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Civilization V: Brave New World - banner

Continuing my series of Civilization V strategies, the third installation will cover Gajah Mada and his Indonesian "spice islands".

Indonesia is an Oceanic island nation between the Indian and Pacific oceans, north of Australia. Archaeological evidence shows that the region was inhabited by Homo Erectus, and that its primitive human occupants developed relatively advanced maritime technology, allowing them to sail across the ocean between the various islands of the Australian region as early as 42,000 years ago. Its early inhabitants took advantage of the tropical conditions to create flourishing agricultural communities and became masters of wet-field rice cultivation, as well as becoming traders and fishermen.

Much of the history of Indonesia has been shaped by maritime trade. Hinduism and Buddhism arrived in Indonesia around the seventh century through trade with India, and the Indonesian people welcomed these faiths with open arms and dedicated numerous temples (called "Candi") to the gods these religions brought with them. Islamic influences began around the thirteenth century in trade missions from the Middle East, and large portions of regional populations converted to this new religion. In the sixteenth century, Portuguese explorers brought Christianity to the islands. For the most part, the various religions in Indonesia intermixed and co-existed in relative peace and harmony. Portuguese traders quickly monopolized the trade of Indonesia's native nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper. The Dutch arrived soon after and established their East India Company in the region and held tenuous control over the region until the Japanese occupation leading up to World War II. Following the war, bloody struggles for control of the nation resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, but democracy began to supersede authoritarian rule in the early 2000's. The Republic of Indonesia is currently the world's fourth most populous country, is the 16th largest economy in the world by GDP, and currently has dominion over 17,508 islands of the Indonesian archipelago.

Gajah Mada (the "Elephant General") was a mahapatih (or "prime minister") of the Majapahit Empire during the early fourteenth century who, according to myth, made a vow not to eat any spices until he had conquered all of the southeastern Asian archipelago and united it under the empire. Little is known of his early life, but he lead the empire to the height of its power during this time and presided over the arrival of the first Muslim traders. His legacy has made him a symbol of Indonesian national pride to this day.

Success as the Indonesian Empire in Civilization V is partially determined by the player's ability to develop an intercontinental "island" empire, which grants access to the valuable nutmeg, clove, and pepper spices that dominated trade with Colonial European powers. Indonesia is also uniquely positioned in Civilization V to benefit greatly from possessing followers of multiple religions in its cities.

Civilization V Brave New World - Gajah Mada of Indonesia

Indonesian uniques in Civilization V: Brave New World

Civilization V Brave New World - Indonesian flag

Indonesia has a diverse set of uniques that can make them a very unfocused civilization, but they generally favor expansion, religion, conquest, and trade. They also suffer from unfavorable maps and from random luck.

Spice Islanders

"The first 3 cities founded on continents other than where Indonesia started each provide 2 unique Luxury Resources (and can never be razed)."

Gajah Mada - portrait

Indonesia can gain access to two copies each of three unique luxury resources: cloves, nutmeg, and pepper. One for you, and one to trade away. All three luxuries produce an extra +2 gold on the city tile, and since they are placed on a city tile, they do not require an improvement to access and cannot be raised by barbarians.

The happiness generated by these luxuries means that newly-founded cities that qualify for the luxury are happiness-neutral! This means that you can expand onto islands or other continents without having to worry about tanking your happiness. Just make sure you aren't in the middle of building national wonders.

Having Indonesia settle its spice islands permanently increases the number of luxury resources available in the game.

A few key points to remember about Indonesia's spice islands:

  • The size of a "spice island" does not matter; it can be a one-tile island, a whole continent, or anything in between.
  • Conquered and annexed cities do not spawn the unique luxuries.
  • Each spice island must be on a unique continent or island. If you settle more than one city on a given land mass, only the first city will have the resource.
  • The unique luxuries will replace any resource that exists on the tile. Be very careful about founding new cities on top of existing resources!
  • The spice islands are based on the location of Indonesia's original capital. If your original capital is lost, and your new capital becomes a city on another continent, you cannot resettle on your original continent in order to gain another spice.
Civilization V - Indonesian Nutmeg Civilization V - Indonesian Cloves Civilization V - Indonesian Pepper
Left to right: Indonesian nutmeg, cloves, and pepper resources.

In order to maximize the benefit of this ability, Indonesia must settle on four distinct land masses (continents or islands). One for the original capital, and three more for all of the unique luxuries. Settling additional cities on a landmass that already has a native Indonesian city does not provide a resource.

