Emperor Metalman

So now that the patch is (finally) out, I can post my report of this game. I downloaded 1.61 (prior to it being released) to run a test game with it. Emperor, my first such game since release. I played quite a lot of games on Emperor during testing, but only the last one was probably comparable to the current level (lots of unfinished stuff earlier). I set up a Fractal map, pick Random civ, and get started. I draw Kublai Khan, a fun civ to play with Aggressive/Creative, and a pretty good start:

Pigs and deer at the start, plus the promise of spices later on, along with three floodplains and two grassland hills. I liked the start immediately. By the time I had taken this screenshot, I had also determined where the second city was going to go: to the west to grab gold and silver. Happiness doesn't come easy on Emperor, so if I could get two metal happiness resources (which never obsolete), I would be ahead of the game.

I built a worker first out of the gate (as shown) and researched Animal Husbandy. As a Creative civ with free culture, I saw little need for an early religion and would in fact never adopt any religion throughout the whole game (more on this later). After Animal Husbandry, I researched Mining, then Archery (barbs on Emperor are no joke). Built a warrior after the worker while growing to size 3, then started in on a settler. I was thus running light on defense, TOO light on defense actually, but I had AI neighbors all around me and I was counting on them to keep the barbs down with their free starting units. That nearly led to disaster:

Beshbalik easily could have been captured by the barbs here. Karakorum has produced an archer here for Beshbalik, and it will be there in just 4 turns, but there was a narrow window of opportunity for the barbs to walk in and capture the city. Neither one of the barbs attacked, but that was pure luck. The lesson, as always, is never to send out settlers unguarded.

I had Tokugawa right on my western border, REAL close to me, and I had feared he would take the gold/silver site, but instead he settled by the furs. What I didn't know at the time was that he grabbed an iron resource with that city (the tundra hill 2 tiles west of Beshbalik). Still, Beshbalik was a steal for me, and it ensured that I would have plenty of happiness on hand to offset the Emperor penalties. I had also met several other AIs already, including two Financial civs (Mansa Musa and Huayna). This could get interesting...

Early on, I mostly just expanded. I'm loving Creative more and more for the early expansion phase, as it's just so easy to dominate the land with the free border pops. Definitely this is a more valuable trait than a lot of people realize. I caught a HUGE break, easily the break of the game, when one of my hill mines popped a gems resource in 1400BC:

Thus, before 1000BC, I already have all three metals that provide happiness hooked up. Emperor Metalman was born.

The religions fell in a very strange order in this game. I wasn't chasing them, and it turned out that the only civ that started with Mysticism in this game was Huayna, who similarly made no effort to pursue one. Therefore, Tokugawa ended up founding both Buddhism AND Hinduism; Osaka, the city on my border, was the Hindu holy city, but since Tokugawa stuck with Buddhism I didn't have to fight a cultural border war with a holy city. Whew. Mansa would end up founding Christianity, Roosevelt took Confucianism, and the western civs all went with Judaism. I didn't want to irritate anyone, and I had plenty of happiness, so I refused to declare any religion, and that worked well diplomatically.

By 1000BC, I was out to 4 cities and still in good financial shape:

Note that I have now met Catherine - another Financial civ. This does not bode well, with 3 of my 6 opponents being Fiancial, and Roosevelt being Organized (almost as good). As for my cities, Turfan grabbed stone and wheat, while Ning-hsia took another gold but mostly just filled space for the dotmap. Still a good amount of land to expand into down in the south too; Emperor games don't always look this good in that respect. Researching Alphabet now to get in on the trading, then I would head for the bottom of the tree and early Metal Casting - I'm sure you can see the value of forges for +3 happiness in every city!

By the way, I also had stone and would soon have marble at Beshbalik. Along with copper north of Karakorum and iron (which turned up next to Ning-hsia), I had all seven metals hooked up by the time the AD years started. Emperor Metalman indeed!

I built a lot of military early on here, partly to deal with the barbs, but also so I wouldn't be TOO easy pickings for an AI civ. Of course I was still hopelessly in last on soldiers for the whole game, but there's almost no way to avoid that at this level. Two archers in each city was enough to avoid AI aggression and keep me safe from the barbs. Once I hooked up my iron, I trained a couple of swords and smacked down a barb city in the south:

By the way, note the new question mark if you haven't already. People complained that you could see who won before the animation was finished playing, so this was changed. I think it's a little silly really, as I liked being able to tell who won instantly, but maybe some people will prefer it this way.

