Posts Tagged ‘ironman’

How To: Space Race

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment

This article is about how to most effectively build a spaceship under peaceful conditions, which will often decide the game in ffa-diplo style games. This can be applied 1:1 to singleplayer, presuming that techtrade is disabled or the AI too far behind to trade. Only possible exception is the Internet, as it´s usually banned in Multiplayer.

The two factors deciding how fast you are, are how long you need to research all the necessary techs and how long you need to build the final parts. You build all parts except the second Engine.

Read more…


MP Strategies #3: Ironman/ffa – The great Modern war

March 24, 2010 2 comments

This edition of MP Strategies features about the only possibility to fight a war relying on brute force against an opponent that is rather close to you in tech and production in an Ironman/ffa game.

The Idea

When you are running a cottage economy from the point of having researched Democracy on, your production will quickly multiply. While before you have virtually no base production and slave everything, Universal Suffrage already gives you about 1:4prod: per tile you are working, providing you with a good base production.

Now we will combine two effects in order to again quadruple our production and then pump out a huge army. First is that with running Universal Suffrage a golden age about doubles your base production giving you a huge production boost. This is the reason, why you should safe your golden ages for after Democracy anyway, but for this strategy it’s even more vital.

The second effect is, that with Steam Power and Assembly Line the huge bulk of building for increasing production becomes available: Levee, Factory and Coal Plant also doubling your production, both things combined make the quadrupling.

Obviously golden ages don’t last forever, but for the major part of the army production phase, you will be running them. Usually you will blow two, if possible GP wise even three golden ages into this. This is 18 Turns golden age – if you were able to the Mausoleum of Mausolossos (probably strongest Ironman wonder anyway) even 27 turns. Thats the time you will you for building your army.

After having set up your production you produce a huge stack of Infantry, Machine Guns and Artillery, that is very difficult to counter, because of Machine Guns immunity to collateral damage and move in on your opponent. Read more…

MP Strategies #2: Ironman/ffa – “Cav Upgrade Rush”

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

This strategy is designed to quickly and cheaply kill/conquer a neighbour who is some turns behind in military technology in any kind of ffa/Ironman game. Like with any Ironman/ffa strategy its not something you decide to do at the beginning of the game, but something that needs specific circumstances to become a viable option, which I am going to explain as well.

The General Idea

The Idea is to upgrade 20-30 Knights to Cavalry once they become available and add some quickly slaves once to those and then rush in with about 30-40 Cavalry on an opponent who doesn´t have Riflemen yet. Having a two-moving stack of superior units then allows you to take down your opponent within 3-4 turns so he can´t put up any further resistance.
The other way this can be used, is to only raze 2-3 cities of someone in an Ironman/ffa game to take him out of the race for the lead.
Upgrading a Knight to Cavalry costs 68 gold on fast speed, so upgrading those Knights will cost you about 1500 gold. With the usual state of economy at that point of the game, this is three to four turns of money saving. Since you can upgrade your units after having moved 5 tiles on roads, you can have a Cavalry stack of considerable size in position to move in within four turns after researching them, which is possible no other way.
The second big point of this strategy is, that its difficult to notice. You can build the necessary amount of Knights over a long period of time, making it look like you only build them to have some defense army (which often actually is the case). This doesn´t cause a considerable rise in the power graph, especially not the sharp ones that are a sure sign of approaching war. The real rise in power only comes when actually upgrading to Cavalry which is done at the end of the turn you go into position to move in. Thus your opponent can only detect the rise in power in the very turn you are moving in on him. Of course there are more subtle hints something like this might be coming, be he has to monitor your moves rather closely to find you out.
This should already make clear, that is tactic doesn´t work, when you are playing with some kind of diplomatic agreements, that force you warn your opponent of your attack. Read more…

CTON / ffa / Ironman: When NOT to attack

January 5, 2010 1 comment

I often see unexperienced ffa players (especially those coming from teamers and duels) attacking people without any use, so here are some guidelines on when NOT to attack (being turned around also answering when to attack).

