Multiplayer Game, November 17, 2005: 3 on 3 Teamer

Game: 3 vs. 3 Team Game
Map: Wheel
Settings: 2 city-elim, Raging Barbs, No city razing, 150 turns
MP defaults: Quick, Fast turn timer

When reading through feedback from the Walkthrough, I had a number of requests to detail what a Multiplayer game looked like for those who haven't experienced Civ4 MP before. Now that I've had the chance to play a couple of games, I decided I would write up the best one of them and post it here for public viewing.

By way of background, I need to say that in addition to the group that I spend most of my time with (that being Realms Beyond - anyone who reads through this site will quickly become familiar with the goings-on at Realms Beyond), I also have some ties with some truly extraordinary MP players. I met these people during our frequent testing sessions in the months before Civ4 was finished, and as release day approached, there was a desire to continue running our MP games after the testing was over. As a result, the group (I dislike using the word "clan", due to the negative connotations associated with it) that is now going by the name "Illuminati" was formed. This is a very small group (at least as of time of writing), made up mostly of crack MP players who worked on Civ4 before release. I wouldn't appear to fit in with this group, except that I discovered during testing (much to my own surprise) that I could be a pretty fearsome MP guy too.

This writeup in particular details the first successful team game that we managed to run with Illuminati members. 3 on 3 game, with Friedrich Psitalon and Cobra on my team against Frank, cmdishr, and smuckey. These teams were far from balanced at the start (those are two of the top ladder players in the world!), but we wanted to see how well our team of 3 would be able to play as a group. I took Louis (an Industrious civ) hoping to play the role of the builder on our team while Fried and Cobra would be the fighters. Here's what the map generator spit out for me:

That's... that's what you want to see when you're an Industrious civ! Plenty of food, horses, good mixture of health and happiness resources - and, most importantly, STONE! Basically a guaranteed Pyramids and Hanging Gardens unless someone on the other team is also Industrious and has stone. I was particularly glad to see the horses because we had Raging Barbs on for this game (also 2-city elim, which is pretty standard for Multiplayer games). Oh, and for those who have never tried MP before, also note the turn timer in the top-right corner. I tend to be a bit of a slow player, but with practice I've been able to get used to the Fast turn timer. Just be aware, Single-Player folks, that if you want to play in the majority of MP games, you'll have to get used to the turn timer (for better or worse).

Look also at the minimap in the bottom right corner. From this, I can already tell that I'm the player on our team in the "back corner" of the map (this is a Wheel map, one designed for MP games). Perfect! Fried and Cobra will be able to defend me while I sit back and happily build us some wonders and pump research. Cranking out tons of units is vital for success, but it also tends to drive your economy into the drink. The start positions were ideal for the team concept we had in mind, so now it remained to see how good our execution would be.

I started with a worker (risky in MP and with raging barbs!) but it worked out and got me going pretty fast around the capital. Lots of resources to hook up... worker started with the sheep (since we didn't have Agriculture for the corn at that point), then hooked up horses, then went to the stone. I started Stonehenge quite early, but actually lost it to smucky in this game (we tied by building it on the same turn, and the game awarded their team the wonder). Ack! Significant setback early on. I should've rushed it with a forest chop for some extra shields! I didn't have stone hooked up until after it finished, or I never would have lost the wonder, naturally. Just letting any readers looking at this know that things don't always work out perfectly for me any more than they do for everyone else!

After losing out on Stonehenge, I built a settler for my second city, then proceeded onto Oracle and did, in fact, get that one. Here's the picture from the turn before that:

The tech taken was Metal Casting, which is often a good one to grab with the Oracle (expensive early tech). That allowed me to build something I rarely use - workshops! Paris had so much food and so little shields that they were actually useful, which doesn't happen often. Paris went back onto another settler next to fill in some more of my "dots" (which only existed in my head, of course, but they were there nonetheless).

Militarily - well, you wouldn't have known I was in a war here. A warrior in Paris and a single chariot on hand to deal with barbs. This is NOT enough to deal with raging barbs, so I upgraded the chariot to a horse archer (with the money I got from missing Stonehenge, ha!) and had Orleans build a barracks and some real military to defend against the barbs. Fortunately I only had to worry about barbs from the north, since Fried was to my east and secured that side. I've seen enough of Raging Barbs to know when and how many defensive units to build, but you have to be careful until you get used to it. Those barbs are brutal! On the postgame replay, I saw that they briefly took over one of the cities of the other team. Yikes!