Since your spice island cities cannot be razed, you can use them as important strategic bases. If you're planning an invasion of another continent, you can start by planting a city in order to get the unique luxury (remember, the city is happiness-neutral when founded due to the luxury), or raze existing cities and plant one of your spice cities in their place. You will now have a permanent presence on that land mass. Placing these cities in choke points or on one-tile-wide strips of land means that they will be valuable strategic locations for the rest of the game for whoever owns them (hopefully you).

Kris Swordsman - eight unique units all in one!

Indonesian Kris Swordsman

Game Info: "Classical Era Melee unit that has a mystical weapon whose abilities will be discovered the first time it is used in combat. May only be built by Indonesia."

Civilopedia Strategy:"The Kris Swordsman replaces the standard Swordsman Try him out in combat as soon as possible to unlock the secret properties of his curvy Kris blade."

Replaces: Swordsman.

Requirements: Iron Working technology, 1 Iron, and 1 gold per turn maintenance (same as Swordsman).

Obsoleted: Steel technology (same as Swordsman)

Cost: 75 Production / 150 Faith / 390 Gold [Standard speed] (same as Swordsman).

Attack Type: Melee, Combat Class: Melee, Strength: 14 (same as Swordsman).

Movement Speed: 2 (same as Swordsman).

Bonuses: Starts with the "Mystic Blade" promotion. After the first time this unit engages in combat, Mystic Blade is replaced with one of the following eight unique promotions (at random):

    Indonesian Ambition promotion
  • Ambition = +50% combat bonus when attacking. -20% combat penalty when defending.

    I've found that Ambitious soldiers are best kept as defensive and reserve troops. Putting them on the front lines of an assault operation will leave them particularly vulnerable to being focus-fired. Cover can help.

  • Indonesian Enemy Blade promotion
  • Enemy Blade = Takes 20 damage if ends turn in enemy territory.

    Just keep this unit on your home turf to nullify the disadvantage. You can also use him as a barbarian-hunter, since barbarian-fighting will mostly be done in neutral territory.

  • Indonesian Evil Spirits promotion
  • Evil Spirits = -10% penalty when attacking. -30% penalty when defending.

    This is the worst promotion, as it is strictly negative. Use this unit as cannon fodder or delete it so you can try your luck building another Kris.

  • Indonesian Heroism promotion
  • Heroism = Unit awards combat bonus to nearby units as if it is a General.

    This bonus does not stack with a regular Great General. You can still bring a Great General with you if you intend to Citadel, want insurance in case your "hero" is killed, or your forces are too large and spread out to fit under the influence of a single General.

  • Indonesian Invulnerability promotion
  • Invulnerability = +30% combat bonus when defending. +20 HP when healing.

    Park this guy on a Citadel to act as a firmly-entrenched defender, or send him to the front lines to soak up the bombardment from an enemy city. Cover promotions and Medic can be great supplements. He's a great escort for Generals or "combat engineer" workers (if you don't consider that tactic "cheating").

  • Indonesian Recruitment promotion
  • Recruitment = Heals all damage [50 Hit Points] if kills non-barbarian unit.

    The in-game text for this promotion is incorrect. It only heals 50 HP. In any case, use him to finish off wounded enemies. Blitz (extra attack) is an excellent supplement.

  • Indonesian Restlessness promotion
  • Restlessness = May attack twice. 1 extra movement.

    This can be a game-changer. This can be stacked with Blitz for up to 3 attacks per turn! Restlessness can help you finish off some units all by yourself. Just be sure you don't press an attack too hard and leave him vulnerable to being killed in a counter-attack. March will help protect him. Siege will allow him to attack cities multiple times per turn (risky unless he already has March and a nearby Medic). He also makes a good scouting and exploration unit if you lost your Scout(s) or didn't build any Horsemen.

  • Indonesian Sneak Attack promotion
  • Sneak Attack = Flank attack bonus increased by 50%.

    Note that this does not provide a +50% bonus to your combat strength; it only boosts normal flank attack bonus from +10% to +15%, but the flank bonus increases based on the number of units adjacent to the target. A good support unit for your Horsemen and Restless / Recruitment Kris. Surround an enemy with multiple fast unit in order to maximize this bonus, then attack with this Kris and finish the enemy off with another unit.

