Babylonian Regent: Surviving a Large Pangea

I had won my first two games on Chieftan and Warlord rather handily and while they had been valuable learning experiences, I was in the mood for more of a challenge. For that reason, I decided to play my third game on Regent difficulty, which I thought would be a good challenge for me. I had heard good things about the Babylonians and wanted to try and get a cultural victory, so they were a natural choice to pick. My first two games had been on standard sized maps, so for this one I decided to select a large pangea to spice things up. I should also mention that this game was played using the 1.16f version of Civ3, when doing your own research and selling it to fuel more research was king. I would use that strategy in this game as well.

My starting position was very good, with a wheat tile in range of Babylon and a cattle tile in range of the second city I founded (Ur). These bonus tiles must have helped a bit with early expansion, as on the replay I saw that I reached 3 cities at the same speed as the other 11 civs. But after that my expansion fell off sharply because... I had no fresh water for irrigation! I started at the northeast end of the huge continent, and for the second game in a row my capital was stuck at the end of a penninsula. The closest source of fresh water was a river under Aztec control to the south, but it was blocked off from my territory by a series of hills and mountains. I couldn't irrgate my core cities until the discovery of Electricity, so my early cities suffered - badly - for lack of water. The fact that most of the terrain in the area was plains (but no desert, fortunately) did not make things easier.

So it was a tough start for me as soon as I went past my first two cities with the bonus tiles. Even with the dry start I could have expanded much faster by building granaries in my cities, but of course I was too inexperienced at the time to realize this fact. I was glad to be in the corner of the world, because it shletered me from whatever violence was raging out there in the fog (and, as I later learned on the replay, there were numerous wars going on). It was a surprise to discover that I was NOT the top civ, and that I was NOT an age ahead in tech when I started making contact with the other civs. This was one of the most important lessons I had to learn in the game, that the player does not always have to be winning, and in fact often needs to come from behind to win. I'm glad that I did learn this early on and did not become accustomed to destroying the other civs easily. If I had stopped to play more games on Chieftan and Warlord I think I would have been stuck in that mentailty and fared poorer on the higher difficulties. As I have said before, I was always trying to challenge myself further at the game, which is what helped me improve to where I am today.

After the early game, I fell a significant way behind the other civs in number of cities, though I had no trouble staying caught up in tech. I was ahead by several techs for most of the game, in fact, which allowed me to build most of the game's wonders in either Babylon or Ur. Here is the map in 230BC showing the world just as the landgrab phase was ending for all the civs:

This is a picture I've lost.

Babylon is the topmost dot in the northeast corner of the map; having a capital in that spot really is not good as far as corruption goes. Egypt was the top civ at this point in time, dominating in number of cities, wonders, and on the power bar. I want to say straight out right here that this was one of the oddest games I've ever seen in terms of AI interactions. Civs that should by all means have been strong were killed off quickly and the AI civs ruthlessly turned on one another time and time again. But I will get to that in time, I guess.

Right around 200BC I attacked the Aztecs and secured one of their cities as my own. The Persians were also at war with them in the south, so it seemed a good time to attack. But once again I did not understand how to fight a war properly and failed to contribute enough forces to the attack. I was unable to capture any more cities and eventually had to sue for peace with only the one city taken. Even more stupid of me was the fact that the unit I used to fight this was was the Babylonian UU, the Bowman, so I triggered a useless golden age in Despotism AND had a bunch of these guys running around later that could not be upgraded to anything useful. This was one of the worst wars I've ever fought; it was poorly planned and deserved to fail. And so it did; you can't get away with that kind of stupidity against the Regent AI. I rebuilt my forces though and attacked again around 500AD, using knights this time to carry out the offensive. This was a much better campaign and I secured all of the Aztec cities by 700AD. This made my civ a strong one instead of a minor fringe player on the world map.

While I was fighting with Azteca, the rest of the world seems to have been fighting Egypt. I don't know what Cleo could have done to annoy them, but Persia, China (pink in this game), Japan, and Russia all fought against her together in one massive war. The fighting lasted from about 10AD to 800AD, but eventually Egypt was completely destroyed. Part of the reason why it took so long was that Egypt had the world's strongest culture and cities captured kept flipping back to them. But with them dead I assumed the role of the world's culture king, something I relished very much.

I built up a tech lead over the next few centuries and built many of the Middle Age wonders. It was very easy to trade away techs you researched for tons of gpt payments in this version of the game; too easy, in fact, since it was later changed in the next patch. The world was peaceful for a while, so I'll post this picture from right before the fighting broke out again.

This is a picture I've lost.

I had increased considerably in power and influence from the previous screenshot, as you can see. I had put my Forbidden Palace in a great location right in the middle of former Azteca; I can't remember if it was rushed with a great leader or not, but I tend to think it was since it was nowhere close to my capital. The civ that had gained the most from Egypt's fall had been Persia, who wasn't even close to that area! But they held onto those captured cities and continued to expand. Persia was to become one of the most powerful civs in the game very soon.

