View Full Version : Triumph of the Babylonian Cultural Masters
Dec 27, 2001, 08:33 AM
Just thought I'd share the tale of my most successful game to date. I've been playing Regent level, and most of the time I've been doing fairly decently until the modern era, at which time I usually find myself at the level of Russia in WWI (i.e., culturally backward and the last one to get tanks and airplanes).
In Civ2, I could pretty reliably win at King level, and was fond of playing on the huge Earth map. Well, I'm taking it easy on the difficulty level while I tune my playing style, but I thought I'd try Civ3's huge Earth map. Somewhat disappointing, for reasons with which people in this forum are already familiar (civs don't turn up in their historical starting positions, geography only vaguely approximates the real world). At some point I'll download one of the improved Earth maps from this site, but for now I'll stick to the game I'm playing, because it's gone so well so far.
Herewith the tale of Hammurabi, master of the African-Babylonian Empire...
Dec 27, 2001, 09:01 AM
I decided to start as Babylon, because the scientific/religious benefits would go well with my style of play. I'd rather conquer by cultural imperialism than force of arms, and if I must go to war, I prefer to have the technological edge ("peace through superior weaponry" is my motto). It should come as no surprise to learn that I usually played the University in SMAC.
Babylon wound up in a decent starting location in the Horn of Africa. (That would be Somalia/Ethiopia for those not familiar with the term. And if you don't know where Somalia and Ethiopia are, damn that American educational system.) My nearest neighbors were the Zulus, who wound up in their historical starting point in South Africa, and the Romans, who started in North Africa. Both of these empires wound up rather hobbled by geography, so I was able to expand up the Nile valley and down the west coast of Africa with little difficulty. The Americans, who'd started in India, sent a scout down to say hello, and I anticipated that Lincoln would be my major rival in the early eras.
My research strategy was to make a beeline for Literature and the Great Library. I was playing on a world with sixteen civs, and for any of them to get the Library before me would be unacceptable. My plan was successful, and I then concentrated on getting myself to the Republic while my Library gathered in the knowledge of the rest of the world. This brought me to the Middle Ages fairly quickly, and let me shop techs and maps around Eurasia for a profit.
By the Middle Ages, I'd explored or traded maps to discover all of the Eurasian/African civilizations. Besides those I've already mentioned, the Greeks were based in Central Asia, the Persians on the Chinese coast, the Iroquois way up in northeastern Siberia, and the luckless Aztecs in frozen Scandinavia. Some oceanic exploration brought contact with the Egyptian empire in Australia.
Despite their scientific advantages, both the Persians and the Greeks were relatively backward technologically. The Persians had been stunted in their development by a lack of water sources, and were too far away to be a major concern. The Greeks, although slow to grow, had plenty of room to expand, and I kept an eye on them as the "sleeper" of the continent. The Iroquois and Aztecs were essentially nonentities. My greatest concern at the dawn of the Middle Ages was with America and Rome, and to some extent Egypt.
Dec 27, 2001, 09:28 AM
In the ancient era, I'd managed to snap up the Great Library fairly quickly, at the expense of other Great Wonders. On a sixteen-civ world, with lots of cities starting on those early wonders, they tend to get spread fairly evenly across the world. I hoped that my science advantage would enable me to get more than my share of the wonders of the Middle Ages, a strategy that worked to some extent but not as well as I'd hoped. I drove for the religious and educational (read: high-culture) wonders, but once again, the size and diversity of the world worked against me.
Something to keep in mind while going for multiple Great Wonders in a big world: you can only have so many high-production cities, and your rivals between them have more "industrial powerhouse" cities than you ever will. So if your capital is already working on the Sistine Chapel and then you discover Music Theory, you'll have to put your second or third city to work on Bach's Cathedral (or switch your capital to Bach, but then you'll sacrifice the lead you've already built up on the Chapel). Some other civ may discover Music Theory later, but they can build the Cathedral in their higher-production capital and beat you to it. (There's always the possibility of using a Great Leader to speed the job, but I was playing a peaceful game. Not only had I been at peace, but as far as I could tell, there had been no wars at all on the Eurasian/African landmass since the dawn of time.)
To make an interminable story merely long, I wound up getting beat to both my big religious goals: the Australian-Egyptians wound up with Bach's Cathedral, and the distant Russians with the Sistine Chapel. The Egyptians also finished Leonardo's Workshop -- I was beginning to worry a bit about them, despite the great distance between Africa and Australia. A look at the histograph screen showed Egypt and Babylon running neck-and-neck for the top score. I began to make very long-term plans...
Meanwhile, back at home, my own building efforts hadn't been entirely fruitless. I was able to complete Sun Tzu's Art of War, Copernicus' Observatory, Smith's Trading Company, Magellan's Expedition, and my real prize, Newton's University. With both the Copernicus and Newton wonders (plus the ancient Great Library), the city of Babylon was the undisputed scientific and cultural capital of the world.