To decide whether to attack in duels and teamers is pretty easy: You do so, if it will hurt your opponent more than yourself. However in any kind of ffa style games, the third-party is added to the equation, namely all the other players in the game. Now the question is not, whether it will hurt your opponent more, not even whether you can kill him or kill him fast. The question is if you gain an advantage for yourself from that attack for the overall game.

Obviously this influences how experienced players play in order to not get attacked, which is close to always a way, that would surely get you killed in duels.  So when you see someone not having much army next to you, so you could kill him some cities, that doesn´t mean you should do so. Because then you are in a war, that costs ressources, while those players who are not involved, happily outtech you.  Actually you can close to always kill someone if you really want to, but rarer attacking someone makes sense.

There are some basic rules you should check before attacking someone. Of course there are exceptions, but as a general guideline they work very well: Read more…

Ironman/ffa: Interaction of traits and choice of leader

December 29, 2009 4 comments

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


Ironman/ffa: maps, difficulty, settings – How to adapt

December 23, 2009 5 comments

Continuing the series on Ironman/ffa (see here for “Traits in ffa and Ironman”) this article is going to describe what impact different maps and other options like difficulty have on the game, how you need to adopt your game style to that and what influence that has on how good the different traits and civs are, with a special focus on choice of civ.

Ironman or ffa-diplomacy

First games have to be categorized into two groups: Ironmans and ffa-diplo games. both formats can be played on all kinds of maps, but the game format itself already has a lot of impact on the way the game will be played.

Ironman means that the game is played with always war option checked and no kind of communication about the game being allowed. This makes the game a lot more militaristic, because you cannot keep yourself safe by negotioating non-aggression pacts (nap), but have to keep a constantly updated defensive force at your borders. Especially Ironmans on open maps like Pangaea often become very aggressive. Still there is a lot of unspoken diplomacy in an Ironman, which I will describe at another point.
As an additional note happiness is a far bigger issue in Ironman than in ffa-diplo, because you cannot trade any resources and are stuck with what you get from the map generator.

ffa-diplo games are more communicative then Ironman games, so they are more peaceful in most cases. People can make non aggression pacts, trade resources and have trade routes. This favours peaceful buildup and makes waging war more difficult then in an Ironman. Additionally war weariness is a far bigger issue, because the decrease from always war option doesn´t take effect. Something important you should talk about before starting an diplo game, is weather you are ok with 2v1 and breaking diplomatic agreements. For example in the german ffa community (BF) both was very uncommon, though not strictly forbidden by the rules, (Btw. If someone is talking about BF-style game, he means this format), while in other communities it is more common. One way or the other making sure beforehand that everyone expects the same from the game, will spare everyone a lot of trouble afterwards.


I cannot describe the possible effects of every map, but fortunately they can be categorized into three major groups:

very defensive maps:
Hub, Islands

semi defensive maps:
Ring, Wheel, Grid

open land maps:
Pangaea, Continents, Hemispheres, Fractal, Archipelago &co (basically all the usual “realistic” maps except Islands)

Very defensive maps

The most important characteristics of those are that land grabbing doesn´t play a role and war is virtually impossible till mid/late-game.
This downrates expansion traits, because one of the major reasons for picking those, is that they will let you grab more land then your opponents and thus enable you to convert your early advantage into a longterm advantage as well. But since the amount of land is basically fixed from the start of the game, this isn´t possible here.
Elizabeth (Philo/Fin) is probably the best choice for those settings, but all other Fin and Philo leaders are possible as well. Not picking any of those two traits ins´t recommendable.
Since these games will often develop into pure buildup contests, also your civchoice should be focused on such in a longterm perspective. Civs with UBs that provide happiness (Maya, Ottomans) are very useful and Netherlands is very useful as well, because the Dike will provide you with a lot of useful extra hammers in lategame.
UUs are unimportant, with the exception of Indian Workers for buildup and Eastindiaman and Berserks for boatings.
In general your strategy should be aiming on a longterm buildup race. Expand carefully and get your tech going fast.

