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Subject: The ideal purchase order of Civilization advances (strategy) rss

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Nate Sandall
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I've developed a winning strategy for playing Advanced Civilization that seems to do very well in every game I've played. Since every card can be purchased by every player and scarcity never becomes an issue, this isn't hard to do. Part of why the original game is superior to the Advanced version is the fact that you can come up with this ideal plan rather than fighting for scarce cards.

The first two cards you should purchase every time without fail are Mysticism and Medicine. This will cost you a total of 190. Mysticism gives you two of the three colors you need to move into the middle bronze age and Medicine is always better when you have it before you need it. In a 6-8 player game epidemics will come out probably every turn and if you are doing at all well then you will be affected. Having Medicine when nobody else does makes you a less attractive target for the spill-over effects and takes away the pain if you do become the target. I can't emphasize enough how important medicine is. If you do very well in trading, you can substitute Drama&Poetry and Clothmaking for Mysticism for a total of 245 points.

After Medicine and Mysticism is the next tier of purchases. Basically you want to get the nine cards in five colors that you will need to enter the late bronze age. You don't want to buy things out of order if you can help it in order to get maximum value for your credits. The cards you want to buy are: Clothmaking, Pottery, Drama&Poetry, Music, Metalworking, Engineering/Astronomy/Coinage/Agriculture, and Literacy. If you're sure to buy only one card from a given color group per turn you will maximize your credits. You can substitute out Pottery for a pricier card but in general you want to break into the late bronze age as easily as possible and Pottery will cost you a lot less than another more useful card. Pottery is cheap and only worth picking up for that reason as famines are not nearly as common as other calamities. Literacy is needed to get the civics (red) color for advancement unless you have enough to get Military which you will eventually need to buy anyways. Engineering, Astronomy, Agriculture, and Coinage are all good cards that will eventually be picked up but the order of which will vary based on which empire you're playing.

The reason for buying the nine cards suggested is that many times an Advanced Civilization game will not be played out to the very end but will end early. If your game is going to go long, be sure that you are not the only one entering the late bronze age. Being an obvoius leader will only make you a target. If you don't think anyone else will pass, then stay at 8 cards for a turn and save for a purchase of 2 or more on the next turn.

So now you have Medicine, Mysticism, Drama&Poetry, Music, Clothmaking, Pottery, Metalworking, one of Astronomy/Coinage/Engineering/Agriculture, and Literacy. Now you need to get the remaining three of the Astronomy/Coinage/Engineering trio (unless you're Babylon then you can wait on Astronomy), and Military. You're getting to the point in the game where the purchases are less for utility and more for points. Also to consider are Architecture and Mining. Mining is problematic in that your fellow players may suddenly become loathe to trade with you (as they should) so Mining may not be as profitable as you hope. However I've seen an early mining purchase result in some large dividends due to skillful trading and lucky draws. Architecture is nice but other cards seem more valuable especially in the credits to other cards department since the blues don't add up as well as the others. Deism would be picked up at this time if at all.

Finally, there are the rest of the cards. Many are just plain useless (Mathematics) except for credit dumping grounds for trying to get the highest score from your accumulated credits at the end. Law and Enlightenment are definite purchases. Theology and Democracy are the best of the 200+ point cards as they are both better than Philosophy (Theology vrs Iconoclasm&Heresy and Democracy+Music+Drama&Poetry = +20 units for Civil War and keep 7 cities for Civil Disorder). I've only seen one early purchase of Monotheism which was immediately met by purchase of Military by all of that players' neighbors, and since it is of dubious value, Monotheism can be safely passed over. Roadbuilding is a waste. However, I did finish a game once where I had every card except Mathematics and Deism so if you're gunning for points at the end, everything is an option.

You can try various changes to this strategy, but I think you'll find that buying Medicine first is the way to go.
 
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Walking on eggshells is not my style
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Re:The ideal purchase order of Civilization advances (strategy)
I love to see these strategy articles posted. A lot of hard work and thought goes into the good ones, even if you are intimately familiar with the game.

