Old World (pka Ten Crowns) from Soren Johnson

One of the great things about OW is that the events change the game enough that it is really hard to give you good pointers. But let me take a shot at it.

I’m playing in the forum game, but really haven’t played much recently. In particular, the changes to Garrison probably affects the game more than I thought. Also they switched what skills are good for an Ambassador, Charisma now affects foreign opinion, which makes more sense than wisdom, which has totally changed my tutoring strategy.

I can win at Glorious and I have won at Magnificent but only by some save scumming.

Much like Planetfall, I think it’s easier to pick a few countries to get good at the game. For me, that’s Egypt, Babylon, Rome, and Greece. Egypt is arguable the hardest country to play because one of their big bonus is a 25% reduction in the cost of adjacent improvement. This means you really need to plan ahead your improvement build order. I think Babylon is one of the easier builder countries, Rome is hands down the easier warmonger, and Greece is a decent mix. @Velociryx thinks that Assyria is one of the best countries, to play. I’ve only dabble with them, but they’re very much a warmonger country, a poor builder country.

I’m very picky about starts and only spend more than 10 turns on 1/3 of my starts.

It is all about the order, for at least 1/2 the game you’ll be short of orders, almost every turn. So be constantly be thinking about how to minimize the # of orders. Ideally, workers should only make a single move to build their next improvement. Range units> mounted> infantry, because ranged units use less orders. You can park an archer in a forested hill and you may never need to move him again through the whole battle there will always be a target. In contrast, you’ll need to move most of your mounted, or infantry every turn in order to attack. Mounted units can attack and defend quicker than infantry, so less orders.

Zoning. I think of my cities much like I do in Simcity, with your R,C, and I zones. There is a farm, quarry, mine,and lumber zones On most maps forests and hills are far less common than good spots to build quarries or farms. Then in mid-game I start building lots of urban improvements. I try and build these in improvements in flat, and arid areas,without water. Hamlets, most wonders, and shrines can be built anywhere so you can build two of those and start your urban zone. Early improvements in particular the Garrison I build in any starting urban hex. Do leave some spot adjacent to your capital center hex open, because many wonders have to be built adjacent to the city center.

Tall vs Wide. I think you need at least 6 cities for an ambition victory. So that’s 2 free sites, 3 barb cities, at low to medium difficulties. At Glorious and above 1 free city 1-2 barb cities and 2-3 from a minor tribe.
Getting those cities from a minor tribe is for me the most challenging part of the game, because the major also are grabbing cities. For a double victory, you’ll need more than 6 cities.

Religion. Always take cleric as one of your families if you have the option. Your 2nd city should be a cleric city. Don’t worry about building disciples too early. Your first disciple should be built when your Holy city, gets developing culture so you can build the unique religious building. The second time to build a disciple is as you are researching monasteries. Each disciple should build 2 or preferable 3 religious building, before spreading the religion or choosing a theology. I think having a religion is very important for a builder game, and entirely optional for a warmonger.

Resource and research: I almost never have enough orders, civics is also tend to be scarce, shields I generally have a modest surplus, and almost always excess amounts of money.
I buy resource as needed, especially wood early in the game. I really avoid selling resources, except for small quantities to get options choices during events. I think selling at 1/2 price is generally a waste, Instead, I simple stop making improvements, if I have a big surplus. There are lots of sinks (units, buildings, wonders, events) in the game to get rid of any resource you may have a surplus off.
I probably don’t rush units enough, except for settlers, and when I can rush things for money, I do so… But again I think planning ahead to anticipate what you need rather than trying to learch from one emergency is more efficient. Discontent is relative minor price to pay for rushing things. But after level 4, it is very noticeable reduction in growth.

I do prioritize forestry, but other than that I find the techs nicely balanced with no must have tech. I do generally grab any bonus card I can

Culture: Your capital and Holy City are really the only two cities you need to consciously build culture improvements, so you can beat the AI to higher-level wonder. The other cities should evolve fast enough with a religion, a luxury resource, a shrine, maybe an Oden/Theater. Your first 6 cities should all hit strong culture in the early 100s, which is good enough for most ambitions etc, and your best UU.

