TABLE OF CONTENTS: Hi-diddly-ho, Civ-a-rinos! You lot were such a big help last time (and I think we all had a pretty good time overall) that I decided to pick up where we left off last time with Professor Shaka's War Academy. Last time, we had a lot of good land, an easy early rush, and opponents who teched slowly and couldn't keep up with the war machine. Of course, that was at Noble, where I could afford to make a few mistakes. This time, things will be more... complicated. That's right: inspired by your comments and empowered by a few really easy victories on Prince (there were some bigger stacks, but I was able to breeze through the Pick Your Leader map that everyone was having a rough time with; I also played some offline games), we'll be moving up to Monarch this time! We've learned how to not suck; now, let's learn how to suck less! I'll restate my threefold goal here: 1. to improve my own game 2. to help other players who are stuck at Monarch and below 3. to just have some fun with some creative writing intact and hopefully have a good time with you lot. Just like last time, we're running Fractal with no huts and events. I've decided that each of my online games would be played with a leader from the previous game, so let's meet our contestant today. Last time, she was a tech leader who peace-vassaled to the Zulu Empire when the winds of change began blowing on the other continent, and her little-buddy-style teching helped us make a bloody mess of the peaceful Hindu Holy Land. This time, she's hoping to do better than second place. Please give a warm welcome to the High Queen, Isabella of Spain! Yes, I forgot to take that opening screenshot that reminded us of our traits and uniques! Let's go over them! Isabella, like Shaka, is Expansive, which nets her granary discounts, worker discounts, and a health bonus. Last time, I was criticized for not leveraging Expansive well enough to build a pool of workers to improve my land; this time, I'm hoping to make that better. Isabella is also Spiritual, allowing us to leverage civic changes as we see fit. I love this trait, and I think I'm getting better at using it, but we'll see how it stands up to the Peanut Gallery(TM). Isabella's got a nice pair of... uniques as well. Her Conquistadors are beefed-up Cuirassiers with a bonus against melee units and defensive bonuses. I've been having a lot of success with Cuirassier spam, so this is an enticing one. Her Citadel, meanwhile, is a castle that boosts XP for siege units. Hyper-promoted Trebuchets and Cannon are often considered Is's "second" UU, but keeping them intact requires a different tech path than normal, avoiding Economics. Maybe a run toward State Property, skipping Free Market altogether? Isabella starts with Fishing and Mysticism, which makes her a good candidate to found an early religion. AI Isabella seems to love doing that, of course, building toward Great Prophets to bulb religious techs and then building the AP. It's also the way everyone who plays Isabella on this forum tends to play her, which is why I'm inclined not to do things this way, depending on how things pan out. What do you guys think? The Shaka game ended up being driven largely by Hindu politics, but then again, diplomacy in that game was very straightforward. What do you guys want to see here? Of course, much of that depends on the start. Can we leverage Fishing to get some early tech help? Why yes, yes we can! So much like last time, we're starting in the hill country. Also much like Shaka, we've got a lot of food to burn, all of it on green tiles! Of course, we'll need Ag and AH to improve those tiles, and we'll also need to move down the BW path to take advantage of the bounty we have here. If I move the capital, I'm inclined to go 1S to put us on that river for trade routes and some levees later on. It'll also rope in that green hill to the SW while still keeping all three food sources in the BFC. Thoughts? Comments? Criticisms? Have I lost already? Here's the save if you want to play along. Updates will likely come more slowly this time; I'm working as an editor and contributor to a short story anthology, and we're coming up on the end-of-the-year deadline. Still, I'm excited about our first Monarch game, so let's have some fun!