I did the a lot of preparation for Epic 9 – more than I have ever prepared for any game of CIV ever. It was a really good call, especially since I was playing the game half a decade after it was released.
I looked at the starting location. I parsed the commerce potential of the capital. I came up with brilliant observations such as:
• Pyramids a must (early police state)
• Starve down to size 1 – leads to raze-ability?
• Aggressive AIs – they’ll declare war on the other AI (or build more units)?
• Need marble for Heroic Epic
• Make sure that I have 50% more units than I need to complete the job.
• Need to check snaky continents setup.
I also did have some good observations, like not bankrupting myself by over-expansion (especially with city-raiding enabled) and a need to establish GNP supremacy.
So, hear the tale of arb-Zal, ruler of horse.
To power, arb-Zal, to power,
The people must propel you.
You shall be as king to them
And they shall be your people.
We are bound to you by oath,
Honor and fealty, war and truth,
We are bound to you by blade and hoof,
But we are not warriors uncouth.
No city shall we burn for you
Nor conquer where we cannot ride.
Nor great works shall we build for you.
If not properly supplied.
And arb-Zal heard this and said,
“Let it be so.”
And he guarded his castle and sent his soldiers to find enemies to destroy and lands to plunder.
And enough of that. Seriously. I wanted to write the entire thing as an Epic but then I didn’t. Because it was taking me a wee bit too long.
I decided to grab archery first because I was unfamiliar with snaky continents archipelago. After that, I’d grab some sequence of mining, bronze working, and/or animal husbandry. With the warrior in the capital, I went worker first.
I cannot, for the life of me, tell you why I assumed that snaky continents would mean that everyone was connected in a massive Pangaea.
But this is always war and always war means that everyone will be able to attack you easily – right?
Popped the hut and got a map.
And about this time, I realized the stupidity of going archery first and going worker first with a civ that has hunting and the wheel with an agriculture resource and a cow resource nearby. How dumb…
This was also when I realized that snaky continents seemed to mean, in this case, that I was alone on my own island. Hooray!
Buddhisim was founded in 3460BC. Got some gold from the other hut on the island.
Then I looked to the north and spotted some land up there.
To the North! To the North!
Oh, my soul goes to the North!
I managed not to waste a worker turn by researching agriculture before my worker was done. Then it was animal husbandry, fishing, and pottery.
I realized that I made a mistake after researching pottery by not sending my worker down to connect the horses at Beshbalik. That set me back a few turns, I’m sure. I was so concerned with the gnp race that I made a poor decision there.
As it was, it wasn’t much of a problem. I got the horses hooked up in time to start producing chariots. I had figured before the game started that it would be a good idea to arrange a ‘welcoming party’ for the first enemies I encountered: 3 chariots and an archer in two galleys.
So, when I noticed a red border to my north, I started moving units into position.And declared war on Tokugawa. And realized, um, that he hadn’t prioritized Archery. Or that he didn’t know this was an Always War game. Or he had Gandhi’s personality.
Anyway, it was three chariots and 1 archer against something like 8 warriors. With two more chariots on the way, I felt I could take some chances.
I also decided it would be a great idea to autoraze Tokyo (since it was size 1 and all); when that didn’t work out, I realized that the real challenge for this game was going to be not crashing the economy.
I picked an excellent landing spot, which allowed me to fork Osaka and Tokyo. Since I was stranded in Tokugawa’s culture, I decided I would push on and try to take Kyoto. But not before I explored the rest of Tokugawa’s island.
With a worker. I thought this was very brave at the time, what with all the barbarians around. And Tokugawa having chariots and horse archers and cavalry and knights.
And that was when I realized that Tokugawa had built Stonehenge.
And that I had 4 chariots in the area.
Valiantly, Toku managed to kill one chariot. But, for once, I managed to bring enough soldiers to get the job done. First kill, 805 BC.
A few hundred years later, I ran into Peter. At the time, I was also loading veteran chariots on to galleys to get them ready to be another surprise landing party.
Peter built the Oracle shortly after I found him, so I decided that he needed to die rather quickly. I took the Great Lighthouse in about 600 BC (shortly afterward). It didn’t do too much for me, considering that I could never get any foreign trade routes, but the extra two commerce per city wasn’t too bad, I thought, especially as I began to expand.
I was also thinking a little along the lines of trade routes in, um, Beyond the Sword. Yeah, that’s it.
Here’s my landing party, outside Moscow. And, oh look, marble. Just what the Heroic Epic ordered.
