"Attrition is not a strategy. It is, in fact, irrefutable proof of the
absence of any strategy. A commander who resorts to attrition admits
his failure to conceive of an alternative. He rejects warfare as an art
and accepts it on the most non-professional terms imaginable. He uses
blood in lieu of brains."
- Dave Palmer, historian and soldier
|1. The Tools of War|
|1.1 Combat units|
|1.1.1 Ancient - Midieval|
|1.1.3 Modern - The Combat Triad|
|1.1.4 Nuclear weapons|
|1.2 The Impact of Technology|
|1.3 Weighing the Odds|
|2. Military Doctrine|
|2.1 War for a Purpose|
|2.2 Defensive War|
|2.3 Limited War|
|2.4 Total War|
|2.5 Operational Strategy|
|2.6 Dislocation & Disruption|
|2.7.Tempo & Preemption|
|2.9 Naval Operations|
|2.10 Special Operations|
|3. Politics and War|
|3.1 Cease fires and Treaties|
|3.2 On Machiavelli|
|3.3 Shorting out the Senate|
|3.4 Taunting Your Enemy|
"There is only one purpose to which a whole society can be directed by
a deliberate plan. That purpose is war, and there is no other."
- Walter Lippman
I am an ardent Civ2 gamer, and I have a long-standing interest in military history which has been brought to life by the Microprose game, Civilization II. I came to realize that many profound works on the subject of war and history can be applied to playing this wonderful game. Herein is my first attempt at an analytical paper since my college days. The difference (other than my advanced age) is that this seems to have been a great deal more fun!
The first qualifier I must lay out, of course, is that the level of the Civ2 war-planning AI is less than desirable. Mostly, it seems to be pretty straightforward in terms of a "build unit;send unit to nearest threat;attack" loop. You've probably already had good success fighting the AI on its own terms.
So, then, here's the challenge: why stoop to the mindless logic of a machine? You are the cognitive, intuitive human in this equation. You should approach any war with a well-formulated strategy for victory and for an advantageous position once peace breaks out. Unlike the AI, you can plan ahead 10, 20, 50 game years or more. To allow yourself to slip into shoddy strategy or aimless operational planning would be a waste. It would be the hallmark of an amateur gamer.
The second qualifier involves the scope of this piece. You don't have to have wars in Civ 2 (though they're hard to avoid). In fact, in most cases you will have far greater success in the game if you focus on peaceful building and research first, and cope with wars as they happen. But this piece is not about how to build large cities with alot of happy citizens. It's about war - how to fight it and how to win it.
Civilization II is a copyright of Microprose Software, Inc.
Note: In the following document, I will use the terms "computer player" and "AI" or "AI Civ" interchangeably. AI means "artificial intelligence".
The best strategy is always to be very strong - Clausewitz, On War
I've divided the available combat units in Civ2 into three categories for simplicity. The ultimate warfighting style, using maneuver and speed, is difficult to utilize before the player has modern units such as armor, bombers, and battleships. Thus it is imperative to taylor your war decisions to the tools you have available, as much as to your strategic goals.
In the following tables, "Att." means attack value. "Def." means defense value. "HP" is the hit point total, and "FP" is the firepower value of the unit.
|1.1.3 Modern - the Combat Triad|
|1.1.3 Modern - the Combat Triad|
This "feature" is actually a bug that may be fixed in future versions of Civ 2. As of version 1.09, it remains a part of the game.)
|1.1.3 Modern - the Combat Triad|
"What was gunpowder? Trivial. What was electricity?
Meaningless. This Atomic Bomb is the Second Coming in Wrath!"
Winston Churchill, July, 1945
Although nukes aren't as devastating in Civ2 as in reality, they still pack a big wallop. The fact that they don't leave a massive crater at ground zero makes them emminently useful in combat and opens up a whole new vista in war-fighting strategy.
The main thing to remember about nukes is that, while they eliminate all units in a target city and surrounding squares, they also reduce the city population and leave nasty pollution lying around that can take years to clean up. I normally use nukes on well-defended enemy cities that are strategic "keys" (Occupy chokepoints, contain large buildups of enemy forces, etc.). Smaller targets usually get pasted with cruise missiles instead. Nukes are so expensive that I NEVER nuke a target just for the sake of nuking it. I always make sure I have paratroops or armor standing by to move into the post-blast city. It's a very cost-effective way of taking your objective.
There are two different strategies to employ when nuclear weapons are available. Your decision is driven solely by whether your opponent has them as well. If you are the only civilization on the planet with nukes, consider them as just another weapon - albeit a decisive one. They can be the bludgeon your ground forces need to drive their way through the enemy empires quickly at minimum cost to you. You no longer need to worry about attacking his walled cities head on. Just position a paratrooper or armored division at his door, drop a nuke, and walk in. Be sure to follow your armies with plenty of engineers to clean up the mess.
If, however, your enemy has nukes too, then the scenario changes. The AI is not timid about using them. The computer player doesn't even care if he's ready to occupy nuked cities before he drops a few on you.
