Realms Beyond Epic 47: You've Got to be Kidding Me!

I decided to give this game a try mostly because I didn't have anything else interesting to play at the time, and also because Sirian kept leaving so many teasers in the game description thread that I finally just threw up my hands and said, "OK, let's find out what this game is all about." Since I started only 2 weeks before the closing date - and one of those weeks was spent overseas in Europe - I knew going into the game that I wouldn't be able to finish it. But I didn't really want to spend endless hours grinding out a win on a domination-only map, so I decided to play as far as I could get and see what happened. I never said "you've got to be kidding me!" but there were certainly some very odd things in this particular Epic.

About the report: I didn't have time to go through and prepare a proper report. Those take a lot of time which I didn't have, so here you simply have my notes from the game with some pictures and commentary spliced in. This took less than 2 hours to prepare; compare that with the 5-6 hours of a standard report, and you'll see how much time it saves to do this.

4000BC Move worker, see nothing noteworthy, found Athens on starting square. Begin building warrior, researching Pottery at max rate (38 turns? hmm, techs look like they're more expensive).

3750BC Regular units have 4hp? Interesting, interesting... We have the Sirian mod here, looks like. Begin exploring, queue up another warrior.

3500BC Athens size two, bump up luxury tax for unhappiness. Yes, I still remember the drill. This is an unusual opening, due to the slow research time and lack of river commerce bonus. I may actual start roading tiles before mining them. Think I've figures out another trickey thing on this map - but still waiting on more evidence.

3400BC Third warrior completes, now for some unusual moves. Pottery is still a ways away in research time, so I fortify the warrior in Athens, which lets me drop luxury rate to 0. Work started on Hoplite; when that finishes, the warrior can go out exploring, and I can't start a granary (even with prebuild) until the hoplite finishes. Weird opening, to be sure.

Four things made this a strange opening: 1) the lack of any food bonuses near the capital 2) the lack of rivers/freshwater in the initial area 3) the seemingly (but not actual) increased research costs due to lack of river commerce 4) the lack of AI civs near the starting position. This meant that not only was the capital going to be growing slowly, it couldn't even build a granary for an extended period of time. I'll be curious to see how others managed this start.

3250BC Spot a freshwater lake to the west. This disproves a theory I had - I thought there might not be any freshwater on the map (no irrigation). That would have been a challenge! Now I'm wondering where the other civs are...

3000BC Athens hits size 3, turn excess citizen into a scientist... Meet India this turn:

G-Man has Warrior Code, Ceremonial Burial, 75g, and Ivory (Statue of Zeus?), as well as 3 cities plus his capital. Uh - yikes? So he got at least one extra settler to start, right? Not entirely sure what the AI gets on Demigod. I haven't played in a while, but the Conquests AI can't have gotten that much better in the last year starting with just one settler. This could get ugly...

The fact that it's 3000BC and I still don't have even Pottery - much less a granary built - is definitely unusual. I couldn't trade for it with India either.

2950BC According to Bede, we do not even register on the list of advanced nations. He also tells us there are at least 8 other nations in this game, umm, apparently none of them near us. What kind of wacko map is this?

2750BC Pottery discovered, swap to granary due in four turns (barracks prebuild had 1 turn left). Athens starts growing again (hated to take it off growth, but I think this was the fastest way to get the granary, and without any food bonuses, a granary was a necessity). Luxuries dialed to 10%. Gandhi is "close" to a deal on Pottery for Ceremonial Burial, so let's start researching that and see if we can make a deal once some beakers are invested. Not ready to go all cash until I can meet some more civs.

I chose to hold Athens at size 3 and create a scientist to speed research on Pottery to get a granary as quickly as possible. Strange move, I know, but it was the best I could see at the time. I didn't want to pop out a settler without a granary and drop Athens back to size 1 without any food bonuses. Without any other contacts at this point, I also had to do research myself. I wonder how things would have been different if I could have traded for Pottery in the early game.

2710BC Persia completes Colossus... uh, ok... I've seen this happen before on Deity, but still somewhat of a rarity. Again, what kind of map is this? Sirian must have done something crazy here.

2670BC Great, now India is insulted to make any trade. I guess I should have traded Pottery for 75g earlier. He'll probably pick up the tech from someone else any minute now...

2590BC Granary finished in Athens, can (FINALLY!) start first settler. Oh man, these weird conditions have led to such a slow landgrab; you can do so much faster with food bonuses + an early granary. I remember Sirian getting like 12 cities before 1000BC founded in the cultural conquest Epic, whatever number it was - but I digress.

My turn logs are flow of consciousness writing.

Meet Carthage this turn with an exploring warrior! Well, nothing good comes out of it. Hannibal has every tech we do, plus Masonry, Ceremonial Burial, and Warrior Code. Not even close on any trades.

2510BC Hi Korea!

Wang sends some warriors right by Athens. He has Iron Working, but NOT Pottery. Well, I can get something out of this, at least. Pottery to Wang for all his gold (50g) - he goes from Annoyed to Cautious. Pottery + 37g to India for Ceremonial Burial (Gandhi goes to Polite). According to my eyes, I got a tech and made 13g there, not too shabby for an old hand. Now up Ceremonial Burial on Wang, but he has no gold - I'll have to watch for an opportunity there. Research started on Mysticism, which is listed at 57 turns (!) but should go down with time. Let's see - just have to deal with the fact that all civs have like 5 cities to my 1 right now. We pulled it off in RBE6 with the Naked Vikings, so I should be able to manage something here.

2430BC Hey... my worker moved 3 times along roads and still had moves left. Well, that's new. Going to keep that in mind...

2390BC I see a damaged Carthaginian warrior - is that from a barb, or from fighting another civ? Investigating...

2350BC First settler produced! I could have made one earlier, but without a granary, it would have devastated Athens. Going to pop out another warrior now because so much of the map still needs to be explored (and in Conquests, no trading for contacts, of course). No sign of the unit that hurt the Carthaginian warrior, so probably a barb. Found India's borders in the east, wow they're far away. Korea must be to the NE, Carthage is to the NW.

