Angry Robot

Strategies for Beating Civilization Revolution on Emperor Difficulty


I’ve been playing a lot of Civilization Revolution lately, partly because there are few new games of interest right now, partly because Civilization has long been a favourite game franchise, and partly because of the new iPhone port. I now have this game on three platforms (360, DS, iPhone), which is sort of silly. So I just stepped up my difficulty level from King (medium) to Emperor (second hardest) and the difference is staggering. I’m not getting destroyed per se, but certainly not getting close to winning. This is a good thing, as it indicates there’s a lot more strategy to this game than you might guess from its general air of casualization as compared to past Civ games, which were insanely complicated. I’m also happy about Civ Rev’s shortened play time (three or four hours per game) – it’s a godsend for those whose minds Civ tends to conquer like pikemen under Roman tank armies.

So I’ve been researching strategies, and recently tested some out. Thought I’d share, y’know.

The Emperor AI civs will attack you constantly, so research bronze working first and then build archers. Aim to have an archer army in each city – it’ll hold you until the invention of gunpowder, or thereabouts. You’re not going to do a lot of attacking in this mode, not until the late game, so avoid wasting resources on too many military units that will just obsolete themselves, and concentrate on good defense. Meanwhile, concentrate your building on improving your cities.

My general civ strategy is to expand early in the game by spamming out settlers. This is much harder to do in Emperor, partly because you’ll need defensive units accompanying every settler and partly because you become acutely aware of the damage settlers do to their originating city. You lose two population every time you build a settler (unless you have a Republic), so in many cases you may do better to let your older cities grow and be choosier about new cities. I lost a game to a Chinese civ that only had four or five cities. But boy were they doozies.

The single most important point is that cities cannot produce both gold and science – that toggle in the interface between them is in fact toggling the city’s output (not simply the display of them as I had thought). So following from that, build cities to specialize in one or the other. In a gold-producing city, build a marketplace and then a bank; don’t waste time on libraries and universities. And vice versa, obviously. You will probably have mostly science-based cities, and one or two for gold. You’re going to want one or two production-geared cities that can spam out military units, too. But you probably already know that.

Don’t be afraid to micromanage as much as is possible in this game. For example, in a city that is working on a Wonder, switch the workers to concentrate on production. Or, if late in the game one of the AIs is close to winning and you’re closer to an economic victory than a technological, switch your cities from producing science to gold.

Early game exploration is as important as in easier game modes, with some good money available from villages, natural features, and barbarians. Getting navigation early on will help you find atlantis and the other ancient artifacts that will spew forth a bounty of bonuses.

Keeping your cultural production up is extremely important. Not only is it a possible route to winning, but you need some culture to prevent your neighbours from converting your cities. With a lot, you can be grabbing their cities, but also some fat bonuses in the form of Great People. Use them to reinforce your cities’ specialized roles. Great artists should be sent to cultural and/or border cities, great scientists to science-producing cities. Great builders are especially valuable, as they can be used to complete any production, including wonders. So you can park one, find a good Wonder to build, and then use the builder to complete it immediately.

Just as you are doing with your cities, you are going to want to specialize with your civilization as well. Figure out whether a domination, cultural, technological or economic victory makes most sense. Let your environment dictate this. If you are in arid, trade-producing land, go for economic or tech; if you have many neighbours, go domination or cultural. Each path yields its own bonuses.

This page has some interesting strategies for Deity mode that would hold true for Emperor as well. I do agree that an economic victory is probably the easiest.