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Introduction into Medieval Start

Buildup

Initial Setup

Compared to Ancient or Classical start games, the initial setup on Medieval is different in only a few, but significant ways.

First of all it`s the first era where you start with more than one settler. Second your cities get a granary for free from the start. Third you already have Mathematics. Finally Civil Service for Bureaucracy is close and quickly reachable – bulbing it with a Merchant around turn 10 is currently the norm in average 3v3 Medieval games.

On the negative side settler costs increase by almost 50% to 96 hammers on quick speed.

How to build up

General thoughts

What your first build up goals are depends on the strategy you and your team are playing. The main question being whether and to how many cities you want to expand before starting production of units-only. Of course this assumes as usual the desired situation for a first build-up phase of first going almost exclusively worker/settler and only after reaching the desired amount of cities switching from expansion to unit production.

In the passive setup of 3v3 Medieval teamer on Inland_Sea it´s likely that you will be able to reach and get going four, five and sometimes even more cities against almost any strategy, the question is how many units you’ll have in relation to your opponent once he attacks. Having twice as a big an empire doesn’t help you, if the enemy can just eliminate you from the game because he started building units much earlier then you did. Anticipating the time your opponent is preparing to attack at (if he is planning to do so), you need to adjust the number of cities you yourself plant. If your team is trying to attack first, then you still need to plant only as many cities as you need in order to contribute the maximum amount of units at the time of the attack.

In a medieval game you will on average aim at three or four as a first step – depending on whether you have to get Great People for your team, whether you are Imperialistic or not, whether you´re at the front, whether you´re under pressure by some early units and in general on the amount of forest chops you have for an additional production boost. If the game lasts to its turn limit, you will want to have planted the “entire” map together with your team mates – but that´s expansion phase 2 or even 3.

Early buildup and other game phases

Assuming it´s one of those average games, where you are aiming at three or four cities, you will need around 6 workers to handle improvements and chops properly. 5-6 are most of the time enough to handle the first two, then a third and a potential fourth city. If you are Imperialistic and/or have a lot of chops, you might sometimes want a 1-2 more, due to faster expansion or in general quicker access to chops (the boost in production is relatively worth more the earlier you get it).

When planting, it´s first of all about food and other resources as usual, but there are a couple of other factors you need to consider as well:

  • A 2-hammer plant is nice to have, but not as helpful as in ancient or classical since you already have two cities that can do workers, but also especially have granaries for free, meaning you´ll rather will want to grow and slave. Still not useless, when going worker first.
  • Getting strategical resources can be very important, especially metal. If your facing Zulu, Impis coming fast is always a threat, but in any case any opponent can plant horse and send you some HA.
  • Fresh water is better than no fresh water… it´s not as important as in late eras, where you will otherwise have bigger issues dealing with unhealth in your huge cities. You will appreciate fresh water most during a point race.
  • Tech-Potential of your capital: One or two luxury resources and/or grassland/floodplains best next to a river for a good technological output especially with Bureaucracy
  • If your team is bulbing Civil Service for Bureaucracy super fast, try to get as many chops as possible into the fatcross of your capital. Forests are important in any case though.
  • Front city on hill and in general no double front
Step 1: worker 2 & 3

Once cities are planted, you´re first aiming at getting more workers. Since you got one already, you can either start chopping a forest while building a worker in the city, often even if it´s a 10-turn worker without the chop or start growing the city potentially while improving a food resource in order to grow faster trying to profit from the fact that the granary is already there.

:4reli: Adopt the religion if you get one – don´t delay a worker, but adopt it somewhere early. You are in Organized Religion from the start and will benefit from spreading your religion, which you want to do also in order to get any culture for a culture expansion into new cities. If you adopt the religion, the likelyhood of it spreading automatically increases as well. Later on you´ll additionally have the option of using the Theocracy civic from Theology.

Step 2: worker 4 & 5

In any case you´ve gotten two more workers. Now get another two ;). How you do that exactly depends on the way your land looks. It´s a mix of chops and resource improvements. You might hook food to make use of the granary and slave, you might be Imperialistic improving a copper or iron earlier than usual with one worker, while the other two take a chop each to get those two more workers.

culture In case you are in need of a quick culture expansion, be that to get food into the fatcross or be that to get a strategic resource into the fatcross, you can turn the culture slider to 100% for one turn while making sure that the concerned cities accumulate enough commerce per turn, converting that commerce into culture points, the first culture expansion being available at 5 culture points.

Step 3: settler for third city

You´ve arrived at 5 workers – it´s time for the first settler, which is available for 96 hammers. At this point in the game you won´t be doing any significant production in your cities – only exception being a potentially hooked production resource like an iron or copper boosted by Imperialistic when building a settler. The latter one is due to the free granary not necessarily a good idea even if available. In any case, the settler will be done with chops and/or slaving. For that you will want to move 2-4 worker into forests that all belong to the same city and chop those simultaneously, while growing the city.

Since you got Mathematics from the start:

  • a chop is worth 20 hammer,
  • that´s 30 hammer for an Imperialistic leader for settlers,
  • 30 hammer in the capital for a non-Imperialistic with Bureaucracy
  • and 40 hammer for the Imperialistic in his capital with Bureaucracy.