The unique (blue and red) promotions of the Kris Swordsman can be bee a huge boon or bane to the unit, and some promotions are double-edged swords. You'll want to use your Kris as soon as possible after creating the unit so that you can find out what it's effects will be and then promote it effectively. Barbarian units will count for the Mystic Blade, as does defending against bombardment of units or cities. So if you're not at war with anybody, send your new Kris out to kill barbs, or pick a fight with a nearby city state. You might even want to keep yourself in a constant state of war with a nearby city state during the Classical era so that you have a quick way of revealing your mystic promotion. As far as I know, the promotion that you receive is entirely random, and they are all equally likely.

The promotions earned by the Mystic Blade are retained upon upgrade, so if you can keep them alive, you'll have some very powerful late-game units! The original Mystic Blade promotion is also retained upon upgrade. This means that you don't need to actually use the unit prior to researching Steel and upgrading to Longswords. Just keep in mind that once you research Steel, the Kris will be obsolete, so if you get a bad promotion, you won't be able to build a new Kris to replace it. You also probably won't be very happy if you spent gold on an upgrade, only to get Evil Spirits later.

What do I do if I get a bad promotion?

"Enemy Blade" may seem bad, but if you keep that Kris as a defensive unit, or only engage him in neutral territory (i.e. against barbarians), then it's a wash and he can be treated as a standard Swordsman.

The only really bad promotion in this list is "Evil Spirits", as it is always a negative. Consider any Kris that receives this promotion to be expendable. If you get this promotion and your Iron supply is limited, you may want to consider immediately deleting this unit and building (or buying) a replacement Kris and hope you get a better promo. However, if your Iron reserves are not a problem, then you can consider using this unit as front-line cannon fodder. Send him in against cities ahead of your other forces and have him fortify-heal outside the city in order to soak up some bombardment, then send in the rest of your force. Cover promotions and an adjacent Medic and General (or "Hero" Kris) will help him soak up more damage and take some heat off your siege weapons and other attackers. Lastly, you can still make him useful by either garrisoning him in a city (costs no maintenance with Oligarchy and gives happiness and culture with Military Caste), or you can gift him to a city state (they won't realize that he's defective).


Indonesian Candi

Game Info: "Unique Indonesian Garden replacement. +25% Great People generation in this city, and +2 Faith for each World Religion that has at least 1 follower in the city.

Unlike the Garden the Candi does not have to be built next to a River or Lake."

Civilopedia Strategy: "In addition to the regular abilities of the Garden, the Candi also provides +2 Faith for each World Religion that has at least 1 follower in the city. Only Indonesia may built it, and the city does not need to be located next to a River or Lake."

Replaces: Garden.

Requirements: Theology technology, and 1 gold per turn maintenance (same as Garden).

Cost: 120 Production (same as Garden)

Effects: +25% Great People generation in this city (same as Garden). +2 Faith. +2 more Faith for each World Religion that has at least 1 follower in this city.

Indonesia is one civilization that greatly benefits from allowing other civs to spread their religion to its cities. In a standard game, there can be up to five religions; seven if playing a huge map. If you allow each one to be spread to your cities, then the Candi will generate +12 Faith (+16 on huge map) in each of your cities! That makes Indonesia a faith powerhouse! Note that the extra faith requires Religious followers and does not include followers of a Pantheon. And your religion counts.

As an added bonus, as of the fall patch, the Candi does not have the same river or lake requirement that limits the building of Gardens. This means that Indonesia can build a Candi in all of its cities, regardless of the nearby terrain!

The most "mystical" civilization: general strategies for Indonesia

Indonesia's uniques are kind of all over the place, and they can be very map-dependent. Your unique ability (UA) means you'll likely have a naval focus, including a bias towards a coastal capital. You don't necessarily need to be in any rush to settle on other land masses, and you may not even be able to until Astronomy. You also have an Iron-based classical unique unit (UU), which means you'll also likely favor early aggression. But you don't have to be aggressive early, since the promos do carry over when the UU is upgraded. Your unique building (UB) provides a very strong religious incentive. But since it benefits from the presence of multiple religions, you don't necessarily need to found your own or go out of your way to exterminate rival religions. Indonesia benefits from larger maps, which have more civs to trade with, more religions, and are more likely to have extra islands and landmasses for spice islands.

This lack of focus can make Indonesia very difficult to play, and the randomness of the Kris can be frustrating at times. Since the only unique that the player can reliably control is the Candi, I would suggest that your primary early focus should usually be on religion and reaching for the Theology technology.

