The Let's Play Archive

Civilization 2

by Melth

Part 4: 2750 BC - 825 BC (Borders, Barbarians, and Revolution)

Last update I mentioned that terrain and unit type determine movement rate. Now I can finally give an example.

Basically every land unit in the game can move exactly one square per turn through any terrain. The Horseman is the first of a handful with 2 move. This makes them good scouts, and also extremely handy in combat for reasons I can explain later.

However, moving into Forests, Jungles, Swamps, Hills, Mountains, Glaciers or really just about anything other than Grasslands and Plains and Deserts costs 2 move. You’re allowed to try it even if you only have 1 move remaining, but it consumes all your remaining move and only has a 50% chance to work

In this example, my Horseman could keep going on further if he moved directly north into the Grassland but could NOT continue if he went northeast into the Swamp.

I went with the Grassland, so now I can keep going. Whether I explore one of the Grasslands or the Hill next, it will cost my Horseman’s remaining 1 move. Which way to go? Well there’s no one right answer. Moving directly north into the Hill would reveal the most unexplored territory but only has a 50% chance to work. Moreover, terrain tends to be clustered. So if I go to the Grassland, there’s a better than average chance that more Grassland will turn out to be adjacent to it.

I followed the Grassland but didn’t find more, oh well. Anyway, this turn I found an as-yet-unseen resource: Pheasants. Pheasants are more valuable early-game than the other Forest resource (Silk) since they give +2 Food a total of 3/2/0 instead of +3 Trade for 1/2/3. While Trade gets you science here and now, Food lets your city grow to size 2 so you can produce another Settler faster. And getting more Settlers out faster increases for your science a lot more long-term.

Meanwhile, in the south, I had to choose between moving to that Tundra to block the Persians out of my lands or moving my Archer south to explore theirs. I went with the more aggressive option since territory will never be easier to grab than it is now. Anyway, that choice looks to be paying off since I found another goody hut.

Oh and here’s another resource: Buffalo. Buffalo make the Plains tile give +2 Production for a total of 1/3/0. It sounds really good when you realize you could get to 2/3/1 with Irrigation and a Road. The trouble is that you can’t get full benefits from the 3 Production as a Despotism and can’t really afford to build Roads or Irrigation early on, so it’s not actually much better than a Forest. And when you CAN do that, Production is less relatively important.

Well, time to see what I get from that hut.


This is one of the rare outcomes I mentioned last update, the one where you immediately get a new city on that spot. That’s normally fantastic. The problem is that this looks like a really cruddy tile for the city to be on. Also, when you have too many cities (how many depends on government type, map size, and difficulty but the number is 5 or more for me), you start getting extra unhappy citizens in random other cities. Thus this bad city could cripple a better one.

Oh well. It’s a double-edged outcome but not actually bad.

Now THIS is bad.

Literacy, last prereq tech for Republic, is randomly unavailable! That means a 12 turn delay to learn something new first.

Change of plans, it looks like I’m going Monarchy first afterall.

It’s looking like I don’t border anything but Persia and the sea. That’s good for security, though bad for science.

There’s a bunch more city stuff to talk about, so here’s the Advanced Tribe one from a bit ago.

First, let me just note that the game does not notify you when it switches your citizens to suddenly work horrible tiles or remind you that your city is automatically making something bad (like a Warrior). This is just another reason to micro every city every turn.

Anyway, I’ve turned the only citizen into an Entertainer to illustrate how crippling it is when you have to do that to solve a disorder problem. This city will never grow, produces only 1 science, and would take 40 turns to make a Settler.

Moving on, this is the first city to have Whales nearby! Why are Whales so great? Let’s see!

+1 Food AND +2 Production AND +1 Trade over default oceans! This is basically the best type of tile in the game (even with the Despotism penalty holding the trade at 2). Fish are worthless in comparison. I will be complaining about having loads of Fish and no Whales for the next 4000 years.

Anyway, there’s two other important things to talk about now: Corruption and Waste.

So counting up the little Trade arrows and blue Production shields on the city map, you’ll see I should have 3 of each. But in the middle "City Resources" I have 2 Trade with 1 Corruption and 2 Production with 1 Waste. Some of the Trade and some of the Production you SHOULD get every turn are just lost completely as Corruption and Waste.

I should be getting 2 science from this city every turn, but instead I just get one. Corruption is thus halving my technological progress.

