The Let's Play Archive

Civilization 2

by Melth

Part 18: 1610 AD - 1760 AD (Teching up and Total War)

The party is over, but I’m now in position to win. With almost all of my Aqueducts sold and Adam Smith’s Trading Company covering the costs of nearly everything else, I can now make a tidy profit at 10% Taxes. With a single Entertainer now and then to cover military unhappiness when I send out a ship from a city, I can keep every city content at 10% Luxuries. This is basically the classic, endgame Democracy setup. At this rate- plus the increases I could get by making trade routes and Libraries and making a few more cities and maybe having one more round of celebration- it would be easy to begin work on a spaceship by 1800 or so.

But there’s not much point in doing that. In fact, there’s pretty much never a reason to tech even as far as Mobile Warfare (unlocking Tanks). You only need to be 1-2 unit tiers above an enemy to win a war against them handily. 3 or so and you can crush them. Right now my best unit is the Crusader and that’s already better than anything anyone else can field. Within 10 turns I should have a tech advantage so huge that I can run the whole world over.

Oh and to address one misconception people might have: whether my Science is 50, 60, 70, or 80% I will be listed as getting a discovery every 2 turns. However, one really does get discoveries faster with higher Science levels. At 80% I get a new tech every turn and a half or so.

So I’m beginning the great tech buildup and construction on another wonder or two. Meanwhile I’ve finally just about cleared the pesky jungle occupying the last good city spot on the Persian peninsula.

At this point I started looking around the map for which enemy cities to seize first. I want to be pretty fast, so I need to be ready to attack multiple civilizations and continents in multiple sites at once.

With any serious enemy civilization, there will be some easy cities and some hard cities to take. Once you’ve got the easy cities on a given continent, the enemy is usually crippled and it’s relatively simple to crank out some land units from the captured cities to take the rest.

What makes a city easy to take? Well no City Walls, not being on strong defensive terrain, being next to or very near the coast, and small size often helps too. The most important thing is for it to have strong defensive terrain next to it. The best strongest units in Civ 2 are generally ones like Catapults, Cannons, Artillery, etc. that have 1 move and therefore must start off next to the city to attack it. You’ll need a big stack of them to take most cities, but they all have 1 defense and therefore can be effortlessly wiped out en masse as they approach.

The solution is to find a strong defensive terrain tile next to the enemy city, park a single unit with actual good defense on that, fortify, and THEN pile in your giant attacking force once you know it’s safe.

The marked space near Corinth is just perfect. It’s near the ocean, so I can unload troops directly into it. And it’s a Mountain, so it gives an insurmountable defensive bonus. Because of those terrain features and the lack of City Walls, Corinth is an easy target.

This area isn’t as great since it’s only a Hill and the city has City Walls, but it's still good.

I haven’t found any coastal Sioux cities yet, so I’ll need to keep exploring their beaches and also start a push into their interior by the land routes. That starts here with seizing Japan. Kyoto and Satsuma both have hills nearby that will make them vulnerable. However, Kyoto has a fairly hard outer ring of defenders I’d need to break through first.

So I’ve picked my targets. But I’m not actually at war with either Japan or Greece. As a Democracy, I lack the 2 best tools for starting wars (demanding tribute for my patience and just breaking the darned treaty and attacking).

When you play as a Democracy, your own senate is your greatest enemy and you must be ruthless and clever in dealing with them to play effectively.

Right now the best move is to overthrow my own government. It’s right before an OEDO turn, so I should be able to change it right back almost immediately.

Now that I’m an Anarchy, I can phone up the Japanese…

And demand tribute for my patience. Either they’ll cave in and give me money or they’ll defy me and probably go to war. Both are wins for me. And if they either give me the money or refuse but don’t start a war immediately, their attitude toward me will drop enough that a few more demands like this should make them declare war. Failing that I’ll just break the treaty right before switching back to Democracy.


Now it’s the Greeks’ turn.

Uh… looks like they had the same idea.

Darned right.

Alright, my turn.

Alexander here has been a crazy warmonger with a hair-trigger temper all game. It’s finally about to come back to bite him.

I’m already at war with the Sioux but there’s no harm in calling them and demanding money anyway. They might just pay up.

At least these guys know how rich I am. It was insulting what a paltry sum the Greeks asked for.

We’re already AT war!

Well I didn’t get a chance to demand tribute, but no harm done.

So next turn I can choose my government freely. And I can change it any number of times I want without penalty. Therefore I can go Despotism or Monarchy for a few seconds in order to demand tribute again and then can switch to Democracy.

Alright, my plan worked perfectly. I even got some cash besides starting the wars I needed. Now I can switch back to Democracy and there was basically no penalty.

My caravel valorously slaughters a whole stack of helpless Sioux diplomats.