Welcoming people of all faiths with open arms

An Indonesian player would be wise to focus on religion early. You don't have the same advantage that some other civs like Maya, Ethiopia, and Celts have towards early faith, but by adopting Piety and getting Shrines in your first few cities ASAP, you will almost certainly be able to found a religion. Settling near faith-producing natural wonders and meeting religious city states will help. Having your own religion will allow you to impose your will on the faithful of the world once you get your Candis up and running during the Medieval era.

Civilization V - Indonesian tech priorities
Early tech priorities should include Iron Working, Optics, and Theology. If you're stuck on Pangea, then Astronomy also becomes high priority so you can find new continents.

Your choice of pantheon is much less strict than with Brazil, Celts, or some other civs; feel free to go with whatever pantheon is most advantageous given your local terrain or preferred playstyle. Given Indonesia's coastal start bias, and it's bonuses for colonizing islands, God of the Sea can be a good choice. Goddess of Protection can also make a good fall back option, as it will make it easier to protect your vulnerable (and potentially far away) spice islands. Adopting Piety has further benefits for Indonesia. The Religious Tolerance policy will allow you to gain the pantheon belief of the most popular minority religion in your city (second most popular religion in the city). This synergizes well with the Candi, since you'll want some followers of different religions in your cities anyway. Just make sure that you have a majority within the set of minority religions, because if all the minority religions are tied for the number of followers (i.e. one follower of each religion), then you will get no bonus from Religious Tolerance. You can use trade routes with civs of other faiths as a way of providing some religious pressure to your cities in order to add followers of those religions. This is a slow process though.

If the religious buildings (Pagoda, Cathedral, Mosque) are off the board, consider taking Holy Warriors and/or Peace Gardens as your first or second follower belief. Holy Warriors will let you spend faith to buy pre-industrial land units (including the Kris). Peace Gardens will provide you with +2 Happiness in each of your Candis, which (unlike other civs' Gardens) you can build in all your cities. Peace Gardens is normally a pretty weak follower belief, so it's pretty safe to wait until you enhance your religion and select it as your second follower belief. Interfaith Dialogue can also play nicely with Indonesia.

Civilization V - Candi (Peace Gardens)
An Indonesian capital generating decent early-game faith. The Candi has been enhanced with the Peace Gardens follower belief.

Once you have a few Candis, you will very likely be generating a ton of faith. Pump out Missionaries and Prophets to start converting other civs and city states (but try to wait until a CS offers the quest to convert to your religion first). You can use excess faith a little later on to create Inquisitors. Although you do want other religions in your cities, you need to be careful of rival Prophets, as they can completely replace the religions that already exist in a given city. You don't want a rival Prophet to reduce 3 or 4 religions to 1. Park an Inquisitor inside or adjacent to each of your cities in order to protect it from rival Prophets, and move them away if you see a simple Missionary approaching. To the Glory of God, Religious Fervor, and Jesuit Education are all great choices for Reformation Beliefs. They will allow you to use your huge stockpiles of faith to buy Great People, military units, or science buildings later in the game - after Missionaries and Inquisitors have worn out their usefulness.

Mystic Crusades to capture the holy lands!

If you're feeling hostile, there are a few ways to use the sword (Kris or otherwise) to benefit Indonesia.

Capturing enemy missionaries will allow you to control the spread of rival religions into your cities.

One other thing to consider with Indonesia is to capture as many holy cities as you can. Unlike in Civ IV, you can't found multiple religions with a single civ in a single game. Since your Candi benefits greatly from having multiple religions present in the city, it is advantageous to have the ability to build Missionaries from as many different religions as possible.

Civilization V - captured Holy City
Defending a captured Holy City from attack. Be wary of rival Great Prophets, which can potentially wipe out all religions in a city. Keep Inquisitors inside or adjacent to your cities in order to stop Prophets from replacing your religions with theirs.

Missionaries take on the majority religion of the city in which they are built (at the time that they are built), so owning cities with different majority religions will allow you to build Missionaries of different religions, which you can then use to ensure that you have at least one follower of that religion in all of your cities. No need to wait for passive pressure from trade routes! Having Holy Cities ensures that the religion will never be completely removed from that city (since Holy Cities always exert internal pressure on themselves, even if they have no followers). Even if a rival civ uses a Great Prophet to convert your city, you'll still (eventually) be able regain followers. It might take a while though; not much you can do about it...

