Things were going very well up to 500AD, but I knew that Isabella was a religious time bomb just waiting to go off. Sure enough, she blew up in my face just a few turns later, in 540AD:
Good old predictable Izzy. At least you always know where you stand with her. Either you are a reverent believer of the One True Faith, or you are heathen scum that must be wiped from the face of the earth. There's never any middle ground with her! I did refuse to give her tribute - but that's because I knew this was coming. I was still not in position to declare war, but I was no sitting duck either, and so I simply defended and killed her attacking units easily. (Her stack consisted of two archers, a spear, and a chariot, which I hit with a cat, and that was pretty much that!) The war was thus uneventful and didn't really change anything. At least it locked Izzy into "war mode" and had her produce some more units instead of focusing on research.
More noteworthy was a second revolt in Calcutta a few turns later, leading the city to join my civ!
I flipped the Christian Holy City! Woot! Not something you'll see that often.
Calcutta was a welcome addition to my civ. In the above picture, you can see that I was researching Machinery, which along with Civil Service (which I had had since 900BC!) would allow me to build Macemen. I hoped that there would be a narrow window of opportunite to attack Asoka and grab his other cities near me before he reached Feudalism and upgraded his archers to longbows. St. Pete's handled most of the military duty at this point, as the other cities were either tied up on infrastructure or were too immature to carry the load of training units yet.
Meanwhile, the bad blood between Louis and Mansa Musa continued. They had made peace at some point in time in the past, but in 740AD Mansa Musa redeclared on Louis and they went at it again. This conflict was not in any way triggered by me - except that I had converted Louis to Confucianism, which clashed with Mansa's Buddhism. Needless to say, nothing could be better for my plans in this game than a long, drawn-out bloodbath between two of the AI civs. While they were fighting, I built the Colossus in Moscow, further increasing my GNP. Fishing cities are quite powerful when each water tile brings in 4 commerce!
Finally I was ready to declare war just before 1000AD:
By this date, I had reached first place in score and didn't plan to look back on that. I was researching Banking, and would swap into Mercantilism for the duration of the game to make use of the free specialists. Notice also that I've made peace with Isabella, but am now at war with Mansa Musa; Louis asked me to declare, and of course I accepted the phony war for the relations boost. As far as the diplomatic blocs went, Louis and I were of course together as a Confucian team. Asoka and Mansa Musa seemed to be sharing Buddhism and working as a team (no surprises there) while Izzy was, as always, not playing nice with anyone who had a different religion - in this case, everyone. Now at the same time, Louis was beating on Mansa Musa while I was about to start beating on Asoka. Who did that leave to carry the research load? Uh - apparently no one. The increasingly-slow pace of technology as the game progressed was one of the more interesting subplots, which I'll have more to say about later.
I of course had no problems taking Asoka's nearby cities, which were isolated from the rest of his civ by Isabella's culture:
Bangalore was the prize that I was most interested in, as it (by coincidence) fit well with my dotmap and ensured that the two dye resources in the jungle would stay under my control. I would then go on to take the city of Lahore (south of Calcutta) without issue, but there I had to stop. I was blocked by Isabella's culture from going any further, and she certainly wasn't about to grant me Open Borders! Here's where things stood at the end of the Indian War:
I researched up to Paper before making peace just so that I could get Asoka's world map and find out where his homeland was. Interesting, he was boxed in to the south of Spain... It was clear that Louis and I together controlled more than half of the map already, and there was no reason not to push further into the south and continue to put pressure on the southern civs. Looking at this map, Cordoba has to go. In fact, all of Spain has to go; treacherous Izzy has already declared on me once, and there's no reason to suspect she won't do it again. If I could take over Spain, I would drive a wedge into the center of the map, isolating Asoka from Mansa Musa, from which position I could take them over one at a time at my leisure. Louis would secure my flank the whole time. So let the Spanish War begin!
