Azteca: The Aztecs are yet another civ that works best in a game of conquest. They are Militaristic and Religious, same as the Japanese, the only overlapping combination of traits at the moment. Since they are otherwise the same as the Japanese, I'll limit my commentary to the Aztec UU, the Jaguar Warrior, a 1/1/2 replacement for the warrior. This is one of the best UU in the game, essentially giving the Aztecs the ability to build scouts from the very start. Many people have said that the Aztecs are virtually Expansionist as well, due to the fact that they can build Jags for scouting. Another popular use for Jags is to get 4 or 5 and rush an AI civ in the early stages of the game. It's very risky, but can yield enormous benefits if successful. Jaguar Warriors can be used later in the game as cheap pillagers too, since they only cost 10 shields. All in all, it's an excellent unit that a clever player can find many uses for. The one real disadvantage is that when used in combat early, the Aztecs will get a completely wasted golden age. For information on the civ traits of the Aztecs, look at what I said for Japan on the previous page.
Iroquois: Here's a very interesting civ indeed; the Iroquois are one of the most popular civs to play in Deity games due to their civ traits and unique unit. The Iroquois are Religious and Expansionist, and their UU is the Mounted Warrior, a 3/1/2 replacement for the horseman. Not much needs to be said for the religious trait; it's very powerful and helps provide both culture and happiness. The expansionist trait though is highly variable in its value, ranging from exceptionally good on larger/pangea maps to almost useless on smaller/archipelago ones. If you want to get the best value from the Iroquois' use of scouts, you will need to play on maps that allow their scouts free reign to pop goody huts and contact other civs first. The real thing that shines for the Iroquois though is their UU, the Mounted Warrior. It gets its bonus point right where it should be: on attack. A common tactic is to ignore city development completely to build a group of Mounted Warriors and then run over the nearest AI civ with them. This is so strong that it has caused a significant number of players to use the Iroquois over and over again on Deity level, where it is (incorrectly) believed that an early war is neccessary to win. The Golden Age for the Mounted Warrior comes early, but many players just use it to build more Mounted Warriors. They also upgrade all the way to cavalry, so shields put into them are definitely not wasted. The key thing to remember with the Iroquois is to use their scouts to find the enemy and then use their Mounted Warriors to destroy them. This can put you into the lead early in the game in a position that you never relinquish. Be very wary of this civ when multiplayer comes out.
Egypt: The Egyptians have the combination of what I feel are the strongest civ traits, Religious and Industrious. Despite this, they are only an average civ in terms of popularity and don't get played as much as some of the militaristic ones (what does that say about the people playing Civ3?) Their UU is the War Chariot, a 2/1/2 replacement for the chariot. What can I say about the Egyptians' civ traits? To begin with, you get the power of industrious workers to speed your growth, production, and expansion by putting down tile improvements at double the speed. Then combine that with the religious ability to build temples/cathedrals at half cost and go through 1-turn anarchy. Put together you have a civ that will expand at a VERY fast rate indeed. Using these traits properly should allow you to win the game before it ever really starts (at least on Monarch and lower), since Egypt has such an overwhelming advantage to start. The UU War Chariot is a good one, although it falls short of the greatness of the Mounted Warrior or Immortal. At 2/1/2 and costing 20 shields, it is essentially a cheap horseman that cannot travel through jungle or mountains. It can be upgraded all the way to cavalry, although it will be expensive to do so. I personally like to save the War Chariot until later in the game to trigger a golden age whenever I desire, but they can certainly be used in the early game as well. The Egyptians have a great deal of power and versatility due to their excellent civ traits, and they can excel at doing just about anything you want.
Babylon: Well known as the culture kings of Civ3, this is another popular civ. The Babylonians are Religious and Scientific, giving them a discount on all cultural buildings except colosseums. When playing as the Babylonians, you should have no trouble keeping up with your neighbors in culture, at the very least. It's too bad that the scientific trait is essentially a waste in the current version of Civ3; the Babs were much better in the days before 1.17f. Still, it's tough to go wrong with a civ that has offers so many basic city improvements at a reduced cost. The Babylonian UU is the Bowman, a 2/2/1 replacement for the archer. The idea was apparently to combine the archer unit with the spearman one. Too bad the Bowman replaces the archer and not the spearman; the fact that it upgrades only to the longbowman makes it obsolete very quickly. Although in theory this unit can operate either on offense or defense, I find it's essentially a waste to build at all. If you want a defender, build an upgradeable spearman. If you want an attacker, why do you need an extra point in defense? The bowman would be much better as a 3/1/1 replacement for the archer; too bad it isn't. I think your best use of these guys is to hold them in reserve until whenever you want to trigger a golden age. If you use them early in the game, don't expect to get much use from the GA. Babylon has some good civ traits, but unfortunately a horribly unupgradeable and generally useless UU.