Nuclear weapons in Civ 2, just as in the real world, change the "mass" equation. You must be concerned with stacking and grouping your forces. Keep your forces dispersed so that a nuke doesn't destroy your entire army or navy, and as soon as you take a target city you need to buy an SDI system for that city or prepare to take a counter strike from his nukes. Preemptive nuclear strikes on any of his cities within range is a wise tactic in this case.
Mutually Assured Destruction in this manner is not very clean, nor is it usually very successful. In fact, nuclear weapons change the strategic landscape to such a degree that I will even delay researching the Manhattan Project if I have a large tech lead over the computer (if I have nukes, the computer can steal the research and build them too). From my own experience dealing with Civ 2 computer players that are armed with nukes, I would recommend never going beyond Limited War. It can be very suicidal and less than enjoyable. But, if you're into that sort of macabre exercise, have fun.
"You can't say civilization don't advance. For every war, they kill
you a new way."
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
If you've played Civ2 at all, you already know about the Technology tree and the importance of having a good scientific program. If you get too far behind on research you will soon find yourself facing an enemy with overpowering advantages in combat. Even a mediocre strategist like the Civ 2 AI can win with such an advantage.
Of course, research does more than merely provide you with better guns. Many of the problems you'll face in the game that detract from maintaining a large army - citizen unhappiness and food production - can be solved with research.
Your military efforts under a Democracy, for example, are much more successful if you have discovered some of the technologies along the Mysticism/Theology line. Wonders such as the Oracle, Michelangelo's Chapel and J.S. Bach's Cathedral enable you to run a militant Democracy or Republic without the sort of expense and distraction normally associated with those governments.
Economic advancements (Banking, Economics, and Industrialization) provide your empire with the sort of financial and production strength required to carry on a modern war. The Adam Smith Trading Company Wonder alone will save you loads of tax dollars in a large Civilization by paying all upkeep costs of city improvements that equal 1.
If your focus from the start is to build a powerful military with which to conquer the Civ2 world, your best Research strategy starts with Horseback Riding. Then Chivalry & Feudalism, Leadership & Gunpowder, then Tactics & Conscription. This line will take you to the point where Guerilla Warfare, Amphibious Warfare, Mobile Warfare and Machine Tools are all discoverable.
Other major discoveries I would stress include Fundamentalism (the ultimate war-making government) and Invention (Leonardo's Workshop is essential, and Invention leads you to Democracy, Gunpowder, and the Steam Engine). If I'm in a dead heat with the other Civs, technologically, I always try to get to Invention first so as to steal a march on Leonardo's Workshop. If I'm running behind other Civs (which isn't unusual at higher levels like Deity), I don't miss a chance to build the Great Library Wonder. It expires with the discovery of Electricity, but in the meantime it will provide you with a number of free advances.
So, we have another dilemna for the Civ 2 player. Do I spend heavily on research or do I invest in war? The answer is: without technology, you cannot win a war. And without production and trade you cannot acquire technology. I always put the growth of my Civilization first and foremost. You cannot engage in a war with the Civ 2 AI, given that both sides are reasonably well-matched, without experiencing setbacks and losses. You must be able to replace your casualties (production base) and you must be able to field units that are capable of winning (advanced technology). If you can do neither, then I strongly urge you to sue for peace and set about beefing up your civilization.
While it is certainly possible to win a war with the Civ 2 computer opponent without a technological edge (you are, after all, the one with the brains), I have had good results from playing the first half of the game with the sole objective of gaining an overwhelming research advantage over my rivals. You are capable of building a research program which the Civ 2 AI cannot hope to match!
Some key points to gaining a research advantage:
"Sir, my strategy is one against ten, my tactics ten against one."
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington
We couldn't discuss war-fighting strategy in Civ 2 without taking a look at unit values. Unlike real wars, in a game we have known probabilities to work with. Those probabilities are important - without a thorough knowledge of your instrument of war you cannot formulate an effective strategy.
It pays to review the tables I've listed in the previous section on Units. The attack and defense values of each unit are your first consideration, followed by the hit points and firepower of those units. Figure that the minimum number of rounds of combat will equal the hit point total of the weaker unit, divided by the firepower of the stronger unit.
The actual equation used to resolve each combat round is:
a= attacker's attack rating
d= defender's defense rating
(Note that "Fort" above indicates engineer-built permanent fortifications. Unit-dug temporary fortifications allow only a 50% defensive bonus.)Observe the importance of Veteran status. Its 50% bonus on attack and defense converts a 5/4 rifleman into a 7/6 unit! While you can gain veteran status by building barracks or "blooding" your units, I try to build Sun Tzu's Academy Wonder as soon as it is available. Barracks are still useful as "instant repair" facilities for damaged units, but that's all you get for the 1-gold per turn upkeep cost. Since Barracks have to be rebuilt after Gunpowder is discovered, and again after Mobile Warfare, I'm reluctant to build alot of them until Sun Tzu expires.
