Sirian's Great Library - Strategies for Civilization III
One City Challenge

Civilization: Persians
Difficulty: Monarch
World Size: Standard
Opponents: Seven
Climate: Normal
Rainfall: Normal
Mountains: Flat
Land Mass: Small
Land Shape: Pangaea
Barbarians: Roaming
Version: 1.16f
Among the varied strategies/gambits/playstyles, one that has taken root amongst a certain segment of the Civ III community is the One City Challenge. This is a game where you only have one city. Ever. Sounds pretty simple, right? I thought I'd give it a try.
I decided on the Persians for this exercise. Their scientific ability would get me a free tech to start each era, and free tech would be more significant with only one city. I also wanted Industrious, for the single shield bonus and for faster workers (hoping that my one lone worker would move faster, and perhaps even eventually build extra railroads by being faster). I chose a standard map size, Pangaea to have everyone together (and trading techs, and hopefully me brokering some techs). I chose small landmass to keep my rivals from growing too large, relative to my lone city. I chose flat lands, not entirely sure why. Heh. :) Roaming barbarians to reduce the amount of free gold the AI's would pick up from hunting down encampments.
My game plan? Fairly simple. Go for 20000 cultural points, and take a UN vote if that came my way sooner. So I started out and what do I see? A lot of forests, one spice, I'm on a river, there's a few game nearby, and also a couple squares of tundra. Hoping that the land might be slightly better to the south, I move a square. Well... that was probably irrelevent, as it turns out. Didn't get much different results, maybe a slightly better strategic position, by dumb luck.
So I've got four game within reach, a couple of grassland with shield, a couple without, two plains in one corner, a mountain (the source of my river), and lots and lots of forest. I figured if I chopped down one of the game forests, I could irrigate it and have a square with 3 food under despotism, four food later. Always better to grow faster. So I figured that robbing the AI's of the Pyramids would not be worthwhile. Much more urgent to secure the Great Library, which would ensure tech parity for me through half the middle ages, and allow me to go zero science for a while and stockpile cash. I built a spearman, granary, temple, then the Oracle, in that order, using luxuries to quell dissent once I grew large enough -- the cash from roads and river in the extra square paid for the luxuries anyway. Got a free conscript warrior out of a hut and sent him off into the yonder to go exploring. He wandered for simply ages, and with him I met all but one of the other civs without buying contact. The Chinese started RIGHT near me, to the southeast, but I didn't find them right away. They found me. I had sent my warrior west. He was one turn too late to grab a goody hut from the English. Oh well. Met the Germans, traded techs with them and got into the loop, while pushing them out of it. They would be a backward civ for some time to come, after that.
The turns go REALLY quickly in this style of game. Except for handling the lone worker, and moving an explorer or two around the map, and keeping on top of diplomacy, it's just a whole lot of clicking Next Turn, Next Turn, Next Turn. Yet the AI's still move and wiggle all over the place, so it's not quite a matter of instantly starting your next turn. The game takes a little time to process all its calculations, animate the enemy moves (I eventually turned animations off, to speed things up), and so on.
The English also started quite near me. Turns out, on a small landmass game, standard map size, each civ only has room for about six or seven cities, on average, give or take a couple. The Chinese slowly surrounded me, such that my lands could be described as an independent Chinese province. That's how it felt, my splotch of green marking a bite out of the middle of China, the largest civ on the planet tolerating the presence of the smallest, within its midst.
I built the Oracle first (after granary, temple). Then while waiting to get Literature, I built a barracks, then another spearman to quell dissent, which saved me 10% of luxuries, I think down from 30% to 20%, The Pyramids were built BEFORE I got the Great Library finished. Yikes. I almost panicked, thinking the AI's might grab the GL out from under me through the Wonder Cascade, but no, I still managed to get it. I then built a Library in just two turns (20 shields per turn, scientific civ building at half cost) and there was nothing left to build. So I built a couple more troops, and even retired the one regular spearman, leaving only veterans. Built an archer and a catapult, then traded for horses and built three horsemen. When Construction came in, I started in on the Great Wall immediately, built it, but then got a golden age as a result. Arrgh, not what I wanted, as 95% of the bonus went to waste in despotism. I think I picked up three shields per turn and a couple of extra commerce. What a waste! Oh well. What choice did I have?
Here's what the world looked like in 300AD. The Egyptians have captured an Aztec city in a war. No big deal right? Heh, wait until you see the implications of this down the road.
