Home > multiplayer, strategy > Ironman/ffa: Interaction of traits and choice of leader

Ironman/ffa: Interaction of traits and choice of leader

This article continues my series about Ironman&ffa, taking my previous articles on Traits in ffa and Ironman and Ironman/ffa: maps, difficulty, settings – How to adapt as a basis. I recommend reading them first.

So after those two, what is this article still about: I want to explain why picking certain trait combinations isn´t good, though the single traits are. For example on Grid Ironman Fin and Philo are good traits, but Elizabeth isn´t a good pick (though not a bad one as well).

Why two good traits don´t make a good leader

It’s a simple thought: Fin is good, Philo is good, so picking both should be just fine. This doesn´t work out for two major reasons: First both are economy traits and second they are contradicting each other in the strategy they need to be played out properly. Fin needs fast expansion, while Philo is favoring slow expansion. Philo needs cities to work farms for food, specialists and production tiles for wonders. Just with Fin those should be working cottages – they cant do both at the same time. So both traits lose momentum.
On the other hand if u are picking an expansion trait together with one of them, they help each other. This works slightly better with Fin then with Philo but is useful for both nonetheless. Take Exp/Fin for example. Expanding faster will let you work more cottages earlier and the other way round Fin will keep your economy from crashing while power-expanding.
Philo doesn´t interact that good with Exp, because the true power Exp lies in being able to slave efficiently early, because of the cheaper granaries. But with Philo you should not be slaving that much, because u need cities being constantly on high pop, either for building wonders or working specialists. So imp is working better with Philo, because you have mines for wonders anyway and will also be chopping more, with having some more workers. This is because having high pop cities early requires more workers for getting enough tiles going. As soon as you reached that state they can do other things. This fits perfectly, because imp makes chopping a lot more useful. As a matter of fact Philo/Exp is still better than Philo/Imp, just because Exp is such a strong trait. But you will notice that the difference is significantly smaller than between Fin/Exp and Fin/Imp.

So in general the traits you pick need to interact with each other, so they both enhance each others effect. Or if that is not possible at least do not decrease each others effect.

Expansion traits are great here, because they interact well with everything. Some traits interact better with expansion traits then others (Fin,Org compared to Philo/Imp), but in general they always help. Most picks are based on picking one economy trait (Philo/Fin in most cases) and one expansion trait as helper.

Exp/Imp – The Curiosity

This is a special case. With economy traits picking two of the same kind isn´t good, but with expansion traits this can work out. Basically those two enhance each other, giving you the fastest possible expansion. This lets you grab huge amounts of land, which should turn the game in your in your favor later. However there is another limit to expansion: Your economy. So you will have to focus on working some cottages to prevent it from crashing. Still how well this exactly works out depends on the land. If u can plant some gems/gold with your first 3-4 cities it will go smooth. As long as you got some rivers and get some cottages going fast enough everything is OK. Lacking both you are in trouble and have extra-focus on working cottages, slowing down your expansion.
On higher difficulties Exp/Imp is impossible to play, because there is no way to deal with the maintenance costs.

Agg + Expansion Trait

Having Agg with an expansion trait (Exp if u can choose of course) is a nice combination for any kind of open land map. You can use the expansion trait to get some cities going fast, then fight an early war (Sword-Axe stack). If u attack someone who has neither he doesn´t have a chance.

Or the other way round you can use Agg for expanding heavily grabbing a lot of land. People will think twice about planting aggressive into your direction or even attacking you.


Org as an Expansion Trait

When playing on higher difficulties (only then picking org makes any sense), Org is working like an expansion trait. Not in the way of getting workers/settlers faster, but by allowing you to expand at all. When having Org you will be able to expand faster then others, simply because you can afford it economy wise. This works out because on higher difficulties the limit is not how fast you can get settlers/workers, but if you can afford planting another city. This render real expansion traits rather useless, making org a good alternative.


Choosing your Leader

This last part explains, how to actually approach choosing a leader, with all the information given in my articles.

First of all you have to analyze the settings: Unusual difficulty? Space for how many cities per player? Open land map? Water map? Ironman/ffa diplo? How probable are early wars?

All this as to be taken into account. Now the most important question is, if there is anything you definitely need to pick, e.g. an expansion trait on pangaea, or fin on archipelago. If there is a must pick (which happens rather often), this narrows down your options for the second pick, to those interacting with the first. Now think about what strategies are probably going to be working best and which you prefer to play. Doing so also take into account how the above mentioned factors rate up/down the traits (higher difficulty rater up org, much space rates up fin). For example on pangaea with a lot of people, the game is most probably going to be very militaristic, so picking Agg to your expansion trait makes sense. This gives you initiative and the possibility to fight early wars. Of course you can still pick Fin, but you should be aware, of being in a defensive position towards the Agg players from the start.

On maps with a lot of space, Fin is probably a must pick, if its allowed. Philo is still an option, but a risky one. This leads to picking an expansion trait second, because they interact best.

Also you should consider, if there are any peculiarities you want to plan for, like rushing Great Lighthouse with Industrious on archipelago.

In general in most situations picking one of the big economy traits (Philo and Fin) with a expansion trait is the way to go, but there are a lot of specific situations the settings can create (often doing so on purpose to break that monotony). So always check twice. This should not be hurried.

happy picking


  1. Anonymous
    December 30, 2009 at 09:36

    An other great one, agree with everything said. That would be interesting to see how would works a phi/indus against all our fast expansion picks.

  2. Moineau
    December 30, 2009 at 16:52

    Shit i was in annonm :p

  3. Killa
    January 7, 2010 at 16:54

    what do u think about charismatic?
    is it as usefull as agg?

  4. shizanu
    January 8, 2010 at 10:01

    Definately not. Agg gives you an immediate and direct bonus: One more promotion on your units. Also you can build one more unit per city, because barracks are cheaper.

    Chm doesn´t help anything for war, till you head for the third promotion with 8EP. But this is only possible with stables, vasallage and theocracy for mounted units, which is quite late in the game and doesn´t fit with the usual time-frames for war.

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