Is "Micro-Empire" a viable strategy for one or all of the victory conditions?



  • In response to a General Strategies question, @deceze commented that he'd recently won a cultural victory with just 2 cities and no real military vs. his main competitor's 40 cities.

    I've always assumed more cities = better empire: if I have 40 cities I should be able to squash an opponent with 20, whether I focus on military, culture, or science. Is that wrong? I love the idea of micro-managing a tiny empire rather than wearily juggling lots of cities and units toward end-game. (This partly comes from my earlier question about avoiding a tedious end-game: a small empire is inherently less tedious.)

    Is "Micro-Empire" a viable strategy for one or all of the victory conditions? If so, how do you pull it off?



  • Is "Micro-Empire" a viable strategy for one or all of the victory conditions?

    Micro-Empires don't work for all victories. Almost by definition, you probably won't win a domination victory with a micro-empire. To do so you would need to raze all cities you capture (to stay micro), which would just give your opponents space to expand, which makes your job harder. It would also be difficult to balance advancing your cities and cranking out military units without falling behind on both fronts. I think a minimum of 4 - 6 "core" cities is a must for a domination victory. It may be a great challenge to try it with two though.

    Having said that, in addition to @WillfulWizards hints:

    • To stress the first point a little more: be Switzerland. Stay out of all conflicts, ignore all invitations to wars and pacts of secrecy. Only agree to positive deals. Listen to what the AI players are saying, they're rather straight shooters. Even if they ask you for contributions of gold with no return, if their intentions are good ("It's not going well over here, could you spare a little, I'll return the favor") it'll strengthen your relationship. If they demand, you already did something wrong (or you're up against a hostile AI) and should do your best to improve your relations.
    • Even so, you probably can't avoid a war forever, so dig in. Get as many defensive wonders as possible. The Great Wall, Himeji Castle and the Kremlin are great wonders to have if it ever comes to a war. Build no roads, or only those necessary to establish trade routes, to slow the enemy down in your territory as much as possible. Adopt defensive policies.
    • Settle in a good spot near as many city-states as possible (this obviously requires some luck). If you stay allied with them they'll help fend off invading forces.
    • Go for food and growth in the beginning (build farms), transition to gold/culture/science mid to late-game when your cities are huge (replace farms with trading posts/landmarks/academies).
    • Hand-tweak citizen allocation, at least lock certain fields like production and set a focus for the remaining citizens.


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