1-city Puppeteering Infinite City Sprawl Strategy
Thread is under the process of updating!
A Foreword before I start
After exactly 497 turns on standard game speed, on a tiny map set to 2 vs 2 North vs South settings, I finally got a size-50 population on my Capitol.
I started out on a land with a significant amount of desert and plains, with not much grassland around me, and I wasted a few precious turns building troops to defend myself against Elizabeth, who was grabbing land and resources using settlers right next to my Capitol. Had I started out on an area with lots of grassland, and not spent so much time on war, a size-53 city might be achievable. In my opinion, I think size-55 should be the theoretical maximum for my city, but if started on a good piece of land, size-60 cities might be possible. On a huge map with 15 or so allied maritime city-states with the appropriate Patronage policies, I think size-70 might even be possible.
I got every single one of the Tradition, Piety and Freedom social branches (in ascending order) to boost food production and happiness in my Capitol, while keeping unhappiness levels low. Civil Service and Fertilizer provided a tremendous boost to my food production, while Hospitals and Medical Labs accelerated my growth rate. In addition, I had 4 allied maritime city-states giving me food every turn.
Now for the actual purpose of this thread.
1-City Puppeteering Infinite City Sprawl Strategy
Anyway, I found a pretty good strategy while trying to get my size-50 city: Simply focus all your resources in just your Capitol alone, max out Tradition as soon as you can, then grab Honor once you ready and build a Heroic Epic in your city. You will be able to build a small elite army capable of making puppets out of 10 or so enemy cities. After that, just get workers to build trading posts around them (effectively Infinite City Sprawl strategy). Use that gold to buy troops, city-states, buildings and upgrades, especially in your Capitol. You will never have to worry about tile maintenance costs, unhappiness levels, soaring social policy costs etc, but still have your 10 or so puppet states tribute you gold, culture and research points each turn.
My social policy cost was very low since I had only 1 core city (my Capitol), and I was getting up to 500-700 culture each turn. I completed 8 out of 10 social policy branches and still had lots of culture to grab Autocracy and Rationalism if I had wanted to (but I did not, since doing so would get rid of Piety, Freedom and Liberty), way before my 500 turns was up. I also had 220 happiness each turn, giving me golden ages every 5-10 intermittent turns. Great people were spawning everywhere and I used them to give golden ages, rush wonders, technologies and build manufactories and merchant outposts around my Capitol.
Due to Honor, all +XP structures in my Capitol plus Heroic Epic and +500 gold/turn, I had a very large army which was pretty much invincible.
If played well, this "1-city Puppeteering Infinite City Sprawl Strategy" can be a very good and viable alternative to the standard "Expansionist Infinite City Sprawl Strategy", since it gives you the best of both words, from typical ICS strategy, and 1-city peaceful strategy:
While a 1-city peaceful strategy gives you the utility of being able to build up a powerful enough city at the start so that you can rush important wonders such as Stonehenge and unlock social policies fast, you will not be able to compete militarily or technologically with other civilizations.
Also, an ICS strategy gives you the exact opposite. You can get a very powerful economy to build up a vast military soon, however there is a set-back. From the start, you will be focusing on expansion, which makes it difficult to capitalize upon the construction of a powerful Capitol that you can use to rush wonders. Such continued expansion causes your rate of required cultural points for the next social policy to fall and scale behind your rate of production of cultural points. While getting a cultural victory with ICS is possible with many cities, because social policy cost increases linearly and not geometrically with the number of cities, you will be slow in unlocking them if you cannot keep up by building monuments to keep up with the pace of expansion.
Justification of the Strategy
A 1-city puppeteering ICS strategy not only combines the best of both worlds, but also augments each of them, and results in new emergent and beneficial properties that far outstrips either one strategy. Here is the explanation:
1) Having 10 or so puppet states which gradually build up monuments, temples and other culture producing structures, while only having 1 Capitol, will in effect allow you to unlock policies at a rate that is proportionate to the number of non-controlled cities divided by your controlled cities. In this case, that factor is 10, which means that ideally, you will unlock policies 10 times as swiftly.
2) Since you are having only 1 city, the effectiveness of your culture-producing wonders become very powerful. If you were to own 10 cities, your Stonehenge will be producing only an average of 0.8 culture per city. However, with a throng of wonders around in just 1 controlled city, you effectively gain a (culture from wonders + culture from monuments/temples/theaters etc. / ulture from monuments/temples/theaters etc.)% speed in acquiring social policies. The more cities you own, the more the amount of culture from wonders will decline, therefore diminishing the percentage gain, which can be stripped down very quickly even with the addition of just 1 new city.
3) The effect of your social policies will scale with the number of puppet states which you have, and since you are unlocking them up to 15 times as fast, you will in effect experience a tremendous multiplier to your empire's economy, for every single puppet city that you own. +5 production to all of them will contribute significantly to your economy. Neither a pure 1-city peaceful strategy nor a purely expansionist ICS strategy can have both the speed of acquisition of social policies nor the size to benefit from this multiplier that mutually augments each other. This is the main "emergent" property that arises from a hybrid vigor between the 2 strategies.
4) With the rate of acquisition of social policies, you can quickly unlock both Commerce and Patronage, and get many maritime city-states to supply food to your all puppet states, while still getting the -25% gold purchase from Commerce. Adding this to Big Ben will increase the purchasing power of your gold by 100%, allowing to get so much gold that you quickly buy anything you want in your Capitol.
5) This hybrid strategy augments the power of capitalizing upon indivisible forms of labor, where quality triumphs over quantity. Having 30 barracks in all your cities is not as good as having just 1 city with a Barracks, Heroic Epic, Arsenal, Forge, Military Base and Armory. With 1-city peaceful strategy, you can have that, but you will lack the gold to buy elite units from the city on demand. With the power of ICS and puppeteering, you gain enough liquidity to force a Just-in-time manufacturing sector in your Capitol that produces the highest quality of a good at the lowest possible cost. The quality? Troops with +45 XP, +15% morale strength bonus, about +100% to unit production speed. The cost? Only 1 city has to build all these instead of 30. Furthermore, using a 1-city Puppeteering ICS strategy requires you to have as big of a population in your Capitol as far as possible. My Capitol was size 50. This meant that the multiplier multiplied by the total production of the city, which is proportionate to your population (especially if you have the Statue of Liberty), becomes very high. This applies to all your modifiers as well. Having a single research lab with a +100% to science in a size-40+ city is better than having the same in 4 size-10 cities. You need not even bother if vertical growth starts to taper off later, because of point (5).