Where do these penalties come from? Well basically from distance from the city to your capital (your first city by default). The farther away your cities are, the bigger a % of their Trade and Production are lost.

So how does one deal with the penalties? There are basically 4 methods:
1) Get a real government. Despotism has more Corruption than Monarchy. Monarchy has more than Republic. The main draw of Democracy is that it has no Corruption and Waste at all, which amounts to a massive science and income boost.
2) Build a Courthouse. This is a time-consuming city building to make, costs money every turn (like most city buildings), and only halves the Corruption. Not really a good option.
3) Move your capital. You do this by building a Palace city building somewhere, which takes forever and doesn’t actually reduce Corruption so much as move it around. Not really a good option.
4) Get smart. Sometimes you can game the system so that you don’t really feel the penalties. Imagine a hypothetical city where you’re choosing to have a citizen either work a 1/0/2 Ocean or a 2/0/1 Grassland with a River. Normally you might well pick the Ocean to get more science. But it’s quite possible that instead of getting +1 Trade you’ll only end up with 1 Trade and 1 Corruption. If you stuck with the Grassland with the River, you would probably get 1 Trade and 0 Corruption. Thus there’s no actual difference in Trade between the two tiles. So sticking with the Grassland scores you a free +1 Food relative to the Ocean. Or you might have 2 cities with different levels of Corruption that can both work the same 2 good tiles that give different amounts of Trade (only 1 city can actually work any tile at a time). Your total Trade may be higher if the more Corrupt city works the lower-Trade tile.

Since I didn’t try to block this Persian Horseman, he’s now freely running around and exploring my heartland. This isn’t a problem unless he decides to break his peace treaty and sneak attack me.

In the foreign minister menu I can see that Persia’s attitude toward me is “Receptive”. Friendly enough that he won’t attack. Check this menu frequently; the AI attitude toward you will sink before any treachery on their part.

Other points to talk about : you’ll note it says I have "No Embassy". Units called Diplomats can establish embassies with other civs if you can get the Diplomat to one of their cities. Doing this lets you keep 100% posted on what technologies they have, who they trade them to, who they make treaties with, when they change governments, and the exact number of cities they still have. For free. Forever. Very handy.

Oh and two important things are our power and reputation, which affect how your rivals treat you. Honestly, I’m not sure how power is figured out. I don’t think it’s just number of military units because I often have Supreme power with a small army and here I have Mighty with a tiny one. Reputation is about whether you’ve broken treaties or bribed units or cities or stolen technology (with Diplomats and Spies). If you ever break a peace treaty, your reputation will be destroyed for the rest of the game. This is bad. Other people will use it as an excuse to sneak attack you, no one will pay you to make peace with them, etc. Very few things are worth breaking a peace treaty. Instead, manipulate the computer into breaking it with you.

Since I’m safe, I’ll go right ahead and found a city in front of him. It’s a perfect target, completely undefended, but he won’t take it because he still likes me. As requested, I’m going to name this city Nero. This is city number 5 and thus will be the one that causes unrest somewhere else and requires me to use Entertainers or Luxuries to keep the peace.

Also as requested, a city on my frontier is now called Tiberius. I’ve renamed the others to their map coordinates until I get suggestions for them.

So since Nero was my 5th city and I’m a Despotism playing on Deity difficulty on a small map, someone somewhere becomes unhappy. Where is not actually random, but it might as well be. As has been painstakingly discovered with tons of experiments, the city(s) affected will be the 6th, 12th, 18th, etc. ones built in the whole world (but only if owned by me). Since I have absolutely no way to know how many cities the other 6 civs have been building and when, I have no idea which of my cities is which number. When I build my next city it will be 7, 13, 19, etc. affected. Once again I’ll have no idea which of my cities those may be.

Thus it’s effectively random, but you are more likely to be punished if you have a higher % of all cities in the world. The randomness is extremely annoying and not really appropriate in a strategy game. Civ 2 has a lot of mechanics that are like that.

Anyway, it turned out to be Tiberius which was affected. The city’s only citizen is now unhappy. Which means it will go into Disorder if left alone. I only have 2 ways to fix that. One is to turn the only citizen into an Entertainer. As I demonstrated earlier, that will completely cripple the city forever. The alternative is to build a military unit to enforce “martial law”. It’s not a good option, but it’s the best one available.