2270BC Gah, random wandering Korean unit blocks my settler for a turn. Yeesh. Everyone else pulling away from me in tech, no surprise there. Mysticism gambit not likely to work either, but have to try something.

2190BC Sparta founded, hooray, we have 2 cities! Still a very empty map, lots of land to be grabbed, but very few food bonuses to work with. I am going to cut down the game forest next to Sparta to get a +1 food tile, although irrigation won't reach that tile for probably 2000 or so years.

2150BC Well, Carthage already has Mysticism, as well as every other tech I can see. No one else has it, so in theory I could trade for it and then broker it - but Carthage won't accept anything for the tech. Nor will Korea for Iron Working, the only other tech which could be brokered. I'll just keep research Mysticism then in the hopes that I can either lower the price or get it before someone else does. This is quite some hole I'm in; I just take consolation in the fact that I have plenty of room to expand.

2110BC I spot an ocean in the far, far east - I was beginning to think this map was all land and no water. Turns out it's probably 80% land, 20% water, heh. Nice job Sirian. I ran a game like this once where the map was almost all land, and it was very strange, got kind of boring as the landgrab went on forever. So that's the other reason for slowing down the tech pace right? Extend out each phase of the game, or something like that? Well, this will play like a large/huge map game simply because there's so much land (but corruption is still the same as a normal map, hmm, so I'll have to take that into account). Oh - I also spot pink borders (sorry, no pink dot!) to the extreme west. Should be meeting someone else soon.

I figured out what the map more or less looked like pretty early on. At this point, I was erroneously still thinking that tech costs had been increased in this game, when the reality was that they just seemed that way without any river tiles to boost commerce.

2070BC Athens produces another settler and drops to size 1. I don't like to have the capital fall back to size 1 usually, but I need another city NOW down by the wheats in the southwest, so I can have it start building workers, bring irrigation to itself, and then settlers. Lots o' land to grab!

2030BC Meet the Inca (aww, no Joanie? Who is THIS guy?) They also have all the techs Carthage has and hate us.

1990BC A volcano erupts next to Utica. Haha, that's right, burn Carthage scum, burn! Find a blue border to the south - what's this, it's Korea? They met me from the north... So I guess they're south of me. Hmm, this has been a strange game. Sure wish I was Expansionist - the scouts would be perfect for this map.

1950BC Haha, I am only #8 on the wealthiest nations list. Someone else is poorer than Greece!

1910BC Thermopylae founded; it's going to produce workers for the near future. With work, this will become a settler/worker factory, but it needs irrigation and that will take a while.

1870BC India just got Mysticism - scratch that hope. Tech situation looking incredibly bleak at the moment. Going to finish out the research on Mysticism and then run cash (?) No wait - I misread. INCA started the Oracle. Whew, that provides me with some very minor relief.

1700BC Persia completes the Pyramids. Either they are doing a OCC or they're going to be the 800-pound gorilla in this game. Unfortunately, I'm guessing the latter.

Persia got all the early wonders, but fortunately didn't manage the super Pyramids/Sun Tzu combo. That would have been really ugly.

1625BC Meet the Celts in the extreme south. For being stuck way down there, Brennus sure knows all the techs everyone else does. Mysticism due in 2 turns though, and India still doesn't have it. Chopped down two forests to speed along Sparta's granary; now due in 6 turns.

1575BC Mysticism comes in. OK - everyone has it but Gandhi; I need to get at least something from this. Hmm... I can get Warrior Code for Mysticism + 5gpt, but I don't really need archers... Or, I can trade for Masonry/The Wheel, which are more expensive techs. Masonry would open the path to Mathematics, but The Wheel will reveal horses, and no civ except Japan starts with The Wheet (this may have changed in Conquests) so I'll go for that. Now I only have an actual income of 6gpt, but this will go up when my settler founds a city and I get some more roads built. So... Dial research to 0%, change Thermo to a taxman to get an extra +2gpt, then make this deal: Mysticism + 8gpt to India for The Wheel and 12g. Now I just need to ride out the next few turns...

Athens has horses right next to it. Yes! This is big. I'm going to hook it up right away and build chariots - yes, chariots - to use as scouts. There's so much black space on this map, I simply MUST find everyone ASAP to get in on the tech loop. Everyone is up Warrior Code/Masonry/Iron Working on me, plus possibly some techs beyond that. I still think I've managed this fairly well on the whole, however.

By far my favorite change in Conquests is the improved taxmen/scientists that allow for this kind of management. I don't like the civil engineers/police officers though; both are just too powerful in the hands of a crafty player. Dialing down your income to an unsustainable level and running specialists to make a tech purchase is something I learned from T-Hawk awhile ago, very effective in this game. Managing the tech race in the early parts of this game was tons of fun.

I'll also point out I was never able to trade Alphabet for anything, all civs already had it when I met them, which was a bad break of luck.

1525BC Hey - I found a wandering Egyptian warrior down in the middle of Celtica. And Egypt lacks Mysticism too. What's that saying again? Something about it being better to be lucky than good? Mysticism + 10g to India for Masonry. This leaves me with 1g and making 0gpt, but Greece is making progress on the tech front! I'm going to have to change plans slightly; because I'm so broke, Athens is going to have to stay at a larger size; settler swapped to hoplite. Things are temporarily looking up!

Yep, I'm poor. Sparta and Thermo both have bonus food tiles, but they need irrigation to make them really effective. I probably should have founded Thermo with both wheat tiles in its initial 9-tile radius, but that would have messed up an elaborate dot map I had setup. The workers are bringing irrigation from that freshwater lake to the west, and building roads while they're at it to speed along further settlers. Things do not look too promising at this point.

1450BC A barb chariot and a barb spear have popped up and are causing problems. Interesting units to have to fight against...

1425BC Thermo loses a population point to a barb chariot. I should probably get some defenders around here soon.

1325BC Things have been quiet recently, but this turn Germany pops by to say hello. Biz only up Warrior Code and Iron Working, so if my some miracle I can get Writing before him (ha!) I could make a deal. Since research time for Writing is like 400 turns, that's not too likely. Getting more cities is a much higher priority.

