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Religious Celts

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I'd bought a cathedral in that southernmost city, and presently another in the northernmost. These cities needed the culture more urgently than the older central cities. Spending faith on these buildings is a form of wealth distribution, using empire-wide productivity to help needy areas. It's the same idea as building workers or work boats from established cities to help new ones, which is always more efficient and timely than a new city slowly building its own of those. Apply resources in places where they will ascend the steep part of the growth curve, not in mature plateaued cities.

The shot above also shows I wound up with quite a lot more gold than I'd been expecting, which with no rivers was about zero. I guess that +2/city from the religion does add up, along with all those plantation resources. +25 gold/turn now, which would shortly bump to +40 from the Colossus and market under construction. I spent it mostly on city-states for the moment.

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BTW, what happened here? How did Zanzibar acquire that wines tile at 4 distance from the city? Is that a new rule?

Also BTW, I've naturally been getting many quests from city-states. These were greatly reworked and expanded in the expansion, with rewards for doing lots of different peaceful things like producing faith or researching techs, or for bullying another CS which is much more realistically achievable than going to conquer one on demand. Much improved, but still flawed in my eyes. Rarely would you actually go build more faith or culture for the purpose of satisfying a CS quest; more likely you'll just take whatever you end up getting for free. Once again, Civ 5 is a game where you take advantage of stuff happening to you rather than deliberately make things happen.

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My third Great Prophet arrived and Enhanced my Religion. (They could not come up with some less technical and more flavorful term for doing that? Like "Convene the Holy Council" or some such?) I picked Pagodas, more ways of turning faith into culture. As for an Enhancer belief, here's the list... hmm they really don't seem very exciting. I picked Messiah, figuring that Holy Sites from more prophets could be worthwhile (the Piety finisher gives them +3 culture).

Edinburgh added the Great Mosque of Djenne, which seemed worthwhile and added another 6 faith between the wonder and free mosque. (Ironically, the Great Mosque is a better build for a religion WITHOUT natural access to mosques!) Hagia Sophia in Dublin for a fourth Great Prophet, which I wasn't entirely sure what to do with; just settled as a Holy Site.

Presently Ethiopia declared war on me, a development I'd foreseen far away. Unexpectedly Austria joined in against me, but I never saw any units.

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I fended off Ethiopia's vanguard fine, then started advancing on Harar, but got beaten back pretty hard. The AI seems to have gotten smarter in concentrating multiple attacks on one unit to kill it. My favorite trick used to be to position a row of siege units with one strong defender in front of them, adjacent to a city, which would waste its turns shooting at that defender because it was the closest target. Now the AI cities shoot at my siege, though. I lost two catapults and two archers without bringing the city halfway down, so retreated.

This war continued for a while with no more real battles, and about 30 turns later he finally came asking for a reasonable peace.

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Presently Education came in, meaning Research Agreements... whoa that's a change, requires a Declaration of Friendship? Talk about a blunt banhammer. RAs needed to be toned down, but making them contingent on the whim of Civ 5's wildly insane AIs is most certainly NOT a balanced answer. Nobody wanted to be friends with me at the moment, but then a while later Dido and then Harun did, so I signed DOF and RA with both of them.

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That Pagoda had costed 200 faith, then suddenly jumped to 300? Is that just because we entered the Renaissance? So you should retard your own tech progress if you want to spend faith more efficiently? That's freakin terrible.

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A Chinese Great Prophet barged in and converted my city. That's annoying. But I just happened to have a missionary of my own right there, which can convert the city back.

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But first I'll take advantage of the foreign religion for a moment to pick up another building. But that didn't seem to work - after the city was Shinto again, the monastery didn't seem to be there anymore. Grr, okay no loophole.

So this whole religion mechanic is leaving me rather a bad taste. It's got the same problem as everything else in the game, where the costs are all out of whack, needing to escalate but not doing so in a rational way. I've stacked up a lot of faith production, up to 80/turn... and I just have to waste it on missionaries to undo China doing the same thing. We both burn a ton of faith for no gain. And what in the world is the logic behind buying a missionary in a city in order to spread right back to that same city?

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Ethiopia rather stupidly sent a Christian missionary during our war, which I attacked, and discovered that that means you capture it. Okay, what in the world do you do with a foreign missionary? I don't exactly want Christianity in my cities*. I just sent him scouting over towards Austrian land where I hadn't explored yet.

*Or do I? There doesn't really seem to be much downside to a city following somebody else's religion. It gets the foreign beliefs and benefits, and that's not really much of a big deal since they're all pretty weaksauce anyway. The only shift is your player benefit versus the other religion's, and a swing of 2 gold per city is hardly worth fighting for. Except that you may as well, because the missionaries are bought out of a separate resource pool (faith) and represent no opportunity cost for any other kind of development. The faith is going to keep accumulating anyway and isn't good for much else (Prophets don't do much after reaching the enhancement stage), so just goes into missionaries by default.

It's a Red Queen's Race. The civs produce faith and throw it at each other just to stay in the same place. It feels like busywork, shiny and new for the purpose of selling the expansion, but enormously inelegant and clunky to operate in practice. The benefits can't be very strong or else religion would take over the game (Civ 4 corporations, I'm looking at you), so at least the power level is correct, but I haven't been finding it much fun to use.

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Later I reached the Industrial Age and discovered how the religion mechanics change then. Apparently, instead of the faith counter accumulating towards a Great Prophet, now it accumulates indefinitely and you can spend on a Prophet when you want. Why in the world does the game need two almost-but-not-quite parallel ways of acquiring Great Prophets? Talk about inelegant.

I also see how faith can now be spent on other Great People, with each type enabled by entering a certain social policy tree. Naturally, I was in Freedom for a culture game, which allows Great Artists. I discovered that these costs escalate in yet another inelegant bizarre progression: 900, 1500, 2500, 4000, 6000. And the Piety finisher does not discount these prices.

Anyway, I bought three Great Artists, then another Prophet at 900 cost for a late Holy Site, since with the Piety finisher that was a more efficient culture/faith ratio. Alas, the Piety finisher bonus of +3 culture to Holy Sites does not get doubled by the Freedom finisher. (And after the 900, the next Prophet would cost 1270. What the ding dong kind of math is that?)

All in all, building for big faith production doesn't seem like it worked out all that well strategically. I guess it's worth escalating as far as enhancing a religion, and buying a couple non-Prophet great people later, but mostly there isn't much useful to do with surplus faith. And the Celtic unique ability faded to irrelevance very quickly, so I doubt I'll be using this civ again. Still, this trip through the game was worthwhile to see all this in action.

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The AIs continued to send Great Prophets to annoy me, until I came up with this trick. Form a wall with idle workers to block them from entering my territory. Hey, readers, do you think this is a good mechanic for a strategy game?

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