|RBCiv Epic Fourteen|
World Size: Large
Land Mass: 20%
Land Shape: Archipelago
These are my results from Epic Fourteen 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 is an Always War scenario: "You must declare war on all opponents on the turn you make contact. You may acquire tech, contacts or map information prior to declaring war, but you must pay up front: no deals involving any kind of per-turn payments. You may never, ever make peace with any opponent. Until you control all of the earth or are wiped from the earth, there will always be war without end."
LKendter, of CivFanatics succession game fame, once remarked that Greece was the absolute worst civ for an always war game, because of their "crappy defensive UU" and uncomplimentary civ traits. Was he right? We're going to find out.
Greece holds an advantage over the Zulu, the other civ with a unique spear unit, because they are scientific and begin the game with bronze working. That means they can build hoplites from the word go, and that would turn out to be vital for getting started in this one. The start point was on the coast with two plains cattle in sight, and some desert, too. I moved the worker onto the eastern cattle, which opened up an inland lake. Well, I've simply got to have fresh water if possible, so I move my settler to between the two cattle, next to the lake, and found Athens in 3950BC. Turns out that there are FIVE plains cattle in range of the site I chose, all to the north except the one my worker is now irrigating. I started lone scientist research into writing.
Just a couple of turns into the game, Athens training a regular hoplite for starters, contact is made with an American scout. Yikes, they must be rather close. A 20% land game with max civs is always tight, though, so I expected close neighbors, maybe more than one, depending on the size of our starting island. If things are TOO crowded, ala Epic Ten, I'll restart the map, but I don't expect that here on a large map. Large maps, the game's map generator seems much better able to distribute the luxury resources adequately. I sincerely hope they are not all piled up on one or two continents, with most of the islands empty. A decent spread would be nice. Anyway, I've made my first contact, and I take the chance to exchange techs before the obligatory war declaration:
Of course, America's initial troops are now on the way. They'll arrive soon. I train a second hoplite after the first is complete, then I start walls. In 3350BC, two American warriors move into view. I park one of my two hoplites on my worker, irrigating the second cattle tile. The AI's tend to leave one unit of their attack force fortified within range of the target city, as harassment. They don't tend to attack all out. Rather than wake my worker and lose progress, I'm going to take a chance here, with only one hoplite defender in the capital. If one regular AI warrior beats one fortified Greek hoplite, here, well, I'll can this map and start another. After all, part of the process of sponsoring an Epic is making sure the start is viable for the scenerio. Well, if the game picks HERE to put forth one of its impossible streaks, that will be its loss.
Meanwhile, I get visitors from the south on the next turn:
Ooh, another tech, another 10g for me. I'm glad I made these trades. Rome and America would only have traded Alphabet and Masonry to one another anyway, when they met, so I got Masonry and now Warrior Code, and 20g, out of them, and I'm intending not to let them take full advantage of the techs I've given them anyway. Getting masonry is the biggest deal. Walls will further magnify the advantage my hoplites already have.
Sure enough, only one of the two American warriors attacked, taking 1hp off my lone hoplite. In the picture below, you can't see the second warrior, but he's there. A third is moving up into range, but my walls will complete on this turn, and that will be all she wrote for the AI's threatening to capture my capital.
Now THIS is a wasted golden age. The cattle tiles already have two shields apiece, so I get an extra only from the center tile, giving me 8 shields at size 3 population. Well, I can train a new hoplite in three turns, vs... three turns for non golden production. Blah, no difference at all! It would not even shave one turn off a barracks, as I would grow to size 4 before the barracks was done and the extra shields from that would still have finished the barracks in four turns. All in all, a virtually useless golden age. Of course, it's going to be like that for everyone else, too, so that's par for this course.
With two regular hoplites, walls and a worker, I started a barracks right after the walls. America sent a steady stream of regular warriors, and I sent my worker, after irrigating and roading the second cattle, out into the desert, away from the path of incoming American troops, as well as the route of Roman units coming from the south.
The AI's threw themselves at my fortified hoplites, promoting one to vet. In 3000BC, Athens grew to size 4 and the golden age proved to be perhaps worthwhile after all, as I now had 10spt instead of the 9 I would have otherwise had. I was able to train three more hoplites, all vets, in the next six turns. The Americans sent only warriors, all regulars. The Romans sent only regulars as well, but they brought a couple of archers. I parked one of my vet hoplites out on the southeastern cattle to avoid Romans pillaging. America's path was coming in on the diagonal, between all the cattle, but I did not want to risk my worker out there just yet, so I kept him away from the stream of incoming American units.
