Marathon Man: the World is FLAT!


Mar 17, 2010

For those of you who have been busy playing Civilization all of these years and forgot what it's like to go outside, or for those of you who may be too young to know or too old to know what's even going on anymore, history takes forever. Times moves slow as it's going, and next thing you know it's years later.

I mean, how else can national leaders survive 6050 years? From pointy sticks to nukes and everything in between.

But no I say, Civilization goes far too fast -- things really need to get slowed down a few notches. I say stop and take your time instead of bee-lining through the tech tree. Put some wear on those pointy sticks.

It's time for a MARATHON-ON-ON-ON-ON

Game Settings
Spoiler :

Nothing terribly exciting or ground breaking. If I end up having the difficulty set too easy I can always go back and change it for next time. A few points of interest:
Map Style: Four Corners. Why? Because I'm tired of the AI sea-failing. At least this way I'll get some land on land action. I was going to go for random but it kept bugging.
No Time Victory: If the game lasts longer than 2050, so be it. Your score means NOTHING to me.
Leader Choice?: I was going to go for random but the first three times I got the last three leaders I played as. No sir, wanted to try something new so I chose they guy with a burning city behind him and a sword over his shoulder. How quaint?
Victory Plan: It really depends on what cards are dealt to me?

And yes, my graphics processor is bad enough to where I don't get to see any of the neat animations everyone is talking about. Alas.

The Starting Location: 4000BC

Oh Askai, let's roll out the pity parade shall we? Some wonderful history of overthrowing oppressive west African nations only to get shot down by boom sticks and mortar. It's not fair. Not at all. Wah wah, but things are going to be different this time.

Except that we start out in the middle of the desert. Seriously, a DESERT. We're supposed to be trying to compete with the other nations out there, but noooo...let's put a mighty (let me boost my ego here) African nation in the desert. Sure, why not? Stereotypes can be fun!

Except...this starting location has promise. There is a nice river with lots of flood plains. I'm already seeing two different kinds of luxuries. Some workable hills. It's not ideal but it's not terrible either. Certainly not worth moving my settler around to find a better spot.

But you want to know what the "marathon" really means? Check out the science progression:

How many turns? THAT many turns?!?! Well, it looks like we are going to be in the pointy stick ages for quite some time. And scouts taking 20 turns is fabulous -- then again, Gao (how awesome of a name is that?) is really wanting for Hammers. Looks like I'll have to look for a different city for production.

Looking Forward
Time to run off and meet the neighbors! Hopefully they'll be nice, or if not that at least they'll be plentiful? If anything, the slow production means I need to really be careful with my units. They are precious.

More to come as I develop/photoshop the pictures!
You know, I went throughout school thinking the physicists and rocketeers and stuff were right. The world is round. We're on a sphere. And while we're at it the planet revolves around the sun and we are on the extremity of the universe. To that I say "hogwash." The world is flat my friend. Eventually you can't go any further because you'll just stop...or hit some invisible wall...or the powers that be pull you back.

Life is just a board game, and unfortunately your minivan just has one blue peg in the driver's seat and you're in last place with no cash.

The First 100 Turns
(ed. note: my story writing style is less an ARR and more of a "write when stuff happens" report, so there will be some jumps in time with nothing and some turns with a lot to say.)

I sent my one lone warrior boldly east to see what was in the world. This is counter intuitive, as obviously there should be some good signs of life if I follow the river north or south. But no, I chose east. Away from the water. Luckily for my warrior, away from the desert too. But this warrior wasn't just any warrior -- he was destined for greatness. How so?

1) The first ruin he found contained a secret weapon known as a "spear." Amazing stuff. Stabbing things instead of clubbing things -- now that's use of technology!
2) The next ruin he found contained spears that were somehow better than the spears they had -- plus some neat helmets. He became a Pikeman. That's right, an ancient time pikeman. I wonder if he could rule the world on his own? Our neighbors beware!

But our one main man was not just a war mongerer. He was a bonafide philanthropist. Why wait a long time on research when you can rely on stumbling across ancient technology. BEHOLD!

So on turn 8 I go from needing over 20 turns to reach the next tech to jumping straight to masonry. It's my lucky day.

