|RBCiv Epic TewntyNine|
World Size: Small
Land Mass: 20%
Land Shape: Continents
Version: PTW 1.21f
These are my results from Epic 29 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.
Scenario Concept: "Five-City Challenge, building all five cities as well as you can. All of the Five Pillars of your Arabian civilization are equally important. None must fall behind the others. The main scoring factor is the cultural value of the LOWEST of your five cities."
Variant Rules: "Your civilization may never possess more than five cities at the end of a turn. You may temporarily acquire a sixth city (via conquest, flip, propaganda, cession, etc), as long as you get down to five before ending your turn. You may not temporarily acquire a seventh city (and thus cannot build the Forbidden Palace.)"
Scoring: "The main scoring factor is the cultural value of your fifth-highest cultured city in 1802 AD, or at game end if that comes earlier. (You must have all five cities to receive these points.)" Bonus scoring for winning the game, for Top 5 cities at game's end, and for honorable play.
So... this will be a Five City Challenge: 5CC. Scoring will be based on the cultural value of the lowest city. That ought to be about 5000 points. There are 500 bonus points available if I win, up to 500 more for honorable play (per RBCiv Tactics) and up to 700 points for possessing "Top 5" city slots on F11 at game's end.
With these scoring options, most of the points will come from the city. I expect to get the victory points, even if it takes me until 2040AD to get them. The need for space victory won't affect the game plan much, especially not before the 1802AD cultural benchmark. That leaves the honorable and top5 bonuses, which appear to be at odds. The need to spread out great wonders across all five cities is likely to leave one or two powerhouse AI cities that nab ancient wonders and multiple wonders in the top5 list. I do not expect anybody can beat out all AI cities with all five player cities on culture alone. Therefore, I am likely to score maximum top5 bonus only by way of taking out a couple of AI cultural powerhouse cities, probably capitals. That could technically be achieved if I get into honorable wars in AD times, capture these cities and give them away to third parties. That would likely set them back enough to let my cities pass them. However, most likely I will not be able to get into honorable wars on perfect timing, and would want to raze the cities anyway, just to be darn sure. Also seems likely that at some point I will want to raze or abandon some AI cities that either flip to me or which I can benefit from conquering after my cities pass 1000 culture and borders expand to max. I will see what I can do on the honorable front, but since one dastardly act kills the score, if I see a need to commit one, I may go ahead and try to "get them all out of the way" while I can, to try for some of the honorable bonus points later. I just don't have high hopes for these scoring opportunities.
Since the last place city is the most important, no city can be neglected. That means the best game plan will be the one that founds all five cities the quickest. I will train a second scout, build a granary, then go for four settlers in a pure farmer's gambit. I will nab the Colossus if I can, but will surely not be able to get any of the other early wonders, for taking too long to build the settlers. My capital is not where I need the most help anyway. It will pick up 700 culture off the Palace by 1802, which is as good a middle age wonder. The other cities are where I need to go for wonders, and barring those, for cultural buildings as quickly as possible: temples, libraries, colesseums, cathedrals, in that order. (If I don't have my colesseums done before cathedrals even become an option, I have botched the game plan.)
The starting location looks good. I don't even bother to move the scout. Mecca founded. Research set to Bronze Working. There are deserts in range, and mountains, some hills: a good shield location. Two flood plains, a few grass and plains on the river. This site would make for a poor size 20 city without rail help, but of course, by the time you can grow past size 12, you will have rails. The city will be fine at size 12, there are just enough good tiles.
Now where to send the scout? I send him south, onto what turns out to be a jungle peninsula. My worker is put to irrigating the two flood plains first. My game plan is to get up a bit in population as I build the granary, then chug those settlers out bam-bam-bam style (Hi, Bam-Bam!) and then build temple and barracks in the capital and train military and workers there while the outlying cities build temples, granaries, and... that's enough to start. By swapping tiles to the flood plain when my worker has one turn left to go on the irrigation, I can start to get three food in the box
My second scout is sent west. He quickly finds the coast and a large desert, turns north and crosses the desert to some food bonuses, but some distance away and without fresh water or high ground. Hmm. The jungle peninsula looks good for only one city. The coast cuts off a city site for sure. The large desert kills another city site, although a city could be put up near those food bonuses at second-ring distance. That leaves only four of the six first ring slots left. T-hawk hand-tailored this map, so there could be surprises in store. What if there aren't four good city sites within the first ring? That could make Report Day interesting, to see which second-ring locations were chosen in each game.
