[C3C] The Nine Conquests

Lanzelot

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A while ago, tjs282 brought my attention to the fact, that if you win all nine Conquests originally shipped with C3C, you will be shown a video by Sid Meier. This was new to me, I had never seen this video, even though I have successfully completed all of the nine Conquests in the 19 years since C3C came out, some of them even several times with different nations.

The reason was that I was playing on different PCs during those 19 years and apparently never completed all nine of them on the same machine. So I decided to take them on all nine once again and finally unlock that Sid Meier video. And to make it a bit of a challenge, I will attempt to finish them on Deity level.

I was a bit unsure as to whether I should post this in the Stories & Tales forum, or in the Strategy forum, because my writeup will be a bit of both, a report on how my games fared and a description of the strategy I used and of how I think this strategy could be improved so that others can try it in their own attempts and perhaps get some useful advice enabling them to win each Conquest on their own.

Finally a technical hint: when I finished the first Conquest, the game crashed immediately after the victory screen, and before it was able to record my victory in the Hall of Fame file that keeps track of the player's progress towards completing all nine Conquests. I already thought my endeavor was doomed as the HoF screen in the game still showed zero finished Conquests... :(

After some searching in the Technical Support forum I fortunately found the solution: the game keeps the Conquests progress in the file
...\CivilizationIII\Conquests\CampaignRecord.hof
In the newer installations starting with Civilization 3 Complete, this file was created as a "read-only" file, and consequently, when the game tries to write to it in order to record your victory, it simply crashes. (A combination of a bug in the installer and bad error checking code in the game itself...)
Fortunately, the solution is simple: open the Conquests installation directory in Explorer, right-click on the file, choose "Properties" and here un-tick the check-box "Read-only".

properties.png
 
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Lanzelot

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Table of Contents
  1. Mesopotamia
    Egypt, win on Victory Points in turn 103, 740 BC
    Story
  2. Rise of Rome
    Persia, win by Domination in turn 128, 290 AD
    Part 1, Part 2
  3. Fall of Rome
    First Attempt: The Huns, loss on Victory Points to West Rome in turn 99, 522 AD
    Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
    Second Attempt: The Vandals, win on Victory Points in turn 98, 520 AD
    Story
  4. Middle Ages
    The Turks, win on Victory Points in turn 117, 1194 AD
    Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
  5. Mesoamerica
    The Aztecs, win by 2K Culture in turn 107, 1160AD
    Strategy Discussion, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
  6. Age of Discovery
    England, win on Victory Points in turn 77, 1567AD
    Strategy Discussion, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
  7. Sengoku
    The Hojo, win by Shogun Election in turn 129, Oct. 1509
    Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
  8. Napoleonic Europe
    France, win on Victory Points in turn 75, July 1812
    Strategy Discussion, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
  9. WWII in the Pacific
 
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Lanzelot

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Mesopotamia

The Mesopotamia scenario is quite short and the only way to win it, is to rack up a lot of victory points and be the first to reach 5500 VP. VPs are awarded for four types of achievements:
  1. obtaining a technology (strangely, it doesn't matter, whether you research the tech yourself, or trade it from someone else!)
  2. completing a wonder
  3. killing enemy units
  4. capturing enemy cities
(The fifth possibility, VP locations, do not exist in this scenario.)

The game ends, as soon as all 7 wonders of the world are completed, or someone reaches 5500 VP, or after 160 turns, whichever comes first.

The first task is to make a good choice of which tribe you want to lead. I chose Egypt, because it has a nice starting location (if you know how to play floodplain starts), and because it is a bit isolated in its corner with only the Phoenicians as a direct neighbor, and even from them we are separated by a kind of choke-point at Suez. On Deity, you want to stay out of trouble during the early game, so being in the middle of it, where you can get attacked from all sides, is not desirable...

However, even if you want to be isolated on the map, it is very important to not become isolated diplomatically. On Deity, you need to trade techs as much as you can, as otherwise you will quickly be out of the trade loop and then fall back hopelessly. So it is important to send out 1-2 scouting warriors early and make the necessary contacts.

A word on the early research strategy:

bronze_age.png


First I researched Irrigation, the most important tech to get your empire growing. I traded for most of the AIs starting techs, as the contacts came rolling in, and then bee-lined for Oligarchy, which is the first government that gets rid of the Despotism tile-penalty.

It's important to unlock the full shield-, food- and commerce-potential of your worked tiles asap, if you want to compete with Deity AIs. You notice that on the way to Oligarchy, there is another government, Tribal Council. But I did not revolt for that one, as I figured the difference between Despotism and Tribal Council is negligible and does not justify a possibly long anarchy period. (The main differences are mainly a slightly lower corruption [not that important if all your towns are still first-ring around your palace] -- and a military police limit of 3 instead of 2 [also not that important, if your towns are still small]. The most important point, the tile penalty, is still in place under Tribal Council.) So I decided to wait these 2-3 additional techs and then revolt right into Oligarchy.

The above screenshot is from turn 50, I started with Ceremonial Burial and Pottery, I researched only Irrigation, Cuneiform, Tribal Council, Mining (to get some more production), Writing and Code of Laws, and traded for all the nine remaining techs. It says, I am still backward, but after selling Oligarchy around, I got to tech parity with the AI.

The original plan was to set up a strong core of size 12 cities quickly, then trigger the GA with the Egyptian War Chariot (3-1-2, a very nice Bronze Age unique unit, and it can later be upgraded to the powerful Cavalry unit (5-2-2), the best unit in the game). During GA I wanted to complete a couple of wonders and then rack up the rest of the VPs by researching/trading further techs and by warfare.

This strategy worked, but in retrospect I have to say it is not the best one. The game description makes you believe that building wonders is very important in this scenario, but if you consider how much effort it is to build one and how much you have to sacrifice in terms of more important things, it is not really worth it: you get approx. 500 VPs per wonder (depending on the shield-cost of the wonder). And when capturing an enemy city, you get 100 VPs per population of the city. So capturing a size 5 town also gets you 500 points, and capturing a size 12 city gets you 1200 points. Therefore, after playing this game, I think that the optimal winning strategy is to simply ignore the wonders and proceed like this:
  • Build up a strong core
  • Use your production to build a strong army (the horse-based Egyptian UU is perfectly suited for this)
  • Then declare war, capture 5-6 large cities, and together with the points you got from research/tech trading and from killing the enemy's units, this will already push you over the 5500 VP limit.
But let's return to my game. After becoming an Oligarchy, I researched/traded a few of those optional techs that unlock the wonders Statue of Zeus, Temple of Artemis, Pyramids and Great Library. I had set up one of my first ring cities as a wonder city, with enough food from some floodplains and enough shields from a cow, a stone resource, some BGs and some mined deserts. (If food becomes a problem, you can also irrigate a desert, and as Egypt is agricultural, it provides 2f just like an irrigated plains tile!)

This town had then started on a palace prebuild. Unfortunately, the Babylonians declared war at some point (turn 75) and sent some units, and I was forced to use my War Chariots, if I didn't want to lose a town, so the GA started a bit prematurely, when cities were still at size 6 - 10. But nevertheless, by completing the necessary tiles and joining workers, I was able to utilize at least the second half of my GA at almost full potential (size 10-12).

The prebuild was easily converted into the Mausoleum of Mausolos, the capital Thebes also completed a wonder (Statue of Zeus), but the Pyramids, which were started in my wonder city right after Mausolos, got snatched by the AI three turns before I was able to complete it. :( It turned into a rather expensive courthouse...

As I said, it's not worth it to invest a lot of shields into wonders (and risk losing a large part of them in the wonder race...) - it's much better to invest them in units and then get the points via military conquest.

So now 6 of the 7 wonders were completed. The last remaining one, the Great Lighthouse, would definitely go to the AI, as I didn't have any strong coastal city, while some of the AI capitals (the Phoenician capital Tyre, which had already build the Colossus, as well as Mycene) were coastal.

wonders_T86.png
Here the VP scores around that time (turn 86, 1080 BC):

VPs_T86.png
I was in third place, the other two AIs who also had gotten two wonders, were slightly ahead. It was clear that Phoenicia had the best chances of finishing the Lighthouse and winning the game. And it was also obvious, that for me the remaining VPs now needed to come from military conquests. And Phoenicia was my direct neighbor, so I could kill two birds with one stone: prevent Phoenicia from completing the Lighthouse and at the same time rack up my VP score...

As you can see from my score, up to that point I had only lead defensive wars, killing the incoming AI units at the Suez choke-point, which gave me a few points, but not that much. (I had been dog-piled by some AIs on and off, sometimes being at war with 5 of the known 6 AIs, but as they were far away, not many units arrived yet at my borders.)

So now was the time to go on the offensive. In preparation for that, I had already bee-lined to towards Horsemanship during my GA:

iron_age.png
A few words on these techs:
  • Monarchy unlocks another government, but I did not see that much of an advantage over Oligarchy, so I did not revolt, when I got it. (Especially as I was still in GA when I got it...) As the game is so short, I think that risking another 7-9 turn long anarchy period isn't really worth it, even if Monarchy would provide a substantial improvement over Oligarchy (which it doesn't...)
  • Military Training unlocks the strong "Companion Infantry" unit, which at 5-4-1 cannot only attack, but also provides the best defense in this game. And on Deity you certainly need to protect your horse-based attacking force against AI counter-attacks, otherwise your losses will be too high.
  • And Horsemanship finally unlocks the Cavalry unit with 5-2-2 stats a major improvement over the War Chariot (3-1-2)
The problem was only: both units require iron, but I didn't have any yet... Here I have to report a very strange incident: very early on, I noticed a Phoenician worker/spearman pair building a road all through my territory in the western direction. And later they sent a settler/spearman pair west on that road. I wondered what this was about and noticed there is an iron deposit way out west. Here a picture of my empire in 1080 BC, where you can see the "Iron Road" that was built over a long time by that Phoenician worker:

empire_1080BC.png
This was very nice of them, but a bit strange, because they have their own iron deposit, quite close to Tyre?!
Anyway, all that remained to do for me, was to declare war on Phoenicia, capture their settler and use one of the two resulting slaves for an iron colony. Unfortunately, that colony got destroyed soon after in a barb uprising, but it allowed my to do a mass-upgrade of Horsemen and War Chariots to Cavalry and set a few cities on producing these durable infantry men. And I was able to restore the colony a couple of turns later, after I had sent 3-4 Infantry & Cavalry over there and taken care of the barb camp.

So now I had the means for a strong attack force and spent the remaining turns capturing some Phoenician and Babylonian towns and taking the lead in VP scoring.

Navigation, the tech that unlocks the Great Lighthouse, became known soon, so I expected some AI to complete it and end the game soon, but it did no longer worry me, because Phoenicia was no longer able to build it (Tyre fell shortly after I started my invasion), and because I had soon ramped up more than a 500 point lead over the closest rival, Sumeria. So I would win the game, even if someone else finished the last wonder.

But it did not happen. Therefore by killing lots of AI units (Phoenicia, Babylon, Sumer and the Hittites were all fighting a hot war and sending units to the Phoenician battlefield) and by capturing a few more towns, I was able to reach the 5500 VP limit in turn 102 (760 BC).

VPs_760BC.png
As you can see, all the other categories (Unit Kill, Advance (= techs) and Conquest) contributed more points to my score than the two wonders I got. So by investing the shields of the three wonders (the two I completed and the third I lost closely) into 25 more Chariots, I would have gotten there much easier...

Attached is the save file before victory. You just have to click end-of-turn and you will get the victory screen (if you unchecked the Read-only flag of the CampaignRecord.hof file...)

worldmap_760BC.png
 

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Lanzelot

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Rise of Rome, part 1

For the Rise of Rome scenario I chose Persia, basically for the same reasons that I chose Egypt in the previous game: the start location is far away from the powerhouses (Rome & Carthage), Egypt is weak, the Scythians are far away and weak, so there is only the Macedonians to worry about. Another nice advantage is that Persia starts already with a large territory, so will take the lead in points right from the start. Therefore it may suffice for a victory to limp over the finish line after 130 turns and win by points.

The downside of the Persian start is, that there is no real core to speak of. The capital Persepolis is on one remote end of the empire and most other towns are suffering from corruption:

persia_start.png
So the most important early task was to set up a halfway decent core by completing the first ring (as indicated by the red circles) and to bring fresh water to the core to bring it up to size. The only way to do this, was as indicated by the blue line, and that would take a while...

Other important tasks would be to connect the spices in the SW and silk & ivory in the NE, and to settle all those nice wheat locations for further worker&settler production.

In terms of research, I decided to bee-line for Philosophy, hope to be the first to get it, pick anything I don't know yet on the way to Imperialism as my free tech, and then continue towards Imperialism:

research.png

This plan worked very well. I managed to trade Tactics for Literature, and when I finished Philosophy, I was able to trade Monarchy and Military Training for Philosophy during that interturn, before I had to pick my free tech! So I chose Republic as my free tech, and then pondered shortly, whether I should already revolt now or wait one more tech for the most powerful government, Imperialism. But Persia is religious in this scenario, and as Republic is already a huge improvement over Oligarchy, I decided to revolt immediately. (For a religious civ, if you revolt immediately in the interturn where the tech is finished, you have only 1 turn of anarchy, instead of 2! A nice trick to remember.) Republic has a big commerce bonus over Oligarchy and a slightly lower corruption, so that enabled me to research Imperialism faster. And being able to cash-rush things in a tight situation, is also always nice...

Once Imperialism was finished (I think, I was even able to buy the last 3 turns or so from Rome, as they had finished it faster than me), I revolted a second time, something I rarely do in my games. But here it is really worth it, as Imperialism beats everything: only minimal corruption, same commerce bonus as Republic and 150% worker speed!

Another nice thing of this research path is, that the most important weapon of this scenario (Heavy Cavalry, unlocked by Military Training) is picked up "on the way", basically as a by-product...

My pre-game plan consisted of the following:
  • lead a defensive war against Macedonia in Asia Minor
  • during that time, develop the core and expand southward into the desert (for extra territory/points and unit upkeep) and northwards towards Scythia
  • assemble a force in Egypt and take this "soft target", which is much easier than making progress against the tough Macedonians, and provides fertile land and lots of population
  • then take the main force north to expand into Scythian territory, hopefully reaching the 20% territory and 50% population that way
Well, this plan completely did NOT work and almost lead to a catastrophe...

The Macedonians sent an increasing stream of Hoplites and later Heavy Cavalry into my Asia Minor territory right from the beginning, and I needed everything I had to just fight them off. (And even that was not sufficient after a while. :() There was never any time to assemble even a small force for an Egyptian campaign. I had formed an Army with three Immortals, but wanted to keep it back for a while and wait with my GA, when the core had grown at least a bit. -- Well, fat chance... Already on turn 3, I was forced to use it, if I didn't want to lose a town! So I had to burn my GA while I was still weak and small. At least I got the Heroic Epic quickly that way, and the Macedonians (as well as the Romans as I learned from the replay) fared the same fate a few turns later, so they also had their GA too early...