"It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it."
Gen. Douglas MacArthur
If I convey nothing else to you in this paper, please remember this: Never go to war without knowing what you wish to achieve! If you do, you will achieve nothing (or less) at great cost to yourself, and you may risk losing the game. At the very least, you will be ridden with the shame that comes from knowing you weren't much of a general.
Your decision as to war goals is often driven by the current state of your own civilization. A small, primitive Civ can hardly aspire to global dominance, but should be able to mount a credible defense of its borders. On the other hand, a large, vibrant Civ with massive production capacity should have no problems turning out 40-60 (or more!) modern combat units every turn or two. Such power is fully capable of launching a Total War that only ends in Total Victory.
Here are the three basic war types I have identified:
"A clever military leader will succeed in many cases in choosing
defensive positions of such an offensive nature from the strategic
point of view that the enemy is compelled to attack us in them."
"The whole art of war consists in a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive, followed by a rapid and audacious attack."
"Build city walls!!"
Civ 2 Military Advisor
The reasons for electing to pursue Defensive War are based on your game goals: (a) Your Civilization is still embryonic and you don't have the economic foundation or research base to field a large army; (b) Your goal is not conquest, but growth and space exploration; (c) You are using Republic or Democracy, and a large field army will cause huge losses in both citizen unhappiness and shield production.
Defensive War is the simplest and least disruptive of the three choices. In a Defensive War, the Settler/Engineer unit becomes as important as artillery or cavalry.
Build enough Engineers to construct fortifications around your major cities - particularly those which are close to the enemy. If the forts are within 3 squares of the city, posting a defensive unit there does not cause unhappiness under Democracy. Your engineer (or Settler) units are also handy for building roads or railroads from your interior to the front (use Airports later in the game), to allow you to quickly move reinforcements to crisis points. During times of peace, I always have crews of engineers at work building roads/railroads - they not only add to the trade (and thus, science) your cities produce, they also enhance your military's mobility.
"Outpost" forts serve an additional purpose even in peacetime. They give you warning and a chance to expel roving diplomats who are out to steal your research or sabotage your cities. I keep mine constantly manned along borders with other Civs. (Remember that Diplomats and Spies can ignore Zones of Control - your outposts won't stop them unless they form a solid line. They only provide you warning.)
Build your forts in Hills or Mountains if possible. Hills double your units' defensive value, and Mountains triple it. A rifleman entrenched in a Fortification on top of a mountain has a base defensive value of 20! If other units are stacked in the fortification with him, they are only eliminated one at a time, rather than as a stack. The enemy will burn up alot of attacking units trying to take your mountaintop redoubt. Lacking "high ground", even forests, jungles or swamp will suffice as they impart a 50% bonus to the defensive unit.
If you have the time and the Settler/Engineer units, consider building a "hedgehog" defense along threatened border areas- forts staggered or interlaced in depth so that even if an enemy breaks through one or two, he has to confront the next layer. This method is the most ideal for wearing down and defeating an invading army. The AI in Civ 2 is not smart enough to try an "end run" around your line of forts. He'll bash his own head in on your impenetrable wall.
Of course, a Defensive War doesn't mean you can't take any initiative. If you see the enemy stacking weak defensive units in the open without benefit of fortifications, don't hesitate to strike. If he's not in fortifications you only need to destroy the top unit in order to eliminate the whole stack. You can also arrange your forts in such a way as to channel his units into a trap - at the right moment, launch an overwhelming attack from your surrounding forts and destroy his army.
The only thing I don't do when I'm fighting a Defensive War is attack enemy cities. Doing so can be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. If I can sneak a diplomat in and bribe enemy units or an enemy city, then I leap at the chance. It's a bloodless and efficient way to counterattack (though it does require a reserve of gold). I will also not hesitate to send mobile units (Cavalry or Armor) into his territory to pillage (Shift+P). Tear up his roads, railroads, and irrigation to set him back a few years. It worked for Sherman.
"We are not at war with Egypt. We are in a state of armed
If you've defined your objectives, and they fall short of completely eliminating an enemy then Limited War is for you. In fact, most wars in Civ 2 are limited, as they stop short of completely eliminating the opponent.
With Limited War, it is more important than ever to set objectives and focus on achieving them. Nothing is more wasteful than sending your armies helter-skelter against every enemy city, or throwing the cream of your elite veterans against the high walls of his biggest city. You are operating under a time limit in a Limited War. Identify your objective and sieze it quickly.
Choose objectives that are achievable! He will sue for peace just as readily if you take a Size 5 city as if you conquer a Size 20. And you will have expended fewer of your precious resources in achieving your goal.
Choose objectives that will make a difference! Wiping out half of his infantry isn't going to change the course of the game, probably. But taking a city that guards a key strait or isthmus - or one that provides most of his scientific research - will definitely tilt the future odds in your favor.
