Epic Two: The First Deadline and Beyond

Now that I had given Temujin and Mao a serious smacking for daring to exist on my side of the world, I went back into full-fledged expansion mode for a while. Cranking settlers and founding cities as fast as I can build them - there are still TONS of islands out there, and pretty much any location with a food bonus (fish/clams/crabs) is as good as any other. Besides, the more land I claim now, the less I have to take away from someone else down the road when pushing for Domination.

In the shots on the last page, I had routinely been researching at 90% science. That might look good on paper, but in reality it's too high! If I'm running at 90% science, that tells me that my economy can afford more cities, so I should get cranking on the settlers (if there's still land available, of course). When I was reduced to 60% science in 1274AD, I decided I had better stop for awhile and build up my economy before going on another expansion kick. I don't like to go below 50% if I can avoid it, although sometimes that's necessary. (This is as much of a playstyle issue as anything; Sirian routinely runs as low as 30-40% science, expanding in quick bursts, and often ends up with results similar to my more gradual/spread out approach to expansion.)

Naturally I got to Liberalism first:

I took Nationalism, mostly because I didn't want to obsolete my Colossus with Astronomy just yet. Still, I'll be heading there eventually, and sooner rather than later on a map like this where navies are king. Taj Mahal was also at Nationalism, so I might as well lock down that easy 5 points while I'm at it. I expect pretty much everyone to get that scoring bonus, so I'd better get it too!

Turfan finishes Heroic Epic in 1292AD, starts cranking military. Longbows for some real defense, as well as maces and cats as attackers. There's still some time before the 1500AD scoring deadline, and a number of things that I want to accomplish which may involve breaking a few heads... In other news, I discover Economics in 1430AD, taking the free Great Merchant, and adopting Free Market as the rules stipulate. I sure could use State Property for this game, but it was not to be.

Specifically, what's coming up in 1500AD? Well, we score points for each gems resource we have connected at that date, as well as for each sea resource connected. 1500AD is also the deadline for founding those size 25 cities, but I've been well aware of this and had all my potential candidates well in hand by 1400. As far as the sea resources go, one of the reasons I had been pushing expansion aggressively in these years was to get as many of them hooked up as possible. I know some people just plain forgot about this scoring goal in Adventure Three, but I sure didn't here! I really drove after the fishies and clams hard for a while here, and I think I'll pick up some points on the field in that scoring goal. Hopefully, anyway.

Oh yeah, and we get 5 points for each gems source we control in 1500AD. I control 5 of the world's 6 sources as we speak. Temujin's got the last one. That's... interesting.

Temujin has not researched his way to Feudalism on the tech tree, so it's maces and cats against archers. I'm sure you can guess how that turned out. By the way, note that I'm bringing Fast Workers along with the invasion force. Temujin's gems source is to the south of his main island, and there's actually no city on the island where the gems are located. I would raze that offending city you see in the southeast, replace it with my own city next to the gems, and have it all hooked up and ready to go just in time to meet the 1500AD deadline. You certainly could get all six sources by the indicated date, but you did have to work for at least two of the gems! (Remember, I took a gems source from Mao also.) The other four were pretty easy to get though.

Oh yeah, I also built Taj Mahal in here:

I would have cropped the photo, but I wanted to make it clear that this was indeed Epic Two and not some random other game where I built Taj. Not that I think anyone is going to angrily question my results, but better to be safe than sorry!

Hey, you know what's fun? Whipping a national wonder on a one-tile island!

And seriously, what better place to put this wonder? I'm certainly going to run a ton of specialists in this city. Calcutta is a great demonstration of the Slavery economy that I was running. Every single one of those buildings you see on the left has been whipped. Every 15 turns, regular as clockwork, this city gets whipped. It was sometimes hard remembering when to whip each of my cities, but I'm a vet of Civ3, so no stranger to tedious micromanagement. The two fish resources transform this location from a windswept island in the middle of nowhere to a vital part of my civ's economy. Seriously, 64 science AND turning a profit! (Though this is in a Golden Age, I should point out.) Anyone who didn't found a city on this tile is making a huge mistake!

Calcutta also is one of my special cities which will have the potential to reach size 25 when it maxes out in the distant future, so let me say a bit more on that. In my intro, I talked about how I was going to make this a major scoring goal, indeed THE scoring goal of my game. So before I even started playing Epic Two, I sat down and thought about what exactly was necessary in order to get a city to size 25. On an ordinary map, you simply put down a lot of post-Biology irrigation and it's a snap, but things are a lot different here on a Tiny Islands map. With basically zero fresh water on the whole map, it all comes down to resources.

Now to get to size 25, a city needs 50 food. In order to reach that amount, it must be able to reach the +10 food threshold; discounting the center tile (which will give you +2 food to start), you need to get +8 food from the other 20 tiles. In practical terms, that means you have to get at least TWO food from every tile, plus an additional EIGHT food from bonuses. This turns out to be a very tight restriction in practice. A clams or crab resource produces 5 food (with a lighthouse), or only +3 food surplus, so even two clams won't be enough to get a city to size 25. However, two fish tiles WILL get a city to size 25, IF every other tile in the city's radius produces at least two food. You could also get to size 25 with a fish, a clam, and an irrigated grassland (3 food post-Biology). So while there aren't a whole lot of spots like this on the map, there are some of them, if you look hard enough. And I was definitely looking.

Calcutta has two fish tiles and all the rest water, so it's good to go. (To be precise: it's at +2 food surplus here, and if we kick in +2 from what's being lost to unhealthiness, and another +2 food for each of the three specialists, we get to the magic +10 food threshold.) So how many sites did I end up getting to overall by 1500AD? Eight of them.