Russia: The Russians seem to be one of the least played civs among the Civ3 community, and with some good reason. They are Scientific and Expansionist, with the Cossack as the 6/4/3 UU (replaces cavalry). The ability to build scouts is nice, but keep in mind that it requires a large map to be most effective. The scientific trait is just a waste though, which is why if I wanted to play as an expansionist civ I would probably pick someone else. The Cossack is another UU with the point in the wrong place; why should I care if it has an extra point of defense? Cavs shouldn't be defending in the first place if you've positioned them correctly! The UU golden age comes late, when the industrial age has already started or is coming soon. Most games are already decided by that point. In short, don't expect the Cossack to do anything the standard cavalry can't do. I just can't quite make my mind up when it comes to the Russians. Are they supposed to be a warmongering civ? They get no militaristic bonuses and their UU offers no advantage at all over normal cavalry. Are they supposed to be a builder's civ? They get scientific buildings cheap, but have no other benefits in that area. The Russians don't seem to do anything particularly well, and I don't see them having any benefits beyond the initial use of scouts. Take them out for a spin if you want a civ that lacks big advantages.
America: Coming right on the heels of the Russians is the Americans... Although not one of the most played civs, the Americans have a number of advantages that makes them a favorite of some players for Deity games. The Americans are Industrious and Expansionistic, combining what are probably the two best traits on a huge/pangea/Deity map. The expansionist trait is, as always, dependent upon the type of map that you are playing: the more land, the merrier. The industrious trait will remain strong no matter what kind of game the Americans are playing though. If you want to maximize the civ traits for the Americans, I would recommend playing a large or huge pangea map with max opponents where the use of scouts will grant lots of early contacts and free techs while the industrious workers allow the Americans to out-expand their rivals. Now I haven't mentioned the American UU yet and with good reason: the F-15 is absolutely worthless. I have never built one, I have no idea what their stats are, and I doubt I ever will use one except in a Realms Beyond Civ variant game. Air power can be important in Civ3, but I highly doubt the F-15 would EVER make even a tiny difference in a closely contested game. Pick the Americans for their civ traits - not for their absolutely horrible UU.
France: The cheese-eatin' surrender monkeys make an appearance in Civ3 as well, though they appear not to be the most popular of civs. The French are Industrious and Commercial, and their UU is the Musketeer, a 3/4/1 replacement for the musketman. I can sum up the French pretty simply: they are a builder's dream civ. The commercial trait will really be felt now under 1.29f, and the lessened corruption will let the French draw a good deal more revenue from their outlying cities. Industrious workers will help the French expand faster than their rivals and generally kick butt like they always do. If you want to build every city improvement in each city and try to get all the wonders, there is no better civ to pick than the French. The only thing to watch out for is the lack of any shield bonuses on culture buildings. The French UU, the Musketeer, is almost useless however. It's extra point is also in the wrong place! Why on earth you would ever be attacking with Musketeers, clearly a defensive unit, is beyond me. Several people have developed elaborate attack schemes using Musketeers - to which I ask "Why aren't you using knights?" Pluses for the UU include a well-timed golden age (although maybe a tad later than I'd like) and the ability to upgrade all the way to mech infantry. Now more than ever, the French are a builder's dream civ with a largely useless UU.
