I largely managed to work myself out of the economic hole by 1050AD, after which point in time my game was at a crossroads. I suppose that I could buckle down and begin the long journey of teching myself into space, but what fun would that be? Besides, with only one happiness resource under my control, that looked like an uphill struggle against the happy limit. No, I was going to have to fight someone at some point in time, and the only real choices were Saladin to the west or Egypt to the south. I'm sure a lot of players will go after Sal to get that intruding city in the north - it's the obvious thing to do. But I was already near Friendly relations with Arabia, and I had no mind to sell out the allies that helped me. Instead I turned my eyes to the great yellow menace in the south.
Remember how I adopted Vassalage right after trading for Feudalism? There was a reason for that!
Ever since I got Construction, I have been sneaking in catapult builds between infrastructure ones. Toledo (not pictured to the west) had been particularly good at cranking out cats every 3 or 4 turns. Since I had only just obtained Machinery, I had no maces as yet, just a couple of longbows to protect the cat stack. But what the hey - I know from scouting via Open Borders that Heliopolis has only two longbows on defense, and it's first ring to my capital. I need happiness in the worst way and there are four dyes there. Hatty, if you don't protect it, it's going to be taken away from you! I declare WAR and move in. The result was predictable:
Longbows on the attack, oh yeah! You don't see that too often, but they do have 6 strength, so it's possible. I had four Accuracy cats on hand (which together can drop the defenses of any city to 0% in one shot), so it was a snap to take out the weak defenders. The dyes immediately added a happy face in every city, and I then turned around and sent the second dye to Saladin for his extra incense. Two for the price of one!
While moving on the next city, Mansa Musa offered me Theology +90g for Paper, which I accepted. I then turned around and sent Theology to Lizzie for Compass the next turn. Still holding off on civics changes for the moment, as I waited to pop another Great Person with Pacifism. Unfortunately, while bombarding the defenses at Memphis, I noticed something I didn't expect to see: Egyptian elephants. But Hatty doesn't have ivory... oh, Elizabeth was sending her extra ivory to Hatty. Does anyone else hate the way that the AIs will whore ivory around as though it were just any old happiness resource? With a mixture of elephants and cats, Hatty then proceeded to shred my stack to pieces:
OK, so maybe the attack was a bit premature after all. In order to save the units that were still alive, I sued for peace at this point. I did pick up a very helpful city in the process, and Hatty had taken some damage (she threw away quite a few catapults in attacking). With the declaration of peace, combined with the Great Scientist I had just generated at Cordoba, it was time for a civics swap from Vassalage/Caste System/Pacifism to Bureaucracy/Slavery/Theocracy. (Saladin loved me even more than before with the swap to Theocracy, his favorite civic!) The Great Scientist was used for an Academy in Madrid, which combined with the swap to Bureaucracy send my research rate exploding upwards. I was working a gold resource (popped from a mine!) and about 5 or so cottages there, so techs began coming in at a good pace.
I mostly just teched along for the next 10 turns, beelining for Education in order to get Liberalism first. (If I can't get to Liberalism first in a Prince game, even one with this starting handicap, something's wrong with me!) Hey look at that, ten turns are up and it's 1250AD. Guess it's time to pay Hatty a visit once again!
Bad news for Hatty: my army has gotten a lot bigger in the last 10 turns.
I begin by taking my giant stack and heading back towards Memphis once again. That city was the Islamic Holy City, and the primary fortress on the Egyptian front lines. If I could capture it, the coastal cities to the south would be mine for the taking. Well, apparently Hatty had a counter-attacking force ready to go, and she actually made a semi-smart move in response:
That's a nasty stack of units there, and not one I would want to have to attack with my forces (especially in jungle terrain, as they are at this point). Of course, if the AI were smart, it would have found a way to conceal those units until it could take Heliopolis back (defended by a single longbow). As it was, the AI being the AI, I pulled a couple units back into Heliopolis while the main stack continued moving forwards. Predictably, the little stack you see here then suicided itself on the walls of Heliopolis. Well, it was ALMOST a good move from the AI...
Once again Hatty threw suicide cats at my stack, only this time I had plenty of defenders on hand and Medic units to heal the damage. While I was waiting a turn or two for the units to heal up, I decided to break my Education monopoly (with research half done into Liberalism). Therefore... Education to Saladin for Guilds, Optics, World Map, and 70g. Then Education to Elizabeth for Engineering and 40g. I could now build Conquistadors, so I queued a couple of them up.
The battle at Memphis was long and bloody (stupid longbows on a hill!) but I had brought enough units to get the job done this turn:
My catapults actually did a pretty good job of retreating in suicidal situations. In a stroke of good luck, Memphis completed Angkor Wat literally a turn before I captured it. As a Spiritual civ with cheap temples, that was a particularly good wonder to have, although not one that I would have gone out of my way to build. Spanish soldiers now pushed south and west after the Egyptian coastal cities.
I also got Liberalism first at this time and took Nationalism with the free tech:
Astronomy was the only other choice worth thinking about here, but since I still had practically no universities, I didn't see an urgent need for observatories. (I wasn't keen on pushing the tech rate faster by giving the AIs observatories at an earlier date either.) Cordoba began Taj Mahal immediately, which I hoped I would be able to get with my head start, even without marble. Despite the economic trap in which this game started, I still did get to Liberalism at the reasonably fast date of 1340AD. I'll be interested to see how quickly everyone else manages it!