But if there is one key thing our warrior --> spearman --> pikeman did more than anything else, it was take advantage of the wilderness. He found barb camp after barb camp, and what is the prize for clearing a barb hut? 250 gold. Let me type that again in bold face:

250 gold

Holy c-cow! Is that a marathon thing or an Askai bonus thing? Who knows, but that led to two decisions that are starting to give my game some direction:

The first is to adopt honor. Being able to see when barb camps pop up in any area I explored means I can send a unit to squish them and roll in the cash Almost seems a little too good to be true, because instead of having to wait tens of turns to build a unit...

Yes, units are more expensive on Marathon. I understand that and I understand why -- but popping barb hut after barb hut allowed me to buy a worker and buy a settler real fast so I didn't have to stifle my city's growth and expand early to a location with more production.

But Where to Settle to?...Hmm...

So my beatsticks are allowing me to settle early. That's great. But the question is where should I go next. To the east is the edge of the world -- scary stuff, don't know if I want my citizenry taking a wrong turn and plummeting to their deaths. To the north is just coastline, but with some fish and whales. That seems promising. To the west is desert, some river, and very quickly a range of mountains. Maybe not there. So what about the south?

Well, Vienna, the first city state I've met, is to the southeast of me. Their location isn't great, though strangely it is devoid of desert. Well, that seat's taken. But they do have spices. Something to consider in the future.

But who else is to the south?

Hello neighbor! Sorry my laptop can't make you move -- so I"ll have to settle for you blankly staring at me. And yes, keep talking through that sterling facade. Your refusal of my pact of cooperation tells me you're not just trying to be isolationist.

Well, how else am I going to get cozy with my neighbor? One way, by moving next door! South down the river it is. There is a nice location in another flood plain with a number of hills around it. And not all of them are desert hills either. A much better city for production, that's for sure. So it's settled, let's pack our bags and --

Shanghai has been built just north of Beijing. Towards me. In an kind of inexpiable spot on a hill but then again the Chinese survived a lot longer than we did -- they probably know something we don't.

Turn 100 Update
So here's the map. Notice the mini-map in the bottom right hand corner. See? I wasn't lying. THEY were wrong. Educated elitist pricks.

I've met some other new, interesting faces (Ghandi, Monty, Catherine, Hia, Japan Guy (Oso?) and a plethora of city states. But somehow, some way, it looks like it's just me and China in the southern part of the world. And with all kinds of land to explore, China made the mistake of expanding up river.

We're not going to make the same mistake twice. Getting shot at with guns while we throw spears -- not this time around sucker.

For those of you more inclined to look at the strategic layout:
Spoiler :

Notice Monty also has a shiny Pikeman exploring near where I live. I guess I wouldn't have conquered the world with one unit. Oh to dream big. But should I just start to focus on my quadrant?

Well. Should I? What do my advisers say?

Hmm, you all look exactly like the advisers I had the last three or four games I played. Wouldn't it be great to have the advisers as famous individuals from the different cultures (almost like a who's who or something). Seems like a missed opportunity -- or something they'll add in the future.

But military adviser has some interesting intel. I noticed one Chinese warrior as I explored around their area. Maybe they have more than one, but their military is scant if that. And with my growing barbarian chest and my tech focus soon turning to archery, it looks like I might be able to catch SOMEBODY by surprise.

That would be a nice turn of the tables. Having the longest lasting civilization in the game being obliterated by the shortest lasting.

Looking Forward:
Off to do more exploring and if the opportunity presents itself time for an attack of opportunity against China. Maybe Ghandi too? I don't know -- but it would be great to have the whole southeastern area for myself.
The Battle for China
By settling in the wrong direction, China has set us up for the war path. These are our lands, and our constant hunting of barbarians has dramatically increased our war chest. The only delay I made was to wait for archery to finish before I made my push -- then I bought two archers to bring down to the front line. As of yet, I have still only seen two warriors for the Chinese army. Our force?

Two warriors, two archers, and a pikeman. Not a large force but considering it's epic and it's early, likely a sufficient force to take both cities and carry the day. (note, sorry I left the resource icons on, I'll try and remember to turn those off during future war coverage).

Strategic view:
Spoiler :

And with that, we're poised and ready for war against the Chinese.

Phase 1:
I'm not a perfect strategist when it comes to 1UPT, although I prefer it to the stack of death alternative. Sure enough, China only had two warriors, and I got my ground units in position to surround Shanghai.

The red arrows are for moves I made the next turn, and I'm glad I looked at my pictures again because I unnecessarily moved my southern archer into danger when moving my east warrior to attack the other warrior would have a) shielded the archer from attack and b) not exposed it to bombardment from Shanghai and Beijing (which is exactly what happened between turns). I really like the archer's ability to move and shoot, I just need to be more careful with them.

