Halfway through my series of strategy posts about Brave New World's new civilizations, we have Poland.
Poland is a Slavic nation in Central Europe that can trace its origins to the 10th century AD, when Mieszko I united the pagan tribes that were ruled by his ancestors and was crowned the first King of the Polans. He was baptized during his reign and the young Polish kingdom quickly became part of the Catholic sphere of influence. During the late Middle Ages, the rulers of Poland began putting increasing focus on educational and social reforms, and Poland became one of the best-educated nations in all of Europe, which may have contributed to it becoming a popular destination for immigrants - particularly Germans, Jews, and Armenians. The high level of education may have also helped protect the Polish population from the effects of the plague, as Poland had one of the lowest mortality rates of any European nation during the time of the Black Death. The combination of large numbers of immigrants and the popularity of Protestantism during the Reformation helped Poland to become a very tolerant culture. Its central location in Europe made Poland a subject to many wars, particularly with Germany, Prussia, and Russian. The nation was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, and was firmly within the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, but eventually returned to a democratic style of governance based on a market economy after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Casimir III was the last King of Poland from the Piast (founding) Dynasty, and is widely regarded as the nation's greatest leader. He inherited a nation that was crumbling due to a war-blasted economy, and the legitimacy of his claim to the throne was questioned by his political rivals. In order to gain the favor of the landed elites, he reformed Polish law to grant special privileges to the higher castes; and he gained the favor of Jewish immigrants by granting them unprecedented protections under the law that allowed them to maintain their religious and cultural identities during a time in which other European Jews were being forced to convert to Christianity. During his reign, he founded Poland's first major university, and promoted an educated society. Casimir remarried several times, and since all of the children from his first and fourth (final) marriage were daughters, he left no lawful heirs; thus, he named one of his nephews to be his heir. By the end of his reign, Poland had doubled in size and had a flourishing economy and growing educated classes.
Led by the bearded and intimidating Casimir III, Poland was an immediately attractive Brave New World civilization due to Solidarity. Free social policies you say? Yes, please! Give me those policies so that I may conquer the world! Poland is Chichian's favorite civ in the expansion (and maybe the whole game) due to her fondness of social policies. I can't really argue against her.
Polish uniques in Civilization V: Brave New World
The unique unit and building of Poland favor mounted combat and pasture resources, but their unique trait is one of the best all-around traits in the game. Poland is a highly-adaptable civilization that is well-suited to any victory plan, with only a mild dependence on the map.
"Receive a free Social Policy when you advance to the next era."
Poland's unique ability allows them to finish or open more policy trees, granting extra advantages during the game. This allows you to finish trees faster, adopt new trees immediately upon unlocking them, or open extra trees (to unlock a wonder or only take a handful of policies). These free policies do not increase the cost of the next policy, nor do they reset the culture counter. These free policies can be spent either on standard social policies or on ideological tenets. Polish players enjoy steady social policy acquisition even if they do not focus on generating culture yield.
With seven eras after Ancient, you can typically expect to be able to adopt an entire extra policy tree's worth of policies (unless the game ends early). This gives Poland the freedom to tailor their trait towards whatever victory they wish to pursue.
If you decide to start a game in an advanced era (such as a Renaissance start), Poland does receive free social policies equal to the number of eras after the ancient.
Game Info: "Unique Polish Stable replacement. +15% production Production and +15 XP for Mounted Units.
Each Pasture worked by this City produces +1 production Production and +1 gold Gold."
Civilopedia Strategy: "In addition to the regular abilities of the Stable, the Ducal Stable increases gold Gold on Pasture tiles and +15 XP for Mounted Units. Only the Polish may build it."
Requirements: Horseback Riding technology, City must have a pasture nearby, and 1 gold per turn maintenance (same as Stable).
Cost: 75 Production (same as Stable)
Effects: +1 Production per Horses, Cows, & Sheep resource worked by this city and +15% production of mounted units (same as Stable).
Also generates +1 Gold on Horses, Cows, & Sheep resource worked by this city (not the pasture), and an additional +15 XP for newly-constructed mounted units.
Ducal Stables buff the resource, not the improvement!