So I’ve mentioned gold/money a few times but never said what you do with it till now:

1) Spend it to finish Production of things in one turn. This is often called "buying" or "rush-buying". Finishing things that need a lot more shields cost much more. And buying something you haven’t made any normal progress on at all costs double on top of that. This Warrior is pretty cheap, so I went right ahead and bought it.
2) Pay the upkeep for any city improvement buildings you have. Every building you can make has a cost per turn. Most of the early ones are 1 gold per turn, but the later stuff is often 2-5. That can really add up fast.
3) Use Diplomats to buy enemy cities (or units). This is the best thing ever and worth saving up a lot of gold for. It’s also worth exploding your reputation over
4) Pay off barbarians. When barbarians find one of your cities has no defenders and your treasury is over about 50 gold, they will give you the option to pay them 90% or so of your treasury to not attack the city and instead vanish into thin air. This is actually a pretty sweet deal if your treasury isn’t huge. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than building soldiers to retake a city they seize or a settler to replace a city that’s destroyed entirely. So when you see that situation coming, you should spend any excess money ahead of time and finish with just 50-100.
5) AI civs may sometimes threaten you with war unless you pay them a bunch of money. You should never do this. First of all, they don’t always actually declare war if you refuse. Second, they sometimes declare war anyway if you pay. Third, even if they do keep their promise, they’ll just make the same threat again in like 4 turns. Or just declare war then.

How do you get gold? There’s a whole bunch of ways. This is a nearly complete list:

1) Income every turn. You can choose a % of your Trade to go to taxes, just like you can choose a % to go to science. And you get that much gold per turn (minus your building upkeep). If your treasury would be drained past zero by upkeep, you’ll be forced to sell a building from a more or less random city, which is usually terrible.
2) You can voluntarily sell your buildings. That’s almost never worthwhile, but can be when you capture a formerly AI city and find it’s full of buildings that are worthless to you. Pillaging for fun and profit!
3) Speaking of which, you get a pittance of gold when you seize an enemy city.
4) You can get smallish amounts pretty frequently as random bonuses from goody huts.
5) The AI may occasionally offer you money to not go to war with them.
6) Once in a while you can catch a barbarian leader unit alone and attack it, which gives you a one-time gold bonus that depends on the barbarian mode setting.
7) You can get one-time money bonuses from sending Caravans to other cities.
8) Late in the game you can use the Capitalization option in your cities to have them directly convert their Production into coins instead.

You get this kind of announcement now and then at random. You get some points for your score at the end of your game if you’re number one on these lists when they come up. Civilizations can be ranked on things like land area, treasury size, number of military units, happiness, number of technologies, and several other things. It’s totally unimportant and mostly out of your control for a while anyway.

My Archer has started pushing into what seems to be the Persian heartland and ran into one of their Settlers.

And out of the blue I get this announcement. Anyway, this is before 1500 A.D., so the Vikings may be replaced with the French or Germans.

My Horseman has explored this whole northern peninsula now and found there’s no land route out of it. That’s good. Oh and I just circled this odd little strait you can see on the map. It has no effect whatsoever, it’s just a visual weirdness that shows up when a square is nearly an island.

Barbarians show up! They spawned far enough away that I have time to prepare.

Barbarians sometimes just appear out of thin air and sometimes unload off of boats that themselves appear out of thin air. I don’t really know why the game bothers with the boats. It’s not like they’re actually limited by the boat load limit or anything either; this is a Trireme, which can only carry 2 people, but 3 barbarians are about to pile off of it.

Anyway, the thing to notice here is that symbol next to the Trireme picture. That there are 2 of those shield-flag things layered on top of each other means that there are more than 2 units in that tile: a stack. Both transport ships carrying people and multiple ground units put into the same place count as “stacks”. The mechanics of stacks in battle are very important, as I’ll discuss later.

To make sure you can recognize the difference, notice the symbols of the barbarian units you can see coming now. One is a stack (with a barbarian leader unit hidden underneath) and one is alone.

Anyway, the Persians requested another audience, which probably means they discovered a technology they psychically know I don’t have and want to trade it to me. Regardless of their reason, you should absolutely always accept their emissaries. It can only be profitable.

One of the things I love about this game is how even the friendliest AI civs will be rude and boastful to you half the time. Diplomacy is hilarious.

Insults randomly alternate with flattery.

