So I got together with one of my mates to play my first game of Clash of Cultures with the Civilizations expansion this past Sunday, having owned the base game for the past 18 months I was looking forward to trying out the new stuff. As it was our first game with the new Civs, we decided that we'd each pick from 3 randomly drawn Civs rather than 2. I drew China, Persia and Rome so decided to take the Romans, my mate picked Carthage from his 3. I've noted some observations and ideas for Rome below:
Leader & Special Advances combos:
Sulla - I randomly started with him as my leader and kept him for the first 3 rounds as he seemed to be quite strong: his Civilizer ability (+2 CV vs barbarians) came in useful once but I didn't get to use his 'Dictator' ability (his city cannot be targeted by foreign cultural influence and he may cancel any barbarian attacks on cities within 2 spaces), however it's a good insurance policy to have him around if some barbarians spawn nearby.
Gaius Julius Caesar - Has to be the one of the strongest leaders out there! I used his 'Statesman' ability along with the 'Imperial Roads' special advance on one occasion in a turn where I founded a new city 2 spaces away: I moved Caesar to the new city and performed Civic Improvement on it all for no action cost (just spent the mood token for the Civic improvement, although the city did count as activated). I think these two abilities combine well and if you start with Caesar then his ability combined with 'Imperial Roads' can help you set up a chain to make your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cities happy for no action cost.
Alternatively, if you send Caesar on the attack with an army then if you capture a city and have the 'Provinces' special advance, you may immediately make the city neutral, or happy (if you pay a culture token), then use Caesar's 'Proconsul' ability to pay 1 Gold (which you will most likely have at least one of from Spoils of war) to immediately build units at no action cost! How powerful is that?! (Provided you have the resources of course). Or if you have a city 2 spaces away, after capturing a city you can move units into it as a free action using 'Imperial Roads', so you have a couple of different ways to reinforce a city that you've just captured. On top of all that, the 'Slave Economy' special advance gives you 1 gold and 1 mood token after any battle you win, so yet another reason to go on the attack!
A Roman civ with Caesar as leader and 'Imperial Roads', 'Slave Economy' and 'Provinces' is really strong. You need 'Roads', 'Bartering' and 'Nationalism' (Autocracy government) to get those advances, but they're all useful (also in order to get 'Roads', you'd need 'Engineering', which gives you the other Roman special advance: 'Aqueducts'). You'd also have to have 'Draft' to get 'Nationalism', so you can draft with a mood token and get it back. Here's a simple example:
After 1 "Move" action and successful attack: Caesar plus 1 remaining army unit captures a happy size 2 city: + 2 gold for spoils of war + 1 gold and mood for 'Slave Economy'. Make the city neutral (or happy if you wish by paying a culture token) by using 'Provinces', then pay 1 gold to use Caesar's 'Proconsul' ability to build 1 unit using the remaining 2 gold and draft another unit with the mood token at no action cost. One or both of the units could even be cavalry as 'Provinces' allows all of your cities to build cavalry (Or don't spend the gold on units and just move in 1 or 2 units from a nearby city using 'Imperial Roads'). So after 1 "Move" action you'd have a neutral (or happy) size 2 city with at least 3 units on it!
Unfortunately I didn't get to try out any attacking with Caesar as my opponent built his cities quite far away from my armies and I decided not to spend the actions to move them closer. I think the above strategy could be more powerful in a 3 or 4 player game as everyone is a bit closer together, and especially if your opponent is unaware of just how powerful Rome can be!
Emperor Augustus - Appears to be the weakest of the 3 Roman leaders in my opinion. I used his 'Princeps' ability once to AAA activate his city and draw a new Objective card (by luck I picked "Balanced") and discard another, which helped get me another 2 victory points as I had a couple of turns left to get a couple of advances to meet the objective. I could quite easily have picked something impossible for me to get like "Sea Lanes" (disregarding the military objectives as the opposing armies and cities were quite far away). His 'Imperator' ability (+2cv on regions without your cities) seems to be quite difficult to make good use of as I find my cities tend to spread out anyway.
Hope you found that useful. I've got a 4 player game lined up for Sunday so looking forward to that.
Thanks everyone for your comments and liking my post, also glad to see people got the Life of Brian reference!
Steve - I've only played a 2 player game with the expansion so far although I have a 4 player game lined up for this Sunday. In the 2 player game my opponent picked Carthage but I don't remember the other 2 civs he could've chosen from. I was quite jealous as I liked the look of that civ myself! Actually I like the look of a lot of them! My opponent really enjoyed it and is looking forward to playing again this coming Sunday (he's hosting so I know he's keen!) although he did say that with the extra options he thought he played like he did the very first time he played the base game - he was a bit overwhelmed and wasn't really sure what to do - usually he's really good and has won a few games we've played. I'll try to post my thoughts on Carthage in the next couple of days.
Rome (continued): While I was playing as Rome I stumbled onto another strategy that I think worked well. One of my favourite advance categories is 'Education' (I often build a couple of cities with academies and get idea resources while collecting (through 'Public Education'), then spend those ideas on more advances and get mood tokens (through 'Free Education')). It also opens up the 'Democracy' government category and the excellent 'Economic Liberty' advance. However, until playing as Rome, I didn't realise how well the 'Education' category works with the 'Autocracy' government category (as I don't often go for Autocracy).
