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Good UB – Bad UB #11: Unique Buildings

March 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Finale

Finalizing the “Good UB – Bad UB” series with those unique buildings that have some effect, but either no real scenario to use them or other drawbacks that make another pick better for a specific strategy. Some have potential uses in very specific scenarios, but aren´t the best option for those strategies. It´s interesting to know though what you can do with them if you get their civ shuffled to you in a random civ/leader ffa game for example.

Madrassa

Unique building for the Arabian; Replaces Library
+25% science; +4 culture; Can turn 2 citizens into priests and 2 into scientists;
Required to build University, National Epic, Great Library
Available for free on Modern and later starts

The Madrasa is a library that gives a city +4 culture instead of +2 culture and that let´s you work 2 additional Prophet to the usual two potential Scientist Specialists. I can think of two ways of using this, each in a different setup.

In an ancient 5v5 teamer where you get a civ shuffled to you randomly (probably the most played setup in common day-to-day multiplayer games), you can use the Madrasa as a small culture bomb in a front city – it´s probably only worth it, if you´re creative and thus get it build much cheaper.

In an Ironman/ffa game a Madrasa could support a GP economy, making it possible to work Scientist and Prophet specialists easily and early. If you get Arabia in an ffa game shuffled to you – especially if you additionally are Philosophical – the way to go is the GP eco. If you can pick freely, you can probably pull this kind of strategy with a different pick just as good or even better. Egypt with its Obelisk comes to mind…

Read more…

Good UB – Bad UB #10: Unique Buildings – Sea Special

February 11, 2010 5 comments

There are no just good or just bad unique buildings

Even though the title suggests different, there are basically no just good or just bad unique buildings (and units). Every UB and UU has to be evaluated in the context of the game settings and overall strategy it´s supposed to be used in. A (fictional) unique unit archer that gets +100% against melee units is useless in a game played on Islands, where you have no (military) contact with your opponents until Astronomy is researched and archers are long obsolete. A unique building is good if it significantly supports a (playable) strategy.

This edition is all about sea related buildings. Those suck, if there is no or few sea, obviously – so there is no point in judging them for land based setups. Instead I´ll try to come up with scenarios where they could be of use.

Cothon

Unique building for Carthage; Replaces Harbor
Can only be built in a coastal city; requires Optics
+1 trade route; +50% commerce from trade routes
+1 health from Fish, Crab, Clams

The Cothon is a harbour that additionaly provides the city that built it with one more trade route. It does half of what the Great Lighthouse does,  if you get it into every coast city of your empire. In any game where you cannot profit massively from additional trade routes picking for the Cothon is not an option. In order to profit from Trade Routes you need most of your cities being planted next to sea, you need quite a few cities overall and you require the possibility to trade with other civs. Consequently in any game played on “always war” hence no diplomacy (and with it no open borders for trade routes) you won´t profit from picking Cathage (unless it´s a teamer Ironman).

The main way of trying to use and abuse the Cothon is a game on Archipelago or a similar map in a Single Player or ffa game where any city is a coast city and getting the more profitable intercontinental trade routes comes automatically. Build the Great Lighthouse and the Cothon, negotiate open borders with any opponent you scouted quickly with Caravels and watch the output from Trade Routes play a more significant role in your overall GNP than ever before. Read more…

Good UB – Bad UB #9: Unique Buildings in civilization multiplayer

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

There are no just good or just bad unique buildings

Even though the title suggests different, there are basically no just good or just bad unique buildings (and units). Every UB and UU has to be evaluated in the context of the game settings and overall strategy it´s supposed to be used in. A (fictional) unique unit archer that gets +100% against melee units is useless in a game played on Islands, where you have no (military) contact with your opponents until Astronomy is researched and archers are long obsolete. A unique building is good if it significantly supports a (playable) strategy.

