|RBCiv Epic Six|
World Size: Standard
Land Mass: 40%
Land Shape: Pangaea
These are my results from Epic Six 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.
"Always War" is the name of the game. You declare war on the same turn you meet each civ, and you never ever make peace. No other game of Civ III plays anything remotely like this, as the relentless onslaught of AI units and forces never lets up. This is a test of endurance and attrition, of flawlessness in some regards, steadiness in others. Arathorn came up with the original idea, and it's a doozy. Once the AI's go to war with you, and you never relent, they stay in "war mode" and tend to do little besides build more and more and more units to send at you. Thank goodness they send them willynilly, as they are produced, instead of gathering them into stacks. The endless trickles are not so bad to deal with. It's only occasionally when circumstance piles lots of units into a major stack that real troubles arise. At least generally.
The first-ever Always War game was a succession game at CivFanatics, led by Arathorn. We played the Zulus on a large continents map with ten civs, so slightly more than normal amounts of space. The game did NOT go as I thought it would. For one thing, the AI's culture ratings were BEYOND PATHETIC. At least those close enough to get into war with us quickly. In one case, a civ never once built a single cultural building, ever. In general, few cultural buildings got built. So by contrast, we had the most lopsided cultural affair you can imagine! And this has several advantages. Firstly, resistance is crushed faster (and there are fewer resistors to begin with) when your culture is higher. Secondly, much less risk of your cities flipping, and much more chance for theirs to flip to you, especially since MANY of them don't have a single cultural building at all, and are easy to pressure. Finally, with cultural victory enabled, a win is there for the taking if you want it, if you can just hold out for long enough.
I decided from the outset that I wasn't going to go for cultural win, nor even ALLOW the possibility. I would spread my wonders around, ensure that no one city was 20k culture capable, and even then the ones with the earliest wonders would put a time limit on me for how long I had to finish the game. No, no cultural victory for me, and diplomatic was only for purposes of controlling the UN to prevent a loss (since, obviously, you'd never win that way). So that left space, domination, and conquest. Well... I wanted conquest. I wanted to crush them ALL, in the true spirit of this wickedly brutal and arrogant scenerio. I would conquer them all, and that meant having to avoid a domination win, so I'd have to raze some cities, and also stop building cultural buildings in captured cities past a certain point.
So what lessons did I learn from playing Always War the first time? Many, including some I didn't really talk about. Firstly, we often had the means to press forward offensively, take enemy cities, but many many times we did so, we were later overrun and pushed back. I found this to be wasteful, so I vowed as my TOP priority, that I would never be pushed back. I would take my time, and when I advanced and took control of more area, it would be for keeps. At least this was the plan at the time I started. Secondly, the onslaught was so relentless, that real progress of areas over which we established lasting control was slow. So slow, that we were sluggish with deciding where to put the Forbidden Palace, and we waited longer than we should have to build it. I realized that the BEST plan would be to build the FP right on top of the capital, in the best location to form a hub in the home region and get it going quickly, get out from under the heavier corruption penalty more quickly. Your corruption for number of cities owned, in the outlying cities, is cut in half when you build the FP. I would then use one of the many Great Leaders produced from the endless conflict to move my main Palace to another site at a later date, perhaps even more than once. This would give me a flexibility in maximizing my corruption control that those leaving the Palace alone and waiting to build the FP (or not waiting, but then ending up with a smaller second core) would not enjoy. Thirdly, the number of leaders would be enormous, but as we have learned since that game was played, no elite unit can produce more than one leader, so I would try to track those units, and those who had produced leaders already would used for higher risk duties, or better yet, gathered and stuck into armies. Fourthly, the civs with whom contact was delayed had time to build up culture and infrastructure, making them MORE dangerous. I thus wanted to make contact with all my rivals as soon as possible, with the extra pressure being made up for over time by the enemy not being as strengthened down the road for having time to build wonders, infrastructure, etc. Fifthly and finally, the AI's proved to be more clever than we first imagined. They would often ignore cities and go for the tile improvements, to pillage resources, disconnect roads, and so forth. Normally this seems futile, but in Always War, if you allow it it REALLY sets you back, big time. You can lose luxuries, the ability to produce certain units, you can lose precious workers, lose defensive mobility. It was virtually impossible to protect roads at the front line. You had to kill EVERY unit moving up to your front line, or they'd penetrate and start pillaging, and they'd stick to high ground (with defensive value) when possible, so occupying the high ground around front line cities was a top priority. The other option was to hole up inside the city and NOT even build or try to build roads and improvements there, until the area was more secure. Have "unsecured" cities in some cases, with a front line culturally but almost a vanguard militarily: out in front and unsupported, but relatively safe. Behind these cities, a second line, with improvements behind that line and in the back lines. Fend off the enemy, and as spare defensive units come available, save them up, then when you reach enough, push the line forward, never ever placing your workers in harm's way. Preserving the workers, and not wasting their time in unsecured areas where the work would only be pillaged anyway, was in a sense the keystone to my plan, the corollary to the "never be pushed back" concept, by not pushing forward beyond the ability to secure and defend.