I don’t want to deal with trying to kill this guy in his fortress on a River. He’s probably a veteran too and I don’t have any good units here yet.

Note though that my Legions did arrive exactly on time. I’m pretty good at estimating whether I’m 20 or 30 turns from being ready to go to war.

There’s not much else for Diplomats to do since I’m not going to buy any cities, so I had him do industrial sabotage. That either negates all shields toward the current thing the city is building or destroys a city improvement at random. Either way the Diplomat is consumed.

My war preparations are mostly complete. I have a Caravel waiting in Jaromir Ovechkin and I’ve been funneling in military units to load into it. Now I’ve got 3, a full cargo bay.

The first setback is running into a Trireme on the way, but it’s easily dispatched.

The second setback is that a Pikeman is now standing on the hill I wanted. I settle for dumping my Knight and first Crusader on this Forest instead. It’s almost as good and is a bit safer since it’s not right next to the city anyway. Most likely the Greeks will pull the Pikeman back and I can then fortify on the Hill.

I’m back to Democracy, so In Omni Paratus is unhappy that I’m sending out multiple military units to take Satsuma. A few Entertainers for a couple of turns will keep a lid on the problem.

When you really get going and have all the techs you want and a bunch of military units from every city running around, just crank up the Luxury rate a bit and you’ll be good to go.

The science advisor gives amazingly awful advice. First of all, Gunpowder is a game-changer. I want it 10 turns ago. Second, Astronomy is worthless. The Sioux already even built Copernicus’s Observatory already. Third, the Sioux have had it forever and are allies with the Greeks and Japanese who could discover the primitive tech on their own or trade for it at any time. It’s weird that I don’t already have it courtesy of the Great Library.

I’m moving in around Kyoto. When there is no one good terrain spot to protect your troops while you set up- or when you think the enemy has a single, very strong attacker in their city that you could still lose your whole stack to- it’s often best to instead pile 1 or more offensive troops into every available tile nearby that gives any kind of defense bonus. That way he can kill just 1 of them, and then you can attack on your turn and hopefully wipe him out.

Satsuma should be easier to take. For one thing it’s not on a River. For another, I have a Catapult in the area. My Phalanx should be free to safely fortify on the Hill this turn, then the Catapult can move in and start bombarding.

As expected, the AI compulsion to move all units has given me free access to this Hill I wanted. If he’d just fortified there I would have had a hard time dislodging him due to Pikemen being great against Knights and Crusaders + fortify bonus + Hill bonus.

Alright, I’ve got Gunpowder! Now I have some very nice war tech choices. Leadership will unlock Dragoons, a slightly more advanced sort of cavalry than Crusaders. Metallurgy will give me Cannons to replace Catapults. The upgrade to Cannon is a bigger one- and I think I’m going to need all the firepower available- so I’ll go with that first.

Here’s the last one of the 7 hills of Rome.

And in 1650 the war to end all wars begins. My units are in position on 4 fronts and both the Japanese and the Greeks are about to fortify themselves dangerously (I really do NOT want that Legion getting into Kyoto).

Nice. He might have stood a chance if that Legion had attacked my Phalanx straight off instead of letting me move in and bombard it on the defensive.

And I sacked Kyoto! It cost me a Legion since the defenders were pretty tough, but I did manage to take it just barely intact. You’ll note that even when taking the capital of a side with a big treasury and only 1 other city, I still don’t get much money.

The Japanese Legion was a Kyoto unit, so he’s now disbanded and I’ve got total control of the area.

Unfortunately, this is emissary is very bad news. The AI loves to make peace every time you take one of their cities and the Senate always stupidly goes along with it.

Now granted the Japanese can be counted on to treacherously sneak attack and break the treaty within a turn or two, but it still slows me down a lot to need to wait for them to do that every single time I take a city. Particularly since if the Senate agrees to a peace treaty, all my units carefully set up around Satsuma will be sent home and have to be set up again.

This is a terrible deal. I gain nothing from it. I am 1 turn from wiping these guys out as long as I don’t have to withdraw my troops.

Darn it, guys!

These people don’t know the meaning of the word “secret”. So everyone is now in an alliance against me… but they’re all still totally willing to make separate peaces. This is the most botched anti-player teamup I’ve ever seen.

More war techs.

Well it’s still war on the Greek front and I’ve hauled in enough veteran Catapults (9 Attack) and Crusaders (7.5) that I should be able to flatten any units he has in there. The best he could possibly have would have 9 Defense if it was a veteran. More likely he’s got 6 or so on 2-3 non-veteran defenders.

Also, I was able to seize Corinth from my perch with only 2 units. In retrospect it was stupid to attack that city first because…

No! It’s still MY turn! You can’t interrupt me with peace talks during MY turn just before I take your capital too!