Writing strategy articles is a lot more challenging than summarizing the rules and giving a description of play. You have to be pretty self confident to write one, because there is always the fact that there are lots of nay-sayers that will respond to a strategy article just to disagree with it. They won't write their own, but they will pile on you.

Having said that, Advanced Civ has got to be one of the most challenging games to write a strategy article about, due to the fact that it is so hard for most people to play a 6+ (try 10+) hour game very often, and there are so many avenues available to each player.

I feel lucky to play Civ every 18 months and find myself racking my brain trying to remember what strategy I used that failed me the time before. The next time I play I am going to try this approach and report back. This strategy certainly makes sense, although I think there may be too many variables within each group of players to find one winning strategy.

The only thing I would add to any strategy discussion of Civilization is that you bring too much attention to yourself if you are drawing cards for 9 cities too often. People tend to not give good trades and give an unusual number of calamites to the person drawing 9 cards each turn.

Because of the exponential value of multiple cards it is the mid-value cards (5,6, and 7) that will pay off the most. And with fewer cities you don't bring too much attention to yourself.
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John McCoy
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Re:The ideal purchase order of Civilization advances (strategy)
Cavedog_pdx (#46874),

I think it is an overstatement to claim that there is an ideal card purchase plan that everyone should follow if possible, and that Adv Civ is therefore not as rich of a game as it could be.

I certainly agree with the idea of buying Mysticism early. That's clearly the easiest way to get two of three colors you need. After that, you need either an orange or a green. But I disagree with the idea that buying Medicine first is always the way to go. It can be a good move (if you can afford it) but there are other good options as well.

Engineering is also excellent since it helps against Floods, Earthquakes, and any attempts to attack your cities (by barbarians or other players). Also, Engineering gives discounts to more different technologies than any other card you can buy, including discounts on all orange and green cards. So buying it early gives you more flexibility in your later purchases if you're trying to maximize your discounts (which of course you should try to do). So I would certainly purchase Engineering over Medicine if there was a flood plain in my empire, and probably even if there wasn't.

If you can afford Medicine or Engineering you also have to consider Agriculture. Agriculture is crucial for civilizations like Africa that have poor farm land. I would almost certainly buy it as soon as I could afford it if I was playing one of those civilizations. It's pretty nice even for civilizations with good farm land, because when your cities are reduced by calamities (as they inevitably will be) they will reduce to larger numbers of people and thus be easier to rebuild later.

I agree with parts of Nate's second set of advice. I would certainly buy Literacy since it is a red technology and a prerequisite for other techs. Drama & Poetry and Music are both very useful for dealing with calamities and give bonuses to many other technologies so they are excellent early purchases. That leaves you needing 4 more technologies in order to advance. Unlike Nate, I don't think that there are any perfect choices here. It depends on the circumstances of your empire. Some empires do not have a lot of city sites, for instance, and for them Architecture is a good choice. Some civilizations will benefit greatly from Astronomy and/or Clothmaking, others will not.

Lastly, I disagree with the idea that you need to buy Military sooner or later. There is only one technology that gives a discount on Military, and Military itself gives discounts on nothing. So it is not a good way to maximize your points. In fact, Military has the highest after-discount price of any card, although I admit that you'll be hard pressed to get all of the possible discounts on cards like Democracy and Philosophy.

I'm not saying that I would never buy Military. I buy it only if I need it. But it isn't something I go into the game planning on buying. Really I think that Nate's entire strategy can be a very good one. But it could also be a very bad one. It depends on what civilization you are playing, and the way that the game develops.
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Moses Moore
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Re:The ideal purchase order of Civilization advances (strategy)
The strategy here is good, but a little too fixed.

The first technologies I buy always depend on the total points in commodities I am able to scrape together. I generally wait until I would have to discard trade cards because of hand size before cashing in sets, as it allows me to retain a good hand of cards for next round (which improves my trading prospects for the next turn) and also gives me a greater chance of having a big set to cash in now.