Semi defensive maps

Those are very similar to defensive maps, but another factor is added into the equation: landgrabbing and early wars.
On Ring, Wheel and Grid you can fight land wars from the beginning of the game, so everyone has to take care of military from the very beginning. On the other hand attacking someone early rarely makes any sense (only if the map is very small in comparison to the number of players), so you are still focussing on buildup for the major part of the game.
Different is, that you have direct land connections to your opponents, so there is land to fight for. This makes picking expansion traits important, because otherwise your neighbours will settle faster and also can more easily afford building military in the beginning, so they can pressure you and cut themselves a good chunk of land. So better do so yourself.
This is more important on Ironman games, because with diplomacy you will often agree on a “settling-line” with your neighbours very early.
Depending on the mapsize Medieval wars become very attractive (Though on maps with more then 8-10 cities per player they rarely make sense). Especially conquering a weaker or unsuspecting player with a prepared cata-ele-mace stack and quickly slaved knights to rush into the breach can be a way to go.
Also attacking in lategame becomes more of an option, though mostly in Ironmans. When you are leading by a couple of techs on reaching Assembly line, you can attack with Infantry and Artillery covered by Machine Guns.
Games are still decided by space-race in most cases – basically all in ffa-diplo. In Ironman it happens that the leading player can conquer one player after the other and it is also safer for him to win that way.
Best leaders are those with one expansion trait and one buildup trait, like Pacal (Fin/Exp), Victoria(Fin/Imp), Peter(Phi/Exp), Civchoice is the same as on very defensive maps, though Netherlands isn´t as good, because there is less water, but Rome and Byzantine become a possible pick for midgame wars, though not very good, because announcing what you are going to do is never the smartest thing.

Open land maps

On open land maps there is the biggest difference between ffa-diplo and Ironman games. While with ffa-diplo they can, depending on the players, still be quite peaceful, in an Ironman you will be on the brink of open warfare from the very first to the very last turn. FFA-diplo games will be similar in many cases, at least under the surface.
War is possible at any point of the game, so you have to keep your eyes open and your power high all the time. The best way to prevent war is to be prepared for war.
Furthermore landgrabbing becomes a huge issue, because borders are in no way pre-designed by the mapskript and have to be fought about.
How tight things actually become is dependant on the mapsize. When players are hardly able to plant 6 cities each, several wars will certainly take place early. With about 10 cities each, landgrabbing is still a huge issue and expansion traits most important, but fighting wars isn´t useful early because others will take away the land you could have settled.
In general you should only start a war (except early rushing), when you have planted all the land you can get. Just planting cities is always cheaper then taking them from someone else.
On tight open land maps an expansion trait is basically a must pick, you may even prefer a second or Agg to Fin or Philo. Though when playing something like Hemispheres, where it is more likely to have some space and a continent with two or three player, economy traits become better again.
The choice of civ is changed more dramatically. On the one hand the “natural” mapscripts provide less happiness resource problems on average, while on the other hand picking civs for UUs becomes a lot more interesting.
You can pick for Anti-rushing UUs like Holkan and Skirmisher. You can pick for rushing UUs, like Immortals, Impis and War Chariots and you can pick for midgame UUs like Praets and Catraphacts. On an open land map you will probably be picking UUs over UBs.
Anyway this category has most variety. A Hemispheres map with 5 continents and 7 players, is more like Islands, while Pangaea is the worst aggro map you can get. Check the mapsettings carefully, also taking factors like sealevel into consideration before deciding on your picks. Furthermore you should get some experience how big the individual mapscripts are. For example a standard low sea pangaea with eight players is still very tight, while low sea, eight players on Hemispheres is a huge map with lots of space.

Further notes on mapsize

You will probably be playing 90% of your games on standard size, so this doesn´t matter much. However it should be mentioned that the mapsize in the options is having an impact on the rise of city maintenance costs in relation to the number of planted cities. So if you ever get to play a small map, you should consider it equals to slightly increasing the difficulty, so you should give Organized and early courthouses some more consideration.