During my GA, I was able to fight the Macedonians to a stalemate and just barely hold the front in Asia Minor. But after the GA, the scale slowly but surely tipped in favor of the Macedonians. Sometimes I was able to beat all invaders (with heavy own losses), and sometimes I was not, or they sent a second wave immediately afterwards, and my half-dead troops couldn't deal with them (or got killed, if they didn't manage to get our of the way quickly enough), and I would lose another town. Here is a picture of Asia Minor from turn 45, 125BC, the Macedonians had just burned down Ancyra:

asia_minor_125BC.png
Thanks to my large empire, I still had a decent lead in score over the rest of the world, but this was dwindling away, especially after the Romans gathered speed and steam-rolled the Celts...

score_125BC.png
Fast-forward another 20 turns or so, and the situation was still unchanged. The Macedonians were slowly but surely pushing me back, while the Romans as well as the Macedonians also started to catch up in score. I had lost my Immortal Army, when I retook a town and left it in there. (Guess I had forgotten that Armies get attacked, when they are inside cities... A few days after that had happened, @Spoonwood mentioned this fact in MrRandomGuy's succession game. Wished he had done that a few days earlier... :) )
The fact that the Macedonians had meanwhile built Hadrian's Wall and Artemis, didn't make things easier for me... :(

Here is a screenshot of Asia Minor in turn 63, 35BC:

asia_minor_35BC.png
Here I became sure, that if I continue the game with the same strategy, it would lead nowhere and be lost in the end. So I formed a desperate plan. I would have to stop fighting their units (a fight I could not win, as they were refilling their losses quicker than I could mine), and start fighting their cities. Notice the Heavy Cavalry Army 2E of Iconium. I was lucky to have gotten an MGL in the earlier fighting, and I now decided to use this Army as cover for a desperate strike at the Macedonians' production base in Asia Minor. I assumed that those four cities you see in the west, Cyzicus, Antandrus, Sardis and Miletus, which are quite close to Athens and therefore pretty productive, were responsible for the continuous stream of units I had to deal with. (The bigger ones were probably producing a unit per turn. And that very close to the front, while my production base was far away.)

So I decided to pull out my Heavy Cavs from the front, let the Macedonians have all those small towns I had settled towards Scythia, and meanwhile send a force of 15 Cavs westward under the cover of that Army. (Without that Army, the game would probably already be lost by this point.) These small towns were producing only 2-3 shields, so were not really important, and I figured that sacrificing them might be the only way to still turn this game around.

So while the Macedonians were going for these towns, the assembled force near Iconium, once it was ready, marched slowly towards Sardis, and my core was busy to produce another defensive force to stop the Macedonians in case they turned south and started threatening my production base. But as the way to Persepolis was quite long for them, I was confident that I could stop them, before they reached important core cities. Logistics would finally work in my favor instead of against me...
The plan was:
  • Under the cover of the Army, advance a significant strike force to those western cities and raze them one by one. (Taking them would be futile, because I would not be able to hold them anyway, and even if I would, they might flip thanks to Artemis.)
  • After they were razed, block the choke-point at Byzantium with that Heavy Cav Army. Now they would no longer be able to produce units in Asia Minor, and new ones from the core would perhaps go after the Romans, once the choke-point was blocked.
    (Note that after the Macedonians had signed up Rome, Egypt and Carthage against me at one point or another, now I had finally succeeded in signing up Rome & Carthage on my side. I hoped that would ease the stream of units I had to fight. Especially since Rome and Macedonia were sharing a common border. But even though this cost me an arm and a leg, I did not notice a difference so far?! I guess the Romans as well as the Macedonians decided that it would be much more profitable for them to go for their "soft targets" (Celtia for the Romans and Persia for the Macedonians...), than to beat their heads against each other... :crazyeye:)
  • Then the new force to be produced in the core in the meantime, would be ready to defeat the remaining Macedonian units (which was still a very sizable force!) and finally retake all the small towns I had lost.
This plan worked, slowly and painfully, but it worked. 12 turns later, turn 75, 25 AD, the Macedonians had captured three more towns, Sinope, Behistun and Ura Tyube, but my strike force had meanwhile temporarily retaken Iconium on it's way to Sardis, and then razed Sardis and Miletos (red crosses).
The major combat area was now around Melitene (orange area), where the production of my core combined with cash-rushing units at the front and very careful defensive warfare supported by our new invention, fire catapults, was sufficient to fend off any Macedonian attempts to break into Mesopotamia and my heartland. It helped a lot, that during all this time I always had very friendly relations with the Scythians, sometimes even had them signed up on my side, but in any case never had to fear an invasion on the north-eastern front.

asia_minor_25AD.png

Another 10 turns later, turn 85, 75AD, the situation finally looked much brighter: my strike force had now also razed Antandrus and Cyzicus and was ready to block the Isthmus at Byzantium. During the combat at Melitene I had gotten 3 more MGLs (the Heroic Epic finally payed off), and was now ready to start the reconquest of my lost towns in Asia Minor. The Macedonians had landed a settler on the west coast to replace the razed cities, but that town of Rhodes was still insignificant and could be taken care of later.

asia_minor_75AD.png
The only thing that worried me, was that all the time, Rome kept catching up in points. I remember at one point, Rome had gotten within 400 points of my score. I don't have a save from that anymore, but here is the score from turn 108, 190 AD, where Rome is only 453 points behind:

score_190AD.png


The question now was, would I be able to revert that trend and rescue a certain score lead over the finish line in turn 130 (300AD)?
 
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Lanzelot

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Rise of Rome, part 2

All the fighting between 75AD and 150AD (turn 100) resulted in four more MGLs, so I decided I could finally spare one Cav Army and 20 assorted units, mostly Immortals, Nubian Mercenary and a few Fire Catapults, to finally launch an Egyptian campaign, before Carthage had taken all of Egypt. Egypt was as weak as ever, but taking it provided a few very large cities, which would be good for my score. Meanwhile, the remaining Armies in the north finally finished the defeat of the remaining Macedonian forces in Asia Minor and the recapture of the towns I had lost there. After that was completed, the diminishing of my score lead over Rome finally stopped, and for quite some time stayed in the 400-500 point range. I was feeling fresh hope for this game.

190AD (turn 108) saw the beginning of the next phase:
  • In the south, my conquest of the remainder of Egypt had finished and I had completed a few ships to ship that Army over for a D-Day operation at Sparta. 8 galleys with a total of 32 units, including my southern Heavy Cav Army. (Nice that in this scenario, the galley has a transport capacity of 4, just enough for a fully loaded Army...)
  • And in the north, the 7 Armies (or rather 9 by now...) supported by numerous other units had finished the reconquista of Asia Minor and pushed into Macedonian mainlands and razed Byzantium, Maronea and Knossus. (The four Armies you see in this picture, are in fact nine...)
Egypt, 190AD:

Egypt_190AD.png

Isthmus of Byzantium, 190AD:

Isthmus_190AD.png

I had also started spamming lots of settlers to fill the desert south of Persepolis, the north African desert and the gaps in Asia Minor, so I was quite sure that with that extra territory and population, my score lead over the Romans would soon start increasing again. The world map at 190AD:

world_map_190AD.png


At that time my territory was 16% and my population 26%, compared to second place Rome, who had 11% territory and 32% population. I was pretty sure I would be able to reach the required 20% territory before the end of the game, but would the remaining 22 turns be sufficient for almost doubling my share of the world's population? I rather expected that this game would now end in a quite safe "victory on points" at turn 130.

Nevertheless, I decided to stop razing Macedonian cities now and instead try to keep them. I was now racing towards Athens, which had built Artemis, and hoped that the extra culture from all those free temples would reduce the flip risk significantly. And in fact, in all the time between taking Artemis and the end of the game, I had only two occasions, where a city flipped back to the Macedonians, one of those was Sparta, a size 16 metro that had built the Oracle. (Btw, a nice companion to Artemis: doubles the effect of all those free temples...!)

The resistance of Macedonia appeared to be broken by now. Instead of stacks of 20-30 Heavy Cavs, I only encountered feeble counter-offensives of 2-3 units at a time. So the push through Macedonian mainland went rather smoothly now, and I already started to send the newly produced Heavy Cavs from the core around Persepolis to the Scythian border instead of to the Macedonian front. The way to Macedonia had become too long anyway, and I was quite sure that the force soon to land at Sparta in the south and my Armies in Northern Macedonia were quite sufficient to finish the job. As soon as I was sure that Macedonia was done for, and as soon as I had assembled a reasonably strong force at the Scythian border, I would then backstab Scythia, which had a lot of quite large cities. The new force in the east of the Black Sea and the remaining forces from the Macedonian campaign in the west of the Black Sea would then quickly gain more territory and population in the vast area north of the Black Sea.

In fact, the game was not very difficult from here on.
Turn 114, 220AD:

world_map_220AD.png


Turn 121, 255AD:
world_map_255AD.png


Meanwhile I had already stopped building settlers, as I already had way over 20% territory, and instead started joining workers and slaves into existing towns, where ever I could. I also hunted down Macedonian and Scythian slaves, where ever I found them; this had become almost as important as capturing towns... But still it seemed like a long way to 50% world population...

score_255AD.png


In turn 127, with three turns left in the game, F8 finally showed my at 48% population, I made peace with Scythia, requesting their remaining 3 towns -- which I would not be able to reach in time anyway, as they were located far up in the northern forests without road connection -- and then made a last desperate effort of joining every available worker, which had still be doing irrigations for faster growth, to any nearby towns, and yes! I was finally at 50%.

world_map_285AD.png


Final score:

score_285AD.png


Attached is the final save. Just click end-of-turn, watch a billion Roman galleys sail through the Ionian Sea, and then you will get to the victory screen.

So two done, seven more to go...

Things I learned during this game:
  • You cannot ignore the Macedonians and try to gain territory elsewhere, not on Deity level... They will throw everything and the kitchen sink at you and overwhelm you with those pesty Hoplites (which in this scenario are also quite good at attacking...!).
  • So try to keep peaceful with everyone else, sign the Scythians (and maybe also the Egyptians) up on your side and concentrate everything against Macedonia.
  • Don't fight their units. Fight and raze their cities, even if this means sacrificing large parts of Asia Minor temporarily. These towns are very corrupt anyway, so losing them doesn't mean much. But if you can use your starting Army as cover for a strike force that razes at least the Macedonian cities in western Asia Minor and then a bit into mainland Macedonia, the continuous stream of their units will finally cease and you can then finish Macedonia off. Afterwards take the "soft targets", Egypt and Scythia to gain more territory, population and points.
  • It is probably not wise to fight the other two powerhouses, Rome and Carthage. Stay peaceful with them and hope they balance each other while you expand in the east and towards the northern woodlands. Getting to 20% territory and 50% population is well possible without having to fight these two!
  • My research strategy in this game was probably quite ok. Imperialism rules and enables you to compete successfully with Deity AIs. Persepolis was in the end producing 30spt (a Heavy Cav every two turns), two more cities (including the FP city in second ring distance, which took me way too long to get finished...) were making 20spt for 3-turn Cavs, and a couple more cities were doing 4- or 5-turn Cavs.
  • And you will need those Cavs... (as well as lots of MGLs for Armies... so build the Heroic Epic early, and may the RNG gods be with you...!)
 

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Fall of Rome, part 1

The choice of tribe for Fall of Rome was not easy. At first I was tempted to take the Sassanids, whose position is very similar to the Persian start in Rise of Rome, which one major difference: there is no locked war with a powerful Macedonia... So I would be able to first develop my empire peacefully, and then when I feel strong enough, ally with some of the northern Barbarians against East Rome and try to take it down. After my experience with Persia in Rise of Rome, this plan should be easily doable, even on Deity.

However, that appeared too cheap for my taste, and also I did not feel like playing "almost the same game" twice in a row. Would be too boring. So to make it a real challenge, it would have to be one of the Barbarian tribes. I looked at their properties a bit and found that there is not much difference between the central Barbarians (Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Vandals, Visigoths, Ostrogoths). However, the Celts in the far West are quite different, as are the Huns in the far East. The Celts start on the British Islands, but have a direct border with West Rome and no space to expand peacefully and build up a core. So I did not like that start position a lot. Also it might be difficult to finally set foot on the European mainland, where all the action is, and get a big enough share of the cake to win this by points.

So I decided to try something unusual here and take the Huns! They start in the far north-eastern corner of the map, a bit distant from everyone else and have quite a bit of space to expand & develop, before clashing into someone else. This is exactly what the human player needs on Deity.

They start with 12 "migrants" (the settler replacement for the Barbarians, which are much cheaper to build than settlers), and the start location looks quite nice.

the_huns.png


world_map_324AD.png


However, I know that a bit further west, the land is even better, with more cows, wheat and two nice rivers allowing the setup of a very nice core, perhaps two full rings around the capital.

So I will spend the first 4-5 turns moving my entire tribe westward. Fortunately the Migrants also move at speed 2, so can keep up with my horses. This will bring me a bit closer to the Ostrogoths, but I hope there will still be enough space for expansion without getting into conflict with them. The better land over there is definitely worth it.

Another advantage of the Huns is, that they already start with a couple of Horsemen. I can use them to make quick contacts, e.g. one send one southwards to meet the Sassanids and 1-2 westwards to meet the other Barbarians. As usual, it is important to trade techs on Deity. The two Romes will probably not provide any trade opportunities, as I cannot trade the Barbarian techs, and they already know most of the others, but I hope I can trade some of the "standard" techs from the other Barbarians, while I concentrate on the Barbarian techs. This brings me to the research strategy for this game, which is actually quite simple...

tech_tree.png


Contrary to the previous Conquests, here we already start with the perfect government: Tribal Council, which is unlocked with Barbarism. It has minimal corruption and unlimited free unit support! Barbarism cannot be traded and would even take a Deity AI 100 turns to research it, so the two Romes cannot have that government (and all the following techs with their nice units) and are stuck with the government Imperialism. Contrary to the previous Conquest, Imperialism really sucks, because it has the same bad corruption as Despotism and a meager unit support of 1/2/4. We will certainly be building tons of units, so what else do we need... :D

Therefore I will bee-line towards Barbarian Leadership in this game and hope to trade some of the useful standard techs, like Writing for Libraries and Currency for Marketplaces, from my fellow Barbarians on the way. Reading @choxorn 's stories, I found the tip that the "Scourge of God", which is unlocked by Barbarian Leadership, is actually a very useful wonder for this scenario, and I fully agree: it basically combines the features of two small wonders and one great wonder of the standard game:
  • Increases the chance for MGLs, like the Heroic Epic
    BTW, I think the standard Heroic Epic can also be built in this scenario. I wonder whether it would work accumulative to the Scourge of God, or just be wasted?!
  • Increases the size of Armies from 3 to 4, like the Pentagon
  • Auto-produces "Warlords" every 5 turns similar to Statue of Zeus or Knights Templar.
    Warlords are the strongest attacking unit of the game at 8(12) - 3 - 1 and also triggers the GA for all Barbarians.
I had been thinking a bit about letting the AI build it for me and then capture it, but as the map is quite big and we start all the way in the east, it might be a bit of an effort to get it, if one of the Western Barbarians builds it. Worst case would be, if the Celts build it on the British Islands, I would never be able to get it there... So I will set a strong city on a pre-build early enough and hope I can snatch it from the AI, even on Deity.