So that was my five point plan. Here's the game start:
For a flat map, that sure is a lot of mountains! Five mountains in range, two hills, and not a lot of food showing. Yet under the fog to the southeast I see two more grassland, a few more plains. All in all, I was sure this site could get to size 20, so I plopped down where I stood, and yes, the food situation looked pretty decent. Besides the cattle, there was a game forest on plains to the east, in range once border expands, so two food bonuses at the capital, a river, and a very healthy mix of high food and high shields and high commerce. All right!
I trained a pair of warriors and explored both west and south along the river. I found the coast to the west, not all that far away, and a spice very near to Berlin in that direction. Along the river more food bonuses, and another river to the northwest, also with food bonuses right at the shore. Well I had my second and third city sites all picked out: second to go to the coast and get those food bonuses, third to head south and get those. I trained two settlers, and of course I irrigated the cattle.
No immediate sign of neighbors, which was very very good. I trained a spearman and sent him northeast along the river in the other direction. Found ivory, flood plains, and a nice hill on which to situate my fourth city, where I parked the spearman and the settler was soon to follow. Also put Berlin at the middle of a triangle. I trained a third warrior, then, to explore along the east coast. By 2550BC I had three cities, a fourth on the way, and some sense that I better not delay contact with the enemy for too long, lest they build some early temples that would dramatically improve their culture and production base in years to come. It was time to seek out contact with other tribes, to inform them that the great Prussian nation was arising and would soon command them all. My research had included Ceremonial Burial, Iron Working, and Masonry in that order (masonry for walls, you see) and I was about to research Pottery. I was going for the Wheel next. Iron had already revealed one source fairly close to Berlin, to the east. I needed to find the horses, and I had enough information now to plan a secure homeland. I didn't draw up a dotmap at the time, but I had my plans and stuck to them, and I've drawn this dotmap now to illustrate. (A couple of the screenies on this page were obtained by going back, since I didn't realize at the time how vital these turns and the decisions made during them would turn out to be. Almost all the rest of my screenies in this report were obtained while I was playing).
You can see that my fourth city has JUST NOW been founded. I'm looking forward to connecting those ivory, but as yet I only have three workers. I also have only four military units. I didn't play farmer's gambit, but I did lean in that direction, pushing early expansion very hard, taking some risk in doing so. Yet there is great news! I have two major coastlines, with the sea providing me a defense against major invasion from two whole directions. Compare that to the idea of being in the middle of a heavy landmass with enemies on all sides. It would mean less frontage to defend, a much more defensible position. I just had to find some horses, and I'd be set.
With Leipzig somewhat shielded already by its coastal position, I set it to training settlers and planned to nab the white and red dots quickly. Purple dot was also a top priority, to stretch across the coast, form a heartland, and get those wines and that spice online. Then everything south of that line would be "secure" and workers could improve the lands in the back lines to their hearts' content. I planned to push backward first, as to get those secure areas built up quickly. Also, it was already clear that Hamburg would be my FP site. It would have a close ring of strong cities around it, and would always be very good for that, and I could my palace further inland at a later point, with a surplus leader. A lot would depend on making contact, and just how much room I had in which to work. I couldn't imagine pushing much past red and orange dots, Konigsburg, and the white circle at the ivory by the coast. That would give me a triangular nation with one land front and two coastal fronts, should be very doable. If I moved my palace somewhere north of Konigsburg and/or orange dot, I'd have two strong cores at one point, and very efficient corruption spread (compared to leaving the palace at Berlin). The grey dot was to get the iron online. I hated having purple dot not on the coast, but I COULD NOT waste bonus grass tiles on a river, right on top of my capital, so purple dot it would be. Light blue dot grabs a fish and a wheat. Yellow dot is not on a river, but it is on the coast, and better to have four size 12 cities in the far south than three larger cities and some waste, especially with my FP going right there. The white circle at the ivory on the coast would pull in two fish, as it would turn out, and also by founding ON the ivory, a harbor would ensure an ivory supply, as a city that far forward would be difficult to maintain a road to over such exposed ground.