Memphis had been a fortress city, but Elephantine wasn't nearly as well defended. This picture should more or less sum things up:
85% to 0% in one shot - I've always loved doing that. It fell in 1380.
Thebes, on the other hand...
Hatty's been a busy girl down there, it seems. Fortunately, I did have reinforcements on the way, and in significant numbers. However, due to war weariness, the fighting was going to have to stop for a little while after I took the Egyptian capital. I figured that crippling Egypt in this campaign and then mopping things up later would probably work out pretty well.
This, on the other hands, I definitely DON'T need right now:
Qin declaring war? Ah nuts. It did make sense though; if you look in the pictures at the top of this page, you'll see he was following Confucianism and had Open Borders with me. Sometime after the first Egyptian war, Hatty managed to get him to convert to Buddhism, and he dropped the Open Borders shortly thereafter. Then Qin asked me to convert to Buddhism, which naturally I refused since I had only one city with Buddhism in it. The writing was all over the wall, but I had been focused on Egypt and wasn't paying attention to it. Qin, the quintessential backstabber AI. No one seems to do it more often than he does. Now I COULD have gotten him on my side by making an effort to convert him to Judaism, but since I didn't have the Jewish holy city or shrine, it hadn't seemed worth the effort. You can usually control the diplomacy to some extent in Civ4, but the game makes you work for it. I let Qin go for a while, and the dog turned and bit me.
Well so be it. Everyone has to decide which side they're on in this game, and Qin has made his move. I won't forget about this act, but for now, first things first. Time to deal with Egypt and end this war. The fighting at Thebes was long and rather bloody, but the next to last unit I had available killed the last defender and took the city:
At that I made peace and began rebuilding the captured Egyptian cities; I had taken four more of them total. Hatty was hurt badly, her score knocked down below everyone except pathetic Caesar, but she stayed competitive with her remaining territories. The Great Lighthouse was in Thebes, but I didn't have enough coastal cities for it to do all that much. More useful was the Sistine Chapel, which was also present in the city. You can do a lot of fun stuff with specialists with that wonder - just ask the other members of my RB19 succession game team!
Here was the situation following the Second Egyptian War:
Egypt was now bisected into two parts, with three cities in the east and two cities in the south. My workers had their hands full down in the south clearing out more of the jungle and changing some of the more weedy AI tile improvements. This game is kind of like Adventure Four in that respect, in that there was a lot of really good land just to the south of the starting position, once it was cleared out of the jungle. UNLIKE Adventure Four though, the player would have to fight Egypt to gain control of it. I imagine those who attack Saladin will find themselves in a similar situation, although they will have higher maintenance costs to deal with. By the way, ignore the research into Replaceable Parts above. I decided to go with Military Tradition research instead.
While most of my cities sneaked in some infrastructure between wars, my Conquistadors entertained themselves by annihilating the Chinese troops that trickled over the border:
I like the maceman flying through the air, but I'll avoid a Sirian-esque bad pun here.
I discovered Military Tradition in 1510 and went back to clean up Gunpowder tech. I hope you can see where I'm going with this... In 1530 I discovered Gunpowder and traded it to Liz for Divine Right +70g. Research into Replaceable Parts, for real this time. I upgraded my two Conquistadors to cavs, and began cranking more cavs all over the place. It's time to finish things with Hatty for good:
The first city on the border fell easily. Of course, war weariness spiked enormously as soon as I declared war, forcing me to run 20% luxury immediately. It doesn't look like the war weariness decayed at all during the 10 turns of peace. Argh. What a horrible game mechanic. When it comes to war weariness in Civ4, the game is simply broken. And even though I lobbied for it, there are no changes in Warlords, heh. Anyway, the good news is that I now FINALLY had control over Sarmatian after my failed attempt in 200AD. Woot!
Technically I was still at war with Qin, although I had made no aggressive moves towards him whatsoever. At least I managed to avoid war weariness with Qin that way. Nevertheless, he must have been afraid of me, because he offered me some nice loot for peace:
I'll take your money for 10 turns of peace Qin, but I make no promises after that...
1565AD was a "very bad turn" for Hatty. First of all, I completed the Taj Mahal and entered into a Golden Age. Unfortunately much of the benefit would be lost to the culture tax, but at least it was better than someone else getting the wonder. Next, my army gathered outside the new Egyptian capital of Phoenician:
It was certainly well defended, but Hatty was about to learn a cold, hard truth: medieval units cannot stand up to the attack of cavalry.
With the fall of Phoenician, Hatty could retreat back to Giza and try to make a stand there, right?
Umm... where are the defenders? As I said, 1565 qualified as a "very bad turn" for Hatshepsut!
I love the sight of cavalry riding in pursuit of their foes, don't you?
I didn't have any siege units on hand to drop the defenses, but with only two longbows on defense it hardly mattered. Medieval units simply cannot stand up to cavalry in large numbers. This is as close to Civ3 as you're going to get in this game. Blitzkrieg!
Up close and personal. They had muskets but we had rifles. And look above at the previous picture - I had galleys waiting to ferry my cavs over to the little island south of Alexandria. Chalk another one up to obsessive planning ahead of time!
And that was all she wrote for Egypt. I even managed to eliminate Hatty before my self-appointed deadline, the end of my golden age. If I didn't talk much about the war going on in these pictures, it's because I think they were pretty self-explanatory. There's not much to say about crushing a technologically inferior opponent with swift-moving cavalry. Hatshepsut certainly had been a worthy foe, but now it was time to move on to bigger and better things - and finally get out from under that horrible 30% culture tax penalty!