So now I can finally access the main diplomacy menu. Many of these options lead to various sub-menus.
1) Discussion Complete ends the diplomacy.
2) Alliance does exactly what it sounds like (most computer civs will reject the idea unless you get their friendliness up to Worshipful and have a perfect reputation). Computers are worthless as military allies, but it can be good for you economically to ally with them since it makes them likely to offer you gifts and whatnot. It also puts off the day you have to go to war with them. The downsides are that it can be really hard to break the alliance when you want to attack them, that doing so will hurt your international reputation even more, and that they will expect you to join them in their stupid wars against people you have never even met and could not possibly reach and then will get angry when you don’t do it.
3) Demand Tribute For Our Patience is a beautiful option for an expert player. Basically, you can make a friendly computer fork over gold now and then. It does lower their friendliness toward you and it’s quite possible they’ll reject it if they don’t like you, but it’s still often worth it. Especially if you have some new way to boost their friendliness back (like a new technology you just learned and are now ready to trade with them). Besides the obvious financial benefits if they accept, it’s also one of the best ways to deliberately make them angrier so that you can eventually get them to, say, break a peace treaty with you. There’s a careful balance to be struck to extract maximum profit and make the war start when you want it to.
4) Insist that you Withdraw Your Troops only applies if you have a peace treaty with them. One of the terms of all peace treaties is that you are not allowed to have any military units within each other's city's workable tile zones. The computer will flagrantly ignore this and run all over your territory. If you choose this option, they will either comply and teleport their troops back home or immediately break the treaty and declare war. Either way it makes them angry, even though they will immediately and constantly demand that you withdraw any troops that wander into their zones. Anyway, it’s sometimes a handy tool for making someone angrier and sometimes handy for forcing them to clear out so they aren’t in position to sneak attack or cause other problems.
As a sidenote, when you get a demand to withdraw troops from the AI, you can either immediately walk that unit back or wait a turn. In the latter case you’ll then get a choice between breaking the treaty or teleporting the unit to your nearest city. Sometimes teleportation comes in handy and there aren’t any other ways to do it. You can use this to your advantage if you’re clever.
5) Have a Proposal to Make includes trading technologies (which the AI will almost always gladly accept if they actually have a tech you don’t know), sharing current world maps (which they will basically never accept unless they have a worshipful attitude), and asking them to declare war on other people (which you have to pay them to do and which is completely worthless since there’s no way they’ll be helpful at all).
6) Wish to Offer You a Gift lets you give them free tech, money, or soldiers to boost their friendliness to you. That’s occasionally worthwhile if you want to make them like you enough to trade maps or something.

I demanded money and they gave me a bit. Everything I can get helps right now.

And they end the discussion. You can see that they dropped from cordial back to receptive.

My archer found Antarctica, which it turns out my continent is connected to.

Glaciers are the last unseen terrain type and are completely worthless. They produce 0/0/0 and you basically can’t do anything with them ever. And they’re horribly hard to move through.

However, the poles are a fantastic place to build cities if you know what you’re doing. See, the masses of Glaciers will usually have 1-2 squares of better terrain connected to them here and there. If you build a city on that square, it’s almost as impossible to attack as a 1x1 island because Glaciers provide no defensive cover but force the enemy to approach slowly and thus offer you an easy first strike. Furthermore, you’ll have TONS of Ocean squares in reach (some of which likely have Fish or Whales) and no other cities to have to share them with. As I’ve mentioned, Ocean tiles are great once you have the right techs. Typically my arctic and antarctic cities become size 18 metropoli producing gigantic floods of science, cash, spaceship parts, battleships, bombers, and nuclear weapons.

Anyway, actually being connected to the south pole means I can walk Settlers out there instead of needing to build ships to carry them.

For now, the Archer has found all he needs to find and can pull back.

So here’s something clever: I’ve intercepted the scouting Horseman and put one of my Settlers in his path. Now this is perfectly safe for two reasons: first, the Persians still like me and thus won’t sneak attack. Second, even if they did, my Settler would actually win the fight due to the Hill defensive bonus and Settler toughness.

But this isn’t just a riskless move, it’s also a tremendously profitable one because of what’s called “Zone of Control”. Basically Zone of Control means you can’t walk past the units of another civilization. Whether you’re at war or at peace (in alliance you can walk right through), it can’t be done. You are not allowed to walk from one tile next to another civ’s unit to a second tile also next to one of their units. I’ve marked the relevant tiles in red. That Horseman is not allowed to move into any of them (some are ocean anyway). In fact, the ONLY place he is capable of moving is southwest.