Of course, Shanghai was no match for my force -- and with the poor city placement my only choice was to burn it down:

No losses! I decided to pull back to give my units a few turns to heal instead of slamming themselves across the river and uphill against the Chinese capital. Of course, this allow allowed the Great General I earned to move down and bolster my force's strength. China has no other military units and just one worker. They attempt to offer peace but the scent of blood is too strong.

Phase 2:
Once our forces regained their strength, it was only a matter of time before we got the surround on Beijing.

And that's how China fell in 2000 BC. And fortunately Beijing has two luxuries I don't have! Dyes and Fur. Of course, I don't have trapping and it's low priority as I'm pushing for Iron Working, but that allows me the ability to expand even more in the future. For now, Beijing is a puppet, but at least it's building a monument.

Looking Forward

With our closest player neighbor out of the picture, it's just a bunch of city states I need to shift through, we now have dominance in the southeastern area of the flat map (see, the world IS flat!). Just after defeating China, I bought another settler to found a city next to whales (which two of my cities are demanding). You know, I'm starting to think the 3x barb/pillage bonus is almost too good on epic. Once I stop building infrastructure and start building straight units it's going to get ugly. Of course -- the barbs have to keep popping in my back yard.

And in case you are wondering, yes Gao is building stonehenge. I'm not sure if I'll get it because the city barely gets any hammers, but if I can pull it off it would be huge for being able to grab a bunch of workable tiles.

However, my next goal might be to secure the area into my corner. Already, Monty has plopped a city down next to three silvers I was eyeing. But, more importantly, Ghandi has a great city location in the middle and has practically no army.

As you can see from the map, my four city empire is FAR larger than what anyone else has (except Monty from what I can see). There's more map to explore, but unfortunately my scout got owned by a barbarian pincer attack. However, all AI is accounted for and individually I could probably take the whole northeastern side no problem.

For being on Epic, this game could go really fast because any time I get a barb hut I get showered in cash. Add that with going down honor towards 1/2 cost unit upgrades, and a domination victory seems in order.

More to come!

edit: though I'll say I'm a little disappointed with the four-corners map. I mean, it's exactly what is advertised, four corners with separation. However, I was kind of hoping for something more dynamic than straight lined oceans. Well, if anything, all of the ancient ruins got popped early and everybody has met everyone by now. So that's an advantage -- but I wish the map had a little more variety.
i'll just wait for more. never played on marathon myself in civ 4
i'll just wait for more. never played on marathon myself in civ 4

More what? There's always more!

Where we last left off, it was turn 162 and only 1880 BC. Hey, I wanted a slow game, right? I'm getting it, although with the number of units I've gotten things have been going fast paced. Between targeting nations and attempting constantly chasing down barbs, the early game has been very good to me. But I did manage to make a very useful friend while fighting barbs:

Maritime city states are strong. Overly strong in marathon? I don't know -- everything grows so freaking slow. Just the same, I'm glad to make them my ally, especially since they have a luxury I lack.

Of course, as I said before, my next mission was to get a foothold in the middle of the world (because the world is flat and everything), and unfortunately our peaceful friend (and he did like us at this point) Ghandi has a city smack in the middle of the map. Someone was going to get him at some point anyway, why not be me?

Oh. I guess he didn't appreciate my offer to take over. Hmm...

Oh no! I'm getting unpopular! (there will be more of this later)

A Brief War with India

My plan was pretty much this, although my archer ended up in a different position:

Obviously, I waited until my spear was at full health. But once again, I'm just trying to put pressure on the capital with my superior numbers. My units aren't terribly advanced, but they're far more numerous than India and its one city. Needless to say, the attack went something like this.

I pushed in completely unchallenged. There was some bombardment, but it looks like Ghandi is tucking his head and hiding in the sand (oh wait, we're the ones in the sand).

And with that done India is MINE!

Or...wait. No it isn't. I just have Dheli with very little effort on my part whatsoever. But there was no notice of me wiping out India. Hmm, did they hide one of their cities in the northwest away from my scouting view?

Well, I'm sure India is absolutely crippled, and if I stumble upon them I can crush what's left of their empire. Until along comes Ghandi...

Now that's a great deal for peace. The country obviously has nothing left and with me not wanting to cut through the fog of war to find them the price is just high enough for me to no longer bother. India, consider yourself spared. I can knock you back again as soon as I can try to find you. Then again, that might not even be necessary -- I don't need to bother with them anymore to get a domination victory.