Raids are a useful tactic in both Defensive and Limited War. Land a group of fast-moving cavalry or armor in a remote area of his empire to pillage terrain and destroy settler/engineer units. Avoid beseiging cities - your object here is simply to inflict pain and set your enemy back.
The ticklish part of Limited War isn't how you fight it, it's how and when you end it. If you've experienced unexpected success, you may weigh whether to expand the war and sieze further objectives. The computer player in Civ 2 is not the most organized opponent, nor is he quick to adapt to fluid situations. Your initial success may have caught him unprepared, but you won't know unless you press your advantage.
This goes to playing style. I prefer a calculated risk-taking, aggressive strategy in war and it usually pays off against the computer. If you feel you've attained your objectives, then offer (or accept) a cease fire. Just don't leave your "Schwarzkopf" standing idle on the outskirts of Babylon with a full armored corps dressed for war and no place to go!
If you wish to stop the war completely, go for the Peace Treaty and return to your research or starship construction. Above all, stick to your goals in Limited War or face the risk of unwanted expansion into a Total War before you're prepared.
"The will to conquer is the first condition of victory."
Marshal Ferdinand Foch
"There are not fifty ways of fighting, there is only one way: to be the conqueror."
The name says it. If you've decided that your goal is the complete elimination of a computer civ (or civs), then mobilize your entire economy for War. Hopefully your own Civ has reached a healthy state where it can support a large field army & navy, and you have enough cities (strategic depth) that the loss of one or two will not cripple your efforts. If these cases apply, determine not to accept cease fires or treaties. Petition your allies to join your side. Give no quarter until your enemy is obliterated. Push your tanks down his throat and ignore his whimpers.
From many games' experience, I have learned to never embark on a Total War while in a Democracy. Democracy is for growth, not war. Monarchy or Communism are marginally better for fighting, but if you've reached the level of research that allows Fundamentalism I highly recommend it as your official War Fighting Government. There is never any unhappiness and your cities can build up to 10 units each without paying support (a limit I've never hit if I have at least 30-50 cities). Fundamentalism allows you to build the very cheap Fanatic unit, which never requires support regardless of numbers. You will sacrifice some research progress, but I've been able to reach acceptable discovery rates by reducing my luxuries to zero and lowering my taxes to a minimum in order to raise science.
Because all those temples, coloseums and cathedrals you built under Democracy now generate additional revenue ("tithes"), you should be swimming in cash very soon. With enough tithes, you may not even need any taxes! Use the cash as a war chest to rush-buy new units, erect city walls where they're needed, and bribe enemy cities away from your opponent.
A personal note: In version 1.07 of Civ 2, Fundamentalism was altered so that, in addition to the 50% science penalty, there was also a 50% cap on science investment. In my opinion, this is a needless double penalty. As of version 1.08/1.09, you can alter the file RULES.TXT to change either/both the science penalty or the cap. I raised the science cap from 50 to 80% to match the default limit on Fundamentalist tax rates, and it works well without unbalancing the game. Lowering the penalty would have a more dramatic effect, but it's too close to cheating for my tastes. Suit yourself.
"Hannibal... like other Great Captains, chose to face the most
hazardous conditions rather than the certainty of meeting his
opponents in positions of their own choosing."
B.H. Liddel Hart, Strategy (1954)
"Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend, march swiftly to places where you are not expected."
In his landmark book, "The Art of Maneuver", Robert Leonhard identifies disruption and dislocation of enemy plans as two key elements in AirLand Battle, the US Army's modern war-fighting doctrine:
"Dislocation is the art of rendering the enemy's strength irrelevant. Instead of having to fight the hostile force on its own terms, the friendly force avoids any combat in which the enemy can bring his might to bear."
You can "positionally" dislocate the enemy, either physically removing him from a decisive point or moving the point of decision away from the enemy force. You can "functionally" dislocate the enemy by playing to your own strengths and to his weaknesses.
Napoleon used positional dislocation in his concept of the "central position". His most successful battles began with him positioned between two separated enemy forces. He used speed to quickly defeat one, then turn and deal with the other. He not only prevented the unification of his enemy, but managed to focus 100% of his force against 50% of the enemy's at any one time.
The Germans used positional dislocation when they advanced through the Ardennes in 1940, dislocating the French Maginot Line rather than shedding their own blood in futile direct attacks on the defensive works.
The perfect use of "functional" dislocation in Civ2 is the construction of forts along key avenues of approach. The Civ2 computer player will stop to attack these forts, spending his offensive momentum, rather than pushing on towards your cities. On the defensive, in prepared positions in favorable terrain, the advantage is all yours. You have dislocated the enemy's strength.
Offensively, by concentrating your strongest force quickly and unexpectedly against the enemy's weakest point, you are practising dislocation. It requires a knowledge of enemy dispositions (intelligence) and it requires maneuver - placing your forces in the most advantageous position before accepting battle.
