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DEVELOPER'S CORNER

THE 36 CHAMBERS OF DR. NO
By Brad Santos (a.k.a Dr. No)
May 27, 1999

note: This is the Developer's Corner, a part of the C:CTP section of Apolyton, where members of the C:CTP development team express their views on ctp-related topics. Feel free to send your comments at civilization@activision.com or post on our forums.

Turn 472. The World teeters on the brink of another catastrophic war.

Turkish Fusion Tanks are massing along your Southern Border. The ominous sound of descending Space fighters fills the air as the powerful Egyptian technocrat makes yet another outrageous demand. Your depleted treasury can't afford to foot the bill for an Alien Life Project, let alone a two-front war. Then, just as things are starting to look really bad, the Ozone layer gives way and you are forced to watch in stunned horror as the gleaming towers of your capitol city disappear beneath the waves of a titanic flood.

If you have played a few games of Call to Power at King level or higher then this scenario has a familiar ring to it. Even the most hardened Civ players feel a stab of pain at the sight of a globe-spanning Civilization that they spent all week building torn apart on the threshold of victory.

For the truly hard core strategists out there, the choice is clear: large map, Emperor or Deity level, victory by Total Global Domination. As you are no doubt aware, the Emperor or Deity level AI pulls no punches and will not hesitate to wipe your puny Civilization completely off the map. If this is the Ultimate Civ Challenge you crave, you're going to have to leave that Chieftain stuff at the door and train with the true masters of global conquest.

Welcome to the Shaolin Temple of 31st Century Warfare.

At the highest levels of difficulty, the Call To Power AI will completely outstrip most human players industrially, financially, and technologically. To prevail against such an opponent, you will need to exploit every advantage you can take.

As the development of your Civilization will lag behind that of your Neighbors you will need to swallow your pride for the first couple hundred Turns. When possible, lull your enemies to sleep with Diplomatic gifts and treaties, but do not hesitate to act militarily when an opportunity presents itself. If you fall too far behind the Diplomatic mentality of your neighbors will swing from tolerance, to callousness, to downright contempt. Be patient and resist the impulse to start a new game, often times a single surgical strike against an enemies Capitol city or Trade center can reverse the tide of the whole game.

To keep technological pace with your opponents you will need at least one full monopoly (five or six Goods in one city) and probably two. Your Trade Centers are the heart of your empire, even more than the Capitol. Never leave them undefended (no matter how safe it looks). On the flip side, look for any opportunity to strike at your opponents' Trade Centers. Build Railroads and Maglevs as quickly and extensively as possible. This will help keep your trade routes running overland, where piracy is easier to control. Routes over water can become notoriously problematic when there are an abundance of enemy ships in the area. You will find that Crabs and Pearls are usually the best candidates for monopoly creation because of the large number of coastal tiles on standard maps. Unfortunately that means that your most important cities will generally be coastal cities and, as is the case with coastal cities, vulnerable to Major Flooding.

If you haven't spotted it yet, I'll let you in on a little secret. It is virtually impossible for a player to cause the world to flood. If you check the numbers you will see that whether or not a flood occurs is always dependent on the presence of one or more super-polluting AI's. You can try to curtail pollution using Diplomatic means (EcoPacts and so forth) but, at the higher levels, I wouldn't waste my time. Either take a super-polluting Civilization out early in the game or start building Sea Cities.

Many a decisive victory has been won by players who, after correctly predicting that the world would flood at some point in the future, moved their industrial centers onto the ocean floor and began construction of a powerful navy.

If it looks like Pollution is not going to be a problem, then focus your military spending on the realms of air and Space. The reason is simple: SPEED. Speed is the key to beating five Deity level opponents in a game of death.

It is absolutely essential that your major cities be linked by Maglevs and Airfields as quickly as possible. Early in the game you will find that your best defensive strategy is focus your defensive units at strongpoints along forward borders, leaving your interior cities largely undefended.

Once the enemy has achieved Space flight capability however, geographic borders will become much less important. Ocean-skimming Fusion Tanks and space-dropped War Walkers can strike any city in your empire without warning. Don't spread your forces out in a vain attempt to protect everything at once. Keep your units stacked in your most valuable cities and be prepared to counter attack. When enemy forces seize a coastal, strike back with air and artillery. Shuttle defensive units along Maglev lines to reoccupy the city on the following turn. Always remember, though, that good defense never conquered the world. If you want to win you will have to take the fight to the enemy.

As I have often pointed out after thrashing a fellow Designer in a hard-fought multiplayer game, about 80% of a Civ's Production comes out of about 20% of the cities, and most of the Gold comes from one or 2 Cities. What that means is that target selection is crucially important. When you have three Nukes and 15 Units and your Alien-loving enemy has 44 Cities, precision is everything. My favorite strategy involves smashing the enemy's Capitol city with a surprise submarine-launched nuclear strike, then dropping nine units from orbit directly onto the ruins of the city, rush buying a Forcefield, and turning the place into a forward airbase all in the same turn.

Don't worry about capturing all of an enemies Cities until you have first seized the Capitol, Trade Center, and primary Production facilities. Then you can commence the mop up. When you strike, do so in force. Fortify stacks in the captured enemy cities and force him to expend resources trying to get them out. Every Fusion Tank fighting on the enemy continent is one that is not ravaging the countryside on yours. Trade Centers are easy to spot because they tend to have lots of Trade Routes flowing into them. Production Centers can sometimes be a little trickier to find but, generally speaking, a big clump of Mega Mines marks the spot.

If you have the technology and the money, Rush Buy a couple of Nanite Factories in Space and use them to churn out devastating Space Bombers. The Rush Buy bonus granted by the Nanite Factory is one of the best values in the game. If Space is out of reach, use bombers in combination with Paratroopers. Drop your Paras one tile from the target city, rendezvous and stack with a flight of bombers, then attack as one combined force. Of course you should always use nukes to destroy concentrated enemy forces. If you are not using Nukes, you're playing with one hand tied behind your back.

Stealth Units, while absolutely essential early in the game, don't have much of an impact during the big show down. Take your remaining Spies and send them in on suicide nuke missions against large enemy cities. You can't expect any of your special units to last long behind enemy lines after the year 2000.

Anyway, this is getting a bit long so I'll wrap it up now. I hope this helps those of you who enjoy the desperate drama of high-difficulty warfare. Stay tuned for future strategy tips from the 36 Chambers of Dr. No.

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