With the annexation of the Japanese lands, I was finally feeling good about my situation, even with the quick tech pace. Of course, the game couldn't make it easy on me, so four turns after I captured the last Japanese city Catherine sneak-attacked me out of the blue:
Relations were not good with Cathy, so it did make sense in a way. Unfortunately, I had all the forces from my campaign against Tokugawa holed up in Edo, trying to reduce the likelihood of a revolt until I could get some culture in there. This let Cathy get a free shot in against me before I could react, and she hit me hard with some cannons. I had enough units not to lose the city, but it was rough. Of course, on my turn I smashed her own attacking stack with my own cannon, and inflicted savage losses. Her entire initial attack force was wiped out. Diplomatically, I traded away a tech (can't remember which one) to get my allies Mansa Musa and Roosevelt to help out:
They were far away, but any assistance would be appreciated in this case. While I had taken out Cathy's initial troops, unfortunately that turned out to be only a first wave, and when her second big stack showed up, with all my soldiers badly injured, I saw the writing on the wall and cleared some of my units out of Edo. Round One to Cathy:
You can see how recent this was after the Japanese war by the fact that Satsuma still hasn't come out of resistance yet! That proved to be a big problem, because without cultural borders, I was in Civ2-land where the enemy could use my roads (in neutral territory). I tried my best to defend Satsuma, but I was outnumbered and the lack of cultural borders hurt a lot. That city fell too in 1605AD:
Hmm, I'm not doing too well thus far. The border cities have fallen and those orange Russian troops are now making for Kyoto. The geography of this area had a series of hills running from Satsuma all the way down to the southern coast. I planned to make a stand on the other side of those hills, hitting the Russians with everything I had once they came down from the high ground. Should I fail, I would pull back to the east side of the river, and retire into Kyoto itself as a last resort. Edo was by this point a Russian fortress, with all kinds of rifles, grenadiers, and COSSACKS inside. (Geez, my luck with the unique units is not great here - first samurai in their prime, now cossacks!)
Things were very much touch-and-go here for a couple turns. My Japanese army had been largely wiped out in killing Catherine's initial stacks, and there was very little in front of her secondary force of rifles and cossacks. Scary stuff. What saved me was Nationhood civic; I revolted into it and then drafted a round of rifles out of every city. As an Aggressive civ, they were all Combat I too, which helped a great deal. Cities with barracks (which was almost all of them) even produced 2XP conscipts, which would get another promotion to go along with their inbuilt Combat I - not bad for units pulled out of thin air! The other thing that saved me was my research into Assembly Line. Once I hit that, suddenly all my conscript rifles became infantry. Cathy's grenadiers and rifles started dying real fast after that.
Roosevelt sent nothing more than a token force, but Mansa Musa actually brought a good number of soldiers to my aid. Lots of cavs. He actually struck the first blow, burning down a city that Cathy had poached in what was rightfully my territory:
Woo! Get 'em, Mansa! I could have taken this city myself, but I had more important incoming targets, and it was 100% guaranteed to flip to me anyway, so I had left it alone. Cathy had some frigates down there too, which I was building ironclads to deal with. I actually sank about four of her frigates with my clads, which was fun. (Man are those things slow! First time I think I've used them.)
Although I'm loathe to give out a tech like Assembly Line to the AI, since they get extremely cheap upgrades of their units, in this particular case I was able to get too much value not to strike a deal. My buddy Mansa Musa was willing to make this trade:
Now I just had to survive on the front lines for a number of turns while my cities finished a round of factory/coal plant construction. With factories and rails, I would have the production and movement to deal with anything Cathy could produce. With some help from Mansa Musa's wandering rifles and cavs, the counter-attack began:
Satsuma returns to the ugly brown colors of Mongolia. By this point in time, I was ready to sue for peace with Cathy - she could hold onto the uselessly culture-squeezed city of Edo if she wanted to. However, Cathy insisted on me paying her a tech for peace, which I absolutely refused to do. I settled in to defend what I had, and she largely stopped sending units. So... a phony war set in for the next couple dozen turns. I had no interest in attacking her, but she refused to make peace with me. And so the war dragged on and on...
