Mao The Magnificent

In honour of Hu Jintao’s visit to Australia, I decided to break out Civilization 3 this week and see how Mao could do against all those fancy new opponents. Of course, I always play as Mao anyway (*see below for why), but the visit provided me with a good enough excuse to waste 10 hours or so.

I started on a pangea-like continent with 7 other civilisations. As China, I was surrounded by those who were reasonably proximate historically: The Arabs, Japanese, Mongols, India, Korea, The Ottoman Empire and the Babylonians.

There is no diplomacy when you play as China. None of this namby pamby wheeling and dealing that Steve Edwards indulges in when he plays as India. I built a few cities, then spent the next 1000 years building horsemen with which to destroy all non-Chinese life on the planet.

First to go were the Arabs, although I kindly left them the single city of Basra with which to keep their pathetic little civilisation going. It was too far away to bother with. India quickly followed, but before I captured their last continental city, they took off ROC-style to an island in the South, where they remained for most of the game.

It was about this time that Genghis Khan decided that my 50+ mounted warriors were no problem for him, and attacked a minor city on the western borders of China. Big mistake Genghis. I had discovered Chivalry, and upgraded my Horsemen into the indestructible Chinese Riders which quickly decimated the Mongol Empire.

Korea, The Ottomans and The Babylonians followed. By 1400 AD Chinese cavalry had colonised the entire continent except for the westernmost corner, which was the home of Japan. Building nothing except military units for most of history isn’t great for your civilisation’s culture, so I built a few Universities and Cathedrals to keep the people happy while waiting for my scientists to discover how to make tanks.

Along the way, I found the Island where the Indian government had escaped to. With no large and powerful western ally to keep me off there, I quickly reclaimed the Island for Greater China.

Japan was spared, primarily because of it being too far away to be a problem. Nevertheless, Around 1700 AD China achieved a domination victory, which is what happens when you control 80% or more of the world’s land mass. The first tanks had just started to roll off the production line. Japan got off lucky. Mao the Magnificent Scored 5000 and something for his efforts. Good Show!

If you’d like to see what the future rise of China may look like, download the save game. For extra points, see if you can wipe the filthy Japanese off the map before you win by other means.

* China is incredibly strong for mounted campaigns of domination. The Militaristic ability is extremely underrated, especially in combination with fast troops like horsemen, knights and riders. Militarism makes your veterans become elite troops very easily, and elite troops give you a lot of great leaders. In this particular game I got over 8 great leaders.

It’s the Chinese Rider unit that is the key though. 3 movements per turn is astoundingly good when you are waging battles far from home. You can frequently capture a city with 3 or 4 riders, then take the next one in the very same turn. 4 attack and 3 defense makes them strictly superior to knights in every way. Oh, and you get a golden age when you attack with the first one. The rennaisance is a good time to have a golden age. It means lots of riders and all the best wonders. (Sun Tzu’s, Leonardos and The Sistene Chapel.)

The industrious ability is also excellent, especially at the start of the game.

With a campaign like this, the sheer numbers of captured workers means it’s hardly important later on, but it gives you a big production kick at the start, and guarantees you the Great Library if you shoot for it. And if you don’t build or capture the Great Library, you simply don’t win at higher difficulties.

Perhaps with a bit more micromanagement in the beginning of the game, another ability, particularly “religious” may be superior to industrious. Militaristic though, is by far the best for waging an early mounted war. The Japanese are both Militaristic and Religious, but their Unique Unit, the Samurai, is not even close to as good as the Chinese Rider with its 3 movement points.

On a more natural shaped map (that is, one with more than 1 continent) the Germans stand out. Their panzer tanks are an absolute beating in the Industrial era, and fighting wars on other continents isn’t really possible in pre-industrial times. The Celts might be another option for an early-game rush with their Gallic swordsmen, but until the release of Conquests, it’s likely that the Rise of China will continue with few worthy challengers.

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