A very nice Elite Eight. Calcutta was the easiest of all, everyone should be able to get that one. Karachi was a bit further out, but with two fish AND a clams resource, anyone who thought about this scoring goal at all should be able to secure it. That city had enough food to get to size 26, actually. Bangalore and Jaipur were also well within range of the starting point, but you had to found on EXACTLY the right tile to get to size 25 at Jaipur, so I expect some people to miss it. Bangalore had two fishes and a gems tile right there - will players understand that they had to irrigate a grassland tile to reach size 25? Probably. That one was relatively easy to reach too.

The other four are going to be tougher to get. Kolhapur is close to the starting position, but you must found EXACTLY on one particular tile - anywhere else on that island has no chance! Kolhapur also requires the irrigation of several tiles post-Biology and building a WINDMILL on a gold resource, else it can't reach size 25. If you weren't thinking about the food issue from the beginning, it would be a tough location to notice. There are actually two possible locations for a size 25 city by Bengal (you have to pick one or the other), but it's going to be tougher for players to get over there with a settler before 1500AD. I'm especially proud of Chittagong, which was WAY out there, but it was another one-tile island with two fishes, so I grabbed it around 1350AD. And finally Punjab, the shining jewel of my "big" cities. That city does NOT have enough food to reach size 25, as it has only a fish and a clams resource - that only gets you to 49 food. However, in a true flash of inspiration, I took my free Great Merchant from Economics and merged him into the city as a super-specialist, adding one additional food and taking it to the +10 threshold! You have no idea how proud I am of that. So I ended up with eight potential cities here - I will be genuinely impressed if anyone got to 9 or 10!

By 1490AD, I have all six sources of gems hooked up:

I figured it would be easier just to show the world map than where all my gems are going (since some are being traded to foreign civs and some others are being held by me, due to more broke AI civs). Just to recap, there's one by the capital, one at Madras, one at Bangalore, one at Lahore (founded ONLY to get that gems resource), one at Hyderabad, and the last one at Dacca. That's six total, for 30 scenario points. Unless someone popped a gems resource before 1500AD, that's the max anyone can get.

Zounds! I just realized that if I had irrigated those jungle tiles at Dacca instead of cottaging them, I would have had a ninth size 25 city! Argh!

And to finish up the scoring, I had 23 total sea-based resources connected by 1500AD:

Six clams and seventeen fishes; I also think I probably did well on this scoring goal. I certainly went after those resources pretty aggressively, even sending work boats over to connect the resources outside Temujin's cities that I had just captured. No crabs though - I hadn't pushed into the far north or south of the map as yet.

As far as the war went, it was a straighforward romp through Temujin's cities. Even though I was attacking his core, it was still a lopsided struggle. The one downer came when he reached Feudalism halfway through my attack and instantly upgraded all the archers to longbows. Heh. Fortunately I still had enough force on hand to get the job done. I did get Beshbalik, the Hindu Holy city, and captured it with shrine intact. That will figure heavily in my plans on how to stay economically viable without State Property down the road. I also note this strange graphical bug after one of the combats:

I was seeing lots of weird stuff in the combats, like invisible units, but this was the first time an AI unit did one of its bizarre "walking around the world" thing that we used to run into in testing. The defending spear is walking towards Karakorum from the left side of the screen, never minding the fact that it's all water there. He even leaves little footprints! Weird. Anyway, Karakorum still fell in 1535 regardless.

At about this time, my Golden Age from Taj wore off, and also I researched Astronomy to obsolete my Colossus. I didn't expect the effects of that on my GNP to be pretty, and indeed they weren't:

Ouch! But once I get courthouses built in my newly acquired cities, I'll be able to increase research and tech much faster than these AIs. It's really not as bad as it looks. (Partly, that's just due to how awesome my civ was looking during the Golden Age!)

Also built Globe Theatre in the capital:

Easy points to acquire, but you did have to give up on some other national wonder to put Globe in Delhi. I would end up putting Ironworks as the other national wonder here, and the two military wonders (Heroic Epic/West Point) went in my military city of Turfan. Madras got an Academy and Oxford, while the fishing village of Calcutta took National Epic. I'll get to Wall Street a bit later, because that was a big wonder for me too.

After kicking Temujin off of his starting island, I signed peace with him around 1540AD. The great khan was reduced to a few scattered islands to the east, and he was for all intents and purposes now finished. I would be able to come back for him at my leisure. Since I still had units left over from the Mongolian campaign, I decided to sweep the Chinese completely from my part of the world, and so war was redeclared on Mao in 1619:

I love seeing my three ships sail in formation like that. Strategically, it's better to keep them on one tile to defend better, but when you have galleons and the other guy doesn't, you can get some fun pictures. I started with Tianjin in the north, and then proceeded south and east. This was probably the most important target of the war:

Meet Nanjing, controller of all the dyes in the world. Yep, all five of the dyes are stuck on this tiny island, and all of the world's sugars are up there by Kagoshima (which I'll be paying a visit to as well at some point). Sirian could tell you more about how the resource allocation gets determined, but I know on super-small land masses like this, strange things happen. There were some other resources like this too (all bananas in the world on Cyrus' starting island, for example), but the dyes and sugars were the most obvious ones. If I'm going to have huge size 25 cities, I'm going to need a lot of happy/health resources, so gimmee gimmee gimmee!

I polished things off by taking out Mao's core:

Notice I've brought rifles to the party now, and I'm reasearching Steel for cannons next. My military only continues to increase in strength, and the lead over the AI civs is really starting to take off now. I planned to kill Mao entirely, and I took what I thought was his last city - but it turned out he had just founded another new one on an island far to the east. Bah. Well, Mao will just get to live a little longer then.