Since Holy Cities tend to be capitals, capturing them will put you part of the way towards completing a Domination Victory. Holy Cities: gotta catch 'em all! Be warned though, you'll receive a lot of warmonger hate from A.I.s if you make a habit of capturing capitals! To offset this, try to use your Prophets and Missionaries to convert one or two other civilizations that don't have their own religion. If they convert to your religion, they'll like you more, and may be more willing to overlook your aggression (especially if it is against a common foe). This will allow you to maintain some trade partners and potential friends in the World Congress.

Finally, if you happen to capture the Holy City of the religion that has Interfaith Dialogue, you will gain the science benefit whenever a missionary spreads that religion. Since you'll be buying missionaries from that Holy City in order to spread the religion to your other cities, you'll get a nice little science boost!

Making Indonesia wonderful

There are a few Wonders that Indonesia should put high priority on building:

  1. Mausoleum of Halicarnasus: Having a Garden replacement (the Candi) that is not dependent on rivers or lakes means that you are guaranteed to be able to have at least one or two cities that will be generating a steady stream of Great People (and you might be generating Prophets almost at will). Even if you don't have stone or marble, the Mausoleum will give you large chunks of gold when you spend those Great People. Combine this with the To the Glory of God Reformation Belief and the Leaning Tower wonder, and you'll be mighty rich later in the game.
  2. Great Mosque of Djenne: Considering Indonesia's high religion flavor, and the likelihood that an Indonesian player will reach Theology early, the Great Mosque should be one of Indonesia's highest-priority wonders. Since you'll likely be letting other civs send missionaries into your borders, you may find yourself regularly needing to re-convert your own cities. This wonder will help make that much more efficient. The free Mosque is just icing on the cake. If you managed to get to Theology really early (or if you have a spare Engineer), consider following up by building Borobudur in the same city. This will give you three free Missionaries that will all be buffed by the Great Mosque.
  3. Great Lighthouse: Having cities spread out over the seas can leave your holdings very vulnerable. The extra movement and sight for naval units will help you track potential dangers and mobilize your fleet to defend your valuable spice islands.
  4. Leaning Tower: Combined with your Candi (which you can build in every city), you can have +50% Great Person generation in all your cities, and +75% in your National Epic city! Especially powerful if you also complete the Mausoleum of Halicarnasus. This wonder is not higher on the list because it can be tough to build, since an Indonesian player will likely focus on Theology, Compass, and Astronomy, and may not focus enough on the bottom half of the tech tree.
  5. Stonehenge: If you don't have one or two faith-generating natural wonders (or easy-to-ally with religious city states), then the bonus faith from the henge can help you to ensure that you'll found a religion and will further increase your total faith output.
  6. Red Fort: An aggressive play style might make you a prime target for other civs' armies. The Red Fort will help keep your cities safe from attack, especially those vulnerable spice islands.
  7. Statue of Liberty: If you take Freedom as your ideology, consider this wonder. The extra Great Person generation from your Candis means you will likely have a lot of specialists. Might as well make those specialists productive.
  8. Terra Cotta Army: You can use this wonder to help you increase the size of your army. Be sure to wait to finish it until after you have at least one Kris. Additionally, if you keep one Warrior sitting around, you'll get a duplicate Warrior that you can upgrade to another Kris.

Furthermore, try to prioritize Barracks and the Heroic Epic so that when you start training your Kris, they'll start with the free +15% combat strength from the Morale promotion. The National Epic is also a high-priority national wonder, since it will allow one of your cities to have +50% Great Person generation once you also have a Candi.

Civilization V - Indonesian Great Person generation
With a Candi, National Epic, and Leaning Tower, you will have a city with +75% Great People generation. All other cities with Candi will have +50% Great Person generation. The Hero of the People tenent in the Order Ideology will add an additional 25% for a +100% modifier in your National Epic city, and 75% in all others.