Here was my civ in 1700AD:
By this point, most of my cities are just finishing up their factories/coal plants, and I'm having them catch up on whatever infrastructure they missed. I'm finishing up Radio research, and then I plan to go back to the top of the tree and push on towards Rocketry. Note that Turfan is building Globe Theatre - this is purely for cultural purposes, as I've already built Hermitage there. I'm trying to win a cultural border war, and losing it. Let me explain a bit more in pictures.
Take a look at the two tiles circled. As you can see, I've lost the battle with Mansa Musa for these two tiles, even though I've controlled them for most of the game. The tile on the left is especially important, since it consists of the only wheat resource in my territory. Losing it has become a devastating blow. So let me explain a little bit more of what's going on here...
Turfan has been under culture pressure all game. Because of that, I've focused on culture here, and I actually dropped not one, but TWO culture bombs into this city. Two of them. Turfan is just shy of 10,000 culture and is the #2 city in the entire world culturally. Take a look:
Yes, a city with 9771 culture can't even hold onto tiles within its own city radius. But wait, it gets even better! Even with all this culture, Turfan is losing one of its second-ring tiles to Gao's THIRD ring tiles! I checked the actual culture using one of the debug tools (don't ask how to access this, it's not for public consumption):
You can clearly see that I'm behind here, despite the fact that Turfan has almost 10,000 culture and Gao has less than 5000 (since it still hasn't reached 80% cultural defense on the screen). That, umm, doesn't seem right. But the other tile in contention, the grasslands town tile, was even FURTHER behind in culture, despite the fact that it was second-ring for my city and no better than third-ring for any of Mansa Musa's cities.
What's going on here? Let's look at that first picture again:
The problem is that Turfan is getting jobbed by a combination of Mansa Musa's cities in the area, which I've numbered 1, 2, and 3. The wheat tile that I need is second-ring for both Turfan and Gao, and even though Turfan has MUCH more culture than Gao, that same tile is also 5th ring for Walata and Timbuktu. That extra culture from those cities is enough to nudge control away from my city.
The grasslands town tile is even more ludicrous. It's second-ring for me, and no better than third-ring for any Malinese city. Yet that tile is third-ring for Walata, third-ring for Gao, and fifth-ring for Timbuktu. And so, amazingly, Turfan is losing the battle here. Help, I'm being triple-teamed!
The problem is that multiple cities from the same civ all get to apply their culture onto the same tile. This leads to all kinds of silliness; for example, did you know that the best way to flip an enemy city is to put TWO cities next to it, and have them combine their culture to overwhelm it? That's non-sensical, but the way culture works makes it so. Great, just what we need - another motive for cramming cities closely together. Here, Mansa Musa's close spacing has royally screwed me over. Bah. While I did raise the issue with Soren, apparently it's something too fundamental to the culture system to change at this point. One thing's clear: we're going to have to do some serious rethinking of the culture system for Civ5.
Anyway, although the loss of my wheat resource was a serious blow (Turfan starved down two sizes permanently), I soldiered on. The phony war with Catherine continued with no fighting on either side. I lost out on Rock N Roll to an AI Great Engineer when I had 2 turns left, but I did manage to finish Eiffel Tower in 1760AD instead. That was the wonder I would have preferred anyway, of course. I was able to trade for the modern-era happiness resources without any problem. Health was generally a bigger issue for me in this game than happiness; with all my metals, I actually had plenty of happiness stuff on hand.
Finally, Cathy initated combat again by moving some new troops into my territory:
I hit the stack with artillery and slaughtered it without any real problem, but Cathy began following it up with regular doses of troops and the war was definitely back on in full again. I waited until Cathy had moved most of her soldiers out of Edo, then counter-attacked it. Now that I had tanks on hand, it fell rather easily:
I burned the useless city to the ground. Revenge is sweet. Cathy STILL refused to sue for peace without me giving her a tech, but with war weariness finally starting to be a problem, I gave her the cheap tech of Fascism and finally ended the conflict. The war that started with Cathy's knight taking Edo ended with my tank taking it back. I can't say I've ever had a war like that in Civ before, outside of Always War, that is. Ironically, the war actually helped me, as Cathy went from clear tech leader to also-ran as she destroyed her economy in the course of the fighting. She never really recovered from all those centuries of warring. Mansa Musa and Roosevelt took over the AI tech lead.