Since pastures are generally worth working due to the combination of food and production that is provided, the Ducal Stable will almost certainly pay its own maintenance. If you're working more than one pasture with the city, then this building will generate a net positive of gold, which can be hard to come by in the very early parts of the game (before you have three or four trade routes going).
Since the bulk of Poland's military will be mounted units, it is a good idea to get Ducal Stables and Barracks in your unit-producing cities before you start building mounted units. Doing so will provide your newly-built units with 30 XP to start, which is enough for two promotions out of the gate. If you can get the Heroic Epic built as well, even better. By the time you reach the late Renaissance and Industrial Eras, you should have Barracks, Armory, Military Academy, and the Ducal Stable in your primary unit-factory city, which will add up to 60 XP for fresh mounted units (such as Cavalry and Winged Hussars). That is enough for three promotions, and since Winged Hussars start with Shock I, you will be able to access March and Blitz.
Remember that the bonus production speed and XP only counts towards mounted units. This means that newly-constructed armor units (Landships, Tanks, Modern Armor, and metal gears (Giant Death Robot)) will not receive the benefits of the stables. However, you should have plenty of mounted units to upgrade into a formidable modern armored force!
Winged Hussar: a Lancer worth building!
Game Info: "Heavy Mounted Unit specialized in defeating enemy mounted units. This unit is faster and more powerful than the Lancer, which it replaces. Forces defenders to retreat when it inflicts more damage than it receives. May only be built by the Polish."
Civilopedia Strategy: "The Winged Hussar is the Lancer replacement, and only the Polish may build it. Faster and more powerful than the Lancer, the Winged Hussar forces a defender to retreat when it inflicts more damage than it receives. A defender who cannot retreat instead takes extra damage."
Requirements: Metallurgy technology, Horses, and 1 gold per turn maintenance.
Obsoleted: Combined Arms technology (same as Lancer)
Cost: 185 Production / 370 Faith / 640 Gold [Standard speed] (same as Lancer)
Attack Type: Melee, Combat Class: Mounted, Strength: 28 (+3 from Lancer)
Movement Speed: 5 (+1 from Lancer).
Bonuses: Can move after attacking; Formation I promotion [+33% Combat Strength vs Mounted units] (same as Lancer).
Shock I promotion [+15% Combat Strength when fighting in OPEN Terrain].
Heavy Charge promotion [Forces defender to retreat if the Winged Hussar inflicts more damage than it receives. A defender who cannot retreat takes extra damage.]
Penalties: No defensive terrain bonuses; Penalty attacking cities [-33%] (same as Lancer).
The greatest strength of the Winged Hussar is its unique Heavy Charge promotion. If a defending unit (regardless of type) receives more damage than it deals, it is forced to retreat onto an adjacent land tile (in the opposite direction of the advancing Winged Hussar, if possible), and the Winged Hussar advances onto the defender's tile. If the defender cannot retreat, then the defender takes additional damage.
This is a powerful promotion that can allow Poland to control the battlefield. By forcing units to vacate their tiles without necessarily killing it, Poland can disrupt the enemy lines, which can allow them to occupy strategically important tiles and improvements, remove zone of control to allow other units to pass, force enemy units off of defensible terrain (such as Forts), capture civilian units (such as Generals) even if they have an escort, and force defensive units off of Caravans so they can be plundered, and maybe even force defenders off of the coast to allow Poland to establish a beachhead for amphibious assaults.
[LEFT]: Forcing a defending unit off of its fort, allowing the general to be captured.
[MIDDLE]: Forcing an enemy closer to my Gatling Gun.
[RIGHT]: Forcing a barbarian out of his encampment and dispersing the encampment.
The Winged Hussar's higher movement also enables more advanced flanking maneuvers. By maneuvering your Winged Hussars behind the enemy lines, you can potentially force their units closer to your own, which could bring them into range of your own ranged units (particularly Gatling Guns), or move them adjacent to your own Citadels. And since the Winged Hussar can move after attacking, you can usually willingly vacate the occupied tile if it puts your Hussar in a vulnerable position. You can use this ability to pillage valuable enemy tiles (such as Forts or Citadels) and then still retreat out of danger (especially potent if you upgraded from a Landsknechts).