Bad

Apothecary

Unique building for Persia; Replaces Grocer
+2 health
+1 health from Banana, Spices, Sugar, and Wine
+25% gold
Can turn 2 citizens into Merchants

Garden

Unique building for Babylon; Replaces Colosseum
+1
+2 health
+1 per 20% culture rate

Both the Apothecary and the Garden provide an additional +2 health, one being a Colosseum, the other a Grocer. The only use for Colloseums/Grocers is in longer games like Ironman and even there those two are very low priority and mostly get only build in a few cities if at all. Health on the other hand isn´t too hard to come by, especially in longer games where you expand vastly (or lose).

Good

Dike

Unique building for the Dutch; Replaces Levee
+1 hammer on the city’s river and water tiles
Can only be built in a coastal or riverside city

The Dike is is a levee that additionally provides water tiles with 1 hammer. Also you can build it into any coast city, not just cities next to a river. not just the  It´s a great building that finds its uses on many different settings. Any setup that involves Space Race and water can make good use of it. With Golden Age you can have tiles that otherwise wouldn´t be doing any production give you 2 hammers per turn. On maps like Archipelago or Islands the production coming from dikes can be a big portion of the overall production of an empire, giving the Dutch player a significant advantage over a non-Dutch in the later parts of the game, be that for Space Race or for producing units.

For Good UB – Bad UB part #1 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #2 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #3 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #4 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #5 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #6 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #7 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #8 click here

Good UB – Bad UB #8: Unique Buildings in civilization multiplayer

January 8, 2010 4 comments

There are no just good or just bad unique buildings

Even though the title suggests different, there are basically no just good or just bad unique buildings (and units). Every UB and UU has to be evaluated in the context of the game settings and overall strategy it´s supposed to be used in. A (fictional) unique unit archer that gets +100% against melee units is useless in a game played on Islands, where you have no (military) contact with your opponents until Astronomy is researched and archers are long obsolete. A unique building is good if it significantly supports a (playable) strategy.

Bad

Dun

Unique building for Celts; Replaces Walls
+50% defense (except vs. gunpowder-based units)
-50% damage from bombard (except from Gunpowder units)
Required to build Castle
Free Guerilla I promotion for land units

The Dun are walls that additionally provide land units with a Guerilla I promotion. At first look this sounds pretty interesting, but there are aspects about it that limit the uses for this building a lot. The first is the fact that you are already Celtics, having a Guerilla I promotion on your Swordsman anyway – meaning the only other units in an ancient game where the promotion makes sense and is applicable is the archer. Since the Dun requires Masonry to be researched (which is in most ancient games very low priority) AND has to be build first, your double-hill archer come pretty late to do any damage with their additional ability in the early parts of the game, where this could still be possible. So for sending out early archers the cost of getting two buildings (barracks, Dun) and a low-priority technology is too high to make that effective. You´ll rather be sending out Swords anyway – and not build the Dun and not research Masonry very early. Read more…

Good UB – Bad UB #7: Unique Buildings in civilization multiplayer

December 22, 2009 10 comments

There are no just good or just bad unique buildings

Even though the title suggests different, there are basically no just good or just bad unique buildings (and units). Every UB and UU has to be evaluated in the context of the game settings and overall strategy it´s supposed to be used in. A (fictional) unique unit archer that gets +100% against melee units is useless in an game played on Islands, where you have no (military) contact with your opponents until Astronomy is researched and archers are long obsolete. A unique building is good if it significantly supports a (playable) strategy.

Bad

Obelisk

Unique building for Egypt; Replaces Monument
+1 culture
+1 for Charismatic leaders
Can turn 2 citizens into priests

The Obelisk is a Monument that additionaly allows you to work up to two Prophet specialists in a city. First of all there is very little use for Prophets in Multiplayer outside of Ironman/ffa games. There there are a couple of uses for them like founding a Religion’s holy building in a Holy City or attaching them to a city for additional production and gold, especially early on. Getting wonders like Stonehenge, Oracle and especially Artemis Temple for those Prophets is kind of a possible strategy – or better named – an answer to certain situations the map generator sometimes throws you into in an Ironman like game. Probably more on this from Shizanu some time soon…  Unlike in certain setups in Single Player it´s not a good idea to spend a Great Prophet on bulbing for example Theocracy in Multiplayer.