Most MP games are played on noble difficulty. However in Ironman and ffa games players sometimes decide to use higher difficulty for a change. This has influence on several things, especially the value of certain traits, the way you have to expand and the use of waging war.
Higher difficulties rate down expansion traits heavily, because expanding fast will let your economy crash hard. Organized becomes a very useful trait, because city maintenance and civic upkeep costs are higher. In general the focus is changed to economy traits, and picking two of those becomes a far better option.
Additionally you have to adopt your game style in general. Focus on working cottages very early and think twice before planting another city. Same goes for war, because another 6 cities will have a bigger impact on your city maintenance in all cities and thus your science rate.
Concerning choice of civ higher difficulties make Holy Rome and Zulu interesting picks, because you can reduce your city maintenance costs by 70%/75% instead of just 50%. (read here about Ikhanda/Rathaus) This can have huge impact. Though Holy Rome has the better and more straightforward boost, Zulu is probably the better choice, because Holy Rome´s starting techs are very bad, while Zulu is having good ones. This also depends on weather you are building barracks anyway, because you are in an aggressive game or not.

Starting techs

When choosing your civ, also check the starting techs of each, besides UB and UU. This is an often underestimated factor that can cause quite some problems with early expansion. In Ironman and ffa you should go worker first in 95% of the games, so that worker needs to be able to do something. When you have starting techs mysticism and fishing they don´t help you at all. Now Imagine you have only an animal food resource and lots of forest. You need to research two techs (Agriculture/Hunting + Animal Husbandry) to be able to connect your food (resource and then another two (Mining + Bronze Working), till your worker can do something else.
Basically they can be rated like this:
1 Agriculture, Mining
2 Wheel
3 Hunting
4 Mysticism
5 Fishing
The first two will let your worker immediately do something useful, while enabling you to research tech Animal Husbandry and Bronze Working immediately as well.
With Wheel your workers at least always have something to do and it’s a pretech for Pottery.
Hunting at least enables you to research Animal Husbandry right away, though not being of much help itself.
Mysticism and Fishing are virtually useless, though the first at least is something you always need at some (early) point.

Picking a civ with only one starting tech of 1 and 2 is ok and leaves you with a very low risk of getting problems. Picking two bad starting techs is something you should avoid.

5v5 Ironman Teamer PPP vs. NBK & friends, 2nd half

December 20, 2009 3 comments

*UPDATE* (21st Dec 09)

Shortly after the game resumed, [PPP] updated their massive power lead consisting of Knights and Currasiers into Russian Cossacks and razed an overall of eight cities of [NBK] (for power lead see check graph seen in the beginning of the video). From there on the already existing technological advantage brought them both Mining and Sushi Inc., also grabbing the happiness wonders Hollywood, Rock’n’Roll and Broadway together with the Eiffel Tower, losing the less important Pentagon same turn. In the end [PPP]’s 79 cities gave them ranks 1,2 and 3 in production together with a technological lead, while the game wasn´t far away from Space Race getting started.

Here a video which starts at the beginning of the Cossack attack. In order to watch it in full mode, you need to go here.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

As for the author, I was gifting money all game to keep my team mates at 100% research, myself not building any research enhancing buildings and staying at 100% money rate – if the game had continued I would have build libraries, observatories and universities within 3-4 turns into almost all cities and turned up my research, while jaegga would have kept on saving money. Till that point we had basically only three people teching, I saved and used about 20000 gold for various upgrades and building buys, not counting of course the per-turn gold I was gifiting. I actually had just started switching to technology, when they conceeded, meaning there was quite some potential for increasing our research rate further.

Here a screenshot of my gold city 😛 (click it to enlarge) – notice that Sushi isn´t spread in all our cities, yet.:

20th Dec 09

Tonight from around 19:00 CEST on the second half of the Ironman Teamer game between clans [PPP] and [NBK] will be played. A live stream of the game will be available from around 19:00 CEST on at:

fastmoves livestream channel

The game is going into its deciding phase now. [NBK] just lost a culture bombed city at the front of Moineau with HolyRome to a slow stack that didn´t move on, but retreated after the city kill.