Two strategy games, two similar approaches.
I play a turtle-y game and once strong enough, I go all out and expand expand expand.
First turn, I'll buy an additional hero that has good skills and add the entire army to my initial army to be able to take on the guards to the primary resource mines which normally are only rank 1/2 at the most. Beyond that, ill attack any weak mobs where there is a high chance of winning with minimal loses and avoiding any fights where the bulk of my force would be defeated. I'd play a building game, every day/round i'd make a creature dwelling and ignore any general city improvements (forts[for creature growth], marketplaces, mage guilds [for spells]). Only once I have about two weeks worth of creatures of atleast the second highest rank, will I normally stack them into my original hero and stomp on the rest of the mines for the secondary resources and in particular the kind of secondary resource needed by my faction.
My second hero is pitiful, as I normally task him/her to simple resource collection, ferrying troops to my main hero or getting weekly resources, never getting any chance to level up, other than from free sources. At this point in the game, i've started saving up for the highest ranked creature's dwelling and if resources permit, i've started building forts to increase the growth of all the other creatures.
Once the army is strong enough, ill empty the creature dwellings (and my gold coffers), once again stacking them only into my main hero and leaving my alt hero with only one slave rank 1 creature, and charge towards enemy castles. Normally this large zerg is capable of taking out the first opposition with relative ease. I don't mix creatures from different factions as it hurts morale and the castle is usually empty anyways as my enemy wanted to deprive me of any creatures. Normally, unless i've lost a big portion of my army, I hurtle forward towards my next opponent until I finally get to a point that everyone is defeated, or I don't have enough monsters for the next battle.
By that time, i've either saved enough creatures from my home castle, or a turtle until there are enough to refill my army.
I tend to play the same way; I tend to leave my neighbors to their own devices. Normally decline open border agreement as from experience sneaky civilizations will settle in my own lands. I'll develop a small army to fend off any local barbarians, but normally only enough troops to eliminate one camp at a time.
Unlike Homm5 where 99% of the time, the objective is the elimination of your enemy and 1% its to find the secret artifact (which takes way too long), in Civ5 there are many ways to win other than the total annihilation. I've found that when in a pacifist mindset, ill go for the cultural victory. But normally any other form of winning is difficult as it just takes too long. Possibly, when the map sizes are humongous and armies too powerful would a technological or diplomatic victory be more viable. I don't have the patience to play such long games, and try to keep a session at about 3 hours and usually play on duel or small maps. Hence total annihilation tends to be the path I take; if any civilization is getting too powerful, ill normally take them out first, unless they're incredibly powerful, ill join up with city-states and conquer weaker nations to amass my own civilization.
Its much easier to amass an army in Civ5 than Homm5; in Homm5, even if you have the money and the creature dwellings, you're stuck waiting for the beginning of each week for new creatures to spawn in those dwellings. In Civ5 if you want to amass an army, you forgo making buildings and non-military units and just make troops instead. Because of this fact, it makes it easier to employ either a defensive OR offensive strategy.
How do you play your games? All-out aggressive style, balanced or defensive-minded?
Does it change if you play an RTS?
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