Persia: One of the big, bad civs out there that everyone seems to love, Persia gets played endlessly in the Civ3 community. The Persians are Scientific and Industrious with the Immortal, a 4/2/1 replacement for the swordsman, as their UU. The civ traits for the Persians are only average, so it is the Immortal that sets them apart as a strong civ. Scientific is largely pointless and unneeded, but it can help the Persians get an edge in the realm of culture. The industrious trait works really well for Persia though, allowing its workers to hook up iron deposits in half the time and build roads to enemy civs for its UU to march along. Why so much fuss over the Persian UU? Well, wait until you see what it can do in the right hands! The Immortal is a swordsman with a +1 to attack - finally a UU with the bonus point in the right place! Since the Persians are scientific, they start with the Bronze Working tech, and are thus only 1 tech away from Iron Working and the ability to build these monsters. One common tactic is to build a bunch of warriors at 10 shields each and then upgrade them all to swordsmen - or, in this case, Immortals. 10 Immortals in the Ancient Age can devastate an entire enemy civ all by themselves. Think about this for a second: the best defender the Immortal is likely to encounter is the spearman, which only has 2 defense. Assuming current units, at NO other point in time in Civ3 does the attacker EVER have a 2:1 advantage over the defender. In fact, much of the game has the defender at a 2:1 edge! Combine that with the warrior -> swordsman upgrade tactic and you have a deadly, deadly force. Immortals attack as well as knights, so they remain a viable attacker right up until the discovery of rifles. While Immortals don't upgrade, this is a pretty long shelf-life for any unit. Immortals are so good that in the expansion all civs get access to them, under the name "Medieval Infantry." But MDIs cost more shields (40) than Immortals (30) and don't appear until the advent of Feudalism. In short, Immortals are the terror of the ancient age. The GA doesn't come at a very good time, although you could use it to pump out more Immortals I suppose. In summary, Persia is a civ with good civ traits and a truly exceptional unique unit. In the wake of the 1.29f patch, the Scientific attribute has become much more viable again, making Persia even more dangerous. Yikes!
Zululand: The Zulus are an interesting bunch, one of the few militaristic civs that don't seem to be wildly popular. They are Militaristic and Expansionist, with the Impi (a 1/2/2 replacement for the spearman) as their UU. The Zulu civ traits are clearly designed for martial purposes. You use your scouts to find the enemy and then send out your forces to meet and destroy them. As always, the expansionist trait will be better on larger maps and the militarous trait better if you do more fighting - so try to do both with the Zulus. Actually, the Zulus are a "faster" civ than anyone out there, at least in the ancient age. The Impi is a good UU, with the extra point of defense allowing them to keep up with horses and other fast units. Ideally, I see the Zulus at war early in the game with scouts fanning out to find enemy units and cities and horseman/Impi pairs working together to destroy them. The Impi golden age is in a horrible place, but that is made up for by the fact that they can be upgraded all the way to mech infantry. If nothing else, try using Impis as pillagers in enemy territory; keep them on hills or mountains and the AI will be reluctant to attack them due to their high defense. Like the Jaguar Warrior, a clever player will find all sorts of uses for the Impi even after they have been obsoleted by technology. Be wary of the fact that the Zulus get no culture bonuses from their traits and may suffer from poor city development though. If you want to go out and fight large-scale ancient age wars, the Zulus are a good civ to use.
England: Well the English are commonly regarded as the "worst" civ in the game, and they are in many situations, but under the right conditions they can really shine. The English are Commercial and Expansionist, with the Man-o-War their UU (a 3/2/4 replacement for the frigate). These traits were commonly regarded as worthless when Civ3 came out, but as I've said before they can be strong in good situations. Now that the commercial trait is stronger, the English should be even more of a viable civ. Unfortunately for the English, their scouts are rather useless on the map type that is best for the them: archipelago ones. Yes, archipelago maps. The English start with Alphabet and Pottery as their free techs, putting them only 2 techs away from MapMaking. Getting to ships first (and building the Lighthouse) are some of the keys to winning on an archipelago map. Think of your galleys as "scouts on the sea." The commercial trait also works very well in tying together an empire spread across a group of islands. Let's not forget the Man-o-War either! OK, just kidding. The English UU is completely useless; its only purpose is to trigger a golden age which comes a little bit later than might be good. Naval combat is just not that important in Civ3. In all honesty, the English are a decent civ, but they don't do anything particularly well. They have some advantages for an archipelago map, but for the most part play them if you want a game that doesn't rely on civ trait bonuses.
Wow, that was a lot of text. Now to conclude with a short description of the 6 difficulty levels.
Chieftan: This difficulty is an introduction to the game of Civ3. There's virtually no way to lose at this level no matter how badly you screw up; think of Chieftan as a tutorial that teaches you how to play the game. With that said, those people who are not familiar with turn-based strategy games or are new to the civilization series should play one game at this level just to familiarize themselves with the basic aspects of the game. I played my first game of Civ3 on Chieftan, and considered it a valuable learning experience.
Warlord: After one game on Chieftan, everyone should move up to the next level and play at Warlord. On this difficulty everything costs the AI 20% more than it does you; settlers cost 36 shields instead of 30, for example. This is the level where many players will begin to be challenged by the AI if they aren't familiar with turn-based strategy games. The step from Chieftan to Warlord can be a harsh one. However, the AI is still penalized on this level so it shouldn't be too difficult for the player to win.