Dec 27, 2001, 11:24 AM
As the Babylonian empire expanded, it began to bump up against its nearest neighbors -- primarily the Zulus to the south and Romans to the north and west. The American empire in India (American Indians?) also had some border presence, but was largely contained by the deserts of Persia and Arabia.
Babylon had been able to expand without hindrance down the fertile grasslands on the west coast of Africa, and had established some small towns in the Congo jungle. Zululand, in the meantime, had attempted to leapfrog up the east coast to the more hospitable Nigerian regions. The map of central-to-eastern Africa in the Middle Ages was almost solidly Babylonian, with a few Zulu incursions on the coast. To consolidate its hold on the continent, Babylon did what cultural imperialist empires do best: produce culture in their cities and wait for several centuries. In due course, three of the Zulu enclaves on the east coast defected to Babylon, as well as one town in the hills on the west coast that controlled a valuable iron source. The Zulu-Bablylonian border now ran across the continent between the Congo jungles and the Kalahari desert, leaving the Zulus with not much of a power base. The only remaining Zulu outpost to the north was a small town near our world's Senegal, where the fertile country peters out into the Sahara. This was too far from either Roman or Babylonian population centers to be affected by cultural overlap, and also too far from Zululand to be effectively governed or supplied. It was lightly guarded by a Swordsman and a couple of Impis, and as Babylon moved into the age of gunpowder, prompted some strategic planning, about which more will be revealed in due course.
Rome's main point of contention with Babylon was that great cauldron of cultural conflict, the Middle East. Most of Rome's ancient, well-established cities lay west of the Nile basin, but Rome did control the southern Mediterranean coast and had been expanding towards Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor. They had also leapfrogged into Spain and northwestern Europe, but that was beyond the range of Babylonian ambitions. More could be done closer to home, in the lands bounded by Arabia, the Persian desert, and Turkey. (An interesting note: despite having started closer to historical Carthage, the Romans wound up dominating an area remarkably like the one they controlled in the real world. They even founded the city of Byzantium at its historical location! About the only part of the real-world Roman territory that they missed was, ironically enough, Italy.)
Back in the ancient era, Rome had founded the town of Viroconium at the northern end of the Red Sea. This small town was quickly assimilated into the Babylonian empire, and in the Middle Ages, it became the launching point for the Babylonian expansion into the Middle East.
Using a Galley (and, later, a Galleon) to transport settlers and musketmen across the Red Sea, Babylon established two new towns at Basra (where the Tigris-Euphrates empties into the Persian Gulf) and Syria (just south of the Euphrates). These quickly produced enough culture to persuade the Roman outpost of Lutetia (about at the real-world location of Baghdad) to join Babylon, and opened up the rest of the Middle East for expansion. Further colonies were quickly established at the fertile southern end of the Caspian Sea (securing the iron of Armenia), in northern Turkey, and on a godforsaken patch of Lebanese desert (which fortunately was next to some good fishing grounds), giving Babylon a window on the Mediterranean. From there, a final colony was planted on the still-unoccupied southern tip of Italy.
The founding of New Nineveh (more like Naples in our world) marked the probable end of Babylonian colonization. The rest of southern Europe was dominated by the Romans in Spain and France, and the Greeks everywhere else. And corruption was beginning to take its toll on colonies so far from the motherland.
Having reached the limits of its colonial expansion, the Babylonian empire began to direct its attentions towards scientific and economic expansion, while slowly building its military. The empire had not yet experienced a Golden Age, and schemes were afoot in Babylon to begin this next great phase of the empire's history. In Zululand, anyone who could read the handwriting on the wall was either stockpiling their weapons or taking courses in Babylonian.
Dec 27, 2001, 12:57 PM
A slight pause in the historical narrative is appropriate at this point, to describe the dispositions and relations of the world's nations. East met West, on this Earth, in the early Middle Ages when Roman ships sailing from Iceland to Greenland encountered the nothern colonies of the French. By the time the Industrial Revolution began, almost all of the world was controlled by one or another of the sixteen nations. Below is a summary of those nations at around AD 1500, when Babylon entered the Industrial Age.
Babylon: That'd be me. Technologically and culturally in the top tier, although some serious competition exists. Controls much of Africa, from the upper Nile basin through Ethiopia and down to Tanganyika in the west, and most of the eastern part of the continent from the southern edge of the Sahara down through the Congo/Angola jungles. Starting to establish a strong presence in the Middle East as well.
Zululand: Technologically backward, but with enough money for Babylon to sell them tech from time to time. Bottled up in the southern part of Africa and Madagascar. Their militarism, and the rich agricultural and mineral resources of southern Africa, ensure that they are still not a power to be taken lightly.
