You Never Move Your Settler! - Opening Strategy Splits Civ V Studio

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You Never Move Your Settler! - Opening Strategy Splits Civ V Studio

There are many turns in a Civilization V game, but what you do in those first few can have a very large impact.

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There's something here that bears mentioning that I don't think comes up in the article.

Moving that first settler is a risk due to other factors the player has little control over. The player may move into a lush, fertile area on turn two or three, one brimming with resources and potential for expansion- only to stumble on a wandering barbarian or a war-favoring competitor civilization. In which case those extra turns of production, building protective units, could have prevented that early failure.

But- and this is a big but- isn't it preferable to get destroyed in the first few dozen turns than to play until the Renaissance and then discover that other Civs' early positions have given them an advantage you'll never surmount?

To borrow a line from a recent Extra Creditz, isn't it preferable to "fail faster"?

Certainly, there are manners of degree; it's easier to commit to a city in a grassland next to a river than just off a coast in the middle of tundra and mountains. But I think an absolutist "never move" strategy is likely to bite the player not just strategically, but in their overall enjoyment of an extended game.

Generally i would only dare to move the first settler if it will grant me immediate access to something that will prove useful later, such as a coast, a river, a luxury resource that has a food bonus or a certain tile that my civ gets a special bonus from.

Otherwise i wouldnt consider it worth the risk, especially since you know so little about your surroundings at the start.

I'll always try to move to a hill if I don't begin on one. Besides the extra defensive advantage, it gives your city more production, speeding up the early game which more than makes up for delaying by one turn.

I've always been one to move.

If I can't find a mountain/hill and/or a river/ocean in three turns or less...
Then I just move the nearest green spaces.

I have a shifting table of priorities when I start that affect the decision I makes

1. Coast
2. Natural resources
a. production
b. luxury
3. Hill
4. Not wasting movement/ Turns
5. "Civilization bonus optimization"
6. Natural protective borders

I also have a compulsive habit of, when playing as Egypt, putting all my wonders in a single ubercity that is by the coast and one hex away from a mountain. Who doesn't doesn't want to visit the Colossus Stonehenge Library Lighthouse of Chichen Itza located in beautiful Thebes? Moar Wunderz!!

I really hope Brave New World sees a nice sale sometime this year, the endgame portions of the original Civ5 leave a lot to be desired. My strategy has been pretty must unchanged from older civ games when it came to city placement, and rapid border grown and early defensive capabilities were essential every time, but it mean I'd wind up being an isolationist, which is where BNW could change things drastically, and make the late game portions more exciting than the beginning portions when I'm just working on securing resources and expanding rapidly.

One or two turns missed in the very first stages only really delays your first unit/building by about two turns, and puts you two turns behind in research and culture. If you can move to a position that doubles your capacity for producing shields, beakers or culture beyond the starting values, it's definitely worth it.

For instance, Japan in the latest expansion produces +2 culture from atolls. Say you begin with an atoll slightly out of range: moving means you lose a turn of culture production (1) but every turn thereafter will give you 3 culture if the atoll is worked. Six turns in and you can hit your first policy, which snowballs from there.

There are tons of other reasons. If you start on a hill, you'll never be able to build a windmill in the late game, which has to be balanced against the extra +1 production in the city square from a hill (+1 production across the whole game versus being able later acquire +2 production, +10% when building and one engineer slot). If there's a river in sight you may want to move there so you can take advantage of the river specific buildings like waterworks or hydro plant.

They've made moving less and less of an issue with progressive games. It may have been suicidal in Civ 2 when you only had your settler, but now they give you a starting unit to help scout, and you can move the settler and still found the city if you don't burn all your movement points at once.

My rule is always to move the warrior to a tile that reveals as much terrain as possible before I touch the settler, so that I can suss out whether a move is worth considering.

Kuredan:

I also have a compulsive habit of, when playing as Egypt, putting all my wonders in a single ubercity that is by the coast and one hex away from a mountain. Who doesn't doesn't want to visit the Colossus Stonehenge Library Lighthouse of Chichen Itza located in beautiful Thebes? Moar Wunderz!!

Ah, the Egypt theme park strategy. So dear to my heart. That was how I won my first one city challenge, even before Venice and the new culture rules made it terribly easy.

