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Realms Beyond Adventure Two: The Moon and the Stars

Saladin of Arabia
Small map, Continents, 6 AI Opponents
Emperor difficulty
First Patch (

The aftermath of the initial Adventure One event at Realms Beyond was a rather mixed bag. While we had our largest turnout ever for the initial Civ6 game, with over 100 savefiles sent out and many dozens of reports written, the reaction was far from an unqualified success. Many of the participants found the game to be tedious, especially after the early periods of the game, with the outcome a foregone conclusion but victory still many long turns away. I had run into this problem myself with the Cultural victory that I won in the first game. A lot of our community members were turned off from playing further games of Civ6, and the mood in our forum became pretty negative at times.

Meanwhile, I had been playing some of my own solo games of Civ6 and thoroughly enjoying what I found. My theory was that much of the frustration with Adventure One had come from the setup: a Prince game with most of the players starting in an empty portion of the map. We had been accustomed as a community to running high pressure Civ4 Multiplayer games, where every tile of land was hotly contested and very little was given up by the other players without a contest. And then in the Adventure One game, that same group of players ran into Civ6 Prince AIs that didn't expand and made little attempt to defend themselves against attack? It was a recipe tailor-made for dissatisfaction. This was no fault of BrickAstley who set the game up, since we had no idea what we were getting with a brand new game. It just happened to work out that way in practice.

I had found Civ6 to be much more entertaining when the difficulty level was turned up and the amount of available land area shrunk down. The AI in Civ6 is not very good at expanding, but when the map is small and they get multiple free starting settlers, they can put up much more of a fight. I intended to design this scenario around that basic idea. For a scenario goal, having a fastest finish competition seemed like a good idea, and I wanted everyone to go for a Spaceship win to ensure that more players had a chance to explore the whole tech tree. For the leader pick I went with Saladin; since he's guaranteed to found a religion, everyone would get a chance to experiment a bit more with the religious mechanics, and see how they factored into a science game. I honestly didn't know how this would work either. Arabia even has a science-related unique building in the madrassa and Saladin has a science-related leader ability, making this a good fit for the scenario.

I chose the opponents for this game by hand: Catherine, Frederick, Harald, Peter, Pericles, and Tomyris. These were all leaders who had not been in the Adventure One game for some diversity of opponents. I also picked one more AI opponent than normal for a Small map, ending up with 6 opponents in total. Then I used Civ6's debug mode to roll maps until I found one that I liked; I think it took 3 or 4 rolls in total. The map that I picked had some nice initial land at the capital, but it was VERY tightly packed with other civs and city states. Frederick is to the east of the player, Tomyris to the south, Harald to the west, and Pericles further south than that. Five total civs on the starting continent, and a mere two civs on the other continent. This seemed ideal for what I wanted: very little free land available, AIs right up in the player's face, and a real struggle to build an empire. Our more experienced players could compete for the fastest finish, while the newer players would likely struggle to win at all. I'm actually kind of malevolently hoping that some people get roughed up in this game, after all the bashing we heard about how Civ6 is just so easy and can't present any kind of challenge. This isn't the Adventure One scenario, that's for sure!

Here's the starting location. I thought for quite some time about this spot and ultimately decided to move a tile southwest to found the capital. That would move the eastern wheat tile out of the initial starting radius, but it would move the horses and other wheat into the second ring, and that would cause the cultural tile picker to grab them sometime before 2500 AD. (It is extremely slow at picking anything in the third ring.) I planned to work the 4/0 citris tile at size 1 for quick growth and then buy the horses resource as soon as I had the gold to work that at size 2 for some additional production. Initial research went into Animal Husbandry and my first build was a slinger, as I knew just how crowded this map would prove to be.