As for defense, all those mountains around Berlin would be tough to defend. I intended to make a stand IN the city, and also on the south side of the river, on both sides of the city. I'd have to park a spearman on the spices for a while, and the mountains, and I also wanted to park on the iron, too, as that would be a good lookout post. The red dot was another forward location, but as yet I knew too little about it to be sure. All I did know was, having not found any AI's yet, they couldn't be RIGHT THERE so I figured I'd be bold, get a city up there, build walls, get some spears inside it, and I'd be in good shape with Leipzig more secure. The orange dot would wait while I got more fertile cities up and running first. I'd make contact and be into wars before I could build enough settlers to cover all these dots, and I couldn't afford to be TOO expansionistic as I'd soon need to be devoting massive chunks of my economy to troop training, barracks, walls, and so on.
Finally, note that Berlin is building a temple? Nope. That's a prebuild for granary, with Pottery due in a few turns. After making three settlers without a granary, its time to grow Berlin larger. I plan to pull in at least ten shields per turn there and turn it into a military factory very soon now. I could wait on the Pyramids, but that first leader could take some time to get, so I spend the time now to build a granary, expecting to train yet more settlers out of here, as well as workers and also to get the city up there in population.
By 2000BC, I made contact with two civs: Egypt and Japan. Also spotted a Zulu town border. They had techs I didn't, but too pricey without more contacts.
I parked my warrior on that iron, figuring the AI's would attack and I'd have good odds, but then they didn't attack. They started going right for my nearest city. Well, here we go. The game's afoot. Grace period has expired. Time to shift gears.
Above, you can see the first Leipzig settler has found a home, another is being trained to head north. Berlin is squeezing out another settler to grab purple dot, as I appear to have a wee bit more farming cushion.
Oh this is NOT GOOD. Both the Egyptian and Japanese warriors I made contact with have bypassed Konigsburg and its spearmen on a hill behind some walls. They are heading past that toward Berlin or Munich. Definitely not good. France and then Zululand made contact in that order, as their warriors came into visual range of my iron guarding team in the north. My neighbors were gathering at what would turn out to be the area where Germany attaches to the rest of the continent. You saw the first contacts taking place (and I did buy a tech at deflated prices from the French, after having three contacts: Mysticism. Took most of my gold, though, and I could not afford anything else). You can see the Zulu warriors. Both the French and Zulu are also bypassing my vanguard warriors in the iron mountains, and probably will pass Konig, too. I HAD BEEN building a barracks at Berlin, but I see that the Egyptian warrior will arrive before I can then train a vet spear to defend. Yuck. So you can see in this picture, I ixnay the barracks and train a second regular spear (the first is at Konig). Hamburg is building its temple to pull that wheat into range, and Frankfurt would be training workers nonstop for some time to come.
The Egyptian warrior attacks Berlin! He loses, but almost killed my spears, who do not promote. Berlin builds barracks and by this time they have ten shields per turn, so the units start cranking out quickly, catching me up from the military deficit I had with the high-expansion start.
Realizing that they're just going to keep ignoring my iron guarding party, I decide they are more valuable as explorers, since having made contact, I would benefit from knowing more about the landscape. By 1500BC, I have seven cities, two barracks, four enemies, all of the earliest techs, and an alarming problem with the AI's beelining for my capital and resource areas, ignoring what I hoped would be a troop magnet at Konig, which is nice and secure. With the AI's having to funnel in past Konig, it doesn't look like that area will be secure any time soon. In fact, I'm now worried about Munich and Berlin, and I need a lot more forces, including to get those horses at Munich connected so I can better fend off these invaders.
At this point, I thought the west was secure, but once I had spearmen in Munich, the AI's shifted toward Heidelburg almost immediately, and I had to scramble to defend that area! Sheesh. At least my plan to form a wall of defense from Leipzig to Berlin to Munich was working out, with everything behind there fully secure, with only the odd exception as too many troops came on a particular turn for me to prevent some penetration. Hamburg got it cattle irrigated, and its game forest chopped down and irrigated, and its wheat tile online, and even without a granary it took over half the settler building from Berlin. At 1500BC, I started to worry about the Pyramids. I needed to start thinking about leaders and wonders, since my plan to rely solely on leaders for my wonders was now looking iffy. The original Always War game, we built pyramids and great library from scratch. I started thinking I might have to build the pyramids myself. Not a good prospect at the moment. Not yet.
At 1250BC, with horses and iron in range, a fertile land with up to four lux in range (though two will be hard to secure), with a very defensible homeland and no neighbors too close, I decided this start (the first I tried for this Epic, which I'm sponsoring) was more than appropriate: it seemed ideal! So I shipped it off to Griselda and the wheels were set in motion. Now... would I be able to win? My plans for expansion to the north were already meeting with problems, as the AI's ignored my defensive strongholds and tried to rush around to the underbelly of my civ. This was going to be a great game!
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