Additionally, the Heavy Charge makes Winged Hussars into exceptional barbarian hunters in the late-mid game. Their improved movement speed will allow them to rapidly mobilize to newly-discovered barbarian encampments, and the Heavy Charge can force the barbarian off the encampment, granting the gold and any captured civilians to Poland and preventing further barbs from spawning without having to kill the barbarian. This is especially helpful for defending your trade Caravans if there's any unclaimed land left on the continent.
"Winged" Anti-Tank Gun
There's a few weaknesses to the Winged Hussar as well. For one thing, they are not available until long after the prime barbarian hunting season has ended. More importantly though is that they upgrade from Pikemen (a melee unit) instead of from other mounted units. This means that units upgraded to Winged Hussars do not receive the benefits of the Ducal Stable's extra XP. Also, the Winged Hussar does not upgrade immediately to another highly mobile unit. Instead, it upgrades to the slow Anti-Tank Gun, and your movement and strength return to normal. Once you research Computers, you can upgrade to Helicopter Gunships and regain the lost mobility.
The most progressive civilization
Poland is a very versatile civilization. Solidarity will grant the equivalent of a full social policy tree by the end of most games, and those policies can be tuned towards whatever victory a Polish player is seeking. Granted, you don't get any advantages that another player can't also have, but you will have more advantages sooner. Be sure to build Libraries and Universities as soon as you can, and manage your science specialists and academies to control your advancement to the next era if you want to time your new policies for a specific event.
My kingdom for a horse ... and a cow, and a sheep
Poland is one of the few civilizations that actually alters my first tech choice. Usually, I start with Pottery and Writing, but with Poland, I typically start by researching Animal Husbandry. This will reveal Horses and give you a better idea of the ideal locations for you to found new cities.
Early in the game, you should prioritize settling near pasture resources (Horses, Cows, and Sheep). Cities with access to three or more pasture resources will be very productive and wealthy once you get a Ducal Stable and enough population to work those pastures. These cities can also potentially become very good trade cities if the pastures generate enough gold. Founding the God of the Open Sky pantheon will help buff your pastures even more, and is a great option since you'll be working those pastures immediately and for the entire game.
Optimal terrain for Poland will include lots of pasture resources for bonus gold and production.
Once you've scouted the nearby terrain, found plenty of pasture resources (and hopefully a few Horses), and researched the necessary techs to improve nearby luxuries, then you should make your way towards the Horseback Riding technology. This will unlock your powerful Ducal Stable building. Try to get to Bronze Working as well so that you can build Barracks and hopefully build the Heroic Epic in one of your cities that has a Ducal Stable and good production (likely from having multiple pastures). Bronze Working will also reveal Iron, so you can try to make sure that your Heroic Epic city will be in range of Iron also, as this will allow you to further buff unit production by building a Forge.
Once you have at least one city set up with a Ducal Stable and Barracks (and preferably the Heroic Epic and a Forge), you may be tempted to mass-produce mounted units until you run out of horses. Don't do this! You can build a few mounted units to wage early wars or defend your trade caravans, but save some horses for later. Since Winged Hussars upgrade from Pikes, they will require that you have additional horses.
With the God of the Open Sky pantheon, Fertilizer tech, and a Golden Age, the Ducal-buffed resources are some of the best tiles in the game!
I typically build a few Spears or Pikes to keep fortified on my pastures as defensive units, and when I get to Winged Hussars, I build them fresh in order to take advantage of the bonuses from the Ducal Stables.
As you progress through the game, adopting policies and building wonders that boost happiness can also have high payoffs for Poland. Since Ducal Stables generate gold yield on the pasture resources, a Golden Age will generate one more, as well as further buff production. Frequent Golden Ages will also speed up your science and culture, which will combine to give you even more social policies!
