Home > CCC, multiplayer, strategy > The CTON #1: Getting started

The CTON #1: Getting started

The C4P league has by now four key game types that people play pretty much every day: Duels, Teamers, OCC, Ironman and CTONs. I will start a series about CTON games since this type is the one most people start with and one with fairly high variables and many strategies. This first post of the CTON series will be an introduction to the game type, rules, strategies and common ideas.

CTON can be compared to what people call FFA (free for all) on the lobby, although it has some important rules that make it a lot different from what you might know. The game type, and that part might be a fairytale, was originally invented by a Canadian player called CTON. She made up the rules a long, long time ago and people still seem to like them. A new “translation” of the term CTON caught my attention: Can’t Trade Or Negotiate. It sums up what the game is all about: Always war with your opponents, no private talk, no tech trade. You’re basically on your own and have to expect armies coming in from each side. The game is usually played on inland sea, which means that each player has one opponent on each side. CTONs can involve 5-6 (usually) up to 10 players on varying map sizes and sea levels.

What are the common rules? How do I start?

The settings that are most common and also played in the Civilization World Clan Championship Cup (CCC) are the following:

Players: 5-8+
Turn Limit: 120 (usually on the lobby) up to 140 (CCC Final Round)
Map: Inland Sea, small with 6 or less, standard with 7 or more.
Sea Level: Medium.
Era: Ancient
Civ Choice: Random, unrestricted leaders on, anonymous
City Elimination: 2
Balanced Resources
Spies allowed
Always War

First, you will have to take a view at the circumstances of the game, most important: the set of rules. The smaller the map, the more important some aspects of the game will be, while others can be neglected. This is especially important for four factors for the final count of points: Population, Land, Tech and Wonders. I will not go into details here as it has been mentioned in an article (Components of Score) already. Just that much: The more land tiles exist on the map the more points you will get for 1 point of population. That also means that tech on larger maps can possibly have more value compared to populations points. What sounds simple at first, will determine the whole game strategy for CTONs.

Second, you have to remember that you cannot lose more than 1 city or you are out of the game (city elimination: 2). Since you are at war with everyone (always war option checked) you won’t know who might or might not attack you. Remember, talking privately to your neighbors is strictly banned. Once you are down a city, your neighbors will try to eliminate you quickly to take control over your land to gain as many points as possible for the final count (They might see you getting a general, which means that you are involved in heavy fighting). This implies that you balance your economic and military ambitions. A focus too strong on GNP might make you lose the game when someone focuses strongly on military action. On the other hand it might give you the win once you can build a superior military unit and dominate the game later on.

The Start

So much about “theory”, let’s now focus on your start. This is what matters most in Civ: A good start. Each move counts and becomes exponentially more important when turns pass. Losing a worker, settler, some key battles or even a city can ruin your early game and put you back, while great strategic play can bring you back into the game.

When you see your land, try to “maximize” your starting spot. What you are looking for is food and forests. Since you are using slavery pretty much the whole game to slave units and buildings, you need the food. The more workers/settlers you can chop in the beginning, the better your overall start. Remember, Civ works exponential. While food and forests are probably most important, it is also nice to have a 2 or 3 hammer capital. Look for plain hills, ivory, stone, marble that are in 1-2 turn reach for your settler. Fresh water is also nice to have.

Once you have figured out a good starting spot you have to take a look at your traits and the civ you got. Traits should give you an idea for your overall game plan. Before you start a CTON try to go through all possible leaders/traits and think about a valid strategy. Exp and Imp are the buildup traits, generally nice to have. Fin is also great. Even protective can be used in combination with early feudalism or aggressive city planting (land grabbing). This also works with the creative trait, additionally with cheap libraries you can get nice tech and culture.

The civ determines your starting techs and therefore decides whether you have scout or warrior start, besides giving you a unique unit (UU) and a unique building (UB) that might be of use. Try to use your UU/UB and take a look at the UB rankings as well as the Top 7 UUs at fastmoves. Starting techs are very important for your early development and determine your early tech path. You need to combine your land with your starting techs. What food resource do you have and what tech does it require to improve it? Always try to hook your food resource first if the circumstances allow it.