Demographic Look After Taking India's Capital

Looking Forward
I think I'm going to be marching down the war path, and considering how I've been buying units almost non-stop and my opponents have been waiting for build timers, I think I'll be able to mop up the rest of the world in a reasonable amount of time. I thought King would be harder, maybe not.

But meta-gaming aside, I've reached an important point in my progress:

All right! Now I can throw advanced units at my opponents once the 23 turns pass to build a mine (yeah, really). But unfortunately there is no iron within my borders. But it's close...

Southeast of Beijing is a stack of SIX iron. Sweet! It's the only time I have bought a tile the whole game, as the spot where my settler is standing is too good compared to one space west, which puts me into useless tundra.

However, there is more iron. Six is a lot, but I can do better than just six. And the iron is close to my empire too. The catch?

Oh Florence. You have to be located just east of my empire and surrounded by 4 more iron in your borders, a luxury I don't have, and 4 more iron just northeast of you. It sure seems like a poor case of wrong place wrong time (depending on your perspective of course).

I wonder if I can dominate the world before the AD period?
Props to you for patience. If I ever tried to play on Marathon, I'd shoot myself in the face with my roommate's staple gun.

Seeing the perks of Songhai, eh? :D They're my new favorite civ. Or second-favorite, it's hard to dislodge the Greeks from their throne.
Props to you for patience. If I ever tried to play on Marathon, I'd shoot myself in the face with my roommate's staple gun.

Seeing the perks of Songhai, eh? :D They're my new favorite civ. Or second-favorite, it's hard to dislodge the Greeks from their throne.

Thanks. And although the first few turns were pretty slow with only one city building something that took forever, the game has not felt terribly slow. Instead, I have been able to amass a number of units and those units move at just the same speed. If anything, I'm going for domination victory to not be forced to sit and watch a work shop take 80 turns to build!

And yes, I had no idea of the strength of Songhai, but the barb and city $ is amazing. And I haven't even been able to benefit from the defending oneself on rivers because there is no river around. I'm also pretty excited about the free culture building, as that will help with the land grab.

I've played more into my game than I've posted, but I'll say this much: people who play marathon games to go for a space victory are masochists.
Fantastic game so far, and a very amusing writeup. Props
Great game & writeup.

Interestingly this is pretty much an Always War game now and I suspect you'll continue to walk over the AI whenever you want. I've found that once you've taken out a couple of AI's the rest won't trust you for hundreds of turns -- no pacts, no balanced trading, etc.

I love how Gandhi had 600 gold when you killed him and he never thought of buying an Archer or walls or anything useful. The AI is terrible
I love how Gandhi had 600 gold when you killed him and he never thought of buying an Archer or walls or anything useful. The AI is terrible

True that I'm a little surprised the AI isn't buying more units on marathon. It's the only way to get over the snail's pace of the game. On the other hand, in Ghandi's defense, on marathon walls are 1100 gold (I think) and archers are 700.

And they really need to fix the mechanic where it's cheaper to get low units and upgrade them.
Turn 200 and a Turn for the Worse
Of course, maybe not worse for me. But little bitty innocent Florence that has done absolutely nothing wrong to me and has had no other city state put a hit on it has something I desire. Something I need. Iron, and lots of it.

Interestingly enough, Florence seems poised to put up more of a fight than any of the in game empires have. Is King/Marathon just too easy? Perhaps, but observe.

I count FOUR military units around their city. That's more than I had to deal with from China and India combined. Maybe they were preparing for the inevitable? I don't know, but the war path for me is pretty clear.

The split arrow is for in case the warrior doesn't take out the arrow. But my expectation is that I'll be able to destroy practically all of Florence's army in one turn and take the city shortly thereafter. Siege equipment? Who needs it!

Yes, this looks like a simple mop up job to me (except, amazingly, Florence managed to pick off one of my warriors in the process. Kudos! I lost a unit!). Just the same, the result was inevitable and another neighbor has been conquered.

And total shocker, notice just how far out in front I am on turn 202:

I am a little surprised Catherine is hanging so close, and I have seen Monty's army and it's just a bunch of jaguars. Certainly those are two viable targets for the future.

Now you're getting popular!
Then again, it seems my taking of Florence got a lot of people's attention. Observe:

Oh goodie! Now I'm villain of the world it seems, no one wants to cooperate with me all because I just took one little reach to get some resources. It's not like I've gotten all bent out of shape when the AI has done it.

