Home > CCC, multiplayer, series, strategy > The CTON #2: Midgame Party

The CTON #2: Midgame Party

This is the second part of the CTON series. I hope you could take something out of the first part, that focused on the CTON start. Taking a quick review on the things that are important at the beginning, we came to the conclusion that a “scan” of the given game variables at the start will help you determine your strategy in pretty much every CTON. The basics, so to speak, include examining your land, chosing the right tech path regarding your starting resources, playing your traits and possibly using your UU/UB.

Today, we will “continue the game” and take a look at the things that become viable for a succsessful CTON mid game: In the first part, I will focus on meeting your enemies, “knowing” what your enemy is doing or might do, setting up the first cities, grabbing land versus GNP versus wonders, exploring the map and setting up a (first) semi sentry net. The second part includes a tech path review, talks about Units vs Technology and the full sentry net.

The Cricital Phase: Turn 8-15

After you have determined a starting spot and decided on the strategy direction regarding tech path and play style, you will quickly get to “know” your neighbors. Remember what was said in the first part: Cannot Trade Or Negotiate. That means, that all you know about your neighbors is their leader and their civ and possibly what their land looks like. Usually you won’t have an enemy in your land before turn 8-15. While this is just an assumption from different games I’ve played so far, Inland Sea can always give a somewhat weird setup where you end up even closer than that. Having scout or warrior start makes a big difference regarding your own start. While scout start will force you most likely to build a warrior, you will have the chance to carefully scout your own land and your opponents land and ideally meet other civilizations that are beyond your two enemies (remember: left/right or top/bottom -it’s inland sea). Careful scouting means going 1 tile per click so you don’t run into an enemy warrior. Try to keep your scout as long as possible, don’t leave your scout right next to an enemy city. All the information you will gain about your land and the enemies’ land will allow you to adopt a strategy that fits your “neighborhood”. Later on you will be able to “see” which parts of the land an enemy player is using, dispite (!) fog of war. Hover over the resources to see if they are improved. If a tile is unimproved it will tell you: requires farm/mine/pasture. Once the resource is improved the status will change (see screenshots below). Checking it every turn or two gives you an idea where your enemy planted, what war resources he has and what units he might be throwing at you.

The copper is not hooked yet:

Copper hooked, but not roaded:

Copper hooked and roaded:

All this makes scout start quite powerful in that aspect, as it shows you what you “miss” with a warrior start. Yet, most players are looking for a warrior start since it allows you to choke your neighbor to some extend and to delay his buildup. Remember the things we said about exponential growth: The more you delay your neighbor (in terms of making him build units = early hammer loss) the slower his buildup will be compared to yours.

Check out the following situation: I got Alexander of Ethiopia, which means scout start. I’m playing an aggressive start since I’m trying to play my traits (the aggressive trait), getting two quick warriors. Turn 14 I have pretty much all my land scouted and will soon know exactly where my neighbor’s capitals are and where to plant my second city (there was a fish and pig south of what you can see on the screenshot).

Now, once you know who your neighbors are, first thing to do is check whether they have scout or warrior start. Hunting is required for a scout start, so every Civ that has hunting as a starting tech gets a scout start. Try to find out the Civs that have hunting (also useful for teamers), as they might not even threaten you with a warrior. Civs with Hunting as starting technology are the following: Aztec, Celtics, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, Holy Rome, Khmer, Mongolia, Persia, Russia, Vikings and Zulu. Note them somewhere or try to get used to the idea – it will make your CTONs a bit more predictable and thus easier. Most important: Play accordingly to what you see. If your enemy has warrior start, play as if he would be going for you and sentry up your diagonals. Always remember that knowing what MIGHT come gives you an advantage, because you can build up a lot easier.

This brings us to the next point where I want to talk about the first few cities you build. There are two different kinds of players in general. Those that plant their cities empty and those that plant their cities with lots of units to defend a possible attack. Planting cities empty sounds stupid but can be very powerful (some also call it the city spam) when you have a solid sentry net. That means: there is no tile where the enemy could sneak in or double move one of your cities. If you also focus on growth of your cities you will be able to quickly slave units according to the units you will see with your sentries. Remember: React to what you see. If your enemy comes up with a chariot quite early, you will definitly need 2-3 archers or 1 spear to defend it. Once you have killed his unit, use the units you built to sentry up again and imediately. The less units (enemy and your own) you have in your land in the beginning, the better your buildup will be. What does that mean for your first 2-3 cities? After you scouted your land and teching animal husbandry and bronze working you should know exactly where you want to set up your cities. If you have a good sentry net it is not that important to go for a resource with your first city, unless you don’t think that you can get a third city fast enough to set up your war resource. You might also go for horse first if that is the better spot, but only if you are not getting rushed by chariots yourself, since that will most likely lead to 50/50 situations that you want to avoid early in the game. This requires practice and it’s probably better for a new player to go for a resource right aways as it lowers the risk of getting killed early in the game.

So, resources are one thing, the other important factor is what kind of food you have around. Try to use the best (near) food first as it will help you with a solid start. If you don’t have great food around but copper or horse in your cap, you can also play aggressive in the first few turns and plant your second or third city quite near towards your enemy if you want to steal some of his land. But only if you have superior units, e.g. he doesn’t have a resource at all or you are aggressive and he is not or you have a UU that you can use (impis, jags, skrimishers, bowmen, holkans, quechuas etc.). Generally speaking, you won’t be able to expand forever without building units, since you will either get killed or get massive GNP problems after overexpanding. Try to have at least 2 workers per city for a start so you can improve quickly. Assuming you’re not expansive or imperialistic I would suggest going for 2 workers, a settler and another worker after. Sometimes it can be useful to skip one worker and go worker, settler and units right after if you know you are going to get rushed.