Naturally I am spoiled on this game as a result of creating the map, and my results will go into the shadow category. As Sirian used to say, there's no point in pretending to be unspoiled, and I took full advantage of my knowledge. I knew there was an Industrial city state just to the south of the capital, and I thought I'd head there and score the first envoy for +2 production in the capital - a very big deal in the early turns. So I move the starting warrior straight to the south and contact Brussels on Turn 3. To my surprise, they had already met another civ! On Turn 3! Remember, Civ6 starts on Turn 1, not Turn 0, which meant that one of the AIs must have met them on Turn 2 - or on Turn 1! Yikes, I hadn't expected that. Fortunately the quest from Hong Kong was to trigger a eureka for Irrigation, which I could easily do by farming one of the wheat resources at my capital. I would end up scoring that envoy for free in relative short order.

But the AIs were close for this game. Very close. I found Tomyris on Turn 4, and Harald on Turn 8:

Those are their capitals, right there. And since this is Emperor difficulty, both of them also start with a second free settler, which means they'll both put down another city in short order, if they haven't done so already in the fog. Sheesh, this is some tight spacing. Who designed this scenario anyway?!

So my Arabian people had close neighbors on all sides, as I knew they would. Barbarossa showed up at my capital with a scout on Turn 14, and he was even closer than Tomyris and Harald, only 8 tiles away from Cairo. I think he may have moved his starting settler even closer to me from where he was at game setup. Meanwhile, I had finished research on Animal Husbandry and gone for Mining next, followed by Archery. I went slinger -> builder -> settler in the capital, with my builder improving the wheat tile (for the Irrigation boost and that city state quest), the horses, and the plains hill mine east of my capital (enough to score the Craftsmanship boost in time for the full discount). I had plenty of food between the citrus tile and the wheat - what I needed was production to build things quickly, and that 1/3 plains hill mine was the best immediate option along with the 2/3 horses after they had been pastured. I did buy the horses tile as soon as it became available, on Turn 9. Similarly, I wouldn't normally go for a settler quite this early, but land looked to be at a premium here and I had to get a move on.

I was running Discipline for the barbarians and God King to found my pantheon as early as possible, both my typical choices for the early policies at the moment. I knew that the tundra north was going to be a barbarian haven for centuries to come, and I would be right. This picture demonstrates how close Germany happened to be, and to make matters worse, Preslav was just close enough that I couldn't fit in a city on that river to the east of my capital. There was exactly one tile on the river to the southeast where I had an eligible spot, and another one-tile location on the river to the west. Harald had placed his second city directly towards me (under the "Craftsmanship" box above) and it almost ruled out any locations over there. That was the rationale for my early Archery research: tech it to the halfway point, enough that killing a unit with a slinger would be able to finish it off, and build some slingers to upgrade into archers. I was very worried about getting rushed by one of these AI leaders and I needed to be prepared to defend myself.

I picked up the usual tech and civic boosts for the early game and tried to save as much research and culture as I could. When I finished Craftsmanship civic, I actually dropped Discipline policy in favor of Agoge (+50% production on melee/ranged units) because I wanted to get a few more slingers out. One side effect of being crowded was that the barbs weren't as bad in this game as in some of the others I've played. Anyway, this was the view of my first settler when it completed:

That's a lot of red! My options were few and far between. I had three very small spaces to settle on rivers, or else I could settle in the northern tundra wastelands along the coast. I judged the spot to the west to be the most at risk and decided to settle there, in that tiny green oasis next to the other horse resource. The open spot to the east had a barb camp sitting on top of it, and I figured trying to settle to the south would really be pushing my luck agaisnt Tomyris. The capital went back to building slingers for the moment.