The main aspect though isn´t even so much whether Prophets are useable in a good way or not, but the fact that in a long game that´s all about research, you want to get a scientist for an academy first and probably another couple of those to settle in your capital afterwards. What the Obelisk could do best is getting you a Prophet earlier then anyone else can – you don´t want a Prophet that early though and even if you did, you´d rather do it via Stonehenge/Artemis/Oracle + Temple.

So in a long term game you don´t want Prophets as early as a monument which the Obelisk´s ablity could do (especially you also don´t want to invest into getting that Prophet that early) – and even if you did, working one Prophet takes a Philosophical leader twelve turns to pop the Great Prophet, that´s pretty long, it´s 24 turns for a non-Philosophical already. Egypt is picked mostly for its Warchariots (read about those here) in ancient, classical and sometimes even medieval start games. There its task is getting as many warchariots as soon as possible, not spamming GPs which can´t even bulb important technologies. There is little synergy between strategies that involve warchariots and those that involve breeding specific GPs like Prophets which rather have a long term effect no matter what used for.

Two rather subtle aspects are the main positive uses for egypt´s Obelisk. If you get it in a random leader long-term game like an Ironman, you´ll be able to later on in the game when having a surplus of food work next to scientists and the one engineer from forge, also Prophet(s). Overall that gives you slightly more options and in the course of a 200 turns game diversifies your GP pool in so much that you get more different GPs for Golden Ages. The other aspect being a point race in an ancient or classical start, where egypt can – if it realizes in time – get a prophet or even two for Golden Age(s) or bulbing a technology, both in order to gain more points.

Good

Odeon

Unique building for the Greek; Replaces Colosseum
+3 culture
+2 ; +1 from Hit Singles; +1 per 20% culture rate
Can turn 2 citizens into artist

The Odeon is a Colosseum that provides you with an additional happiness (good in long term games just like the Hammam, the Ball Court and the Mausoleum) and also lets you work two artists at a point in the game where no other civilization can do that by any means. Only Greece can get an artist for a culture bomb (read about culture bombs here under “D.” ) in ancient, classical and early medieval at all. Due to the fact that this requires putting one city aside for a considerable amount of time and building the Colosseum into it before that (and having researched Construction for the Colosseum) this is not always a good thing to invest into – but it can well be. The longer the (ancient/classical) game, the higher the probability that the investment is worth it. Main reason why Greece isn´t a “high pick” on those eras is that the Odeon cannot be put to great use everytime since even an artist is not able to make you catch up if the game has been going bad the first half – and in that first half other civs shine more. Still an option and especially in random civ/leader games a fine thing to get if you know how to put it to use efficiently.


For Good UB – Bad UB part #1 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #2 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #3 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #4 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #5 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #6 click here

Good UB – Bad UB #6: Unique Buildings in civilization multiplayer

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

There are no just good or just bad unique buildings

Even though the title suggests different, there are basically no just good or just bad unique buildings (and units). Every UB and UU has to be evaluated in the context of the game settings and overall strategy it´s supposed to be used in. A (fictional) unique unit archer that gets +100% against melee units is useless in an game played on Islands, where you have no (military) contact with your opponents until Astronomy is researched and archers are long obsolete. A unique building is good if it significantly supports a (playable) strategy.

