Imperialism 2 Strategy Guide
All my advice is based on the assumptions of a Normal level of play. This is a guide on strategy and I will not attempt to go over the basic mechanics of play. I am describing the strategy that I evolved as I was playing at the Normal level, but my experience is not wide enough to make it a comprehensive guide. My strategies may not be best when playing at higher difficulty levels. The text is a mixture of first person and second person. I used second person to describe things that I felt to be true in all games. First person, of course, is what I have used and you might find alternate methods that work equally well.
Gathering more food is always a goal in this game. More food means that you can increase your population. More population means that you can process more goods, man more ships, and build more army. You will be looking to increase food gathering throughout the whole game.
Money is a big problem at the start of the game. Money is needed for offensive military operations and for research. You will see your initial treasury quickly drain away. Your major source of money is treasures of the New World: diamonds, gems, gold, silver, and spice. To a lesser degree, you can make money from selling goods and from conquering New World capitals. Later in the game, conquering Old World minor provinces becomes a major source of money.
2. Choice of Game
The designers gave us many options in setting up a game. I played my first game on one of the pregenerated maps at the Introductury level. Many people don t like to play Introductory levels and they are correct in that Introductory level games miss out in seeing many of the central problems. One suggestion for your first games is select a custom game with most things at normal level. This way you see the normal AI aggression, face the technology tree decisions, face treasury problems, face the problems of food type and luxury type, and learn the pace of the game. As a beginner, give yourself a few breaks. The recommended maps are not very good, use other user recommended maps for good starting locations and suggestions on which provinces to invade. On the custom game selection, pick a few advantages. An easy food technology start doesn t change your start, but makes it tougher for the AI. An introductory food technology start would give you more food at the start. Another good choice is to lower the AI s exploration advantage. There are many choices so I am sure you can find enough advantages to make the first games winnable.
3. Race for Riches
The pace at the beginning of the game is frantic. You will want to quickly find the iron ore in your country. Knowing the location of any copper or tin deposits are also helpful in planning your road network. Once you reach the New World, you will want to devote your explorers into finding the best provinces and exploring the contents of your conquered provinces. For these reasons, immediately build a second Explorer. You will wish you had more Explorers, but one more is all you can afford(at the Normal level). The AI has general knowledge of the value of each province. If you wait too long, you will find them taking all of the good provinces. For this reason, I conquer provinces as quickly as I can afford the attacks. Provinces with deserts(diamonds) or hills and mountains(gems,gold,silver) are priorities since you need the money. Spices are sometimes useful, but have a relatively low return. Provinces with sugar, tobacco, and fur are good for later in the game.
Your four intial workers are not enough labor. Immediatedly recruit two more workers. At some point, you will want to put a couple of your workers into your army or navy. In the meantime, those workers will help you by building goods. First priority for your Builder is to add to the food supply, either to make up the deficit or to add supply for your next immigrants. Next, concentrate on the minimum supplies of two wool, two iron, and two timber. Additional supplies of timber and iron are highly desirable because they are needed for basic building. Supplies of horses, copper, and tin can wait for a while. You will be either capturing or building ports in the New World. This means you will be able to ship some fish, so emphasize building your roads near grain rather than meat. Once you have found some riches in the New World, exploiting them will become your first priority. After you have sufficient income from the riches, concentrate on exploration and exploitation of resources in your home country because you will not need shipping for those resources.
Once you have the money, the paper, and the lumber/cast iron supplies you will want to add a second Builder. A little later, you will want to add a second Engineer. A Spy and a Merchant are also desireable builds. This is a minimum number of civilian workers. You will want to add more as the game progresses. I usually end up with about three Engineers and four Builders.
One little trick in building roads, you don t have to start from the existing road. If you are redeploying your Engineer, then consider placing him next to the resource-target tile. This might save you an extra deployment if you can keep building once you reach the existing road. You can also save yourself a turn if you redeploy the Engineer into the difficult terrain tile. An Engineer building a road from plains into hills takes two turns; an Engineer building a road from hills into plains takes one turn.