Nevertheless, it is conceivable that I have ended up with a less than optimal point spread. If I only have 100 points to spend, I will get Mysticism and Pottery (unless I am Crete or Thrace in which case Clothmaking might be more important). If I had the 190 points like Nate suggested, I might go for Mysticism and Engineering. Engineering protects me from flood and earthquake, and if I am Babylon or Egypt I'd say Engineering is way more important than Medicine. Plus, Engineering gives a LOT of credits.

If you have 175, consider Astronomy, Pottery, and Mysticism.
If you have 165, consider Architecture and Pottery.
If you have 160, how about Mysticism and Agriculture.
If you have 130, try Mysticism plus either Metalworking or Astronomy.

Mysicism is really good as a first technology, but if I'm getting Engineering already I might want Drama & Poetry if I had 200 points. It generally works well to buy technologies that match the money you are spending as closely as possible. Since your goal is to get all the technologies anyway it usually doesn't make that much difference what order you get them in.

Getting the three colours so you can advance on the AST probably isn't of primary importance, though it does help. But it's easier to make up the early squares on the AST as usually people will get held up due to disasters later in the game when requirements are high.

The one thing that is important is maximizing your credits. Make sure you never buy more than one technology of the same colour in a given turn, and never buy technologies without getting as many as possible credits for it. For example, never get Math without first getting Music, or Literacy without Drama & Poetry, or Military without Metalworking. Don't get Deism without Mysticism, and don't get Enlightenment without Deism. If you plan to get Theology, try to get all the sciences first, and if you want Monotheism, try to get all the crafts. Maximize your credit use, because credits represent free points towards winning the game!

Peet
 
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Eric Parker
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I think it's best to hold off buying the Religion cards (in ascending order of cost) till you have bought everything else. The reason is two-fold. First, the higher religion cards of Monotheism and Theology are cheaper to buy when you have all the Crafts and Sciences. Second, the Religion cards do not make any other cards cheaper to buy.

I'm a big proponent of Pottery as one of the earliest buys, along with Metalworking and Drama & Poetry (as well as Music, for the way they minimize the damage done by a Civil War). Don't get caught up in trying to get three color groups ASAP, because everyone will fall a little behind. Work on maximizing the calamity-reduction effects of your Tools (Civ cards) and the war-mongering bonuses that Metalworking, Engineering, Astronomy, Clothmaking and Military provide. Coinage is another great early buy, so you can manipulate your cash flow to make sure you move after your neighbors.

Best ideal first two cards to buy, if you have the Goods (trade cards) and money in treasury, are Metalworking and Military. You want to ensure that you move last, so that no one else attacks you and, if need be, you can reclaim any farmland or city sites lost in a Civil War, Treachery or someone else's attack on you.

And never underestimate the value of Architecture and Mining. If you buy Mining early enough, you can get a LOT of use out of it in increasing the value of your Goods (trade cards).
 
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John Holmstrom
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Cavedog_pdx wrote:
Part of why the original game is superior to the Advanced version is the fact that you can come up with this ideal plan rather than fighting for scarce cards.


Reading through these before this next civ weekend, something hit me about this comment. We have determined mathematically the cheapest way to purchase cards. Everyone knows it, it's written down in our Excel spreadsheet we use to keep track of discounts. So far, NOBODY has followed it.

The old line: "no plan survives contact with the enemy" is true here, no purchase plan survives contact with your fellow players.

The value of the cards in the game itself (which can be different from civilization to civilization), the exact amount you have to spend, and how much people are picking on you can all effect what you need to buy when.
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John McCoy
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ericp331 wrote:
I think it's best to hold off buying the Religion cards (in ascending order of cost) till you have bought everything else. The reason is two-fold. First, the higher religion cards of Monotheism and Theology are cheaper to buy when you have all the Crafts and Sciences. Second, the Religion cards do not make any other cards cheaper to buy.


