I took a bit of an unusual path on the tech tree in the Renaissance era, skipping the usual top of the tree path in order to beeline for rifles. This actually had some fairly strong economic benefits (early Printing Press and lumbermills), but the real reason for that path was to carry out a massive maces to rifles upgrade chain. Rifles will shred just about any medieval unit already, and when you pile some City Raider promotions on top of that (which rifles usually can't take)... well, it's not pretty. Here's what I did with the money from the free Great Merchant at Economics:
Uh oh. Look out, Qin! Maybe it would have been better to use that for deficit research... but I'd rather go out and lay some smack down! I only needed to turn off research for 1 turn for the last few upgrades, so I didn't really have to slow down my research much either. The one other thing missing from this picture is the four Accuracy cats in Lisht (four cats with Accuracy promotion can drop the defenses of any city to 0 in one shot!) Declare war on the following turn in 1515AD, and pay Kublai Khan Liberalism to join in. Here we go!
After the cats drop the defenses at Tianjin, my rifle has pretty good odds to win:
Not too often you see a City Raider III rifle though! Tianjin falls easily with no losses. Also note that my explorer on the forested hill has successfully defended against a Chinese knight - those bonuses really add up if they can get on rough terrain. Now that I have Rifling, I'm belatedly heading back to the top of the tree towards Democracy, starting with Nationalism (which I can get in just 3 turns, thanks to tech deflation costs). Unfortunately Qin adopts Vassalage and Theocracy (smart of him) AND by coincidence triggers a Golden Age. Great. Just what I need.
I reach Chengdu in 1535AD, bomb the defenses down, and repeat the same story:
Militarily, my units are rolling; I lost a total of 1 unit to this point in time and captured two cities, easily slaying all the Chinese units I came across. And yet - War Weariness quickly spiraled off the charts. With no luxury slider to deal with unrest, this immediately posed a serious problem for my civ. As far as Civ4 goes, every time you capture a city, war weariness spikes up by a significant amount. Now I like the fact that you can fight within your own borders without suffering from war weariness, that's a big plus (and logical) over Civ3, but the whole unhappiness from capturing foreign cities makes no sense. Why are your people angry that you're winning the war? War weariness from units dying in foreign lands? Check, good. War weariness from capturing cities with no losses? Umm... that doesn't seem right. At least everyone will be in the same boat for this game, but I think our war weariness model doesn't make much sense in that regard.
So I was expecting that it would be tough to deal with war weariness, but frankly I was not expecting there to be so MUCH of it, because I wasn't losing units due to my technological edge. When I discovered Constitution in 1550, I was able to swap to Representation and get some temporary help, but clearly I wasn't going to be able to eliminate China in one push. Not because of the military situation! Purely due to war weariness. Bah! Nanjing, one of China's core cities, was also located on a hill and therefore got much increased defense bonuses. I lost two units attacking there but did take it. Macau fell easily a couple turns later in 1565, and although I really wanted to push on to Beijing, but the Chinese were building units very rapidly (argh, Qin HAD to get a Golden Age right after I declared on him!) and the war weariness was killing me. Therefore I signed peace in 1570AD, getting 670g from Qin in the deal. I would just have to return later (with Police State civic!) and finish him off QUICKLY before war weariness crushed my civ. Here's the lands I managed to take away from China:
I got four cities, although Macau proved to be almost useless due to the suffocating Chinese culture. If only I could have gotten Beijing before settling for peace! Oh well. I had learned a lot about how war weariness actually works, so I was already formulating a plan about how to come back later on and finish the job. Unfortunately, by going all the way to Rifling before picking up Nationalism, I was actually beat to the Taj Mahal by Asoka by 5 turns. Whoops. OK, I'm probably just about the only one who isn't going to get that wonder! But... I did gain a good amount of land, and set myself up well for another later push further into China. The venture certainly wasn't a total wash. After swapping my civics back to peaceful ones, I topped 1000 beakers. In 1570AD! Still doing rather well overall, in other words.
