Civilization 4: Emperor is tough

Ok, how do you do it? The best I’ve done on emperor so far is through the Mongol/horse archer/kill 3 neighboring empires thing, but even then I got bogged down fighting the Greeks and was clearly going to lose.

All I can think of is tricks that turn the AIs strengths against them - they get cheap workers, settlers, and archers? Build to kill archers and steal their settlers & archers, I guess. Unfortunately you can’t do this to every civilization simultaneously, and I just can’t convert the temporary advantage into enough science.

First off… why Emperor? The game stops being fun after (roughly) Monarch. After that, the only way to win are AI exploits and/or tedious gamey tricks.

But if you’re really determined, one way to do it is to play on the Terra map. The AI doesn’t handle colonization of the New World properly. Also, I’ve read that choosing raging barbarians helps… the barbarians tend to screw the AI more than the human player. (I can’t personally vouch for the barbarian thing… I hate raging barbarians.) Another useful trick is to play the Incas and do a Quechua rush… the AI starts with Archers, which get pummeled by the Quechua.

Other than that, general good playing and insane micromanagement are key. There’s all sorts of chop/rush strategies detailed on that help you burst out the gate, if you’re willing to to manage things just so. Based on your particular post, it sounds like the problem that you’re running into is that of overexpansion… if your empire gets too big, then your science rate goes to hell. You might want to consider razing the enemy cities (except for the enemy capital, which is almost always good) instead of actually capturing them.

Are any of these ideas helpful in the slightest, or have you already tried them all?

Agreed. As I said in another thread, I don’t play above Prince, myself. Prince is fun. AI bonuses nicely balance my superior play skill, making for a good game. Monarch, I can win, but the AI bonuses are starting to get ridiculous at that level and it takes way too much micromanagement and the use of very gamey tactics to pull off a victory. Emperor and above, forget about it. :wink: While I might be able to win, I wouldn’t have any fun at all.

Jeesh, I can’t usually get through prince.

But I didn’t know for sure the AI cheats, I kept believing that in 2005 AIs play fair in games. What cheats does the AI get?


Production bonuses, research bonuses, and free units. The higher up you go, the more of each they get. Noble is the level where you and the AI play essentially the same game. At Prince the bonuses start kicking in, and at Monarch and above the free units (starting workers, more than one settler at the beginning of the game, etc) start showing up.

Yeah, even Monarch is kicking my ass right now. I think I could, given time, adapt to Monarch, MAYBE, but Emperor is pretty much out of the question.

Holy crap, I’m only winning about half of my Noble games, still.

Hell I can’t even top that although I am getting better! Gotta say despite my frustrations Civ4 has me coming back for more whereas with Civ2 and 3 I usually gave up and shelved them - “great games but uhh back to Falcon 4 I go.”

This is a good thread to read especially the military unit abilities upgrades. Before I just promoted them willy-nilly (or auto promote) but now I pay attention to who I’m going to fight and in what terrain, etc, and promote accordingly.

I seem to do fine on the smaller maps (2-3 enemy civs). But if I get the larger games going, I generally get too many enemies from founding my own religion (I want those bonuses), and I simply can barely keep up with both technology, military, and ecomony. Generally I end up about middle of the pack, and it’s hard to win a victory (I disable both Time and Space Race victories). I usually just end up having to start new games.

In the civ games, I’ve never gone above Monarch. In AC, I never went above Librarian. Just not fun after that.

It is insanely hard at Emperor. I very nearly won a game on the Lake’s map as Aztec before I got literally steamrolled in the Space Race. The computer turns for troop movement were nearing 3 minutes and each of those last turns there were waves and waves of attackers.

