I was at peace with the Incans now, but the war against the Aztecs raged on:
My army largely consisted of City Raider maces at this point, which didn't match up particularly well against Montezuma's hordes of horse archers. I had enough pikes floating around to ensure that my cities were in no danger, but I lacked the force to hold the countryside in some places, such as outside Tiwanaku. I had just used my second Great Prophet to construct the Jewish shrine here, so defending the city came first! This little episode was noteworthy for the pillaging - worst I've taken in a while - but it was fairly trivial in the larger scheme of things. Once I trained a couple more pikes, those Aztec horse archers went to the glue factory in a hurry.
Techwise, after grabbing the military techs I needed at the bottom of the tree, I returned to the top in order to get the usual Liberalism slingshot. First Philosophy (seen in the picture above), then on to Education, where I had a Great Scientist waiting from the Great Library to do most of the work:
I'm also about to build the Hanging Gardens (again, a wonder that the AI inexplicably ignores in many games) which will be particularly useful for me with all of my cities. If you've ever played Civ4 Multiplayer, you should know that you NEVER want the largest civ to build the Hanging Gardens! By 1200AD, I had wiped out the invading Aztec forces and began leading a counter-attack against their core cities. Montezuma must have seen the writing on the wall, because he came and asked for peace in 1210, which I was happy to grant. Another useless and unwanted war ended.
With my civ finally at peace once again, here's a look at the new map:
To my original 11 core cities, I've added the two fillers in the north and captured three more cities from the Incas. That adds up to a grant total of 16 cities; none of the AIs have more than 7, I believe, and this fact is reflected in our scores. Ordinarily I'd be saddled with huge maintenance costs with this much territory, but thanks to the magic of State Property civic and two shrines, I'm basically breaking even at 80% science. Pretty cool, huh?
In terms of how these cities were customized, I largely had the capital set up for shields (it just didn't have particularly favorable terrain for lots of cottages). Nanjing (to the east) was another fine military producer, and Macau (in the extreme northwest) did nothing but build soldiers and missionaries. I think I trained almost all of my Confucian missionaries out of that location, it was very valuable! Most of the other cities were either designed for commerce with lots of cottages, or hybird cities doing a bit of production as well. Shanghai and its 13 floodplains cottages (!) was another pretty unique city. I would later add an Academy and Oxford there, for some bigtime research.
Obviously this game was already over, as my tech lead was only going to grow further over the AI civs as my cities continued to develop further. If this were Master of Orion, I'd be able to cash out with a quick victory at this point, but no chance of that in Civ! I've still got half the tech tree to go, heh. So rather than fool around on the starting continent any more, I threw my energies into exploring and settling the "New World" out there in the fog to the east. This was the necessary first step:
1240AD is a decent, if not spectacular date, for reaching Liberalism. (Then again, I HAVE fought four different wars already!) I'll be interested to see how fast some players can get here on a determined beeline, given our variant. I actually mailed out quite a few Astronomy start files; I wonder how that will go, given that they won't have State Property civic to deal with maintenance costs on the other continent! Should be fun to find out.
I already had longbows, settlers, and assorted other units heading to the eastern coast for passage to the new continent. (I of course knew where it was, having helped set up this game in the Worldbuilder.) By the time that my exploring caravels reached the ends of the world, my intrepid settlers were getting ready to start their fledgling colonies:
That was certainly a nice little boost. Galleons that moved 5 spaces per turn instead of 4 cut down on the transit times noticeably. Before I could really get started on the other continent, however, there was still one piece of unfinished business left to take care of:
Turn 1 of war: land maces on Huayna's island. Turn 2: attack and capture final remaining city. Mission accomplished! (If only it were that easy in real life.) I wouldn't have minded letting Huayna live, but all three of my captured cities were spouting multiple faces of "we long to return to the motherland" unhappiness, and I had to get rid of that. This game is really stupid in that way; since it takes absolutely forever to accumulate culture in captured cities (and remove that unhappiness), the game practically forces you to commit genocide if you want to play optimally. Civ3 was stupid in that way too, but we should have learned our lesson. Sigh.
On the same turn that I cleansed my continent of the Incan presence, I symbolically opened a new era by founding my first city in the New World. Say hello to my new overseas base of operations, Fort Haerbin:
The location was on a hill for the defensive boost, and I even picked up an extra shield for it being a plains hill. This city was intended to be a production location, since I'd need to build a lot of units out of it; I'll eventually build watermills on the river tiles to the west, and that will give me enough food surplus to support the plains horses and a bunch of workshops on the grassland tiles. Of course, it wasn't until I got here that I realized I had no way to expand borders in the immediate future. Whoops! I would later bring a Confucian missionary across the sea, then build a monastery in Haerbin to supply future settlements with culture right out of the gate.
The arrows point to the THREE barb cities surrounding the location; I had to pick my initial city locations by working around the barb threat. This was a lot of fun, and in the early years the barbs definitely had the advantage. I brought some workers over, but they had to spend a lot of time huddling in my cities for safety. Eventually I'd get my City Raider maces from the Incan campaign shipped over to the eastern continent, but for now they were still half a world away!