As utterly blasphemous as it is, I not only have no issue with moving my settler but will do so for up to about ten turns before thinking of hurrying up and settling. I like to find a "sweet spot" where I'll maximize production and not have a single tile at any sort of disadvantage. Mind you I'll happily admit I'm not the best player, and will lose to the AI as often as not on a regular difficulty setting. So certainly don't take anything I say as gospel.

It depends what strategy you're going for I think.

If you're going tradition, for example, the site of that first city matters because of all the bonuses you get to your starting city. Losing a turn or two is pretty negligible if you can make it back with interest pretty early in the game.

I don't have brave new world, though, so maybe they shook this up.

Shamanic Rhythm:

Kuredan:

I also have a compulsive habit of, when playing as Egypt, putting all my wonders in a single ubercity that is by the coast and one hex away from a mountain. Who doesn't doesn't want to visit the Colossus Stonehenge Library Lighthouse of Chichen Itza located in beautiful Thebes? Moar Wunderz!!

Ah, the Egypt theme park strategy. So dear to my heart. That was how I won my first one city challenge, even before Venice and the new culture rules made it terribly easy.

Back in Civ IV, I actually did a one city challenge with Gandhi, and by some miracle I was also able to be the first to both found both Buddhism and Hinduism, can I say at that point that that my aim was a laser focus on farmland with the Great Pyramid, Shwedagon Paya and Angkor Wat. Thus the Amalgamated Church of Delhi was born.

image

I've noticed that the game has been pretty kind to me as far as starting points go. I don't think I've ever really gotten a "bad" start location. Although, I know for a fact that I've moved the settler a few times; usually for a coastline, but that was always in sight at the start. I don't think I've gone more than three or four turns before settling.

Reading this immediately made me want to start a new game of Civ V. Then I looked at the clock and noticed it was after midnight, and decided that would probably be a bad idea.

I'm in the never move camp because OCD would cause me to think that the breadbasket of the continent is just 3 hexes away.

Then the barbarian would eat me.

So I just randomize the world again.

In Civ I-IV I only do if it will be one turn and it will pay off by at most the classical era.

With Civ V I hardly ever have to because the game outside hard difficulty will give you loads of bonus crap for the tile you start on no matter what.

i do this, moving my settler, i thought it was obvious, settling where you spawn is way too risky

do you seriously think a tundra civilization will get anywhere?

Depends, but if there is a coast, hill, or river nearby, you can bet your ass I'm putting my city in the defensible area! I'll take a slightly slower start if it means my city is harder to take.

Oh, that's why I suck at civ. I've always moved.

In the Civ-games I played, I usually at most traveled two tiles, not further than that. Especially when you're close to barbarians or another culture, you can really screw yourself over if you are too slow at the start. That said, I find the idea of never moving silly. I've gotten some really bad starting positions at times with no productivity at all, for example, which set me back in building city upgrades for hundreds of years. In the end, that meant I was actually slower than if I had moved a few tiles at the start.

Well I'm not surprised civ 5 was such a dissapointment and had so much less replay value than civ IV or 2 if that was the level of discussion going on.

Callate:
-snip-

Yeah, it's a difficult decision. I always had a rule, that if something better wasn't, at most, one hex away, I'd settle where I currently was. It is pretty important getting your civ going as soon as possible, getting research (no matter how meager at the time), and providing a base for explorers to operate out of.

Also, EC took the "fail faster" line from DSDM methodology. Just giving credit where it's due.

I usually move my settler if there is an immediately obvious better location for it, even if it takes a turn or two. Always move your warrior unit first so you can see as much terrain as possible. Moving to the coast or river is always good if they're nearby, and getting early access to good production sites seems to work well.

Never ever move my settler, risk if often not worth the reward.

I move the settler to the best spot that I can see (and have in previous civ games too). I will happily spend a few turns.

NuclearKangaroo:
i do this, moving my settler, i thought it was obvious, settling where you spawn is way too risky

do you seriously think a tundra civilization will get anywhere?

What do you see?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IjGNJPNyzU

I normally move my settler, especially if there is a body of water nearby. It can open up other avenues of food gathering and if you're really lucky it will wind up being actually sitting on the ocean.

