All Leaders Challenge Game 18: Spain/Isabella Played with the Beyond the Sword expansion pack Pre-Game Thread Starting Position (this post, below) Round 1: 4000 BC to 2875 BC Round 2: 2875 BC to 1050 BC Round 3: 1050 to 290 BC Round 4: 290 BC to 5 BC Round 5: 5 BC to 460 AD Round 6: 460 AD to 1300 AD The idea of the All Leaders Challenge is that I'm going to play a game with each of the Civ IV leaders. With the help of all the posters who participate, I will attempt to make the most of the leader's unique characteristics: traits, starting techs, unit, and building. Aside from the leader, the other game settings are (mostly) kept constant for the sake of comparison. I will post the saved game files, screenshots, and status reports here as the game progresses. Everyone then has a chance to chime in with their strategy ideas, or voice their frustration (or glee) when I make a mistake. Everyone is invited to offer opinions and advice, and to make your own attempt at playing the same game. But if you do play a "shadow game", I kindly request that you refrain from posting spoilers--i.e. any facts or even hints about the map, opponents, and so on--before I'm there myself. I'm trying to play the game as authentically as possible. In this ALC game, I'll be playing as Isabella, leader of Spain. I'm playing the game using the new Beyond the Sword expansion pack. The difficulty level is Monarch, the map is Fractal this time, and the speed is Epic. EDIT: I forgot to mention, when I first posted this, the very important fact that I am playing this game with Solver's unofficial patch for BtS, including the fix that prevents the building of Military Academies before they're actually functional (with Military Science). If you read through the changes in the linked post, I think you'll find that the patch makes the AI a little more challenging and some of the new game elements less frustrating--more fun all around, at least that's what I've found in my off-line games. Here are all of the game settings: A reminder of Isabella's unique characteristics (I like the new BtS start screen): And here is a look at the starting position: This is actually a regenerated map. The previous one had a gold mine, next to a river no less, right next to the Settler. The Peter game made me realize what a powerful start that could be, dare I say overpowered, especially on a difficulty level I'm one game away from leaving behind. (Yes, the next ALC will be played at Emperor level.) So I nobly--or is that foolishly?--passed on the gold mine, but I think this start is pretty darn good for Isabella. First off, I have a lake. Spain on a Lake (TM)! The initial 2 from the lake could help us snag an early religion, if we decide to do so. There are several forests for chopping Workers, Settlers, and/or wonders. And, yes, there's seafood and Isabella starts with fishing. Our first build this time around could be a Work Boat. If we decide to forgo founding an early religion in favour of getting to Theology for Christianity first (an option discussed in the pre-game thread), then I could research agriculture early on in order to get that rice tile on-line. Hey, rice and seafood--if there's more around, we can think about Sid's Sushi Co. later in the game. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. In addition, several people posited running a specialist economy again, and the lake will allow irrigation of at least 5 tiles (not including the one the Settler's on) before Civil Service. With CS, I'll be able to easily irrigate the rice tile. The extra food from the rice, clams, and farms could allow Madrid to become the GP farm. But that means I'll want to save several forests, rather than chop them, to have forest preserves provide free specialists thanks to the national park. That could put a crimp in any wonder plans. Oh well, I really shouldn't complain about being able to choose between beneficial options! The only worrisome thing is the lack of good production tiles. I think that's a hill 2 south of the Settler, but it's hard to tell just yet. Even if it is a hill, it would be the only one in the fat cross. Maybe there's a hidden resource in the BFC? In the pre-game thread, someone mentioned that if you're surrounded by forest except for one empty tile, that's a distinct possibility. And look what's immediately north of the Settler! Keep your fingers crossed. EDIT: As posts further down revealed, the apparent lack of hills is deceptive, the result of a graphics bug that rears its ugly head when you regenerate a map. Reloading the game makes the terrain appear as it should, and I have posted a more accurate screenshot of the starting position above. At this point the only move of the Settler and capital might be 1S in the hopes that there are more hills down there, but it would take several turns delay to find out for sure with either the Warrior or the Settler. Such a move would definitely rule out an early religion. I'm already leaning towards settling in place while the Warrior heads in a westerly direction to begin scoping out the rest of my landmass. Meanwhile, should I attempt to snag one of the early religions or focus on worker techs? The saved game file is below.