This precludes "secondary" objectives which split your force and bleed power away from the focal point of your attack. Focus everything you can on your main objective, which should be his weakest defensive point away from the line of direct advance.
Disruption, a related concept, is the practice of defeating the enemy by attacking his center of gravity (or critical vulnerability). You want to avoid having to destroy the enemy's entire army by direct attack when you can create opportunities to render it impotent by attacking its Achilles Heel. In the game of Civ 2, the enemy's center of gravity will always be his cities. His "critical vulnerability", then, will always be those cities which are left poorly defended.
I'll use one of my own recent games to demonstrate this concept. I had spent most of the game at peace with the neighboring Romans. Our empires were connected by a narrow land bridge between two lakes which was easy to guard with forts. Meanwhile, I became embroiled in a war with the Sioux who occupied the territory next to the Romans. I had nearly conquered all of the Sioux lands when the Romans decided I was a threat and launched a sneak attack.
No one ever accused the Civ2 AI of being a military genius, and the Romans didn't disappoint. They launched Knights and musketeers at my line of fortifications - using the direct method to attack. I marshalled what units I could spare from the conquered Sioux territory, and sent them around one of the inland lakes into the Roman rear. In the space of 3-4 turns, I found most of the inner Roman cities to be poorly defended (their troops were dying in front of my border forts, far away) and succeeded in reducing their empire by nearly half in short order. Even after a cease fire was declared, my units remained within his city radii to disrupt production and growth.
I had functionally dislocated the Romans first by erecting the strong defensive line in rugged terrain - their attack broke down against my forts.
My movement into the Roman rear used positional dislocation by creating a point of decision - the soft belly of his cities - away from the location of his strongest forces. It was nearly bloodless for me, and ended with the enemy's empire disrupted and in ruins.
"When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because
"I can always make it a rule to get there first with the most men."
Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest
Air-Land Battle doctrine also stresses the preemption of enemy objectives. The word "preemption" comes from the Latin "praeemere", to 'buy beforehand'. In military terms, this relates to siezing an opportunity before the enemy does.
Preemptive attacks emphasize speed rather than caution. They strive to snatch a victory impolitely before the game has properly begun. Preemption is inherently unfair and ungentlemanly. The Civ2 AI may have problems with the concepts of dislocation and disruption, but it does practice Preemption.
A critical prerequisite to using preemption wisely is a knowledge of the enemy situation (intelligence). The border between risky and foolhardy is perilously thin. While the window of opportunity for this sort of strategem may be small, you must have good intelligence in order to know when that window is open!
In Civ2, "sneak attacks" are one form of preemption. While they can cost you a reputation hit, that may or may not be important to you. There are times when the final conquest of your biggest rival and antagonist is more important than the shininess of your reputation. If you have the Eiffel Tower Wonder, you can soften the blow to your reputation somewhat.
Computer civilizations in Civ2 make extensive use of sneak attacks, especially at higher levels of difficulty. Be aware of this and don't be afraid of using it yourself.
Preemption can be more subtle, as well. Building a large transport fleet for your Marines and constructing Airports in major cities to allow swift movement of reserves are both instruments which allow you to preempt the enemy by imparting superior strategic mobility. You can also build railroads inside of his territory during temporary cease fires. Once the cease fire expires, use the railroads to give your forces unlimited movement right into the bowels of his empire.
Preemption is tied intimately to tempo, of course. As any chess player will tell you, tempo is the pace of the game such that the opponent has no time to execute his plan. The player with tempo constantly forces the opponent to react defensively to a series of attacks, threats, and feints, all the while advancing his own plan.
Your first step in siezing the tempo is to never declare war at the end of your own turn. This gives the AI a full turn to take the initiative and force you onto the defensive. If you're going to start a war, start it at the very beginning of your own turn. You then can dictate the opening moves, and the AI will be forced to respond.
The Civ2 computer player is glaringly weak when responding to quick tempo. It does not cope well with fast-moving battle lines and quickly changing situations. If you have deployed a mobile force of sufficient strength, use them to maintain your tempo. Threaten multiple points with one thrust to force your enemy's defenses to spread thin. Force the pace when it's to your advantage, even if your units must attack at less than full strength. Once you lose tempo, the enemy will regroup and his resistance will stiffen. Then, your ultimate victory will be much costlier.
My own experience in games where I've maintained a fast tempo has proven its value to me. The computer will produce new units from his cities as fast as possible, but send them out to battle piecemeal. I will have my mobile forces arrayed next to his cities and along his railroads, and his attacks will threaten one or two of my units at most. If the computer player knew how to form reserves or defend in depth, he would be a much tougher opponent. He doesn't, so take advantage of the weakness. You don't score points for being well mannered.