Of course, the REAL tech leader at this point was me. Even though I was only #2 in GNP behind Roosevelt, I was able to make some key trades and get far ahead in the space race. After getting Rocketry and Computers, I then headed for Fusion, nabbing the Great Engineer and getting an early start on the most expensive spaceship part. Along with a Great Merchant I had saved, that Engineer allowed me to trip the patented late-game spacerace Golden Age. (My first Golden Age of the game - one of the AI civs used an Engineer to rush Taj Mahal, and I never had a chance to build it.) That boosted me into a fairly comfortable position.
One tech that I had ignored was Mass Media, since I saw no real need to build the UN. In fact, if I had gone there, I possibly could have won by diplomacy; take a look at this:
Roosevelt built the UN, and thus became my opponent. Of course, he was #2 in population here, but very close to Huayna Capac. It was going back and forth between them, and if Huayna had been my opponent, I certainly would have gotten Roosevelt's votes and won the diplo victory. Oh well. The diplo victory is almost always chancy, so I just ignored it and concentrated on space.
The endgame run was uneventful. I carefully managed my cities, had them build the spaceship parts in what I think was pretty close to the optimal rate, and chose what I felt to be the best route through the tech tree. I ended up completing four parts in 1890AD, and the final part in 1892AD - that seems like pretty good management, if I do say so. None of the other civs were really close to me; I was still the only one with Fusion and Fiber Optics at the end. I estimate I was a good 20 turns ahead of the AI civs on launch time. Spaceship win in...
Wait, what's this?
ONE turn before my spaceship is set to launch, Huayna Capac decides to get frisky and declare war. Heh. Game's in the bag, he can't possibly prevent me from winning now. Of course - Huayna has by FAR the largest army in the world, I've got spies running around in his territory, and his stuff is just scary. So what the hell. Let's play this out and see if I can prevent him from taking any cities. It'll be a fun challenge, certainly a better test than the spacerace, which is in the bag.
I am by no means defenseless, you see:
Ever since I traded for Flight, I've been building bombers in large quantities. I have about fifteen of them, which are based in Kyoto, and a dozen or so tanks just north of the city (arrowed in brown). Huayna has two major thrusts approaching Satsmua (arrowed in yellow) and a couple of minor pillagers elsewhere. Now I know a number of players achieved faster space race dates in Adventure Four by having their cities run on Wealth for the latter stages of the game. That certainly will speed up your finish date, but that's NOT by any means a safe move. My cities here have been on military ever since they finished their factories, and that's what's going to save me here. Sure, I can't lose this game now, but what if Huayna had attacked a dozen turns earlier? Do not put your faith in the AI leaving you alone. I tried that in Civ3 Epic 17, and I was defeated by the Deity AI. Since then, I've been less trusting and built a heck of a lot more military.
So here we go. My planes scream into the sky and flay the Incan stacks, my tanks following in their wake to wreak further havoc. I wipe out the little stack by Kyoto and the entire stack two tiles south of Satsuma. The other stack to its SW is crippled, using artillery to take on the gunships, and then it too is destroyed as well. In the overview shot of my civ that I snapped on this final turn, you can see that I eliminated all but two Incan units on my soil.
There's my civ on the last turn. There are a couple of low-production cities on wealth, but they've only been on it for less than 10 turns, once it became obvious that I could not lose. Most of the 19th century has been spent building military "just to be safe" which is now coming in incredibly handy! Can you see how all the Incan units in my territory have been killed over there in the west? Feeling smug, I ended my turn.