So, to clarify, hamlets count as an urban tile? And they can be built anywhere and used to bootstrap for other urban improvements? Which means I’m not as constricted by the paltry urban tiles as I thought?

Yes. Most urban buildings have to be built on an urban tile or a tile with two adjacent urban tiles (with some easing of that near the coastline). So you’ll often need two hamlets to make a new urban area and that can be quite an opportunity cost as they’re so valuable for expanding borders to grab nearby resources (particularly contested ones).

A Builder leader has the ability to build urban tiles directly (for 10 stone), which can be an effective way to make more urban area available.

Wait, hamlets expand borders? Like specialists? What’s the relative power?

So. Many. Interlocking. Systems. So. Many. Details.

Of course I just played it until quarter past four so……

Generally one hex, but if there is resource two hexes away it will generally expand to that. Note that shrines, many wonders, and monasteries all count as urban hexes but can be built anywhere. Since you are limited to one hamlet per culture level. I generally build a hamlet and something else to bootstrap my second group of urban tiles.

One fun thing, is that often a luxury resource like dye, is on the border of your cities. You get large bonus for build a monastery next to a grove. So build one monastery on one side of the border and another on the other side, Now you have two urban hex next to each other which lets you build a temple, temples benefit being built next monasteries and vice versa. So now you have nice cluster of 4 building all with bonuses. Next step is to put in priest and monks in the building.

By the time you end up with elder specialist have an impressive amount of culture, civics, and research, and other stuff, all with reinforcing bonus.

If I ever see the AI build this cluster, I will be very impressed.

Exactly the same. All urban improvements expand borders, all rural improvements only do so when you put a specialist down. It’s the regular sort of border expansion: you gain all unclaimed adjacent tiles; if any of those tiles are adjacent to an unclaimed resource, the resource is claimed too.

That explains a lot. I had thought “expands borders” was gradual like culture points in Civ IV.

So. Many. Details.

You do also get some tiles each time your city’s culture hits a new level. I think it’s 4 or 5 tiles, the game chooses for you. It will aim to grab resources where possible, I think. There’s also a bonus card which works like this for all cities.
I find the vast majority of my border expansion comes from rural specialists though.

I used to be able to lock tooltips with middle mouse button. Was this changed?

I was having the same issue. Seems to be fixed now.


Still fighting my way up the learning cliff. I’ve gotten high enough to start having kvetches about the game. Like, I pretty much hate that the AI starts with way more cities than the player. I understand that was a choice to do instead of the standard “AI cheats with bonus resources” but I feel like on the difficulties that provide the full AI experience, the AI also has 3 or4 cities at least, to start, which is too high. I could use custom difficulty settings to have a Strong or Noble level AI but with only 2 cities per AI, but I wonder if the AI is too weak to deal with tribes and barbarians.

For the game, I just started, I went all the way back down to one difficulty above The Just. This saddens me but I just hate the AI being so huge all the time. Specifically, Rome. Rome is definitely OP for the AI with this build of the game. Fuck Rome.

I regret to inform you that you’ve arrived at the far side of the Chick Parabola.

Those aren’t the only things to AI is too weak to deal with. :( If you don’t give the AI extra cities, your game is going to be over really quickly.

All the latest patch notes have the frustratingly vague “Improvements to AI” as one of the bullet points. I’m not sure how much of a difference these improvements have made, but as of two patches ago, there are entire gameplay systems the AI is unable to use. For instance, siege engines, religion, and – most importantly – cities (!) are almost entirely the domain of human players. Until the AI knows how to play these systems as designed, other nations are just speedbumps on the way to inevitable victory.


But I didn’t even reach the top of the cliff yet! I think I do see what you mean, though.

You can adjust that in the advanced options

From the paragraph you quoted:


I was referring to the advanced game settings where you can set the AI development level from 1 city to 4.

Yes, so was I. I might try that, but I’m worried the AI will get crippled by the tribes.

