Sirian's Great Library - Strategies for Civilization III
To The Bitter End

To the Bitter End - Part II

2000BC: no choice but to expand east and southeast. This turned out to be a wise decision, as that was not only the most fertile direction, but the one to which the AI's were least ready to claim.
I founded four core cities in the ring around my capital, then sent a lone settler out on a long journey southeast, to claim the gems and the fertile valley there. This would become my Forbidden Palace city and I knew it from the start, but first I would have to build a courthouse, and then the FP itself. There was a lot of work ahead of me.
Next I wanted to claim the only horses in my region, and the river as well, to the east. In the screenshot you can see a settler moving that way. I churned settlers as quickly as I could, but did take time to whip temples (39 shields, patch 1.17f -- it would be tougher to do in 1.21f without a religious civ -- every civ trait BUT religious suffers a new penalty in no longer being able to whip temples as easily, as early). I did send settlers west, but only two made it in time. I sent some south also. I claimed some lands but then ran up against English borders, and they even managed to pick off what should have been one of my sites, south of Nuremburg. (Worse, it would later turn out to have resources!) So it goes. You make the best judgement calls you can, and to some degree, the luck of where resources will appear is beyond your control. You DO have to to think about them, though, as often the MOST valuable places to grab can turn out to be the scrappiest looking no-food holes in the dirt at first glance. Lots of resources appear in mountains and hills, while saltpeter and oil appear in the desert. You have to grab more than just grasslands.
By 350BC, I had spread out about as far as I could. I had settlements up against English borders in some spots and had to add extra units to them to reduce flip chances. Luckily for me, I whipped temples quickly, and libraries in these cities too, and took the cultural lead along the border. None of these would ever be lost in a revolt, and my grab here paid off with resources (tit for tat vs their grab), but more on that later.
At 350BC I have one horseman, building another, and the AI's are almost to the industrial age. What it is about my luck with AI's racing up the tech tree, I am not sure. I had a similar thing happen later in CivFanatics Game of the Month 7, deity contest. If you are going to make early war, it seems essential to spread out to a few core cities, nab the necessary iron and/or horses, and HURRY to build a force of units and go attack. You don't have time to spread out as much as I did here, so it's a trade-off. You can go for peaceful expansion, you can go for military action, or you can go for a wonder. Pick one. (Military CAN be best, since you can get all three if you are highly successful, but you have to be decisive about it, and concentrate your forces).
I had spotted a French border to my east about 600BC and thought I'd better hurry to grab more land over there. I thought it was a dangerous reach, at the time, but turned out they weren't as near to taking those lands as it seemed. Still, I was VERY glad to get them, as even though they remained hopelessly corrupt until the FP was done, they did whip temples and libraries and secure the area culturally, and down the road all those flood plain wheat would mean a lot of painless settler skimming for late-game expansion, in claiming razed lands.
I ended up with 22 cities. Almost half of them were low food, being unable to claim all the tiles in range for lack of food to support the population, and this despite my dot-map city planning setting food as the top priority. Some were strapped and kept small. I had one held to size 4! No water access to its two grass tiles, and no rails yet. With rails and electricity, it could get to size 8 (two grass, six hills, so it had a lot of shields). Others would be limited to size 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 17, 19, and some could barely make 20. Rugged lands, for sure, but at least I had fresh water access in almost all areas.
In the above screenie, two of my 22 were yet to come, SE of Frankfurt, first ring around FP site. I would get a 23rd city south of New Leipzig, almost all mountains and three grass, limited to size 8 even with rails, and two more mountain cities E-SE of Frankfurt, one with hills and a single grass limited to size 5! Still worth getting, but I'm jumping ahead here.
At 350BC, with 19 cities on the map and a couple more still to come, my power rating is still very weak compared to the least of the AI's, and pathetic next to France and Iroquois, the major powers. Japan and Babylon got into wars back and forth that slowed them down. Japan initially seemed to do well, taking several cities, but would eventually be pushed back and then some. Could not see any of this yet. I didn't even have contact with Babylon yet, and Japan had JUST arrived with a settler pair at my SW border. I knew England and had for most of the game. France I'd met recently, and learned they were a neighbor (and the big dog, yikes). Russia had wandered by but I'd had to establish embassy to figure out where they were. Turns out that by this point, I had already claimed almost all the territory I would get, except a few more scraps in the most rugged mountains SE of Frankfurt, where Russian villages would be razed by the Iro's. HUGE mountain range there, just huge.