6) This strategy allows you to take advantage of the initial economic boom caused by the vertical growth of 1 super-city, while still enabling you to catch up with other civilizations by utilizing the tremendous horizontal growth of having many puppet cities. In either pure ICS strategy, or 1-city strategy, you can only fixate yourself on one, but not both. I do not need to explain this as it is already self-evident.
7) This strategy enables to mince the offensive and defensive nature of tactics, as well as take advantage of the parallel development of other cities owned by other civilizations or city-states at a very low cost. In typical pure ICS strategy, early military expansion is traded for early city expansion, creating an opening for enemies to exploit. In 1-city strategies, this is the case as well, where enemies will take advantage of your late-game weakness to assault you. This hybrid strategy eliminates the weakness of both strategies. By being on the offense and having a large military due to its mechanism, you will be less likely to be bullied; having an offensive force that is always in conquest mode means that offense is the best defense. Next, what of enemy civilizations that have well-developed cities? Consider them yours right from the start as well. Think of this analogy: a quad core CPU is better than a single core CPU because 3 other cores can produce things parallel and simultaneously on top of the first core. Treat your enemies' cities as the other cores. They are merely there temporarily ... until you use your military to take it back. With such a powerful military elite in this strategy, it is not difficult at all. The enemy has in effect contributed to your overall economy. Building an elite army that can conquer 4 cities is better than developing 4 cities yourself.
Last edited by Codex; 04-09-2012 at 08:58 AM.
Reason: Updating Thread (2012)
Thread is under the process of updating!
Some Tips on the Proper Execution of this Strategy
1) For your Capitol, you should be building mostly farms to ensure that it has a huge population growth. Build a few mines to get production, but never build trading posts unless you are in a desperate situation.
2) Build mostly trading posts for all your puppet states. Include only 1 single farm or two on a lucrative tile to ensure that the population grows fast enough to utilize all of the trading posts. Mines are mostly useless. Build them only for extremely unproductive cities.
3) For the social policies, take Tradition first, then take the +33% wonder construction, then the +33% food growth, and finally the -33% in unhappiness. Next, focus on Honor so that you can build up a powerful military elite that conquer the world. After that, you can choose whatever befits the situation. Freedom followed by the -50% food consumption by specialists, if you want to build a super-capitol. Patronage, if you want to get most out of city-states. Commerce, for the -25% gold. Order for the +5 production in all cities.
4) Almost any civilization should do the trick. For me, I picked either India (lots of Happiness), Japan (For high quality military units) or Greece (so that you spend much much less on getting city-states). These 3 are the best ones for this strategy. Egypt is another another good possibility, since you will rely on building wonders heavily. +20% from its ability plus the +33% from Aristocracy will make a huge difference. Note that for some reason, workshops do not increase wonder building speed. Rome is also possible, considering that you will have a super-capitol with most buildings, the +25% building speed will help for your puppets. China and France are possibly very good civilizations too due to the paper-maker and the +2 free culture per turn.
5) In order for this strategy to work well, you need to get a very high quality but small military as soon as possible. Hence you need to try to unlock the Honor tree as soon as possible, after getting the relevant policies in the Tradition tree (mainly the +33% wonder and the +1 food at the start; you can save up for the +33% food and -33% happiness later on). Quickly grab the free general (+25% more strength), Honor (+15% strength if next to an adjacent unit), the double XP gain policy, and also a barracks followed by a Heroic epic (+15% more strength) in your capitol. This way you can get at least 55% more strength right from the start, which should make easy pickings out of enemy civilizations, who will probably not have a great general so early in the game. Turn on raging barbarians as you please. The +25% from Honor will give you more XP before you start a war.
6) Try to setup maps with lots and lots of city-states and civilizations, typically using low sea-levels, connected land masses if possible, and avoid making the map too large (standard or large would be good; huge would impede the strategy). Such examples include: Standard-Large sized, Any game pace, Pangaea/4 Corners/North vs South/Continents Low sea-level/Terra low sea-level/Plains/Great Lakes etc. with (depending on the size of the map): 4/8 or more (for tiny), 6/12 or more (for small), 8/16 or more (for standard), and 10/20 or more (for large). The more the merrier of course, since you should not even be starting a second city due to reason numbers (1), (2) and (3) in the first thread, and that you will have to get the most out of fast-expanding enemies. Try picking the following civilizations as your enemies, since they tend to use ICS strategy as well and expand very rapidly: Germany, America, France, Russia. Avoid China or India since these 2 hate to expand for some reason. In general, your map should be packed with as many enemy cities for close and quick encounters as far as possible for it to work very well.
7) For beginners or testers who are practicing this strategy, you can try playing team-based games for a start, getting a good partner to help you out a little with research and defense at first. This means considering 2 vs 2 vs 2 vs 2 maps or so on. Try not to go beyond 2 players in your team, since it would defeat much of the whole purpose of facing the challenge when executing this strategy. When you have gained mastery of it, please go solo.
8) As mentioned earlier, you should pick the following civilizations:
1- India: Due to its god-like happiness ... forbidden palace + communism seems to grant happiness instead of remove unhappiness to a godly degree, which explains my 200+ happiness
2- France: The +2 culture helps a lot! If you refer to explanations (1) and (2) in my original thread, it means that if you have 20 puppet states you get +20 culture with only 1 owned city (your Capitol), which means very fast unlocking of social policies
3- Egypt: The +20% boost to wonders followed by another +33% by Aristocracy will help a lot since you will depend heavily on wonders for this strategy. It helps even more considering that workshops do not increase wonder build speed
4- Rome: This is also possible, considering that you will have a super-capitol with most buildings, the +25% building speed will help for your puppets.
5- China: The +4 gold on each paper-maker should help a lot, like in typical ICS strategies. The incredibly powerful +45% great generals will give you a tremendous edge over the enemy right from the start, and lower the risk of early rushes.