Focus on culture to maximize Solidarity
If you want to take full advantage of Poland's Solidarity and completely lockdown your position as "The Most Progressive Civilization", then you should take early social policies that will allow you to maximize your culture output. Start by taking Tradition for the free Culture in your Capital, then go into Liberty. Since you will be producing fast, experienced mounted units, then you should also consider opening Honor as one of your first few policy choices, and you may consider taking Discipline and Warrior Code early in order to give yourself another small combat boost. This will allow you to send you Ducal Horsemen all over the map, hunting down and eliminating barbarians as soon as they spawn. Doing so will net you lump sums of culture for each kill, and clearing the encampments will give you bonus gold and potential boosts with city state relations (not to mention the possibility of picking up a few free Workers).
Since Solidarity will give you a steady stream of policies over the course of the game, you don't have to feel as pressured to reign in your social policy cost. So feel free to dive into the rest of Liberty and start expanding across the map, putting priority on locations where you'll have access to new luxuries and/or multiple pasture resources. It was not uncommon for me to have four or five cities by the time I hit Civil Service. If you do go down Liberty, then you'll likely finish the tree a little earlier than usual (due to the free policy from advancing into the Classical Era), so you'll get an early Great Person. Taking a Scientist in order to plop an Academy should be a no-brainer, as it will give you more research that will help you advance through the eras quicker. If you want to focus on faith, you can also use this opportunity to spawn a Prophet in order to either found a religion or plop a Holy Site. Don't bother with an Engineer or Merchant since your Ducal Stables should be generating a lot of production and gold. You should also not bother with a General, since you can always spend some free policies to go into the Honor policy tree for the free general.
Poland is more free to diversify its social policy choices.
If you want to further maximize the number of policies, then you should adopt the Aristocracy policy from the Tradition tree and start focusing on early cultural wonders, your Writer and Artist guilds, and the National Epic. The Great Library is always a great wonder to have, but the competition for it is very fierce, especially on higher difficulties, so you may want to pass on that one and go after Parthenon and/or Oracle instead. And don't forget to adopt Legalism for some free culture buildings. If you already built Monuments in all cities (in order to get the National Epic), then this policy will give you free Amphitheaters!
There are two good mid-game wonders for Poland to invest in depending on which path you take on the tech tree. If you go for Education first and make your way to Accoustics, then the Sistine Chapel will help give you an overwhelming cultural advantage by granting you +25% culture in all cities, as well as a couple slots for art. If you were feeling more hostile and teched to Chivalry, then Alhambra is an excellent choice. This wonder will provide a large culture boost as well (but only in one city) and will give all newly-trained units the Drill I promotion (combat bonus on rough terrain). This free promo will allow you to promote new mounted units in this city (assuming you have Ducal Stable, Barracks, Armory, and Military Academy) up to March! The free Drill promo will also come in handy when you start trying to use your Winged Hussars to force an enemy to retreat from defensible terrain.
Being the first to adopt a particular ideology will also net you two free tenets. So you should try teching to Industrialization early, finding some coal, and building Factories. The Ideology wonders (Statue of Liberty, Prora, and Kremlin) all offer free social policies as well (which you can spend on a new ideological tenet if you wish). Prora is the best, as it will also give you happiness for every two social policies that you have adopted (of which you should have many). Later in the game, the Sydney Opera House can provide a free social policy if you have a productive city on the coast. Cristo Redentor will also reduce the cost of social policies, but this wonder is so late in the game that I rarely find it worth building. If you have a spare Engineer sitting around, maybe burn him on this wonder if you want.
If you gain control of the World Congress, then you can propose the World's Fair and contribute at least enough to get the free policy. If you are the highest contributor, then you'll also double your culture for a duration, which will get you much closer to yet another policy or tenet!
Controlling the industrial battlefields
By the time you get to the Renaissance, you should start thinking about turning your attention to conquest. If you do decide to become aggressive in the second half of the game, then Metallurgy should be a high priority. Researching it early will maximize the window of opportunity for you Winged Hussars, which you can use to effectively control the battlefield. The Red Fort wonder that is also unlocked by Metallurgy will help keep your cities safe during your aggression. You should also go for Military Science early as well. The Brandenburg Gate wonder can be a great supplement for your Ducal Stables and if you built Alhambra earlier in the game, then your Cavalry should be highly-promoted and virtually unstoppable at this point! While you're there, you should look at researching Fertilizer as well. This will add +1 food to all your pastures.