"He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be
It is difficult, even foolish, to set objectives for a Limited or Total War without having any idea of the enemy's dispositions. Intel in Civ 2 is fairly simple, so I'll touch on a few suggestions. Your best source of strategic, diplomatic, and technological information comes from embassies. Diplomats and spies perform many functions, but perhaps one of their more effective ones is the simple, non-warlike act of opening an embassy. I try to open embassies with all other Civs early in my games - just move a diplomat into one of his cities and select the "open embassy" option. Once this is done, you can use the "Check Intelligence" button on your Foreign Advisor window (F3) to see what that nation is researching, what they've discovered, what their relations are with other countries, and even see a list of their cities.
Don't forget that your map of enemy territory is only as current as the date your last unit wandered through a square. You may still show a city as Size 3, but perhaps it's grown to Size 12 since then and added forts and roads. You need current information.
A good source of information can be gained by landing explorers, diplomats or spies on his coasts and sending them roaming through his empire - especially before war breaks out. But you don't have to build diplomats/spies. You can also update your map of his city sizes and terrain layout with something as innocent as a trade caravan or freight unit. He won't perceive caravans as threats, so you won't heighten tensions by scouting a little.
Caravans can't "Investigate City" like diplomats/spies can, however. If you have your sights set on a couple of his larger cities, be sure to sneak a spy in first to count defenders. It's worth the cost of losing the unit.
During combat, don't focus on what is happening at the front to the exclusion of everything else. Use fast units (bombers are perfect for this) to scout his territory. Naval units should patrol your shores as well as his, keeping an eye out for sneak attacks. If you're engaging in a little "deep battle" by launching cruise missiles into his rear, try to send your missiles on little detour jaunts - they can "see" as well as a bomber, and update your map for you.
"A man-of-war is the best ambassador."
Just as in the Real World, he who controls the seas of a Civ 2 map also controls the land. And once you've reached the modern era you will also have the types of units at your disposal that will allow you to exert control over the waves, the air, and the land around the seas.
You cannot aspire to build a powerful navy unless your Civ has been nurtured into producing lots of shields and lots of tax money. Navies are very expensive, and if you're in a Democracy they can also cause unhappiness. Navies are useless unless they're sailing the seas that they're trying to control, so don't keep them home. Do what you need to do to quell unhappiness (including moving people out of the fields into the Elvis business or changing to Fundamentalism). Navies are your key to Civ 2 victory.
My favorite naval unit is the Aegis Cruiser. Since its defensive value is doubled against air attacks, it makes a nice escort for transports. It can also spot subs, which makes it essential to the survival of your carriers.
Battleships are the epitome of mass and speed in one unit. If your amphibious force has a couple of battlewagons in company, they come in handy for bombarding enemy units & cities along the coast, to help soften up objectives or isolate the battlefield. No other sea unit has the Battleship's attack and defense value without missiles.
No unit has the power of a fully-loaded Aircraft Carrier. From the moment you have Fighters, up until you can post Stealth Bombers or Cruise Missiles on the carrier, this is one mean, mobile destruction machine. It's also vulnerable to cruise missile and submarine attacks, so always escort it heavily. It's wise to avoid enemy-held land areas if you can. They tend to hide hordes of cruise missiles. You have alot invested in the unit - protect it.
Naval strategy in Civ 2 doesn't differ much from real naval strategy. Priority One is to eliminate the opposition's fleets. Priority Two is to project the power of the navy onto enemy shores via your carriers and troop transports. Remember, too, that the mere presence of your fleet off an enemy's coast can force him to react, drawing defensive forces away from other areas. This is a useful method of weakening the point of your true objective.
You acquire naval superiority by massing your fleet, by locating the enemy through aggressive scouting, and by engaging him swiftly and decisively. The aircraft carrier allows you to scout an amazing amount of map with your bombers - finding the enemy before he finds you. He who sees the enemy first, can shoot first and thus have the highest chance of success.
If your enemy has the larger fleet, you'll need to rely on having the better intelligence if you want to beat him. Scout, scout, scout! Try to concentrate your whole fleet against only a part of his, and defeat him in detail. Locate his major ports, where his ships build, and take them by land assault or Marine amphibious attack. If you cut him off from reinforcement, all that is left is to wear him down.
"Who dares, wins."
Motto of the British Special Air Service regiment
It's not always necessary to spill blood to conquer your enemies. In Civ 2, there are more ways than one to skin a Khan. Most of them revolve around the Diplomat & Spy units.
If your enemy is not in a Democracy (which is not bribable), I highly recommend bribery and inciting revolts. It costs gold, to be sure, but you will spend the gold on fresh troops anyway. This way, you always get some gold back in plunder of a city and you also receive control of any enemy units that are in the bribed square (or city). If you grab a city, you can also gain tech the enemy has which you don't.
I have won wars in Civ 2 against powerful opponents by building nothing more than a few diplomats and turning them loose on the enemy's shore. Diplomats are very cheap (120 gold), and each one is capable of capturing an entire city for you. Imagine formations of diplomats descending on your enemies! Not even Mongol hordes can match the horror inspired by these powerful units!