6- Japan: Bushido, need I say a thing?
7- Babylon: Because you will eventually have a very large population and so many specialists and wonders in your city, especially with the Freedom branch, you will find great scientists popping out like crazy (I was getting +60 GS points for my capitol. If it were Babylon it would be +120!!!)
8- Germans: Now this civilization is extremely under-estimated. On marathon maps with raging barbarians, you might not even have to build up an army early in the game! You just march in camps and get new troops to muster the bulk of your forces!
9 - Greece: Hellenic becomes very useful later on when you get enough gold to buy allied city-states. With the appropriate Patronage policies, you will effectively get 9 times the effect of paying city-states compared to other civilization (roughly defined as the average amount of gold per turn to sustain a single CS as an ally). This means you can potentially buy all 28 city-states to become your allies. Please do not underestimate Greece, since I have gotten exactly 10 CSs as my allies using only 7 cities without ICS strategy on my 3rd game when I was still a beginner. Due to reasons (1) and (2) in the original thread, if you get 4 cultured city-states to be your allies, you can get 80 culture per turn ... I doubt if you even need wonders ... the effect of cultured city-states get multiplied for the fewer cities that you have, and you have only 1 owned city in this case. Maritime and military city states are some other bonuses. In fact, military city-states would be very useful since the total price of the troops that you receive from them will be far cheaper than what it would have been if you had bought them instead.
Due to the above comparisons, I must somewhat nominate Greece to the champion of this strategy if executed correctly. Plus, its early unique units will make all the difference and get you a proper boom right from the start.
9) You should almost never build troops directly. You should save up gold and buy troops as soon as possible because of their efficient hammer to gold ratio. This will free up precious time for your capitol to build other things (Thanks to Ash_F for the info).
A Word of Caution
There is a risk involved in this strategy: if you fail to build up your super-Capitol at the start, or start at a good location, you will have a hard time catching up later on.
I have not tested this strategy on insanely high levels of AI difficulties, but I believe that it should work for Immortal and below. Anything above might require a completely new strategy, or perhaps a "3 or 4 city Puppeteering ICS strategy" starting with 3 or 4 main cities in order to offset the immense bonuses the AI has at those levels.
Anyway, seeing that this strategy exploits game mechanics to its fullest, and combines not just the best of ICS and 1-city strategies, as well as the fact that offense is always better than defense in Civilization V, it is a very versatile strategy that gives you the potential to win in any of the 5 types of victories. Large population (for research), large military (for domination), large cultural output (for cultural), lots of gold to buy city-states as your ally and eliminate opposing forces (for diplomatic), and everything you need for other purposes (for timed). Finally, unlike the other strategies, this truly is a hybrid vigor. Not only does it take the best traits out of other strategies, it does not take the weaknesses from other strategies as well ...
Best of luck! In my opinion, I hope that ICS gets fixed soon. I did rather not use this strategy if possible though, because of how powerful it is compared to others, causing other strategies to seem meaningless once you have mastered just 1 strategy.
Ideally, I think that the core concept of a game should be balanced around a cyclical set of strategies without a single Nash equilibrium; whereby every strategy has a counter to another, and can be countered in itself. This is the case for games like Starcraft 2. There does not exist a single dominating strategy (or a true Nash equilibrium in game theory), which makes other strategies worthwhile and meaningful to pursue.
Last edited by Codex; 04-09-2012 at 08:59 AM.
Reason: Updating Thread (2012)
Interesting post; I had thought of something similar once for a few moments. Nice to see it work out in an entertaining way.
Question: what level of AI did you have in your game, and how well do you think you can respond to heavy enemy warfare early in the game?
lol well I played with this a little today.
Things were going great with my capital booming and me having captured many early Wonders. I knew I was running very risky with a small military and was getting ready to start beefing it up a little when....
...Siam slammed through my borders with about 8 units to my 2 1/2 (one was a scout). It was over pretty fast.
I'm going to play with it a bit more though- it was fun and different then the normal game of pumping out settlers and expanding. I think in the early game it's just a trick to balance building just enough of a military to keep the jackals at bay while cranking out as many Wonders and infrastructure buildings as you can.
One bad short term decision I made (that would have worked in the long term had I survived), was in purchasing a Mint and Market. I had 3 silver resources so purchasing the Mint boosted my gold output nicely, then purchasing the Market did the same. Over the long term, the multipliers on that early purchase would have worked great. However, in the short term had I spent that 1080 gold on 3 military units I may have been able to repel Siam's initial attack.
Will be fun to try again at least!
^Save money for military units in emergencies. They have the best gold to hammer ratio.
The Great Wall for -1 enemy movement in allied territory is great coupled with siege units. Also, when using only 1 city forts and citadels might not be a bad choise. I haven't tried this but I'm pretty sure you can build these on the grayed out areas where your citizens can't work, if you have had enugh culture to expand that far.
Was playing on Prince, but now I am going to start a new game on Pangaea with more civilizations on a larger map to see how it works.
Originally Posted by EasymodeX
Editing my original post now to answer that question. Please refer to the top in a while.
Edited: Your question has now been answered. Refer to the 2nd thread. Refer to points (5), (8) and (9). (6) and (7) does not answer the question directly, but it may be related indirectly and might be of interest
Cannot edit my first 2 threads any further ... already reached the 10000 character limit for both. Should have reserved a 3rd thread lol ...
Last edited by kaybeebiscuits; 11-10-2010 at 01:18 PM.
Well my second attempt at this strat ended up kind of comical. The strat really never materialized and I ended up playing the game as a OCC.
I started on a nice little peninsula with enough land to fill most city tiles (some were ocean tiles), and a little one-tile wide, 3 tile long strip of land connecting me to the rest of the continent. Looked perfect with very high defensibility. Arabia was on my end of the continent, and Rome, Germany, the Iroquios and the Ottoman's were all at the other end.
So I worked on my city in the early game and made a few more military units then last time and waited for someone to expand close to me to be ripe for conquest. The 4 civs to the east spent centuries mainly fighting each other with the Ottoman's taking the worst of it. Arabia expanded out to about 7 cities then inexplicably stopped. All the land near me just stayed empty almost the entire game- it was bazaar.
