Sirian's Great Library - Strategies for Civilization III
RBCiv Epic Twelve

Civilization: Zulus
Difficulty: Deity
World Size: Small
Opponents: Five
Climate: Cold
Rainfall: Standard
Mountains: Standard
Land Mass: 30%
Land Shape: Continents
Barbarians: Roaming
Version: 1.29f
These are my results from Epic Twelve of the Realms Beyond Civilization tournament. Click Here to visit the Epics home page for the specific rules and goals of this event, or for more information about the Epics. This one is a tough variant game. Check the Epics site for the full details. Here's a short list of the restrictions:
* No purchasing workers. No workers through diplomacy by any means, including peace.
* No upgrading units. Ever. You build a unit, it remains that type of unit "for life".
* You may not pillage your own lands. (Includes no disconnecting your own resources).
* No trading away of your last unit of any given resource. You must keep one for yourself.
* No scrolling through cities during the production phase, "between turns".
* No prebuilding of any kind. No placeholders. Ever. You are NOT allowed to change projects. Or rather, if you change city projects from one to another, you MUST wipe out any shields stored in the box by first changing to Wealth, which will erase all but one shield, then (and only then) may you assign a city to a new item.
That's a pretty hefty set of limits! I came up with the idea to see what the game would play like with all these options wholly off the table as an experiment taken to extremes. That would offer myself and other Epics players a counterpoint to discussions that arose after Epic Eight, as well as be an interesting challenge in its own right. I took the first start it offered me, and that one turned out to be quite suitable.
The start was on the edge of the ice, on a hill with gold deposits, next to a one-tile lake. There was some grass to the south, one tundra game in range, and also on the coast. I settled right there. I left the goody hut until the second turn, hoping to pop a settler (you can't get one on the first turn). I got an empty hut. I built scout, warrior, granary, settler. My first scout went south to explore the fertile lands first, my second went north to explore the ice. I found two more huts, and ALL THREE of my huts popped empty. I got nothing (or more likely, got hostile yokels but was spared because of being expansionist). If anyone else lands better luck and pulls a settler, they might do considerably better than my final results.
The bad news: Rome was right there to my south, and worst of all, planted their second city right in the choke zone. I could not even get past them without going right through their territory. I also realized almost immediately that I had some opportunity to rush a blockade into place. My two scouts would serve well in that regard. However, Deity-level barbarians were popping up after 3000BC, and that was not good news, with my capital exposed and lightly defended. If not for being on a hill, I might have been in some serious trouble here.
My second scout was late to the party. He arrived near the choke AFTER the Romans sent a settler pair north from Veii to push into my area. Blah! Double blah. And yet... Once my second scout did arrive, I managed to block their access to the tiles they wanted, at the ideal range away from Veii. I then shuffled back and forth, with the AI shuffling back and forth, and I was saved. Saved! They wasted a dozen turns in this shuffle. I'm not even sure which tile they wanted, but whichever it was, it was one of the two my moving scout was shuffling back and forth to, while my anchor scout stayed in place. Yet instead of moving around me and keep on going (which they could have done, me with only two units -- three are needed to run a fully functional moving blockade on a single settler pair), I would move too, and the tile they wanted would then open up and they'd move back toward it, then I'd move back onto it. Again, I don't even know which of the two tiles in the shuffle was the one they wanted, but they wanted it badly enough NOT to do what the AI did to me in Epic Nine, which was to settle for a different spot and just plop the city down to be sure to get a city at all. The AI WILL choose to do that, I've learned, so I don't consider it imbalanced to run this kind of blockade, or any kind of blockade in neutral territory. My blockade up to that point even qualified as honorable, although I was aiming for a dastardly blockade at the narrows of the choke as soon as I could muster one.
In the picture below, my southern scout is fortified and not moving. He's the anchor. The other scout is currently on the forest, and about to move to the grass to the west. The AI pair will then move east and my scout will move back into the forest, wherein the AI pair moves west again. Back and forth, until my late-arriving settler moves right onto the forest the scout's on in the picture, and settles. Yes, I actually pulled this one out. Sometimes it's better for you for the AI to be stupid and greedy, than for it to be good. Also note the 1hp left on my warrior in the capital, a real defense gambit running there. I was really laying it out with this strategy. Not quite a true farmer's gambit, as I coined that term (more on that in a future report), but pretty close. I didn't even have cardboard cutouts manning the walls. I had welcome signs!