There was a nice spot for a Campus or a Holy Site district just to the west of my capital, where either one could be placed next to two mountains. I decided that I would try to play the religious game here, and set down the Holy Site very early on, Turn 30, in order to lock the cost in place. I intended to finish the thing relatively quickly, once I'd had a chance to get out a few more units and builders. I had this plan of founding one of the first religions to get my pick of the best religious options, "Last Prophet" unique ability be darned! I had these great plans, you see. At least until I saw this on my doorstep:

It's only Turn 31 and Harald is pressing up against my new city of Mecca with a half dozen of his units. This had my warning sirens on high alert - I did not like the looks of this one bit! I had heard way too many stories about the AI rushing the player on the higher difficulties, them with their starting units against the player who has none. Even for a Viking neighbor, this smelled pretty fishy. As a result, I decided to finish my Archery research and upgrade my two slingers into archers (at 30 gold apiece) while building a third archer in the capital. That would trigger the Machinery boost, after all. I went ahead and did that while preparing for the war declaration that seemed all but certain.

I also triggered enough faith to choose my pantheon, and I decided to take God of the Open Sky for +1 culture on pastures. With horses at both the capital and the second city, that would almost double my culture, from 3/turn to 5/turn. I did have the option to take Divine Spark here, and while I feel that it's one of the best pantheons, I didn't need more Great Person points 100 turns down the line. I needed more culture immediately, to snowball me to stronger civics and get me to the first governments at a faster rate. I would end up working a lot of pasture tiles in this game before it ran its course, and I think God of the Open Sky proved to be a good choice. I'm interested to see what others will pick for this game.

By Turn 40, Harald still hadn't declared war yet, much to my surprise. His units were still walking around in my territory though (Early Empire civic not finished yet) and preventing me from improving some of my tiles in safety. Well, I'd had about enough of this. Harald made me build these units for defense, and I might as well put them to good use. I declared war on Turn 41 and started the process of clearing my lands of Viking units:

That's right, this is not going to be a peaceful builder game. While I may be in shadow territory, I'm still playing for a fastest Spaceship finish condition here, and in order to do that I need more land. There simply isn't enough open territory to build a strong core of cities. I will need to carve out an Arabian empire from the ashes of the AI leaders surrounding the start, and if I was going to do that, it was better to begin at an early date. Settle in folks, this is going to be a bumpy road.

For the initial turns of the war, I occupied myself with killing off Harald's free starting units. In practice, this meant using my archers to shoot down a bunch of warriors who generally ambled about not doing much in particular. The AI is just so bad at the One Unit Per Tile combat gameplay, and I had a strong defensive position in and around the city of Mecca. The AI isn't helped either by the silly movement rules that Civ6 employs, which gives archers plenty of time to shoot apart melee units as they laboriously have to cross rivers and hills to be in a position to attack. I'm still hoping against hope that one day they will revert back to the Civ5 movement rules and acknowledge that the change in this game is a failed experiment. Anyway, this took about a half dozen turns, after which time I had cleaned out the trash units and could lay siege to Stavanger, Harald's second city. Unfortunately I could not put this city under a full siege, and it was healing back health every turn, which dragged things out for longer than this really should have taken. I also had this little interruption to deal with:

Barbarian horsemen! Are you kidding me? I had to waste precious archer shots removing them from the battlefield, and that allowed further time for the city of Stavanger to heal, argh. I don't even know where the barbarian units had come from, somewhere off to the west of the Viking capital. The AI struggles mightily with the barbarians sometimes, and I guess killing all of Harald's units had opened him up to further raiding from the wilderness. I suppose it was karmic justice that the barbs were coming after me for doing that, heh.

Back at home, I had researched Currency tech and boosted it with a trader that created a road to Mecca. With Early Empire civic finished, I was now about to slip into settler production with the Colonization policy, which had been responsible for the settler seen above. There might not be much land available peacefully, but I would grab what I could get. Note as well the Scythian missionary off to the east of my capital. Tomyris had built Stonehenge and she was investing into the religious gameplay heavily. Both of my cities were already converted to her Hinduism, a mere 50 turns into the game! I was going to have to compete with her for the hearts and minds of the people on this continent.