Orleans was a strong second city, grabbing gems, clams, and - most importantly - a second horse resource that I was able to trade to Fried's Mongolia. A Mongol without horses is one sad puppy, don't ya know? Third city went to the east, grabbed corn, fish, iron, and MARBLE (!!!) to ensure that I could build any wonder the team desired. Industrious civ with stone and marble is downright scary. Fourth city filled in the terrain in the south, fifth city grabbed gold and cows in the northwest - I was rolling. Built Pyramids, then Parthenon, both in less than 10 turns. Here's a shot as my civ keeps rolling along:

In terms of religion, we had founded Hinduism early on, and (lucky us), Paris became the holy city. I sent missionaries (using Organized Religion) to Fried and Cobra early on, and they spread the faith around further themselves. You can see in the above picture that Hinduism has spread on its own to most of my cities. When my first Great Person was a Prophet (no surprise, due to Oracle), I built the Hindu shrine and used it to finance 100% research for ages on end. Religion helped make our team stronger!

After building the wonders listed above, plus the Hanging Gardens, Great Library, and the National Epic, Paris was rocking the Great Person points. Take a look at the following picture from a little bit later:

57 Great Person points per turn?! It only takes about 300 GPPs at this point in order to generate a Great Person! Oh yeah, Paris is doing its job, alright. We're about to discover Guilds, which will open the way to Banking and the Mercantilism civic. That - combined with the Representation I'm already using - will only tip the scales further in our favor. Oh, and take note of the workshops in Paris. Getting good use of those plains workshops! How rare is that?

As far as the game went, I just kept on building and building. Ended up with nine cities, and virtually no military, although towards the end of the game when we got to Gunpowder I was building French musketeers and gifting them to Fried and Cobra for them to play with. Meanwhile, my partners were causing general havoc, pillaging and disrupting the other team while building up large stacks to strike. Fried had to leave and let the AI take over eventually, but once we reached Chemistry and Steel, Cobra built up a large stack of grenadiers and cannon and took over two of smuckey's cities. With this being a two-city elim game, that ended it for him and his civ was destroyed. Although there were some 20 turns left, the other team conceded at that point (we were about a full era ahead technologically and far, far ahead in score) and Cobra and I clicked "next turn" until the end to reach the replay screen. Here was my civ on the turn that the other team agreed to concede:

Still researching at 90% science and in the black, thanks to that Hindu shrine... Also note that (surprisingly) I have the highest score at this point. That would have changed as Fried and Cobra built more cities and advanced further to the east, but it should show that the builder strategy can pull in as many points as the warmonger one - much the contrary of Civ3.

Two more pictures to pass along from the replay. The first one showes the initial starting positions for everyone on a blank map:

Gah, reminded again of my failure to get Stonehenge! This should also give those who have not played on a Wheel map before a good idea of what it looks like. As the name suggests, it looks like a wheel, with an outer rim and spokes extending into the middle of the map. Also, to read the replay info in the proper order, you have to start at the bottom and go up (that's how it scrolls on the screen).

Then also the replay display from the last turn of the game, when Cobra took out smuckey:

So there you have it. I wouldn't say that this is what a typical game of MP looks like, but I think it does demonstrate that it's possible to play games that involve more than simply rushing the other person as fast as possible. In fact, when taking part in a team game (by far my favorite kind of MP game, by the way), it often pays to divide up different roles and have different civs focus on different things. I'm generally much better at building up an economy than I am at warring, so I'm happy to let others do that while building up the commercial base to get them better military toys to play with. Of course, in order to do this properly, you have to trust your teammates (if they got past Fried or Cobra, I was in deep trouble!), so it's not likely that this will work too well for random games found online. But if you can get a team game going with friends or an online group, there is a great deal of potential for a lot of fun. This game certainly was.

That's all for now. I think the Illuminati group is going to be pretty competitive when the formal MP competitions start up, but only time will tell. I'll let you know how that turns out after it happens.