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Apolyton CS: Call To Power

The 36 Chambers of Dr. No:
By Brad Santos
June 23, 1999

note: This is the Developer's Corner, a part of the C:CTP section of Apolyton, where members of the C:CTP development team discuss ctp-related topics. Feel free to send your comments at or post on our forums.

For many first time players of Civilization: Call to Power, the sound of sinister cackling as an unseen Slaver kidnaps another citizen from an unsuspecting city is enough to cause an anxiety attack. The reason for this strong emotional reaction is simple… Along with the addition of a 1000 year Science Fiction game era and a completely new stacked combat system, the introduction of Special Units is one of the most fundamental differences between CTP and its mighty predecessor, Civ2. Players who stayed up playing Civ2 for hundreds of hours in the dead of night are now forced to learn the basics of unconventional warfare under a new game system. Players may feel like Arnold Schwarzeneggar in Predator, facing an invisible enemy of unknown capabilities. That can be intimidating.

Don't worry. Change is good. As Arny pointed out in the same movie, "if it bleeds (you) can kill it". Once you get familiar with the Special Units you will learn to love them all like little computer sprite brothers….or you will never conquer the world again!

Actually, I'm just kidding. You don't need to use Special Units to win the game, but you will have a hard time of it if you don't at least learn to defend against them. At higher levels of difficulty the AI will use unconventional attacks relentlessly. You will need to know how they work and how they can be stopped or you may find your empire crippled by a string of lawsuits, computer thefts, and religious uprisings.

Here are a few tips on the various secret soldiers:

Slaver - This lovable, net throwing, Santa-like character has got to be my favorite unit in the game. Besides all that PC stuff (no pun intended) about Activision taking on a controversial issue like slavery, the Slaver unit offers a unique gameplay dynamic that has never before been seen in an empire building game. CTP vets will point out that the best way to stop your own population from being converted into extremely cheap labor for someone else is to build City Walls. In fact, you should build City Walls in any city of consequence as quickly as technology and resources will allow. In a pinch, build a few slavers of your own and place them along rivers or major roadways to spot enemy Slavers infiltrating your own Civilization. AI Slavers will tend to hit a city once then move on to raid another. By keeping your own Slavers on roads, you can increase their speed to six tiles and maximize your stealth-scanning ability. Slavers also make excellent scouts (particularly in Multiplayer). If you are using a Slaver in this capacity, plant it in some slow movement tile near a major city or roadway and put it to sleep. If you get tempted to cast a net over some juicy peasants, remember that this will put the AI into Stealth-search mode and your Slaver on the gallows.

Diplomat- The Diplomat is good choice for the peaceful player. The major advantage of the Diplomat lies in his ability to establish embassies with other Civilizations. The major advantage of Embassies is that they let you know who has Advances worth trading for. It's also a good idea to put a Diplomat with that stack of Knights so that he can use his Investigate ability to peer into walled cities before you launch the Charge of the Light Brigade. A lot of times, Civs will expel your Diplomats as soon they set foot near one of his cities. You can get often avoid this by dropping them off on the shore from boats. Then, allow the Diplomat to get expelled for an express ride home. Remember that you can set up an Embassy in any city, not just the capitol.

Cleric- There are a lot of players who will tell you that the Cleric is one of the most devastating units in the game. On lower levels of difficulty this is generally true because of the relative ease with which the Cleric can convert unwalled cities. At higher levels, the AI will build walls very quickly , and conversion will be a lot less lucrative. My favorite sneaky Cleric tactic involves using several Clerics to Soothsay the same city in the same turn. Four Clerics can send the population of most cities into immediate revolt. Once the city has broken away from its previous empire you can conquer it without violating any of those inconvenient Peace Treaties you agreed to. Remember that as soon as you switch your government to anything other than Theocracy, all your Clerics will be disbanded.

Lawyer- These guys can be a real nightmare. They are pretty annoying in the game, too. The AI will use the Lawyer's Injunction attack to stall Production in as many of your cities as he can get his greasy lawyer paws on. As is this case in real life, the best defense against the ravenous Lawyer is too build one of your own and sue his ass first. You will need a garrison of Lawyers to spot enemy Trade Units and to remove those Production-sucking Franchises the opponents Corporate Branches are always setting up. In case you didn't see it in the manual, you can remove a Franchise by suing the effected city with one of your own Lawyers.

Abolitionist - The Abolitionist will be a great unit to use in that Pre-Civil War underground railroad scenario you hope to download from the net someday. Otherwise, I would recommend spending your resources on something a little more flexible. If your enemy is a major slaving nation, build the Emancipation Proclamation Wonder of the World

Spy - The Spy is an essential part of any advanced player's overall battleplan. Fast moving with a vision range of 2 tiles and a host of special abilities, the Spy offers excellent value for its cost. Build a couple of Spies as early as possible and use them as long range scouts. Use their Investigate ability to find those weakly defended cities before the big surprise attack. Use the Steal Tech ability against higher tech opponents at every opportunity, since this is by far the cheapest way to acquire high level advances. You can also use the Spy to cause your friendly neighbor's Cities to revolt the way you can with the Cleric. Towards the end of the game, the Spy is extremely useful for finding out which enemy city is being used to house the Alien Life Project. Then call in the nukes and know that your Spy died a hero.

Televangelist - The Televangelist is essentially a modern day Cleric who gets a large Gold bonus for converting cities with the Television improvement. Properly used, a couple of Televangelist can fill your bank accounts with Gold. Just don't get caught with a hooker before that big Easter Special.

Corporate Branch - Very useful against the AI. The Corporate Branch's lightning speed (what does he have under that desk?) makes him an almost unstoppable stealth attacker. Use one Corporate Branch to set up sweat-shops in each of your enemy's major production cities. Then sit back and watch the Production flow in.

Subneural Ad - It might surprise you to know that the ultimate Corporate weapon of the future will be a massive "Stealth Blimp". Imagine that this thing only flies at night and it will become slightly less implausible. The Sub Ad is a good scout and is useful for conducting unhappiness attacks on hard-to-reach places like sea cities. I prefer the Cyber-ninja in most situations.

Cyber Ninja- This high-tech hacker-vixen is a essentially a highly skilled Spy that costs more and is easier on the eyes. The Cyber-Ninja can do all the things a Spy can with a higher chance of success.

Ecoterrorist - The Eco Terrorist is a rarely seen Special Unit exclusive to Ecotopian civilizations. The Eco Terrorist can conduct hits (unhappiness attack) against public figures and dispense a potentially devastating nano-virus that will destroy all…count-'em…all improvements and Wonders in any city it effects. Its difficult to pull of, but, if you can infect an enemy trade center you can easily devastate two or three of the enemy's most powerful cities and ruin his economy. Remember that the nano-virus is spread along Trade Routes. If you can't get close enough to the big monopoly city to attack it directly, try using the virus on a city that is shipping a good to the monopoly city. If you are lucky, the enemy will get more than Coffee in that next shipment.

Infector - The Infector looks more bad-ass than he really is. The deadly virus he pours from his ominous green vile causes a -5 Happiness effect that lasts a handful of turns and rarely spreads to infect other cities. The Infector's contagion spreads along Trade Routes the same way the Eco -Terrorists nano-virus does, so keep that in mind when choosing your target.

These tips will hopefully help some players to get a feel for some of those seldom used special units and abilities. Of course, there are dozens more unique strategies besides those mentioned above. If anybody has any that they feel are particularly good, we'd love to hear about them.

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