Eventually I was able to capture Stavanger on Turn 57. On the same turn, Harald finished ancient walls in his capital of Nidaros. That meant it was time to stop this particular conflict, as I lacked anything capable of punching through cities protected by walls. Harald proved willing to cede Stavanger to me along with a city I hadn't seen yet named Tromso. That would leave him with just his capital, and I happily took that deal. The new nation of Arabia emerged from the war with 5 cities:

Five cities in 57 turns was probably faster than I could have achieved through purely peaceful means. Of course Stavanger and Tromso weren't necessarily placed where I would have chosen them, and I would have to work around some of the AI's district choices in captured cities, plus I had now made an enemy for life in Harald. Nonetheless, I was pretty happy with how this had turned out so far. Aside from poor little Tromso, all of my cities had strong potential for the future. I was making good progress towards the key early tech (Apprenticeship) and the key early civic (Political Philosophy). Now I just needed to stay at peace for a little while, settle some more cities, get out some buiders for my existing cities, and tech up to catapults so that I could come back and finish off what was left of the Vikings.

OK, this? This I did not need. Barbarossa declared war and began moving a series of warriors, spears, and chariots into my territory. Irritating as this was, the timing could have been a lot worse since I was now at peace with Harald and had units available for action. I began bringing my four archers back from Stavanger and when they arrived a few turns later, they had no trouble slapping down this rather feeble attack from Germany. I considered pushing the attack further after those units were cleared out, however the only German city close by was their capital of Aachen, and with city walls in place I had no more chance of conquering it than taking Nidaros earlier. City walls essentially shut down aggression with archers and warriors, and that was all I had at the moment. After about ten turns Barbarossa was willing to sign peace and hand me some gold in the treaty, and I was happy to take it.

Note that Tomyris was continuing to poke around with missionaries. Converting my first two cities wasn't enough for her, and she was still spamming out more missionaries. That Holy Site district that I had put down in the early turns remained unfinished at this point, and my dreams of getting an early religion had fallen apart. Now I was waiting for my free Great Prophet to arrive and simply praying that my religion wouldn't get wiped out before I had a chance to spread it. When the Great Prophet did appear on Turn 66 (wow pretty early), I actually held off on founding a religion for the moment. I knew that the instant I created my new faith it would wipe out Tomyris' Hinduism in my nearby cities... and then she would begin actively trying to wipe out my religion. I wanted to stall for a little bit longer, as I still had my hands full with Harald and Frederick. Tomyris was not going to like me one bit once my religion was up and running, and I decided to kick that moment down the road for a few more turns. One opponent at a time here, please!

These were my policy choices upon reaching Political Philosophy for the initial set of governments. I took Classical Republic as I almost always do; I have not been persuaded of the benefits of the other two governments, or of the military policies in general. Give me those economic policies please! Anyway, I had Ilkum for the builder boost and Urban Planning to help some of my fledgling new cities get started. This was very much a "wide" game right now, with lots of small conquered territories, and that's a good policy to help them out in the early game. In retrospect, I probably should have been in Colonization and pushing more settlers though, as there were two more good city locations that I could have been claiming right now that I wouldn't end up getting until a bit later, one on the river to the south and one on the northern coast by the diamonds/horses/marble. I also have the standard Charismatic Leader policy in the diplomatic category and Conscription to save some money on unit costs. As you might imagine, my unit support costs were fairly high for this stage of the game. Have I mentioned that my economy was pretty dismal? Lots of small cities are quite costly on the pocketbook until they can get their Commercial districts up and running. The AI had been building mostly Holy Sites in the captured cities, and while that was fine since I'd have my own religion this game, it wasn't so great for my pocketbook.

On Turn 73, I finally finished that Holy Site district at my capital and judged it was time to establish my own religion. Welcome to the one true faith: The Way of the Lobster!