A couple of turns after this screenie, Persia declared war on India and proceeded to carve up the weak little civ on their border. China and Japan joined in too, and it was all over in a matter of 20 turns. Then I cast my eyes on China and invaded with my cavalry from several different directions. I signed alliances with Persia and Japan, and between the three of us China was carved up by 1500AD (I got most of the territory, of course). I had now become the most powerful civ in the world, but Persia had also become dangerously strong. I guess I may as well post the picture from 1570AD as well at this point, so that my comments make more sense.

This is a picture I've lost.

I wish I had some pictures from this game to show the reader, I really do. But I didn't take any at the time I was playing (I didn't even know how, to be honest) and the game was played months and months ago. Everything I write is from my own memory and what I could see when watching the replay. In other words, that's why every picture is just from the post-game replay; there's no other way to look at the world the way it was at that time. Hopefully these pictures are enough to see what was going on.

Well, as you can see, I was in a commanding position by this point. I was quite a few techs ahead and had my choice of victory types. Since I was trying to achieve a cultural victory though, the game continued onward at its militaristic pace. With India and China destroyed, you might have thought that the situation was stable near me, with power spilt between a triumvirate of Bablyon, Persia, and Japan. I would have expected Japan to become a power player in the game, given their large size and numerous conquests. But this was not to be; no sooner had China been destroyed than the other civs jumped all over Japan, with Persia invading from the east and a number of other civs invading from the west. They chewed Japan to pieces and left a vacancy in the center of the map, which was largely filled by Persia and Russia. I don't think I've ever seen another game where the AI civs so rabidly tore each other to pieces without me doing anything to encourage them. Egypt, India, Japan, and China were all destroyed in the middle of the map, and I only had a hand in the attack on China. It was a very odd game.

Out in the west, the other civs seemed to be mixed together in a tangled web. They fought at times, but never for long and it seemed none of the civs could get a cohesive block of territory together. None of them were strong enough to make much of a difference though. I was only concerned with them having too much culture for me to win a cultural victory, but for the most part they were nonentities in the game.

I don't know when exactly I built the UN, but it was sometime in the early 19th century. I'm pretty confident that I would have won if I had held the vote, but at the time I didn't understand the voting process and thus held off on it. Since I was winning in the game, it may not have gone so well after all. I was getting bored (I guess) at the game and needed more cities to get more culture for my 100k victory, so I went to war with Persia in 1804AD. This picture was from the turn before it, in 1802:

This is a picture I've lost.

Look at how powerful Persia is on the power bar and how much territory they had on the map; they were clearly the next strongest behind me. You can also see the power vacuum in the center of the map where Japan used to be, where various different civs hold cities. Well, my military campaign against Persia was extremely efficient in nature. I captured about 8 cities on the first turn of warfare and destroyed their civ by 1830AD. I had Tanks facing Infantry after all, so the edge was clearly in my favor. I also discovered for the first time in this game though that taking metropolises on hills is extremely difficult, even with tanks.

For reasons I don't understand, I razed all of the Persian cities instead of capturing them. This was foolish, as I had the top culture in the game, but it was my third game, after all. Razing cities is not always a bad thing, but I was razing them without ready replacements of my own. As a result, the Greeks and Russians actually grabbed some cities in former Persian territory. After this, I was not quite so willing to raze cities. Today, I almost never raze cities unless there is a powerfully compelling reason to do so.

With Persia gone from my end of the continent, I owned almost all the land up to Russia. But the other civs were doing some house cleaning of their own as well; Russia declared war on a lot of civs and swallowed up those cities in the no man's land into their empire. Germany turned on France and destroyed it while Greece killed the Americans, who had been small and weak the entire game. By 1860AD, it was only 4 civs left out of 12; what is remarkable is the fact that I only had a hand in the death of 3 of the 8 civs! I've never seen so much killing from AI to AI civ since this game; it was crazy.

The game was getting boring by this point, as I sat and waited for my 100k cultural victory to kick in. I finished the spaceship (well, all but one part) around 1920AD and just started waiting for the cultural win. Russia sneak attacked me at some point, but I was tired enough that I simply defended against their attacks and didn't conquer any of their cities. Well, I razed a couple near my territory, but that was just in retaliation. In 1948AD I was going to win my cultural victory... but when the date came it didn't happen. So I waited for the next turn - and still nothing. By 1953AD, I realized that someone else had too much culture for me to win at just 100k. Rather than killing off that civ, I just launched the spaceship on the next turn, winning in 1954AD. Here's the final map:

I played this game fairly well, and after I conquered the Chinese the game was essentially over. I didn't get the victory type I wanted, but that was fine with me. The high points of this game included learning how to be the tech broker for the world (the winning strategy under 1.16f) and putting the Forbidden Palace in a great spot. The low point of this game was when I reloaded at some point (don't know when exactly) after getting sneak attacked by Persia, who brought the whole world against me via MPPs. I should have played it out, and would have today if it happened, but at the time I went back a few turns and it never happened. So I won my first Regent game - sort of. It certainly wasn't a very clean victory; I made a lot of mistakes and could have optimized a lot of things better. I certainly wasn't ready for a Monarch game at this point, so my next game was another Regent one to be played out under different map settings.

Spaceship Victory
2379 points