Sid Meier's Civilization III: Complete

Sid Meier’s Civilization III: Complete – Intermediate Tips For The Modern Mod’s Early Game

Here are some tips on playing the first 15 turns of modern. I’ll assume you know the basics about the mod. Note that although the governments are quite different from each other, I will be trying to give tips that apply generally, across all governments. When the distinction is relevant, I’ll mention the different governments.

First 3 Turns


  • With 3 food tiles nearby, feel free to walk one before planting your capital.
  • With 4 food tiles directly adjacent to your cap, plant immediately.
  • With no 3+ food tiles within 2 tiles of your capital, plant immediately.

In modern, the first 2 turns are spent in anarchy. As a result, you generally want to have both cities planted by turn 3, when you come out of anarchy.

3+ turn walks in modern is much more painful in modern than in future because of a few factors: shorter anarchy, generally more even land distribution, and the fact that in modern, your capital acts as a granary. This means that the growth you miss out on is basically doubled.

How to handle your worker moves and city placement depends on what your land looks like. Generally, it can be broken down into 3 archetypes

Standard 3 food land

This means you have at least one 3 food tile within 2 tiles of where you start. Examples of 3 food tiles are bananas, flood plains, horses, and wines on grass, cows, and wheat. Since there are so many 3 food tiles in modern, this is the most common type of start.

These tiles give 3 food, 4 when irrigated, but one is lost to the despotism penalty while in anarchy. As a result, you can walk your starting settler one tile at the start of the game in these cases, and it will not slow down your growth to size 2. Either way, you hit size 2 on turn 1904.

As a result, with this type of start, I’d recommend walking your capital one tile. This lets you pick the ideal spot. It also means you have the option of double irrigating your starting tile (free worker moves!) And thirdly, it means you can walk in the opposite direction of your starting settler. This gives you more tiles in both cities without having to walk your second settler an extra tile.

Note that if you choose to walk one tile with standard 3 food land, the 3 food tile MUST be irrigated the turn when you come out of anarchy. Otherwise, your growth will be delayed by a turn. Sometimes this means you won’t be able to double irrigate your starting tile.

4 Food Land

There are a few situations where you have 4 food tiles. Most 4 food tiles spawn in bad terrain types, like the marsh, tundra, and jungle. This can include deer and sugar, although note that fish in a lake also gives 4 food.

2 Food Land

This means you have no tiles within 2 tiles of your cap that give more than 3 food when irrigated.

Normally this will look like a plain grassland start. Note that although some coastal tiles give 3 food (beach resort in lake, fish on coast), since you can’t irrigate them, they can never produce 4 food. So having them won’t help you grow any faster (aside from saving worker moves).

With this land, you can’t grow one per turn until you hit size 3. Your growth will be quite slow, so it’s imperative that with 2 food land, you don’t waste time, plant where you spawn. This way, you’ll hit size 2 on turn 1904. So same as a standard 3 food start. You’ll hit size 3 (and 1pt growth) on turn 1906. 1 turn slower than a 3 food start. Not too bad.

If you walk one and don’t get a 3 food tile, you won’t hit size 3 until turn 1907. This is a very small start and it will be very easy to bully you and shut you down.

Additional Tips:

  • Your capital doesn’t need access to freshwater to grow to size 7. So it does not need to be placed next to a lake or a river.
  • Your capital gets a free border to expand from the palace’s culture, keep that in mind.
  • Your second city benefits a lot from bonus food too!
  • Planting 2,3, or 4 tiles apart will not change corruption in your second city significantly. At 5 shields per turn, one will be corrupted no matter what.
  • However, do not plant your cities 4 tiles apart unless you have access to res that unlocks 2 move units, so zinc or rubber. Otherwise, it will be very hard to defend the cities, since you can’t walk units between the cities in one turn.
  • Plan your worker moves so that your 2 cities hit size 2 as soon as possible.

What to Build?

This depends on your government. In equality, build an E airport in both cities ASAP. All governments should build a granary in their second city. Equality should, of course, build the airport first.

Equality and order should slave granary. Order can also double chop the granary, or chop once so they can slave (and enter wartime mode!) sooner.

Tradition and Freedom should buy granary in their second city as soon as possible.

In your capital, build paths are flexible. Workers are a good option for all governments once you have one per turn growth. Settlers also are good if you’re safe.

  • In freedom, rush stock exchange.
  • In equality, consider barracks, militia, or library.
  • In order, consider barracks, harbor, or library.
  • In tradition, do whatever you want. Temple is strong, or harbor -> offshore, market, library, barracks.