The richer the enemy, the closer the city is to his capital and the bigger the city, the more it will cost you to incite a revolt. Cities in disorder cost half price, as do cities without any units present. Spies can get you an even better bargain at 84% of regular price, and veteran spies can do the trick for a mere pittance: 67% of the cost at which diplomats incite revolts.
If bribery isn't possible, acquaint yourself with the other abilities of the spy. Spies can plant nuclear weapons, poison water supplies, and sabotage city production in addition to bribing the enemy. If you're engaged in a Limited War and have neither the forces nor the gold to try conquering or bribing, try throwing waves of spies at a city. If you can coordinate this kind of espionage with roving troops that are pillaging the city radius, you can bring an enemy city to its knees without mounting a full-scale attack on his walls.
"War is the continuation of politics, intermixed with other means."
While there may be some debate as to the efficacy or meaning of Clausewitz' statement, there can be no doubt that nations have won wars yet lost the peace. The same can happen to you in Civ 2 unless you meld both political goals and military goals to achieve the same end.
"Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while
Charles de Gaulle
I urged you to never go to war without knowing your purpose, and I urge the same thing in considering peace. My blanket rule in Civ 2 is: "If he's down, don't let him up", but I leaven that precept with conditions. Above all, I try to be flexible without losing sight of my general aims.
A computer nation will usually only offer a cease fire if it perceives that it is overmatched and losing. You've no doubt noticed that once you've taken a city of his, he tends to get cold feet about the whole idea of fighting. In a way, a cease fire offer is a good signal to you that you have the advantage. Whether you press that advantage or not should already be determined by your war goals before the first shot is fired.
Cease fire offers are also a method for the computer player to catch his breath and regroup before renewing hostilities. Just because he wants to stop shooting doesn't mean he wants to make friends. You can estimate his reasons by observing his personality and his attitude towards you, beginning long before the war started. Aggressive AI civs will remain that way, even after a cease fire is declared. Watch your back - chances are he'll launch a sneak attack in a few turns.
AI Civs that have had good relations with you, on the other hand, may have been pushed into the war by allies. Or their attitude shifted because you became significantly larger and more powerful than they. These problems can be partly set right, if you wish, by offering tributes of technology or gold and signing a permanent peace treaty. If you want to preserve the diplomatic element of the game after you've become the Number One Civ on the map, I recommend building the Eiffel Tower Wonder and the United Nations. Both are extremely helpful in keeping the peace, especially after you become big enough to inspire jealousy and fear.
Unless the AI is so desperate as to offer a handsome reward in gold for a cease fire, I rarely accept its offer before my armies have taken their objectives. Under Democracy or Republic, of course, you may not have a choice if the Senate is being meddlesome.
Regarding alliances: I take a pragmatic attitude. If I began the game with the goal of conquering my neighbors, then there's little point in joining alliances. In fact, such mechanisms only stand in your way if you intend to keep your reputation intact. It's hard to goad a nation into war if you have a peace treaty - it's nearly impossible if you're allies. Use some foresight and know your own directions before entering into such contracts.
"A real diplomat is one who can cut his neighbor's throat without
having his neighbor notice it."
"He lied, I knew he lied and he knew I lied. That was diplomacy."
Adm. William Kimball
Civ 2 isn't just building cities and fighting wars. In history, some of the more dramatic turning points have come as a result of the interaction of cultures, the agreements (or disagreements) that result, and the cementing of long-term alliances.
The 16th-century Venetian Niccolo Machiavelli contended that politics are, by their nature, amoral. Thus, any means (however unscrupulous) are justifiable in achieving political power. His thinking would be viewed today as either immoral or cynically accurate.
In Civ 2, you have no moral constraints placed upon you if you choose to follow Machiavelli's philosophy. For the most part, this will mean playing one computer Civ against another; of making alliances of convenience and using those alliances to strengthen yourself while you weaken your ally. You can actually pay your friends to fight your wars for you! If you don't do these things you're missing one of the real pleasures of playing Civ 2. You're also missing a gold mine of unrealized power.
My own diplomatic philosophy in Civ 2 is to align myself with the weakest Civs, even giving them free tech to win them over. My first objective in any political or military campaign is to eliminate my closest competition, and gaining the trust of my enemy's enemies is a large step in that direction. At some point later in the game, if I'm playing for conquest, even my former allies become fair game.
Be sure to check the Foreign Advisor window (F3) frequently, and monitor other nation's attitudes. Also, gaining embassies with other nations (just run a diplomat into their city and select it as an option) gives you a wealth of important information about who your enemy is fighting, and who he's friendly with. Use this information to your own advantage. If you can stir up trouble between the other Civs while staying out of it yourself, so much the better. Being devious can be fun!
Once you've become significantly larger and more powerful than the other civilizations, they will tend to band together to "contain your aggression". This is how the AI tries to balance the game. The best way to deal with this is to anticipate it. Use the early and middle portions of the game when most Civs are fairly equal to establish a favorable political climate and to weaken your opponents. If you've become so powerful that the outcome is no longer in doubt, then diplomacy is moot. Chuck your reputation and go on the rampage.