I usually try to at least get up to Enlightenment by the middle of the game. It's useful against a few different calamities. And it means that you're in a position to buy Monotheism or Theology if you want/need to. If one of your neighbors buys Monotheism and you don't even have Enlightenment yet then you're looking at two or more turns of losing cities to conversion. I agree that if you don't particularly need Monotheism or Theology that it's best to hold off on buying them until you have most or all of the Crafts and Sciences.

Quote:
... Don't get caught up in trying to get three color groups ASAP, because everyone will fall a little behind. Work on maximizing the calamity-reduction effects of your Tools (Civ cards) and the war-mongering bonuses that Metalworking, Engineering, Astronomy, Clothmaking and Military provide. Coinage is another great early buy, so you can manipulate your cash flow to make sure you move after your neighbors.

Best ideal first two cards to buy, if you have the Goods (trade cards) and money in treasury, are Metalworking and Military. You want to ensure that you move last, so that no one else attacks you and, if need be, you can reclaim any farmland or city sites lost in a Civil War, Treachery or someone else's attack on you.


I think this advice shows the fundamental difference in the way different people play Advanced Civ. Some groups seem to be very conflict oriented. Based on Eric's comments and similar comments I've seen from some other folks, when I imagine their games I picture the players watching for any opportunity to pick off lone enemy farmers, or to drop an excess pop or two into someone's city construction sites. Under circumstances like this I'm sure there are a lot of times when empires can't advance since they'll have fewer cities, and as a consequence fewer trade cards and technologies. Getting militarily useful technologies would certainly be more important than advancing each and every time on the AST under these circumstances.

Whereas the games I've played rarely feature much combat. Everyone just concentrates on maximizing their cities, and through them their trade cards and technologies. There's seldom much fighting with each other until the game is headed towards the end and there is a clear leader to bring down. No one wants to start a fight early on, lose precious men, and watch as the empires that aren't fighting get more cities and everything that comes with them. We often play games all the way to the end of the AST where the lead nation only gets stuck once or twice, if at all.

If you're playing in a game like the one I described in my first paragraph then I'm sure Eric's advice is quite good. It'll make you much harder to mess with and give you the best options for interfering with other folks. His advice would be terrible if you're playing in a game like the one I described in my second paragraph, where there's little need to defend yourself and becoming an agressor just means you're letting the people you aren't fighting get ahead of you on points. (Sure, you could attack everybody, but then you'll probably be smashed flatter than a pancake.)
 
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Eric Parker
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I use Metalworking, Military, Cloth Making, Astronomy, Coinage and Engineering more as a deterrent than anything else. If you go after everyone, they are less likely to attack you and you can just focus on maximizing your cities.

This strategy is especially useful when playing Crete, which is surrounded by Asia/Assyria, Thrace and Illyria, and often attacked by sea by Africa and Egypt. I constantly find myself defending 2-3 cities on Asia Minor (along with the 2, 3 and 1 farmer spaces) and the 4 cities (and farmers in Delphi) I build in Greece. Add in Thebes (or is it Rhodes?) and Cyprus, and there's your 9 city sites. I always leave Crete and the volcano as farmland.

In our games, we always go after the leader whenever we get the chance (and it's pretty easy to determine who the leader is by adding up their cities, Civ card points and AST position), so it's vitally important to defend your borders. The only times I attack are when someone took over some of my farmers or cities after they attacked me, when someone takes a city of mine with Treachery or when I'm recovering after a Civil War. Otherwise, I'm just happy to live and let live.

It's pretty obvious when looking at the board and doing your first few turns where Crete's defendable borders are. It can easily have 9 cities all on city sites and just enough farmland to support them. And, with Agriculture, it becomes even easier to support those 9 cities in a more compact territory.

My reasoning for waiting to buy Mysticism, Deism, Enlightenment, Monotheism and Theology till after buying every other Civ card is because the Religion cards are, for the most part, recipients when it comes to credits toward purchase and the fact that you can trade away the calamities Religion cards reduce the damage from (Superstition being the most common of these). Military, a Civic, means that you're already going after the group that includes Literacy, Law, Democracy and Philosophy, and Civil War is a non-tradeable calamity, unlike Superstition.

