First of all: In a game like Civilization there’s no such thing as the “one way to win”. But you’ll know this, if you’re looking for Deity Strategies. So here’s my collection of hints and remarks, things that made my life easier, and things that made it harder.

I played the Inca on a huge continents map and won by domination. A hundred years later it would have become a conquest victory, but I didn’t want to take the risk and left domination victory active.

Civ 4 Deity – What are we dealing with?

Lists all AI bonuses and player penalties for various difficulties

“Nevermind” put a nice spreadsheet on CivFanatics, accurately listing the AI bonuses and Player penalties when playing on Deity ->

When you start playing Civilization 4 (or any part of Civ for that matter), playing on Settler (lowest) difficulty grants the player various bonuses. On the lower 3 difficulties, you still get bonuses, playing the middle 3 levels of difficulty, the odds are quite even, until on the highest 3 levels the AI gets bonuses – on Deity these are massive. The easiest example is the FreeTechs modifier at the bottom:

  1. Settler – you get The Wheel, Agriculture, Mining
  2. Chieftain – you get The Wheel, Agriculture
  3. Warlord – you get The Wheel
  4. Noble
  5. Prince
  6. Monarch – AI get Archery
  7. Emperor – AI get Archery, Hunting
  8. Immortal – AI get Archery, Hunting, Agriculture
  9. Deity – AI get Archery, Hunting, Agriculture, The Wheel

In the beginning you get a Happiness and a Health bonus. This decreases to zero on Deity. Also any combat bonuses against Barbarians and Animals decrease to zero. Research increases from 60% (bonus for you) to 130% (penalty for you) of the original costs for any given technology. The same applies to Unit maintenance costs, number of free supported units, the Gold-maintenance you’ll have to pay for your number of cities and their distance to your capital and so forth.

To sum it up:

  • You’re behind in Tech
  • You’ll research slower
  • Your opponents start with 4 units, 2 workers and 1 scout and a production bonus
  • You start with nothing and a production penalty

How shall you ever win this? Here’s how!

Civ 4 Deity – Which Civilization to choose?

To me this one is about equalizing the most crucial penalties in the early game…

Many people favor the Greek Phalanx (5 base strength, +50% against melees, +100% against chariots) and thus chose Greece for the Deity challenge. In my opinion this is too late to make up for some of your penalties. Furthermore you’ll need Bronze Working for it and also need iron or copper resource to build them.

I like to cripple my opponents early. Like in early early. On deity difficulty the only way to achieve this is playing the Inca: The Quetchua (2 base strength, +100% vs. Archery Units, +25% city defense) is perfect to do just that. With the Inca (in my version of BTS) still being Aggressive, your Quetchua warriors start with Combat I (+10%). Now if you wander around with your first warrior you’re very likely to encounter some barbarians or animals and make some XP. Promote your initial warrior with Cover (+25% vs. Archery Units).

Your first warrior now has a base strength of 2, +125% against archers and another +10% combat strength. This gives you 4.7 combat strength against Archers in cities with 4.95 (3 base strength, +50% city defense, +15% fortification bonus).

Here’s the civilizations leader traits for Greece and the Inca in comparison:

Rhye?s and Fall of Civilization greeceAlexander Rhye's and Fall of Civilization incaHuyana Capac
  • Aggressive
    Free Combat I promotion for melee and gunpowder units.
    Double production speed of Barracks and Drydock.
  • Philosophical
    Great People birth rate increased 100 percent.
    Double production speed of University.
  • Aggressive
    Free Combat I promotion for melee and gunpowder units.
    Double production speed of Barracks and Drydock.
  • Financial:
    +1 commerce on plots with at least 2 commerce.

Now with every game I played I made a huge loss in Gold per turn. To cope with this I had to lower research budgets and fell behind in technology. Eventually you’ll end up with an overly powerful, technologically advances army at your doorstep.

A financial Civ is how to cope with this. It’s still challenging, even with a financial civ, but played out right, this can work. So my bet is on the Inca – time and time again.

Playing the Inca on Deity – First steps

Ok, you’ll need some workers – build some more Quetchua warriors and use your first to explore. You’ll soon encounter an AI player near you. Declare war as soon as you can capture at least one of his workers. Send the worker(s) home on the shortest (but safest) way.

Lists the likelihood of getting an actual goody, when entering goodiehuts.