Well, eventually Rome began winning the overall war and began to go runaway civ. He steamrolled the rest of the continent, allied most of the CS's, then came for me. This was the comical part.
Here I was with my one little city, probably almost two full era's behind on tech, barely staying positive on cash flow, and had just managed to get my military upgraded to 3 Infantry and 3 Artillery units. Total.
Then there was Rome. Probably 30+ cities, 100k+ gold in the bank, well into the Future era, and almost 400k troops (compared to my 60k). His initial assault was fairly strong with 3-4 waves of gunships, mech infantry and tanks, and rocket artillery, plus some sporadic destroyers and subs to harass from the sea. He tried coming up the isthmus, going into the sea to circle to the back side of my land, and even once (later) tried to culture bomb the isthmus and eliminate the Citadel my lead Infantry was fortified on. My artillery shredded almost everything, and my couple reserve Infantry cleaned up the few units that did manage to make it by sea to land behind my artillery line.
After that it turned into a steady trickle of units making their way into my firing range, and by the end all of my artillery were double attacking each turn, and I had managed to get all the Infantry upgraded to Mech Infantry. I miraculously survived for probably over 70 turns of this behemoth civ assaulting my little glorified city state, and he finally won by building the UN and paying off all the CS's that he hadn't annexed yet.
The conclusion was known for a long time, but it was fun just to see if I could hold off the military assault. On the one hand, it's a good sign for 1 unit/tile that a small, well defended force can hold off overwhelming numbers of more advanced units. On the other hand, it doesn't say much for the AI's ability to wage war. Had he simply hit me from two fronts (one push up the isthmus and an amphibious force circling around the peninsula out of artillery range), he would have slaughtered me. Did I mention that I didn't have one naval vessel and he had complete control of the seas?
The culture bomb was a nice attempt though. Would have worked had he not screwed up and ended the GA's turn within my artillery range instead of hanging back one tile, then on the next turn advance one and drop the bomb.
So I still have yet to try this strat. I didn't think it was going to be so much of a problem to have some other civs reasonably close by to start the puppeting.
Fun OCC though, even though it didn't work. I'd never tried one of those before.
Around what turn did you start trying to gather some puppets? Lol, I think I waited too long.
I have been doing this for a while. Not sure you can call it ICS because that strat is based around stagnating cities on purpose and building coliseums so you never have happiness issues. You do not really have control over that when puppeting.
Although now that puppets are set to gold focus, you can stagnate them if you are crafty with improvements. It usually is not worth it though.
For those asking me when I started to attack: the simple answer is ... as soon as possible.
I was fortunate enough to start out on 2 games where I could use this strategy effectively - a starting location with lots of river tiles, grassland, forests and some hills for mines. Additionally, I was located next to food ... er I mean another civilization and a city-state.
Once I got about 4 units I started to take over 1 city at a time, then made peace, built trading posts, and restarted. In my first scenario, I was as Japan, and I took over Persia (largely thanks to the incredibly hyped and overpowering Bushido, I had no losses at all with just 3 units) who was just next to me. 2 of cities in fact. Then I went on to take another 4 city-states and it was all well to a good start. In the second game, I played as India, and Elizabeth and Washington were right beside me ... a good start, plus the fact that the population growth trait seems to be very glitched if combined with the Forbidden Palace and Communism. I was getting 200+ happiness per turn, but for other civilizations that I tried on this (Japan, and now Egypt), I can at most get 80 happiness each turn. It seems to grant happiness instead of remove unhappiness instead lol ...
Sadly, this strategy seems to require some luck for it to work. It will work if you have a lucky start. Otherwise, you should compensate for it by building up 3-4 cities then start doing this, which in that case, it would be renamed to a "3-4 city puppeteering ICS strategy".
That's what happened in the game I posted above and I tried doing a OCC instead. You do need to have somebody close by.
Originally Posted by kaybeebiscuits
In my current game as Egypt, I had France, Persia and 5-6 CS's all relatively close to me at start. My starting warrior get upgraded to a spearmen by a goody hut, and then I pumped out 3 War Chariots pretty early. France fell before it had even made a 2nd city, then one of the CS's that two other CS's had an issue with (which gave me not only a second puppet, but also friendly with maritime and military CS's which I then paid to go ally). By that point Persia had expanded to 5 cities and was getting snarky about my little conquests, so now his 5 cities belong to me as well.
So it's still in the Ren era, 2 of the 5 rival civs are gone entirely, and I'm about ready to cut Greece, the largest land owner at the moment, down a few notches.
I'm loving the fast social policies with this strat, even with having all the puppet cities. So far, I'd say it is a stronger strat then settling 3-6 cities of your own before starting conquest. But, as mentioned above, you do need to have some "food" relatively close to you to start.
I'll see if I get some time this weekend to run with Persia on this strat. Puppet expansionist, 200 happy per turn, infinite golden age of military conquest? We'll see ~
Played through two games with this over the weekend, both on Emperor (chickened out of Deity).
First, Persia. I was doing fine through the first 150 turns. Couple things:
1. Unimpressed with Persia's special. The +1 movement was kind of cool ... for workers. In theory it would be useful for artillery, especially cat/trebs in early tech. Move-setup-shoot over non-roads would be viable. The +% combat strength is pretty damn "meh", considering all my units are packing like 40-100% bonuses at any given time. +10% is very small on top of that.
2. Immortals are neat, but kinda gimmicky and not entirely useful.
3. This was a Pangaea map, and apparently the AIs started way far away from me. This is one hole in this strategy -- I didn't want to settle new cities, aiming for a Culture vic with a cheese 1-city focus. However, to support science/gpt/etc I needed puppets.
Oddly enough, the lack of nearby AIs means that straight ICS would have been LOLOLOLOLOL.
In any case, the start was kinda slow but ... then I started crashing during a Next Turn, got annoyed, played another game.
Second, India. I was annoyed so I went with a random Civ. Civ turned out to be India. Less unhappy from my gigantic main city, cool! More unhappy from my puppet zerg, uncool.