5. New World Wars
A reasonable goal in the New World is to conquer about 12 provinces. More provinces will outrun your ability to develop them and give you too many provinces to protect. After 10 provinces are conquered, all of your subsequent regiments are trained with a one medal start. The main goals in the New World are riches and luxury items. Your starting force(normal level) of three regiments is able to take any province except for capital provinces. Adding one more Knight might or might not be enough to take a capital. Instead, add two Knights as soon as you have sufficient food to both build them and still have an adequate labor force. You will acquire the treasury of a conquered capital and it is usually substantial. In addition, the capital will include a port. A ready made port is highly desirable in the early game since this saves you from having to build it.
Natives who retreat off the map will retreat into another province. For that reason, prefer to kill as many as possible. First, move everything forward and hit the next unit button before attacking. Try to move the Arquebusier into a position where it cannot be meleed. Fire the Arquebusier at a unit that will be meleed to weaken the unit and then perform the melees concentrating on a few at a time. Once a unit is weakened enough to want to retreat, try to have units placed to cutoff their retreat to the right of the map. Once they are discouraged and cutoff, they will die. Using these methods and with practice, you will be able to permit very few survivors.
Research costs are one of the big things that drain your treasury. Good first selections for technology research are Diplomacy, Mine Engineering, and Superior Hull Design. These all have $100 research costs. Other early choices are Merchant Companies and Improved Sea Routes. You will begin to sort out the right order on technology choices after a few games. On the technology screen, the three keys on the right side show the technologies that you already own, the technologies that you can currently research, and the technology goals. If you click on the bottom key and click on a goal, you can then go back to the currently research key and see which technologies are prerequisites for the things that you want the most. This will help to teach you the technology tree structure.
Researched technologies become easier to research. When other powers have already researched a technolgy that you are working on, you will eventually get the technology even if spending no money on research. The reverse side of this is be careful about allocating money to more expensive technologies. The first one researching a technology pays the most to get the technology. When money is tight, your best option for spending less money is to cut research costs by reducing some of them to zero dollars. In the early game you will want to establish Consulates and Embassies, buy resources, buy properties, and build a Merchant unit. Once these costs have been paid and your resource kickback grows, your costs will go down and you will have the money to actively research. To some degree, you want to research anything that other Powers have already researched. One exception is Cotton Weaving, unless your country lacks adequate wool. I also find that sending in a Spy for one turn will often get me a significant jump in research progress. Results from the Spy diminish over additional turns. Since the Spy runs a risk of being captured when placed in a foreign country, my strategy is to use the Spy for only one turn at a time.
The major thing that I do drasticaly different from the AI research is in the naval technology research. AI researchs through the privatering line to get Traders and Frigates. I avoid that line all-together and research to get Indiamen and Ship of the Lines. I use some of my Galleons as warships and avoid building Sloops. Once I have some SL s, I then use the Galleons as merchant ships.
If you are an Imperialism1 player, this is one area where you will need to change your thinking. There are no consumer goods in this game. Everything that you produce is needed for your own development. New World riches are the key to making money. Trade is a supplement to your income and can be crucial in helping you solve your inital money problems. In addition, trade is helpful in improving a country s attitude toward you.
One Old World colony and one New World colony are all you will be able to afford. The Old World colony will become part of your empire and merchant shipping will not be required if you can connect them up by road. Your best selections for a Old World colony are those that you can road-connect and also have abundant food. Since their attitude improves with each type of buy, the best choices are minors with more than one type of thing to sell. You will have to feed their troops, so have an extra supply on hand and be ready to develop the food and roads in the newly added provinces. Since you can use the Engineer in their country beforehand, you might have a road through farming country and into their capital already built.
There are some advantages to having a New World colony. Having another ready customer for your goods is nice in the early game. They come with their own troops so you don t have to worry about protecting them like my other New World provinces. Other than that, they are an investment in the future. After your other New World provinces are developed, then develop the minor. When they do become your colony, they provide third level heavy cavalry troops. These troops are very valuable when fighting other powers.
8. Warnings of War
Keep a watch on the information option of the diplomacy screen. You can see the declarations of war by the other powers. Use this information to move your military, e.g. position troops to take a neighboring New World province. The declarations of war that you see will not be the only things happening in that turn. Declarations of war will change the attitudes of other powers and they may react with their own declarations of war.
Many of the early wars are fights in New World provinces. Unless you are in a position to profit from them and can guard the provinces that you own, do not join in on them. Most of these wars are raids in the New World and are not highly important.