If you find goodie huts and get some money – be happy about it. See the overview on the right: The likelihood for strong barbarians is already 6/20, so 30%, together with weak barbarians the chances for an “unfriendly” encounter is at 40%. Low gold is 25% and the remaining 35% chance to find some actual goodies are shared amongst healing (lame), map (super lame), xp (so so), warriors, scout and tech.

Now with your first warriors you’ll be able to loot the first civ you’ll meet for money (pillage farms), free workers (don’t stand next to the capital – they won’t come out to play then) and experience (kill any roaming archers and warriors running around). Promote your warriors with Cover and then go for bonus on city attacks. After some easy kills your first warrior should be able to take out archers garrisoned in the city! You might need to cover him with reinforcements, so he’s not killed by the remaining defenders.

Drawbacks no Civ 4 Deity Strategy can influence

No matter how well your first moves go and what you find in goodie huts (loads of money, units and technology), there are things that will make it close to impossible to win. For example:

No religion

With you being strongly behind in technology, there’s no way to found a religion (never happened during my 6-10 deity attempts). The thing is: Without religion, you can’t benefit from the religious civics, e.g. without Organized Religion you lack behind 25% in producing buildings in your cities. So your markets, libraries and universities take more production, more turns to build (time you might need building units) but more importantly: They’re finished later – so while you need to make up a technological disadvantage and to research like crazy, you’ll fall further behind.

You need religion. If no religion spreads to you between the ancient and medieval era, you might as well start over. No use waiting for galleons of conquerors knock on your door. We all know the conquest of the new world is a lot of fun – but only if you’re not the native.

To me this happened while being on one continent with Ethiopia once. Only a small Panama-like strip of land connected 2 land masses. I blocked that and settled my (the bigger) part. Without religion though, both Ethiopia and I were behind in tech and got conquered…

Alone on your continent

While at first this sounds tempting, it is a huge setback: As said before you need one opponent (victim) to attack and make up for your bad start. But you’ll also want some more nations (2-3 AI players ideally) to trade with. To be able to research a lot and still make some money, your cities always need to use all their trade routes to the maximum capacity. Another reason to always be at peace with at least one of your neighbors.

Bad Land

In a TV documentary years ago I saw a scientist going after the question why Western- and Central Europe and later Northern America so dramatically overtook earlier (and ancient) high civilizations. He argued it was the soil. Worked properly the soil in those regions was so much more fertile than in Egypt and the Middle East (aside from the Nile river and Mesopotamia). The jungles or Southeast Asia 1000 years ago were never able to support the population that grew in Europe in the medieval.

Here’s the only book about that I could find now: Soil and Civilization — Edward Hyams

Civilization 4, where jungle only granted 1 food, was capturing that fact pretty well.

So if you’re surrounded by:

  • only forest – that’s bad, because you’ll be already behind by the time you’ll be able to chop it
  • lots of jungle – even worse, because you can only remove it even later and it lowers your health
  • lots of hills – bad because you primarily need commerce over production
  • desert – that’s the worst, quite self explaining

The best terrain for a good start on Deity difficulty is plains with loads of rivers flowing through it. Ideally some floodplains. The more river and the more flood plains the better!

Especially since floodplains go perfectly together with the Incas unique ability: Floodplains provide 3 food and 1 commerce. Build a cottage on it (+1 commerce) already triggers your ability and grants you an extra commerce. So every floodplain with a cottage on it is already 3 food and 3 commerce!

The Civilization 4 Diplomacy flaw

Doing a bit of research on this I found loads of forum posts by people who want the Civ 4 diplomacy system back. Ha! No way! There were huge flaws and the biggest of them had a huge impact on each of my Deity attempts. I’ll explain it using the following (at the beginning very realistic) scenario:

  • The US don’t like Russia (say -8 in relationships)
  • Russia doesn’t like the US very much either (e.g. -6)
  • Now you’re the EU and get along with both quite well (say +6 with the US and +4 with Russia)
Civilization 4 Diplomacy flaw
Civilization 4 Diplomacy flaw

Now what happens in Civ 4 is: The other two parties go to war. Every turn both parties ask you to join the war on their side. Because you’re not totally crazy, you don’t want to do that. They might not ask every turn, but they will ask several times. And every single time you say “NO!” you’ll get a -1 penalty on your relationships.