Rome: Controls Africa north of the Sahara, plus much of the Mediterranean basin, with territory in Palestine, Turkey, Spain, France, and Britain. Militarily strong but technologically slightly behind, which means a large army of Legions and Knights. Historically, they have been very friendly with Babylon -- often so friendly that their citizens decide they'd rather be Babylonian.
America: Powerful, well-developed empire that rules southern Asia, from India to Indochina with some expansion north of the Himalayas. Babylon recognizes them as a force to be reckoned with, and has been careful to maintain friendly relations.
Greece: Sprawling but not highly developed nation that occupies central Asia and eastern to central Europe -- very much like Russia in our world. They have kept pretty much to themselves, and Babylon has been selling, or occasionally outright gifting, technology to them to keep them friendly. Even with Babylonian aid, their technology has been slow to develop.
Aztecs: Their lands surround the Baltic Sea -- all of Scandinavia, a corner of western Russia and a slice of northern Europe. Technologically backward and too poor even to buy techs. Babylon has been mostly ignoring them, but will occasionally give them a tech out of sheer pity.
Iroquois: A distant land, of which we know nothing. Their territory is essentially Siberia. Not quite as poor and backward as the Aztecs, but pretty close.
Persia: Analogous to our world's China. With their scientific bent, and controlling a large and fertile expanse of land in east Asia, one would expect them to be more advanced, but they have not yet reached their full potential. Their empire does make a good amount of money, so they are a good customer for Babylonian technology.
Egypt: Another major world power, controlling Australia and the Indonesian islands. If they had not been so (literally) isolated, they may have become a serious danger. As it is, they are the equal of Babylon, and greater than any other nation, in technology and culture.
France: The most powerful nation in North America. They control the eastern part of the continent, from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson's Bay. Although they haven't equalled the cultural achievements of Babylon or Egypt, their technology is impressive, enough so that they are sometimes an exporter of tech. Babylon has tried to stay on good terms with them through the occasional tech deal.
Germany: Not quite as powerful as France, although, knowing Bismarck, they would like to change that. They occupy the midwestern plains of North America, with some outposts on the west coast and in northern Canada. They have been a good customer for Babylonian technology, and relations were friendly enough that they asked for a Mutual Protection Pact. Babylon accepted gingerly, hoping that neither Bismarck nor Joan d'Arc would do anything foolish before the pact expired.
Japan: Bottled up in the American Southwest, they are unlikely to be much of a threat to anybody. Their technology is low, although sometimes they can scrape up the cash to buy some tech. When they fall on hard times, Babylon will sometimes donate techs to them just to keep them competitive with the French and Germans.
India: Their Central American empire is strong, but surprisingly robust. Culture is high, and technology is only slightly behind Babylonian/French/Egyptian levels. Babylon sometimes tries to sell them technology, but they are often unwilling to pay a fair price. Their loss.
China: A friendly, yet obscure and backward nation. I'm not even sure where their geographical center is -- possibly in our Colombia and Peru. An occasional customer for technology.
England: Their territory would be our world's Brazil. One of the two dominant powers in South America. Their technology and commerce are respectable -- sometimes they'll sell tech, sometimes they'll buy it. The only things keeping them from rising to the level of the French or Egyptians are the lack of expansion room, and the powerful Russian presence to the south.
Russia: Occupying the southern cone of South America, they are England's rival in that continent. England appears to be more powerful, but only barely. Reminiscent of the French/German rivalry around the turn of the 20th century, and just as potentially explosive. Russia has been a good friend of Babylon's, and even signed a Mutual Protection Pact, but both sides found it wise to let the treaty lapse. Culturally and technologically respectable, they have been both importers and exporters of technology.
Those are all of the nations of the world... quite a list! Finally, a quick summary of Babylon's perspective on international relations:
Great Powers and Potential Rivals: Egypt and France.
Friends and Good Neighbors: Rome and America.
Strategic Overseas Allies: Germany and Russia.
Backward, but Useful: China and Japan.
Land of Mystery: India.
Sleeping Giants: Greece and Persia.
Wild Card: England.
Third World Losers: Aztecs and Iroquois.
Dead Meat: Zululand.
Dec 27, 2001, 03:00 PM
Because of its peaceful history, and because other civilizations had built all of the religious Great Wonders, the empire of Babylon had not yet experienced a Golden Age by the time the industrial era began. Since the empire had expanded about as far geographically as was prudent, the Babylonian President (that's yours truly) decided to formulate a strategy for starting and exploiting a Golden Age.