Winged Hussars are great units, but not effective at capturing cities. You'll need to bring a regular army for that.
Your Winged Hussars are powerful units, and you should have a lot of them, but they are not invincible, and they can't do everything. They still have penalties attacking cities, and are still vulnerable to other anti-mounted units. If you plan on taking down cities, you will still need a handful of contemporary siege weapons (fortunately, Chemistry is along the way from Metallurgy to Military Science). Softening up entrenched units with bombardment from Crossbows or Gatling Guns will almost guarantee that your Winged Hussars will be able to force a retreat when they attack. You can also use your Winged Hussars' mobility to streak behind an enemy's lines, forcing it to move units away from your slowly-advancing siege weapons and infantry. Just keep them out of range of city bombardment whenever possible.
You also want to make sure that you plan your attacks carefully. You don't want your Winged Hussars to push an enemy unit out of range of other attackers and miss your opportunity to kill it. This is where the extra mobility of the Winged Hussars is a big advantage. You can move your first Winged Hussar back and then use other Winged Hussars to chase the retreating enemy and cut them down. Just be sure not to leave your own Winged Hussars in vulnerable positions deep within enemy territory. Ideally, you should be surrounding enemy units before attacking with Winged Hussars, so that you get large flanking modifiers and the enemy is forced to take the bonus damage from the heavy charge.
Winged Hussars are better than most units at disrupting enemy supply lines, formations, and reinforcements if you can get behind the enemy lines.
Be sure that you protect your pastures during any war. You don't want an enemy sneaking in and pillaging your primary sources of production and gold. Leave a few Winged Hussars in your territory (or upgrade any defending pikes) in order to repel any hit and run assaults from enemy Knights or Cavalry.
Victory optimization with Solidarity
You can use Solidarity to help optimize your play towards a particular victory condition. Since new social policy trees unlock at the start of new eras (same time as Solidarity triggers the free policy), you can immediately adopt one of these trees.
For a Culture Victory
Adopt Aesthetics as soon as you hit the Classical Era and get your guilds up and stocked with specialists as soon as possible. The Aristocracy policy in Tradition will help with this, as well as giving you a bonus towards wonders (including National Epic and Hermitage).
If you have a few coastal cities, then adopt Exploration as soon as you hit the Renaissance so you'll have access to the Louvre. If you don't have any coastal cities or a navy or cargo ships, and don't think the policies in Exploration are worth the finisher (to reveal hidden Antiquity Sites), then you should put much higher focus on other tourism-generating wonders such as Parthenon, Sistine Chapel, Uffizi, Eiffel Tower, and Broadway.
For a Domination Victory
Use your classical free policy to fill out the Honor tree. The Oligarchy policy in Tradition is a good complement to Military Caste, so you can station non-offensive units in your cities for protection, and gain the benefits of some free culture, happiness, and no maintenance on that unit.
Landsknecht upgraded to Winged Hussar
When you hit the Medieval era, use the free policy for opening Commerce and go for Mercenary Army with your next regular policy. Start purchasing a handful of Landsneckts and upgrade them to Winged Hussars when you hit Metallurgy. Be advised that this upgrade is rather expensive! Landsknechts upgraded to Winged Hussars is in contradiction to the advised strategy of building Winged Hussars fresh to take advantage of the Ducal Stable bonuses. But this will allow you to march over your opponent's territory and cripple their economy by pillaging their lands. The Heavy Charge ability will force defending units off of valuable improvements (such as Great Person improvements and strategic resources), and you'll be able to pillage them to heal without spending a movement point (and getting extra gold too!).
If you didn't get enough factories to trigger an ideology during the Industrial Era, then use your free Modern Era policy to unlock Autocracy.
For a Scientific Victory
Get Aristocracy from the Tradition policy tree so that you can quickly build your National Epic and National College. Then focus the rest of your early policies on Liberty so that you can get a few good cities up and running. When you hit Renaissance, immediately open the Rationalism policy and start using your normal policies to fill that tree up. At this point, you should have Universities stocked with scientist specialists. Avoid unnecessary wars (as tempting as they may be with Winged Hussars) so that you can keep friendships alive and cash in on Research Agreements.