If, for some reason, you find yourself researching Chivalry very early (before researching Steel), you can maybe consider Alhambra. The free Drill promotion, along with Morale (from the Heroic Epic) can be good buffs to have on newly-built Kris. If you already have Steel, or if you aren't planning on building any more Kris, then you may want to skip this one. The Forbidden Palace can also be a viable back-up wonder. If you find yourself receiving a lot of warmonger hate, the extra 2 delegates will help you assert your will in the world congress, and prevent rivals from using the world congress to screw you over. Also note that the Hanging Gardens can provide you with an early free Candi (Garden replacement), but there is usually a lot of competition for this wonder, so don't plan on being able to build it on King difficulty or higher. Finally, the bonus trade routes from Colossus and Petra can be a good way of getting some extra religious pressure into your cities, so that you don't have to rely on opponents sending missionaries or trade routes to you.

The spiciest civilization: map-specific strategies for Indonesia

Outside of its religious play, Indonesia is a very map-dependent civilization. The Kris Swordsman UU is subject to the same issues as any other Iron-dependent unit. If you don't have Iron, you can try to buy some from other civs or ally with city states that have iron. If you find a nice supply of iron on an island or other continent, be wary about settling. Remember that your spice island cities will overwrite any existing resource on the city's tile. So if you find a one-tile island that has a nice source of Iron (or any other luxury or strategic resource that you want), then you should avoid settling on that island until after you have already created your three spice island cities.

Once you have access to iron, make sure that you are aware of the effects of the Kris' Mystic Blade. If you have a very limited supply of iron, then you should plan on possibly having to delete, gift, or suicide a Kris or two if you happen to get the Evil Spirits or Enemy Blade promotions. This can be damned inconvenient, but since the Kris promotions are retained on upgrade, you don't want to be stuck later in the game with Longswords, Muskets, Rifles, or Infantry that are nerfed. Having a Forge will allow you to speed up the construction of replacement Kris, and you should consider plopping a Manufactory within range of your primary unit-building city.

Civilization V - Indonesian spices
Indonesia increases the number of distinct luxuries that will appear in the game.

The spice master

Indonesia's island spices allow you to have additional luxuries in the game beyond what is normally allowed for the given map settings. This increases the maximum happiness cap for yourself and any civ(s) whom you chose to trade with. You receive two copies of each of your spices, so you can keep one and sell the other to an A.I. Unfortunately, the A.I. doesn't seem to put any greater value on your unique luxuries due to their rarity. Either way, you should be sure to remember to sell your excess copy or trade it for another luxury. If you are swimming in happiness or need extra gold, you can even try selling both copies to different civs for more profit.

Indonesia can excel on archipelago maps and other map types that generate lots of land masses and islands (especially ones that are connected via shallow waters). Sailing should be an early priority. Build a Trireme in order to explore the coast and search for islands that you can colonize. Don't fret too much if you can't find any though, as colonizing on islands early is not necessary. If you do see some luxury-rich islands that are accessible via shallow waters, then Optics becomes another high priority tech. The presence of the unique spice luxuries makes island cities happiness-neutral and you can forgo the usual rules regarding expanding to acquire new luxuries. Very quickly expanding to get one, two, or three happiness-neutral, productive cities can give Indonesia a huge edge. The Liberty social policy tree can be beneficial for early expansion. Just be aware that excessive early expansion will slow your social policy accumulation to a crawl.

Playing on a pangea map is not necessarily crippling, as there's still a chance of having small islands. Follow the same guidelines above to hopefully get a few spice island cities going, but don't go out of your way to found them early. Get a few core cities up and running first so that you can defend yourself if necessary.

Consider adopting the Commerce policy tree in order to go for the Protectionism social policy, as this will give you additional happiness from luxuries (of which you'll have extra). Doing so can give you a huge surplus of happiness, which will allow you to produce more Golden Ages or support additional expansion. Additionally, fully adopting the Exploration policy tree works well with Indonesia, as its boosts to navies and coastal cities (of which you will likely have at least four) are worth it even if you don't care about the finisher (revealing hidden Antiquity Sites).

Civilization V - friends with Autocratic Alexander
While playing as an autocratic warmonger, I befriended Alexander due to his tendency to ally with lots of city states. This gives him a lot of World Congress delegates that he will use to defend me from unpleasant resolutions (such as Banning my island spices or the Standing Army Tax).

Be warned that your unique spices can be banned by the World Congress. In order to avoid this resolution being proposed or passed, try selling or trading your spices to diplomacy-oriented civs that have the most delegates.

Hold the spice

Unfortunately, there will be some games in which you cannot use Indonesia's spice islands until after you've researched Astronomy (if at all). If this happens, then you still have your valuable Candis and massive stockpiles of faith to help you gain an edge on the competition.