1250BC Hannibal demands all my gold - all 3 pieces of it. Here ya go, buddy. Now go smack down someone else instead of us poor Greeks. And the final member of this shindig pops up as well in the extreme northeast: I meet Persia.

Looks like I can hold off on those chariots, since my warriors did a good job of finding everyone. X-Man naturally is up three techs I can see, has a million cities, and hates me. Same as usual, in other words. I will definitely run cash from now on - well, technically I'm doing that now, but making 1gpt isn't all that impressive!

1075BC Yeah, nothing too crazy happening recently, then everything happens at once. After eons of founding no cities, I found two cities at once this turn! Delphi is stuck way out to the west in a reach location - but it carefully avoids overlapping with the nearby Carthaginian city, and snags a second horse resource, which could potentially be trade bait. Pharsalos founded on the lake to the east, grabbing the two sugar resources. I would have headed east earlier, except that even with irrigation, those plains sugar tiles can't get more than 2 food in despotism. Since the food bonus tiles were to the west, that's the direction I expanded first. With a granary and an irrigated grassland game tile, Sparta is now set up to produce settlers at a rapid rate. So - finally, around 1100BC, I have the conditions set up for rapid settlers. Most people won't play Deity unless they start out with a capital in that situation, heh.

My long gpt deal finally ran out, and the AI civs are, in fact, seperated a bit on the techs. If I can get Polytheism, I can broker it for quite a few techs. I'll be watching the diplo screens for that deal in the next couple turns. Or - I can get Mathematics from someone and send it to Germany for something. Should be some opportunitites in any case.

1050BC Alright, well only 4 civs have Polytheism, and I can't get it at 5th any time soon with my pathetic economy; everything I have only gets "insulted". So let's get Mathematics @8th and send it to Germany for something @9th. Not surprisingly, India has the best deal: Mathematics from India for 7g + 15gpt. I can get either Iron Working or Writing from Germany for Math; I can get Warrior Code too by scrounging for cash, but I'd have to cripple the development of some colonies with taxmen to do that, and it's just not worth it for Warrior Code. As much as I'd like to be able to see iron locations, I feel that Writing will open up future brokering opportunities and is thus more important. Therefore: Mathematics to Germany for Writing + 1g. Wow, Korea/Carthage/Inca are all tech monsters, with Map Making and Philosophy already researched. Other civs are trailing along at various rates. I should be able to make some kind of brokerage again in 20 turns, since the civs are not all moving along at the same tech rate. This is also where I would ordinarily begin a 1-scientist run on Literature, but I don't see 400-turn min science research as being very fruitful, heh.

Being able to run a 50-turn min science "gambit" for Literature, coupled with a Great Library prebuild, would have made this game massively easier. To be honest, I'm glad that the min science was diabled for this game, as it made it more fun to play. I also don't know why in Conquests the AI ignores Literature so much - they certainly didn't do that as much in the earlier versions of Civ3.

1025BC A chariot jumps out of the fog and kills a worker. Great, that's what I needed... On the other hand, AI warriors manage to knock one camp down to a single chariot, which is taken out by one of my own warriors for a nice 25g! At least until it gets demanded away...

Delphi is a reach, but it secures those horses and does not overlap with Oea. The Egyptians have stuck the city of Asyut down to the south in the jungle far away from their other cities, leading me to believe there's a resource there.

925BC Still fighting barbs, producing settlers, trying to get my share of the land before the AI civs get their filthy hands on it. The usual.

900BC I've been having luck with barbs recently, so naturally this turn my warrior lost 4-0 in trying to clean out a camp. You know - I honestly was about 90% certain I was about to get a bad streak on the combat rolls. Either I'm paranoid, or enough time can give you a feel or sorts for this thing.

875BC Persia completes the Great Lighthouse - Persia has all of the completed wonders so far. If this wonder wasn't 100% useless on this map, I'd be worried right now.

850BC Korea goes to war with Egypt - I get the popup because Korea established an embassy with me ages ago. Since the two civs aren't close to each other, I anticipate no result, but maybe it'll trigger a larger war (?)

Umm - yes it would. Watch what happens to Egypt. (And I can be pretty darn prescient in my comments at times!)

800BC Argos founded to the south in the jungle. The location, by coincidence, also disperses a barb camp; I've managed to get 100g from dispersing camps recently. The Egyptians put a city near me in that jungle ages ago; it must have coal in its borders. Since it's cut off from the rest of Egypt by a mountain range, I can probably conquer it somewhere down the line for pointy-stick techs. For now though - settling still. I don't even have archers, much less swords or horses!

775BC A warrior on a mountain defends against 3 barbs and promotes to elite! He's a thousand miles away from home though, so I shouldn't get too excited. Mycenae founded; it has 2 tiles of cultural overlap with a Korean city, but 1) I think I can get a temple built before they do and 2) the city is first-ring for me, miles and miles away from the Korean capital. I think I'll be pretty safe.

Not too much to report, I'm still settling away in all the empty space. My cities have very little overlap; they will all be size 20+ powerhouses later.

730BC Ooh, Carthage signs a military alliance with Korea against Egypt. I may jump into this at some point to get that Egyptian city on my border. I can also see Korea moving a scary-sized stack of units west after Egypt, glad they aren't coming for me.

650BC Herakleia founded to the south of Athens in the midst of the sugar fields. It needs a lot of work at the moment but will be a productive first-ring city in time. Another settler due next turn from Sparta, my settler factory, and another one due in 2 from Thermo, which lacks a granary but does have an irrigated grassland wheat.

590BC Well, I get my income back this turn, so let's play "make a deal." Everyone is up 6 visible techs on me, except laggard Germany. Therefore, the only initial move I can make is to get one of those techs and trade it to Germany for their own backwards techs. I have my pick of several different techs, but Code of Laws is clearly the most useful option to me, so I'll go after that. India, as usual, is the best customer (just wait until I get a trade route and can send them horses too!) Code of Laws from India for 75g + 14gpt. This tech is easily shipped to Germany: Code of Laws for Warrior Code + Iron Working + 1g. Three civs have Construction, so that would be the next tech to acquire and broker (at least in theory!) Germany has Horseback Riding, but lacks everything else and will again be a future partner in deals (barring a major change in events).