The plan is to get a number of chops simultaneously in one turn in order to produce a settler in that turn, not having to work it longer, which would be ineffective, because your cities is not growing during that time.

The questions now are whether you are Imperialistic or not and if you´ve got Bureaucracy already. The latter is rather unlikely at this point. With IMP three chops are worth 90 hammers, without four chops give you 80 hammers. As IMP just be careful to have either four base hammer (becoming 6 hammers for a settler) or some overflow from a previous production to get a settler in one turn without preproducing it. Without IMP it´s more difficult. 80 hammers won´t be enough to get the settler in one turn at this point. It´s very unlikely that your city will be bigger than pop 2, even 2 isn´t necessarily sure. The best way to go is probably putting 4 chops into a city that has a tile available that gives an overall output of 6 like a grassland pig or a grass/plains copper/iron, getting the four chops and working the settler for one more turn after that. It´s close if you´re pop 1 or just have a tile with output 5 (like an unirrigated wheat or corn) – again try using some overflow for a slave the turn when getting the chops. If you do that right, you might even get the settler in one turn with “only” four chops.

Turn 0 - Civic Switch

Turn 2 - working 3-food to grow

turn 3 - chop into worker

turn 4 - choping next forest; continue growing other city

turn 5 - slaving worker in both cities; precottaging one turn

turn 6 - working wealth to store overflow and grow, improving cow, preroading one turn

turn 8 - keeping on improving land; when cities at pop 2, work worker

turn 9 - keeping on imrpoving land, slaving worker and working wealth to store overflow while growing

turn 10 - working Wealth to store overflow while growing; moving all workers into forests at the same time

Turns 11-13 - Working Wealth to keep on storing overflow while growing and chopping forests

turn 14 - one settler done, another almost done, cities at pop pop 3 with full granaris, 6 worker

turn 15 - 4 cities up, spreading religion, continuing buildup: forges, barracks, stables etc.

Screenshots depicting initial buildup in the back of a 3v3 Inland_Sea Medieval game with an Imperialistic leader
Step 4: Improvements, potentially another settler, units

After planting the third city, improve land and grow cities. Get them going, maybe get another worker or two, especially if you´re planning to get another city soon. If you go for a fourth city, get the settler in your capital if your team has Bureaucracy by now (which it would in most common initial strategies).  You might not have many chops left by now, but you can use a mix of production and slavery. With IMP, you can slave 2 population from pop 4 to pop 2 for 80 hammers (with Bureaucracy), without IMP put in one chop into the settler and then slave it with 2 population as well.

Step 5: more settlers or units

You now either keep on expanding or get barracks and start producing units. That depends on your team´s and the opposing team´s strategy.

Step 6: Point Race

It´s late into the game, probably some big stacks have clashed, but the game hasn´t been decided by kills, yet. Find a good time (for example right when moving for an attack or when being superior in power, but not wanting to attack) and get a few more settlers, enough to plant your land completely. Only Imperialistic players should be doing settlers at this point – potentially for the entire team. If you´re planting the new cities mainly for points, just remember that you get points from culture only after 20 turns. Meaning if you plant a city 20 turns before the end of the game, you will receive points for the inner fatcross culture only. If you plant it later, you won´t get any points for the culture. Points for population are counted right away. Don´t die because you´ve expanded and grew mainly for the last 20 turns, while your opponent slaved hard, lost points for population, didn´t plant more cities, but made a big stack instead and moves in short before the end of the game.

Technology

Music first

If you do, you go for Music in order to get the free Great Artist. A culture bomb has big potential on any medi setup, be that a passive Inland_Sea or an aggressive Lakes. The advantage of getting the artist this way is three-fold.

  • You don´t have to “breed” it yourself , freeing capacities in a city for more buildup or units.
  • You can determine where the artist spawns by having one player finish researching Music alone, not together with his team. This way you save the turns your Philosophical leader would have needed to send you the GP.
  • You save GP points, effectively giving you the potential for an overall higher GP output. Getting two artist, one with music and breeding one, is easier than breeding two yourself.

There are three significant arguments against going Music first/early:

  • In most medieval strategies you will want to start researching Bureaucracy first, while getting a Merchant to finish it by bulbing. If you research Music first, you will delay the very strong Bureaucracy civic by quite a few turns, slowing your early buildup.
  • Additionally you delay the ability to build Maceman, which require Civil Service and Machinery. If you´re facing an opponent which is planning for an attack with a slow stack mostly consisting of Maceman or if you´re planning on such an attack yourself, you will want the ability to build them pretty quick. Your 3 or 4 cities will be ready to build them, while you are still researching its prerequisites. OF course you can spend the time building catapults, but still… Naturally you delay anything on the path to Guilds (for Knights) if you research Music at all.
  • There is the danger of the opposing team bulbing Music with  a Great Artist they got as their first GP, while you were researching it by hand and getting a Great Merchant. Putting the first 10 or so turns of research into a technology that is virtually useless if you don´t get the free GP from it can easily be the deciding factor in a game.
Civil Service

Getting Civil Service first and as fast as possible has basically been established a standard in Medieval teamer games. The bonus from Bureaucracy is simply very big in any kind of strategy, being that vast buildup and heavy research or quick unit building. Additionally Civil Service (together with Machinery) is a prerequisite  for Maceman, a potentially key unit on most settings and eventually Guilds for Knights.