This means he is now totally blocked out of my territory and cannot explore any more of it. Ever. He could, however, stand here and stalemate me.

But the AI feels a pathological urge to move all its units every turn. They may summon the willpower to have a unit stand still for just a turn or two in a standoff like this and they may shuffle two or more units back and forth, always keeping a square occupied, but they WILL move sooner or later. And when that happens (probably immediately) my Settler can step forward into his space. Which lets me push him even farther. You can use this to herd the enemy off of a good defensive position so you can seize it and hold onto it before a war starts. Right now I have something even better in mind.

I am going to force this Horseman to run right at the barbarians. If he gets first strike, he has good odds to win and wipe out the whole stack. The survivor will be badly injured whoever wins. If they hit him first, he dies and inflicts no real damage, but the barbarians still gain nothing.

Basically, by moving my Settler in here I not only ended Persian exploration of my territory, but also forced my two biggest threats to fight each other- probably crippling or eliminating both of them. And it’s at absolutely no financial, military, OR diplomatic cost to me. And I’m even walking toward a good new city site while I do it.

Smooth sailing so far. I’ve made a clearer diagram here of where he is not allowed to move (whether because it’s Ocean or because he’d need to attack the Settlers or because of zone of control) and where he is allowed to.

The best part is that the Archer has stupidly moved into his attack range. He can now use his 2 move to first strike it, which is the ideal outcome for me.

Now if you’ll look up to the top right, you’ll see I’m charging my own horseman back down after his exploration mission. I want him on hand to defend against the barbarians or fight the Persians when war inevitably happens in a thousand years or so. This also presents a great opportunity to talk more about movement.

So notice that on the far right it says my Horseman has 2/3 of a move left. What does that mean? Well it means he has a 2/3 chance to move into a square that normally costs 1 movement (like a Plains or Grassland). He’d have a 1/3 chance to get into a square that normally costs 2 movement (like a Hill or Forest).

How did he spend just 1/3 of a movement square? By walking along a River. When you order a unit to follow the path of a River, it costs only 1/3 of a movement square regardless of the type of terrain you enter. Note the yellow and the purple boxes. Since a River directly connects my Horseman’s tile to the yellow one, it would only cost 1/3 to move in there. But what about the purple one? There’s no direct connection, so I would have to pay the full price of 1 to try to walk into it directly. BUT I could get to the purple one for a total cost of only 2/3 by first walking northeast and then northwest, since that WOULD follow the River.

Now you may be wondering why in the world this game works with fractional movement instead of just saying every unit has 3 movement, a Grassland costs 3 to move into, a River makes it cost only 1, etc. Well besides the luck-based chance of moving in when you don’t actually have enough move left, the answer is that if you try to launch an attack (which costs 1 move) but only have 2/3 or 1/3 left, you make your attack at only 2/3 or 1/3 of normal power. This prevents you from making super-long charges against enemies who couldn’t have known you were there.

"What I want is a good, strong monarchy with a tasteful and decent king who has some knowledge of theology and geometry!" - A Confederacy of Dunces

Well I finally finished researching Monarchy. Ugh. I SHOULD have just acquired Literacy and started working on The Republic this turn. Stupid random tech availability.

Anyway, this is my first chance to choose a new government type. I could have transitioned to Monarchy much earlier if that had actually been my goal or if I’d had a better location for pumping out science quickly (I’m looking at you, lack of Whales!).

I’m not going to drown you in all the details of the different government types right now, I’ll just remind you that Monarchy is strictly better than Despotism because it has less Corruption and because tiles which are supposed to produce 3 or more Food, Production, or Trade don’t produce 1 less. I’ll go into some other advantages as they come up.

The downside is that to get to Monarchy I have to go through 1-4 turns of Anarchy, which is even worse than Despotism. Now the Anarchy duration is NOT, as you might think, randomly determined as 1d4 or anything like that. No, like many things in this game, it’s only pseudo-random and is actually decided by a needlessly complex and secret process which many years of people experimenting have uncovered at last.

Basically, there are certain turns (often called OEDO turns after the discoverer) in which government can change and it can never change on any other turns. Governments can change at the beginning of the 4th turn, the 8th, the 12th, etc. So you must go into revolution on the turn BEFORE that one. The trouble is figuring out what turn you’re on. You might think you could determine it from the year, and you’re correct, but it’s not simple. See, there isn’t a fixed number of years per turn throughout the game. You have tons of years per turn in the early years of the game and then fewer over time until late in the game it’s just 1 year. But it’s not even that simple. See, the number of years per turn in each phase is different in each difficulty.