Iron locations: one in Pharsolus' 21-tile radius, but currently outside my borders. Another unclaimed to the south, just outside of Herakleia and Argos' border; since this is threatened by the Celts, I'm going to send the next settler produced there. There is a third location close to Knossus/Sparta which I should be pretty safe in claiming. If I can get all of those, I would have 3 sources of iron, which almost certainly means someone else would be lacking a source. Things continue to look up in this game...

570BC Ephesus founded.

550BC Thessalonica founded. I'm up to 12 cities by this point, and they are not tightly packed at all; tons of potential for future growth across the board. It looks like I'll be able to get roughly 16-20 cities in an almost perfect double-ring core. Very nice!

510BC Persia demands all of my money - 14g. Go ahead and take it X-man. Hey - I just noticed roads take 4 turns to build and not 3. *shrug*

Knossus is the planned Forbidden Palace site; unfortunately, the number of cities needed to build it was changed, otherwise I would have had a FP up by roughly 250AD. That would have helped a lot in this early going.

490BC Uh oh, here comes the Carthaginians after that northern source of iron. I just produced a settler this turn, so I'll see if I can grab a non-ideal location just to get that resource.

470BC I don't know where that Carthaginian settler is heading, but it moved to the east, away from the iron. No complaints here - I'll have a settler in place next turn to found an overlapping city (if necessary) to get it myself. Elsewhere, Egypt is rapidly collapsing under the Korean/Carthaginian assault. Wow - didn't expect that. On the tech front, everyone has Construction except Egypt (and Germany, duh), so there may be an opportunity there soon.

450BC Several developments to report. Massive barb uprising message means someone's in the Middle Ages; actually, everyone is except India and Egypt (and Germany, duh). Outstanding brokerage opportunity appears, with everyone having Currency except India/Egypt, and everyone having Construction except Egypt, but I don't think I can get Currency. No, even crippling my civ with taxmen still can't get past "doubful" for Construction or Currency, so much for that idea.

Eretria founded in a very much non-ideal location, but it secures the iron and stakes my claim. A warrior in the area got me a much-needed turn by running interference. India founded a city way out in the middle of nowhere, so there must be some hidden resource there...

410BC India finishes the Statue of Zeus, not surprising considering they're the only ones with ivory and have been building it for the last 2000 years. India is scary-big and I'm certainly not picking a fight with them!

390BC Cascade time! Celts build Temple of Artemis, Carthage builds the Great Wall. Cascade goes to Sun Tzu's (yes, I'm behind in tech - min science on Literature would have really catapulted me up into tech parity).

290BC Oh no, the Germans got to the southern iron location 4 turns before me. Since that city is a thousand miles away from the rest of their civ, it also will be a potential target in a "pointy stick" venture. Monarchy was also just discovered and traded around by the civs.

270BC It looks like the settling race is finally over. I have 14 cities, and any more look like they'll have to be gained at the end of a sword.

250BC What the heck..? The Germans plopped down a city right next to one of mine in the midst of some useless jungle - there HAS to be a resource there that hasn't appeared yet. Another future target. Bis is not making any friends with his aggressive settlements.

210BC Just realized my 14 cities is not enough to build the Forbidden Palace. What gives? How many cities will I need for it? Guess I'll have to seize some more land to find out...

190BC I can't believe it, the brokerage opportunity has remained alive for like the last 15 turns! I get my income back and can start some MAJOR trading here. It all starts with Currency, so who has the best price... Carthage and Korea are offering the same price. Carthage is lower on the power graph, so let's trade with Hannibal. Drop luxury slider to 0% (increasing gold per turn from 28 to 36) and make this trade: Currency from Carthage for 123g + 29gpt. Now over to India for the one tech Gandhi is missing from the Ancient Age tech tree: Currency + 8gpt to India for Construction. I had to turn my jungle city of Argos into a tax collector to make that last trade, but now I have the two most expensive (required) Ancient Age techs - and Egypt and Germany still need them, hehe.

Continuing with the trades: Construction is a very pricey tech, and Egypt actually has some gpt to pay for it! I must get Polytheism next, since that's a tech that Germany lacks. I make this deal: Construction to Egypt for Polytheism + 41g + 5gpt. Now I go over to Germany to clean up the final techs I'm lacking: Polytheism + Construction to Germany for Horseback Riding + Philosophy + Map Making + 1g. This preserves my hold on Currency (@7th civ) over both Egypt and Germany for future deal-making.

We enter the Middle Ages! Free tech: Engineering. So, can I do anything further with this? Not really - all of the established powers appear to have Engineering already, it looks like a bad draw for me on the freebie tech. Either Monotheism or Feudalism would have enabled me to get at the very least a government tech in trades. Still, the Celts lack Engineering, so there may be a potential future trade here. All in all, a very profitable turn of trading indeed!

I think this was very well managed, getting 6 techs for a little more than the cost of 1. It's just unfortunate that I drew a tech that the powerhouse civs already had as my freebie, or I could have catapulted up among the leaders. As is, this turn took me from the absolute rock bottom to the middle of the tech pack, where I would remain for a while. Still abysmally poor as a civ though.

110BC Good old Brennus, he comes through for me. The Celts lack Engineering, as I said above, but this turn they came up with Monarchy. I really want Republic, but this is too good of a trading opportunity to pass up. Engineering + 36g + 5gpt to Celts for Monarchy. The Greeks are now officially beyond broke, so I have to scramble to re-arrange cities. (I am at 3g and -8gpt without adjusting anything.) I manage to get to break-even on the gold - but markets will start completing soon and save my butt. Also hoping to be able to trade for Republic soon, going to hold off on revolting until then.

As if I wasn't poor enough before... Being at 3g and -8gpt is always fun.

90BC Does the AI settle more aggresively in Conquests? The Inca plopped down a city only 3 tiles away from my Troy, in a place I've never seen an AI civ stick a city before. Extremely aggressive settlement. I really don't like this new settling, the AI is not respecting my claim that I laid to the land. Seems irritating more than anything else.

That city was founded to steal an invisible saltpeter resource out from under my nose. Jerks.