Civilization V - Indonesian Clove city
An ideal Indonesian "spice island", founded after Astronomy and quickly made productive via internal trade routes. Be sure to protect your overseas colonies.

The standard Continents maps usually generate two large continents and one or two smaller continents or island chains, so you should have enough distinct land masses in order to use your ability. You may have to kill the native inhabitants and burn one or two of their cities to the ground first. Colonize open areas, even if they aren't going to be particularly productive. The bonus resource is probably still worth it. Get Walls, Castles, and Candis erected, and be sure to send some missionaries over to give yourself more faith. If the city can be made productive, then start sending trade routes full of food and production. Be sure to build a sizable enough navy to protect your overseas holdings, especially if you had to fight in order to clear enough land to colonize. Also, watch out for stray barbarian so that they don't plunder your trade routes.

Pass the spice, please: playing against Indonesia

Meeting Indonesia in a game can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you approach it.

Indonesian cities are delicious and nutritious!

Indonesia's spice islands make tempting targets if you're playing an aggressive/hostile game against them. Try to avoid conquering Indonesia until they have at least one or two of their spice islands settled, then capture them (turning their bonus into yours). Remember that Indonesia's spice islands cannot be razed, so if you capture them, be sure that you can afford the unhappiness from population, increased social policy cost, and science penalty. You'll receive both copies of the unique luxury, so that will cover the unhappiness from owning the extra city, and you'll still have a second copy that you can trade for another luxury or gold. Thus, capturing Indonesia's spice islands shouldn't hit your happiness too hard.

Delaying your attack against Indonesia until they have some overseas colonies means that you will almost certainly be going up against their Kris (or units upgraded from the Kris). The sheer variety of effects on the Kris can make Indonesia a daunting enemy on the battlefield (especially against a human opponent), as they effectively have up to eight different unique units (six of which are beneficial), and all the promotions are retained upon upgrade. If you select one of your units and highlight an Indonesian unit, you can see the promotions that they have. This will allow you to predict what tactics Indonesia will (or can) use against you, so that you aren't completely blindsided by certain mystic promotions. Recruitment, Invulnerability, and Restlessness can be particularly difficult to deal with. Heroism can also be problematic.

Didn't your mother teach you to share?

If war isn't your style (or would be prohibitively costly), then try to take advantage of Indonesia's existence in the game by offering to buy their unique luxuries. If they won't sell to you at a reasonable price, and you have enough influence in the World Congress, you can try proposing a ban on Indonesia's unique luxuries. Since Indonesia only has two copies, this resolution can be relatively easy to pass, and only Indonesia and the civ that they are trading the luxury to will likely become angry with you for proposing it. If you can manage to ban all three island spices, this will be a huge setback to Indonesia - especially if they over-expanded and were dependent on those luxuries.

Civilization V - Gajah Mada's religious tolerance

Gajah's A.I. seems to be a bit more tolerant of foreign missionaries converting his cities, but if you convert his Holy City, he'll get mad.

If you're building up your own religion, then Indonesia should be more than happy to accept some of your Missionaries, even if they've founded their own religion. They might not be so thrilled about your Prophets trying to completely convert their cities, so be careful with those. And keep in mind that if you spread your religion to Indonesia, then you are buffing their faith production (assuming they have a Candi), which will allow them to buy more Missionaries and Prophets that they can potentially use against you. Pay attention to what beliefs they add to their own religion (particularly religious buildings, To the Glory of God, Holy Warriors, Religious Fervor, and Jesuit Education), as you may be indirectly paying for their purchase of valuable buildings or late-game units and great people.

Countering a player-controlled Indonesia

I'm not sure if Gajah Mada's A.I. is smart enough to delete, gift, or trade his negatively-promoted Kris, but he will likely not be able to use them to their full potential. A human player, on the other hand, will be much better at effectively using their units! Be prepared for a human-controlled Indonesian opponent to potentially send a couple of his Kris at you with apparent reckless abandon, as he may be trying to get them killed if they have Enemy Blade. Also, don't be surprised to see city states defending their cities with Kris, and remember that these Kris are likely to be the ones that are negatively promoted. So if you're playing as Attila or Ghengis, then you should target these cities states to take advantage of their weakened units.

If you have decent sway in the World Congress, then you can try to offer an ultimatum to the Indonesian player: "sell your unique spices to me at a discount, or I'll ban them in the World Congress." Just be sure that you can defend yourself if they call your hand (whether you're bluffing or not) and send former Kris to your doorstep.