The general plan for the game looks like this, hopefully it's a better plan than I had for Rise of Rome... :mischief:
  1. Develop a strong core peacefully. (Perhaps I can use my force of 15 starting horseman to do some early damage to the Ostrogoths, if they are not too strong, when I find them. I'm not sure, whether in these scenarios, they Deity AIs start with additional units like they do on this difficulty level, or just with the units that are pre-placed on the map?!)
  2. Early contacts are most important, for trading as well as for diplomacy later on.
  3. Watch the Ostrogoths carefully. If they get into a fight with East Rome, I will join that war on East Rome's side... The Ostrogoths are in my way to where all the action is anyway...
  4. Once I feel strong enough, and once I have absorbed the Ostrogoths and established direct borders with East Rome, I will try to ally with the Sassanids and the Visigoths against East Rome and take it down.
    ("Strong enough" means, that I should at least have the third-level Barbarian unit, Pillager, at 6(9) - 2 - 1. Otherwise the Roman Legions at 4 - 4 - 1 are too tough to crack. On Deity, even with that crap government, we can expect the two Romes to build lots of them...
    Perhaps I should even wait until I have Warlords?! Depends on how fast I can research in this game.)
  5. Who knows, what then will happen...
Ok, now I'll start playing a bit...

13 turns are played now, but I think so much has happened that it deserves already an update...

It took me 6 turns to move everyone west and settle my capital, first ring and a few second ring towns. Except for one: the town I wanted to settle at the Black Sea coast by the iron, had already been taken by the Ostrogoths! :mad:
As iron is important for all the Marauders, Pillagers and Warlords, I settled Pleven and started an early temple, just in case. Didn't know yet, whether I really wanted an early war.

By turn 11, I had met the Sassanids as well the Visigoths (in addition to the two Romes and the Ostrogoths I already knew), and managed to trade world maps with East and West Rome for techs, gold and contacts, then traded techs with the Barbarians for more contacts and finally traded contacts for techs... :crazyeye: So by turn 11 I knew all the nations in the world and had already assembled quite a number of techs:

tech_tree_350AD.png
So I got a bit cocky and declared war on the Ostrogoths, even though they are strong compared to me. I had 11 horsemen assembled at Pleven, two more were returning from their contact missions to the Sassanids and the Visigoths, and two I had left in the core for MP and protection against barbs... :confused: (Are there any barbs in this game besides ourselves?!)

I lost 3 horses against their 3 spears and 1 Pillager and also lost the horse returning from the Visigoths in the interturn, but the first town is taken, I am now already in third place thanks to those 200 points and the many techs I traded:

score_350AD.png

The question is only, did I bite off more than I can chew by declaring war that early against a Deity AI? I established and embassy with the Visigoths and signed them up in this war for Writing or something. But this is a two-sided sword: if the Visi- and the Ostro-goths fight it out mainly between themselves, I could get away with this... But if the Ostrogoths nevertheless throw a large force against me, and I am forced to make peace before the 20 turns are up, I will have a very hard time making further alliances in the future. And I will need alliances, when fighting East Rome.

Here is a picture from turn 13, that shows how I settled, as well as Bairauja, my first conquest...:

empire_350AD.png

Turn 48, 420AD: The war against the Ostrogoths really paid off. I was able to capture two more towns, Dampstadhir and Hreidmare, losing only two horsemen, and then played it carefully, as I didn't want to risk losing any towns. The Ostrogoths occasionally sent a few Raiders in counter attacks, but with defense 1 (and movement 1) they were no match for my horsemen, and I even got two MGLs! Can it be, that this scenario has a bit tweaked promotion probabilities? Almost every regular win promoted to veteran (= almost 100%), and almost every other veteran win promoted to elite (= almost 50%). I know we are militaristic, but these probabilities appear abnormally high.

front_420AD.png

But anyway, the Ostrogoths indeed seemed to be fighting mainly against the Visigoths: at the beginning of the war, I was rated "weak" against both of them, now I am rated "strong" against both of them... Also the VP score shows, that at least the Ostrogoths must have killed quite a share of enemy units -- and they didn't do it against me... I think, I lost a total of 7 horses so far.

score_420AD.png


When I got the MGL, I had just completed Pillaging, so I invested a worker for an iron mine and then formed a Pillager Army, which was a welcome reinforcement to my horde of horsemen that had after all now indeed become a bit decimated. Now there was no danger anymore on the front, so I just let it continue, as well as the alliance with the Visigoths. My second Army is currently being assembled in the core, and when it is ready, I will take up the offensive again, capturing a few more towns. I don't want to eliminate the Ostrogoths completely, because they are already willing to give a tech in the peace deal.

On the research side, I completed Barbarian Leadership in turn 35. Right the same interturn, a few AIs also got it, so the price reduction probably finished it for them. And in the following 3-5 turns three more AIs got it, and all of them immediately started the Scourge of God! This worried me a bit. At that point, my pre-build had collected around 80 shields, which means I had 120 more to go. 60% of 200 are also 120, so the Deity AIs had about the same amount of shields to collect as I did! The race would be decided by who has the better production. I traded a couple of maps and checked the AI towns that were currently building the Scourge. And then I was relieved a bit again...:

Entremont, Sabratha and Grenoble didn't look like they would be finishing anything anytime soon...

scourges.png


But I was not able to see the Ostrogoths town on the map, which was working on the Scourge, (for obvious reasons, I could not trade maps with them, and no one gave me a world map...) and as I could see a couple of size 5 towns of theirs, it looked like because of the war, they had stopped worker & migrant production and actually let their towns grow. My Scourge town was currently making 6spt, which meant 20 more turns for the remaining 120 shields, and if one of their towns also made 6-7 spt, it might become a close race.

Fortunately, my workers needed only a few more turns to finish a few mines, especially the mine on the hill, and five turns later, everything was ready: I joined 5 workers and now Veliki Preslav was making 13spt, the build time for the remaining 90s dropped from 15 turns to 7 turns. I had to run 50% lux tax now, but it was worth it.

In the interturn 47-48, the Huns officially became the Scourge of God!

scourge_of_god_418AD.png
 
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Lanzelot

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Fall of Rome, part 2

How did the civilian build-up progress in the meantime? Here is a picture of my core in 420AD. Veliki Preslav is now building barracks, so that our nice new auto-produced Warlords will be veteran. At size 12, this is now a powerhouse, but of course it needs a lot of lux tax to keep it happy. You can see, that the first ring has also grown a lot, and I will soon pump these cities up with worker joins as well. The second ring is also settled, but will take quite some time to become productive.

core_420AD.png
I had been running Great Bulgar, Pliska and Madara as 2-turn worker pumps for most of the game, with the occasional Migrant mixed in, but now I will let two of them grow. I will not expand any further, because this is an elimination game, meaning: you lose 8 towns, it's game over... So every town I found, I need to defend. And beyond the second ring, corruption is so high, that it is simply not worth it. Also unit upkeep is free, so there is no need for having lots of towns in this scenario.

After finishing Barbarian Leadership, I stopped research for a while in order to upgrade all Raiders (2-1-1) to Pillagers (6(9)-2-1). I am now researching Sacking with a couple of scientists in unhappy towns, but it is not a high priority at the moment. Sure, Warlords at 8(12)-3-1 are another nice improvement over Pillagers, but currently the best defenders of the Barbarian tribes are spearmen with defense 2, so Pillagers are more than sufficient for that, and I'm not yet ready to attack one of the Romes anyway. Also I don't want to trigger my GA, before the first ring is size 12.

tech_tree_420AD.png

You notice, that I started building a few libs in my core, and once they are finished and the last remaining Raiders upgraded, I will pickup research again. I will get Currency or Construction (perhaps both) when making peace with the Ostrogoths. Perhaps I can trade another 1-2 techs for Sacking (no one has it yet). So you may ask, are libraries really still worth it in this game? Isn't Sacking the last tech you need anyway?

Well, there are a few points that need to be considered here:
First of all, a bit of culture cannot hurt. The other Barbarian tribes are not building that much culture, but still two of the three Ostrogoths towns I captured have a slight flip risk of 0.1 - 0.9%. I don't know, whether flipped towns count towards the 8 town elimination?! But with a bit of culture of my own, I should be able to conquer and keep at least the towns of Barbarian rivals.

Then consider that the Tribal Council government does not allow cash-rushing, only pop-rushing! This means the usefulness of cash is quite limited in this scenario anyway. What can I do with my gold? Basically:
  • Research. Every new tech gives a decent amount of VPs. And there are still quite a number of useful techs in this era as well as in the "Rome Fights Back" era. Fortification allows bridges over rivers --> important for getting our forces to the front faster. Military Training allows Heavy Cavalry at 5-3-2. It's of course not as strong as Warlords, but some fast units might be useful. I have already thought about something like this: if I build Armies at home, I could fill one Heavy Cav into that Army to move it to the front quickly with a speed of 3, and when it arrives there, fill three more Warlords into it. That would decrease the speed back to 2, but it would add the extra punch for attacking Roman Legions fortified in metros... This might become useful in the last turns of the game, when speed is most important.
    And finally there is Military Strategy, which unlocks the Military Academy. Being able to build Armies is always nice, just in case the MGL luck fails me...
  • Upgrade units. But once all units are upgraded, this also becomes obsolete.
    However, I might be able to setup some disconnect-connect scheme over iron here: disconnect iron, build Raiders in those cities that make 10spt, connect it again and upgrade the Raider to Warlord... Let's see, whether I can implement that later on. Might become quite powerful.
  • Buy alliances. Will definitely need some gold for that.
  • Use the lux slider to keep everyone happy. Also a good use for my gold, considering I don't have any luxury resources yet. There are furs towards the Ostrogoths border, but as I didn't have sufficient troops to really protect a town there, I have not yet dared to settle that resource yet.

In any case, at the moment this game feels much easier than the previous one. I did not expect that the Ostrogoths would put up so little resistance. I think the Civ3 AI is not really capable of handling this type of game, and in particular the Barbarian tribes. If I look around on the map, I see that most Barbarian towns are still size 1-3, while my core is already 5-7 (not counting the "beefed up" Veliki Preslav...) For example the "empire" of my allies, the Visigoths", looks like this:

visigoths_420AD.png


I begin to doubt, whether they are even worth it as an ally against East Rome... Perhaps I'll just swallow them as well, so as to avoid their units getting into my way, before I turn towards East Rome...

On the other hand, I have no feeling yet for how hard it will be to fight the two Roman empires, and how fast they will approach the 35.000 VP limit. But at the moment I feel confident that I can capture 8 of their towns, and then they (and their big VP score) will be out of the game, and I only need to have more points than the other Barbarian tribes (which I already have now...)

Funny side note: the Sassanids have actually researched Imperialism and then revolted from the superior government Tribal Council to the crap government Imperialism... :hammer2:

sassanids_420AD.png


I have now played on to turn 88, 500AD. Everything went according to plan, easy and smoothly, I captured a few more towns from the Ostrogoths and then the Visigoths, first ring has grown to size 12, Golden Age started with a timely Warlord victory, all necessary techs are finished, as is the Military Academy, I got another MGL and formed a Warlord Army, and the first Army from the Academy is due in 11 turns.

core_500AD.png

There was one slight setback, when first Sofia and then Great Bulgar got hit by the Plague and lost population, precisely what I need during Golden Age... :(

thePlague.png

A few turns ago, I also started the war against East and West Rome, two Armies are about to take the first West Roman town (the have already defeated 6 Legions -- how many defenders do these towns have??):

West_Rome.png

And another task group lead by the Warlord Army is going to take Constantinople, the capital of the East Roman Empire.

East_Rome.png

Many other Barbarian tribes are meanwhile also fighting against the two Romes. So we could say everything under control by now, very easy game... -- There is only "one slight problem": I'm going to lose this game within the next 6-7 turns... Between 420AD and 500AD (which is 40 turns), West Rome increased its VP score from 13.330 to almost 30.000, which is 411 points per turn on average. Over the last few turns I have observed, that they are making 800 - 1000 points each turn, so I expect them to reach 35.000 points within the next 5-7 turns, and there is no way I can take 8 of their towns in that time.

The Barbarian AIs are not much help either: no one has yet captured any West Roman town, and the East Romans got one town razed by the Sassanids and another one by someone else... I think the "problem" with this scenario is, that the AI simply cannot handle the Barbarian tribes. If you look at the border area between West Rome and the Franks, Anglo-Saxons and Vandals, you see still lots of size 1 towns. They are probably pop-rushing like crazy, and if they don't have iron connected, they get only Raiders at 2-1-1, which are only cannon fodder for the Roman Heavy Cavs and Roman Legions. So the AIs are strong enough to throw tons of cheap units the Romans, which allows those to rack up their score by insane amounts, but not strong enough to actually take one of the Roman settlements... :(

Score in turn 88:
score_500AD.png


I'll play the remaining handful of turns later today and then think about a different strategy. Probably one needs to take into account that instead of the 160 turns allotted to this scenario, on Deity you only have 95-100 turns to win it. So the "solid" strategy that I followed, (first build up a solid core, then start GA and take down the two Romans), you have to do it in reverse order: first take down the two Romans and then build up your core... :)

Also instead of signing up other Barbarian tribes to help you beat the Romans, you have to follow the opposite strategy: keep everything peaceful and then take on Rome alone. The other Barbarians are of no help, they will only speed up the Roman score gains... :(
 
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Lanzelot

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Fall of Rome, part 3


A New Hope

5 more turns played, and things got a bit better now. First of all, the West Roman points increase per turn went back down to less than 500 points per turn: they gained only 2400 points in the last 5 turns. They are at 32.300 now. At that speed I still have 6 more turns. Partly responsible for this may be:

visigoths_gone_506AD.png


Less units for them to kill...

I have meanwhile razed two towns, and it looks like the Celts have meanwhile taken two Roman towns in Britain, and the Franks have taken two towns in Gallia:

channel_510AD.png

And Agedincum sounds Latin too, doesn't it? So it could be that by now the Romans have lost 6 or even 7 towns, which means if I can raze 1-2 more in the next 6 turns, the imminent loss is averted. Then I only need to take care of the East Romans, who 28.800 (and as far as I can tell, have lost 2 towns so far.)

Final update: played 5 more turns, and even though I was able to raze one more town, Rome did not collapse, so in 520AD (turn 98) it became clear that the game would end this turn: Rome had 34.890 points and would clearly be making more than 110 points in the interturn.

score_520AD.png

And indeed, game over.

disgrace.png


In the replay I saw, that those "Latin-sounding" Celtic towns were in fact genuine Celtic foundations, not Roman... Oh well, why can't they use real Celtic names for their towns like Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch...?
So that meant that instead of the 1-2 towns I thought I would still need to capture, in fact it was still 4-5 towns to go.

Lessons learned from this game:
  • On Deity, this game is only ~100 turns instead of 160, so time and speed is of utmost importance, there is no time for a solid build-up.
  • This means: settle one ring, skip the second, use the spare migrants for securing iron and a lux resource.
  • No unnecessary things like marketplaces, libraries or courthouses...
  • The Scourge of God may still be worth it. It's only 200s, so once it produced 3 Warlords, it has already returned its investment, and you still have the stronger Armies and higher MGL chances.
  • Military Academy is not worth it, though. In the current game, even though I think I was quite fast in getting the necessary tech and building it, the game was over, before I was able to produce the first Army...
  • This means, other techs besides the Barbarian techs are not needed. Perhaps Fortification, if you can get it, for faster movement across rivers.
  • Don't get side-tracked by other wars, hit West Rome as soon as you are ready to take it down and then continue with East Rome. You can't rely on the AI to help you with that, so better try to keep them peaceful. Them fighting Rome will only increase Rome's score...
How little help the AI was, can be seen in the final picture from 522AD:

northern_alps522AD.png

It shows 39 Anglo-Saxon units, but instead of simply marching towards Augusta Vindelicum and taking it, they were marching eastward to some mysterious destination and were constantly blocking the road for my troops on their way to Augusta Vindelicum...
 