But then, of course, somebody has to open their trap the next turn and take things one step further:

OH NO YOU DIDN'T. Mr. Hiawatha, you have just been marked for death my friend. Throwing words like that around with your two city empire is pretty ballsy, I'll give you that. But throwing those words around is just plain asking for it.

Two cities in the northeast reaches of the world, along with one Japanese city. Downfall? Surely you're joking. But you want to know what isn't joking?

Notice that wad of cash I have? Notice those 6 iron I just got hooked up? Can you guess what's going to be beating down your door in a hurry? Just you wait and see, friend.

Really buddy? I'm massing my forces in the middle of the map and your puny city-state is far in the distance.

Want to see what my invasion force looks like? It's not as impressive as one might think, but keep in mind that this is a marathon game at around turn 225 and approximately 1250 BC. I have a feeling this is a bigger, more powerful force than the rest of the world combined.

So, without further ado:

Iroquois: Big Talk Little Bite

Above is the extent of the Iroquois empire. They chop down their mighty trees for production, and otherwise throw stones at the wrong people. I even rescued one of their workers from a barbarian decades back. The shame of it all.

And yes, you'll notice that Persia built a city right next to the Iroquois and that it was promptly taken. So, obviously, they do have some form of military.

Well, the war declaration happens and apparently Hiawatha just has a dirty mouth:

My word? I called you straight out. Oh, about that whole troops passing through thing? Well, let bygones be bygones, alright?

I only have a good pic after I declared war and made some movements, but from it you can tell that we had already won before the fighting even started:

I see an archer or two and a warrior standing in my way. Surely there has to be more than that somewhere, right? I mean, you don't beat down a city with one warrior.

But we advance, and on turn 239 we're in a dominant position.

Can you guess what happens next?

Well, there was practically no defense there -- not that it would have mattered anyway. But everything went so quick! There can only be one explanation: I had to have caught Hiawatha with his pants down, because he has another city somewhere else and he has to have some of his forces in the fog of war defending it, right?

Now that's what I call a peace treaty. A city thrown in? Okay, maybe. Depends on the city,

Nope, nevermind, burn that baby down. But at least it shows me that he has some army somewhere and obviously he has one more city in the world. But who cares, his capital is down and for all intents and purposes he is completely crippled.

Maybe now you'll learn to keep your mouth shut.

The City-State of Kyoto/Japan: You Were Playing to Win, Right?
Meanwhile, in the upper corner I can't help but notice that Japan has sat the whole game with just one city. Is it by choice? Is it because of barbs? Is Japan playing a one city challenge? Who knows -- all I know is that I have my forces up here already. Might as well close the deal:

Bloodthirsty one? It's nice to know my reputation proceeds me. As for Kyoto itself, the whole situation is flat out laughable:

A warrior, an archer, a worker, and WHAT!?!? a settler? Finally, around turn 248 Japan has built a settler? Well, Japan's military is paltry, surely I can push in and...

They popped a great general! The settler is getting away! OOHDEAR! I think I'm seriously about to conquer Japan in three turns. Something tells me the AI isn't balanced for Marathon at all. (And yes, that's Monty's magic pikeman exploring the world some more).

Finally some respect! Well, there there buddy, there there. Kyoto is mine with it's ivory, which means three of my cities spring WLTKD. Woot, more growth (slow growth, but still growth).

The Game at Turn 251
I don't know why I went to turn 251 exactly, but I did. I think the challenge for me at this point is to see whether or not I can end the game before the end of the BC period. With my number of cities and massive military, along with my cities beginning to build libraries, I am at a major research advantage.

For those of you interested, here are the maps and stats.

I think I'm going to go after the southwestern states next, as at least there I've explored the map and have an idea of what I'm getting myself into. Monty has a large but low tier military. I have no idea what's going on with Russia or Siam, but my senses tell me I should bring some siege equipment with me just to be safe.

Who needs happiness when you're king of the world?
True that I'm a little surprised the AI isn't buying more units on marathon. It's the only way to get over the snail's pace of the game. On the other hand, in Ghandi's defense, on marathon walls are 1100 gold (I think) and archers are 700.

And they really need to fix the mechanic where it's cheaper to get low units and upgrade them.

Ah, but it's King difficulty -- so presumably the costs are reduced for the AI to buy things. (I haven't looked at the coding or looked for a summary of the effects of higher difficulty.
hm, I take, there was no interest in having Florence has an allied state? It would've given you the iron, as soon as it had it connected, iirc.
hm, I take, there was no interest in having Florence has an allied state? It would've given you the iron, as soon as it had it connected, iirc.