I love the fact that Civ6 allows for custom religions in addition to the real ones. There are a whole bunch of astrology-themed symbols to pick between, and the name of the religion can be anything that the player wants. I saw this symbol and had to instruct my people in how to walk the path of Lobsterism. It was particularly amusing every time that I would use a missionary and see "+200 The Way of the Lobster" pop up on the screen. This was more fun than it really should have been.

As far as in-game benefits are concerned, a lot of the choices had already been taken by the various AI leaders who had founded religions before me. I went with Religious Community as the best remaining option in the follower belief category, as I would be building the shrines/temples anyway and I always seem to need more housing everywhere in my games. Might as well get something else very useful from the faith buildings. Then for the religious building I wanted to pick the Wats (which produce +2 science) but they were already gone, and I settled on the Meeting House as the next best option. Production is always good to have in Civ6 as well. Founding the religion caused The Way of the Lobster to appear in my capital of Cairo and my captured city of Stavanger, likely because it had a Holy Site district as well. All traces of other religions magically disappeared from these two locations. Now I'd have to defend them against Tomyris, who was determined to convert them back to Hinduism as part of her religious gameplan.

Over the following turns, I continued teching to catapults at Engineering and began to build the siege engines. I had to go to great lengths to protect my cities from unwelcome missionaries:

I formed a ring of units around Stavanger to block the Scythian missionaries from being able to spread Hinduism in the city center. This is only possible due to the very silly One Unit Per Tile rules, and the fact that military units and religious units occupy the same "layer", thus being unable to stack the way that military units can with traders or builders. Dumb mechanic or not, I protected my fledgling creed as best I could. After being thwarted at Stavanger, Tomyris swung around to Cairo, where I had to pull off a similar blockading trick. This worked for the moment, and she eventually sent that batch of missionaries east into Germany. This was getting tiresome in a real hurry though. How much longer until I can do something about these AI bullies?

Amusingly, despite our earlier war Frederick was on very good terms with me. At one point I was up to +21 relations with Germany, largely due to a huge +12 for "staying away from city states". If this had been a different game, I likely could have turned him into an ally and a strong trading partner going forward. Civ6's diplomatic system is far from perfect right now, but it's a lot better even here in the first patch than in the initial release version. However, this was not a game for making friendships with the AI. With catapults ready to go, I renewed my war against Harald on Turn 93:

I had to spend the first few turns clearing out the Viking warriors and chariots again, which seems to be inevitable against the AI on higher difficulty. The AI civs just love to construct those units in droves, probably because they don't fulfill the resource requirements to build anything else. (This is a separate point for another day, but Firaxis needs to rework the entire unit upgrade / resource requirements side of the gameplay. The AI can't figure it out at all, which is one of the biggest reasons why they are so feeble at warfare. On the rare occasions where they have the right resources, or when they have resourceless unique units, they are significantly more formidable.) Once again I cleaned out the weak fodder units with my archers and prepared to move in to siege Nidaros.

There was only one problem: Tomyris had another slew of missionaries moving into my territory! Argh. The moment that I sent my armies forward, she was going to convert Stavanger and then move on Cairo. My religion still only existed in two cities on the whole map, which meant that The Way of the Lobster was in dire peril. At the same time, I couldn't simply sit here in my territory forever either. I needed to finish up with the Vikings and get a move on the rest of the map. Five cities was nowhere near enough for what I needed in this game. I decided that I'd just have to chance it and start the siege, giving up my protective unit blockade around Stavanger. I asked Tomyris not to convert my cities, and she agreed. I didn't think she would listen to that request, and I would be proven right.

Here's Nidaros under siege a few turns later. This was the first conflict that I'd fought in Civ6 where I grasped the importance of laying proper siege to a city. If your units have zone of control over all six tiles surrounding a city, it will not heal between turns. That's a very big deal indeed against the larger cities and it sped up my progress at Nidaros considerably once I figured it out. As such, my scout unit is actually playing a crucial role here, providing zone of control over 3 of the 6 tiles surrounding Nidaros. Good work little doggie! Note that you also have to provide zone of control over any water tiles in the initial radius, and that can be tricky sometimes. I think you need to have a naval unit in these cases; I'll have to test that further. Once I had the city properly sieged, the catapults were able to take down the walls in just two turns. For all of the AI's stupidities, cities are not easy to capture in this game if they are technologically up to date and have walls.