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Lanzelot

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Fall of Rome, second attempt

For the second attempt, I did not want to repeat the Huns, even though I think their start is really great and with the lessons learned the first time, there are definitely winning chances. But playing almost the same game a second time felt boring, so I'll try something different this time.

I wanted to be closer to the Roman borders, so I looked at the northern tribes. I did not like the start positions of the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons. Particularly I did not like the fact that their capitals are already pre-founded - and in crap locations where I would never found my capital. First thing I would do in this game is to disband my capital, and as disbanding cities is disabled in this scenario, I would have to settler-disband, and I don't think I have time for something like that in this scenario, at least not on Deity.

Then I looked at the Vandals and immediately liked it. Very good land, rivers, enough space and relatively fast access to West and East Rome. So off we go.

It is 404 AD (turn 40). Syracuse has just finished the Scourge of God, so I was 7 turns faster than last time. (I did not have to move my tribe for 5-6 turns before settling down, and the area has more production, thanks to the forests and deer. I did not even have to push Syracuse to size 12, the first AIs had only started the Scourge 2-3 turns before my pre-build was complete.)

Vandals_404AD.png

I will found two more cities, but won't wait for them to reach size 12, before starting my West Roman campaign. I have 3 worker pumps going (two are currently building something else to reach size 6 and then continue pumping at 6 instead of 5, and I have a few towns already building Pillager. Sacking has 11 turns to go, but I will start my attack on Rome with Pillagers first, and then have Warlords join later, to get the GA just a little bit later. (At least the towns on the river should grow to size 12 before.)
As you see, I have only one ring, except for Saldae, which was built for the iron, and Cartennae, which was built to give Syracuse access to one deer, before its Temple was complete, and also because the cow seemed rather nice.

BTW: the first time I was hit by The Plague, was already in turn 16, but it lasted only one turn and cost only one citizen.

Update: it is the year 456AD (turn 66). After finishing Sacking, I thought I might abuse the system a bit and bought Currency from East Rome for gpt, traded it for Construction with someone else, then declared war on West Rome and moved a single unit into West Roman territory. That was around turn 50. As expected, the MPP between East and West Rome caused a declaration of war from East Rome, canceling my gpt payment without rep hit... Afterwards I was able to buy Fortification from the Sassanids for the astonishingly low price of 10gpt and world map. No idea why?! The price tag on that tech showed still around 600 beakers!

Production was switched to aqueducts in those couple of towns that needed it, and I hoped I would be able to finish them, before the Roman units started showing up in such strength, that I would be forced to use my Warlord. -- Well, now such luck... Already the next turn, 2-3 Legions appeared on my border, and I knew it would only be a matter of a few turns, before I would have to start my GA. And indeed, GA was started in turn 55, while some of my towns were still size 6.

In the beginning, the war was harder than I anticipated. At one point I even lost a town, when Heavy Cav appeared and I was not able to move defenders to the threatened area quickly enough. But I was able to retake it immediately afterwards, and now Rome, myself and the Sassanids are tied at one each, 7 more to go...

VC_conditions_456AD.png

Fighting was brutal for some time, with quite high losses on my side as well, but with the GA really gathering speed and thanks to the strong Warlords, the scale finally tipped on my side, and after leading a defensive war for around 15 turns, I think I am finally ready to go on the offensive. Especially since turn 63 (448AD), where I finally got an MGL. -- And not only one: two in the same turn!

With two Warlord Armies and 9 more turns of GA to go, I can now finally go start razing some Roman settlements...

Vandals_454AD.png
My cities are producing 3-turn Warlords or 1-turn spearmen (for MP, so that the Warlords currently on MP can join the rampage...)

Only slight problem at the moment: East Rome is also already at 18.000 VC points, trailing West Rome only by a bit. I am definitely faster than in the Hun game (where I was starting to go after the Romans only when they were already around 29.000 points), so I am sure I can eliminate West Rome, before it is too late. But do I have enough time to eliminate both of them?! It looks like there is a hot war between the East Romans on one side and the Huns & Sassanids on the other side, which also reflects in the scores. I hope that my declaration of war deflects the East Romans a bit, so that Huns and Sassanids have it a bit easier. I already had to fight East Roman Heavy Cavs on my borders...

score_454AD.png


Update: in 472AD (turn 74), I have now finally captured my first West Roman town. Together with the earlier one that I "exchanged" with the Romans, and another one that the Celts apparently razed in Great Britain, the Romans are now at 3 lost towns.

aquincum_472AD.png

choxorn meanwhile confirmed in a test, that flipped towns count towards the 8 town elimination limit. But nevertheless, I'm keeping this one, because a few turns ago I got my third MGL, but could not form an Army! Each Army requires 4 towns/cities, and I only had 10. I have meanwhile built a migrant and sent it into a location north of my empire, where it can found a town next turn. Together with the just acquired Aquincum I then have 12 cities and can form my third Army! (The MGL moved with the stack visible in Aquincum and can immediately form the Army next turn.)

Current score is: West Rome 22.000, East Rome 20.000, myself in third place with 6.700 points. This game looks much more promising than the previous one. Two of my Armies (with a stack of supporting units) will continue marching into West Rome, while I will send the third one (with a few units) already towards East Rome.

West Rome has fallen!
In the year 498AD (turn 87), I have captured my sixth West Roman town. As I said before, the Celts have also razed one, and someone else must also have captured a West Roman town. I noticed this a while ago, but could not find out "who done it". No ruins to be seen and no Roman sounding town in someone else's hands?! Perhaps someone had captured a town, and the Romans recaptured it right away the same interturn, so that I didn't see it.

West_Rome_destroyed_498AD.png

West Rome was at roughly 27.000 points. In my previous attempt, they were already at 29.700 points at this time, so playing it more "peacefully" (without alliances) indeed seems to have bought me more time.

With Rome gone, the flip risk for the towns I kept, should now also be over. I have kept all towns so far, so that I could form a fourth Army.

East Rome is currently at 25.000 points, but they have already lost 4 towns: one to the Sassanids, one to me, and two seem to have been razed by the Visigoths?!
Byzanz_498AD.png

We can see, that unit kill is indeed the major contributor to the score, so this probably explains the fast score gains by the Romans in the previous game: their fast Heavy Cavs had a good kill rate against those tons of low-defence slow units the AIs threw against them...

score_498AD.png


All four Warlord Armies will now soon advance towards East Rome and capture the remaining 4 towns quickly, and then the game should be easily winnable.

518AD, turn 97: the game is over. I had made a quick peace with East Rome, when they were at 7 lost towns, in order to get their techs in the peace deal, and then bought the remaining three techs for gpt. This gave me an extra ~800 points.
Meanwhile I brought some troops into position to attack my weakest neighbor, the Visigoths. They had only size 1 towns, but those should be sufficient for reaching 35.000 points, especially as I noticed something unexpected but quite nice in this scenario: the one who takes the eights town and causes the destruction of all remaining towns of an empire, gets the VC points for all these towns! That means, when I captured the eights Roman town Byzantium, I did not only get 400 points for that town, I got several thousand points.
(Edit: see next update: those thousands of points when eliminating a rival seem to come from the credit for the destroyed units, not for the destroyed cities!)

So when I re-declared on East Rome in turn 97 and took their eights town, I got 9000 VC points, jumping from 25.000 to 34.000. The previous turn I had dowed the Visigoths, who had already lost 5 towns in their wars against, Huns, East Romans, Sassanids and Ostrogoths. So I only needed to take three of their towns and then got another 1000 points, as they had about 10 size 1 towns when they crumbled. Together with some more points from the unit kill, this put me just above 36.000 points, victory will be announced in the interturn. (Save is attached.)

With both Romes gone, the world map looks rather strange...

final_score.png


And now that I look at the final victory points, I think when destroying an empire, I did not get the credit for all the destroyed towns & cities (which would show up under "Conquest"), but rather the credit for all the destroyed units ("Unit Kill")?! I remember that the previous turn I had 4100 points under "Conquest". I captured a size 2 town to bring down East Rome, and three size 1 towns to bring down the Visigoths, so that's 500 more points to get me to 4600. The 9000 points for destroying East Rome and the ~1500 points for destroying the Visigoths must have come from all the dead units, when they were eliminated?!

In any case, with the new strategy of not spending so much time on preparatory buildup and attacking Rome as soon as possible while staying peaceful with the other Barbarians, the game was much easier. Interestingly it ended almost on the same turn as the previous one: 97 vs 98 in the last game.
 

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Lanzelot

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The Middle Ages, part 1

For the Middle Ages scenario I chose the Turks, as they have a few benefits for the higher difficulty levels: again they start a bit offsite, so won't hopefully get involved into early wars. They have a very good unique unit, not to say the best: the Sipahi at 6-3-3, which is better than the Byzantine Cataphract (4-3-2), the Arabian Ansar (5-2-3) or the Christian Knight (5-3-2).

In addition, the Turks are part of the Arabian tech tree, so can build the invisible and stealth-attack-capable Assassin unit. It's always better to play with these little devils than against them. Perhaps I can later use them to eliminate the three King units of one of a rival, which eliminates an entire empire and will, as we have seen in the earlier scenarios, gain a huge amount of victory points (for all the destroyed units, not as I previously assumed for all the burned cities...)

Which brings us to the possible victory conditions. Three victories are possible:
  • Win by victory points (30.000 points), which we already know from the previous scenarios. Points are gained via the usual achievements: wonders, techs, captured cities, destroyed units and victory point locations. While in Fall of Rome, the two Romes had 8 VP locations each, giving them a constant income of 400 points per turn (and consequently resulted in a fast VP race against the clock), here there is only one single VP location: Jerusalem. Therefore I hope that the VP pace will be a bit slower, giving enough time for a solid buildup before having to worry about winning (or losing) the game. However this time there is one more way to gain points: four of the Christian nations start with a Holy Relic, which if they bring it to Jerusalem, will net them 10.000 VPs.
    For two reasons it will therefore be advisable to conquer Jerusalem and control it myself: so that those 50 points per turn go to my own account, and as to prevent any Christian nation from cashing in their Holy Relic!
  • Domination, which requires 25% of territory and population
  • Conquest, which is probably only a "theoretical" winning possibility, as there are 17 nations on this quite complex map. Eliminating all 17 nations would require so much fighting, that one would probably win by victory points long before even half of the rivals are eliminated, even if one would use Assassins and only target the King units?!

For this attempt I decided to try for domination, mainly to have a little change from the VP victory of the previous scenarios... Reaching 25% territory is probably not that hard: there is quite a bit empty space around the Turk start location, which can be settled early, and then the next neighbors to the north are rather weak and can be conquered using the Sipahi. Then I should be strong enough to take on one or two of the major rivals and gain the remaining territory. Reaching 25% population will probably be the hard part and will require lots of worker joins at the right moment...

I have no idea, whether going for VPs or going for domination is the easier or faster path in this particular scenario. If it turns out that by conquering the required territory I will already gain so many VPs that it wins the game, then so be it... I'll take the VP victory as well, any win on Deity is certainly welcome... Also there is a big "luck factor" involved here: I plan to control Jerusalem as early as possible, and if one or more of the Christian nations actually manage to bring their relic close to me, I will of course not turn down such a present and will cash it in myself...

There is only one drawback of the Turk start location: three towns are already pre-founded, and two of them in crap locations, especially the capital:

start_location.png


I mean, just look at Ghuzz! Who in their right mind would place their capital right on the edge of the map? If I walk out the door of my palace, I have to be careful not to fall off the edge of the world and be eaten by sea monsters! And Khazar is located precisely 1 tile off the river! Only Patzinak is well-placed and has good food resources, so I will make Patzinak my future capital, and settler-disband the other two towns (building a Worker first in Ghuzz), while walking the already existing Settlers to form a ring around Patzinak.


Research strategy is quite simple this game: as there is no need for a better government, I just finish the two required techs of the first age quickly and then go down the Arabic path towards Assassins and Sipahis. Both come with the tech of "Assassination", so researching a total of 4 techs is probably sufficient for this game. Consequently early contacts are not that important in this game, but I will nevertheless use a few of the existing horsemen to meet many neighbors. Can't hurt to keep up in tech by trading, especially the tech for Marketplaces, which comes in the third age, might be quite useful?!

So much for an introduction, now I will go ahead and play a while, providing updates at the next critical points/junctions.


First update:
My exploring horsemen started finding new contacts, of course no trades yet possible. Then in 873 AD, turn 10, I met these guys:

german_relic.png


Isn't it a bit too early to go on a crusade...? I considered shortly to follow them around and send more horsemen into their direction, but then I thought I will probably meet them again later in Jerusalem, so I kept scouting westward.

In turn 11 I disbanded my capital. The ring around Patzinak had started three granaries for future worker- and settler-factories, and a couple barracks as my troops needed refilling. Had already lost a couple of my starting units to barbs, which in this scenario spawn 3-2-3 horsemen (Keshik)!
Here is a picture of my empire in 912 AD, turn 23:

empire_912AD.png

The plan for the early phase was to have those settler pumps running for quite a while and settle all/most of that empty space in the east, before getting into any wars. That would give me a decent start on the required 25% pop and territory and would also ease the unit upkeep.

Well, as Clausewitz already said, no plan survives the first contact with the enemy... At some point, the Magyars contacted me interturn and demanded tribute, 5g, which was all I had at that time. Normally I would have given it to them, but at that moment I was running a deficit of -2gpt, so emptying my treasury interturn would mean that something would be disbanded with no chance to prevent this. And I simply didn't want one of my important granaries to get auto-disbanded, so I refused. The Magyars were a weak AI, so I didn't expect them to do much harm...

Indeed they declared, I enjoyed a bit of WH, captured one of their Settlers, killed 2-3 units -- and then a big stack of spearmen and swordsmen appeared on my border! Well, never underestimate a Deity AI... I had to take my pop-pumps off duty and let them grow beyond 7 so they could produce units at a decent rate, but still it was not enough. The Magyar Swordsmen won every fight against my Spearmen, and my Horsemen only won like 50% against their Spears (and an occasional Sword). So my losses were high, I lost two towns, before they were willing to talk and make peace for Code of Laws (which I had just aquired from another Arabian nation for Jihad).

Darn, this useless war was a major setback: two towns and lots of units lost and all three pop-factories out of operation. I had grown them to size 9 or even 10 via worker joins to get to 10spt and a decent unit production speed. Here is my empire in 1041 AD, turn 66, 4 turns after my peacce deal with the Magyars, showing the two lost towns:

empire_1041AD.png

The question now is, what to do next? I could either shrink my pop factories back to 5/6 for settler&worker production, but meanwhile a lot of the eastern space has been settled by the AI. (Even the far away French and Celts have sent Settlers all across the map to the far east?!?) So I think, I will instead push the first ring to size 12, try to research Assassination quickly (currently still takes 28 turns, but with bigger cities and another library here or there will probably go down a bit), and then pay back the Magyars with Sipahi. Perhaps an alliance with the Germans, Poles or Kievan Rus might help. Settling the east/north will then have to be done with cash-rushed settlers from the boondocks. Or if the AI has settled it all by then, the Sipahis will capture that territory...

Next update, another important phase is completed.
Good news in turn 73, 1062 AD: the Byzantines declared war on the Abbasides! Now I don't need to worry about an attack from the south for a while, and can later join this war on one side or the other, after I have dealt with the Magyars... The Kievans are gracious towards me, so signing them up on my side should not be too difficult.