One of the AI's got Monarchy and started in on the Hanging Gardens. I waited and waited and waited and waited on the tech, but it did not pop out of the Library. I built colloseum, then got to middle age and built cathedral, still no Monarchy. Finally it comes, I try to build Hanging Gardens but its way too late. So I got only three of the seven ancient wonders, but at least I got two of the three highest culture wonders. I wasn't on the sea so I had no shot at Colossus and Lighthouse. My partial Hanging Garden got turned into a Courthouse, then I got Feudalism from the Great Library, paid for iron, upgraded all my spears to pikes, and started on Sun Tzu. Lot of clicking Next Turn, I'm running 10% science to get Theology no later than forty turns, 10% luxury, 80% taxes. One of the hardest challenges of the One City Challenge is that you can't swap out your wonders to Palace/Forbidden Palace if you get beat to them. Unless you have an alternate to switch to, you may lose a ton of work. As a result, I changed my mind and increased my science rate to get Theology sooner. I ended up building Sistine while the Chinese got Sun Tzu's. I lowered my science back to 10% and started in researching Education, figuring that all the free tech I'd get from the Great Library would be coming soon, but someone would rush to Education and end that, so I wanted to be prepared. If I got to within one turn of the breakthrough and no one had yet discovered it, I could drop science to 0 and wait.
This is the most I've ever gotten out of the Great Library. The AI's in my early games all rushed to Education. Not here. I got Engineering free, then Invention, Gunpowder, Chivalry, and on the last turn before I discovered Education, I even got Chemistry for free. Amazing! (The AI's were actually rushing toward Military Tradition? Unbelievable stuff, never seen them concentrate on the bottom of the tech tree like this before).
After finishing Sistine, I started on a partial Leo's Workshop, rushed my research up to Music Theory, and built Bach's Cathedral. I hoped to get Shakespeare's too, but as it turned out, without the Great Library's help, I was a total nonpower in the science department. I had nothing to broker, nothing to trade (well, except maybe that one spice, but it didn't occur to me at the time to trade THAT away. I'm not 100% positive I could have, but I think so... I didn't need the happy face, it might have been a strong move. Oh well, too late for that in this game). So the next thing I know, I'm dead LAST in science, being offered the occasional mercy tech for a couple hundred in gold, and being able to conduct catch-up research once everyone else knew the tech and the costs were lowered.
So the wars broke out. Egyptians pushed back the Aztecs, but the Chinese, with their Riders, swept all over the Aztecs, grabbing many of their cities, pushing them back back back on that tiny peninsula, with just a couple villages left. Aztecs, for all intents, now = history. They couldn't even keep up with me in science (and that was bad). Somewhere in there, I paid for 20 rounds of saltpeter, and paid cash to upgrade all my pikes to muskets. There went a lot of my cash, but I was actually nervous, not wanting to look weak.
I barely, and I mean BARELY, eked out the Newton's University. Forget Shakespeare, I was nowhere close to grabbing that. I won out on Newton by at most a couple turns, maybe as little as ONE turn. It was... scary. I got Nationalism for free and spent the rest of the game building troops (plus a hospital -- no factory, because I had no iron -- no rails, because I had no iron or coal, and couldn't afford the asking price).
OK, so the wars are continuing. The Germans attack the Chinese, lose a city. The Egyptians attack the Chinese, take over ALL of the former Aztec cities the Chinese captured, attack the Germans and take their one colony city, then proceed, in rather hasty fashion, to start pressing in on the Chinese. Everyone piles on, and the Russians and Romans grab their slice of the pie before the Egyptians can grab it all. Egypt seems to have ALL the good resources, and they are dominating now. Big time. The Chinese, once the world's superpower, are the first civ wiped out. Entirely.
What the hey happened to the Chinese there? Wow. I would find out later.
Somewhere in there, I bought world maps off the first civs to get Navigation (Rome and Egypt), sold those to everyone else to recover costs and even make some small profits. At least I could see the whole world now (I'm big on acquiring the world map as soon as possible, in all my games).
So now I'm woefully behind in research speed. Even with Newton's, even with bank, university, and being on a river with full roads at size 12, it's taking me 12 to 25 turns for CATCH-UP research, and there's no way I can trade gold for tech, the price is just out of my reach. So I do manage to trudge along behind the other civs, get a Hospital finally, start to grow more, but the game is already almost over. I'm at 16000 culture, then 17, 18... but the Egyptian war machine is rolling over everything. I'm cranking 74 culture per turn, only have to hold out until about 1930 for the win.