I was wondering about this, actually. From the way I interpreted the rules, one could not build any wonder that required a production doubler without your own domestic source. So, I neglected building the national/heroic epics until I got this marble. Not sure if that’s the correct interpretation of the rule, but that was my interpretation.
I found Gandhi in 340BC, but I really didn’t want anything to do with him, so I neglected sending my unloaded galley to make contact. That was one of the moves I regretted from this game: I didn’t do a very good job of harassing my enemies (I did do a good job of conquering them).
Anyway, shortly after I landed, Peter got a great Engineer and rushed the Pyramids. Too bad there were 4 chariots outside Moscow. He must have taken Metal Casing from the Oracle. Leaving just two warriors and a chariot in the city in question – a bad idea.
Gandhi found me and apparently the word had gotten around. He tried to boat me with two axemen in 70BC. But I wasn’t exactly unprepared. I whipped an extra archer to be safe.
In one of my finer moves, I researched Code of Laws on 20 AD and founded Confucianism. I revolted to Confucianism (It was fine because … I did it successfully. What?)
I also got the Hanging Gardens and met China.
Again, I should have sent a stack over to start harassing Qin. But I thought that Chengdu was on a 1-tile island – obviously, it was not.
After my conquest of Moscow at the turn of the millennium, I hadn’t had the troops in place to take St. Petersburg or Novgrood. But, with the cultural squeeze that Moscow was facing, I scraped together some forces and took the fight back to Peter. I conquered my second civ in 305 AD.
And, as you can see, I took a GNP lead after beating up on Peter – the 6 extra commerce income really was helpful.
However, this was when, in the game, I realized that I didn’t need to spread around Confucianism. Judaism was more widely spread. And, um, I had already had it as a religion in my Civ 400 years before I even got Confucianism (thanks to Tokugawa).
I think I did have the rare distinction of switching to Judaism before researching Monotheism.
After conquering Peter, I was doing fine GNP-wise. I didn’t have a tech lead on my opponents (who were all one another’s best friends because they were busy fighting with me) but I was spanking them when it came to GNP. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have a military advantage, per se.
I also knew that I didn’t have the economic might to make the push with medieval units – absorbing all those cities would be sure to cripple me economically. And I couldn’t be sure that conquering one opponent would be enough to reach domination.
I figured that the only way I was going to be able to win was if I could get far enough ahead to be able to roll up my enemies in 20-30 turns or so. That way, I could keep my war machine marching on spoil gold.
I didn’t really have a technology that I was aiming for; for all the focus the early game had, the latter game did not.
This was where I screwed up. The game’s on Prince. I had a GNP lead. Medieval techs were not that far away.
However, I didn’t really have any goals at this point in the game. I should have cooled my jets for a bit, built up a medieval stack, and taken out Gandhi, since he was the closest and most accessible to my core (and since he was the leader).
I did have a goal of circumnavigating, which I accomplished in 1142. And I also dispatched several foraging parties on the Sino-Persian Continent. And then I noticed that Beijing was defended by something like two or archers – not longbows.
So I took it.
Almost in retaliation, Qin landed this almost threatening stack outside of Moscow. I say almost threatening because I had longbows.
First war weariness in 1490 AD, but only after losing a stack to … general mismanagement. Basically, one of my problems in CIV warfare is that I tend to bring to enough troops to the first battle, but not enough for the second or third battle – or to hold the city and move on afterward. I tend to build infrastructure just to build something unique.
The other big error I made was not prioritizing my city capture. Instead of trying to crack Gandhi’s core, or Cyrus’s core, or anyone else’s core, in general – I went after their outlying cities.
I rushed the Taj Mahal in 1535 – here was the tech situation. In retrospect, I should have prioritized banking more…
I also had a bizarre situation when I was taking the neck of the continent, toward the Persian mainland.
Shanghai, and later, Bactra, suffered Persian revolts after conquest. What was up with that? That was an unexpected setting for this game.
I randomly got another great engineer in 1600 and the Hagia Sofia was still available, so…
At about this point the game, my GNP was starting to tank and Gandhi was really starting to tech.
However, I had cavalry and found it was quite easy to follow the variant rules to a 1682 domination victory.
Unfortunately, this shadow game is a shadow shadow game. I forgot about the variant rule for stacks being composed of 50% cavalry (I’d done a good job with that previously) and took a throwaway Chinese city with two grenadiers. So, sadly, my 1682 AD second place victory was invalid, and not just for being six years late.