1092 AD, turn 83: I have finally finished Assassination. First ring is up to 12, producing Sipahis and a few Assassins now. I have 32 horsemen, but unfortunately, upgrading one to Sipahi is 150g, so it'll take a while. As soon as I have a handful of them, I'll attack the Magyars to trigger my GA. Then the production as well as the upgrading will go a bit faster...

empire_1092AD.png

At the moment I'm at 3% territory and 7% population, so still a long way to go... Victory points don't look too threatening:

points_1092AD.png


Still a long way to go to 30.000 points. The nations over 2000 points must have been warring quite a bit already, and the Abbasids obviously have their steady income from Jerusalem.

By trading world/territory maps around (even though I don't know Map Making yet...) I also got a good view of the world by now:
worldmap_1092AD.png
 
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Lanzelot

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The Middle Ages, part 2

Turn 87, 1104 AD: I am not yet quite ready (only 4 Sipahis so far), but the Magyars demand 20g tribute again. I refuse, they declare and take Urfa. But I can retake Urfa, triggering my GA, even though the very first Sipahi loses to a spearman! I lost another Sipahi against a spear on plains, but I took back Konya with horsemen at no losses...?!
Unfortunately I can't sign up Kiev against the Magyars, even though they are still gracious, as they want 59gpt!! Germany wants 54gpt. So I'll have to do it alone.

The attack plan now is to first clear the situation around Urfa, there are quite a number of Magyar units up there, lots of swordsmen, so this will take some fighting, then take Veszprem to have my back free, and then advance along the road from Konya to the Magyar core:

battle_plan.png

Next turn I realize, I may again have bitten off more than I can chew: I have killed 6-7 units at Urfa, but there are 25 new ones approaching from Biatorbagy:

reinforcements.png

I am currently at 4 Sipahis and 25 horsemen, but many of them on MP duty further south... Well, no one said this is going to be easy...

And more units come out of nowhere interturn, killing the 2 Sipahis and 6 Horsemen stationed in Urfa at only one lost Swordsman! So I lost Urfa a second time.

But a turn later, I was able to take Veszprem, which was protected only by two Spears. The monster stack now went after Veszprem, and I was able to dwindle it down a bit, albeit at high losses for myself. I never had that bad RNG luck before. Swords were always winning against my fortified Sipahis, and even Horsemen had no trouble killing a Sipahi here and there, and winning every fight against my Spearmen fortified in towns. When the remainder of the stack finally reached Veszprem, I had to disband that town. (In hindsight, I should have gifted it to Germany, see later.)

So the Magyar stack turned around and marched back west, where I had meanwhile retaken Urfa, and on its way I was able to dwindle it down some more. By now there were only 8 out of the original 25 units left, when new stacks appeared in the west at Bingol. In the previous turns I had finally gotten two MGLs, and two Sipahi Armies were working on Szombathely, kiling already 5-6 defenders. I think in 1-2 more turns I would have taken it, but as I didn't want to lose Bingol, I had to make peace again. At least this time they were paying me, not the other way around... Though they didn't have much, a handful of dollars was all I got. Here is the situation directly at the end of the second Magyar war, 1128 AD, turn 95.

end_of_war_1128AD.png

My forces are now at 11 Sipahi, 10 Horsemen and 3 Assassins, but some of them need healing, so are not operational.

Although this war was not a desaster like the last one, it wasn't really a breakthrough either. I destroyed one of their towns to gain more space in the east, I got back the town I lost in the first war, and I killed a lot of units. Victory points went up quite a bit, but in terms of domination, I still have a long way to go.

points_1128AD.png


Next plan now is to take the 4 German towns and then make peace, before their units from the west arrive. If this works out ok, I might try it again with some other far away nations like France. I need more space for more towns to get the unit upkeep down (not to speak about my eventual goal, domination...) I still have 12 turns of GA left, so I will be able to build up my Sipahi and Assassins force a bit, while taking these probably not so well defended far away towns of the western nations at only light losses, and then turn on the Magyars again with a large force. Two Sipahi Armies will definitely help.

In turn 96 I had brought a couple of Sipahis and the Armies into position for an attack on Bonn and Nuremberg, but a Bulgar Settler/Spear pair ran into an Assassin of mine I had left in the open, triggering war! I had remembered that the "submarine bug" also effects these scenarios with hidden units, and had been trying to avoid it so far, but this turn I simply didn't have any visible unit left to cover that Assassin, if I didn't want to hire an entertainer in a nearby city. The WH is definitely welcome (one of the shortcomings of the Turks start is, that no luxury resources are within reach), but the Bulgars are not so far away, so I'm unsure whether I have time for the German campaign, before Bulgar units appear on my borders?

I risk it anyway -- and learn that the Spearmen, which were visible in Bonn last turn, were now upgraded to Pikemen! Which are 2-4-1 in this scenario. But no problem for the Sipahis... Bonn is taken and Nuremberg is razed, as it had too much culture and was badly placed anyway. No losses so far. There is one Bulgar town in the east, which perhaps I can take as well, before making peace.

Meanwhile there are lots of wars and military alliances going on in the world. And what's bad: Germany signed a MA with the Abbasids against us! I only hope that because of the long war between the Abbasids and Byzantium, and because of Byzantium being between us and the Abbasids, there won't be many Abbasid units reaching us...

Turn 99, 1140 AD saw the capture of the Bulgar town in the east, and the Germans signing a MA with France. In turn 100 I razed Hannover, in 101 I razed Stuttgart and failed to take Chartres. In turn 102, the Abbasids signed up our old friends the Kievans against us! That is unfortunate, as the Rus are our direct neighbor, have Berzerkers and Cataphracts, and probably tons of them, as they haven't been involved in too many wars yet, as far as I can tell. The Magyars, who only had Swordsmen and Horsemen, were already bad enough... I will have to make peace with some other nations.

But first some more fighting. I fail again to take Chartres, at least no losses this time. All Pikes defeated, now there seems to be only a single Spear left, so it will hopefully fall next turn, then I can make peace with France.

I fail to take Plovdiv (3 Spears killed, but there are more in there), and I fail to take Sliven (I had landed a single Assassin there, which managed to kill two Spears, but they rushed a third one this turn!). I would definitely take at least Plovdiv next turn, but the first stack of 8 Bulgarian Archers arrived on my borders, and I also need my Sipahis now on the Kievan border and not in the far north, so I make peace with Bulgaria. -- Well, except that they are not yet willing to talk! So the war will go on.

But as I have achieved all objectives of the German campaign, I make peace with them now. They are even willing to cough up 60g.

I establish an embassy with the Poles, sign a RoP and check, what they want for an alliance against the Rus: only horses! Yep, you can have that, we have two... At least now we are no longer allone! Don't know, how strong the Poles really are, compared to the Rus, but at least it will be a nice diversion, as they share a long border with the Rus.

How does the plan for the immediate future now look like?
In the east, I have captured two towns and two more will hopefully follow soon:

east_1149AD.png

In the north, I have razed three German cities and started to settle the empty space. (All of them already had the second culture expansion, so no use in trying to keep them.) More settlers are on the way. As all Horsemen except for the elite ones are by now upgraded, I use the cash for settler-rushing. Research is at 0%, and I'm doing a lone-scientist run of 40 turns on Medicine. The hospitals (which act like aqueducts in this scenario) will be nice to have eventually. The Sipahis I have in the north, will keep pressing northward, hopefully taking the two Bulgar cities and forcing peace. If there are any left by the end of that campaign, they can try and do some damage to the northern Rus towns.

north_1149AD.png

In the west, I need to hold the lines against the Rus and Bulgars, perhaps I will be able to raze a city with Sipahi-Armies or Assassins. Good that the Rus have no Pikes yet. The Assassin at Sliven will now be ferried home for healing and then start a second attempt...

west_1149AD.png

In the south, I'll just have to keep it peaceful with the Byzantines. (Which gives me the idea of buying some Byzantine wine. It doesn't allow me to lower the lux slider, but I need less MP, and it makes a Byzantine attack less likely. They are now gracious towards me, probably thanks to our common war against the Abbassids.)

My military forces now are 27 Sipahis, 6 Assassins, 3 Horsemen, but as I didn't have any MGL now for a long time, I'm upgrading those horses as well. They'll soon become elite again...

All that fighting has brought me now in third place in the VP ranking (with the Byzantines in second and the Abbasids in first place), but from the domination limit I am as far away as ever...

score_1149AD.png
 
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The Middle Ages, part 3

Played a handful more turns and got confident again, that this game is still winnable. Here the summary:

1152 AD, turn 103: first another submarine bug: the Castilian Settler/Sword pair runs over our Assassin (as seen near Murum in the "west" picture from the previous post), and the WH is now enough to lower lux to 10%.
Then our Sipahi-Armies and 2 more Sipahis attack Murum and burn it to the ground. We take Plovdiv and Chartres (see "north" and "east" pictures from previous post) at one lost Sipahi, and kill a bunch of the advancing Bulgar Archers, giving us another MGL, which immediately forms the third Sipahi-Army.

The 2000 points gained this turn now put us in the lead. So I guess I rather concentrate on a VP win than on a Domination win from now on.

score_1152AD.png


Strange: last turn I sold the Poles horses, this turn I can do it again: but I definitely have only two sources hooked up!?? Must be a very strange bug?!

horse_deal.png

Turn 104: another MGL. What is strange: this is already the third turn of war with Kiev, but still no significant stacks of units showed up, even though their capital is only 7 tiles from Bingol?! Are they going after the Poles instead or are they not as strong as I feared? The Magyars now also attacked the Poles, poor them...

Turn 105: Great Bulgar taken, another stack of 22 Bulgar units, mostly Swordsmen, become visible near Konya, but I think I can destroy that stack in the 2 turns it needs to reach Konya. Two Armies can kill 8 units each turn, some other units can help as well, and the other two Armies prepare the attack on Beloozero:

western_front_1158AD.png

Turn 106: 25 more Bulgar Swordsmen appear on the border! Now they really mean business. I guess it's time to make peace. But Sliven has again rushed another Spear right in the turn after I landed my Assassin there?! Seems like "invisible" units are not invisible to the AI, when it comes to taking precautions against their attacks, but only when it comes to falling into the submarine bug...

The Rus now also sent two smaller stacks with 2-3 Berserkers covered by Spears. No problem with the 5th Army I just got. So I will fight off the Bulgarian stack with my Armies for 1-2 more turns, until I have taken another town of theirs, then make peace and concentrate everything I got against the Rus.

Turn 107, 1164 AD: more Bulgar reinforcements, this picture shows 45 Bulgar units now (after I have already defeated some 40 odd units over the previous 3 turns!) The French now also arrived with 8 Horsemen. But they are willing to talk now. So I'll use them for some more leader fishing and then make peace with France.

western_front_1164AD.png

Sliven on the Crimea is finally taken by the brave lone Assassin. And in the far north I take another Bulgar town, creating nother Army. Great, this will now cause some damage to the northern Rus towns, perhaps even capture their furs! Unfortunately I will lose Plovdiv to a Rus Spy unit next turn, but disbanding it would be a shame.

north_1164AD.png

This was the last turn of my GA, so I need to increase the lux slider. Not sure, whether I should make it one or two notches?!
I was up to 43 Sipahis this turn, but just lost one to that other Spy.

Turn 108: and I also lost Urfa to a Rus Berserker! Did not pay attention that the Rus could travel on Magyar roads. :(
Anyway, Rousse, the last of those eastern Bulgar towns is taken, Plovdiv and Urfa are retaken creating my 7th MGL, another northern Army! Then I eliminated as many of the Bulgar stack as possible, generating two more MGLs, but unfortunately I hit the town limit for Armies. I have now 8 Armies and one more MGL waiting for one more town: currently at 35 towns, the ninth Army requires 36.

Now I make peace with the Bulgars, and they are willing to toss in Map Making, Early Siegecraft and their territory map! I trade my map around a bit more, and the new world map now deserves a picture:

world_map_1167AD.png


All the fighting has given me a secure lead in Victory Points, and as I can concentrate the full power of 8 (soon 9) Armies on the Rus, a few more juicy cities are to fall soon, providing a couple thousand more points. (At the moment, I am also at war with Castile, but they are far away, and none of their units has shown up here yet, and with the Abbassides, but they are busy fighting it out with Byzantium, so none of their units can get to me.)

points_1167AD.png


Ok, this may explain, why there have been so few Rus units showing up at my border: the Rus are also fighting far away Burgund! (Now I know, how Burgund, which usually has to be considered as one of the weaker nations in this scenario, got so many VPs...)

Burgund_1167AD.png
 
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The Middle Ages, part 4

Ok, I won't bore you with the details, but 9 Armies (in the end 12) and a total of 49 Sipahis made short work of the Rus, even though they by now had the occasional Pikeman. The Armies would lead the attack, and ordinary Sipahi would then clean up the "softer" defenders like Spearmen, Berzerkers or Spies. The Rus never fielded any significant monster stacks like other AIs did, so they must have spent them in other wars in the west.

By turn 114, 1185 AD, I was at 24000 points, more than double the score of the nearest rival. And the remaining Rus cities still had a total of 70 population, which means capturing them would give me another 7000 points. I only had to be careful to take the city with their last king last, so as to avoid the other cities getting destroyed before I could capture them... (I don't think the Rus had enough units for an equivalent amount of VPs. As we remember from Fall of Rome: when you eliminate a civ, you get the VPs for all the destroyed units, but not for their destroyed cities.)

score_1185AD.png

Politically, the game got really out of control now. Everybody seemed to be at war with everybody... Wars getting triggered by the submarine bug and then getting multiplied by MAs? Here is an excerpt of some of the major players. Unfortunately it is not possible to get the entire picture of all 17 nations in the Civ3 diplo screen...

diplo_1188AD.png

I also got involved in another war, as the Abbasids signed up Codova against me. Not that that was any threat... But what was worse: Byzantium, whom I had signed a RoP with to make them more unlikely to attack me, now started taking Polish towns in the east! That would have been my "sphere of interest", if I still depended on a domination win.

I bought England's world map for Siegecraft and now finally had a complete view of the world:

worldmap_1185.png


At the end of turn 116, 1191 AD, I was finally at 29855 points, but no more Russian town was within reach of my troops. But I had a couple of units, including two Armies, within reach of a Swedish town:

Stockholm_1191AD.png

As Sweden was far away and insignificant, I decided to declare war and end it already this turn, instead of having to play 1-2 more turns to get to the next Rus town. Or rather I made them furious and let them declare...

Swedes_dow.png

Taking that town and killing a few stray Swedish units in our territory put me way over 30.000 points. Victory would be announced next turn.

score_1191AD.png

points_1191AD.png


What I find interesting, is, that till the end of the game, all 17 nations were still alive. I would have expected that with these King units and the constant fighting going on, some weaker nations would get eliminated...

So the game ended in 1194 AD, turn 117, with a victory point win. I only regret, that I didn't get to retalliating the Magyars and to going down to Jerusalem and trying to intercept a relic and cash it in. The game somehow feels "incomplete" without that... But fighting the weak Rus and gaining points that way was just so much easier. Taking on a real powerhouse like Byzantium or the Abbasids might have been very painful... And after the catastrophe against the Magyars in the early game, I had to take any victory that I was able to scrape together...

The furthest Turkish expansion:
worldmap_1194AD.png


And our current Hall of Fame:

hof_20.8.22.png

The pen-ultimate save is again attached.
 