If they had been a maritime state, maybe. As a cultural state? No way. Taking Florence makes it accessible to me quicker and allows me to put a worker on it immediately. Furthermore, I'm going to kill all of the other leaders anyway, so I don't care what they think of me. Finally, the amount of gold I'd have to sink into them to maintain an alliance was not worth it to me when I would need that gold to upgrade/pump out units for future wars.

So I thought about it, but for the kind of game I'm playing I'd rather just take them and be done with it.
It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
My immediate neighbors China and Florence? Crushed by necessity. My norther neighbors the Iroquois and Japanese? Crushed for insolence and weakness respectively. But to the west lies the challenge of more powerful foes. The promise of getting some resistance to my undefeated army. If the rest of the world is going to call me a bully for picking on the weak, then why don't they show me what they've got.

The game time is approximately turn 263 and it's 870 BC. Remember, this is marathon, where everything builds slow and costs more, but the units act the same once they're in play.

My Friend the Aztecs
I've had my eye on the Aztecs for awhile, as they snuck in a city into the southeast side of the world sitting on three silver. What worries me more? That the city is also their only source of iron. Right now their army is a bunch of jaguars -- I do not want to give them a moment's opportunity to upgrade their units.

That said, I have formed something close to a friendship with the Aztecs. We even have a research agreement together -- amazingly. Although it ends in 90 turns and cost me 600 gold, I'm willing to break it just to get this game moving. My army is strong enough -- I'm not terribly concerned with teching faster at this point.

Strategic View:
Spoiler :

So there is their city on my side of the map with my superior units ready to come in. As a bonus, Belgrade has asked for help because Monty is currently throwing units at the city-state. Sure, it's a military state, but a free unit or two for the price of nothing is a bonus for any conflict I might enter.

So I knock on Monty's door -- he's happy enough to see me.

Well, happy for Monty anyway.

But I guess he didn't like the news.

Really? A few notches? I'd love to see you try. No, seriously. I'd love to -- four civs conquered so far and the only one that put up a legit fight was the city state Florence.

And I get a surprise message:

I didn't realize declaring war caused the research agreement to end and to pop a tech anyway. I hope that gets patched -- I was more than willing to just lose the 600 gold. At least I only got optics, which is a tech that doesn't matter to my push to victory -- so I don't feel very dirty

So that aside, time to clean up my borders:

I push into their city quickly, and although I lost my southern swordman to a pack of jaguars, my northern archer, pikeman, and two swords are more than enough.

As a result, I moved the rest of my forces towards the western front and towards the bigger prizes:

Just two more cities to take. More luxury resources. I'm planning on keeping both, although I'm not sure how much more Monty has in the way of an army. But just in case other enemies advance I buy some very special units to help me out after completing construction (or is it mathematics?).

Well, whatever tech it takes for your civ to magically figure out that you can fling a rock long distances. Okay, they're slow and they won't make it in time to take out Monty, but they'll certainly help against a more militaristically capable Catherine.

The push on Tenochtitlan is surprisingly easy. Was Monty really running around with just those few Jags?

Unlike other leaders, he DOES manage to buy an archer to garrison his city, but by then it's too late.

His capital crumbles, and like other Civs before him he begs for mercy.

Not good enough. I want both of your cities. Prepare to die.

One great general vs. a "horde" of that many units? Once again, the computer doesn't seem to know what to do with itself on marathon -- at least on King difficulty.

But at least Monty appreciates the work I did for him.

It's hard to tear out the hearts of your men when you no longer control any high priests to do it for you.

But thanks for the friendship and the memories Monty. I didn't exactly want to kill you, but if it's what YOU wanted...

The Siamese Solution
Next on the list was Siam, a country with hardly any military to the west of the Aztecs. Well, they were on the list UNTIL I got a friendly message as I was beginning my march on Tinochtitlan:

Thanks Cathy! You're the best. Of course, all that means now is that I won't be distracted by Siam on the way to marching to you. That said, I'll have to worry about my forces getting flanked from the South and West on my march down -- but something tells me I have a far superior military. On the other hand, if she was making such an offensive push this might be the perfect time to attack.

Meanwhile, my second scout to the northwest (my first one got killed by Hia right before the war with the Iroquois ended) found where India managed to settle.