Ever wish you could build State Property watermills before the Industrial Age? I had the opportunity in this game, so of course I took advantage of it:
Just look at all those watermills, ha! They're not even remotely maxed out yet either; I'll pick up another shield at Replaceable Parts and two more commerce at Electricity. I hardly built any farms at all in this game, adding watermills instead wherever possible. After all, a State Property watermill gets the same amount of food as a pre-Biology farm, plus additional shields and commerce. What a deal! I'd actually ignore Biology for a long time later in the game, just because I had little use for it. Not too often you can say THAT!
Meanwhile, Haerbin was getting hammered over in the wilds of the frontier:
The barbs came after the city immediately after it was founded, and hit it HARD. Thank goodness that a City Garrison longbow fortified in a city on a hill is all but invulnerable to Ancient Age units! I took an initial pounding, but the defender in Haerbin hit 10XP and City Garrison III pretty fast, and after that any chance of the city falling vanished. The barb cities in the area also seemed to have exhausted their reserve of counter-attacking units, because they soon let up on the pressure, after which I could start to improve some tiles.
If you look at the minimap above, you'll see that I had another settlement on the eastern continent, my southern toehold at Chonqing. Now I had brought a strong force to defend that location, a longbow and a mace, but fell victim to some absurdly bad luck. First my longbow was killed defending at 0.9% odds - that's 9 out of 1000! Killed by a barb axe while fortified in the city, if you can believe it. Then the mace was attacked by a barb longbow, with 3% odds to win, and, well...
There goes ANOTHER city, burned down by the barbs. And note the relief convoy a single turn away, about to bring additional defense. Good GRIEF! I'll claim responsibility for losing that city in BC years, but this was NOT my fault. Oh well. Bad luck is certainly a part of the game, but a pair of unlucky dice rolls here stunted my penetration of the new world. I would concentrate on securing and expanding my toehold at Haerbin for the immediate future, largely leaving the southern part of the continent to the raging barbarian hordes.
Back on my continent, I picked up the free Great Merchant at Economics and sent him to the English for 1200g. Victoria built up a HUGE army of medieval units, and I expected that the war declaration would come against me, but she actually attacked Roosevelt instead, the poor man on the totem pole. (Again: the AI is too predictable about nearly always going for whoever is lowest in power.) Yet Victoria's tactical movement of her units was SO bad, FDR's four or five longbows in Washington were able to fight them off in waves, promoting to City Garrison III in the process. Those 5 units probably killed 30 attackers over the span of a dozen turns. So thus the war accomplished nothing of any significance, as usual. Vicky - what a moron.
I spent much of the 15th century moving my veterans from the Incan campaign across the ocean, so that they could see service against the various barb cities. I was able to celebrate the 1500AD milestone by capturing the first of them:
With Chemistry due the following turn, I would be able to upgrade those City Raider III maces to grenadiers and tear through the barbs that much faster.
Here's the map from the 1500AD mark (one of my favorites for comparing games):
I have more cities than anyone else, and since I control a huge percentage of the world's resources (which I'm not sharing with the other civs), my cities are larger and more powerful than anyone else's too. Hastings has been crushed by my culture, and I'm only waiting on a flip there. The numbers reflected this position of dominance:
Tops pretty much everywhere, and enormously so in most of the important categories. Even #1 in soldiers, thanks to the amount that I've trained out of my shield-heavy capital. Speaking of which, here's a peak into the crazy production that you can get with State Property civic by going the workshop route:
38 base shields/turn! In the pre-factory, pre-railroads era! Add in the Bureacracy boost, and another +100% for having access to marble, and I was seriously rolling in some shields here. When Taj triggered a Golden Age, followed by discovering Democracy tech shortly thereafter, I found I could build the Statue of Liberty in a mere 10 turns (!) Never seen that before on Normal speed, certainly not in a pre-factory era. I would later add the Ironworks here in my capital, for more crazy production. Usually I try to go the commerce route in the capital (to take advantage of Bureaucracy's boost in that area as well), but the terrain here was calling out for shields. I had to let the land dictate my moves!
Even as my old core settlements basked in the glow of a Golden Age , I spent most of the 16th century cleaning up the barb cities on the eastern continent:
Grenadiers don't think very much of medieval units, and City Raider ones even less so. I had a handful of cats along to help out, but this small compliment of elite grenadiers did most of the heavy lifting. I think there were a total of seven barb cities in the New World; it took a while cleaning them all out. I enjoyed it though.
When my Golden Age wore off, I pulled the switch on a triple revolt to Representation, Free Speech, and Emancipation. During the anarchy, I noticed something strange:
-7 turns to complete that granary? We'll get right on it! (I chopped a forest and got some overrun on the granary; it had 67/60 shields put into the building. I'm sure that's why the error displayed. Pretty funny stuff though!)
By 1600AD, I had planted a half dozen settlements on the eastern continent, and the wilds were finally beginning to be tamed. Now it was time to start thinking about the endgame, and how I wanted to win this thing.