By 150BC, the AI's were almost to Industrial Age. I was still scrounging, and dammit, the Babs had sent one lone settler pair over and nabbed the only fur in my region JUST before my settler could get there. (It was one of a few fogged tiles I was late uncovering, and that cost me big). I had even had to use troops to blockade incoming settler pairs to prevent them from stealing my gems out from under my nose! Right there at my FP site, there had been a gap to the west, and I had to scramble to come up with another settler to settle New Frankfurt in time.
A few more turns and all my core cities were founded. Now it was a matter of building temples, libraries, courthouses, workers, a few scrappy troops, while the AI's built great wonders, universities, banks, and huge powerful armies.
Patch 1.17f was notorious for two things: ultra-fast AI progress up the tech trees, and ultra-cheap prices on deflated techs. Just make contact with every civ and ride their coattails on the cheap. You could almost stay even with them even when they were in peaceful research mode!
By 290AD, my civ is just coming out of its infancy, and I mustered the cash and gold per turn (gpt) to catch up at least to industrial age. By some odd twist, the scientific AI's all drew Medicine, not Nationalism, as their free tech. Usually the free tech is Monotheism, Nationalism, Rocketry, but every now and then on rare occasions, the game gives up something else. I wish I knew how that worked! When I got to industrial age, I DID get Nationalism for free and nobody else had it! I thus sold it around for a major inhaul of cash and gpt, thus my economy LOOKS much stronger in the turn summary window that it really is. In reality, my Germany is still this pathetic little civ, spread out but no depth and no strength, pulling in more GPT from one round of tech deals than I was on my own production. Ha!
You can also see that I'm in Puppy Dog Mode. That's where I lie down on the ground, roll over, stick my paws in the air, and try to look cute and harmless. "Joanie, why yes, please DO march your massive French army across our lands on your way to world domination. We don't mind, just please don't hurt us, OK? And would you scratch our belly, too? Oh thank you!" Tail wagging and jaw panting and Sirian yipping and growling in delight that those forces aren't wiping him out, but only passing through. Puppy Dog Mode.
If you judge by eras, this game is half over. Ha! You can't judge by eras in Deity mode, they fly by too quickly, and more so if the AI's wait until they have lots of tech before doing much warmongering. You have to learn to remain calm, to try to figure out if that massive army coming into your land is coming at you, or passing through. It's usually the latter, if you've been a good enough brownnose and paid all the tribute demands asked of you. (I hate to do that, and won't on lower difficulties, but Deity you HAVE to suck up a bit and swallow some pride, and bide your time, or you will be squashed). That may even be the most important ingredient to playing on Deity: patience. The AI's pull out to a massive lead, but don't usually have what it takes to finish it off. They stall in wars, that's the main thing, so either let them get into them on their own, or if you have to (or have a safe chance to) you can foment dissent with alliances and mutual protection pacts. Just be careful. If you are stubborn and keep plugging away, it's usually possible to pull out even dire looking situations, as the AI's aren't programmed to know what to DO with their power. They waste huge amounts of it, and pesistance plus efficiency can catch you up.
If you want to enjoy a competitive early game, Deity is not the best place. Early war is possible, sometimes potentially very lucrative, but dicey at best. Emperor can be competitive through the middle game, but the AI's just lose at some point, almost always. Lower levels, the late game is a joke, presuming you have mastered the basics of how to play. Deity... deity is where to go when you want a competitive late game. It delivers! Even the strongest players must buckle down and play carefully to win, and some challenges can be extreme. Deity is definitely not something to jump right in to. You need to know the ins and outs first, but once you do, and find you have the stuff to compete at this level, it may be hard to go back. I'm already becoming addicted to the challenges, and this is (or was, at the time) my first deity game! I'm glad I didn't rush into it, but first played at lower settings. I've come a long way from First World, when I had my lunch handed to me on Monarch. :)
The juiciest parts of this report are still forthcoming. Stay tuned!

- Sirian

| To the Bitter End - Part One | To the Bitter End - Part Three |

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