Sirian's Great Library - Strategies for Civilization III
Building World Wonders

Nov 16, 2001: Building wonders in the ancient era is problematic. All your rivals will dedicate cities to build at least one wonder, if not more, and they will switch off to a different one when their wonder of choice is built by someone else. Thus, most if not all the wonders will be built in rapid succession within a few turns, near the end of the ancient times. Until such time as every known wonder has been built, and your rivals stop having ongoing wonders they can switch over to the new project, you will have a hard time keeping up. However, once the middle ages arrive, if you can catch up in tech, you may have a chance.
Nov 16, 2001: On higher difficulty, the computer civs require fewer shields to build the same items. Thus, you need some kind of lead, or else a madly productive city in the hills somewhere, to stand a chance. There are two ways to obtain a lead: get to the tech first, and have some large project already going that you can use as a "starter" for your wonder. Small wonders make great starters. In particular, the forbidden palace early on, then wall street, and ultimately, the Military Acedemy is the best, as you can't afford to build armies at 400 shields a pop until late in the game, so you can use that one as a starter over and over. Be careful with the forbidden palace, though. You MUST utilize that one wisely, as it may make or break you. And obviously, you can't build it in the capital, so that too is problematic. Build the placeholder item as you get near to the tech that will offer the wonder you want, but make sure you get the tech before the placeholder item finishes. Then switch to the wonder as you get the tech, you'll have a head start. This takes a lot of planning, but may be your only way to build wonders in some situations. The computer is very aggressive about building great wonders.
Nov 16, 2001: If you are like me and prefer to play through, rather than reloading or backtracking, you are stuck with a nasty quandary in regard to world wonders, especially if you aren't in contact with every civ on the planet. If you ARE in contact with everyone, you will know who is building what and when. You can examine their cities visually if you have their terrain map (Refer to F7 to which city in each empire is building which wonder) to see if those cities have enough shields on hand to build faster than you. You can also conduct espionage to Investigate these cities if you are unsure about their prospects. It costs a lot of dough to investigate so don't do it unless the city looks like it might be robust enough to outbuild you. If you are unsure, then spending the money to investigate may give you the confidence to move forward without risking the loss of hundreds of shields and many turns, or it may warn you you're out of the race already and let you bail. In either case, it eliminates uncertainty. You can find out all you need to know, from how many turns they will take (at the current pace, keep that in mind) to what size the city is and how happy the people are, to what's already been built in that city and what its cultural rating is. If you investigate, make note of all the information presented to you.
Nov 16, 2001: If you have a chance to build the Iron Works, do it! The odds of having coal and iron in one city are not high, but if you get lucky, take advantage. It may give you the edge in building other wonders later.
Nov 16, 2001: Triggering a golden age with a specialized military unit as you are trying to build a wonder can do wonders for your chances. Keep that in mind.
Aug 1, 2002: There are a couple of wonders with unlisted attributes. For example, the Colossus claims to be Expansionistic and Religious, but it is also Commercial. Your civ needs a wonder with each of its own traits to kick off a wonder-induced golden age. For example, the Egyptians are Religious and Industrious. They need a religious wonder, and an industrious one. If they build the Colossus, that covers religious. Then if they build the Great Wall, which is Industrious, they enter a golden age. The Colossus is Commercial, as well as its other listed attributes. Universal Suffrage claims to be Militaristic, but it has a hidden attribute also of Expansionist. (Thus, for the Zulus, it would automatically kick off their golden age, as they are both of its traits. And the Colossus kicks off an automatic GA for three different civs: Iroquois, India, England). Knowing the hidden traits of these two wonders (you can see them in the editor, by the way) can be important for managing your wonder building and golden age plans.

- Sirian

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