If you're competing with Indonesia for religion, you can use the chat feature to negotiate an exchange of religions.

Polynesia and Indonesia: the amazing island-hopping race

One civ that Indonesia needs to be aware of is Polynesia. Both of these civs have abilities focused around settling on other continents and islands; although Indonesia is a bit more direct about it. Polynesia's "Wayfinding" ability allows them to embark land units and travel over oceans from the start of the game. While this ability does not grant Polynesia any specific advantages towards settling on other continents or islands, it does give them priority access. Kamehameha's A.I. is usually very friendly and loyal assuming he doesn't already consider you a warmonger. However, don't let that friendliness fool you, as he is an expert at stealing valuable real estate due to his free reign over the pre-Astronomy oceans. If you happen to meet Kamehameha during the course of the game, you may want to accelerate your ocean-going plans; otherwise, by the time you research Astronomy and set sail across the ocean, you may find Polynesia's red-and-yellow cities occupying all the choice locations for your own "spice islands". You can always burn his cities to the ground and plant your own, but you'll be risking anger from the World Congress, since Polynesia will most likely be the one to found the Congress.

Civilization V - Polynesian island
Indonesia and Polynesia may end up fighting over control for the map's islands if there aren't enough to go around.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are Polynesia and you come across Gajah Mada's glorious belly during the course of the game, you should consider any overseas colonies as being at a higher risk of attack and razing, especially if you already have a sizable island empire. Gajah's A.I. can be fairly aggressive and expansionist and favors building a strong navy, and a human player will likely be keen on stealing particularly valuable island real estate in order to establish his own spice islands. If your cities happen to be there, Indonesia will raze them and plop their own. Be sure to build up some defenses in your cities (walls, castles, and so on), and position your fleets so they can mobilize to your island colonies on a moment's notice.


Discuss this strategy on Civfanatics:

or on the official 2K Civilization V forums:

Listen to the discussion on PolyCast, Episode 192, 01m58s (Feb 8, 2014):

Other Civilization V Strategies

America (BNW)America (BNW)
Arabia (BNW)Arabia (BNW)
Carthage (BNW)Carthage (BNW)
France (BNW)France (BNW)
Germany (BNW)Germany (BNW)
India (BNW)India (BNW)
Iroquois (BNW)Iroquois (BNW)
Japan (BNW)Japan (BNW)
Ottomans (BNW)Ottomans (BNW)
Rome (BNW)Rome (BNW)

Comments (6) -

02/08/2014 04:56:59 #

"Following the war, authoritative communist rule overtook the nation, but democracy began to supersede communist rule in the early 2000's".

This is completely false. Indonesia witnessed "one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century" (quote taken from a CIA dossier) against the Communist Party of President Sukarno in 1965. More than half a million Indonesian citizens were slaughtered at the orders of Suharto, a nationalist, pro-American general, only because they were member of the Party or simply being suspected of sympathizing for it. Suharto then ruled as an absolute leader for more than 30 years, being also responsible for the repression of the East Timor independence movement which caused 10,000 deaths. It was him who was taken down by a revolution in 1998 and died ten years later without paying for his crimes.

Other than that, very interesting and in-depth guide.

02/08/2014 08:46:58 #

Hrm, I'll have to do a little more research on the topic and correct the post. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Alessandro.

Thanks for the feedback! Smile

02/09/2014 07:15:18 #

You are welcome mate Smile Again, great guide, with lots of interesting detail (like the other one I read so far, that about Brazil); I did not try Indonesia as of now so I have no feedback about the game to provide here, but after reading it I feel like I would give it a go Wink

02/09/2014 15:20:09 #

I have made a small edit to the history. It now says:

"Following the war, bloody struggles for control of the nation resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, but democracy began to supersede authoritarian rule in the early 2000's."

I hope this is more historically accurate.

06/21/2015 01:27:11 #

I've really enjoyed your strategy articles, they're quite helpful, interesting and easy reading.  I do have only one small quibble.  "Weary" is a word meaning fatigued or tired.  "Wary", however means cautious.  You clearly mean the latter in every case in the articles when you write the former.  

06/21/2015 04:21:15 #

Thanks for the feedback Tom, and thanks for reading. I have updated all the civ V strategy posts with the correction you recommended. I'll try to be wary of making that mistake in future posts ;)

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