When playing as Rome you want to get onto the 'Autocracy' category and get 'Nationalism' so you can get the 'Provinces' special advance (see my previous post). Also on the 'Autocracy' track is the 'Absolute Power' advance (Pay 2 mood tokens to take an extra action (once per turn)) and actions are very valuable in any game of Clash of Cultures. The 'Education' track just happens to be a good source of mood tokens (3 of the advances each give you a mood token, plus you can generate them with 'Free Education' as mentioned above), perfect for 'Absolute Power'!
There are other sources of mood tokens that work well for Rome: 1. The 'Agriculture' track has 3 yellow advances and can give you up to 3 mood tokens ('Irrigation' and 'Storage' are always good advances for anyone and 'Husbandry' gives you flexibility for collecting resources when you have 'Roads' - another useful advance for Rome as previously mentioned). 2. If you get 'Engineering' then that gives you the 'Aqueducts' special advance, which in turn allows you to buy the always useful 'Sanitation' advance for either no food or no action cost and gives you a mood token. 3. If you get 'Bartering' then that gives you the 'Slave Economy' special advance and 'Bartering' also happens to give you another mood token!
A few more situational options: 4. If the situation allows, you could get 'Fishing' and build a port, which would allow you to collect a mood token. How about a happy city with a port and an Academy (so size 3): with the relevant 'Education' advances you could collect 3 resources, plus a mood token from the sea plus an idea. 5. If you've got 'Philosophy', then perhaps think about getting a few of the 'Science' advances as they will each give you an idea (and a culture token - important for building a wonder!) 6. I happened to have the 'Balanced' objective card (have at least one advance in each category) so bought 'Fishing' and 'Myths' to fulfill that objective, which also gave me another 2 mood tokens.
I got a "mood token engine" going around the mid-game and was collecting one or sometimes two mood tokens a turn, through paying for advances with ideas and getting the mood token from 'Free Education' and buying yellow advances. This allowed me to always have a mood token free when I needed to use 'Draft' and more importantly, often have 2 mood tokens to spend for 'Absolute Power' to gain an extra action. Sure, you have a limit on the number of mood tokens you can hold, but when you're buying yellow advances and paying 2 for 'Absolute Power' maybe every other turn then it isn't an issue (you only have to worry about events). In the last game I played I used 'Absolute Power' at least 4 times!
What to do with these extra actions? Well in previous games I didn't think there was much use for 'Bartering', to me it was just a means to an end when trying a 'Taxation' strategy. However, with extra actions you can use it to exchange resources for culture tokens, I used 'Bartering' twice to top up my Culture (I had at least 7 blue advances by round 5 so there was no problem with the limit) and was able to build a wonder in round 5 and another wonder in round 6! Double wonder action! (Great Statue and Great Gardens).
In case you're wondering, I won the 2 player game by 44 1/2 points to 40. I love this game!
Thank-you for your insights on Roman power. Also in my first game with the expansion Rome proved to be very strong, with Caesar as leader: I agree Caesar's powers are very useful (even without Provinces), as are Imperial Roads and Slave Economy.
From your post it seems you had a rather peaceful game, while I had a very bloody one (3-players: Rome, Carthage, Greece - the latter being annihilated in round 4). Normally I think Rome will want to fight, which is in contrast with spending many actions on advances (to have all those you suggest in your posts). Irrigation is not important for Rome (if you find at least one fertile space in the unknown regions next to the starting city), as the Acqueduct special advance protects from Famine. By the way: Famine becomes less probable with the expansion , so Irrigation is less useful in general, which is good to avoid having always the same first turn for everyone! (but the ability to collect food from barren is still useful...)
IMHO the first-turn yellow tech for Romans should be Bartering (giving Slave Economy). As for the other advances, I think Mathematics is a must, allowing to build Engineering+Acqueduct+Roads+ImperialRoads at no action cost, and to build some Apothecary (nice to have for the Romans, which should fight frequently, and always have at least one gold after each won battle). Other advances needed are Tactics, Draft, Nationalism... (also useful are Trade, Currency/Taxation, Chemistry/Methallurgy/SteelWeapons...) Economic advances are always nice, but I think Romans should better spend their other actions to expand and fight.
I'll try to post my thoughts on Carthage in the next couple of days.
I'm waiting for those, as I played with Carthage. It seemed extremely powerful in the first part of the game, with Hanno as leader (many free actions to explore with ships, adding some Pirate to the fleet, crushing other Pirates at will...), and the ability to easily build Elephants (deciding how to use the 1s and 2s when fighting with them). The other players didn't build any ship, in the end, as the Carthagenians could have crushed them as they appeared.
To use Carthage abilities effectively, you will want Cartography and Navigation (and Husbandry) as soon as possible. So the first-turn yellow tech should be Fishing. Then you should consider to get Mathematics and Astronomy, to have Cartography/Navigation for "free" (as well as Engineering/Roads later), but you would spend 2 actions more before having them... (I didn't do it, but maybe I was wrong). In fact, if you start by getting Myths and Priesthood, you would also have Mathematics and Astronomy for "free" (as well as Chemistry/Metallurgy/SteelWeapons later), but you would spend at least 4 actions more (before getting to Cartography/Navigation), without any "tangible" expansion of your civilization: I don't know if it is a good idea (it also depends on what the other players will be doing).
Also the other Carthagenian leaders are not bad! With Dido+Hegemony+Pirate Allies (= sea domination) you can embark an Army, move easily by sea wherever you want, then found a coastal city at no action cost, where you will also have +2 CV to defend. Hannibal with 4 elephant units is obviously very difficult to stop!
But, in the end, from my first game it seems the Romans are stronger (as they were, in history).