9. War and the Old World Minors
Victory conditions are the number of Old World provinces and I advocate taking as many from the minors as I can get. Attacking OW minors is highly profitable since each province has a large treasury. Once my Old World minor has become part of my empire, I declare war on another Old World minor. Do not attempt this if you have a weak military. The added troops from the minor have always made me one of the stronger Powers. At this point, my attack force is Bowmen from the minor plus a minimum of three Horse Artillery and two Royal Artillery. It might be safer to attack a minor that does not have someone else s embassy, but I have increased my aggressiveness in that regard. With my good-sized military, I have found that the AI rarely has enough of an attachment or the will to take over the minor. You will need to test this for yourself and discover how far you can push the other Powers around.
The defense force of an OW minor is a level one fort and two Bowmen for a non-capital province. Two or three Bowmen to rush the wall and three Horse Artillery to kill the emplaced artillery will take the province. Their capital will have a larger defence force of Bowmen, Pikemen, and Arquebusiers. Some provinces also might have a three-tent defences with Bowmen retreated from other provinces. Three-tents require a larger attack force, because their other troops will sortie out of the fort. I attack in the same fashion and kill their emplaced artillery. I bring along Royal Artillery and I retreat my Bowmen and Horse Artillery back toward them. Their Arquebusiers are slower than the rest of their troops, so I face only part of their troops at first and can shoot at the front runners. This attack will usually be quickly broken, if not, I can retreat and come back later and finish them off easily since they will not have the emplaced artillery next time.
10. Positioning yourself to Win
In my first game of Imperialism2, I colonized one OW minor and watched while the other Powers conquered the rest of the minors. When a war was finally fought against a weakling Power, I was not adjacent to them and they were mostly divided up by the other Powers. Since that time, I have learned to grab provinces everywhere and in no game has my military technology gone beyond Hussars. Conquered minors give me frontage with most of the other Powers and I can take many provinces when it comes down to dividing up a weakling Power. Unlike Imperialism1, the AI is capable of staying peaceful for a long time and honors military might much more that alliances. I have seen many a Power stab their ally in the back. You sometimes have to initiate wars to finish off the game.
11. War and the Other Powers
When I start to fight other Powers, I consider bringing my NW minor into my empire. Always consider the food situation, you will have to feed all those troops that come with the colony. Disbanding troops is always an option to consider and your Bowmen are the best candidates for elimination. The Cuirassiers from the NW minor are not only fast but also possess a powerful punch. The prime military technologies that I research are for light and heavy artillery. As well as being the best force to stop any sorties, heavy artillery can be used to punch a hole in the wall. If your heavy artillery is the same level as the emplaced artillery, then there are safe tiles to attack their wall even against higher-level forts. Battles last 18 turns, so there are enough turns to spend some of those turns breaching the wall in a spot reasonably close to an emplaced artillery. When you do charge, this leaves some of their troops unprotected and permits your faster troops to enter the fort and melee.
My emphasis on researching Ship-of-the-Lines means that I have no problem achieving naval superiority. The AI researches Frigates and never gets SLs until too late. Before I get SL technology, I try to stay out of war with a naval Power; I use Galleons to guard my home sea, but hope not to endanger them. I once did have a solitary SL sunk by a fleet of Sloops, so I try to have at least two SLs in a fleet. Unlike Imperialism1, no one has enough ships to spread them around. I have a large home fleet consisting of merchant ships plus a patrolling fleet in the home sea. While they might blockade a NW port at some point in the late game, I have not seen it any of my games.
12. Additional Military Notes
The cost of attacking with a regiment is $100 per level of the troops. For example, one regiment of Knights costs $100 and one regiment of Javelins costs $200. A Horse Artillery is a level two unit and a General is a level one unit.
You get a General after you have built 10 regiments. Free regiments and regiments from your colonies do not count into this total. I like to build two Knights, two Royal Artillery, and six Horse Artillery if I can afford them and get the General early. If I cannot afford that much artillery, then I build cheap units. A General will become valuable for attacking other Powers and well-defended minors. A General allows you to bring in a total of 12 units, including the General. In addition, each medal on the General allows him to bring along an extra regiment. Therefore, a four medal General allows you to field 15 regiments. It could be important to have the General earn those medals before you get into a serious war against another Power.
Forts are great deal. All of that firepower and it does not cost you any food. Forts can only be taken by a concentration of troops, in most cases they give you time to position your defence. In the New World, I like level 1 forts along all borders with other Powers and level 1 or higher forts in all valuable provinces.