A German Strategy
I know what you think. Germany is only good for beer and making fun of their David Hasselhoff obsession. Germany consistently makes the bottom 5 in everybodyís tier rankings. I think this is a result of them not having any great advantages in the ancient era (when a lot of the advantaging is to be done) and the belief that they are a one-trick pony; the misconception that Germany is only good for the elite warrior upgrade trick.
So Iím here to tell you that this just isnít the case. If you can come through the ancient era okay, you will come into full bloom in medieval. This is the time to take the reins of the game and never let them go.
What do you have going for you?
None of your advantages suck. In fact, they all sort of complement one another. Most players donít expect a whole lot out of Germany, so you could take someone unaware. Once you hit the medieval period, you become hands down the best production civ in the game. The trick is just to press whatever advantage you can gain.
What do you have against you?
You arenít going to be that great at taking capitols in ancient. You have no technology advantages. You have no cultural advantages. You arenít the best expander. One of your starting advantages (elite upgrades) doesnít actually help at all at the start of the game.
So how do you make the most of it?
Production is key. Production can bring expansion (settlers), technology (libraries), culture (temples and wonders) and conquest (tanks and battleships). As long as you can out produce your opponents, you should be able to catch them in any other arena.
Thereís rarely a good reason to move your settlers as Germany. Sometimes you may want to look around and see if you could move a space to get more forest tiles to work later. Make sure youíve still got at least two grasslands and two sea tiles (you could try going without sea tiles, but thatís really a tricky advanced strategy that will probably blow up in your face).
Your first goal is to produce 2-4 warriors. You will at least want to spend your first five turns with both workers on trees hammering out warriors. It may be necessary to spend the next five turns at that as well. This is not ideal, but sometimes you have a lot of ground to cover and you donít get much money. In a perfect world, you will hammer out two warriors and switch to growth, quickly rushing a third warrior. Now go raise hell!
This is an okay advantage in the ancient era. For starters, your warriors may be able to bully those of your opponentsí. You wonít win every time, even if you have the advantage, but players will tend not to want to attack your warriors as they will normally not do any better than 1.5-1.5. Your hearty warriors will also be able to claim barbs a bit faster. If your warrior has 1 wound, youíll still have an even 1 strength, typically defeating the 0.5 defense of barbs. Normally I donít like to attack barbs with wounded warriors. But if they are veteran, the odds are good enough and Iíll attack. This can help you beat your enemies to those precious barbs and get your 100 gold a bit faster.
As mentioned before, youíre not probably going to upgrade any units in the ancient era, but that doesnít mean we donít want to plan to take full advantage of this bonus later. You should try to get as many of your initial warriors as possible to elite status. Do not form these elite warriors into the same army unless youíve got a real prize in sight (like a city that doesnít have archers or something). The plan is to get through the expansion phase and eventually turn these elite warriors into armies using either warriors or legions (doesnít matter because they have the same price). Then these armies will eventually become elite knight armies and then elite tank armies. I usually try to get two elite warriors, but more is obviously better. Itís just that you wonít normally find enough barbs to make more than two of your warriors elite.
Even though your warriors start off as veterans, that doesnít mean youíll be very successful at rushing other civs very often. You will need to get to them very quickly, like inside of 10 turns. Thatís tough with the plodding German warriors. If you find that youíve started very close to another player or the AI, you should give it a try. You may have up until like 2500 BC to rush the AI with warriors, but eventually itíll get archers as well. So itís really nice to be able to get a free city with your warriors, but you shouldnít hinge your strategy on it. Good players will never be defeated by your vet warriors.
Your vet warriors actually make pretty good defenders against opposing horse armies. A great way to kill an enemy horse army is to pounce from a hill (attack 6) or wait until the horses have killed your archers, then counter attack. I once had an opponent come at Berlin very early with a veteran horse army. I hadnít researched Bronze Working yet, but I saw him coming and rushed a warrior army. As soon as he came into view, I attacked and beat him 6-4.5. Note that your vet warriors should not be used in lieu of archers. Rather, they should supplement them by counterattacking or, in a pinch, may hold your city against Impis or other fast rushers while you get archers.
Staying in ancient
A trick Iíve been messing around with is trying to get Code of Laws while still in the ancient era, rush a pile of settlers, then get to medieval before settling a bunch of 3 pop cities. To do this, you need to research ONLY these techs: Bronze Working, Alphabet, Writing, and Code of Laws. If you get any other techs, you will end up in medieval and your rush costs will go up. Also, if you begin your turn with 250 or more gold, youíll wind up with Currency and if your beaker count hits 20, youíll probably backfill something. So you need to watch all these things and stay in ancient, but accumulate as much gold as possible (under 250) with 3-5 cities. All this can be a little tricky and really all youíre getting out of it is a savings of 20 gold per settler. Thatís nice, but not worth bending over backward for. Just make sure you arenít actually founding these cities until medieval or itíll be all for naught.
If it doesnít seem worthwhile to stay in ancient as described above, you should get to medieval as soon as possible. The forest production bonus is what Germany is all about and you want to have it immediately, if not sooner. You should still sort of direct your research toward Code of Laws (unless you got the Pyramid from Angor Wat in which case you need to switch to Republic, get to medieval and then really cut loose) and hopefully get there around the time you reach medieval. The point here is that you donít want to settle too many 2 pop cities. Those will just take too long to become useful to you.