After you have found the right spot, set the starting techs you will have to decide whether you can go worker first or not. This depends on your civ (warrior start or scout start) and the opponent’s civs. Take a look at them and figure out which civs have hunting (= scout start) and which have no hunting (= warrior start). Are you going to send your warrior out if you have Maya (Holkans) and Natives (Dog Soldiers) in the game? Last but not least you will have to figure out where you are located on the map. Remember that it’s inland sea, so different starting spots require different strategies. Let’s take the map like a clock: the 3 and 9 o’clock starting spots are quite narrow and give somewhat less land. You are quite close to your neighbors. The corner starts can give you lots of room, but also close neighbors. Probably the best starts are the ones at 12 and 6 o’clock. But in the end all that might not matter if your neighbor threatens you as much as he can or on the other hand leaves you alone all game. Find your own playing style: How do you want to treat your neighbors? Aggressive or passive approach?

Szenario: Roosevelt of Babylon

Let’s take a look at the following case and go through the different steps:

Roosevelt of Babylon doesn’t sound that promising at the first look, but can turn out to be a useful combination. Our land in this case is very good for a CTON, as you have a 5 food tile, several floods, a 2 hammer start (1 tile west) with fresh water, a goldmine and quite a few forests. This is what every player is hoping and looking for in a CTON. Your goal will be to hook the food first and the gold mine soon after as it will speed up your tech massively. Also the gold mine can be used for early production of a wonder later on. This leads us to the traits: You will be able to get one of the “key” wonders, Stonehenge or Oracle. Organized will allow you to “overstrech” your empire so Stonehenge might be worth a try if you can get somewhat between 6-8+ cities. It also gives you the option for a few cheap courthouses with Code of Laws (on your way to Bureaucracy and Great Artists) to accumulate more spypoints on your neighbors, which will allow you to see their graphs. Babylon gives you Bowmen which are quite useful to clear a possible early choke since they get +50% vs melee units. Also later on other players will think twice before they send you melee units because it’s just easy to prevent them from pillaging. Also, you will have nice sentry units that cannot be cleared that easily by melee units, so it’s definitly worth teching archery.  The babylonian UB (Garden) isn’t really worth building. In this situation it would be better to try getting Hanging Gardens for the additional health bonus with your ind trait.

Now that we have taken a glance at our possible options for the game we take a look at our starting techs.

Wheel and Agriculture is great, especially with your start. Having no Hunting means warrior start, which means that we could go worker first and keep our warrior nearby.

That would allow us to improve the corn first (remember, growing is what you want to maximize slavery), while we tech Mining and Bronze Working. Once the corn is hooked we have researched mining so that we can hook the gold. The gold mine is key because it will help you speed up your tech amazingly fast. After Bronze Working we have 2 options. Depending on the game situation we could go archery or Animal Husbandry. Do you have warriors in your land already? Go Archery. Do you have a good overview of what’s going on and no enemy in sight, skip Archery for now and tech towards Pottery or Animal Husbandry.

Examine your land, chose the right tech path regarding the starting resources, play your traits and use your UU/UB if possible

To sum up, we have revised your traits, your civ, the starting spot and starting techs to come up with a strategy approach for the entire game. Try to do this in the first few turns. After some practice you will be able to do it by heart and within the first couple of turns. For the situation drawn above, you would want to play a bit more passive, sit back, get nice GNP while you expand and sentry up nicely and get the key wonders. Let others do the early fighting and play your traits. This, of course, is the ideal case and anything can happen once your neighbors come into play.

Meeting your enemies and the early buildup phase will be the topic for the next article – until then, stay tuned and enjoy the CTONs you play 😉

Continue reading about CTONs in the second article: The CTON #2: Midgame Party.

Recommended Related Articles

The four Components of Score: Population, Land, Technology, and Wonders.

Introduction to the Art of Attacking, a must-read for every new CTON Player

Whoever attacks will have to defend at some point. Also a must-read if you plan on winning a CTON

Browse through the good and bad Unique Buildings and make use of them in your CTON

  1. Enderby
    March 30, 2010 at 01:12

    Never realized the map size has such an impact on your stragegy.

    Great article, thanks!

  2. Alil
    March 31, 2010 at 23:07

    Nice article, its almost impossible to find anyone to explain the rules or be tolerate of a newbie this late in the game.

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