Meanwhile poor Stavangar was getting religiously assaulted behind my battle lines. Tomyris held off her missionaries for all of about three turns before sending them in to proselytize. Nooo! My poor Lobsterite converts! Don't tell me that the faith is going to be wiped out here!

Harald exited the game on Turn 104. His capital came with a Holy Site and a Harbor district intact; not the districts I would have chosen. A captured city is a free city though, so I supposed that I shouldn't complain. I had no chance to sit and bask in the glow of victory, however. Stavanger had gone full Hindu at this point, leaving my capital of Cairo as the only Lobsterite city remaining on the map, and with no fewer than FIVE Scythian missionaries closing in on it. Those missionary units have 4 movement points, and they would be next to my capital in a single more turn. I had no choice: The Way of the Lobster had to be protected. On the very same turn that Harald was eliminated, I therefore declared war on Tomyris as well and began killing her missionaries with my units.

Hey, who are you calling a warmonger? She left me no choice, the Great Lobster made me do it! Here's what it looks like when you kill a missionary unit in Civ6:

The religion of the defeated missionary suffers a penalty in all surrounding cities. This is the same effect that happens when a unit dies in religious combat, except that there's a corresponding increase in the victorious faith which didn't take place here. I also think that this is a reason why the fears of an AI religious victory are somewhat overblown; you can always just declare war and kill their missionaries and apostles if they're really causing an issue. And I'm fine with having the religious victory as something a would-be conqueror needs to manage to make sure that they don't lose the game. While missionary/apostle spam is a real problem in Civ6, I still think the best solution is giving them their own layer so that they don't gunk up the map. The religious victory condition, although tedious to play out, feels like it works OK to me.

As for Tomyris herself, she proved to be a paper tiger, or perhaps a religious tiger in this case. She was all faith and missionaries and nothing else. Scythia only had two cities from the starting pair of settlers, and Tomyris had built very little in the way of a military. I rolled my victorious army down from the conquered Scandinavian provinces, and it didn't take long to capture the Scythian capital:

Yes, still using a single warrior unit to do the actual city capture. This game is so heavily biased in favor of ranged units, between the endless resource requirements for melee units and the needlessly-aggravating movement rules when crossing through rough terrain. With horses available near the starting position, I really should have built a couple of horsemen and had them on hand to help in these conquests. I didn't do so because I had no iron anywhere near the start, and therefore they wouldn't be able to upgrade into knights. (Of course, I was forgetting that Arabia has the mamluke as a knight replacement unique unit, and all of the unique units are resourceless in Civ6. I did not realize this until much later - whoops.) Pokrovka was a very solid city in its own right, although once again I would not have picked to open the game with Holy Site and Theatre districts. The AI could use some work on its initial district choices. At least I had a captured Stonehenge for some free faith output, and by taking out these cities, I could put the scourge of Hinduism to bed for good.

The other Scythian city of Solokha fell on Turn 119 and Tomyris joined Harald in the dustbin of history. Here was an overview picture from a couple turns later:

I had planted two more of my own cities in the intervening turns. Aleppo was the space-filler south of the capital that had been one of the few green locations dating back to the beginning of the game. I had expected Scythia to stake their claim there and Tomyris never did. Hattin was the other location up at the top edge of the map, on the coast and grabbing a few resources at the edge of the tundra. These were cities that I should have settled sooner; in retrospect, I should have been grabbing them around Turn 50 instead of Turn 100. I'm sure that some other players will do better here - Civ6 is still very much a learning experience for me at this point. Elsewhere, my cities are growing upwards nicely and mostly working on Commercial and Industrial districts. In fact, I actually overbuilt those two districts and left myself with virtually no Campus districts, which was probably a mistake. I was counting on quantity of population to drive science here for the moment. I still don't know what feels like a "good" benchmark in Civ6; should I be happy with 64 beakers/turn on Turn 120? It's too early to tell yet. I'm hoping that we'll get some good comparisons from the reports when this game is over.