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Lanzelot

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Mesoamerica

Mesopotamia is a short, but very strange scenario, because it has quite a number of unintuitive rule-changes. I haven't played it in ages, so in order to familiarize myself with all these rule changes I looked up a lot of stuff in the Civilopedia, in the biq file itself (some stuff wasn't documented anywhere in the Civiopedia, or even documented incorrectly...) and tried out some things in a little test game on Regent. I fell into quite a few pitfalls by following the habbits from the standard game... So as a reminder to myself of what to look out for when actually playing the Deity game, and also perhaps as some helpful adivce for those of you who want to give this scenario a try yourself, here is a summary of the most important modifications and new rules:

  • Tile yields: many terrain types have changed yields compared to the standard game:
    Jungle 2/1/0, mountain 1/1/0, forest 0/0/0.
    Forest is also impassable, they use it for making the Amazon Bassin unaccessible. (But barb camps can still spawn in the forest. They are then unattackable and can't move out... Unless adjacent to a passable tile. The only way to clear that barb camp, is then to get it into your cultural boundaries...)
  • You can't irrigate in the beginning, this capability comes only with a tech in the second age: Terrace Farming.
    This makes it a very important tech to finally bring your cities to size 12. Hopefully the AI will not be able to handle this or recognize the importance of this. This might be a chance for the human player to get a big core faster and counter-balance the AI's production bonus. But then: on Deity the AI researches quickly and has lots of workers, so might "accidentally" do the right thing, and even faster than the human is able to...
  • All tiles can be mined and irrigated!!
    This is described nowhere and took me quite a while to figure out... So by irrigating hills and mountains, you can turn them into 2/1/1 tiles (road assumed). Irrigating jungle gives a very useful 3/1/1 tile (again with road). And what's really unfortunate: while you are able to see irrigation on hills and mountains, it is not visible on jungle tiles... Looks just like an empty jungle tile. You have to right-click the tile and check whether it has 2 or 3 food, if you can't remember which jungle is already irrigated... (But a mine can be seen on jungle.)
  • Clearing jungle is possible, but actually a bad mistake, as you turn a 2/1/0 tile into a 2/0/0 one... (Or assuming road and irrigation, you go from 3/1/1 to 3/0/1 when you clear a jungle... So better save yourself the effort...)
  • The speed of worker jobs is changed. A road takes 2 turns, a mine 5, only irrigation remains unchanged at 4.
  • You can settle towns on mountains, but not in desert.
  • Resources: the set of luxury resources as almost the standard set, except for jade and tobacco, which replace wine and ivory. (So this takes a bit getting used to: tobacco is not a mere bonus resource! I neglected hooking it up at first...)
    But the strategic resources are quite different and very important, as they enable a number of city improvements crucial for a cultural win:
    Exotic Birds: allow the Quetzal Bowman (an early strong attacker) and a wonder
    Stone Quarry: required for Temples and Stelas (two cheap cultural buildings) and the Pyramids
    Rubber: allows the Ball Court (culture and happiness)
    Llamas: allow the Tambo (culture and happiness) and indirectly the Marketplace.
  • Some of the city improvements have changed significantly:
    Codex (replacement for Library) is 100s (50 for scientific nations)
    Temple 20s (so only 10 for religious nations!)
    Courthouse 180s (90 for religious)
    Stela 60s (30 for religious)
    Sacrificial Altar 40s (20 for religious or militaristic)
    Ball Court 150s
    Tambo 140s
    Fishing Dock (Harbor) 250s! (but only 125 for militaristic)
    Marketplace 200s and requires a Tambo. The Marketplace also increases production by 25%, even though this is nowhere documented...
    Aqueduct is unchanged compared to the base game
    Hospital 300s (but only 150 for militaristic)
  • All of these improvements, except for Fishing Dock, Aqueduct and Hospital, provide extra culture! So I can understand the increased shield costs for some of these buildings, but not the 250s for the Fishing Dock, which is just a plain old Harbor with a fancy name?!?
  • Slaves can be sacrificed for culture. More on that later.

The scenario allows three victory conditions:
  • Domination (35% territory, 50% population)
  • One-city culture (2000 culture instead of 20.000)
  • Empire-wide culture (7000 culture instead of 100.000)

I have a big hunch that on Deity, where the AI does very well culture-wise, one or the other AI might reach a culture victory quickly, before the human player is finished setting up his production base and is ready to do anything about it. We'll see.

My plan is to go for a 2K culture victory in the capital. I'll choose the Aztecs, as for my taste they have the best starting land: a nice food bonus to allow for a bigger city even before Irrigation is researched, 4 lux resources and all 4 important strategic resources within reach. And as they are religious & militaristic, they get the 50% bonus on 5 out of the above 8 cultural improvements (all except for Codex, Tambo and Marketplace).
This should balance the 40% Deity-bonus a bit, as my main contenders have only one or none half-priced buildings:
  • the Inca (expansionist & agricultural) get no buildings at half price
  • the Mayas (scientific & industrious) only get the Codex at half price.
  • (The three smaller nations, Toltecs, Olmecs and Moche, will probably not pose a threat: their start land is really mediocre.)
Also I will try to spam a decent number of my 10s-Temples early to keep at least half the total culture of the AIs and prevent them from getting the 7K victory.

However, there is one big concern: this scenario has 6 nice wonders, two of which provide a whooping 6cpt. They come later in the game, and as I will probably not be able to keep up in research, I may not have a chance to compete for them. If one AI manages to get 2-3 of them in their capital, the 2K victory may come really fast. I have to hope that all wonders will be built in different cities...

The final important factor in this strategy is slaves. Slaves can be sacrificed and then provide 20 culture points, or 40, if the city has a Sacrificial Altar. (I think this is a rather questionable notion... gaining "culture" by ripping the heart out of your captured enemies...) Slaves can be obtained by various means (all of which have worked well in my Regent test game):
  • The UUs in this game have the "enslavement" capability. When winning a fight, there is a 33% chance that the defeated unit is turned into a slave. (An easy way to do this early on without having to trigger your GA, is by figthing the barbarians with your UU.)
  • Buy Workers in the diplo screen.
  • Capture enemy Settlers and Workers.
  • Raze cities
  • Capture cities and cash-rush the foreign population into Workers.

Let's hope that the AI, if it really sacrifices slaves, will do it in random cities and will not get the idea to bring them all to their capital. Then I might have a chance. On Deity, the AI has lots of workers, which can be captured, and lots of units, which can be enslaved, so if I manage to get like 25 slaves back home, that would already be 1000 culture points. (Of course I will have a Sacrficial Altar there asap.)
And by simply building all city improvements and that one small wonder, one can bring his capital to 23cpt. So that would be roughly 50 turns for 1000 culture. Of course on Deity it'll take me much longer to get all the required techs for these improvements, but if I estimate an "average" culture output of 10cpt, it would take 100 turns to get to 1000 culture. And if I manage to capture more slaves, even less time is needed. The game has 175 turns, let's see how fast the AI is progressing...
 
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Lanzelot

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Mesoamerica, part 1

As usual at the beginning of a new game, let's talk a bit about the research strategy and governments. We start the game in Despotism, so if I want to compete against the Deity AIs, it's important to get rid of that asap. Tenochtitlan has two nice food boni, "Maize" with +4 food and "Bananas" with +2 food (instead of +1 which they have in the base game). Also there are lots of food boni in first-ring distance, some of which are unlocked only after getting out of Despotism: two more Maize, two Fish, two Cacao Plants, a Game and a Llama.

Fortunately, Monarchy becomes available quite early in the game, and the Aztecs, which I have chosen, already start with two techs required for that:

techtree1.png

So I start with Ritual Sacrifice and then go immediately to Monarchy. Pottery can be traded soon enough: our direct neighbor, the Olmecs start with Pottery, and I think an immediate Granary is not good here anyway, because the Olmecs are so close that by the time I finish the Granary, they might already have boxed me in from the south. There is quite a number of important resources to the south, and some good city sites, so I will build 2-3 Settlers first to claim these sites before the Olmecs do, and then build the Granary for settling the north. There is no one to our north, so I don't need to hurry that much to expand into that direction. Even on Deity, it will hopefully take some time, before the AIs start sending Settlers up there...

Another nice thing about Ritual Sacrife is, that it enables the Sacrificial Altar, which adds +1 culture per turn (and becomes important later, as it doubles the culture from slave sacrifices). At only 20s for a religious civ, I will of course take that extra culture asap.

Some other important techs are Enslavement, which unlocks our Jaguar Warrior, so I can start enslaving barbs, and Construction, which unlocks the Aqueduct. Unfortunately, Tenochtitlan is not on a river, and many first-ring sites are neither, so eventually getting Aqueducts is important. And of course there are many other early techs, which unlock a cultural building, and as I won't have many chances for a great wonder, I need to build these asap to have a chance in the 2K race. Mathematics, Ball Games, Pacal's Laws and Storytelling all have a cultural building, which in most cases also have some additional bonus, like extra happiness or +50% science.

Then at the beginning of the second age, there is another crucial tech: Terrace Farming. It enables irrigation quite late in the game. The only good terrain we have, are the jungles and the food boni. The rest of the tiles is plains, hills and mountains, which all have only 1 food, so most of the towns I can found won't grow much beyond size 6 without irrigation!

techtree2.png

The rest of the second age techs then mainly allow a couple of great wonders. Pack Animal and Currency allow two strong buildings, the Tambo and Marketplace, which I will eventually get, but without the 50% discount, they are rather expensive for me. The upper two techs, Military Tactics and Espionage, allow two strong units, the Quetzal Bowman at 3-1-1 and the Silent Hunter at 5-3-2. The extra speed of the Jaguar and its enslavement capability probably means that I will continue to use that over the Quetzal, but the Silent Hunter is of course a monster, especically if I manage to get Armies. I may need to use that, if I want to survive a war against a potential powerhouse AI.

And then there is the strange tech of Blood Cult, enabling another government of the same name. Honestly, I have no idea, why the game designers added this?! Why would we want another anarchy that late in the game? And as far as I can see, Blood Cult is not even an improvement over Monarchy, but rather a major step back: it reintroduces the Despotism penalty, and it reintroduces pop-rushing instead of cash-rushing! All the other things, corruption level, MP maximum, draft rate and worker efficiency are the same. Only the free unit support has been increased from 2/4/8 to 8/8/8. But I rather pay a little more gold than put up with another anarchy and a mediocre government?! (If anyone knows, what the game designers had in mind with this, please enlighten me. Perhaps you can now also sacrifice your own workers instead of only slaves? But that would be too easy, almost an instant win, as you can certainly have some worker pumps running the entire game and then just wait for Blood Cult?!)

In any case: early contacts for trading opportunities are again most important to get through the first age quickly. I'll send a Warrior southward as soon as I can spare one, and hopefully he'll make it all the way south to the Incas and manage to not get himself killed by barbs on the way...

Ok, and off we go. I send my starting Settler eastward, as I know there is another nice Maize tile. The plan is then to use the Maizes for producing a few early Settlers and Workers to settle southward, before the Olmecs claim that nice territory.

I meet the Olmecs in turn 11, 410 AD, and buy the first slave:

First_slave_400AD.png

A short while later, I also meet the Mayas and the Toltecs, which are all rather close to each other down south.

Turn 18, 480 AD, Tobacco, the first lux resource, is connected, thanks to the Olmecian slave!

Turn 19, 490 AD, Ritual Sacrifce comes in, I trade Craftsmanship from the Mayas for Ritual Sacrifce + 26g, and from the Olmecs I buy Pottery for Ritual Sacrifce. Then I get 62g from the Mayas for Pottery.

Question now is: should I immediately switch to Granary? But my feeling is, if I don't claim those important southern sites quickly on Deity, the AI will box me in. So I will first finish the Settler I'm currently building, then a Sacrifical Altar (which got enabled by Craftsmanship) for some extra culture, and only then a Granary, followed by pumping out Settlers for the northern territory.

Another question is: my next tech, Monarchy, costs 640 beakers. Maximum research time in this scenario is 40 turns. At the moment I am making 12bpt, which is not enough to bring it below 40 turns. So going lone scientist for 40 turns might be an option, but getting out of Despotism is top priority here to get the extra food from the Maize and the Banana (plus extra shields on mined hills & mountains that I eventually will have). As my little empire grows, I will definitely get more than 20bpt research, and I think I can get it done in ~30 turns. At the moment I can't cash-rush anyway, and the more cash I accumulate, the more likely it is that the AIs will demand tribute... So I decide to go after Monarchy at full blast.

Turn 23, 530 AD: I meet the Toltecs and are able to buy my second slave...!

Toltecs_530AD.png

These minor civs are indeed backward, even on Deity...

580 AD, turn 28, the Sacrifical Altar is finished, and Tenochtitlan is making more culture than Chichén Itza! (Obviously, I haven't met the Incas, yet.)

score_580AD.png


Also Jade, my second lux resource is connected. And one of my slaves is building a road northwards to speed up the settlement of the northern area and connect the furs there.
It's probably time for a view of my developing empire:

empire_580AD.png

As you can see, I managed to claim the important resources in the south, Game, Jade, Llamas and Cacao Plants, before the Olmecs did. :whew: (The borders that can be seen, are their capital. Fortunately they do not start with an extra Settler in this scenario...)

600AD: the Olmecs send an Archer and a Warrior to my border. Are they looking for trouble or just want to go barb hunting in the north? I better move my defenders from Tenochtitlan to the border and temporarily raise the lux slider. Please not another early war!

border_600AD.png

680 AD: nothing happened, the Olmecian units wandered along my border and then went home again. Exotic Birds are now connected, but won't be needed for a long time: they allow the Quetzal Bowman and the Temple of Kukulcan.

720 AD, turn 42: the Olmecs demand 21 gold. Hey, you are supposed to be a weak minor civ, what are you thinking demanding tribute? But as they are the direct neighbor and I still have enough gold in my treasury, I give it to them. Not another war in the middle of the build-up phase, when I just built two 60s Granaries, which now need to be utilized to the full for Settlers & Workers and not for military units...

In 750 AD, turn 45, the Mayas are starting the Grand Pyramid! I guess now the days of Tenochtitlan's culture lead will soon be over... It also means, they are now four techs ahead of me: Alphabet, Masonry, Enslavement and Stone Carving.

In 770 AD I meet the Incas! I didn't have to walk all the way down there, they came half the way up to meet me... And they don't know Ritual Sacrifce yet! So I sell it to them for Enslavement and 12g, enough to finish Monarchy in two turns. My treasury was almost empty and I had already feared I would have to slow down a bit.

Then I sell Enslavement to the Olmecs and get Masonry and 21g. That's exactly what I payed them as tribute... Seems they haven't spent it yet... :D
Getting Enslavement means I can now build Jaguar Warriors, which I will for a bit of barb hunting in the north!

So now I only have to meet the Moche, which are between me and the Incas, but they did not come to greet me?!

Now that I know all major civs, I can now say for sure that Tenochtitlan is still the culture leader. Chichén Itza has built the Sacrifical Altar 6 turns after me, as the lead has now been stable at 6 points for quite some time:

score _770AD.png


A turn later I meet the Moche and sell them Ritual Sacrifce for 47g. The power graph doesn't look too bad for a Deity game, so it could be that the AI cannot handle all the rule changes that well? Before the game, I had really been afraid that this scenario would turn into a humiliating defeat, but now I get fresh hope.

power_780AD.png

I'm now delaying Monarchy for a turn, something I almost never do, but I want to finish another Settler and Worker before the potentially long anarchy period. That Settler will then settle by the floodplains in the north to build a continuous stream of Workers.