Steam Power revealed in 1600AD that I had exactly one coal in my territory. ONE coal! It was next to Asyut in the jungle north; most people will probably be able to get it, but it's possible that some players might miss out if they were slow up there. Kind of amazing to me that with so much land I only had one source... From there I went on to Assembly Line for early factories, discovering the tech in 1630AD. Factories construction began everywhere. I stand by the decision to head there first on the tree, although it did allow Asoka to beeline to Physics and take the Great Scientist there. (Seriously, how are these AI civs keeping up with me in tech?! Good grief.) The only plus is that the research by the AI civs was, in fact, dropping the cost on many of these techs for me, allowing me to research them faster myself or occasionally trade for them. Still - honestly, I don't know how they were keeping pace!
After getting Scientific Method, my first research was COMMUNISM for the godly State Property civic. Once I adopted that in 1655AD, I was able to increase research to a crazy 90% rate, even with by far the largest territory in the world. I next went to Biology and got the extra food going; Statue of Liberty finished in 1680AD and jumped up my research accordingly. Wall Street finished in Heliopolis (my Holy City) the following turn, and the money had me running a POSITIVE income at 90% science!
I am researching at 1400 beakers/turn, and I'm only at Railroads on the tech tree. This is about the same amount of beakers I had at 100% research at the very end of the game in Adventure Two! In other words, things are going well. By the time that 1700AD rolled around 3 turns later, city expansions had already gotten me over 1500 beakers/turn. Here's the map from that date:
The Egyptian civilization in its full glory. I still have two more fishing towns to fill in down in the extreme south (which will now be useful with Statue of Liberty + Representation), but otherwise this is pretty much the whole deal. Basically every city is working on a factory or coal plant; I will soon open up a frightening edge in production over the AI civs, who have ignored Assembly Line and are also slow to build factories. I have Open Borders with everyone except Qin and Izzy, and significant foreign trade route income is rolling in. Certainly that income was more than I could have gotten from Mercantilism - and I'd rather run State Property civic anyway! So with my fast research times, this is about the most dominant economic performance I can remember since much earlier in testing (when the AI didn't know how to handle the late-game stuff).
Then the next turn - I find out that Pliny considers me to be "Mediocre" in technology!
Well, I think I know how Jon set up his ranking for technologies. Rather than counting beakers, it looks like this list just counts the NUMBER of techs you have. And since I don't have the four "Alphabet" techs, that means that there are three civs considered to be more "advanced" than me! Jon's lists are a fun addition to the game, but they are not, umm, always the most accurate indicator of what's really going on.
My "whipping boy" city of Pi-Ramesses had already been more than worth founding, but it topped even itself by giving me a Great Scientist in 1710AD. I used it for an Academy in Thebes, my best science city. A little late, perhaps, but better than nothing! I had swapped over to Free Speech from Bureaucracy, by the way, once I finished the Statue of Liberty. Free Speech was cheaper and increased my research rate, now that I had tons of mature towns around my territory.
For most of the 18th century, my cities worked on factories and coal plants. Those cities that were done squeezed in some extra military builds or some Confucian missionaries. With Communism tech in hand, Memphis built Scotland Yard and trained two spies to give me a better understanding of what I'd be seeing later on in China. My tech research headed towards Combustion (oil) and then Industrialism (tanks). My workers were also very busy creating a rail network all across my territory. This was an important building period, but not the most exciting time. You'll just have to take my word for it that I was doing important infrastructure work in these years.
In 1775AD, I finished researching Industrialism, and my cities all start working on tanks. I had plenty of production and nothing better to put it into! Revolt to Theocracy! (I need 6XP units for two promotions) Oh, and guess where my one and only aluminum is located?
Next to Najing in former CHINA! I am looking forward to seeing how everyone else deals with this. Somehow I don't think too many people are going to control this resource natively as I did! As for why so many people are unhappy in this shot, I just obsoleted my ivory with the discovery of Industrialism. That's a loss of two happy people in each city. I will cope with the unhappiness, of course, but it will take a few turns.
Happiness help came in the form of Broadway, finished in 1790AD. Ironically, completing the Pentagon in 1795AD also provided happiness help, allowing me to go back to Free Religion (my preferred civic there) while still getting 6XP on my units. These constant civic swaps are a lot of fun to do - I think Spiritual is also more powerful than people give it credit for. Especially if you're going in and out of war a lot (maybe that's why MP people seem to like Spiritual so much more than SP). Hit 50 million people in 1800AD - AI average in 8.6 million. Yikes.
By 1806AD, I've already got a sizeable tank army ready to go, and my rails have allowed them to amass on my western border. Time to finish the job with Qin - and do it quickly to avoid catastrophic war weariness!