Regent: This is the level where things start to get interesting. The human and the AI are equal on this level, with production, growth, and tech costs being the same for both. In a sense, Regent is the "most fair" difficulty, since the AI gets neither advantages nor penalties. The unencumbered Civ3 AI is actually quite good; newcomers to Civ3 can expect to get beaten regularly here until they begin learning the tricks of the game. I eeked out a win in my first Regent game in a rather poor starting location and played 3 more games there before I felt confident enough to move on to Monarch level. If you are paranoid about AI "cheating" at higher levels, then you will want to stay at this level where everything is relatively equal.
Monarch: I actually believe this is the most fair difficulty level. On Monarch difficulty, the AI civs get a 10% bonus on production, growth, and tech research (or to put it another way, everything costs them 90% of what it costs you). The AI civs also receive a few bonus units, 2 defensive and 1 offensive (usually 2 warriors and a spearman) and get extra unit support: 4 extra overall + 1 for each city. In my opinion, the AI needs these bonuses to play on a level field with a human's ability to learn from mistakes and plan out future actions. The Monarch civs are significantly faster than the Regent ones, and this is considered to be one of the hardest steps to take between difficulty levels. I have played more games on Monarch level than any other, though I find it a bit too easy now for regular play. A strong Civ3 player will not have too much trouble here, though those who are still learning will get roughed up quite a bit.
Emperor: You had better know what you're doing by the time you get here! The Emperor AI civs have major bonuses, and a player needs to know all the ins and outs of the game to come out ahead. The big thing that the AI civs get here is an 80% discount on the same stuff that I mentioned above. They also get 4 defensive units, 2 offensive units, and a bonus worker to start. This really cuts down on the ability to rush them in the early game. AI civs here get significant unit support bonuses too, 8 free to start plus 2 per city. And managing your own cities will be more difficult because only 1 citizen is born content at this level! And yet - for all these bonuses - the Emperor AI is still no "smarter" than the Regent one. It can and will fall to a player knows what he or she is doing. I have no trouble at all winning on Emperor unless I have a really bad starting position. If you try to jump right into the game at this level though (it took me 4 months to get there) you are almost certainly going to get bloodied.
Deity: This is, quite frankly, the ultimate challenge in Civ3. The AI civs have unbelievable advantages in every area, and they always leave you in the dust literally ages behind their tech progress. Deity civs only pay 60% of what the player does for production (18 shield settlers! 60 shield marketplaces!) and need only 60% of the food the player needs for their cities to grow (the food box fills at 12!) They research tech at 60% of the player's rate too. They start with 12 bonus units, plus 2 extra workers and 1 bonus settler. The bonus settler is what really hurts the most in that area. Deity civs start with 16 free unit support and get another 4 for EACH city they found, allowing them to run around with enormous armies in Democracies without paying a cent. With all these advantages, the player shouldn't stand a chance. And yet.... Sirian puts is best by saying something along these lines (NOT a direct quote): "The Deity AI civs all have such enormous advantages that the player quickly falls as much as an age behind in tech. But the AI doesn't know what to DO with its advantages, and inevitably the AI civs fall into long and pointless wars that drag them into communism where they self-destruct. As long as the player is persistant and willing to climb their way up the tech tree, victory is not only possible, but likely." I have observed this to be true in my two Deity games thus far; make a mistake and the AI civs will kill you like swatting a fly, but if you are tenacious and play smart it's very possible to emerge with a win. For a player like me, Deity is the only level where the outcome of the game remains in doubt up until the very end. I don't play all my games on Deity, or even most of them there, but there is a certain thrill that only comes from playing the game at its toughest, and knowing you have beaten the best the game can throw at you. Don't venture here though unless you know exactly what you're doing - or are willing to be humiliated by an AI that knows no mercy.All info on difficulty levels can also be found by examining the rules in the Civ3 Editor; check it out for yourself sometime. Also, bear in mind that since the 1.29f patch the tech cost factor that affects difficulty levels works differently. In the past, the AI researched techs at 60% of the player's cost on Deity. Now, the Deity AI civs research techs at the usual 100% rate and the PLAYER researches at an increased cost, 167% to be precise. This was done to eliminate the ridiculously fast tech pace of Deity games; it has made Deity somewhat easier to play, but a great deal more fun too.