Balancing your Gameplay

Next step is balancing Power, GNP, Culture (Land) and Wonders. Make sure you tech pottery early. I would rarely grab a religion before pottery unless I have gold/silver/gems in my cap or generally superior land that can make up for it. Superior means having several food resources, lots of chops or flood plains. Same goes for wonders: Only build them if you really get something out of it. Don’t rush Stonehenge when you don’t have a resource because you might get choked easily, but try to go for wonders if you are industrious or if you have stone/marble. The earlier you set up and work cottages, the better your GNP will be. The better your GNP early in the game, the lower your power might be. Try to find the right balance. Early GNP will make your expansion a lot slower. Getting cottages too late might ruin your economy. As a first rule of thumb, try to go to 5 or 6 cities and stop expanding for a bit, improve your cities on the run. Always have a worker or two around to improve food resources and another resource or cottage. Once you reach 5-6 cities you let them grow (with granaries!), which means using food resources and cottage tiles. Also try to have at least one or two cities that have a high production for wonders and workers/settlers. Generally speaking, you should never (fully) stop expanding, always try to squeeze in new cities if you can. If that’s not possible anymore, you’ll have to focus on the military aspect of the game.

What can help you determine how well you are doing and whether you should expand or focus on building units are the Demographics which can be accessed with F9. Check them carefully for every category as much as you can and try to keep up with the best. If you’re quite behind in power, stop expanding and slave out some units. If noone really has power, keep expanding and work on your GNP unless you plan on killing someone (Regarding the power graph, check out the article about Reading the Power Graph in Demographics). Additionaly, the Victory Conditions (F8) help you to see how much land of the map you can call your own. You can nicely compare your own land area with others. Land is usually a good indicator to assume who might win the game in the end, in case it is filled up with cities. This only works if Domination Victory is activated. It tells you what your share of the map is in comparison to the leader or the second best player if you are in the lead (assuming you have met everyone on the map). It also gives you an idea what your world population is compared to the leader / second best player. In the late mid-game (30-40 turns left) it usually gives you a good idea if someone is just growing his cities a lot (not much slaving, but high GNP/production) to gain points. Generally speaking, it’s not necessarily a wise strategy to grow your cities a lot because your score will rise pretty fast and you will be top target on the map. That’s why you should have many small cities that you keep with lower population. You can keep slaving them a bit harder until the game reaches the final phase where you start maximizing your growth to gain points quickly.

Always keep in mind that you need your sentry net setup completely. The sooner, the better! No tile should be a possible attack position for your enemy. Always think in “four square” distances, since that is the attack range of mounted units and workers. Remember that later on with Engineering you can get the additonal bonus on moves, which means your enemy might be able to attack you faster than you think, in case you’re not yet thinking in “Engineering-Categories”. Make sure you take that into consideration, especially in the late game.

Mid-Game Tech Tree

Let’s take a look at the Mid-Game Tech Tree. Use the Technology Advisor (F6) to get an overview.

Make sure you plan ahead and don’t get in the situation where you have to make a rushed (and possibly bad) dicision. Your first goal is Monarchy, since it gives you the option to keep your cities happy. This is a very important factor because it allows you to maximize slaving. Now after Monarchy you are basically free to chose, but in the end it will always depend on your situation. Get Construction and Horsebackriding after Monarchy if you have ivory in reach so you can get elephants. Go for Feudalism if you have a huge land area to cover and you feel like you will win anyways just because of your land. In general though, you would be interested in Code of Laws and Civil Service. The first one to get one or two artists for culture bombs and the latter for the 50% gold/hammer boost in your capital. Some players would get currency before they go Civil Service, as it allows you to produce Wealth in your cities, which can speed up your tech or support bigger armies on the attack. At this stage you will soon figure out, that the tech options are quite flexible. Going Literature for Great Library might be nice if you have marble or you are industrious, which also enables going Music for the free Great Artist. But remember, the longer the game goes, the more valuable maximizing your tech rate will be. This means Great Library might become more powerful the longer the game goes, but also Civil Service is the absolute must-have to keep up in tech if your cap is well cottaged. Whatever tech path you chose in the end, always try to focus on military goals first, unless you have superior tech that allows you to go “extra tech paths”, e.g. Aesthetics, Literature, Music, Calender, Drama. You will quickly understand why, because a stack of Maces or Crossbows will kill your axe stack, while Maces and Crossbows don’t do much against a stack of Knights, and so on… Always have in mind that CTONs always have a show-off included, where it matters what units you bring to the fight (“Don’t bring a Sword to a Gunfight” :=) ). Once you are on top of the list, you will be THE target for your enemies. Everyone will try to get you down to earth in the last few turns because everyone wants to rank above you if possible. The earlier you set up for superior units, the more efficient you will scare your enemies and the easier you will defend a possible attack.

Then again, if you feel like you need more land to win, you can use your (hopefully superior) units to eliminate an opponent. We will talk about attacking and eliminating an opponent in the third series of the CTON articles.

Until then, stay tuned and enjoy your CTONs!

Recommended Related Articles

Part 1 of the CTON Series – Rules, How to start, and the Basics.

All you need to know about the Powergraph and it’s meaning

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