Regardless, always more your warrior/scout first.

Then decide if you want to move the settler or not.

MinionJoe:
Regardless, always more your warrior/scout first.

Then decide if you want to move the settler or not.

This is what I do, definitely. Then you can judge whether or not it's worthwhile to move the settler. That's why I think the civs which get scouts first are the best at the early game.

Whether I move or not, that I found or not on the first move, the conclusion is still the same: I'm bad. But it's fun. So, I don't mind. :D

I never even considered moving my first settler, I thought the game puts you in the best possible place for that general area to build a city. Sometimes when I'm building other cities though I look where the yellow thing says is a good place to build one and there really doesn't seem to be anything good there.

The worst place I've ever started a game was on an earth map with realistic resources and starting at the arse end of Russia. There was just nothing there.

Sometimes the lands So bad, that i have no choice but to move and play catch up, other times its Bam. start that turn

I think it depends largely on your early strategy and build order. If you're playing on a larger map it pays to get scouts up and running even a single turn earlier just to cap those free villages. If you're playing as Shoshone it's even more important.

However running a 3 city strategy for maximum sci/social rates that first city's location is CRITICAL. That tells us that your first choice should be tempered by the Civ you use and the long game strategy you want to employ.

Either way... it's amazing to know there's a game where the first turn can be just as exciting as any other.

If you weren't supposed to move your settler why not just start the game with the city founded? Having your start position rely totally on luck with the world generation is antithetical to the whole 'strategy' part of a turn-based strategy game. I would say the optimal play is to explore with your other starting units and then weighing the benefits of the surrounding terrain against the turn penalty.

Personally, if I were designing the game I would put in an option to have 8 or so hexes from your settler explored at the start of the game so you can make an informed decision on where to put your starting city, it makes sense to me since thematically your people should have been hunting and gathering that area for generations before the game started.

That was a really entertaining read! Firaxis Games did a great job with CiV and I start to understand how they could do it: Their emotional investment is really awesome :D

dunam:
Well I'm not surprised civ 5 was such a dissapointment and had so much less replay value than civ IV or 2 if that was the level of discussion going on.

Have you gotten into the Brave New World expansion? Vanilla Civ IV had way more replayability than Civ V, and the Gods and King expansion added a little but still behind. Pretty much for all the few good things they added to the game, most notable being the hex grid, a few extra things were lost and the game was less complex. I found with BNW though they finally brought in enough new things to get the complexity comparable with Civ IV, and overall it becomes a better package.

As for the topic it should be obvious that there's nothing wrong with moving your settler, the only counter really that with Civ V especially the game tries to put your settler in the ideal location to start with. But it's not 100% perfect, and when a start location means you can build some key early buildings in 15 turns or 30 turns (I always play on epic) the math is pretty obvious that missing a turn or two isn't that big a deal. Though that said the quicker the games the bigger the impact missing those early turns are. And things are also a little different in Civ IV if you want to be first to one of the early religions, then it's vital to plop down your settlement on the first turn.

I started with a map with only two civs, and made sure the other civ was Venice and it was on another continent.

Barbarians were an early problem. Those rampaging fiends ruined the test's economic focus, so Beach turned them off.

Based on these concessions, these results aren't likely to reflect real-world games. All he's proven is that under very specific conditions moving can be a better strategy. But if you're playing with multiple opponents, or with barbarians enabled, this data is hardly useful. A more thorough study is required to gather any meaningful results.

P.S. Thanks

P.P.S. I wanna be clear, I'm not saying it's necessarily better not to move, just that this study was too limited to give a definitive answer. His results may well extend to a broader range of game setups, or they may not, but it's impossible to say for sure without actually testing under a variety of different conditions.

P.P.P.S. Edit:

Johnson McGee:
If you weren't supposed to move your settler why not just start the game with the city founded?

Because the question isn't whether you're supposed to, but whether it's a good idea. There is no "supposed to" about it. Lots of games give the opportunity to make awful first moves, and Firaxis is arguing whether this is a decent first move or not. It's no different from The Settlers of Catan letting you put all your starting settlements on 12s and 2s. It's a terrible idea (and this one doesn't even need any studying to prove it), but it's important to allow players the opportunity to wreck their own chances even from the start.

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