • #13
                          Yeah, GOTM8 over at CivFanatics is with the Germans, and I used this strategy to severely hamper both the English and the Russians.
                          "I used to be a Scotialist, and spent a brief period as a Royalist, but now I'm PC"
                          -me, discussing my banking history.


                          • #14
                            Very nice strategy Sir Ralph, but I think that the Babylonians should be pretty good at this strategy too. Primarily, because I have had success using them in this way.

                            My reasons are the following:

                            1) Only need to build Bowmen, not Spearmen, allowing greater flexibility in the attack. For example, suppose you have 6 units parked on the back door of an enemy civ. If they are all Bowmen, then they defend as well as spearmen, and then on the counter attack, all can attack with attack=2.

                            While, in mixed group, there might be 4 Archers and 2 Spearmen. Suppose you succeed and want to regroup and move on, but only have two wounded Spearmen to defend your Archers. With Bowmen, anyone will serve as a defender, allowing flexibility in regrouping (keep the momentum going).

                            2) The GA should not be triggerred before at least 4 cities are built and thriving. The acceleration due to the GA will allow a faster build and greater numbers of veteran Bowmen in the attacks. The AI is more easily crushed early vs. later. Why do we want to delay our GA until as late as the modern era (in the case of the Germans). I have to think that Firaxis intended the early GA to be of some utility, whether it can be fully utilized is as well as a GA in the middle ages is a good question.

                            3) The bigger reason why the Babs are more difficult is that the Scientific/Religous attributes are not great for war mongering (e.g., full price barracks). This is why I thing the Zulu (Military/Expansionist) are so great even though they only get a defensive unit. The early GA with Zulu can be very powerful (after horses).

                            Consequently, the Babs are better for the Warmonger/Builder. Make an early land grab, and try to build your way up. Inevitably, there has to a few more wars along the way to succeed (at Emperor level).


                            • #15
                              Ah, yes....The glorious Archer rush. I've used this strategy many times with great success . The inly thing I do differently is that I attack even earlier with only a puny force of 2 to 4 Archers. There were times I only used 2. Of course, the main benefit is that the AI civs usually still have Warriors as garrisons who are of course no match for a veteran or elite Archer. I usually kill one or two Civs with Archers before switching to Builder mode .