One of my hoplites got promoted to Elite after surviving two attacks on the same turn. I almost lost a hoplite twice in there, too, down to 1hp left. In 2670BC, still pulling 10 spt, it was time to train a settler. He would be done just as the city would get to size 6, dropping me back to size 4 and leaving my golden age 10spt intact for what little remained of the golden period. In 2550BC, I sent my settler forth with the elite hoplite, leaving the others to defend the capital. There was sea to the southwest, Rome to the southeast, America to the north, desert to the west. To the east, across the lake, was a plains wheat. There was also guarantee of fresh water, with the lake there. Although it was a bit of a walk, I sent my settler pair around the lake to a spot with no overlap with Athens, but still on the lake and pulling in that wheat tile.
I then LOST a hoplite for the first time, but also had another behind him promote to elite, giving me two elite hoplites. I trained two more vet hoplites with the remainder of my golden age. Sparta was founded. Here's where things stood at that point:
You can see that the American attack has dried up, and I've finally moved my worker north to the third cattle tile. I should have enough units now to defend him and still be 100% sure of taking no risks with Athens itself. Sparta is using the wheat and pulling in 2spt, walls taking 20 shields to build for a nonmilitaristic civ. You can also see a Roman minisod at Athens, including archers under that warrior. One more important note from that picture: you can see that I've sent out a hoplite to go north to America. There's another roaming south. It was time to explore, and more importantly, to take the fight to the enemy. Having learned the value and impact of strip-pillaging whole nations, it is my intent to cripple these close AI neighbors by ruining all their good tiles. I also need to explore to find other AI's, looking to see if there were more contacts to be made by 2000BC. I was now wholly confident in withstanding any AI assault with my defenders, and my plan was to make contact with the continent ASAP and see if I could get in on the early contact bonus scoring.
I did indeed squeeze one more contact in there before 2000BC, but with my Sparta placement, not my explorers. And look, pulled two more techs:
You can see the walls are almost done in Sparta. A fourth cattle is being irrigated. I'm about to produce another settler out of Athens, and this one, too, will be sent east, as there are wines in the hills southeast of Athens, and there is also another lake, a tiny one, near enough to the wines that I want to grab it before Rome does. I still have not explored to the west, so that region will wait for more intelligence gathering.
Then... a stroke of good fortune as America sent attackers around to Sparta from the north:
Also note that I've started mapmaking at min sci. And of course, with a home landmass this large, there is only one choice to make for this leader: the Pyramids, rushed in Sparta that turn, with the walls having just been completed.
My southward explorer uncovered the location of Rome, their only city, and of York, the second English city. He pillaged the tiles at Rome, which set them back. My northward scout pillaged the tiles at Washington, all of them, disconnecting their wines, mines, irrigation, everything, then continued north. The Zulus were contacted in 1830BC and I traded them a contact for contact with India:
Those would turn out to be all five of the AI's on the home landmass, thus I made full contact with the continent in 1830BC. I hope that's good enough to score me some of those bonus points, as that's one of the goals I chose to pursue with vigor. The Zulu's had the wheel, but @2nd price it was too costly. I was not giving up writing for it, no way, no how. India had nothing of note, so there was nothing to buy, only war to be declared.
Now I've played a few of these Always War games by now. I played the original, and Epic Six, and I was at this point halfway through a private emperor AW game. All three of those had certain things in common, namely the unending onslaught of AI offensive forces. I was preparing to brace myself for the pressure that must surely soon come.
By 1350BC, I had four cities and about to found a fifth. You can see the layout below, with the settler pair going to move north from that flood plain wheat onto the hill to found Delphi.
The forest at Corinth is being chopped, to get irrigation down there. The Zulus have selected Sparta as their main target. England and Rome are coming after Thermopylae. And over at Athens, I had to use a hoplite on offense (actually two, as the first one died) to prevent the Yanks from pillaging one of my cattle tiles, so you can see that for the first time this game, I'm about to train a unit type other than hoplite: an archer. Going to get a couple of those going, so I can deal with those enemies who opt not to suicide vs my cities, but to try to pillage.