Then in 790AD Monarchy is finished, after a research time of 30 turns. I thought quickly, whether I should keep it to myself for a while, so as to let the others suffer the Despotism penalty a bit longer, but then I figured, three techs less to research to get to irrigation isn't bad either, so I sold Monarchy to the Mayas for Stone Corving, Alphabet and 226 gold and to the Incas for Mathematics and 300 gold! That's a good price. Three techs and 526g! Especially considering that I'll soon be able to cash-rush things. I'm now the tech leader and up Stone Carving over the Incas and Mathematics over the Mayas. But they'll probably swap that soon.

Next tech is now Construction, so I can finally build an aqueduct in Tenochtitlan. But that'll take a while.

Immediately after the trade I revolt interturn and get 2 turns of anarchy. Oh, yes, I forgot we are religious...

In 816AD, turn 52, my young Monarchy looks like this:

empire_816AD.png

The Furs will be connected soon, there is a Worker now on the Stone Quarry resource, ready to connect that (so I can finally build/cash-rush a couple of them cheap 10s Temples to compete against an AI's 7K victory), and a Settler is in preparation to claim the Spices. Construction is due in 14 turns, until then, Tenochtitlan will pump out some more Settlers and Workers.

With the despotism penalty lifted (and an aqueduct built/part-rushed), Tenochtitlan will max out at size 11 before irrigation. The biggest AI capital is currently size 3 (and the Mayas are not even building the Pyramids in their capital...), so perhaps I will have a chance at competing for a wonder after all!? No one knows Writing and Story Telling yet, so perhaps I go after these two after Construction and then try for the Temple of the Moon, which gives two free techs, getting me faster to irrigation.
 
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Lanzelot

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Mesoamerica, part 2

The next turn set was also devoted to peaceful buildup work. I traded Alphabet to two minor civs for 106g, connected the Furs, Stone Quarries and Spices, and when Stone became available, I built and rushed a couple of Temples in all towns.
At one point there were an Olmec Archer/Settler pair and a Mayan Spear/Settler pair marching through my territory (later there were even 4 of them...), and I was really tempted to capture them... :satan: But no early wars, be patient... :nono:

The first Jaguar Warriors got built and busted 2 barb camps in the north and openend two remaining huts (as I was sure to only get barbs from these huts on Deity), but so far no barbarian slave was captured.

Bad news in 888 AD, turn 61: the Incas and the Mayas had finished Story Telling and Ball Games and traded with each other, and Chichén Itza started the Temple of the Moon. There probably goes my chance of getting that wonder. I established an embassy and found out that they need 20 turns, and as they won't build an aqueduct inbetween, that number won't get down. In two turns I will finish Construction, so what I could try is: trade for Story Telling, part-rush an aqueduct in Tenochtitlan, join some workers and try to get it to 24spt. With 24spt I can finish those 400 shields in 17 turns, just enough to snatch it from their nose.

Chichen_Itza_888AD.png

The Incas and Mayas had meanwhile researched Writing, and eventually the Olmecs got it as well, so I traded it from the Olmecs for Stone Carving.
The Moche have a worker for sale, which I buy for Writing.

In turn 63, 904AD, Construction is finished. The Incas give me a pretty good deal for it. Good that I don't need to give it to the Mayas as well in order to get both techs!

Inca_deal_896AD.png

With this deal I have now entered the second age and start Terrace Farming.

Darn, there was one unbusted barb camp, which spawned 8 Spearmen. I have only 4 Jaguars so far, all of them far away and still healing... Hope these barbs don't cause too much damage.

barb_camp_904AD.png

I see that rubber is already connected, so a Ball Court would be possible.

Tenochtitlan now also has a Stela and is making 6cpt like Chichén Itza, but is trailing behind a bit. But my empire-wide culture is catching up thanks to the Temple-spamming...

culture_904AD.png

Spices are meamwhile connected, that's four lux resources. In turn 64 I rush the remainder of the Aqueduct in Tenochtitlan, so I can grow to 7 the following turn:

Tenochtitlan_912AD.png

I have only three tiles with 3s ready, so that would mean at size 11 Tenochtitlan would make 24spt. But if I start the Temple of the Moon in turn 65, I have 16 turns to finish it. (The Mayas would finish in turn 81.) Which means I would need 400/16 = 25spt. But I start it anyway, as over time I can build three more mines for an additional 6spt, which would bring Tenochtitlan to 30spt and catch up the missing shields. And if all fails, I can finish Terrace Farming in less than 16 turns now, so I can still switch to "Palace of the Inca", before the Mayas finish Temple of the Moon. However, two free techs would be nicer than four happy faces, but it's better than nothing...

The Incas and the Moche have a little war going on. I tried to make a screenshot "in action", but somehow it didn't work. So here is an after-action pic:

from_the_distant_south_928AD.png

The Incas must now be in Golden Age. And they know Map Making. They give my 45g for my world map, that's funding for two more turns of research.

A turn later, 936AD, turn 67, the Mayas also know MM and give me their territory map and 11g for my world map.

I haven't scouted much of the Incan territory so far, but according to F8, they have the biggest territory and population.

score_936AD.png


I can now buy Map Making from the Mayas for Construction. Then I buy two slaves from the Moche (probably sought shelter in the capital from the Incan attack...) and one slave from the Olmecs for obsolete techs... I get both world maps on top, and as the Moche seem to have traded maps with the Incas before their war, we now have a complete view of the world:

world_map_944AD.png


BTW: turns out the two Workers I bought from the Moche, were in fact of Incan nationality... Enslaved in the fighting?

In 952 AD, turn 69 the Mayas learn Military Tactics and start the War Rage in Quiriguá. We can now locate all wonder construction work going on at the moment on the map:


northern_wonders.png
southern_wonders.png

Because of a strange display bug on the far eastern edge of the map, I can't tell, which of those Incan towns is "Vilcas", the one where they started their Pyramids, nor can I see their size. But I would say, Bonampak has the best chances of finishing it. It's good luck, that the Incas, who are now in GA, started the Temple of the Moon only a few turns ago!

Tenochtitlan has currently 14 turns left on the Temple of the Moon, which would put it at turn 83. But I can still join one more worker, and the three remaining mines are about to finish in the next 2 turns. I'll check again, how long it then takes. Another way to speed it up, might also be to catch one of the Olmec Archer/Settler pairs still wandering around in my territory and that way kick of my GA? I think I could handle a war against them now. Although I would prefer to have some more big first ring cities, before starting the GA, not only my capital...

Let's only hope I don't lose everything in a cascade. I have six turns left on Terrace Farming. But then: the Pyramids are only 250s, not 400, so cascading Pyramid builds would not immediately endanger the Temple of the Moon! (Btw, I wonder why Bonampak hasn't finished those Pyramids yet?! They are alreay working on it for 24 turns now, and for the AI it's only 60% of 250 = 150s. 150 / 24 = 6.25. That town most have been really small, when it started working on the Pyramids, or is making less than 6spt, which is hard to believe, as the Stone Quarry field alone is already making 3spt! Four more fields and the city center add at least another 5spt. Let's subtract one for corruption, and we are looking at 7-8spt. Well, it's probably about to finish any moment now.

After my Jaguars have step by step killed 6 of the 8 northern barbarian Spearmen, they finally enslaved another barb! Total slave count is now 8, or 320 culture...
 
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Mesoamerica, part 3

Turn 70, 960 AD: Bonampak finishes the Pyramids. Well, didn't we talk about it last time. Now it will be interesting, how the AIs switch it around in the cascade...

The barb camp in the north is finally busted, buying me another turn of full blast research, just enough to finish Terrace Farming in 5 turns:

research_960AD.png


Next turn I see the new wonder builds: the Incas switched their Pyramids in Vilcas to the War Rage, so no danger for Temple of the Moon, and the Olmecs (Izapa) just gave up... Tenochtitlan at 28spt has now 10 turns left on Temple o.t. Moon, which means it finishes right in turn 81! But the mine on the Stone Quarry is about to finish interturn, making it 30spt and turn 80! That was a close shave...

tenochtitlan_968AD.png

I buy my nineth slave from the Toltecs for Mathematics.

Turn 75, 1000 AD: Terrace Farming is finished. I have 5 turns left on the Temple of the Moon, and I can't finish another tech in that time, so I set research to 0%. I will keep that tech to myself for a while, for two reasons: if someone does indeed finish the Temple of the Moon before me, there is no danger of losing the Palace of the Inca in a cascade, and also the AIs do seem a bit handicapt without being able to do their usual irrigations...Irrigation is about to start big scale in my empire, bringing some more towns to size. The cash I save now, can be used for rushing the necessary aqueducts.

empire_1000AD.png

(Compare Potonchan, the Olmecan capital, with Tenochtitlan... Isn't the AI pathetic, even on Deity...?)

If I do get the Temple of the Moon, I think I will pick Theology and Pack Animals as my freebies. Theology allows another nice 6cpt wonder (which places a Courthouse in every town! 1cpt and reduced corruption in every town is quite powerful...), and Pack Animals allow the Tambo and eventually the Marketplace. Military Tactics is known to the Incas and Mayas, so I can probably trade that later.

tech_strategy_1000AD.png

I buy another slave from the Moche for Construction. Oh, and spices are now also connected (5th lux), but because of Tenochtitlan, I cannot quite reduce the lux slider back to 0% again.

1025 AD, turn 80, the big moment has finally come:

TempleMoon_1025AD.png

Doesn't look like much, but it netted me Theology and Pack Animal. Now going slowly for Currency.

Tenochtitlan jumps from 6cpt to 12cpt and immediately starts the Temple of the Sun, due in 15 turns (it's 450s).

In the same turn, Vilcas finishes the War Rage, so any possible cascade is also broken! Fortune favors fools...

F7_1025AD.png

In 1030 I joined another worker, and Tenochtitlan is now "complete":

Tenochtitlan_1030AD.png

In comparison, take a look at Cuzco, which currently still has the culture lead by about 20 points... (Hmm, how did they get there? Chichén Itza used to be ahead of me all the time by a handful of points?! I have the feeling, the Incas sacrificed a slave just recently to jump ahead of the Mayas and me. Edit: in some "after action analysis" I loaded an older save from that time, established an embassy in Cuzco and saw, that it had built some stuff I did not yet have: a Codex and a Ball Court for an additional 5cpt. With these extra 5cpt they gained the lead the "normal" way, I just didn't check F8 often enough to notice...)

top_5_1030AD.png

1040AD, turn 83, the Incas have meanwhile discovered Invention. I have now two Worker pumps running, infact, for a while already. The effect will be seen in the picture of my empire at the end of this turn set.

In the interturn of 1045, the friendly Toltecs suggest this:

toltecs_demand_1045AD.png

Considering the power of their capital
Tula_1045AD.png

and the fact that they are not really in a position to attack me, I think now you can guess my response... :D

And indeed, they called it a bluff, went home and took their empty threats elsewhere... So still no war in this game...

The Mayas now learned Terrace Farming and started the Palace of the Inca. Hmm... :crazyeye: But they do it in Copán, a size-4 town in the second ring, that'll take a while, even on Deity...

Turn 87: the Incas now also start the Palace of the Inca. Now that sounds more like it! So that means they also know Terrace Farming now. However, freshly traded maps don't reveal any irrigation yet in either empire. I decide to now trade Pack Animals, before Incas and Mayas caught up too much, and I end up empty-handed. Oops, no one is giving me anything for that, do they have it almost done themselves? I have 7 turns left on the Temple of the Sun, so I guess it should be safe to trade Theology. Perhaps they are willing to give more for that? After all, both my techs are monopolies!

Hmm, the Incas want Theology and Pack Animals for Invention! (Ok, Invention is still monopoly as well.) So I take it. And the Mayas want Pack Animals, Theology and Invention for Military Tactics, holy cow! But as they toss in a slave and some gold (my 11th slave, without any warfare...) I agree. Before I have to research it myself...

Incas and Mayas both know Espionage, so they'll probably have some of those nasty Silent Hunters.

Interturn the Mayas demand 33g and my territory map. Ok, as my first war is going to be against the Olmecs, I give it to them.
Inca and Maya both start the Temple of the Sun, well, you gonna be disappointed, I have only 6 turns left...
 
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Mesoamerica, part 4

Turn 93, 1090AD: I buy another Inca slave from the Moche for Terrace Farming...

And in 1100AD, turn 95 the people celebrate another great moment in the history of the Aztecs:

TempleSun_1095AD.png

This adds another 7cpt for Tenochtitlan (6 for the wonder, 1 for the courthouse that gets added to every city!). Consequently, after a long time in second place, Tenochtitlan has now again taken the lead in the culture race:

score_1100AD.png


Tenochtitlan is now going to build a Codex, Ball Court and Tambo in quick succession for another 7cpt, and will then join the war effort.

Tenochtitlan_1100AD.png

Actually, everything is ready for a quick war against the Olmecs (F3 rates me strong compared to them with my 14 Jaguars and assorted units), but I still want to get at least these three to size 12, before starting the GA:

empire_1100AD.png

A plan for winning can already be formed: Tenochtitlan will need less than 26 turns for reaching 1000 culture (much less with those three additional buildings). I have 12 slaves, the Olmecs still have a couple of workers I can see, and four towns of size 3, 6, 7 and 8 (plus two more on the edge of the map, whose size I cannot see). That's enough for rushing 1+4+5+6 = 16 more slaves. These should then push me over the 2000 culture points, long before the 26 turns are over.

Hmm, now that I think about it, if there is a chance to win the game in around 20 turns, there is probably no use in delaying the GA further. So I move 10 Jaguars into position in the north and upgrade two Temple Guards in the south. Plan is to first take these two Olmec towns on the top left edge of the map (and the two workers working there, and I think a Settler must still be running around there, too), while keeping a defense on the southern border. When the Jaguars have returned from the north, we can then advance towards Potonchan to take some prisoners. Two more Jaguars will finish in two turns, and then I think I'll strike.

In 1105 AD, the Incas know Blood Cult. But they are still in Monarchy. (So they are smart enough to recognize, that the new government is crap, but not smart enough to recognize, that researching that tech is wasted then?!)

Now the Incas want a tribute of territory map and 22g. As they are at the other end of the map, I tell them -- well you know what I tell them...

Inca_dow_1105AD.png

Oh well, our first war... Now I can finally reduce lux to 0%...

No one has the tech yet for signing military alliances (Military Strategy, an optional first age tech), so I should be pretty safe from the Mayas getting signed up against me. I still need to finish Currency and then trade for their Military Tactics, so I can also build Silent Hunters in case it comes to a hot war against one of the big boys! One more turn, as I still have some uncovered Workers finishing some irrigations, and Tenochtitlan first needs to finish the Codex, and then the offensive against the Olmecs can start.

Turn 98, 1115AD: Copán (Maya) finishes the Palace of the Inca. 5 out of 7 wonders are now complete, but none has been built in an AI capital...! Nice that the Mayas beat the Incan capital Cuzco to it...

The Toltecs and the Moche both have another slave on sale. I buy them for Map Making and Theology.

Now the time for war has come. I have 5 nice big cities, Tlatelolco can grow now as well, while Calixtlahuaca can build a few more Workers. The first phase is to take those 3 Workers on my border, try to enslave the two Archers and take the two northern towns. Let's see whether all this can be accomplished in the first turn.

empire_1115AD.png

Of course our first Jaguar retreats against an Archer... What a start to a war... And the second one also goes down to 1/4 HP trying to beat that 2/4 Archer... I expected more of you guys! But anyway, mission accomplished: "Our Great Civilization has entered a Golden Age!"