By turn 12 or so (after you draft), if you’re not directly near the enemy civ, you should likely work towards a factory. I’d recommend going wartime for the bonus shields, and then buying it or slaving it when you come out of wartime.

How Do I Pop?

Popping is a little bit more complicated in modern. All civs are expansionist, so feel free to pop huts with your king, or any other unit. You cannot pop a settler or city if you have an above-average number of cities.

You cannot pop a city if you have 0 cities. You can pop a city if you have 1 city, but not a settler (because you can’t pop if you have a settler active or in construction, and unless you joined your settler to your cap, that definitely applies).

Note that a few restrictions apply to popping cities that don’t apply to popping settlers.

  • You can’t pop a city on a marsh, volcano, or mountain.
  • You can’t pop a city within a set distance of another city (yours or another civ’s). See the diagram below. Anywhere that is desert is too close to the city to pop. Anywhere that is plains, you can pop a city, even with that other city nearby.

If you have 2 cities, you can pop a settler or a city. But if you have 2 cities, you might have an above-average number of cities, meaning you can’t pop. So save huts until you’re sure the average number of cities on the map is equal or greater than two. If other people have popped, this becomes easier.

What Should I Tech?

Common Early Military Strats

So in modern, there are 4 super strong units that are accessible with just one resource.

  • Convoys, with coal, available at the occupation tech.
  • Cruise missiles, with aluminum, at explosives.
  • Skirmishers, with rubber, at cold war.
  • Infantry, with zinc, at industrialization

The last 2 are draftable and be easily spammed at the enemy to slow down their early game.

If you spawn with one of these resources, I’d recommend doing the corresponding techs.

Additionally, there are 4 other units that require just one res. They are reasonably strong and worth planning a strategy around. But they are situational, and not quite as much of a no-brainer as to the ones above.

  • Bombers, with oil, at explosives.
  • Radar artillery, with iron, at cold war.
  • Marines, with sulfur, at wartime.
  • Fighters, with sulfur, at industrialization.

All 8 of these plays are generally well known, and if your opponent has the corresponding resource, you should prepare some sort of defense against it. The only res that does not unlock a useful unit on its own is uranium.

Common Mid Game Military Strats

  • Stacking Tanks. Requires uranium and zinc, and the tactics tech.
  • Special Forces + Cruises. Requires Rubber and Aluminum.
  • Advanced Plane stack. Requires Alu + Sulphur (For Stealth Fighters) or Oil + Sulphur (for Fighter Bombers).
  • Sub cruise + nuke subs. Requires uranium and coal, plus the explosives and transportation tech. Likely also the Naval.
  • Intelligence tech for bonus ship moves, and for the intelligence agency.

What Are Some Cool Niche Military Strats?

Advanced convoy strats

Load higher tier foot units into convoys. RPG infantry (alu + iron) gives the convoy anti-air capabilities. Battalions (Sulphur + Uranium) make the convoy cruise resistant. And Combat Engineers (Coal + Zinc + Sulphur) are insanely deadly attackers that can be carried in convoys.

Helicopter Reinforcements.

Normally people don’t guard their cities especially well in modern, because it’s easy to retake cities you’ve lost. To take advantage of this, prepare a bunch of foot units in a convoy (maybe partisans for defensive bombard, battalions for cruise resistance, RPG infantry for anti-air, or infantry). Then, pick off a poorly defended city (maybe with marines or special forces, or a convoy), and immediately rebase the helicopter to the new city. You now have a strong foothold on the enemy, and can push in and airdrop from there.

Chinook Reinforcements

Chinooks are like helicopters. They carry only 3 units instead of 4, but they are not restricted to foot units. So you can load cruise missiles, artillery, tanks, flaks, or literally anything else that could fit in a galleon.

Note that chinooks and helicopters both have +2 HP, so they don’t get melted by cruise missiles.

The Hell City (TM)

This is a strat you can use if you have sulphur, uranium, and iron.

Capture or plant a city (preferably on a hill) very close to the enemy capital. Preferably 2-5 tiles away. Guard the city using radar artillery (for defensive bombard and to crater their tiles) and battalions (for cruise resistance). Maybe mix in some flaks if they have bombers. This won’t kill the enemy, but it will completely disable them for the rest of the game.

If you order, you can airlift in workers/settlers, join them to the city, and slave the propaganda building to take tiles from the enemy.

The Doom Drop

Galleons hold 6 units in modern, transports hold 12. So load 2+ cruise missiles and a bunch of offensive land units, and drop them next to the enemy capital.

A variation of this exists where you just drop a stack of combat engineers.

Note that if you escort the galleons with cruisers, aegis, or nuke subs, you can load in sub cruises to these boats and use them offensively.


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