Bad

Assembly Plant
Unique building for Germany; Replaces Factory
+1 unhealthiness; +2 unhealthiness from Oil and Coal
Can turn 4 citizens into Engineers
+25% hammer (+50% hammer with Power)
+50% hammer with Coal

The Assembly Plant is a factory that receives a 50% production bonus from coal and that lets a player work four Engineer specialists instead of two. The main reason to want to be able to work Engineers is the wish of getting a Great Engineer which can be used in order to build one of the corporations Mining Inc. / Creative Constructions. Those are gone in any slightly competetive game once Assembly Line, the prerequisite for Factories, is researched. In any case you cannot research Assembly Line and only then go for the corporations if you want to have a chance of getting them.

It is very rarely a good idea (or sign of a not optimal buildup) to work additional engineer specialists instead of tiles if the goal is increasing production of a city. Those very few instances don´t justify picking for the Assembly Plant.

Finally there is the additional +50% hammer with Coal. At the point in a game where you build factories, city production is already high and numerous other bonuses are available. In an Ironman you have the forge, you have an additional hammer from Universal Suffrage on your towns, potential levees, maybe a Golden Age increasing all those hammers from towns by 100% from 1 to 2 (a Golden Age at this point is very common in an Ironman), railrods on mines, corporations, you might even be Organized (double production for factories) etc. In a modern or future start game, you run a workshop economy anyway, having vast production with Caste System and State Property – so a factory is done in a turn or two anyway, not mentioning that in such a scenario you even have the option of putting a chop into it as well.

In any case, the additional 50% hammer with coal doesn´t do much, at best safe you a few turns in an Ironman like game (2-3 might already be optimistic). Such a gain is meaningless seeing how late this building occurs in the game.

Good

Mausoleum
Unique building for the Indians; Replaces Jail
+4 Espionage; +50% Espionage
+2
-25% War
Can turn 2 citizens into spy

Hammam

Unique building for Ottomans; Replaces Aqueduct
+2 health
+2

Ball Court
Unique building for the Maya; Replaces Colosseum
+3
+1 per 20% culture rate

These are a colloseum, an aqueduct and a jail that additionaly to what they usually do provide an extra +2 . This makes their three civs belong to the absolute top of picks in an Ironman / ffa game (click here for an article on game types in civ multiplayer). The reason being that while running a Cottage Economy (which is basically always, though not necessary solely)  and in later game changing to civics “Universal Suffrage” + “Free Speech” + “Emancipation” etc. confronts you with a happines cap (max amount of population you can have till you get unhappy citizens) that is the main limiting factor of how big your cities can become. Those three buildings increase that cap by two, resulting in 20 or so cities being able to grow two population further each – that´s a lot of additional production, commerce and points.

The main differences between the three lie in the nature of the buildings they are replacing – though the main argument for which you pick in an Ironman rather being the starting techs of the civ and additionaly which Unique Unit they provide.

The Mausoleum (jail) comes rather late and is not a must have in every city, but in another way of argumenting you get +2 and potentially some advantage on spy points you´d otherwise not have seem worth getting for the needed investment.

The Ball Court requires Construction, which in many (most…) Ironman games is a technology with low priority you avoid for a very long time and start to want only if you have to defend against an attack and require catapults or finally want to attack your opponent, sometimes never. Since Ironman games though are in their nature games where you most of the time have to build up your empire first (till around guilds the first big attack waves come), you don´t want to tech Construction too soon. Not a big argument against the Ball Court, but plays a role more often then you´d think.

The Hammam is an aqueduct which you get with Mathematics, which is very high priority. Aqueducts you build anyway and together with their usual +2 health make the Hammam crawl up in the build order even a little bit more. They come early (though aren´t required necessarily too early), come with a must have technology  and the building they replace is a must build in Ironman anyway.

Overall Ottomans have great starting techs (and Janissary are nice, too in Ironman), India has the Fast Worker and Maya the Holkan for being safe early against an opponent sending a couple of chariots. For a long game of civ without a city elimination with lots of buildup it probably goes 1. India 2. Ottomans 3. Maya. Besides that there aren´t many other civilizations that can compete with those three as picks in such a scenario.