For a Diplomatic Victory
Use your highly-promoted mounted units to clear barbarian encampments whenever city states request it. Opening the Honor policy tree can be helpful in this regard (but you don't have to finish it).
Make sure you use your free Classical policy to open Patronage and unlock the Forbidden Palace to give yourself more World Congress delegates. You may want to then go into Rationalism immediately upon hitting Renaissance so that you can boost your science output and race for Globalization. Then you can move all your spies to other civs' capitals to act as diplomats and hopefully get to the world leader vote before someone else finishes another victory condition.
Breaking the Ducal warhorse: playing against Poland
Poland is a daunting enemy to play against. Many players compare Casimir's A.I. to vanilla's Hiawatha, in that he tends to be a runaway A.I.. There's really nothing that you can do to stop Solidarity, especially at higher difficulty levels (in which the A.I.s have inherent research handicaps).
Pillaging Ducal-buffed resources is only minimally-effective, so the most damaging thing you can do to Poland is claim the valuable pasture resources before he can.
Pretty much the only thing that you can really control is Poland's access to horses. Pillaging his pastures once they are build isn't terribly effective, since the yield bonuses are on the underlying resource (not the pasture), and once the Ducal Stable is built, it will provide the production and XP bonuses regardless of whether the pastures are in-tact. You can camp your units on Poland's pastures to deny the yield. Cover will protect such units from city bombardment.
If Poland is one of your immediate neighbors, then consider trying to claim the valuable pasture resources before he can annex and improve them (either by settling new cities, annexing tiles, or plopping a Citadel), and prevent him from allying with city states that have horses to keep his mounted army in check. Adopting Tradition will help speed up your own tile acquisition, and building Angkor Wat can help you buy up any unclaimed pasture resources in the mid-game.
Reform the lines!
The Spanish Tercio is one of the best defenses against the Winged Hussar.
Since Poland does favor mounted warfare, you should focus on counter units. Fielding lots of spears and pikes will help keep his warhorses in check early in the game, but they are less effective when upgraded to Lancers. The Winged Hussars can outrun and outmaneuver normal Lancers, and have higher base strength. A better option is to focus on Musketmen and Rifles in the mid-game, promote them with Formation, and supplement them with ranged support.
This is especially true of Spain, since the Tercio replaces muskets and starts with bonuses against mounted units.
You might also want to reconsider how you structure your combat lines if you find yourself staring down an army of Polish Winged Hussars. If you don't leave room for your units to retreat, they will take extra damage. The higher speed of the Winged Hussar will also allow them to retreat from combat, which will leave them out of range from counter-attack by your crossbows and cannons if they are stuck behind a line of infantry. It really puts you in a Catch-22: move your ranged units up to the front-line and risk having them get run over by Winged Hussars; or leave them in the back and never be within range to use them? Even forts and citadels are risky, since Winged Hussars can just push you off of them, allowing the Polish units to capture and use those very same forts against you, and pillage the citadels!
Jet Fighters are an effective counter against "Winged Helicopters".
Be sure to defend your resources from hit and run incursions from Poland's fast units, and surround Generals and civilians with defensive escorts so they aren't captured if your defending unit is forced to retreat.
Your best bet is to try to avoid a Renaissance or Industrial war with Poland altogether. Once they upgrade to Anti-Tank Guns, they are much slower and easier to deal with. Upgraded to Helicopters, they are very fast and strong, but easily countered with Jet Fighters.
Like any warmonger civ, Poland is likely to make some enemies during the course of the game. This means that it shouldn't be too hard to build up allies to work against them. You can try to build up a coalition to attack them, or use the World Congress to embargo them or ban luxuries that they own.
Is Poland the best civilization in the game?
When all is said and done, Poland has one of the best traits in the game as well as one of the best unique units and a moderately-strong unique building. This makes Poland one of the best all-around civs in the game and a very formidable opponent in the hands of a high-difficulty A.I. or even remotely-skilled human player. They peak in the mid-game, so they are best dealt with early if they show up as an opponent. If you want to ease yourself into a higher difficulty level, then Poland's uniques will help you stay competitive as you try to get used to the increased pace of the game and the A.I.'s snowballing bonuses.
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