This time I was on a Continents map, so I had about 6 Civs on my little piece of rock in the middle of the ocean. This game was pretty exciting. With so many AIs crammed into a small area, it was constant fighting and backstabbing. I had a request for a Pact of Secrecy about every other turn, and requests for war declarations in between.
One other weakness of this strategy:
CAN HAZ IRON??
If you don't start with strategic resources in the vicinity of your Capitol, you may have to do without for a bit until you can take over an AI's city that does have it.
I ended up trading 5 horses to Alexander for 5 iron (he was on the other side of the first AI I wanted to gobble up). Pumped out some cats and upgraded 2 swordsmen, and down Egypt went.
All this took about 150 turns -- the build up is slower than in ICS due to the necessity of waiting for the AI to plant cities, and then to field and army to crush the AI's forces, and then to take over the city. Like a 3 step process instead of just sticking a settler down. On the other hand it's much more interesting. There's also a ton less micro since you don't have to mess with any of your puppets.
Nothing too notable since then in terms of (1) building units, (2) taking over cities all over the map, (3) ending up in a state of "total war" because 4 AIs banded together, along with (4) all of the city state perma-warring me, so no Maritime bonus. I eventually fell asleep as I was chasing down the last two Civs on my continent. Getting close to 1900, tanks/mechinf/artillery rolling across the map with aerial support and scouting. Wishing I had more aluminum, etc. Finished 3 policy trees, halfway through the fourth. Pumping out 300+ culture now, with policies costing 2400 or so.
1. Must have AIs near start to execute this strategy effective. Else, recommend using straight ICS, or some other flavor (couple large starting cities maybe, then ICS/puppet spam).
2. Strategic resource limitation. Be prepared to trade for them or go immediately hostile and take a city over. Also, another option is to settle a city on a resource, then gift it, then take it over. But that's slightly cheesy.
3. Unhappiness is not too difficult to manage -- your puppets are good about building happy buildings. Just monitor your happy level as usual. One limitation is that you can't purchase Colosseums straight up, so you need to pace your expansion so your puppets can keep up.
4. India is bad for conquests. Lololol.
5. India doesn't benefit as much from "minus unhappy per pop" policies and such, because they already have -50%.
6. The Piety tree is not as good as it may sound due to its -unhappy only applying to non-occupied cities. Beyond that Piety doesn't offer too much. The happy -> culture conversion is good, except I never went above 50 happy at my peak, and averaged around 25-35. That's like 10-25 culture per turn when I'm pumping out 300+ throughout my empire.
7. The capitol needs high production. My capitol spent over half the turns in the game building wonders, about a third of the game building buildings, and the rest building a unit or two, with most units purchased directly. Iroqois would be fantastic with their +production. On the other hand, leaving forests intact = no early game chopping and likely to miss Stonehenge or other wonders. Russia may be effective for the +production from strategic resources, if you happen to have a bunch.
8. Save policy buys for after Christo Redentor. Derp.
9. All hail the Order policy tree. Absolutely fantastic for getting production output from my 100 puppets.
10. Autocracy could be key in my future games. The -unhappy from occupied cities? I have over 9000 occupied cities! No freedom . Lower building maintenance costs!! Drool. Seriously, I should have read it over 3 times before laying out my picks this game. Autocracy was meant for this strategy.
11. Trade routes are more expensive since you're not making a tight grid of cities -- your roads/rail may be up to 8-10 tiles long, especially from your Capitol to your first acquisition. Mercantile Policy tree started to look pretty good, except for the silly sailing bonuses.
12. This overall strat is very military-heavy. In regular ICS, you can attack slowly and defend a lot more because you can occupy your time growing your "backfield" of cities. In this puppet conquest mode, you need a heavier army so you can go balls-deep on the offense, even if you haven't worn out the enemy army. As a result, the military XP buildings become rather useful for getting non-suck units out onto the battlefield more quickly.
13. Use workers to bait enemy units. Lololol.
14. Big Ben or Bust.
15. For pure conquest, bail on the wonderspam in the capitol and pump out more legion of doom. I spent a lot of time on wonders QQ.
16. Ignore gold for the Capitol city -- later. Food is a must to get population, with production as the goal. Farms and lumber mills, or farms and mines. Whatever it takes. Trade posts only on non-river tiles, replaced with farms after you get Fertilizer.
17. Note: I need to re-tune my tile improvement strategy. Once you get enough pop to cover every tile that has possible production, there's no point in getting more pop, except for stuff like science, or using them as specialists for more production.
18. Indian Elephant Archers are beast. Don't mess with Elephant Archers. That is all.
19. Rome may be interesting for this strat. I built every building in my capitol. Every +2 food at a cost of tons of $$ meant I could have more pop for more hammers and specialists. And I had lots of cash.
20. Wonder spam means lots of GPs you don't need, which means Golden Ages on demand.
21. Egypt would be solid for this strat, if you go with the wonderspam culturevic. Especially with a marble resource nearby. It would be obscene.
22. Manufactory, I la u. Turns a lolgrassland tile into a mean beast of a +5 hammers (after +% bonuses), which would break even after 100+ turns ... oh wait. I hate great people building returns.
23. Oh, I need to try this with France sometime. The +2 culture per puppet, without the scaling policy cost. Win. Foreign legion to zerg cities for more puppets.
Yeah the game that I finished as Egypt turned into a joke with this strat. I could have easily won conquest or cultural, but delayed a little and went for a Diplo win simply because I hadn't won that way yet.
The +20% Wonder production was great, especially when you combine it with the +Wonder bonus in the first policy tree. That being said, it would have been helpful to have had a couple more hill tiles along my river for some extra production. The game would have been really obscene if I'd had some more production going in the capital.
I didn't bother with roads until I had a good density of cities to connect to my capital. My first two conquests were Paris and a CS, and I didn't connect either of them for quite some time because they would have been 8+ tile roads just to get to one small-ish city. When I conquered Persia's 5 cities though, it was worth it to build the one long connector road and get all of those on the trade routes. I also connected the CS at that point because it was at least in the general area. I didn't connect Paris until after Greece put a city in between it and my capital and I subsequently took that city (plus a few others) and it was then worth it to connect the whole group.
