A Different World

Inspired by Sirian's First World game report where he wrote about his first ever Civ 3 game, I have decided to do the same for Civ 4. Why? Because I think it might be interesting (and amusing ) to read about all the mistakes an old Civ 3 veteran like myself makes when frantically trying to adapt to a completely Different World than he's used to...

You see, I've played 43 of the 50 Epics at the Realms Beyond tournament, I've participated in several succession games at CivFanatics, and I've played lots of private Civ 3 games as well. After playing the game for nearly four years, I know the game inside out and feel comfortable beating even Deity variant games without too much trouble. And yet, I'm quite sure that this experience will haunt me, now that most of the game mechanics have changed. Mind you, I think this is a Good Thing! But I'm sure I will fall into many a trap during my first game, trying to apply old strategies which are no longer valid. My hope is that by sharing this experience with you, maybe I can prevent you from making the same mistakes I did, and I'm quite sure more experienced Civ 4 players (and myself, rereading this report in a couple of months...) will get a chuckle or two out of this.

The beginning

Because it was my first game and I knew not much about the mechanics yet, I started a game with the default playing options - standard world size, continents, normal barbarians, normal game speed etc. I also set the game to randomly select my civilization and leader, and drew Roosevelt of the Americans. So I was industrious (meaning a 50% increase in wonder production, and the same bonus for building the forge, whatever that is ) and organized (civic upkeep cost reduced by 50%, and double production speed of lighthouse and courthouse), and had fishing and agriculture as my starting techs. Here is my starting position:

Starting Position

It may be hard to see in this shot, but the lower unit is my starting warrior, while the unit just below the ivory is my initial settler. So...I hadn't moved any unit in Civ 4 yet, and already I am presented with my first difficult decision. Where to found my capital? The game suggested the starting spot: It was on a river, had a nice mixture of flood plains and forests, and had ivory in range - but no other resources. But there was an alternative: With only two moves, I could found my capital on the coast (and still on the river)! Tricky. I moved my initial warrior first, to the southeast, hoping he would reveal some resources that would make my decision easier. But he found nothing, so I decided to found Washington right on the starting spot, because I feared having a capital without any resources might not be such a good idea after all. More tiles were revealed by this, and I was rewarded with more ivory, and a pig resource.

I order up a warrior in Washington for protection, and send out my starting warrior to explore. After a long look at the new tech tree, I decide to research hunting first to be able to build scouts, which are a lot sturdier than in Civ 3 and won't die automatically if attacked. And if I ever want to use scouts, then as soon as possible, before rival civs will have explored all tribal villages on the map already! So when hunting comes in, I change production from warrior to scout, taking advantage of the fact that the shields already invested into the warrior won't be lost. Meanwhile, a scout from foreign civilization appears east of Washington, and I say hi to my first contact: Alexander of Greece. I ignore him for now, though.

To make use of the pig resource, I research animal husbandry next, then the wheel to be able to build roads. Not that I have a worker yet to do this... So after building the scout, I'd like to build a worker next. And for this, for the first time I feel I need to micromanage Washington a bit.

Thoughts about micromanagement

Sorry for digressing a bit, but I'd like to share my observations about micromanagement in this game. I had already noticed with delight that, when a city grows, excess food isn't lost as it was in Civ 3, but carried over. It also looks like when completing a production order, excess hammers get carried over as well, although this is a bit harder to see: It is included in the "hammers per turn" number in the city screen, which will be higher than normal on the first turn of production. In addition, excess beakers when discovering a new tech get carried over to the next tech as well. This is all great news to those who found micromanaging your cities in Civ 3 tedious!

But when you plan to build workers or settlers, things are a little bit more difficult. Here, both hammers and food will count towards production, so the city won't grow while building. Now when I wanted to start building the worker, I noticed Washington was two turns away from growing to size 3, which would mean more hammers, food, and commerce. So I could just invest two turns of production into something else before actually starting the worker. Or...I could micromanage Washington a bit, reconfiguring its tiles so that it will produce less hammers and more food, thus letting it grow in one turn instead of two. This would give me the worker one turn earlier.

Is getting the worker one turn sooner worth the hassle of micromanaging? I have no idea, not yet. Here on Noble, I doubt it'll make any difference, but on the higher difficulties it might very well be worth it.

So overall, a lot of the city reconfiguration tedium from the previous game is gone for good. But there are still areas where it looks like micromanagemnt might make a difference, like worker/settler production or optimizing cities for a special task, as will be shown later. It's too early to tell for sure if all this is really necessary, though, so let's get back to the actual game again!