This is the breaking point. It was not logistically easy to get that giant pile of troops transported across the ocean and safely ensconced in attack range. If the Senate makes me sign this, I WILL collapse my government into Anarchy rather than obey the treaty.

I wouldn’t do it for 100,000; I have infinite money already and I’m 1 turn from seizing their capital…

Phew. Alright, the senate get to live for today.

Uh… no? That was the whole point of rejecting your treaty.

Ok, here’s another big military tech. This one comes right on the heels of Gunpowder, which unlocked Musketeers, and now replaces them with Riflemen. Riflemen are your only primary infantry unit for the whole rest of the game for some reason. You get lots of other specialty infantry, but the generic Rifleman will still be the "main" one 1000 years from now, even though cavalry and artillery units still have 2-3 replacements left each.

Alright, so the situation is bad. The Greeks are about to pull a whole column of tough units up into the City Walls and there’s a ceasefire. Meanwhile, I’m about to have to withdraw my troops from Satsuma according to the treaty. Well first things first, I’ll finally get an embassy with these guys.

I’ve been working on the Statue of Liberty, a very underrated wonder, and now speed-build it.

So at the end of my turn either the government will collapse if I try to disobey the treaty or my troops will be sent home. And, as I mentioned, things are about to get much more problematic on the Greek front too.

Time to march in my new Riflemen and shoot the whole Senate because they’re clearly conspiring with the enemy.

So I broke the ceasefire and began attacking. All is going smoothly, as expected.

Ha! Got their capital. It had a wonder in it, so now the wonder belongs to me.

I’ll sell off their junk improvements for free money. Since I have Sun Tzu’s War Academy I have very little use for Barracks.

Ooh, let’s see what the guy who just lost his capital has to say.

Treacherous? I’m not the one who murdered a Diplomat during first contact and signs secret alliances.

What? No, you don’t get to make threats; I’m the one winning the war!

Guess I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing.

And I’ll break this peace treaty too.

Breaking 2 treaties drops my reputation from spotless down to despicable. And that can never be repaired. This is why it’s so important to not break treaties lightly in the early game. Do it once, and no one will ever like you or give you easy tribute or anything ever again. At this point I finally have more to gain from treachery than honesty, courtesy of my Senate’s wacky hijinks.

The Statue of Liberty is great and severely underrated. It unlocks with Democracy and has 2 effects: first of all, it lets the player choose any government. Even ones I haven’t discovered like Fundamentalism and Communism. Since both of those are several tech levels higher than Democracy, this is the earliest available way to get either of those governments. It’s also the only way to get Communism without shooting yourself in the foot with the eternal unhappiness penalty that comes from just unlocking Communism. Not that the government is ever worth using anyway.

The other, even better effect is that you can more or less freely switch your governments. Every turn counts like an OEDO year for you, so if you have a revolution at the end of the turn then you suffer Anarchy for 10 seconds and can then switch. This is perfect for Democracies. Just collapse your government as often as you like breaking peace treaties and whatnot and then get Democracy right back. It does hurt a little bit, but it’s much better than having to go along with the mad dictates of the Senate or only time your defiance for OEDO turns or facing 1-4 turns of crippling Anarchy every time.

The Corinth crew is transported to a similarly good location outside Delphi.

And Satsuma is destroyed.

Another civilization wiped out!

So I started pushing through in hopes of finding the Sioux and found them under circumstances I don’t like.

At long last I’ve annihilated an enemy civ but taken their capital intact. I finally have a suitable ruin to name Carthage as requested!

Darn. The attack on Delphi went badly. They turned out to have 2 Catapults in the city, so my Knight was wiped out before it could fortify. Now my Crusader is kind of stranded, but I think I’ll stay here and do as much damage as I can.

… what? No. Alright, the rules just got broken there.

See, in a Democracy your government collapses into Anarchy if you ever leave civil disorder untreated in a city for 1 whole turn. So you get the civil disorder message and you must then fix things before you press “enter” to end your turn. If you don’t, you get Anarchy.

In this case, this city somehow collapsed my government immediately. It was never in civil disorder prior to this. In fact, I had JUST checked the entire list of cities in the attitude adviser to make sure absolutely none of them were in civil disorder before ending my turn. One had been, and I’d fixed it.

This is cheating. Or a bug. At least I have the Statue of Liberty to fix things.

I had to make a brief retreat, but fighting continues as I try to lure the Catapults into areas where I can kill them safely.

Doesn’t really change anything.

Right. I’ve had enough of this Democracy thing. I have all the techs I need to wreck the enemy and while I could easily circumvent my senate, I do NOT want to put up with random Anarchy-induced starvation when my government collapses without cause.

So here’s the new initial setup. It’s actually much better than this, but half my cities are still considered in disorder till next turn and thus their gold and science contributions aren't being counted.

