I continued my game with that unpleasantness caused by the death of the Aztecs behind me. With my reputation intact (as it SHOULD be) I continued my pursuit of a victory.
The entire world had been at war with the Aztecs at the end, every single civilization (including me, thanks to that bug). The Aztecs were gone now after 760AD, but the rest of the world must still have been out for blood, because within a few turns the world exploded into a MPP-triggered battlefield. Every civ was at war within a few turns, except for me. It was exactly what I had been hoping for, and what I so desperately needed to have a chance to win the game. Here's a sample of the warfare going on; it's a shame that the diplo screen can only show 7 faces because all of the civs were involved in the fighting:
You see, tech was moving fast in this game. Although I had powered my way through the Middle Age techs in 20 turns, thanks to my resource trades, I was still significantly behind the tech leaders. The tech leaders (Egypt, Bablyon, Germany, France, and America) entered the Modern Age in 750AD. That's quite fast, even for Deity. I was about 5 techs away from it at this point, so it came as something of a shock. But with everyone else at war and sure to go communist, I was sure I would be able to catch up, with the spaceship if not with the UN.
Of course not everything was perfect. Newtown flipped on me to a city with 0 culture...
I couldn't complain because Newtown had no culture either, but flipping to a town with no culture in it still is frustrating. My overall culture was a tiny bar dwarfed by Egypt's massive culture on the histograph. They probably had about 50 times my culture - no lie.
Well I assumed that no one would be getting Fission too soon, since all the civs were involved in large-scale wars and could hardly afford to pay the extravagent research costs of Modern Age techs. I was wrong. France began work on the UN in 870AD, giving me another shock. How could they be so fast? In GOTM7, I built the UN in 1190AD and had the fastest diplo finish by over 250 years! I know it's pointless to compare different games, but this was still much faster than I was prepared to deal with.
I certainly wasn't afraid of losing to another civ via the UN; I was the only civ with any kind of reputation at this point. If I could somehow get to the UN, I would win the game. It was as simple as that. In the end, it was a lack of shields and not an inability to reach the tech Fission that cost me the UN. Cattletown, my top city, had finished its hydro plant only a turn or two before Fission was discovered. I was already prebuilding the wonder, but didn't have enough shields built up to make a difference. And it would have been pointless to prebuild in a city that didn't have a factory/coal or hydro plant combination. Tech was just moving too fast for me even to get the requisite city improvements up.
At the time though, it looked like I could get the wonder, since I only had 12 turns to go and some of the other civs chose bad locations to build it. I was most worried by the Americans, since they were building it in Washington. I put an embassy in their capital so I could look at their progress - and was stunned by what I saw. They had no shields prebuilt and would still get the wonder in 6 turns at 103 shields/turn. Wow. I couldn't compete with that, not when the UN cost me 1000 shields. If the tech had come along 10 turns later, I would have had it. As it was, the Americans built the UN in 970AD, since they lost 2 turns in anarchy going to Communism.
In other news, I entered the Modern Age myself in 910AD, which was the fastest ever for me. I took a little snapshot of my territory in that year to celebrate and show my progress up to that point:
I had founded a few extra cities in locations where other cities had been razed. And although I was out in the middle of nowhere, I still got to see some nice battles being fought between India/China versus Egypt.
So now I had to build the spaceship, since there was no way I had a chance at any other victory type. This meant redoubling my efforts on the tech front. I had done well trading my oil away for techs, and after I acquired Fission I discovered that I had 2 sources of Uranium. I crossed my fingers against them disappearing and traded them away for better deals on technology. Was I worried about giving away these resources? Not at all! I was hoping that the other civs would start nuking each other, but they never did. Oh well.
Unfortunately, when I checked Babylon's (the tech leader) progress in 960AD, I found that they were 7 techs into the Modern Age. SEVEN! We're not even to 1000AD here, and they're SEVEN techs into the Modern Age? Good grief. I did some number-crunching to sastify my curiousity here: 960AD is 211 turns into the game. Babylon had 72 techs at that point, which meant that they had gotten a tech every 2.93 turns. Yes, that's right. They averaged BETTER than one tech every 3 turns. Now granted, they traded for some of those I'm sure, but how does one keep up with that?
I don't know, but I was going to have to try. I was, in fact, starting to pull ahead of the other civs in tech. It's remarkable that I was able to do it, but it never would have happened if they hadn't been fighting endless useless wars. In 1000AD, I got my first-ever "We are Moderately Advanced" message from Sid since I made contact. In 1050AD, I got the "Scientifically Advanced" message and was so proud of myself that I took a picture of it:
That picture could be from any game, but trust me, it was from Epic4. I was still 2 techs behind the leaders though, and 4 away from the spaceship. The space race was going to come down to the wire.