Anyway, there are various charts floating around for the different difficulties and you can find the details here:

In practical terms, this doesn’t mean a heck of a lot right now since Despotism isn't much better than Anarchy, but it does have some major uses which I’ll get into later.

This is another mechanic which is wrong on many levels. I mean, for most purposes it’s random and unpredictable. And major luck elements like that are not appropriate in a deep strategy game. But rather than being truly random, it’s exploitable. But rather than just being exploitable in any kind of fun way, it’s really complicated to keep track of and requires you to play with a bunch of charts in front of you. You know what would have been simpler, more understandable, fairer, and less exploitable? Having the Anarchy always last a certain number of turns. Heck, the game doesn’t even tell you that the duration can vary. Civ 2 makes no effort to explain itself. I had some fun figuring it out blind, but I’m the only person I know who’d actually enjoy that process.

Back to the action, everything went according to plan. The Horseman attacked the Archers. The Horseman died and the Archers were crippled and forced to retreat. Now the Persians are permanently out of my turf, the barbarians are greatly weakened and are out of the way, and I was able to found the charming village of 63 31 in a nice spot.

Oh, note the HP bars of the barbarian archers. Green color means above 2/3, yellow is between 2/3 and 1/3, and red is below 1/3. I’ll get into what HP actually does later.

Random barbarian encounter! This time they’re right on top of my cities. I’m just lucky they didn’t cheat and attack immediately too, as they sometimes do.

But I’ve been planning for a sudden barbarian attack, so I can deal with this. First of all, I have enough funds that they should make a ransom demand (and vanish when I agree) rather than just take the city. That’s a pretty good outcome for me.

But actually I have an even better option available. Time for my turn!

First things first, I’ve now become a Monarchy. One as yet unmentioned perk: I can dedicate a bigger % of my Trade to science. Honestly that doesn’t make big difference, but it’s something. It matters most for the transition to Republic where you not only get a bunch more flexibility (going from Despotism’s 60% max to 80%) but also gain a ton more trade to divvy up in the first place.

Second things second, remember this guy? I’d been moving him south to either reinforce 63 31 or the Persian front depending on what the western archers did, but now he’s in position to instead attack the easterners. If he moves northeast and then east, he can attack them immediately.

Double kill!

I’d better finally explain combat. I’ll give you the simplified lies version of it now and save the complicated truth for later.

First off, every unit has 3 combat stats: Attack, Defense, and HP. Second, all fights are to the death. Third, all fights actually involve a whole bunch of tiny hidden rounds in which exactly 1 combatant loses exactly 1 HP. When a unit hits 0 HP, the fight ends. Usually the attacker’s turn does too since launching an attack costs 1 move and most units only have 1 move. Units with lots of move can actually launch lots of attacks and are thus very powerful. Fourth, only Attack matters for the attacker and only Defense matters for the defender. Defenders kill people with their Defense.

In each hidden mini-round, a random number is generated between 1 and the sum of the attacker’s Attack and defender’s Defense. If that number is less than or equal to the attacker’s Attack, the defender loses 1 HP. Otherwise the attacker does. That goes on until one hits 0 HP and therefore dies. Thus if a 2 Attack unit like my Horseman attacks a 2 Defense unit like that Archer, there is a 50-50 shot each round of each taking the 1 damage and thus the outcome is a coin toss. Obviously, starting off at low HP (All units have 10 normally) would decrease your chance of victory. Anyway, a guy with 3 Attack vs a guy with 1 Defense would win 3/4 of the rounds- three times as often as the guy who he is three times stronger than. It all makes a neat kind of sense and is right there in the instruction manual. And it’s all lies, not even approximately correct in a lot of applications. This is the Newtonian physics of killing people.

So why were 2 units destroyed with that one attack? Well that’s because of the most brilliant and tactically interesting combat mechanic in the whole game: when a stack of units is attacked, the unit with the best Defense fights alone against the attacker. If the defender is destroyed, the entire stack is wiped out (unless the stack is in a fortress or city, there they must be killed one by one). Does it make sense? Not at all. Especially since the guy with the best Defense isn’t necessarily the best defender since he might have only 1 HP left or something. But this and this alone is the foundation of everything interesting about tactical combat in Civ 2.