The next one retreats again, but the fourth enslaves the other Archer, yes! Three more Workers are captured, bringing the total slave count to 18.

However, the attack on the first town turns out to be a failure. Of the 5 attacking Jaguars, 2 die, 1 retreats and only two manage to defeat red-lined Spearmen. The town survives with a 1/3 Spearman left. Well, we need some reinforcements and a second attack...

Tenochtitlan is now at 47spt:

Tenochtitlan_1115AD.png

It can do the Tambo (140s) in three turns, and with a little shortrush after the first turn (collect 47, rush Temple Guard for 60, collect 94 in the next two turns) it can also do the Ball Court (150s) in three turns.
Currency is due in 6 turns, and with a Marketplace, Tenochtitlan will really reach it's maximum. Perhaps I can do another wonder then?

The following turn, the Mayas have a slave on sale. They want 104g and 1gpt. Ok, fair enough. But I have to lower the science slider a notch for the next two turns in order to collect the necessary money for the shortrush.

1125AD, turn 100. The upper Olmec towns now have Jaguars of their own! They kill my Quetzal and a Jaguar. One of my Jaguars dies against an Archer on plains. But the second one enslaves it. 20!

The Moche now know Espionage. Great, I buy it for Invention and Pack Animals.

Switch a few towns to Silent Hunters... Olmecs, beware...

The next turn I'm ready for another attack on the first Olmec town. Two Jaguars defeat a Spear and an injured Jaguar, enslaving one, and capturing a settler! And the town is big enough so I can build another slave. 24!

Pichucalco_1130AD.png

But I have to turn my attention to the southern front now, the Olmecs are invading with 5 units.

sourthern_border_1130AD.png

I kill two of the intruders at the loss of an Archer and an eJaguar, defend Tamuin with two Temple Guards and bring more Jaguars into attack position for next turn. Probably they are going after the empty Tlatelolco.

The Mayas know Military Strategy (remember: the tech that allows MAs). I ask them, what they want for an alliance against the Incas, but they say no way. They also don't want to join our war against the Olmecs.

Turn 102, 1135AD: and now I know why:

maya_dow_1135.png

That Javelin Thrower had been marching south for a couple of turns, and I thought it was just returning home, but out of the blue it attacks my size 12 city Xochicalco, defended only by a 3/3 Warrior... (See red arrow.) And that Warrior survives with 1/3!! And gets promoted for its braveness! Whew, losing a first ring size 12 city in the middle of a GA would really have been a bummer. :whew:

On the southern front, the Olmecs kill another eArcher (enslaving it), attack Tamuin, but lose one Jaguar and one retreats 1/4. The last remaining one walks home?! But instead, the Mayas already arrive at the front with three Silent Hunters! Recall that these are the moster units of the game at 5-3-2. It's about time I get some of my own to fight these. But it still takes two turns, before the first become ready.

In the north I have 7 Jaguars ready to attack the second Olmec town. It's about time these units can return to the southern front. Ha, only one Jaguar is required to take that town. But it's too small, so no slaves from here.

Oh, yeah, there is also a Maya town right on the norther edge of the map, which needs to be taken to get my back cleared up. I can bring 5 Jaguars into position for an attack on the northern Maya town, two more return south, two are still healing in the Northwest.

In the south, I pick up that 1/4 Olmec Jaguar, enslaving it, but when I attack the 2/4 one, my Jaguar dies, promoting the enemy to 2/5. I then attack with a Quetzal, but the Jaguar retreats. Need to cover the Quetzal now with a Temple Guard.

I buy another slave from the Moche for 7gpt.
 
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Lanzelot

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Mesoamerica, part 5

1140 AD, turn 103: I enslave another 1/4 Olmec Jaguar, but the Mayan Silent Hunters are causing me a bit of trouble:

southern_front_1140AD.png

I think I will move all defenders from Texcoco to Tlaxcala, leaving Texcoco empty to lure them that way, and then next turn with two Hunters of my own, two Quetzals and a couple of Jaguars, I can hopefully defeat these intruders.

In the north, the 5 Jaguars just barely manage to take that Mayan town: 1 loss, 1 retreat and 3 wins, but we got one slave. We capture either a settler or two Workers (couldn't see the animation on the edge of the map), but the town is now size 1, so no more slaves here. But with 29 slaves, we now almost have enough: Tenochtitlan is at 694 culture, making 23cpt (next turn 26cpt). 29x40 + 694 = 1160 + 694 = 1856. For the remaining 144 culture, Tenochtitlan needs 144/26 = 5.54 so 6 turns.

Turn 104, 1145 AD: the Mayan Silent Hunters don't move towards the lesser defended Texcoco, but they attack! And they don't attack our Temple Guards (def-3), but the Quetzal and a Jaguar in Tlaxcala! Ah, I forgot, the Hunters have stealth attack, so can pick their target... I lose two units, but they lose one Hunter!

Currency is finsihed, as is the Ball Court in Tenochtitlan. I am now thinking: a Marketplace in 4 turns, which will probably just finish, before the game ends, or 1-turn Quetzals at -1fpt? (By the way, why does Tenochtitlan suddenly make 57spt (60spt with more mountains)? Does the Ball Court also add production?? Need to check this in the .biq: ah, yes, 25%...) In any case, research is now shut down.

Tenochtitlan_1140AD.png

The Olmecs now also have Silent Hunters.

southern_front_1145AD.png

So even though "no Marketplace" means, that I have just researched Currency for nothing, 1100 gold down the drain, I decide to go for Quetzals to help with the defense...
Two Hunters and a Quetzal can counter-attack this turn, my Hunters defeat two Mayan Hunters on plains, the Quetzal loses to the Olmec Hunter (2/4), but an eJaguar manages to enslave the Hunter... Two more Jaguars kill the Quetzal and the Jaguar, creating another slave. 33 slaves now, the game is almost over, I only have to bring them home...

slaves_1145AD.png

Unfortunately, the three northern ones are too far away to be cashed in next turn, otherwise the game would be over. But will the remaining 30 perhaps sufficce? 720 + 26 + 30x40 = 1946. Not quite. I could move the three northern ones into Xochicalco next turn, then gift Xochicalco to the Moche. That would teleport the three slaves to the capital, with some movement left, so they could then be sacrificed and win the game. In a competition I would probably do that. (Unless teleporting is banned like in the GOTM.) But in a story like this, it just doesn't feel right to gift away the city that has heroically withstood the treacherous sneak attack of the Mayas! Just for a one turn faster finish. So I rather play an extra turn, especially as the immediate danger on the sourthern front has now been averted. There is only one more Mayan Hunter visible.

A turn later, here is now the final "group photo" of our assembled slave force, one turn before they'll be lead to the slaughter bank.

slaves_1150AD.png

(I had lost count: in fact it was 34... Oh, and the Toltecs have another one on sale, I buy it for Pacal's Laws. Unfortunatly he is now missing on the group photo... Ok, I make a new one with him...!) But you can see, that all nations are represented: the three minor nations Olmec, Moche and Toltec, the Barbarians and the two major nations Incas and Mayas! No one is left out, when it comes to pleasing our Gods!

A bit more fighting took place on the southern front, but it's irrelevant now.

1155 AD, turn 106: the big day of the Gods has come! (And right about on time, too, as the Mayas have also come in big numbers, 6 Silent Hunters, 3 Javaline Throwers and a Temple Guard. It's about time to end this, before it gets nasty...)

First I try to eliminate the danger on the front. I defeat two Hunters and an Olmec unit, while losing one Hunter myself. Then the Big Sacrifice is about to commence:
sacrifice.png


altar_1155AD.png

After cutting through 31 hearts, F8 shows this:

score_1155AD.png


While it should have been 772 + 31+40 = 2012?! So it appears the count stops at 2000. (And what I found out after the game: when you play on after the game, and the culture of the city grows by "normal" means to lets say 2026, 2052 etc. and you then sacrifice another slave, it drops back to 2000... What kind of bug is this?!)

Anyway, I stop here, the final save is attached with 4 "survivors" still in Tenochtitlan. If you want to sacrifice them yourself, be my guest...
So we have a victory by 2K culture in turn 107, 1160AD!

I just realize, I still have 12 turns of Golden Age left... Somehow I completely misplayed this game...
But it was great fun, really enjoyed it a lot, which you can probably see by the fact that the story got much longer than for the other games so far, considering that this is just a small and quick scenario (very small map, only 6 nations, only a handful of cities to manage...)

The reason is, I felt that this is a highly interesting scenario, because of all the changes to the standard game and the things you have to do differently and take into account when thinking about your strategy, therefore there was always so much interesting stuff to describe...
 

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Lanzelot

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Age of Discovery

This is another strange (and therefore quite interesting) scenarios, because it basically combines the previous one, Mesoamerica, with the Victory Point scoring system we have seen in some of the earlier scenarios and adds another way victory points can be obtained: by shipping auto-produced "Treasury" units back home to your capital. Basically, there are two separate tech trees:
  1. A tech tree for the native American tribes, which allows lots of culture buildings and wonders and "slave sacrificing" for a culture victory, pretty much like we have seen in Mesoamerica, only the limits are higher: 4K for the one-city victory and 20K for the nation-wide victory.
  2. And a tech tree for the European nations, allowing things like tobacco plantation, gold mine, etc. which auto-produce treasure units. You grab the treasure with a military unit and bring it to your capital, where you instantly gain 1000 VPs and 200 gold.
    These treasure-producing buildings can only be built in a town that has the required resource in its big fat cross and connected, e.g furs for a trapper camp, gold/silver/gems for a corresponding mine, tobacco or sugar for a plantation, etc. And of course, these resources exist only in the New World...
    Other interesting things on this tech tree are better ships, including Privateers to raid your oponents' treasure fleets..., buildings like the Colonial Capital (an improved version of the Forbidden Palace) or the Naval Academy. You win by collecting 35.000 VPs.
Actually, the second tech tree is open also to the American nations, and I have always wanted to win a game as an American nation, not as the game designers wanted us to do, by culture and slave sacrificing, but by learning the European techs and producing treasures ourselves. That would be really nice, because for example Tenochtitlan has gold and sugar, and in first-ring distance we would find spices, silver and gems. We could cramp a number of towns in that area and then produce all kinds of treasure in big style and would not even have to ship them over the Atlantic, because they are produced right in or next to the capital... ;)
However, the problem is, that the Europeans are two ages ahead of the Americans on that tech tree. I think, on the lower difficulty levels, such a win would be possible, because by clever trading and a bit of self research, we could catch up these two ages, but on Deity it is probably hopeless.

So for this game I will stick to the "standard" victory conditions. As I just had a culture victory in Tenochtitlan in the previous game, I will pick a European nation this time and go for a VP win via Treasure units. There is actually an old "trick" (some call it exploit) to make the win easier in this scenario: after you have built up a sizable colony with lots of resources in the New World, just disband your capital... If you prepared accordingly, the capital will jump to the center of your colony in the New World, and you can do what I just described for Tenochtitlan: produce your Treasures right next to your palace...

However, I will not be using this trick in the current game, because I think it is not even necessary: setting up a ship chain isn't too difficult here, 5-6 Galleons are needed to cross the Atlantic, and then Treasures can be returned home in one turn as well.

Other noteworthy points:
  • Towns cannot be founded on forest and jungle. These would have to be cleared first.
  • Medieval Infantry and Musketeers are amphibious! This could be used for some interesting warfare in Europe... However, I think not much can be gained by getting into a war in Europe, so I'll probably not use that feature extensively.
  • Some worker jobs are changed: roads take two turns and chopping forest takes ten turns.
  • There is a Colonist unit, which is a cheaper Settler for 20s and only one population.
  • Ship movement is different from the normal game: traveling on coast and sea costs one movement point, but traveling on ocean costs 2. If you keep this in mind, you can reach the Americas faster. (This actually mimics quite nicely, how Columbus discovered the New World: he used the ocean streams in the aquatorial area for traveling westward and the Gulf Stream further north for returning home to Europe!)
  • Corruption is reduced for this scenario, so the New World settlements will actually produce a little bit. And apparently the Colonial Capital sets up a second core, comparable to the Forbidden Palace in PtW?!

The strategy I will be following, looks something like this: first of all, it is worth remembering that all four American civs start with a big treasury, a couple hundred gold, but no way to spend it, as they are still in Despotism... So a European nation that discovers them first, can easily pick up these couple hundred gold by selling them a cheap ancient age tech or two, like Alphabet or Writing... As I know, where to find them, I will send my starting ships and Explorers directly towards them and hopefully discover them first.

The AI seems to be favoring founding the first colonies in Cuba and North America, but I think that area isn't particularly good, especially New England only has just a bit of furs and tobacco. Therefore I will go for the South American east coast. There is sugar, tobacco, gems, gold, and then silver on the west coast, not far away. And there is actually some good land with cows wheat and a few rivers, so building the Colonial Capital and a second core there would actually pay off. Also there is only one competitor there, the Incas, which can perhaps even be conquered at some point. In north and middle America we would have to compete against the Iroquois, Aztecs, Mayas plus the other European powers. And shipping stuff home from Brazil doesn't take much longer than from New England, you need 2 more ships in the chain, that's all.

The research strategy is as follows.

tech_tree.png

The most important tech is of course Colonization, which allows to build the first plantations and the Colonial Capital. Plantations auto-produce a Treasure every 10 turns (spice and sugar) or every 8 turns (tobacco). I want to start producing them asap and maybe get a little headstart on the AI. And setting up the Colonial Capital to get a second core in the New World will also be of high priority. The first tech will therefore be Printing Press, which allows those cheaper settler-type units and therefore faster expansion.

While I research towards Colonization, I hope to trade for Gunpowder and Metallurgy, and then continue right away with Mining. The mines auto-produce Treasures even faster: every 5 turns (gems and silver) and every 3 turns (gold). Get some of these up early in the game, and then I only have to take care of the logistics for transporting them home. This will require quite a number of units, and I think these units are much better employed transporting Treasure than attacking other nations. Even though capturing cities provides the same amount of VPs as in the earlier games, I think in this game the majority of VPs will come from Treasures, since there are so few big cities on this map. So I plan to play this game peacefully (stop that grin...!), concentrating solely on producing lots of Treasure units. (Well, I guess I will need a victory with my UU to kick off the GA, but otherwise I hope to stay out of trouble...)

We start the game with the government of Catholic Monarchy, which I think is ok. There is a slightly better government available here, if we research Protestantism: Protestant Monarchy, it has 150% worker speed compared to Catholic workers who work at 100% and it has minimal corruption, so probably the difference is like between Republic and Democracy in the standard game?! I don't think that worker speed will matter that much in this scenario, and as the most important things, the Treasures, are auto-produced, reduced corruption shouldn't matter that much either. So this is definitely of low priority, perhaps I won't switch governments at all?!

Much more important is probably to research the bottom techs, which provide better ships.

I had already been thinking for quite a while about which nation I should take, and I liked the English. And now since Queen Elizabeth II died, I will definitely take the English, lead by her namesake, Queen Elizabeth I. The Dutch and the Portuguese are too boxed in for my taste (even though the Portuguese have a little head-start over the other nations). The French have probably the best cities, but they can be attacked from both sides.
 
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