Overall, very powerful strat IF you have the right factors, mainly close neighbors and a capital with the right land and resources available. After that, you need to do a little early conquest so you keep up with stronger AI's expansion and keep from having any strong neighbors near your capital. (Use the puppets as your buffer to your capital). At this point the benefits of your rapid social policy advancement (you should be ahead of all other civs on this) and the science/gold coming in from your puppet network should begin to give you an advantage. As you continue to expand more after that your advantages begin to grow until you reach critical mass and you basically choose which type of victory you want.
Which is perhaps the best part of the strat- it keeps all victory types open until late in the game, including cultural. Most other strats entail you choosing very early which way you are going to go, which to me is less fun.
I haven't tried this.. but reading this I wondered..
Originally Posted by krooner
Could you basically build a city where you'd want your first puppet to be, sell that city to an AI Civilization.. *then* take it and puppet it?
That tactic was actually suggested as a possibility in the post above mine. It probably would work, although it definitely is starting to cross the line into exploiting game mechanics in my opinion. A very cheap tactic at the least.
Originally Posted by dublos
The easiest way to do it is to gift it to the civ that is as far away from you as possible so you are least likely to have to deal with any repercussions in the short term.
This was going to be my approach to getting the Tomb Raider achievement. Build a city, construct a burial tomb, give it to an opponent, take it back. Thoughts?
Originally Posted by dublos
(sorry for the slight non sequitre, but it's exactly my question)
lol interesting idea. Might be worth trying just to get the achievement then quit the game.
Originally Posted by mathuin
Iv done puppet ICS and its very effective with mongols. Early puppet citystates is helpful.
If you think about it then it is very close to the AI warmonger methodology; small core and infinite puppets. Cannot count the times I have seen the French with just two or three cities, augmented by 50 puppets.
There really needs to be a mechanic to penalise excessive expansion, be it by 'manual' ICS or puppeteering. The Size>All paradigm is the one major failing of C5 in my opinion.
I believe there was a mechanic in Civ4 that science cost per technology became higher the more cities you had - quite similar to culture cost for policies in civ5. this could be implemented in civ5, too, to reduce the overwhelming power of mindless city spam (aka ICS). this way small filler cities would cripple both your culture and science and you'd really have to think twice before founding new cities.
the "puppet master" strategy could be nerfed simply by making puppets less effective. they could reduce the science/gold output of puppets drastically. or even more radical - make puppets contribute and cost nothing at all. so you take a city for puppet and it doesn't produce unhappiness or require maintenance, but it doesn't contribute any gold/science/culture either (basically you turn it into a self sufficient filler city with the option to annex it as a real city later on). this way you can still temporarily puppet newly conquered territories but they will not contribute anything until you annex (or raze and rebuild) them.
If you remove the unhappiness penalty for puppets you will actually be helping expansionist empires. Currently, the only thing that slows down a civ with a strong military is running into the unhappiness wall with acquiring new cities. You are constantly waiting for puppets to voluntarily build some happiness buildings so you can move forward again. Make them cost you nothing and you can expand endlessly with no penalty, even if you aren't getting any gold/science benefit from them.
Originally Posted by Martin_K
With that change, you could still run your own ICS empire and create new cities as you are ready for them, and in the meantime send your armies rampaging around the world conquering cities and leaving them as puppet-placeholders and friendly troop bases with absolutely no penalty.
I agree with your intention, I just don't think that is the solution.
you are probably right didn't think about it that way. luckily, I'm not a game developer so I don't have to come up with good ideas. but I'm fairly sure that ICS and "puppet ICS" could be nerfed relatively easily without redesigning the whole game. Obviously it's not my job to come up with a good solution, but I still think the key element why the expansionist strategies are so powerful (/overpowered) right now is that the unhappiness and culture penalty are not enough - if expansion slowed down your tech progression significantly this might be the missing element that makes the player really think twice whether "horizontal" or "vertical" progression is the better solution in any given situation. and imo the best model would be a balance where you are penalized for doing it too exremely. this works well for the "vertical" progression already - if you just build a few large and well developed cities you will run into all sorts of problems- lack of money - lack of science - missing resources etc.. the missing element would be an increasing penalty for getting too many un- (or under-) developed cities and i believe adding a science penalty based on number of cities could solve that.
I'm not sure what to do with puppets - at the moment they are a bit too powerful imo. perhaps the number of cities penalty should not be ignored by puppets. if your puppets increase your culture cost (and science cost if this mechanic is implemented) just like your real cities, this might be enough to make them inefficient in the long run. at least it would nerf the puppet master strat where you just build one city and enslave a whole continent of puppets that fuel your economy and science without any real penalty.
Adding penalties that discriminate against over expansion is one way to do it. Personally, I like a lot of the suggestions that have been made to make large cities more productive/desirable. Things such as improving the bonuses of the second tier buildings, revising/improving the bonuses on terrain development to make farms and mines more valuable, and smoothing or easing the population growth curve so it was easier to get cities up to size 20+ would go a good ways to making a smaller empire more competitive in science, economics and production.
So yes, you can tweak some things to make it harder to expand and do ICS, but I think the game would benefit as much or more from changes which reward large, well developed cities.
Proposed Changes to Reduce the Effectiveness of this Strategy
I never imagined that this strategy would become so popular, but anyway, I suggest the following changes to blast this strategy back to the stone age where it should belong (along with some other miscellaneous ones):
- Mines now produce +2 production instead of +1 (anti-ICS balance: balance between mines and trading posts)
- Bonus food resources from pastures (not farms) now yield a +2 native food bonus, instead of +1. This bonus increases by another +1 after researching Civil Service (anti-ICS and resource balance of pastures versus farms)
- Technology trees rebalanced: Players will have to research all the prerequisite technologies before a certain age, before one can proceed to the next age and gain access to the newer branches (linear technology tree balance; pathetic to see a spaceship that is still guarded by swordsmen)
- Reformation now scales according to game speed (right now it gives a flat 6-turn golden age)
- The bonus food resource from terrain or tile bonus resources only apply if a farm or pasture are built on the terrain (balance between farms and trading posts)
- Puppet states now take up less gold to maintain, but in turn produce only 50% of the normal gold, research and culture output (Puppeteering ICS balance)
- Maritime city state food bonus not just reduced, but limited, and spread evenly across 5 of your most populous cities (anti-ICS balance, and balance against the all-powerful maritime city-states versus cultured or military ones)
- ****** The amount of Unhappiness needed to cause negative effects (like 1/4 growth rate at -1 unhappiness, or reduced production rate and combat strength rating at -10 unhappiness) now scales according to the size of the empire (anti-ICS, and also to balance against the rather unrealistic statement that a single unhappiness unit can cause an entire 160 city-size empire to crumble suddenly). Maybe for every 10 additional population an empire has, 1 more unhappiness is needed to bring the empire down to the next level of sorrow and despair (with 60 population, you need -7 and -16 unhappiness instead to get those penalties; Getting anywhere within -1 and -6 inclusive does nothing other than take away points against golden ages).