Battered by the waves of Hinduism earlier, The Way of the Lobster was now spreading out nicely and controlled the northwest corner of this continent. I would gradually spread it further and further south with additional Lobsterite missionaries. I had tried to enhance the religion earlier with an apostle, only to find that the interface currently lies about what they can do. It clearly states "must have at least 2 spread charges to Enhance religion", and so I went ahead and used one of my three religious charges, then found I couldn't Enhance the religion with only two charges remaining! Blargh, they must not have updated the interface when they changed apostles from having 2 default charges to 3 default charges in the first patch. Well, that first apostle turned into a very expensive missionary, sigh. I used the second apostle for Stewardship: each Campus and Commercial district produces +1 beaker/gold in cities following this religion. That seemed like it would provide a small benefit.

Note that the religious conflict wasn't finished yet though: Zoroastrian missionaries were beginning to push into my lands from the Greek territory to the far south. Would my poor Lobsterites never be free of strife? I would have to do something about that...

During the following turns, I swapped briefly into the Professional Army policy to upgrade my archers into crossbows at 100 gold apiece. Those discounted upgrades are almost a little too good - I do love having that policy though. It was painful to spend even a few turns running the policy though, since I had to give up an economic policy in my Wildcard slot to fit it into my Classical Republic government. It bears repeating again here: my civ was broke! This was the weakest economic performance that I had encountered in any of my games to date. When I was in Professional Army, I was making single digit gold per turn, no joke. It turns out that spreading your empire far and wide while also maintaining a good sized army can get pretty expensive in this game. I had Commercial districts and markets and trade routes coming online, but it took time to get the economic engine up and running. In my previous games, I had much smaller and "taller" empires that had less overhead on expenses and therefore ran further in the black on income. On the plus side, however, all these cities were doing wonders for my science rate. I was at least a dozen turns ahead of the tech pace in my Some Like It Hot game with Montezuma, and I had been pretty happy with the performance there. I just had to make this whole balancing act work a while longer as my empire continued to develop.

Anyway, the above picture makes it pretty clear what the next move would be. Greece was strong on culture and religion, but painfully weak in military strength. I think Pericles was even lower in military ranking than Tomyris had been, and that was saying something. I arranged my forces on the border the way that I wanted them, declared war, and moved in for the kill. I even managed to snipe a Zoroastrian apostle on the starting turn that could have made trouble otherwise.

Pericles put up little resistance when it came to this latest war. The most formidable military obstacle was his city state allies - it's remarkable how removing the strategic resource requirement for their units has made them so much stronger. (Firaxis should do the same thing for the AI on higher difficulties.) I had been allied with Hong Kong for some time, and they duked it out with Vilnius, with the two of them largely fighting to a stalemate. I took this opportunity to drop some envoys into Brussels and successfully flipped it from Greek to Arabian control. This wasn't even a waste of envoys, as I could use the district bonus from Industrial city state Brussels in my many Industrial zones. Pericles only made one successful attack: there was one turn where he built a new crossbow, moved it out of Athens and attacked one of my own crossbows, then bombarded it with the city walls. That was enough to instantly kill my unit before I had a chance to respond. Otherwise, he did nothing of consequence as I sieged down his cities one after another. This was pretty sad. Pericles was defeated on Turn 147.

At the same time, I was completing research on Industrialization tech and making contact with the AI civs on the other continent. This was the start of a new era as I began to move from conquest to consolidation, and started focusing on the space race in earnest. It was time to move into the second half of the game and see if the results of my early aggression would bear fruit.