What worked for me (in the beginning and middle at least) was to go to war early and keep all your defenders as promoted as possible rotating out units and promoting them for defense on their first 2 upgrades. Having 8 different unit types fully promoted per city can usually stalemate an advance from a computer player long enough to choke up a supply line. Often the AI, during war, will be careless and not move it’s unit’s in stacks but instead in singles and doubles in it’s own territory before forming it’s big stacks. Having heavy defender units (Guerrilla especially) sitting in enemy city radius pillaging the production squares and taking shots at advancing catapult/artillary units is invaluable.

However the key I found was to keep your war status, because if you sue for a 10 turn peace treaty, the AI gets smart and starts making it’s huge stacks that it won’t break up until it gets smashed on your defending cities which is always touch and go. In the games I have played recently I have made my empire building in a line, in order to maximize my units for the front and minimize the possibility of enemy units have 2 potential strike targets without giving me the ability to shift my stacks.

Also, in Emperor all tech I ever researched was purely warfare. It is impossible to keep up with the huge tech of the AI and at Emperor, you really have to grease the wheels to get any tech-trading (most of the time they already have what you just researched) diplomacy, and I think it is impossible to keep even one other civilization happy with you throughout the course of the game (they will always backstab at the worst possible time).

Civ4 GoTY?

Few other tips that worked out for me: Never build a city with an adjacent hill and get rid of the forests as soon as possible. Any city that you take follows this rule as you will have a very hard time counterattacking a city assult when dealing with significant terrain bonuses.

Iron and Uranium are the 2 most important resources in the game as far as military production, the third being Horses. If you can keep those resources under constant pressure (and pillaging) you can often keep Emperor civilizations with their significant production advantage churning out lower grade attackers during key offensives.

Raze all cities that are one city block away from any of your own that you can. You will lose cities to opponents, particularly on a mistimed offensive or surprise attack. Allowing the opponent to have even a small city near your own will have it grow explosively and produce military units at an astonishing rate. Your best bet to to keep the cities you build (your core 4-6) and use your wars to fund your research by razing and pillaging.

If you don’t have or cannot keep a stable supply of Iron/Uranium at any point in the game it will quickly go downhill. Protecting them can and will be a significant portion of your military might.

God bless you all. I play Civ for the empire management, research and exploration. The AI can kick my ass if I venture off the default. I guess I don’t have the micro-management skills needed. A few questions:

I can’t figure out how to use money or population to speed production. What do you click/do for this?

In the city management screen to the very right of the build options there is a column of icons. The top two are your “rush production” possibilities, but you need to meet certain criteria to use them.


Assuming you have right civics (Inversal suffagre for money and slavery for population) looks for the buttons right of the build options. Those are the top two buttons and you can keep the cursor foor a tooltip to see what each does.


Thanks folks

I assume eventually people will figure out the right tricks, just like they did on Civ 3.

Really though, the serious difficulty level action will be in PTBS server games. :)

Emperor level? Oh man that’s so easy. I win every time.

Here are some strategy tips to win at Civ 4 on Emperor level:

  1. Use the Civ Builder to immediately give your starting area all the possible resources and of course incredibly good land.

  2. Use the Civ builder to be able to look around where all the good stuff is at first.

  3. If someone attacks you, use the Civ Builder to give yourself tanks.

  4. If someone attacks you and it’s hard to get back at them, use the Civ builder to give yourself nukes and nuke every city in your enemy and then take them over.

These 4 key strategy points are very important in winning at Emperor level.

I’ve sent these tips to strategy guide writers but for some reason they don’t return my calls…


They nerfed this strat in the 1.09 patch.

The others should still work though… I’ll have to try them out.

What I’d be interested to learn is whether Noble really is a completely level playing field. Because in Civ3, while Regent (iirc) was advertised as the level playing field difficulty, in fact there was still a hidden skew, in that in AI-human trades, the AI would value human offerings at only 90% of their ‘true’ value, whereas in AI-AI trades, offerings were valued at full measure. So if I offered Horseback Riding to the AI, it would regard that as less valuable than Horseback Riding offered by another AI.

4x strategy master Velociryx has a just fantastic AAR up about winning on emperor.