- Display information whenever an embarked enemy unit gets destroyed (there is no information right now. While I know that embarked units are destroyed if I move a naval unit over them, it took me a while to realize that it actually kills them outright).
- Give embarked units an ability to defend themselves, say at 50% combat strength when embarked (unit balance; ridiculous to see tanks being sunk by triremes or caravels), instead of letting them get destroyed outright when a naval unit moves over them. However, do not allow them to be able to melee attack (unless performing an amphibious assault).
- Due to this, Songhai's River Warlord ability needs to be re-balanced: Embarked units get no defensive penalty etc.
- Give Destroyers, Cruisers, Battleships, Artillery, Rocket Artillery, Bombers, Stealth bombers and Jet Fighters the ability to destroy improvements (unit versatility improvement). Older units like Catapults, Trebuchets, Triremes or Fighters do not get this ability (for realism).
- Include some form of SDI defense (no defense against nukes whatsoever!)
- Complete upgrade path for all units (unit balance; so that unique units like Keshiks do not go to waste unlike the Cho-ko-nus etc.)
- Further penalties for over expansion (anti-ICS balance). Amount of science points needed to research the next technology is increased by 10% per city, additively.
- Re-address certain useless buildings and make them more useful, or reduce construction time and cost/maintenance severely: Stables grant +XP instead of production, Windmills grant +30% instead of +15% (the returns on this are far too low).
- Re-address the UU, UBs and unique abilities of some civilizations. Some are too strong or too weak.
- Increase the bonus on manufactories, research academies and landmarks even further, or allow them to directly stack on some existing improvements. Right now there is little justification to pick research academies (5 RP per turn) over a free technology.
- Reduce the amount of food required to increase the population of a highly populated city to encourage vertical growth, while assigning penalties such as a increased amount of food requirement to grow in the early phases of city development (pop size 1-5 for instance). (Anti-ICS strategy, and also to balance vertical and horizontal growth).
- Increase the amount of specialist slots and give specialists even greater production (anti-ICS and "pro-few-huge-cities strategies"). Also encourages vertical growth.
- Finally, reduce the diminishing returns caused by increasing gold maintenance for each unit of happiness/research/culture for higher tier buildings such as stadiums, museums or public schools. If possible, even increase the ratio of happiness/RP/culture per gold to encourage the building of higher tier buildings. (Anti-ICS strategy: prevents city-spam and the spamming of cheap early buildings).
- After seeing Civilization V crash again for me even though I have added another 4GB of RAM (8GB now) on a more than powerful enough system (GPU and CPU-wise), please fix the crashes for late-games!
Edit - addition/s:
- Give increasing penalty to warmongering behavior (Anti-war balance). War is currently way too profitable, and it comes at the cost of a pyrrhic victory or stalemate at most. Designate 1 unhappiness for every 2 killed, 1 unhappiness per city owned by you captured by the enemy, 1 unhappiness past 10 turns (depending on game speed) per turn. All these will remain until war has ended. It is important to implement unhappiness scaling (as indicated by ******) for this to work well. May also include an additional -1 unhappiness from the start of the war each time under the nexus or reason of "Your citizens think you are a warmonger!" or an even more severe -2 to -3 from "The world thinks you are a tyrant!".
- Also assign more penalties such as: causing peaceful civilizations as India to hate you and more if you declare war too often. On the contrary, to boost pacifist and ideapolitik instead of realpolitik and Machiavellian aggressive strategies, make other civilizations (some but not all) like you for being peaceful, and are less likely to declare war against you (Pro-pacifist balance).
- Being in peace for more than X number of turns grants your empire a +5 happiness rating, and an additional +2 every 10 turns for not declaring war on someone. If war is declared on you, the +5 initial rating disappears, but the remaining additional ones remain. If you are the one declaring war, remove the +5 initial unhappiness, and deduct -2 happiness instantly, and every 10 turns. (Happiness vs unhappiness balance).
- Give happiness more fruitful benefits rather than just work towards a golden age. Maybe something like "More than (10 + [number of cities x 1] happiness]" = "Very Happy", your people are more production (10% more to hammers, culture, science, combat strength). "More than (20+ [number of cities x 2]) = "Euphoric", people are much more productive (another 5% increase in hammers, culture, science, +10% combat strength. Stacks with the former), golden age points are earned twice as fast. (People will be forced to choose happiness for vertical growth over horizontal growth, continued expansion and conquests. Balance of Happiness and Unhappiness benefits.)
- Bring back some international trading system. Every road/ harbor connected to another peaceful civilization's capitol (not during war) gives a commerce boost each turn, that is equivalent to the top [12.5% of your total number of cities] cities' trade route production. This value increases if both civilizations sign a pact of cooperation etc. by 2 times [25% now]. (Pro-pacifist balance, anti-war) If relations with a civilization is very bad, this amount is slashed by 50% (pro-diplomacy).
- Improve the international trade system - you gain culture and research points equivalent to the amount of gold received during international trade. This amount is increased to 2x if you maintain good relations with that civilization. (pro-diplomacy, pro-pacifist, also a good way to expropriate other peoples' production peacefully).
- Same international trade system applies also to city-states, but city-states give you 2-3 times the number (since they only have 1 city), increases as your relationship with them improves.