For Good UB – Bad UB part #1 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #2 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #3 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #4 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #5 click here

A Flop5 of Unique Units

December 8, 2009 18 comments

After I had some fun with the Top 7 List of Unique Units now a Flop 5 of those. Thanks to Moineau for the idea 😉

The idea is to evaluate in what possible scenarios each unique unit can be of help and how much so. Those that have the fewest scenarios where you want to have them are the weakest, the floppiest :P. That does not mean that each of those units is generally useless. Actually all unique units have a place in a possible scneario in a game, unlike some unique buildings which basically have zero positive effect.

Don´t nail me on the exact order. It was much tougher then with the Top list and it really got pretty random. The order is solely for fun, it would be impossible to nail those units down since they are rarely picked or used in multiplayer games with picked civs (for good reason), so which is better or worse exactly is sheer speculation.  For the record, the two units that dogged this list the closest were the Numidian Cavalry and the Oromo Warrior, especially the last one could be on the list just as well, just in itself it´s a pretty nice unit, only it doesn´t have any setup where you would want to pick Ethiopia and produce single move units.

5. Camel Archer

Unique unit for Arabia; Replaces Knight
Immune to first strikes
Doesn’t receive defensive bonuses
Can withdraw from combat (15% chance)
Flank attack versus Catapults and Trebuchet

The Camel is a Knight wiht 15% retreat chance that can be build without horse or iron. The 15% are negligible in normal battle situations, that´s every 7th Knight that would retreat. In longer games you have horse and iron anyway (or are in bad shape..). There are only two scenarios where the camel archer does something better then a normal Knight.

One being that you do a 2-city-rush in a Renaissance start teamer game, where you can be sure to be able to produce Knights from the start without having to plant and hook iron and horse. In a competetive game this though is a strategy that only rarely can work and most of the time will cost you your entirely buidup for the rest of the game. The opponent can have iron or at least copper in near distance on balanced ressources, it´s very likely that he wil get one into his first two cities. Also he can be traded a metal pretty easily by his team mates once his explorer sees that his neighbour is Arabia. The most promising 2-city-rush is the India with horse and iron in first two cities since India can chop forests a lot faster giving it much higher production early on, Arabia 2-city-rush basically can only work against weaker opponents.

The second way of putting Arabia to use is the Industrial Start camel archer upgrade strategy. Usually in an Industrial start you cannot build Knights anymore. This is not true for Arabia though which can build its camels as long as it does not hook iron and horse. Camels are cheaper then cavalry and can be spammed our in quite big masses very fast. A possible strategy in industrial is to pick a Spiritual/Aggressive Bycantine and use Nationhood to the fullest (drafting!!), while staying on the three initial cities. The unhappiness is countered by building Hippodromes (read about Hippodrome here) and putting the culture slider up. All three players safe money and the Arab upgrades all his Camels to Cavalry. Third player gets as many Knights as possible and front players (preferably the Bycantine with his slow stack) gets some Trebuchets and Catapults as well (builds them, next to drafting Rifles). If it works, a player is dead, but in any case the buildup of the team doing tihs is totally and entirely gone. All is farms, no tech build up, no expansion done. I´ve seen more then one game where a kill occured and still the other team won 2v3 with superior producing capabilities for the next 30 or 40 turns.

4. Carrack

Unique unit for Portugal; Replaces Caravel
Cargo Space: 2
Can explore rival territory w/o triggering war

The Carrack has the problem that there aren´t many scenarios for earlier era multiplayer where water plays a big role. Even from such potential scenarios not all would fit the abilities of the carrack. If in a medieval game you have land and water connection between opponets, investing hammers into producing boats might result in losing the land battle. Also Optics, the pre-requisite tech lies on a technological path that has a low priority. Both Compass and especially Optics don´t have insignificant costs to get them early, also to get them instead of other techs first. Also the carrack would shine most if it came very early on a ancient or classical setup where each player assumes he is safe till galeons (Astronomy) and just builds up without any defense units. Then it still is a costly endevour to invest 40 hammers for each 2 units one wants to boat. Finally opponents always have the possibility to build caravels themselves and attack potentially loaded Carracks.