In the above example, that means after being asked 12 times (!!!) by each party to join the war on their side, your relationships…

  • with Russia would be -8 (worse than their relationship with the US)
  • with the US would be -6 (only slightly better than with Russia)

What that wonderful Civilization 4 AI interaction figures out next is plain to see: The US makes peace with Russia. During that period of peace (10 turns) they might become a bit restless. So they have a great idea – they go against YOU! Now you might survive a war with both parties until you make peace – but apparently, repeating the same process, your relationships will only get worse and worse from this point.

In several Deity attempts situations like that broke my neck, because bottom line it was always me against the world. The only way I could avoid that flaw, was by saving at the end of my turn, and reloading that save game when I was asked to join a war. That seemed to be triggered randomly, so a reload sometimes prevented this vicious cycle of hatred.

The rest (winning)

Now with every game of Civilization being quite unique, you’ll have to figure out the rest yourselves. But there are some general things I’ll just list here now

  • Keep your veterans alive! In doubt, sacrifice 3 new units to save the highly promoted ones.
  • Focus on the expensive military techs, make use of that advantage, then trade it for lower techs.
  • Only upgrade your most precious veterans – for other units the gold costs for upgrades are just too ridiculous.
  • After climbing a ranking by taking out opponents on your continent – always go for the strongest AI civ. The more smaller civs you take out, the higher the probability for the leader (or 2nd after you) to ally with the others against you.

4 thoughts on “Civilization 4 Deity Strategy”

  1. Not sure which version of civ 4 you’re playing but I prefer “Beyond the Sword”. I’ve been playing for many years on Civ 4 and pretty much always the largest maps at Marathon speed and Deity difficulty.

    Anyway, it is actually very possible to get a religion at deity level. You’re very unlikely to get Buddhism or Hinduism or even Judaism because you’re behind in research right from the beginning. The best way to get a religion is either by building The Oracle and selecting Code of Laws (Confucianism) OR by building Stonehenge and The Oracle, which both generate great prophets and using your first great prophet to get Theology (Christianity). The trick with this kind of strategy is to keep your empire small early on, ideally one city until you have oracle built so you can keep going at 100% research to get through all those early religious techs. It’s also a good idea to get mining and bronze working as soon as possible so you can advance to slavery and mine, cut forests and hurry production to get those wonders done asap.

    If your civ is Financial and you start on the coast or an island this will make it more likely to succeed. If you can find a stone quarry it’s worth either capturing or building a city by it (or on it) just to get that one resource, even if the city does nothing else. It’s also worth keeping in mind that once you go for a religion strategy it is a good idea to put heavy emphasis on it and develop a city (your capital or your second/third city) that pumps out great prophets. Using those great prophets to max your income (build the special building for the religion you found so you can keep your research at max) and max out the number of priest specialists you can assign. Building a temple also allows you to assign a priest as well. This will push your great prophet generation even more and allow you to open up further key religious techs before other civs. This has three advantages. First, you can start building religious wonders before other civs. The key wonders are the ones that give you bonuses for religious buildings and priests: Apostolic Palace for hammers, Unversity of Sankore for science, Spiral Minaret for income, Angkor Wat for extra hammers from priests.

    Otherwise the trick with Deity level is pretty much always to select a civ that gives you a warrior to start and go start a war with the closest civ as soon as possible so you can expand without building settlers or workers. Pump out those warriors til you’ve conquered a nearby civ and captured their two starter cities. I often do this two or even three times early on to gain a big advantage over rival civs. Your maintenance costs will shoot up and you may want to rebuild your palace to cut these down significantly (and/or get code of laws so you can build courthouses). Militaristic civs that give your units the combat I promotion for free are ideal for this but not essential. Going the military route doesn’t mean you have to skip wonders either. First of all, your city count will shoot up leaving you two or three cities that can specialize in wonder building (hammers hammers hammers!) Chances are you also capture either stone or marble or both in the course of your expansion. If you pay attention you should be able to find civs that have built early wonders and capture the cities with those to gain their bonuses (pyramids is especially useful to get you to Representation early on).

    1. Hey! Wow! Thanks for that! Gosh, reading your comment made me think back of the (also) glorious Civ4 days… I also played BtS, yes!
      I miss how in Civ5 I can’t assign “Priests” specialists. Which basically make religious playing much harder, mostly depending on good traits based on terrain or religious natural wonders near you.

      But man: Huge props for continuously playing Deity Civ4!!! 🙂

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