- For every 5 additional turns of war waged against another civilization after 10 or so turns (depends on game speed), other non-allied civilizations gain a -1 diplomatic relations with you, either for 30 turns, or eternally (anti-war balance).
Last edited by kaybeebiscuits; 02-11-2012 at 09:34 AM.
Good stuff- lots of good ideas in there.
That idea sounds interesting. perhaps simply making developed cities better would actually be a better approach.
Originally Posted by krooner
They could tweak some of the buildings to make them much better for larger cities and worse for smaller towns.
a few ideas:
- the happiness buildings don't just add a set amount of global happiness but instead they reduce the cities population unhappines by a certain percentage each. for example the collosseum doesn't add 4 happiness but removes say one third of the cities unhappiness; so it would be fairly weak for a small town but gets more and more useful the larger the city becomes.
- some of the science and cash buildings could scale directly with city population. so for example the public schools could add 1 science per population point instead of adding a 50% bonus; or the marketplace or bank could add 1 gold per population point instead of a 25% modifier. so your base income would grow with your cities population.
A couple other things that would help:
- Remove maintenance costs on "growth" buildings like the Granery and Watermill. Makes them only a positive to build. At the least reduce maintenance costs to 1g/turn.
- Lower the production cost of almost every standard building. Currently it takes so freakin long to build anything a city can spend almost the entire game just trying to build all of them with never producing a Wonder or Unit.
In IV, a city with average production could spend maybe 50-70% of the game building all of it's core buildings, and then the rest of the time could work on Wonders, Units and gold/science/commerce. This allowed large, well developed and powerful cities. In V, it takes entirely too long to get all the buildings done and the effects from those buildings are weak. You are better off spamming out 5 more small cities then you are growing the one you have.
Too many ideas created solely to nerf ICS. ICS is a symptom, not a disease.
I think the best changes would be to slightly nerf low-tier buildings (remove specialist slots particularly), and buff the scaling factors of higher tier buildings. Along with some flavor of nerf for Maritime CSs.
Then, double the value of GP buildings.
Last, improve combat AI.
That would essentially fix everything that leads to ICS. ICS should be a viable strategy, just not absurdly simple and overpowering as it is currently. You don't need to nerf 1001 things just to "STOP ICS OMG TEH EVIL".
I've reached 46 pop as egyptians on noble , around 1950, before cultural victory on one city challenge. Grow was steady the last turns around 6 tour/pop, i had one maritime city as ally, and other 2-3 cultural. Everything except resources was covered in farms, every food update bought on the way asap.
way to bump. my record is 67 with the aztecs. But that was with the +50%growth policy. now to try it all again:P
Excellent idea for a scenario where the new Tradition tree can be tested. I love the way of puppeting, giving the implicit feeling of "remote" controlling your captured nodes.. :P
Originally Posted by Onandoga
I am surprised that people still bump this thread :P
Anyway, I am currently playing an 8 civilization game with 16 city-states, and it seems that this strategy is still very viable, if not much more viable. With the advent of buffs to vertical growth, I found myself breezing through the battlefields with a single super-city. Since your population grows way faster now with Aqueducts and a more linear food requirement to reach the next population number, your first city, if embellished with the tenets of Tradition and Honor, can easily reach size 12 while others are still at 7 or 8. Just use its mega-productivity to build experienced troops with the +15% strength bonus and hop from city to city without building another one yourself.
I am still in the early phases of the game, but I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by 6 city-states which prohibited me to expand, and forced me to follow this Nietzchean and bloodthirsty path of conquest. I managed to secure them all, but it was only after much trouble with besieging my first city that led them to be newly acquired only by around 800 A.D. They have no cultural buildings at the moment, but I guess it is a long term investment which I can foresee 200 culture points per turn once they have all been well-established. Even with a mediocre 24 culture per turn at this point, I have unlocked around 80% of 2 social branches. Quite good considering that I only have a monument and 1 wonder.
P.S: Actually to think about it, this strategy should no longer be given its current appellation. It is no longer a variant of an already almost dysfunctional ICS strategy thanks to the latest changes. However, it seems like what was implemented to reduce the effectiveness of ICS has almost no impact on the feasibility or efficacy of this strategy, as long as it is executed well. With ICS still vibrant at the height of its glory, Civilization V had around 3 "trialectic" strategies which were more or less mutually exclusive nodes. Almost every strategy seemed to be a mix of these 3, but right now, with ICS out of the loop, things can be much more comfortably reduced to a spectrum with continuous city expansion (without using puppet states) and 1-city conquest on either sides. The other peripheral styles of playing seem to be perpendicular to this dimension; as in, things such as diplomacy or scientific adventurism can take its course, but they must still be fixated to this spectrum. I didn't bother to give much thought about this.
Well, it's good to re-assess all strategies post patch. So much has changed, so I think your bump and update is most welcome.
Yes, I think this won't work anymore with the reduction of trading posts and lower-effective happiness buildings. Simply too hard to expand like this that early.
Been playing the series since 1995. I didn't think I'd like this version but I was wrong; I like it best so far. Not stacking units adds a nice dimension. I never tried a stategy like the one described here until yesterday and I just wanted to report how much I like it. I played a normal size, standard speed, added a couple extra civs and cs. Played Egypt at Prince lvl since this was my first attempt. Gotta stop at 180 turns because the outcome is so obvious, I got my 10 puppets pretty easy, 5 CS adding their goods. Just wanted to thank the OP.
Okay I'm on lvl 7 immortal and I need help!! I'm on continents with 9 civs, 20CS, standard size and speed. I am friends with everyone (4) but nowhere near powerful enough to take these guys. I'm on turn 175 researching chemistry, but I got nothing. 4 trebuchets and one swordsman. My direct neighbors already have cannons and riflemen. Any turn now, one of them is gonna blast me away. I'm not doing well on the wonders either, and only one allied CS. Any ideas on how to turn this situation in my favor?
After more than a year of neglect, I shall be updating this thread with the latest strategy relevant to the latest patch. I found that this strategy still works, but it requires major tweaking.
I am still experimenting with the strategy and it may take a while to finalize the changes.
Last edited by kaybeebiscuits; 02-11-2012 at 09:37 AM.
use the aztecs imo
the +15% food is the best for OCC