70BC Gandhi demands Monarchy. Ugh, I HATE to give in to this, but there's simply no way I can fight off India at the moment. I give it to him. Gandhi goes from Cautious to Annoyed? He gets ANGRY when he gets what he wants? I don't understand THAT at all!

30BC Hannibal demands all my gold - all 3 pieces of it. Thanks, buddy. If I were in any position to fight, I would have rejected his demands and got out of a crippling gpt payment. Everyone in the world now has Literature and is building the Great Library. I suppose I could have prebuilt for it ages ago, but without the ability to run min science on Literature, the timing would have been very difficult. Oh well, it's not like I'm used to having the Great Library anyway... There are a million settlers wandering around, I just hope the AI doesn't try any more aggressive settlements...

10AD Korea completes Sun Tzu's. Greece continues to be crippled by a mixture of large gpt payments and happiness problems; no luxuries this late in the game is just an absolute killer. Workers are preparing to build roads into India and Korea so that I can trade for desperately needed luxuries. Korea also lacks iron - big time potential customer there!

Time to try a gamble of sorts. Germany is Scientific and still not in the Middle Ages, so... gift Currency to Germany (well - get 3g for it, so practically the same thing). Germany pulls as their free tech... Monotheism! Nice! Now I can do this: Engineering + Monarchy to Germany for Monotheism. Biz never even goes up to Cautious, what a meanie. No one will give me The Republic (and Monotheism +gpt is "insulting" for Feudalism, heh, why in the world did BreakAway make that tech uber-expensive? it's just irritating now), but the Celts are offering too nice of a deal to pass up. Monotheism to Celts for Literature + 31g + 14gpt. Can we get Patchacuti (whatever) to see sense now? Dial down luxuries to 0% again (my poor people! I'm scraping them to the bone here!) which artificially boosts income to +21gpt. Aha! He will see sense: Monotheism + Literature + 28g + 20gpt to Inca for The Republic. Finally! I would love to revolt immediately, but I am paying out 62gpt to other civs, and I would have to sell off buildings to survive the anarchy. That would still be to my advantage - but I won't play the game that way. I will get back 29gpt in about 8 turns and will revolt then. Finally, Literature to Egypt @last for 51g (because I am mega-poor and need some cash!) Greece is (temporarily) among the tech leaders, baby!

A lot going on here... First of all, there's all of my major core cities, I ended up with 14 of them (will be interesting to see how others did). Lack of luxuries really did hurt a lot; I've played many games with few luxuries on hand, but I can't recall one where I had none at all (even from trade) this late in the game. Establishing trade routes took forever without harbors. The tech gifting was a trick I learned from someone ages ago, can't remember who; it doesn't always work, but it did here. I made some more nice trades here, but oh my did I ever have to scrounge for them! It often felt like I was digging around in the proverbial garbage cans in some back alley trying to scrape together a few more coins. Greece at this point is, I believe, paying out more money to other civs than the nation is bringing in from its own cities (this being offset by some civs sending me money in return). The picture that has 2g and -1gpt really says it all - and just to get to THAT point, I'm running taxmen in Troy, Pharsolus, and Knossus. Can my civ go collect a welfare check or something?

70AD Brennus demands money - sure, take it, I never really wanted it anyway. Please don't send your army of 465345345 Gallic Swordsmen after me.

130AD The Koreans sign the Celts into a military alliance against Egypt. Cleo is DOOMED, her two largest and strongest neighbors have allied against her. I begin making preparations to capture the one Egyptian city in my territory.

And remember, I pointed this out way back in 850BC. Sometimes I amaze myself, hehe

150AD I sign a Right of Passage with Korea (which costs me another 4gpt that I DON'T have, but scrounge up anyway) in order to connect a road to Wang Kon. Workers move into Korean territory and start building roads.

Reading that last entry makes me laugh. You have no idea just how poor I was for a very, very long time.

190AD Germany also jumps into the fight against Egypt - umm, it's REALLY over now. Asyut, the city near me, has been taken by the Celts. No chance to get it; that's bad, since the Celts have the Temple of Artemis and also are close enough to hurt me. I can still take it away from them, but it will be more difficult.

210AD OK, a lot happening here. I get all of my income back from the last big trade, income jumping from -2gpt to +30gpt. Secondly, my workers managed to get a road into Korea, and through Korea, I can trade with everyone except Egypt. The only secure route, however, is with Korea, so I'm going to try to stick with them mostly. OK - Incense from Germany for Literature @8th. This is not a secure route, but no matter what it shouldn't destroy my rep. Ditto for India: Ivory from Gandhi for Literature @last. With two luxuries and only paying out 29gpt to other civs, I feel confident to revolt now. I draw a friendly 4-turn anarchy. Go through and reconfigure cities once again... I manage to get the situation to 15g and -1gpt (it was at -9gpt before I fixed things). The situation without the two imported luxuries would be... difficult.

230AD Carthage builds Knights Templar, and that actually kills the cascade. Slower tech pace is no doubt the reason why.

250AD Egypt eliminated this turn. No surprise there; thank you for helping me on some of the tech deals Cleo. Now maybe the enormous German armies trekking through my land will turn around and head home.

270AD We are now a Republic! Go through and re-configure cities again. I desperately need another luxury, so let's see what kind of deals can be made... After disbanding some old warrior (used for military police, no real need for them now), income is up to +50gpt, and that will go up as more cities start to get over size 6 and go up in unit support. I'm rich! And I still only have 2 marketplaces, and am still paying out almost 30gpt to other civs. Nice - I love Republic, though it was even better before Conquests. Umm - is Feudalism as expensive as I think it is? Iron + 50gpt is still "doubtful" for a deal? That's just overboard, ridiculously overpriced. What a BAD change made in Conquests *sigh* I may have to STEAL the tech, just because it's so absurdly expensive. For now though, I'll trade for Korean wines, which cost 4g + 10gpt. Cheaper than increasing the lux rate, and provides a better benefit for cities with markets.

As always, getting into a Republic makes all the difference. The Greek economy has nowhere to go but up from here.