So, why not maximize your Civ card points by delaying your entry into the age when you need all 5 Civ card types? Go for the Crafts, Sciences, Arts and Civics and leave the final 5 Civ cards (Mysticism, Deism, Enlightenment, Monotheism and Theology) till you have everything else.

Of course, if player whose Civ borders yours gets Enlightenment, that changes everything. You don't want an opponent to get Monotheism and then convert your cities and farmers with no way to stop him.
 
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Bill Gallagher
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A lot depends on a number of things, including:
--- what country you're playing
--- number of players
--- what calamities are likely to come out next round
--- relationships with your neighbors
--- how well you did in the trade round/optimizing purchases based on trade cards and gold held
--- requirement for advancing into the next epoch

Three colors is easy enough; Mysticism and Clothmaking or Pottery combined costs 95. Which of the two cheap orange cards depends on your situation; Crete would likely want Cloth Making for the extra ship movement it provides.

I choose Drama/Poetry over Music because of the discount provided towards Literacy. There is a chance that the game may develop in a way such that I buy Literacy before Music.

Agriculture is a critical early purchase for Africa and Crete, just as Engineering is required for Egypt and Babylon.

A few other comments:
--- Architecture: Very useful if you have 8 (or 9!) players, as city sites will be fiercely fought over. It's also a means of rebuilding a little more quickly if you're being hammered by calamities or other players.
--- Military: I rarely see this used.
--- Enlightenment: An early purchase of this frightens your neighbors. If it's one of the first few cards bought, watch out - it's very likely that Monotheism will be next. Plan accordingly.
--- Coinage: Another good early purchase. Whether it's to ensure a purchase from the 9 deck every turn or for more rapid population expansion, it's quite useful.
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Yuglooc wrote:
--- Coinage: Another good early purchase. Whether it's to ensure a purchase from the 9 deck every turn or for more rapid population expansion, it's quite useful.


There's also the point that Coinage can limit population expansion pretty well, too. Who needs Military when Coinage can make you go almost last?
 
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michiel rutte
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Thanks for your ideas.
I have a bit off topic question. Wasn't there a maximum of cards you can buy?
 
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Chris V.
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Not in Advanced. As long as you obey prerequisite restrictions, you can buy any number of cards. As a result, though, they reordered the phases so you can't buy techs to mitigate the calamities you just drew.
 
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Hans Petter Evju
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ericp331 wrote:

In our games, we always go after the leader whenever we get the chance (and it's pretty easy to determine who the leader is by adding up their cities, Civ card points and AST position)


I only wanted to comment on this point. If you are easily able to identify the leader, you are not playing with very good players. Sometimes there is a clear leader, but more often than not the difference is a to small to say there is a clear leader. Here are some more things for you to consider:

1. Cities are often rebuilt during one turn, 4-5 cites is not uncommon (that's 250 points right there).
2. The discounts available to a player can hugely impact the value of cards he is able to purchase next turn. One player might be able to purchase 4-500 value of cards for 200, while another might only be able to get 300 points of value for 200.
3. The number of cards in hand, and the quality of those cards can make a huge effect. Say the #1 player has just made a huge purchase (bringing him to the fore with a (seemingly) solid 300 point lead) but is left with 2 ochre while the #2 player has 4 gems and 4 gold. Next turn will then see the #2 leapfrog, probably by a massive 800 points over the #1.

In conclusion (and my opinion), the second hardest part of adv. civ is determing who is winning and at what point you need to start attaking him. The hardest part is to make sure you look like you are #2 at all times, but within easy striking distance of #1


Now for enlightenment. I would advise to buy this the same turn as the first other player does this, but sometimes you purchase before the other players and if you suspect someone else to be buying it this turn, go for it.

Monothoism and military are techs I prefer to stay away from as loong as possible, because it can easily bring you hate.
 
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