So I think the game is dying for me, but not b/c of the Chick Parabola so much, although that is an issue. But the constraints on city layout are killing me - there’s just too much detail and too many ways to place non-optimal buildings. I’m an obsessive player; hitting a point where I’m like "Oh Shit I can’t do X b/c I don’t have a hill, or a tile adjacent to city center, or the right quantity of urban tiles, or whatever, guess I’ll quit and start over (and cross my fingers my rage doesn’t make me delete all my saves, the game itself, and the horse it rode in on) is deadly to my enjoyment. And in addition, there’s the constant trickle of “Oh crap if I had placed this quarry HERE I’d get 20% more stone, dangit, grumble” - minor but it happens ALL THE TIME and it’s killing me.

I’m an optimizer. I’m a very obsessive player. I’m a planner, much more than a responder. I’m not demanding a pure SimCiv experience but I feel like Old World - well damnit, all those apparently nifty bonuses are, from a standpoint of opportunity cost, penalties waiting to happen. It may not be for me.

For days now, I’ve been trying to learn the game, thinking that if I just had enough info, I could prioritize enough to disregard the small stuff and focus on the big picture, and…I can’t seem to do it.

Hmm, as a type this, another thought occurs to me: perhaps rather than try to build/plan my way to glory (I’ve mostly been playing the Babylonians), perhaps I should go the other direction and try the Romans. I’ve tried them a couple of times, but I was still learning so maybe…

Maybe it’s just because I already know the game so well, but my feeling is that you’re assuming the city building is more complicated than it actually is. There are never more than a couple of bonuses for any given improvement, and they’re all pretty intuitive. For instance, quarries. Put them 1) in arid tiles or 2) at the base of as many mountain tiles as you can. Period. That’s pretty much it. If you know those two things – arid tiles and mountain borders – you know all you need to know about quarries. Every building is like that. There are usually two things you need to know and you’re good to go.

But more to the point, you’re playing Old World as an exercise in optimization. Which is cool. That’s how I play it as well. There’s a lot to learn and admire at this level. However, once you see the cities you’re playing against, you’ll realize that you don’t need to ruthlessly optimize. You’re in a game world where the other nations aren’t using the same advantages. They’re not fuss over city layouts the way you are. If you think your own cities are triggering your OCD, just take a closer look at what they’re building (play without fog of war for maximum transparency). That’s the level you have to reach or exceed. :)

Honestly, @sharpe, the reason to stick with it is to wrap your head around the economy, the social system, the families, the combat system, religion, and so forth. Just discovering the genius of the design is the real joy of this game. The bad AI is just the hangover after the party.


Well, one of the issues is that “learning cliff” I was talking about - SO MUCH information, not just little “10% bonus here” like other games but actual game-changing mechanics buried in many other systems.

To illustrate, I just discovered the answer to my complaints about city constraints - if you enact the Colonies law you can buy tiles - I didn’t understand how this works but its 30 gold and one order and you get a tile adjacent to your city (you must have a unit there to buy it) and if there’s a resource adjacent to the buy, you get the resource for free. Now that I understand both that and the expands borders aspects of rural specialists and urban tiles, that’s actually a fairly elegant system. And, it also means the constraints I was feeling about my cities just got blown open. Basically you have to work your way up to Colonies and then at that point, the map is your punk in terms of optimizing city tiles.

It’s brilliant, but also exhausting.

I do think there’s a lesson for me here, also. Both in terms of the way I thought expand borders works and my surprise at the game changing aspect of the Colonies law, I was engaging in old school Civ-dimensional thinking rather than new school Mohawk thinking. I was making assumptions, and also filtering the vast spew of Old World info through the POV of a 30 year Civ veteran. For example, I never realized how “expand borders” works for rural specialists even though you can actually see it fairly clearly on the city screen b/c I wasn’t looking at the city view within the city screen. I was looking at the build list on the left side of the screen and disregarding the rest as eye candy. In other words, I was playing Old World like Civ.

I’m going to keep plugging at this current game. I may actually finish a game for the first time! I feel the joy of optimization as I contemplate buying ALL THE TILES AND DEVELOPING THEM ALL OPTIMALLY DAMNIT.