The key to my strategy was the lone Zulu town of Ispiezi on the far eastern tip of Africa. This town was geographically isolated from the rest of Zululand, with no road or harbor connection to home. Reconnaisance showed that the town was defended by, at most, one Swordsman, one Horseman, an Impi or two, and a bunch of Warriors that the Zulus had sent far north in a previous era and subsequently marched back home through Roman territory.
Strategic Observation #1: I have a handful of Swordsmen and Bowmen left over from the pre-industrial eras. If I knock off just one of his wimpy units with a Bowman, I start a Golden Age. Plus I can use the Swordsmen to knock off the rest of the city's defenders (waste not, want not).
Strategic Observation #2: The rest of the Zulu empire is pretty backward technologically. Their border cities appear to be defended by Musketmen, and I've got Riflemen, Cannons, and Cavalry. If I get into a war, I can probably take at least a few cities, and with luck generate a Great Leader in the process, thus paving the way to some additional Small Wonders. On the other hand, I should expect some spirited resistance -- the Zulu are fierce fighters, and they have access to plenty of horses and saltpeter.
Strategic Observation #3: I'm a Democracy, and haven't yet discovered any of the war-weariness-reducing improvements. So even though I need a war, I have to goad Shaka into starting it. Time to switch my diplomatic relations from "Mr. Nice Guy Big Brother" to "Obnoxious Neighborhood Bully".
So I began to lay the groundwork for my assault on the Zulus. The first step was to assure the ability to attack swiftly and in great force when the time was right. I moved all of my ancient-era units (two Bowmen and four Swordsmen) up to the border of Ispiezi. Down at the southern end of my empire, I assembled the true modern attack force: three Cannons, six Cavalry, and about four Riflemen, with more building. (One strategy that has served me very well in conquest: make sure that any attack force has plenty of defensive units. They'll be invaluable for defending from counterattack and occupying the cities that you take.)
Many a war has failed because the leaders did not set clear goals, or tried to go too far once those goals were achieved. So before I made any move, I made certain that I was aware of my war aims. Most of these were, in fact, not combat related at all. The goals of my anti-Zulu campaign, in descending order of priority, were as follows:
1. Start a Golden Age by winning a combat with a Bowman.
2. Set the research path for Scientific Method and build the Theory of Evolution in Babylon.
3. After discovering Scientific Method, get Industrialization and start building Universal Suffrage in Ashur (my second capital).
4. Take advantage of the Golden Age to build Hospitals, Factories, and Police Stations in the largest cities. Use the medium-sized cities to crank out replacement Cavalry and Riflemen for the war effort.
5. If possible, get a Great Leader from combat, create an Army, win a battle with it, and start building the Heroic Epic and Military Academy.
6. Take and hold as many Zulu cities as possible.
7. Cut off Zulu access to strategic resources.
If all went well, and no one stabbed me in the back, the end result of this war would be to jump-start my industrial revolution and give me a serious leg up on the other Great Powers. Now all that remained was to get Shaka good and angry...
Dec 27, 2001, 03:31 PM
Ahh! Write, write! Ley's see how the Zulu war goes!
Dec 28, 2001, 07:34 AM
I agree with Toasty! I look forward to your next installment, Jimcat.
Dec 28, 2001, 09:49 AM
Originally posted by Kev
I agree with Toasty! I look forward to your next installment, Jimcat.
Yes please continue,
It is a very good story
i want to know how you finished as Russia in the second world war.
The ethiopian location is the best starting position for me.
Dec 28, 2001, 09:50 AM
Originally posted by Kublai-Khan
i want to know how you finished as Russia in the second world war.
Jan 02, 2002, 08:00 AM
Well, haven't had a lot of time to post stories here for the past few days, but the Zulu War turned out to be a great success. I began with a campaign of aggressive diplomacy, telling the Zulus to get out whenever they set one foot in my land. (They kept trying to send Settlers and Impis north through my territory -- there was still a little bit of unoccupied land around the Black Sea and I assume they were trying to expand to it. Not bloody likely.)
When my Closed Door Policy didn't tick them off quickly enough, I got even more aggressive, demanding tribute every turn that was about equal to their entire GDP (25-30 gold). For a few turns they knuckled under with a "paying you tribute is less costly than going to war" message, but I knew that Shaka wouldn't take it forever. Sure enough, he ultimately declared war on me. My allies the Bismarck and Catherine immediately declared war on Shaka as well (not that Germany could do much, way up in the North American plains, but Russia turned out to make a difference). Even tiny little Japan got into the action, signing a military alliance with Germany against the Zulus.
My first action, naturally, was to send my Swordsmen and Bowmen against his one isolated city in East Africa. Sure enough, a Bowman took out a Warrior, and the Golden Age of Babylon had begun. The ensuing battles also promoted a couple of Swordsmen to elite status, and produced the first Great Leader. Truly momentous times for Babylon had begun...