Behind a mixture of maces, knights, and cats, I assaulted Spain starting in 1140AD. Cordoba was not as well-defended as I expected it to be, and after a moderate battle it fell in 1160. The loss of Cordoban copper, along with my pillaging of Spain's iron mine in the north, cut them off from all metals. However, I did not realize right away that this meant Spain would be sending a ton of horses at me, and I especially was caught off guard when I saw this stack appear:
Gack, elephants! My attack force is all maces and knights, which do not match up well against the ivory beasts. I should have paid closer attention to what resources Spain possessed, argh. So now I'm desperately building pikes and trying to get them down to the front before I lose any cities; my main attack force, you see, is down assaulting Santiago in the southwest, and I was unprepared for the Spanish counter-attack.
I had my hands full with this little mess for the next few turns; eventually, the Spanish threw most of their forces at Cordoba trying to take it back. I suffered some losses, but my longbows in the city saved the day. The AI's use of cats on the attack has gotten SO much better, however, that they are a serious threat to retake (or simply take) cities now. In the course of shuffling defenders around to protect Cordoba and Santiago, I accidentally left Bangalore with only a knight on defense for one turn. Guess what happened...
Well now I'll just take Bangalore back... What's this? Where is Bangalore?
THEY HAVE RAZED IT TO THE GROUND!
Well that's it. Izzy has to die now. I was already planning on wiping her out, but now it's become a veritable crusade. No one burns down my cities!
It was actually a good move on the part of the AI, since there was no way that Isabella could have held onto the city. The real mistake wasn't so much tactical as strategic, as I simply didn't have enough anti-horse units on hand to deal with Izzy's horses and jumbos. Once I realized what she was building and shifted gears, it was relatively easy to eliminate her attackers. Still, a silly error on my part. Maybe it didn't matter much here, but in a Multiplayer game with One-City Elimination rules on, that could have been it. Not the most glorious moment.
After taking Cordoba, I slowly advanced on the capital of Madrid. I say "slowly" because Madrid was a city on a hill, where longbows get double defensive bonuses (natural hill defense, plus natural longbow hill defense, plus natural longbow city defense, plus city garrison promotions - argh!) It's real tough taking AI capitals when they happen to be on hills, so I had to proceed cautiously. While bombing down the defenses, I reached Liberalism before anyone else:
I took Nationalism with the free tech and started working on Military Tradition. Also note that I reached Liberalism much later in this game compared to my previous one (1300AD versus 1170AD), yet this time I got the tech and the previous time I didn't. As always, slowing the AI tech pace makes the game drastically easier for the player.
This picture was snapped on the second turn of my attack on Madrid. The first turn, I killed most of the defenders but ran out of attackers to finish the job. As you can see, there are only a handful of units left (and only one longbow! yay!), so I did in fact take Madrid on this turn of fighting. From there, I headed south and took out Seville, then proceeded east towards Barcelona. I discovered Military Tradition right around this time and began upgrading some of my most experienced knights to Cossacks:
There they are, intermingling with some of the knights I haven't had the money to upgrade yet. Barcelona is well-defended, but not being on a hill, it won't be nearly as difficult to take out. So now that we've got these Cossacks, I may as well take them on a field test:
The test is a resounding success! My Cossacks simply ran over the Spanish longbows; without any cultural defensive bonuses, the difference in combat strength was overwhelming. Barcelona fell easily, giving me more gold - to upgrade more knights to Cossacks! From there, it was an easy ride into the southern tundra to wipe out Izzy's last city:
Bye bye Isabella. I guess you were wrong about that "Time to Die" message you sent me in 540AD, huh? Since a lot of territory had changed hands in the course of this war, let me show you the map from 1505AD:
Now that my civ was out from under the crippling war weariness penalties, I was back to positive research at 70% science - not bad for this many cities on Emperor! St. Pete's, which already has the National Epic (or is that the Heroic Epic? the one that increases military production) and was adding West Point as well. Along with the Theocracy civic that I'm running, I'll have 10XP Cossacks coming out every 2 turns which I should be able to put to good use. While I was fighting, Asoka had taken over the tech lead, but he still hadn't reached Rifles yet. And with Bombay surrounded on three sides by my culture, it looked like a prime time to continue the warring yet further.
Cathy's Romp continues!