Right now what you need to know is that I actually had very good odds to win that fight because my Horseman was on offense and the barbarians were on defense, that both barbarians were killed at once because they were in a stack when they were attacked, and that my Horseman was injured but can heal over time if I let him rest.

Out west I have 2 problems. First, I’ve built a new city and this one became unhappy. Second, there’s a pile of barbarians moving in.

There is one move that solves both of those problems neatly: building a military unit here. The martial law will let the city keep functioning properly and the military guy can kill the barbarians. It’s worth spending some money to actually get it done on time because even if I pay off the first barbarian, the second will keep coming and will destroy the city since I won’t have enough bribe money to pay them off again.

I choose a Horseman. A Warrior would be cheaper and could proooobably beat injured Archer, but it would definitely lose to the second one.

This right here is one of the most valuable civ tips I have yet given out: the best defense is a good offense. Most civ players seem to rely on building Phalanxes or Archers and having them hunker down in their cities to defend them. This is not a good approach. It can work and there are a very few circumstances where it’s actually a good idea, but generally speaking the best way to defend your cities is to be ready to ride out and smash incoming threats. Barbarians in particular have MUCH better offense than defense. These Archers have 4.5 attack at LEAST. They might have become veterans from killing the Persian Horsemen, in which case they’d have 6.75. A Phalanx has 2 defense. If I somehow, impossibly, had the time and money to build a city wall or if the city was on a hill (and therefore sucked) and the Phalanx was fortified I could manage 6 defense. Those Archers probably only have 1 defense (barbarian Archers start with only 1 instead of the normal 2), so a cheap Horseman can crush them. Tactics are fundamentally about hitting your opponent where you are strong and they are weak. Barbarians and most enemy units that will come raiding are weak on defense, strong on offense. So are most of your available units. So make sure it’s your offense hitting their defense.

If you’re still not convinced, the Horseman is also a more versatile unit since you can also send it out to scout or to join in an invasion or to more easily reinforce another city.

Furthermore, you’re often attacked by a whole stack of enemies at once. If you play defense, you have to survive every single attack they can throw at you. If you play offense, you only need to kill 1 of them to wipe the whole stack out.

And if even that’s not enough, consider what happens if you happen to lose. If you lose on defense, your city population shrinks by 1. This is devastating. And it’s game-over for your city if your city is size 1. Let me repeat that. If even one of your units loses on defense when your city is size one, your entire city is destroyed. It doesn’t matter what else you have in there. Even if your city is size two or higher, being knocked down a city size or two every time the enemy comes raiding is crippling. Sure, you can prevent that by building city walls, but once again that is not at all feasible at this stage in the game.

If you lose on offense, no big deal. There’s often still enough time to buy or move in a reinforcement and the enemy is weakened. In the case of barbarians, they will still cheerfully offer to spare your city if you pay them. Of course, I don’t have enough money for them to make that offer, but in most situations you will.

So I bought the Horseman and the enemy came in range and my Horseman rode out and killed the whole stack at once.

Whenever a unit wins a fight, it has a 50% chance of becoming a veteran. Veteran units are 50% better than baseline in both Attack and Defense. This is awesome for me right now because it means I am almost guaranteed to completely slaughter the other Archer when it arrives.

So the new Horseman moves back into the city, ending the disorder, and civilization goes on. I’m going to talk about a few of the symbols you may see on the unit flags now.

You can see two of my Settlers in that picture with Gs. G is short for Going. That means I told the unit to walk to a specific spot on the map and then ask me for further orders. That’s a handy time saver for me, but doesn’t really mean anything for you readers.

In the southwest there’s another illustration of Zone of Control- this time showing where my archer can’t go.

Also note the F on the banner for both my Archer and the Persian Warrior. That means they’re fortifying. Fortify is an order you can give your units that grants them a 50% defensive bonus as long as they stay put. However, that bonus does not apply until your NEXT turn. See that little wall thing around the feet of both units? That means they’re actually fortified and have the 50% defense bonus. His Warrior has 1 attack and 1.5 defense while like that and my Archer has 3 attack and 3 defense, so I could flatten him if either of us attacked. No sense in breaking the treaty and ruining my reputation forever just to kill a warrior though.