300AD Germany has two spears camping out on my unconnected iron. This is extremely irritating, but I can't ask them to leave, as there is a German army of some 25 units also camping out in my territory. I will not forget this insult... Gandhi has finally gotten his act together and picked up Feudalism, allowing me to pick up this super-expensive tech for free! Feudalism + 6g from India for Monotheism + Engineering + The Republic.

Now what's available beyond that... There are mixtures of Chivalry/Invention/Theology out there, but since I can't get a 2 for 1, I hold off on any purchases for now. I will almost certainly be able to send Korea for iron in a future brokering deal, but getting Feudalism for free from India this turn was a major coup. Persia/Carthage/Inca are all out in front on the techs, Celts/Korea slightly behind, and then India and Germany trailing. This has worked out well for me, but I can only conclude that the civs must not all be in contact with one another (?) That would seem to be impossible with their 1000s of units wandering around, but maybe it's true?

Heh, I put an embassy in Celtica this turn since it's only 55g to do so. Entremont has all 8 luxuries from AI trading, along with a temple/library/colosseum, but NO barracks, granary, or even an aqueduct! It's stuck at size 6 for lack of an aqueduct! Oh, that Civ3 AI, it's priceless.

Probably should have taken a picture of that city, it was a classic. India's getting Feudalism was a huge break and really helped me. As for those German units camped on my iron mountain, they did eventually leave on their own.

310AD Well, now Korea has managed to get Theology and Chivalry, which opens up a deal. Wow - Wang must REALLY want my iron, he'll give me Theology for free in exchange for it! Plus cash! I make this deal: iron to Korea for Theology + 15g + 7gpt. Now I can make this deal: Theology + 132g + 14gpt to Carthage for Invention. I got two techs for 120g and 7gpt (as well as trading away my only connected iron). Ah, but I can sweeten the deal by sending Theology to Celts for Gems + 45g + 9gpt. What a deal! All happiness problems solved, AI civs appear to be up only Gunpowder and Chivalry.

Good to see the AI will still pay unbelievably high sums for iron. Korea was a great customer for my excess iron.

320AD Wow, what a difference being in a Republic makes! I'm now making +75gpt, and that's with 48gpt still outgoing to other civs. I get 20gpt more back next turn too, hehe.

330AD Celts go to war with Persia; since they are on opposite sides of the planet, I don't anticipate anything happening unless allies get pulled in.

340AD I can't get over the transformation of my civ here. Now that cities are getting over size 6 and markets are completing, the income is just skyrocketing. I'm up to +101gpt here, and I still have quite a few markets awaiting completion - to say nothing of future banks.

350AD Gandhi! My friend! G-man comes up with Chivalry this turn, and still lacks Invention. Voila! We swap the techs at no cost to me. I can get Gunpowder right now (for about 100gpt) but am obviously waiting for an opportunity to broker it for something else. Printing Press is also out there, but I don't really care about those optional techs.

360AD Things are slow right now, and since I have plenty of income, I use some of it to found embassies with civs I don't have them with.

390AD Carthage joins Persia in their war against the Celts. Interesting.

410AD And very big news here: Inca jump into the war against the Celts as well. These are two major powers, right next to each other, so expect to see the fur fly. I'm going to look into jumping in against the diplomatically-isolated Celts as well in order to grab that eyesore of Asyut on my borders. Just need time to get some knights built...

Some other civs have broken the Persian monopoly on Education, and I can now get it @4th civ price. This opens up the natural brokerage with Gunpowder that I spotted several turns ago. Here we go: Education from Carthage for 497g + 83gpt. Amazingly, my now-strong economy can absorb this hit and still be at +42gpt. Now to Korea: Education + 3g + 23gpt for Gunpowder. There is one saltpeter source just inside my borders near Athens. There is another one outside my borders near Eretria that lies between that city and an Indian colony. I'm going to put a half-city there to claim it and prevent Gandhi from getting his clutches on it. Another source a couple tiles outside my borders but firmly in Carthaginian hands (future acquisition?)

Now I can still trade these new techs a bit. Hmm, I can get Printing Press and Dyes from Celts... but I'll just get Printing Press, because I may well be going to war with the Celts in less than 20 turns. Let's leave some options open there. Diplo check reveals... Gadzooks Batman, we are at tech parity! The Greeks are back to being poor once more, but tech parity speaks for itself (at least for a couple of turns, anyway).

First time I managed to achieve tech parity in this game, which was quite a feat. Being in a Republic simply makes all the difference in the world.

420AD Gah, I just spotted another saltpeter source, and sure enough it's within the radius of the aggressive Inca settlement on my western border. Those jerks, I'd love to wipe it out, but the Inca are scary-strong compared to me at the moment. Still, I could probably grab that city down the road and hold off their armies long enough to get peace. It's a thought for later.

430AD Persia signs a peace treaty with the Celts, betraying their Carthaginian partners. Two of my luxury deals wear off, but I send Germany and India old techs to get their luxuries for another 20 turns. For being so large, Germany certainly does suck on the tech front.

440AD Saltpeter Central founded, a city that will never get above size 5-6 if all goes according to plan. It gets me a second saltpeter source and that's it. Greek dreams of tech leadership come to a close as Persia discovers Astronomy.

460AD Celts and Carthage sign peace. This may give Brennus a temporary respite.

It's clear from the map that Asyut has to go, that's where I'm striking first. Saltpeter Central is a half-city designed to grab the resource from New Jaipur. Two can play at the game of aggressive settlements, AI civs!

510AD My iron deal is up for renewal with Korea (they need my iron, that is) and fortunately another deal is ready to be made. The tech leaders have Astronomy/Banking/Chemistry, and the Inca and India both need Banking out of the three. Easy stuff. Oh my - the iron I have is worth approximately 100gpt (!!!) to Korea. Well, that lets me get Banking practically for free. Banking from Korea for iron + 387g. That's it! He wanted over 100gpt without the iron, just amazing. Oh - and I can sucker India into a deal for my surplus saltpeter (which I just stole out from under Gandhi's nose, remember). Banking + saltpeter to India for Chemistry (I have no intention of fighting this civ anytime soon). Now finally back to the Inca: Banking + 36g + 27gpt for Astronomy.