In Athens, I ordered my Catapults to sentry so they’d notify me when they’re healed. I forgot I did that though and moved out my Caravel, so the Catapults went with it. They really should have made a separate load command from the sentry one.

Making progress. I got my Archer into their Mountain fort, which makes it one of the toughest units in the whole world right now, injured or not.

And I choose my next tech. This is the big one militarily. It unlocks the best cavalry unit in the game (pre-tanks) and the best all-around infantry ever. Furthermore, it is the prereq for Amphibious Warfare (which gives the unique Marine unit) and Machine Tools (which gives the ultimate artillery for a long time) and for Mobile Warfare (which gives Tanks).

As you can see, the real picture is a lot rosier now that I don’t have half my cities in disorder. My Science rate is still respectable overall since I don’t have to spend any of the economy on Luxuries or anything. And I can make vast amounts of money with a low Tax rate (though a higher Tax rate doesn’t bring in much more cash).


Ugh, more barbarians right in the middle of a bunch of my cities. Oh well, at least I have some military units around now. I can stop them pretty easily.

So although I’ve unlocked better units, I’m still using the primitive ones. One of the biggest problems with high-tech wars in this game is that you have to use obsolete units for dozens of turns before the new ones arrive. Or you can build Leonardo’s Workshop. I’m working on that wonder right now.

And it’s finished.

So this wonder is supposed to immediately replace all obsolete units with the higher-tech versions I’ve unlocked. Thus all my Phalanxes, Archers, Legions, Musketeers, etc. should now become Riflemen. All my Horsemen, Crusaders, and Knights should become Dragoons. Actually it’s kind of buggy though and it may leave you with only some units upgraded until you develop another tech.

Now unlocking Musketeers is a gigantic game-changer. Up until Musketeers, every defensive unit in the game has at most 2 Defense. There are attackers with up to 6 Attack, or more. The Musketeer not only has 3 Defense, but it also has 20 Hitpoints instead of 10. So it’s actually close to 3 times tougher than all previous defensive units. This puts an immediate, hard end to the era of easy Crusader conquests. Never, ever let the enemy get this tech if you’re going for an early win.

Riflemen have 1 more Defense and the same Hitpoints, so they’re marginally tougher but not revolutionary.

With these guys in my cities, I should be impervious to any weapons anyone else has.

This is just a selection of all the upgrades. I also get my Triremes turned into Caravels and whatnot.

But as you can see, I still have some Musketeers left. All Musketeers were converted to Riflemen and THEN my Pikemen were converted into Musketeers. This is a significant screwup on the part of the designers, particularly since it’s so easily noticed and causes such major penalties for such a noticeably long time.

Over here that’s kind of a problem. These should all be Riflemen, which would be a much needed upgrade in their attack stat.

It’s less of a problem than finding a Diplomat here. I’m not a Democracy anymore, so my units aren’t bribe-proof. My only defense is that my units probably cost truckloads of money that the enemy doesn’t have.

I think this is the biggest remaining Greek city and I’m moving in. Notice that their sloppily and randomly built Roads and fortresses help me, not them. This is one of many reasons I never really build fortresses. They’re almost always much more useful for enemies in your territory than for you; you should just build City Walls.

This is going to go nowhere.

This is a pittance. I’ve racked up thousands and thousands of gold by now.

We’re already at war, man. I’ve killed dozens of your units.

Still no upgrades here. I’ll have to hope I finally get them when I unlock Tactics in a turn or two.

I did have a city by this name before, but it didn’t really fit, so I changed it. Having a city in Greek turf built by Greek city-produced settlers seems like a more reasonable place for a Byzantium.

Anyway, once again I’ve set up a tough defensive unit (the Musketeer) in good terrain by an enemy city. Now I’ll move in my giant stack of attack units onto the Musketeer's tile and let him defend them as they get ready to attack.

I’m still having trouble bringing the fight to the Sioux. Those Mountains between Japan and Sioux territory are a huge slog to get through.

I’ll start dropping random scouts around their continent to find where their cities are.

The uber stack was defended successfully.

Finally! My Musketeers are upgraded too. Cavalry are actually strictly better than Cannons at this point, so I’m going to switch entirely to building them. Alpine Troops are strictly better than Riflemen, so I’m going to build those instead too.

The view hidden terrain button is VERY handy. It’s very hard to tell what kind of terrain is under some enemy cities, but it makes a very big difference for whether you can safely attack them or not.

This one turns out to be nice and vulnerable.

So a massive battle begins, but it’s totally one-sided.


And I charged through and wrecked everything else too. Once again, his forts will help me crush his next city.

But that’s a battle for another time. I’ve made good progress. I should be able to run over the Greeks shortly. The Sioux will be a bigger challenge though. They have at least 13 cities, some of them very large, and all of them in unknown territory. Beating them efficiently will be tricky.