Main argument for the Carrack is the potential surprise factor of getting units into opponent´s land at a time or sometimes place he wouldn´t expect. There can´t be any strategy around this since if it became clear that investing the hammers would result in a “good” attack via boating, people would tech Optics themselves and counter the Carracks with Caravels, fighting for sea control. Carracks only can work if someone is unaware of what might happen or just ignores it. The threat of potentially something happening is actually the biggest argument for the Carrack. Don´t research Optics, don´t build Carracks, just hope your opponent is afraid of them and takes unnecessary counter measures instead at the cost of buildup.

3. Ballista Elephant

Unique unit for Khmer; Replaces War Elephant
+50% vs. Mounted units
Doesn’t receive defensive bonuses
Targets Mounted units first in combat outside cities

The Ballista Elephant works only a little bit in defense. In offense it has no additional bonus and it still moves only one tile unlike the prefered stacks of medieval and Renaissance (Knights!) mostly do. So no bonus in offense. In defense it also doesn´t really shine since first of all players rarely attack with mixed stacks of 2-mover and 1-movers hence the bonus of hitting the mounted units first has not many scenarios where it can trigger.Second not in all defense situations can you hit the opposing units, sometimes you have to take the hit. Then the Elephant you build for additional defensive value doesn´t get any defense bonus from being in a city.

2. Conquistador

Unique unit for Spain; Replaces Cuirassier
Can flank attack cannons
Can withdraw from combat (15% chance); +50% vs. Melee Units
Immune to first strikes
Gets defense bonus from tiles/cities

The Conquistador is a Cuirassier that gets +50% vs. Melee Units and profits from defense bonus. The first problem with cuirrasiers is that they are not buildable from the beginning of any era start (mid Renaissance, not anymore in Industrial). The second problem is that they don´t stay for long. Rifles and Cavalry come very quick in the tech path. Next in a normal team game when you attak with Cuirassiers opponents defend with Knights, Cuirassiers and Muscets and catapults, not anymore with pikes, if they did ever. So the bonus against melee units doesn´t applay. The “gets defense part” can be useful here or there, but is rarely useful. So this little bit of usefulness is countered by the sort time you get it and by the fact that cuirassiers only are on the scene for a short period of time.

Main idea for a strategy would be maybe in an Ironman where you research Military Tradition with a priority while building a big stack of Knights and saving money, then upgrading all your Knights to Conquistadors which can attack an opponent whose pikes will be useless against the melee bonus, potentially plowing through his land since he doesn´t have any counter unit at this point. This would be only possible with a tech lead at least against the player you are attacking. Massive Cuirassier upgrading is an option in many Ironman/ffa games, Cuirassiers really would shine in such a scenario.

1. Vulture

Unique unit for Sumeria; Replaces Axeman
+25% vs. Melee Units

The Vulture sits on the throne of the King of Flop for only one reason. It has 33% with same promotions flat both in defense and offense against a normal axe. Same bad ratio applies to other battles involving defense or other offense bonuses.The situations where you have to fight versus Axes having only metal occur very often in average ancient start games. Usually you´d build an axe yourself and would have an equal unit taking promotions aside. With the Vulture you simply get less for your hammers in comparison to your opponent.

Though I don´t want to let it be unmentioned that there are two aspecs about the Vulture which are very nice in one specific situation. The main being that with copper in the fatcross you can build the Vulture, a 6-strength-unit while usually you´d have gotten “only” an axe with 5-strength. The difference then gets a meaning if your opponent has no metal and has to defend with archers against which Vultures have better odds then axes. Also in case of horse, the Vulture has generally better odds to survive a battle, still not a good idea though to play solely with Vultures against Chariots ;).