There are wasted tiles between Corinth and Rome -- very fertile wasted tiles, so I will probably reorder the dotmap down there, maybe even raze Rome. On the minimap you can see that I have found all the enemy capitals. Rome is a single city. America is too, but Washington is at its all-time peak right now and about to pop a settler. England is two cities, both icy and weakish. Zulus are also only two cities. Delhi is on the north tip of the continent, and they would be growing over time, partly due to my inaction against them. More on that later. I have already managed to explore most of the shore of the continent and have figured out its basic shape. My initial plan, as you can see, has been followed: push south and east first. That trend would continue a bit longer.
The expected onslaught of the AI's continued to mature. A semi-steady flow of English archers emerged from their two towns. The Romans were less agile, but did send units regularly. America had been pillaged to ruin and was sluggish with units. The Indians were not yet on the scene. The Zulus were the ones picking up steam, including -- yikes -- some swordsmen!
A Zulu impi went on a successful pillage campaign, taking out two of my tiles and causing me to have to guard my workers. Here you can see the worst damage he dealt me, cutting off one of my cities and disrupting growth curve by messing with the food supply.
You can see that I have eight cities at that point, and that India has three. Around this time, I had placed great urgency on pillaging the iron of the Zulus. I could not see which tile had the iron, so I pillaged everything around their capital. That shut down their sword production. I think they only managed to produce three swordsmen total. I left my hoplite parked in the area, and that prevented the Zulu workers from emerging to work on the tiles. I decided I'd leave my guard there permanently, and this completely disrupted the Zulu economy, as they had no improved tiles, could not grow or produce much of anything, and appeared to be using the whip to train their troops, keeping the city always at size 1 thereafter. Just a couple turns of this, I decided to make that my permanent strategy: to use my hoplites to pillage their lands, then leave one parked in range of the capital, to keep their workers idle. I did this to Zulus at Z-town, English at London, and Rome. I did not have the units in the area to spare to do it for America, but I made regular pit stops, which was almost as good. India was the one who escaped this move. I did pillaged their whole capital area but that was with the hoplite I now had parked at Zululand, and I considered it more important to keep the Zulus pinned down than to try to go bach and forth. As a result, India's capital would go unmolested for a while, and they would have some improved tiles and be able to expand a bit.
Nevertheless, my pillage-n-park strategy decimated the other AI's. I didn't have to attack them. I just kept my boot heel to their throats and they were rendered nearly impotent. 750BC was about the peak period of AI onslaught, as the troops they produced before the p-n-p strat took root trickled in. You can see a significant English presence on my southern front, while Zulu units continue to pour in to Sparta. The swords were just recently eliminated.
You can see that my ninth city, Mycenae, has just been founded. Corinth has started the Colossus. I had in mind to build that, then the Lighthouse, but I would get a reality check when the Persians would complete both the Oracle and the Colossus in short order. That would turn out to be for the best, because if I had gotten Colossus only to lose the Lighthouse, my results would have been decimated. Note that no more leaders have popped. I tried for one with the archers, but no luck. I didn't have much luck getting promotions to elite.
Athens was producing a settler every six turns, going from size 8 to 10 and back. In between it was producing military, including some vet warriors, but mainly hoplite or archer. There were three sources of horses in the area: one west on the river, at Pharsalos; one east across the mountains (and my tenth city will be founded there, you can see the settler pair on the east border heading out there), and one northwest of Washington. I intended to grab all three. If I could keep all these AI's building archers and spears, I could postpone building up to attack them, and instead push my infrastructure farther, to try to get to Navigation sooner. I would sacrifice any shot at the early-control-of-homeland bonus points to pursue points for early world contact, settling and controlling islands, early world exploration and early world conquest. THESE AI's were not going to determine that, therefore if I could push them around at my leisure, later, I thought that would speed my growth faster than pouring everything into conquering them. I guess we'll find out on report day how wise this gameplan would turn out to be.
Here is my population and territory screenshot from F11 at the end of my turn on 750BC. (Save file available).
Because I got the Pyramids early, I think I have a shot at scoring well on these bonuses. Certainly better than anybody unfortunate enough not to pull a leader as yet. The number of leaders could widely swing this game. I am looking forward to seeing how that aspect turns out.
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