Ordinarily, I would now trade some of these techs to the Celts for free luxuries and cash. But I plan on fighting Brennus in a couple of turns, so no deals there. I need another luxury though, and since everyone is asking the same price, let's go with the Inca, my nearest scary/big neighbor who is not tied into a resource deal with me. Incan spices for 15gpt. There goes all my income (from 60gpt down to 18gpt) but I did acquire 3 techs and get back to tech parity. War planning proceeds apace...

520AD Well, I was going to wait another turn for war, but I can snag 2 Celtic workers if I go now. War is declared and those slaves are mine!

530AD Germany declares war on India. That better not snap any of my trade routes (I don't think so). Battle joined outside Asyut - a hoplite takes a Celtic longbow down to 1hp, then loses 3 rounds of combat. Don't they know the whole point of this war is to trigger my golden age?

540AD More fierce fighting around Asyut. The two spears in the city are killed by 2 MDI, leaving a 1hp knight in there. Arg!

550AD Asyut has a 1hp knight and a 1hp longbow inside it. I can't take the city, but I can attack with a hoplite... No luck. That never seems to work for me...

570AD Grabbing those workers was a mistake, I clearly attacked too early. I keep falling just short of the forces needed to take Asyut. Still haven't gotten a golden age either...

580AD Celts have chosen to ignore defending their own city in favor of charging past my border cities into the interior. Not the smartest plan...

So naturally I captured Asyut (brilliant move to move all but 2 spears out of the city with my army next to it). And in the interturn:

Longbow suicides itself on a hoplite. Yikes, and here comes the cavalry, as all kinds of knights move into my territory. Got to make peace ASAP and then use the golden age for infrastructure.

590AD Celts not willing to talk. And oh no, now the game won't let me build hoplites any more, only muskets. Does anyone else think this is a BAD feature of Civ3? You should always be able to build cheaper, older, versions of units if you want to. Scrambling as best I can...

600AD Celts generate a leader in the interturn fighting, batter my defenses at Asyut badly but I hold. They have about 12 knights in place to strike next turn - but of course, this being the AI, naturally the Celts will make peace this turn. Hopefully this is the kind of hole in the AI that will be fixed for Civ4 (of course - I never would have fought this war if I wasn't planning on exactly this happening!) I kill off a few weakened units to get a better deal, then sign peace for 125g. Got the city I wanted and the golden age I was aiming for. I immediately turn around and sell Chemistry to the Celts for some good cash and gems to improve relations.

The next 20 turns should see the completion of banks/cathedrals/universities all over Greece. By the end of the Middle Ages, I'll be prepared to switch over to research and dominate the game from here on out. The Golden Age could not have been timed any better; this is just about the best possible time to get one. Rather hard to do with hoplites usually!

I definitely started the war a couple turns too early; rather than snagging Asyut on turn 2 and then defending behind prepared lines, I had to scramble for a half-dozen turns to get it, and then only because the Celts were stupid did it fall at all. I had almost no offensive units for this war (only 2 MDIs and 2 trebuchets when I declared), but I still achieved what I wanted. I learned that from Charis, the lesson that you don't have to beat the AI straight-up in fighting, just long enough to get them to talk for peace (if you're out there Charis, we'd love to hear from you again too ) In another way though, this little war highlighted why I'm essentially done with Civ3. I mean, I KNEW that I could play the AI for a fool and get away with it, and that's exactly what I did. Things like that tell me that it's time for a new game.

610AD Income (in a golden age, mind you) up to +354gpt. And I still have 0 banks. Nice.

630AD I trade for Economics with Korea (always the best trade partner) for 1450g + 14gpt. Why do I do this? Athens swaps to Smith's, due in 14 turns. I'm now going to research Music Theory and take either Smith's or Bach's; the cascade was already killed and in a Golden Age, I essentially have my choice of either. On this pangea map, I'm leaning towards Bach's. MT due in 7 turns at -38gpt. Still 0 universities built too (although I am in a golden age).

640AD Navigation discovered (world maps!) this turn, but as I am researching I can't get them yet.

650AD Physics is out there too now. I'll get the best deal by finishing researching Music Theory and selling it at monopoly, however.

660AD Metallurgy is out there too? Wowzers. I better get a lot from Music Theory! Still waiting.

680AD India really getting pounded; good thing I'm only supplying them saltpeter for a few more turns. Golden Age ends next turn? 10-turn golden age? Well, that's a bit of a downer. Might make it more difficult to get Bach's in Athens...

690AD Full-fledged dogpile, Celts jump in against India too. Gandhi's days are numbered. Then, because Brennus doesn't have enough enemies to fight, he declares on Carthage too and sneak-attacks a city on my northern border. At least 25 Celtic knights moving through my territory at the moment up to the north. A little scary. Aha! That Persian city was razed, not captured. Rushing a settler into place to grab the small open territory. Golden Age definitely comes to an end after 10 turns. The saddest thing you ever have to do in this game: reconfigure your cities after golden age production ends.

710AD Discover Music Theory first @monopoly. I considered delaying it, but I'm confident that Athens can get Bach's (due in 8 turns) thanks to my earlier golden age production and the lack of a long cascade. Not coincidentally, Korea's iron also comes due for trading time this turn (I managed the tech discovery to coincide). So this will be a super turn for trading, no doubt about that. As always, Korea is the best trading partner; good old Wang, he needs my iron so badly, and he's always been willing to pay top dollar. Music Theory + iron will nearly get me Physics AND Metallurgy! So I make this deal: Music Theory + iron + WM + 1g + 23gpt for Physics and Metallurgy. Adding the 1 gold piece allowed me to take the deal from 24gpt to 23gpt, hehe. Now I can finally see the world: Physics to India for Navigation + ivory + his WM. Even if Gandhi gets killed, his supplying me ivory shouldn't trash my reputation (I hope - I have nothing going to him in any case).

The world... a rectangle. OK. That's... odd. Not what I expected, to say the least. Also realize that there are no rivers on this map, so much for Hoover's. Might as well finish shopping Physics: to Inca for their WM and some decent cash. Still shopping around: outdated Economics to Celts for their WM and dyes. Music Theory still needs to be shopped around: to Carthage for their WM and their gold (139 + 39gpt). Persia gives 362g and silks for it. And now I have all 8 luxuries, neato. Can you say "We love the Hoplite day"? Persia has Magnetism at monopoly, so we start research into Theory of Gravity, due in 12 turns at a slight loss. Swapping over to research now and ready to roar into the Industrial Age. Just think what I could have done with another 10 turns of golden age production!