It looks like they had the right idea of getting out of the middle of the map -- but to settle so far away? They're in the far west of the northwestern corner of the world. Oh well, I don't have to deal with them anymore -- but still, such low grade units. I also now know where Egypt's capital is -- that's a plus.

Catherine the Most Worthy Adversary
And now, the heavy weight bout of the game. The only two civs to take out other civs. The two highest scoring civs at this point in the game. My catapults are almost in position. My swordmen, pikemen, and archers have successfully healed from the Aztec campaign. The time is right to strike.

All I am seeing is one warrior and one archer that Catherine exposed by moving it out of Novgorod EVEN THOUGH a bunch of units are about to strike the city. Is she falling back immediately? I can strike now and take out whatever army I see -- or I can wait a few more turns for the catapults to arrive while she organizes her army. Time to pay Catherine a little visit.

Ahem. Given the circumstances, I think Novgorod is about to get torched...

In actuality, it isn't even a contest. Russia's northernmost city falls like wet paper, and the march on Moscow turns into a sprint to the capital.

Notice I'm training Chivalry. I've already bought some horsemen to upgrade to Aiska's amazing UU when I get the chance. They're already positioned in Delhi and ready to strike northwest.

As for Russia's army, is that the best you've got? I think I am officially disappointed. The two northwestern-most swords took out two archers that popped out of the fog of war to the west. But otherwise Russia has a skeleton defense. I mean, this is a sign of a good timing attack, but my army is so massive and so far all of the computer's armies have been nonexistent. Well, time to close the deal...

Except JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, Russia runs to the table at the last second with an offer for peace:

I'm after Moscow. I could care less about the other cities. Not...good...enough.

And Moscow falls with minimal effort...and St. Petersburg shortly thereafter. Russia's defense was so pathetic that I pulled off most of my strike force and sent them back north in preparation for going after Egypt and Persia. Maybe the epic battle I've been waiting for lies in the newly explored north.

So Russia has been severely beaten back to the point where it only holds the Siamese capital as its own. As a sign of mercy for defeating Siam for me, I offer Russia peace. She throws in the following:

And with that accord, the southwest quadrant of the world is no longer a threat. All that remains are the enigmas of Persia and Egypt.

Looking Forward
The end is just as inevitable as it has been, and I'm going to finish out this game mainly for the audience watching at home. At least it shouldn't take too much longer, and if I split up my forces appropriately I should be able to end the game in the BC era with no problems whatsoever.

Here is where I have left to conquer:


I've been getting smart remarks from Darius the whole game about how I'm such a bully. I look forward to eradicating him from the map completely


If anything, Egypt has been a bit of an enigma. I have heard nothing from them since I first met them, and I find it strange that they only have two cities. I can only imagine two other nations being forced into the northwest portion of the map has something to do with it.

You can see that there are Indian and Iroquois cities interspersed throughout the northwest, but as I've already taken out their capitals they are no longer of any concern to me.

Statistics at or Around Turn 300 / 500-470 BC
Spoiler alert: I'm out in front. Way out in front. On turn 300 I was even informed that we've gained a significant tech lead compared to the remaining civs.

So if they haven't been expanding, and if they haven't been building units stronger than archers and spearmen, what exactly have the AI opponents been doing? Waiting for me to destroy them?

There's my score relative to the rest of the empires, the world map, and a look at my capital Gao that has built very little the whole game. I think it has just been scout --> monument --> warrior? --> Stonehenge attempt that I missed by 2 turns --> library --> UB --> Market. That apparently takes 300 turns. I don't want to imagine going for a space victory on marathon speed. Seriously, that just hurts me to think about.

But Darius has a higher score than Catherine did when I first declared war. Maybe there's hope for one nation to put up a good fight from my invading force -- even if I have my city attack bonus UU knights working their way up from Delhi once my Chivalry research completes.

As for other stats and matters, my cities first. Notice all the puppets:

And the demographics?

Once again, I'm ignoring happiness at this stage of the puppets are beginning to build circuses. Good for them.

My goal is to end this game ASAP and move on to a better challenge. Hopefully I can end it with a bang!
Note from the previous post: not once anywhere did I see Monty's magic pikeman in my campaign against him. It's a shame that's what he used to scout -- it might have actually helped his cause.

The Moment We Have All Been Waiting For
Actually, the moment itself came a little early. You see, as I was just finishing researching Chivalry, and just as I was trying to move my units into position near the Persia/Egypt borders, a very peculiar unguarded unit popped out of Persepolis.