Engineering or Guilds first?

Assuming you´ve gone Civil Service for Bureaucracy, followed by Machinery for Maceman, the question is now whether you go straight for Guilds or research Engineering for more mobility before that. Feudalism doesn´t have any priority since you do not want to use Vassalage anyway (at least at this point) – it´s basically nothing more than another tech you gotta got on your road to Guilds. If you’re facing a Maceman-something attack, you will probably Engieering first in order to shift troops from one front to another quicker once you determine where the attack with take place, no matter whether you´re the attacker or defender. If you´re playing a passive game, where both teams are building up vastly in order to massively spam Knights later on in as many cities as possible, you´ll probably first want to get Guilds and only afterwards Engineering to move those around even quicker.

After Guilds

You´ve got Guilds, you´ve got Engineering. If you´re first at Guild and Music hasn´t been taken, yet it becomes a very valid option. You´ll probably get it in only a  few turns and there is nothing else in the tech path that is a must-have anyway. Other options include Theology for another promo with Theocracy (for those who adopted and spread their religion), Banking for a free GP with Mercantilism. If your research is (very) good, you can try getting Astronomy for a boating in the end of the game or alternatively go for Liberalism in order to score points for technologies during a point race.

Picks

traits

Among the buildup traits Expansive heavily loses in Medieval compared to the two first eras. It´s strongest ability is the double production on granaries, which becomes void due to the free granary from the beginning. While the health and worker production bonus are nice to have, they don´t save this trait here. Imperialistic on the other hand becomes stronger due to the higher settler costs from medieval on. It helps significantly in early buildup as well as during later expansion phases. A capital doing a settler with Bureaucracy and Imperialistic converts each slaved population into 40 hammers, making it very easy to 2-pop slave those.

Philosophical is strong and essential, because Medieval is the first era where you definitely need to use GPs strategically, but it´s still pretty cost intensive to get those. The player breeding them will be slowed down in his buildup anyway – having him get a Great Artist and Merchant for example without it, would cripple him for the entire game though. Some teams even pick two Philosophical leader to share the work load of gettin two or three GPs till the midgame.

Aggressive boosts Maceman. If you plan on needing those, it´s a good choice. Otherwise it´s useless. The boost on Barracks is negligible. There are valid strategies involving China. Picking Protective on that to open up Shock and other promotions is the equivalent of Aggressive for Maceman.

Spiritual is only worth a thought in combination with Philosophical. Since you can run Caste System from turn zero though to get the Great Mechant, switch to Slavery together with Bureaucracy and from there on run Artists with the help of a theatre, there aren´t many switches during which Spiritual would save you turns. There are a couple of smaller aspects which work well with it, but overall the gain is smaller than if you simply pick Imperialistic over it. For example by playing Suleyman instead of Gandhi on your Philosophical player.

Charismatic is picked for triple promotion Knights. Once you hit guilds, you go down from Bureaucracy and switch to Vassalage and Theology, giving you 9 experience points on your horseback units together with Barracks and Stables. If you´re Mongolia you don´t even require Theology. That late into the game the loss of Bureaucracy also doesn´t hurt you that much anymore.

civs

There is Byzantine for Cataphracts, which are already incredibly strong, basically without any counter unit. If you add triple promotion to that via Charismatic it becomes ridiculous fighting anything then other Cataphracts. Mongols are the poor-man´s Bycantine. You only have normal Knights, but at least you have an access to a third promotion once you hit Guilds and don´t have to have a religion and Theology researched.

India´s fast worker are a buildup trait in itself. You chop flat forests 25% faster due to not losing a turn when moving onto them. Additionally you have lots more roading options during an attack, being able to directly build one on a hill or forested tile. India is a must pick if allowed, there is no strategy that doesn´t benefit from a player commanding fast workers.

Japan and China somewhat come as a combo, though picking only Japan as a counter to the other team taking both is an option as well. They shine during a specific strategy involving a slow stack attack before Guilds with Cho-Ko-Nu (Crossbow), Samurai (Maceman) and catapults/trebuchets.

Zulu can be picked for an early harassment rush. Plant on copper or iron with one of your first two cities and spam out Impis toward´s an opponent to slow his buildup and optimally pillage improvements. Later on impis can be pretty cost effectively used against Knights, but in general don´t have much use besides the early rush option. Even that one isn´t a great option since trading metal or even having it yourself from the start is pretty much the average case.

Finally Rome and Egypt were picked in the past for a super rush strategy with Warchariots, Praetorians and Impis. Since it became clear though that it´s pretty easy to defend again such a strategy since it´s clear what´s going to happen, it´s not played anymore.

Read more about most of the Unique Units mentioned above here.

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