No, right now I’m having a staring contest with the computer, and I’m going to win. Just like with my Settlers herding his Horseman, he is going to stupidly and pointlessly back up his Warriors sooner or later. And when he does, I am going to move forward onto those hills. And then I’ll fortify there. On those hills my fortified archer will 1) continue to completely block all passage along that isthmus and 2) be nearly invincible. He’ll have 6 defense, enough to crush any unit he can throw at me. Especially since I can just attack things like Catapults that try to move in. The only real threat would be veteran Elephants, which I’d still have a > 50% chance of beating. And once I beat one I might well get veteran status and go up to a borderline-invincible 9 defense.

Anyway, the point is that I’m going to completely shut down this isthmus for him forever. That will be part of my effort to slowly close him in and make him a prisoner in his own lands so that when the day comes that he inevitably betrays me, he’ll still be pitifully weak and I’ll be in an invincible position to weather his sneak attack.

Take a look at my lovely capital for a moment here. Remember how way back in the first post I demonstrated the Despotism penalty by pointing out that this tile SHOULD produce 3 grain but was only producing 2? Well, as you can see, it now produces its proper 3 under the glorious reign of Melth, God-King of Romankind.

The last barbarian Archer has at last moved in. My Horseman flattens it. That’s 5 barbarians killed with 2 units and no casualties, not bad.

I’m still exploring and settling. I’ve got a whole lot of cities that could use names.

Ah ha! The warrior moved away. I’m going to seize that Hill! You’ll also note that I brought in my eastern Horseman to help out. When the war starts, I might well want to be able to go on the attack against oncoming Catapults and Elephants without de-fortifying the Archer.

… darn it.

Well I took the Hill, but it turns out the Persians had a city that had been in the fog of war. The Hill is in the city’s territory, so I’m actually not allowed to stand on it. Ok, change of plans. That Forest to the south will be almost as good, though it won’t leave me in nearly as good a position to launch an attack if I need to.

At last I’ve finished Literacy and can research The Republic! Or I could do what my science adviser says and ignore the government that will give me matchless science growth to learn bronze working.

Well since I can’t grab the defensive position while there’s peace, I think I want to work on making the Persians declare war a bit early. They’re evidently researching stuff so slowly that I can’t learn much from them. I’ll just keep phoning them up every turn and demanding money or telling them to withdraw nonexistent troops until they get fed up and attack before they’re good and ready.

As you can see, I backed off to the forest. I don’t want to break the peace myself and I also don’t want my archer to be teleported home, because it would take a long time to walk back to that spot and they might breach containment in that time.

So we have a standoff like this instead.

And up here we’ve got another one. I need to block that isthmus too, so I’m going to try the settler herding trick to force them back and then set up shop on a Hill somewhere.

Meanwhile, I’ve actually begun running out of area to settle. I’ve decided to start building some Roads and such instead of cities. That will help a lot with the next phase of the game.

Settlers can build Roads on any kind of land terrain that does not have a River; it just takes much longer in Forests, Mountains, etc. Roads act a LOT like Rivers: you can move along them at 1/3 cost and they generate +1 Trade from the squares they’re in (though critically this ONLY applies to Grasslands and Plains and Deserts).

The handiest part is that all your cities already have roads in them. So when this Settler finishes this road, it will be part of a chain of 3 already.

Time to switch to a real government.

So here’s one thing that has never made much sense to me: just who IS the player character in this game? I mean, it’s very clearly one person throughout all of history. So are the other civilizations’ leaders. Are Xerxes and Melth and Gandhi and the rest a group of immortal beings reigning over the humans? Why is it that regardless of government they have complete control over all of their subjects all of the time and can even order them to kill themselves, but they have no control over the senate? Why do they need to order revolutions against their own totalitarian mind-control states to limit their own power with a senate? How in the world CAN you even order a revolution against yourself?

And I knew it was an OEDO turn next, so the government change occurs immediately.

Here’s a picture of my whole realm just after the transition (those cities with the fists aren’t actually in disorder, the symbol just hasn’t updated away). This update I went from 3 cities to 13 and basically found all the borders of my territory. Note that every single one of my cities is on the shore. There’s still a little bit of filling in to do and a few more spots I can crowd in cities and still have them be effective, but this is mostly it for peaceful land expansion.

Tune in next time to find out how I deal with locking down the Persians, fighting the constant civil disorder in my cities, and building the Romans into the most powerful civilization in the world. Excelsior!

Delenda est Carthago!