Egypt offers me a Mutual Protection Pact and Right of Passage, in the early to mid 1800's. I'm thinking I'd better take it, as I don't want to be on their bad side. Well... the rest of the world declares war on them... and thus, on me. Oh grand. Well, I've got three longbowmen from way back when, three horsemen (never did upgrade them), a cannon, and about a dozen riflemen. And guess what? The rest of the world is no match for Egypt. They've already swallowed Aztecs and England, now grabbing Germany and heading for Rome. The thing is... I'm between them and the Romans/Russians, so I get targetted. I can't afford rubber, but I did manage to research Replaceable Parts, so I am cranking out an artillery unit every four turns now.
And then I saw it: The Stack. Egypt rolled a stack of cavalry about twenty units tall onto my land, heading for Rome. Our MPP has expired, I can't afford to renew it, and I'm staring defeat in the face, as Egypt already has control of more than half the world's land, and if they roll over Rome OR Russia, they're going to win. So at this point I have 18 riflemen, 2 horsemen, 1 longbow, 5 artillery. Clever me, I make peace with everyone the first round they will talk to me, pay through the nose for Right of Passage with the Romans, get about a dozen of my units out on their rail network, and form a human shield line across the path of the Egyptians. It's about 1880 or so, give or take a few turns. Well, the Egyptians are stymied. Briefly.
Egypt was unable to move through my force without declaring war. So... uh, they declared war. Just like that. Well, not for a few turns, but then mysteriously they made peace with everyone else and I'm thinking "Whew, weathered that storm." BZZZT! Wrong! The next turn, they declare on ME, and here comes a stack of about fifteen cavalry marching right onto my land and attacking me. I had eight rifles, plus the artillery, in my city. Somehow I survived the first round, didn't even lose any units. but this was only the vanguard of the Egyptian force. Like... oh my goodness, glad I bothered to build a ton of military. Guess all those units (and the fortune paid to maintain them) weren't wasted after all.
I managed to get back into my city. On each turn, my artillery can wound six, seven, eight enemy units, sending them packing before they can even attack. I managed to capture two Egyptian Artillery that had been bombing the Romans, on the far side of my city, by shelling them down to one unit and using my meager attack units to polish them off. And when those ran out, I used riflemen, but on one unfortunate round, I lost THREE rifles in a row on such attacks, and that was the end of my retaliations. All I could do was watch as they pillaged all my roads. I started drafting units rather than starve, but still starved some. It's 1900, then 1910... Can I hold on? Just have to make it to 1930. OH MY! LOOK at all those cavalry. As one stack of twenty goes to rest up and heal, another fresh stack marches in.
I'm building more rifles, but I lose one here or there as they get a lucky streak, and once my city falls below size 12, on the last few turns, I lost some of my defensive bonus. Is this how the OCC is supposed to go? Hanging on by a thread? Sweating bullets, just trying to survive an onslaught? Well I learned one thing. A stack of eighteen riflemen, supported by artillery, can survive thirty turns even against an endless horde of cavalry. Take away the artillery, and I'd have been so much burnt toast crumbs beneath the Egyptian heel. (If you want to try your hand at replaying this war, grab the saved game pack below).
OCC cultural victory 1928, almost lost to domination (I believe I would have, if I hadn't shielded the Romans), almost lost to conquest (trying to prevent the domination loss), eked out a cultural win with a smoking hulk of a ghost of a city left, badly battered by war but refusing to surrender. Cleopatra told me, "Peace? Not on your life, Egypt is winning!" Ha, take that you crusty old ho. Who's got the last laugh now? I never even got to tanks, much less the modern age. How some of these OCC players can win diplomatic victories in the 1800's is beyond me. Maybe it requires a more favorable starting position? Or perhaps I'm just inexperienced with this. At least I won my first attempt. Chinese, Aztecs, English all wiped out, Germans pushed off the continent. A Chinese city on my left offered three times to defect to me, it was almost painful turning them down over and over. I think it will be a while before I try THIS exercise again, heh. :)
To download the saved game pack, CLICK HERE. Included are the first turn (if you want to replay the game), the last save I had before the Egyptians attacked me (if you want to replay the war), and the last turn of the game.

- Sirian

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