"Augustus and Charlemagne, those great restorers, had no faith in
democracy; they could not subject their trained and considered
judgements, their far-reaching plans and policies, to carping
criticism and inconclusive debate by the corruptible delegates of
Will & Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization
I doubt that there's anything as frustrating as mounting a major offensive deep into enemy territory, then just when you have your victim on his back ready to kill he offers a cease fire which your Senate forces you to accept. It's enough to make you want to drive a battalion of M-1s right into the Senate chambers.
I have had Senates back me, however. On a few memorable occasions, my enemy has been a particularly nasty and distrustful sort. He's launched a number of sneak attacks against me during the game until I finally launched a large Limited War to reduce his Civ to its component bricks. When he asked for a cease fire and I refused, my Senate supported my decision. I then made short work of the antagonist. (Note that, usually, if you accept a cease fire your Senate will always force you to also accept a peace treaty.)
Sadly, the circumstances where this happens are few. The first thing I do before starting or joining a Total War is to dump the current Republic/Democracy form of government. I can fight a Defensive War under Republic/Democracy without trouble because I begin the war willing to accept any peace proposal - my war objective was simply to survive. It's a little more difficult in Limited War, but still do-able. But anytime I'm planning a Total War, I do not hesitate to stage a Revolution and move to Fundamentalism. It is, bar none, the most powerful war-fighting government in the game. War is what it is for. You will have no Senate to worry about, little if any support to pay, and no unhappiness to hinder you. The infusion of cash Fundamentalism gives you from tithes will also enable you to crash-build units, city walls, SDI systems, airports, or whatever else you may need on the spot.
If you can't manage Fundamentalism, then I would urge you to pursue the United Nations Wonder as soon as you can. It will allow you to override your Senate 50% of the time and force enemies to accept peace if you offer. The U.N. may be your best answer to the Senate, short of Fundamentalism.
If you're sly enough, you may be able to goad your opponent into taking the reputation hit, thus strengthening your hand with the Senate. It can be done.
"Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"
John Cleese, Monty Python's "Search for the Holy Grail"
Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, Bastogne, Dec. 22, 1944
So you're tired of that neighboring Civ getting in your way and taking all the best city sites? You want to eliminate him, but you don't want to be the one who breaks the peace treaty? Have you tried goading him into war? Here's some tips.
The computer AI goes to war for specific reasons. Those reasons all boil down to Attitude. Every computer civ has an Attitude rating towards you, the human player. It starts with a random setting adjusted for personality, and then fluctuates during the game according to events. The scale extends from 0 ("Worshipful") to 100 or more (Enraged). The attitude rating is affected primarily by a comparison of the individual computer's Civ to yours.
"Cease firing, but if any enemy planes appear, shoot them down in a
Adm. William Halsey
I am neither George Patton nor Clausewitz. I play games for fun, and I like to write for fun. This little thesis is the result.
The allure of Civilization II is in the imagination of the player, and to having a vivid imagination I plead guilty. I have changed the rules and the icons of the game to suit my own particular tastes and spent hours on electronic boards discussing the game while I'm not playing it. I've even been known to dream about it.
Is it addictive? To a history buff and a gamer, it's more dangerous than heroin. Luckily, the only detriments to my health will come from lack of sleep, excessive eye strain, and diminished job performance.
Thanks for reading this. Now go play some Civ 2. Disrupt, dislocate, and preempt! Be imaginative! Most of all, enjoy!
|Sid Meier's Civilization II - the Official Strategy Guide||Prima Publishing1996|
|The Art of Maneuver (Maneuver Warfare Theory and AirLand Battle)||Robert R. Leonhard Presidio Press, 1991|
|Strategy||B.H. Liddel Hart, Meridian Books, 1954, 1967|
|How To Make War||James Dunnigan, Quill-William Morrow, 1988|
|A History of Warfare||John Keegan, Vintage Books, 1994|
|The Face of Battle||John Keegan, Viking Penguin, 1976|
|The Encyclopedia of Military History||R.E. Dupuy and T.N. Dupuy, Harper and Row, 1977|
|The Prince||Niccolo Machiavelli, 1513, trans. by N.H. Thompson, Prometheus Books 1986|
|On War||Karl Von Clausewitz, London 1908|
|The Art of War||Sun Tzu, trans. by Samuel B. Griffith, Oxford Univ. Press 1963|
|Summary of the Art of War||Antoine H. Jomini, Military Service Publishing Co, 1958|
|The Devil's Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe||James Chambers, Atheneum Publishing, 1979|
|Military History of the Western World||J.F.C. Fuller|
|The Conduct of War, 1789-1961||J.F.C. Fuller, Da Capo Press, 1992|
|US Army Field Manual 100-5"Operations"||1986|
|The Influence of Sea Power Upon History||A.T. Mahan, London 1965|
|The Story of Civilization||Will & Ariel Durant, MJF Books, 1975|