Improving and exploring

My first worker had just been built and started to improve my lands. I decided to research writing next, which would enable me to trade techs with other civs - I completely ignored the lower branch of the tech tree, planning to gain a lead in the upper branch and trading for the missing techs. This had one consequence, though: I got none of the early religions, and in fact had an atheistic state for a long time.

I managed to explore three tribal villages overall, giving me money (32 and 47 gold) and experience. I like the fact that scouts aren't so helpless anymore. While I decided to run away from some strength 3 bears (), later my woodsman II scout standing in a forest managed to defeat some lions, albeit barely. Nice!

After discovering writing, alphabet came next. It was also time to expand, so I produced a second warrior for protection, then slipped in two turns of production on a library so that Washington could grow to size four, then started to build my first settler.

My scouts had explored most of the continent by now and also found the Greece capital, Athens, but had failed to make more contacts. So I dialed up Alex for the first time and proposed an open border agreement, so that my scout could move past Athens to see if the city might be on a choke point. I hoped to meet more civilizations, so that I could indeed trade for all the techs I was missing (military, worker, ...)!

Moving past Athens

Unfortunately, Athens was on the eastern tip of our landmass with no lands behind it, so I was alone on this continent with Greece. So much for my plans of heavy trading!

Expanding my empire

In 2240BC, my first settler was completed, grouped together with the warrior, and headed out east to the designated second city site. I built on the library for another six turns to let Washington grow to size 5, then started to produce a second settler. On the way to founding the city, my protecting warrior barely managed to defeat an attacking panther - ouch, maybe I should send better units next time, especially in later games on higher difficulties! Not that I could build anything better than warriors at the moment, though...

New York was founded in 2000BC: It was on the coast, on a river, and had pigs, horses, and sugar. Here's a globe view of the situation:

Globe view 2000BC

In 1880BC, I enter the classical era by discovering alphabet. To gain access to literature, I start to research polytheism next. As you can see, I'll try to focus on science in this game. To get the techs I neglected before, I dial up Alex to see if we could trade. I'm up agriculture and writing, while he has mining and archery - but he won't trade those techs away! I have no idea why; at first I thought maybe because he has a monopoly on them (old Civ 3 thinking here, you see... ), but since he refused to trade techs later on as well when I had more contacts, maybe it was something else. We both had not adopted any religion yet, so that wasn't it. He had adopted slavery in the meantime while I had still only the basic civics; maybe that was a problem? Relations were cautious (with plusses from peace and open borders).

Not having any trading possibilities was a real problem! I lacked worker techs (basically I was only able to road, build pastures, and farms but was not able to mine, chop, or make use of most of the resources), and my best military unit was still the warrior. So while I could have researched the missing techs myself, that would have meant abandoning my general game plan which I refused to do. The other option was to make more contacts, and that was what I tried. I remembered that beakers invested into a tech won't be lost if you switch research to a different tech, and so slipped in sailing to be able to build galleys.

Uh...galleys, you say? To make more contacts? Like in Civ 3? Looks like I might learn a few lessons the hard way here...

But first the game surprised me with a "You have connected your first city to your capital!" message.

New York connected to Washington via road and river

That is amazing! Now it's sufficient to build a road to the river where a city is located on to connect two cities. It makes sense: Any goods are transported on the roads, then loaded unto ships to get them to the city down the river. Very nice!

In 1440BC, Boston is founded on a fresh-water lake northwest of Washington with stone, silver, and corn in reach. The first thing I constructed there was an obelisk, to expand borders early to get access to the resources. After sailing, I slip in archery before continuing with literature, because I feel very vulnerable with warriors only, and Alex still refuses to trade anything away. Then, after literature, I research priesthood, then code of laws next - I would like to found at least ONE religion. That fails, though, as confucianism is founded elsewhere two turns before I manage to get code of laws!

How not to explore: Galleys...

But let's return to my galley foolishness. My galley is completed in 950BC, sails out of New York...and cannot enter ocean tiles. Whoops! I *had* read the "cannot enter ocean tiles" sentence in the manual, but somehow it had entered my brain as "has a chance to sink in ocean tiles", as it had been in earlier versions...

Okay, so the only thing I can do with the galley at least is sailing around our continent, to explore some left-over dark spots, right? ...right? Hah, even that proved to be difficult! I sailed counterclockwise around the landmass, until I reached the northern tip near the north pole. And there I had to sail back, because there was one ocean tile blocking me...

Ocean tile blocking the exploring galley

Argh, that teaches me to think twice before ever building a galley again!

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