On the interturn, Incan bombers smash into Satsuma, while Huayna's navy pounds the city and almost wipes out its defenses. (Soren's AI is continuing to improve in this regard, players beware!) Even MORE units move into position! Here's what things look like:
Oh, incidentally - I also win the game. But I won't say anything else about that until I finish up the struggle here. (I changed my name to "Metalman" on the last turn so that I wouldn't have another "Sullla" game in my Hall of Fame.) Now the arrow isn't pointing to my spaceship victory - it's pointing to the stack of TWENTY units that the AI has landed using five transports! That's in addition to the new stack of units to the SW of Satsuma. Well I'll be damned, he's NOT getting his hands on this city! After hitting the smaller stack to the SW with two bombers to soften it up, I throw the house at the stack that landed via amphibious assault. Even with a dozen bombers hitting it, I still don't take them all to half health (it's a heck of a lot of units!) Then my tanks go in... the first couple tanks die against gunships, but then they start winning. It's a total bloodbath, but the later tanks are able to blitz against weakened defenders, and eventually the whole thing is wiped out to a man. Every Incan unit died. Now the remaining question was just whether or not my city would hold on Huayna's counter!
He slammed Satsuma again with his bombers, most of them getting through, and then proceeded to attack. Oh god, there are still MORE units coming out of his civ! Finally, it was over - I had about 5 tanks left in Satsuma. The slaughter on both sides was appalling. Even with the huge discounts that the AI civs get, Huayna Capac's war weariness must have been ghastly, as he lost about 50 units in two turns. Here's a shot of his fleet after the fighting slowed down:
Look at all those ships! I was now able to move reinforcements into Satsuma (newly upgraded mechs) and so the city held. It held out against everything that the #1 military power in the world could throw at it. This made me very proud. If the game were still going on, I would actually be able to go over to the offensive now, since Huayna's built up reserves (which he had been accumulating since the Ancient Age) were now gone. But I had already won the space race, so I stopped here.
First of all, a shot of the demographics:
I had very strong numbers for an Emperor game. The GNP stat is not accurate, since I burned a number of towns and turned them into workshops to get the spaceship done faster once all the techs had been researched. I was actually #2 to Roosevelt, with a figure at about 450 or so. (Strange that one of the non-Financial civs turned out to lead in GNP, no?) I don't know what's up with the population figures, I was ahead by a fairly significant margin (a good 20-25 UN votes) over Roosevelt. I was, of course, last in soliders, and facing Huayna, who was #1. Every single war in this game involved me in some way, so the AI civs simply built up their forces for ages without ever using them on each other - this is what happens when you draw all builder personalities! That was also partly why the tech rate was so fast (an 1892AD spaceship is still pretty quick). As for that Huayna solider count in the white box, that number started out at about 3.8 million when he attacked, and it was down to about 2.7 million when I stopped. He lost a MILLION soldiers in two turns! Of course, those are just fictitious numbers that don't mean anything, but the power graph tells the story:
Yeah. That more or less tells the story.
And finally one more screen of stats. This was actually from the turn before I slaughtered Huayna's huge stack, so it doesn't include that... but you can still see all the Cossacks and Samurai I had to kill. Bah.
This game was a lot of fun. I had some luck with all the metal resources near the start, but the lovey-dovey AIs who refused to attack each other and only attacked me certainly didn't make things easy. I was quite pleased with how well I was able to defend my civ against AI empires that drastically outnumbered me in soldiers. And it's not like I had neglected defense either - it's just that those danged AI civs have ridiculous numbers of units at this level! Emperor in Civ4 is, I think, more difficult than Deity in Civ3; the hole is not as deep at the start, but it's a REAL hole instead of a phony one that you can trade your way out of once you find the magic brokering path. Emperor in Civ4 is still competitive right up until the end of the game - as this case should show! And in Civ3, the Deity civs would almost always leave you alone if you caved to their threats. No such luck in Civ4, as they will come for your blood if you are weak. All in all, it's a lot more fun and much less gamey, for my money's worth. A great solo game, and now we can finally start up some of our community events again with the patch out. Yay!