A settler!

Persia already has four cities. They're the highest scored remaining AI in the land. My units are in no way positioned to see what kind of units they have stationed within their borders.

But on the other hand the settler is unguarded. That may or may not be carelessness by the AI, but on the other hand allowed Persia to throw up a whole new city could put a major delay in ending the game.

I bite.

And with that declaration, we have reached...

The Beginning of the End
I only have a few swordmen in position to march into Persia. I do have a great general nearby and catapults a stonesthrow away. My UUs have just been upgraded on the turn change, but they won't be part of the early push into Persia as I intended. Such is the way of the "attack of opportunity."

But I am amazed when I walk into Persia. Not by its rolling hills. Not by its plethora of wonders and wealth. Not by The Oracle which currently sits under construction in Persepolis (keep that in mind). No, can you see what's missing from the following picture?

If you said anything resembling a standing army, you are CORRECT. And it wasn't because I pushed in and killed them -- they were never there to meet me as I walked into his borders. Heck, Hiawatha has swarms and swarms of buzzing in the southwest. He even hooked up his iron and finally built his UU. India has swarms of Warriors and spearmen marching around the north. But Persia? Its army disappeared like bees.

With no army to fight my swarm of units, this is the anticlimax of all anticlimaxes:

Wait a minute, with a huge strike force you changed one of your city's production to THE ORCALE?!?! That's just plain offensive.

What can I say, my hopes of an epic final battle are dashed. Completely and totally dashed. I'm sorry I don't have anything more exciting to report. Like everyone else he tries for peace:

But as I said before, his previous words have not been forgotten. There will be no Persia in the world I am creating.

You're right, there was a mistake. Your mistake.

The End of the End

While the Persian victory march was happening, I decided to put my remaining forces into a push west to Egypt to close finish the game. And with those few extra turns guess who's finally in the northwest corner to make the push?

The cavalry has come. I will be disappointed if all they get to cut through is cities (even though they do get a HUGE bonus vs. cities).

So I knock on Ramses' door.

Either he's not impressed or he knows exactly what's coming.

Hey! I've heard that line somewhere before...

I start the invasion, and SHOCKER! My forces are met by the might of the Egyptian army!

Which...unfortunately, consists of all warriors. Warriors! (come out to play-ee-aay) The game has lasted over 300 turns. C'mon guys, you can't just have warriors running around like they own the place.

My UU delivers as advertised. Holy Mandekalu! I know Memphis only has a city defense rating 9...but...

That's a really strong attack to nearly take it out single handed.

My push towards Thebes comes with two surprises:

First, there were two spearmen waiting in the fog of war, and one of them combined with a bombard took out one of my cavalry. NOOOO!!! Second, after so far into the game it's shocking to me that invading the Iroquois would be a much more difficult challenge than dethroning the last standing civ in the game. Not only does Hiawatha have iron and have it hooked up, but he has a lot more units in general. I'm not even going after Egypt with a need for ranged/combined arms to back up my push.

And, and did I mention that Thebes is also building THE ORACLE?!?! What a poor decision.

Another civ going out with a wimper, not with a bang. Ramses doesn't even beg for peace, he knows his time has passed.

The Actual End: Turn 316 in the year 340 BC

Worst end sequence ever. I blame 2k for forcing this game out the gate early. I had the same problem with the NBA2k10 PC release last year (which didn't get fixed for half a year after the console versions had been patched twice).

But here's a few screens from just before I took Thebes:

At least they're finally not unhappy?

Egypt expanded just as I was killing it. What, does the game decide to pump out a settler when it's facing a huge invasion force? That's the 3rd time I've seen a settler appear right as I'm attacking in the game. Maybe I just have good timing.

Note that production is during a golden age, the actual amount is 89 (as reflected in the final demo screen, but it's practically the same as here with a smaller Egypt).

My score is higher than all of my opponents combined. Kind of unreal. I thought this was King difficulty, no?

As for my final score on the score screen itself?

If you can't tell, this is the highest scoring finish I've had. Hooray -- kinda.

I'll post a bit of a reflection on the game as a whole after this (with replay I hope). But for now, thanks for reading and hopefully I can stretch out my next story so that it goes over two pages. Well, if anything, my next one won't be on marathon, so I'll have more to talk about on the domestic front instead of "it takes 40 turns to build a monument."
A great game but the end was kinda depressing. I kept expecting a massive battle.. Nothing you could do about it though. Thanks for the writeup!
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