Bronze Working is discovered (hooray for small map research discounts) and Mysticism started, still researching at max. My northern scout finds Thebes. Contact with Cleo made. No trades yet. My southern scout finished scouting the entire jungle peninsula and swung up around the bay, turning east then south again along the river. A second good city site is found on the river, at jungle's edge, near a game tile. Erg. Settling ON the game tile would give me the coast, and perhaps a shot at the Colossus, but would kill the food bonus. T-hawk, you bastard. :) Can't settle further south, that misses the one tile of coastal inlet. I could settle one tile north, but that would give two overlap with Mecca. That might be best, send my first settler here and try to race for the Colossus, but overlap in a 5CC? Ugh. My scout follows the river all the way south and finds spices at the mouth of the river, on the southern coast. Four spices at second ring distance. I've got to give T-hawk credit here. This is a great map! Lots of difficult strategic choices considering the scenario goals.
My southern scout finds an Ottoman warrior. By trading back and forth between Cleo and Osman, I manage to gain warrior code, masonry, and a few turns later also the wheel, plus get most of their gold -- them paying @2nd monopoly prices all the way, but me paying @3rd for items held by both. My northern scout turns east, following the Egyptian border, and soon hits the east coast. He turns south from there and finds horses on the far east coast. There are also some wheat plains and a game, and a few mountains. My southern scout heads due south onto what turns out to be a second uninhabited Jungle peninsula, with flood plains and a river to the far south. My northern scout has found what appears to be a third must-get city location, at those horses, but that would be a dry site. There's one lake tile up there but if I settle on it, I miss the horses! That would also be a less fertile site, trading three grass and a plains for three desert and a hill. Yuck. That is one nasty trade-off, T-hawk. I am grudgingly loving this map. Either he tailored it exquisitely, or he got darned lucky. Hmm, perhaps both. :)
Fortunately or unfortunately, THREE of the six first ring city sites are all dead dead dead. One is taken out by water, two by desert. Yes, the entire northern side of Mecca is pure desert, all stinky rotten land for a 5CC. I'd grab it all in a normal game, of course, but I cannot afford that here. My first settler is about to be produced and I have not scouted due east at all yet. I have a difficult choice to make. Egypt is to the north, which is land I don't see much use for. Ottomans and now Rome, whom I have finally met with my northern scout coming south along the east coast, must both be to the east. (They aren't north, west, or south). If there is a good first ring site under the fog to the east, I had better go for that first, go for those horses in the second-ring east coast site second, grab the river site to my south third, and nab the lake spot in the jungle to the west/southwest last. Am I going to send my first settler out in the fog, eastward, and pray there is a site to grab there? If I don't find a useful site, I'll have to backtrack to the river site, costing me a few turns. Remember though that the poorest city will be the scoring city, so that likely means the last one founded. If the second city loses a few turns getting started because I am busting fog with the settler, that won't actually hurt my score. So that is what I will do: gamble with the first settler, to be sent blindly into the fog to the east, even as my scouts converge on the area to help explore what the settler cannot see.
As mysticism is discovered and my first settler is ready to be trained, disaster strikes the capital!
Oh, no! Now instead of being size 4 a turn after my first settler, Mecca will barely be size 2! This will slow my settler production and directly impact my final score. Blah. This left me wondering what use it was to go with higher food early to try to grow the city more quickly. On the other hand, if Mecca had been size 3 when this hit, it could have delayed even that first settler (forcing me to swap to temple) and set me all the way back to size 1! Now that could have sucked hard! At least I had enough population to avoid crippling delays here.
That is a rare uncropped screenshot. I deemed all of it useful for illustration. The entire area under the advisor's dialog box is mountain and desert. All of it. You can see the lake to the southwest, where I will send my final settler. The river to the southeast will get my fourth city, probably on the game tile. You see the two wheat plains next to my advisor? The horse is one tile north of the upper wheat, which means settling on that lit plains tile next to her head, rather than on the hill next to the lake behind her shoulder. That will be my third city. The first settler is going due east into the fog. If he turns out to find nothing useful, I'll send him over to the river as backup plan, then go either for the spice location as my final city or across the desert to the north, toward the food bonuses.
On the minimap you can see the two peninsulas to the south. You can also see I'm about to start min sci research into Polytheism. I hope to trade that for Writing at some point and be able to start on Literature in forty turns. I don't even have Alphabet yet. Rome wants too much for it.
Doh! The Ottomans found their second city, Edrine, on the spices, as my first settler marches into the fog! Oucher. The Ottomans must be closer than I realize -- closer than the Egyptians. My scouts find three silks in that area as my settler draws near. I have a difficult choice to make. I can trade four plains, a hill and a cattle for four desert, a grassland, two silks, and defensive bonus of founding on a hill. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Very nasty trade-off in either direction. The kicker turns out to be the OTHER cities. If I grab the fertile spot, I force (force) the river city to build on the game tile. That would gain coastal access, two coastal tiles, a gold mountain and two jungles, but give up the game tile, four plains and a grassland. There is also the city up by the horses. If I build my silk town on the hill, I will get more cultural overlap and control more tiles with potential resources on them. There is also the question of greed. I can go for the Colossus at the river city if I build on the game, or I can go for the Great Library there and try for the Colossus over in the southwest. Greed wins out. My second city will still have enough tiles to perform well up to size 12, and the extra deserts can be put to use with rails, so it will do OK all the way up to size 20.