Once I had that site locked up, I wanted to settle the rest of the fertile lands along the eastern shore. Everything on the western shore and north shore of my peninsula was barren: desert or ice. After my scout-warrior-granary-settler arrangement, I trained one impi, then another settler, while training workers out of Ulundi. A second Roman settler pair joined the push now. I used my unguarded city as an anchor point (praying they wouldn't take the chance to step in there and end my game) in a major blockade gambit, until my new impi could arrive. He arrived just in time for me to block them, and then as they had no choice but to park on that tile or return south, and they returned south, I actually had enough now to gain some ground on them.
Once Ulundi produced its first worker, I had four mobile units plus the city anchor, and had enough finally to form a dastardly blockade, from which the Romans retreated, vanquished.
In the picture above you see my third city about to be founded on the site with the settler.
As the Romans retreated, my scouts followed, forming a two-unit blockade at the narrow part of the choke. You can also see the limits of my land, the three spices, the second game, the two whales, and all the ice. Yep, this map met with the "life's a beach and then you die" scenario of this epic. :)
While the Roman settler pairs had been turned back, some Roman military units had already passed and were cleaning up a barb camp for me in the far north. Yay. But then a second barb camp popped up, this one in the south, in the desert, threatening and exposing my heartland. This was not good news, but I was in Epic Four mode, expanding ASAP and let the barbs pretty much have the run of the place unopposed.
I knew I had to get some vet units now, though, so you can see the barracks being built in my capital. I trained a regular archer out of my third city to attack the barb camp, and this went well, although I almost botched it as the barbs produced a horse the turn I was set to attack. My archer won and promoted, then rested. I sent an impi over there, too, and the vet archer then DIED on the next attack, but the impi followed up and won, dispersing the camp.
Unfortunately, as you can see below with the first attack, the Romans have mapmaking and can now circumvent my blockade. That ship is about to land and a Roman settler pair claim the desert region. Being right next to my capital, I had hope the thing would eventually flip to me, so it wasn't a total disaster.
You can also see in the minimap, I've got five cities and all of the fertile land on the east coast. The rest is fishing villages and any resources in range. I wondered if there would be saltpeter or oil in that desert, the way the AI grabbed it, but might not be. Deity AI's are very rabid expansionists.
A new barb camp popped up in the far north and actually defeated the Roman units in the area. Amazing. I dispersed it by sending a settler and impi escort right up behind the Roman units and settling quickly before the barbs could regroup with new units. And that was the end of the barbarian threat for this game. The land had been sufficiently settled now:
I decided to buy Rome's territory map at one point, see what I could learn about any possible lands left I might hurry to try to grab. Of course there were no such animals, but I did learn some useful bits.
Sadly, I could not afford to buy contacts from Rome, and they had the choke cut off. The turns were creeping by, and I could not afford to research or buy techs @2nd, so I was really in a bind, falling far far behind. There had turned out to be no iron on the peninsula. I didn't know about horses yet, as I did not have the wheel. After researching Ceremonial early, purchasing Bronze, then running min sci on Iron Working, I went to writing at deficit research, planning to move on to mapmaking at min sci. We're almost to 500BC now, I'm still isolated away from Rome but they have contacts with everybody, none of which I can afford. I was really starting to worry. Caesar finally threatened me for the first time, but just as with Persia in my Epic Nine, they then immediately used the money to buy an embassy with me:
Then I came up with an odd idea. I no longer needed my scouts for blockade. Rome had grabbed only the one fishing site, in the desert, and I secured the rest. I was slow to get a spice online, but I did eventually, and I started my Forbidden Palace in Hlobane, on the east coast toward the north, as soon as it had a temple. I was nowhere near having the cash to buy a contact, but I DID have enough to buy Right of Passage with Rome and send my scouts through their territory, in search of making contact with their neighbors using my own units.
So it was in 530BC that I made the deal and my scouts headed on into Roman territory. The end of the peaceful early isolation period was upon me.

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