720AD Everyone and their mother starts Bach's, as expected. I don't think anyone can beat me though - the only problem would be a cascade from Smith's. Due in 7 turns in Athens, crossing fingers still...

730AD Free Artistry must be out there now too, as Carthage starts Shakespeare's. I still don't have Democracy (and don't want it at the ridiculous prices the AI civs are asking). Indian cities to the east are getting razed, so I'm preparing some poaching settlers. Maybe even get my own source of ivory? (I can hope)

740AD Halicarnassus founded in the opened up space where a Persian city used to sit. It overlaps with a former Indian colony that Carthage now controls, but otherwise fits nicely between the other cities on my border. Still waiting for that Forbidden Palace message, btw...

770AD Persia extorts money from me. That hasn't happened in ages. India well on its way to collapse, has already lost most of its core cities. End is simply a matter of time unless peace is signed ASAP.

790AD I complete Bach's in Athens; could have also taken Smith's, but on this map the happiness was just too much to pass up. Who says you can't self-build wonders this early on Deity/Demigod? Cities in India have been captured, not razed, so unfortunately nothing has opened up over there. Not a good sign seeing Persia/Germany getting stronger either.

800AD Persia has discovered Theory of Gravity one turn before me and jumped into the Industrial Age. This is a bit of a bummer, but I'll still get it second next turn and can trade for a lot of stuff.

810AD Hmm, Persia and Carthage are both in the Industrial Age - both Scientific civs too, dagnabit. But Korea still lacks Theory of Gravity, so... Theory of Gravity + 275g + 46gpt to Korea for Magnetism. We enter the Industrial Age, drawing Medicine as the free tech. So, now 4 civs in the Industrial Age, what did we get? I have Medicine, Korea has Steam Power, Persia has Nationalism, Carthage has... nothing? Oh - they aren't Scientific in Conquests, that's right. So 3 techs out there, all monopoly ones. Hoo boy, this is a tough one to figure out. Let's clean up some old stuff first: Magnetism + Theory of Gravity to non-Scientific Inca for Democracy and some good cash. Metallurgy + Theory of Gravity to Celts for Free Artistry (useless but let's get it anyway) and gems. I'm going to hold on to Medicine @monopoly for now, since Steam Power is ridiculous @monopoly from Korea and Nationalism @monopoly is "insulting" even for Medicine monopoly and 300gpt. Once the AI civs trade around Steam Power, I'll break my Medicine monopoly and get it (and the AI civs always seem to go for Steam Power and Nationalism first). I start researching Sanitation at best rate, 17 turns.

I decided to wait on the deal here, and was proved right. This goes to show that sometimes it's better to wait on a trade than try to deal right away.

820AD Carthage would give me over 200gpt for Medicine, hehe. Going to trade it for Steam Power though...

860AD Carthage completes Smith's, and then Shakespeare and Newton get finished in the cascade. India down to their last city, it's all over now... Excellent, the AI did just what I expected it to do. Persia and Korea swapped Nationalism/Steam Power without researching Mecicine, which allows me to now use my monopoly tech for big benefits. Here we go: Medicine @monopoly to Korea for Steam Power and Military Tradition (Korea wanted 200gpt + Medicine last turn for Steam Power - yes, the techs devalue that much). For all my territory, I don't have any coal. There is a source fairly close by in a Korean colony though, hmm... Fortunately, Persia is happy to supply some: Medicine @3rd to Persia for coal + 3326g. That money's burnin' a hole in X-Man's pocket, I tell ya! Now to Carthage: Mecicine @4th for 842g + 111gpt! Then, since Hannibal still has daddy's allowance to spend, I send him Steam Power @4th for 73gpt! I bet you wish you were still Scientific now, Hannibal, hehe. Greece is now officially Scrooge McDuck rich, with 4339g in the bank and running at +541g at 0% science. I'd rather run 100% science though (still getting +16gpt) and push towards Medicine in 6 turns (which will yield another monopoly tech). What a drastic change from the poverty-stricken Greece from earlier. Game is by no means in the bag, but this is rapidly moving towards a dominant position.

And basically, that's as far as I managed to get. This is nowhere near a winning position, still lots of the game to be played, but it is a strong one, and I'm pretty confident that I could win it if I had more time. I would not be anxious to slog through all those AI cities gunning for domination though, no siree. The plan at the moment would be to build a military railnet and fight a minor war against Korea to grab those four colonies to the south and west (and secure a source of coal). Then, another minor war against Germany for the four cities it has on my border, followed by perhaps another war against Carthage to snip off New Jaipur and Gades. Aside from those small wars, the Industrial Age would be mostly building and trying to gain a research lead over the AI civs, followed by a massive push for domination after the arrival of tanks. Who would get targeted first would just depend on the circumstances of the moment.

This game was fun in a lot of ways, most particularly the early parts why I was trying to squeeze every last drop out of my civ's stone to catch up in tech. I'm not sure I've ever been poorer in another game. But I wasn't looking forward to all the warring that would later be necessary for victory; I'm really more of a builder than a destroyer. Seeing the Greek economy and research effort go from nil to the position I'm in here was extremely satisfying for me. I'm interested now to see how others managed this unusual start; how many cities did they manage to settle before having to fight, for example. Some players might have been roughed up by this start, it wasn't the easiest! There was probably a lot more fighting early on in most games, I just played peacefully because my infrastructure was so behind for most of the game. Maybe some players who are still learning can take a look at some of the trades I made to see how it's possible to climb back up into the tech lead from a position best described as "beyond poverty". Finally, it was fun to play a little Civ3 again, but my own abilitiy to predict the AI's movements so well leads me to believe again that it's time for a new civ game. We'll see what we get with the upcoming Civ4; I can only hope it lasts as long as Civ3, which truly has been an outstanding game, for all its flaws.

Game Retired
1234 points