I found my second city on the hill, stealing all the silks right out from under Osman's nose! Of course, with 1spt, I start on temple to whip it asap. My first temple will be built in 1950BC.
My next settler is dispatched northeast toward those horses. Long about this time, I trade Masonry, Wheel, and Mysticism to the Romans for Iron Working. The ONLY source of Iron anywhere within reachable range turns out to be on the mountain south of where I intend to found my third city. Gosh, horses and iron! Everyone is going to have to go for this site.
As my unescorted settler marches toward that third city site, I spot barbarians roaming the desert. Eep! I have to give them a wide berth, but I hope they go after Cleo. Well, one of them doesn't. He chases my settler and it's off to the races.
In 1990BC, I arrive on the iron tile, one tile away from my goal. ARRGH! Another new barb warrior has been produced!
My plans are devastated. I have no choice but to retreat at full speed. My settler runs off into the desert, retreating on the next turn, then the next, then a third turn. I'm now four turns away from arriving at my destination tile and there is an Ottoman settler pair moving in that direction!
I had to sacrifice one of my scouts (after racing him over there) to lure away the chasing warrior and let my settler blitz past him, racing for the spot. My unit is now between two barb warriors on his back side and the camp on the front. I could still lose this settler! I trained my first military unit out of the capital (a regular warrior) to send up there, but already too late. My settler is now either going to make it to the site I want or die trying!
The Ottoman settler pair is right behind me! In 1725BC, I had a close call! The Ottomans were on the lake in the desert and in range of the iron. They could have plopped down right there and screwed me, unless I settled on the hill and gave up on the horses. Apparently, greed also bit them, as they too liked the tile I wanted, hoping for the horses and the iron together. I gambled by not settling on the hill. I moved to the tile I wanted and they also kept moving. I barely beat them to the site, and only after wandering in the desert for 200 years (beating even Moses's record), fending off barbarians and having to sacrifice our unarmed scouting party to get my people through to the promised land! I even had to follow meekly behind the Roman archers who cleared out the barbarian camp the turn before I arrived. But oh yes, they made it! THEY MADE IT!
The runaround cost me six turns, 210 years, and turned what should have been my Damascus into my Baghdad, as there was so much delay my next settler got to its site first! (You can see it on the river site in the minimap).
More bad news. Another outbreak of disease! This only delayed my settler by one turn, but it left my capital at size 1 with minimum granary food after the final settler was produced. Ouchie.
Oh, also, in 1725BC, the Ottomans had two workers on sale. They also had a worker in the jungle at Edrine. I traded Iron Working to Egypt for Alphabet, then traded Iron Working to Osman for one of his workers and all his cash. You can see my new slave labor force working a plains tile at Mecca.
Now for the final city. This city had to go on the lake. It had to be coastal, so that ruled out tiles to north and south. East is water, so that's out. West gets the whales but trades four land tiles for four water tiles. That's out. Northeast has an overlap with Mecca. That would pick up the gold mountain and three hills, and might have been the best spot despite that one overlap, but I had already firmly decided I was not going to have any overlap, period. That left northwest, southeast and southwest of the lake. Northwest picked up more cleared grassland, but also traded some land for water and had only one hill. Same problem with southeast. Perhaps I SHOULD HAVE gone with the one overlap, in hindsight, to get three hills and a mountain, and more immediately useful grass tiles (vs jungles that needed to be cleared) but that's hindsight. I made my choice and I'll live with it.
Here are my Five Pillars in 1550BC:
I will win or lose on these locations.
Hindsight tells me several things. I got lucky in several respects. Just getting the horse-iron site was a major ordeal. I could not possibly have grabbed these sites in any other order. If you don't for the silks FIRST, you don't get them (or so it appears). If you don't go for the horse-iron site first, you don't get it easily, if you don't grab it within the first two settlers, you won't get it at all. (I have never had a closer, more dangerous, more suspenseful settler race in any version of any Civ game ever -- and I would not have succeeded without the scout sacrifice). Maybe, MAYBE someone not getting hit with disease can slip in there faster, but I have my doubts. I am looking forward to reports to see how much trouble other players have in securing this site. (I'll weep if some of them have a total breeze of it!)
Finally, you can see my remaining scout perched on a mountain in the desert. My hope is to prevent an AI from settling that lake in the desert. In fact, much of my strategy will be to extend my territorial reach not only with the city sites and borders, but also with unit blockades. Ideally, I would like to prevent new settlements near my borders long enough for the borders to expand to cover more ground.
So ends the opening phase.
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