Here's my civ in 100AD:

I'm out to seven cities now (note Illinois under the interface) and I still have a little more room to expand. I have space for two more cities in the north, one in the east and one in the west. Can I win with nine cities on Emperor? Maybe. We may have to find out. To my chagrin, Mansa Musa would steal the site in the northeast with the deer and the silver some four turns before my settler got there. Argh. I should have pushed a little faster to that location... I ended up with eight cities, most of which were pretty strong; only two were genuine fishing cities. I had just discovered Metal Casting at this point, thus the round of forge construction. That would be enough to get Karakorum up to size 13, and with my push for Civil Service (and Bureaucracy), I was in pretty good shape here. I would also get the Colossus at Old Sarai in 350AD, although that was not too big of a deal on this map (which turned out to be a pangaea Fractal).

I made a lot of tech trades, mostly because I had no other choice. The AI was speeding along extremely quickly, here on Emperor and with three Financial civs. I had to trade or get left behind. I reached Civil Service first and got a lot of value from it, like in this screenshot:

I had no horses, so Horseback Riding was basically useless (ha, a Mongolia without horses! my resource luck was good but sadly lacking there) but the other two were definitely not. I didn't think I had a realistic chance to get the Great Library here on Emperor, but with marble on hand I thought what the hell, and went ahead and tried for it anyway. Karakorum did in fact get the wonder in 520AD, which was a huge boost for my civ. Not so much for the science, but because I still hadn't generated a single Great Person yet, and the Great Person points proved hugely useful. First scientist was, obviously, used for an academy in Karakorum.

With the tech rate flying along, I decided that it would be in my best interest to secure some more land for myself. Fortunately, I had an easy target on my border in Tokugawa, who inevitably closed off his borders to everyone else, made no friends, and was behind technologically. Once I reached Civil Service and Machinery, I started building up an attack force of maces. I knew that Osaka was lightly defended, so I expected to capture it quickly. I declared war in 920AD:

Against two longbows, it was no contest:

Unfortunately, look what was moving around at the bottom of the picture: samurai. I had no answer for those samurai with my maces. Now I expected that my capture of Osaka would remove the Japanese source of iron, but in fact there was another one in the west and Tokugawa continued to build samurai. I went after Toku's capital, the next closest city to me and one that was choking Osaka with its culture, and found it stacked to the gills with samurai and longbows. Not good. While my cats were bombing down the defenses, Toku counter-attacked, slamming my stack with cats and then sending in the samurai. The results were brutal:

These two cats were the only survivors. Everyone else was slaughtered. And these two guys were themselves killed on the following turn. Eep! There goes most of my army. But Toku was pretty spent too, so we agreed to peace a short time later. The AI did a really good job of defending itself here, actually; Soren has clearly made some more improvements just since 1.52. The only thing I managed to gain was Osaka, but that still helped as it secured me several furs. I resolved to come back later and finish the job with Japan.

The tech race continued to fly by at breakneck pace. I was doing well, but the AIs... man were they fast. I nearly made it to Liberalism, but Cathy got there first - in 1150AD!

I would have made it there by 1170AD, but still was beaten. That's rough! Even for an Emperor game, that's rather fast. The problem was partly all these Financial civs (and the other two, Roosevelt and Cyrus, both Organized!) having traits that encouraged fast research. But even more than that, there were no warmonger AI personalities to liven up the game. No Monty, no Temujin, no Napoleon, no Alex or Caesar - it's all a bunch of builder AIs! Argh. That's actually very bad news, as it means the AIs will all sit back and avoid wars while flying through the tree. You WANT at least one aggressive AI personality to shake things up and war with the AIs to slow them down. Here, I ended up with a case of what Sirian has called "one big lovefest, with hugs all around for everybody." Bah.

For a long while after that, I simply built up my civ. I was among the tech leaders, but always a bit back of Cathy and Mansa Musa. Only 2-3 techs back though, so I was largely holding my own as we continued to race through the tree. I followed them for a while, but once we got into the Renaissance era proper, I ignored the top of the tree and headed for the bottom, researching Chemistry and then Steel before I had Constitution or Printing Press. I was able to get some decent trade value from those monopoly techs, but more importantly they allowed me to build up some grenadiers and then some cannon. Guess what, Toku? I'm BAAAAAACK!

Note the upgraded macemen -> grenadiers with City Raider promotion, heh. But the real force is the cannons, which can not only bombard down the defenses of Kyoto, but with City Raider promotions can outright kill the defenders while inflicting collateral damage. After slamming the city with my cannon, the grenadiers mopped up:

Piece of cake. (By the way, note that I'm researching Democracy in 1490AD - and this is after researching up to Steel AND Replaceable Parts. The tech pace was very fast!) I mopped up Japan over the next dozen or so turns, with the Japanese medieval forces clearly inferior to my grenadier/cannon combo. Losses were relatively light as I took Tokyo, Edo, and then Satsuma. Along the way, I built the Statue of Liberty at the rather early date of 1560AD with the help of a Great Engineer I had stored up. (The AI was extremely aggressive at using their own Great Engineers on wonders too in this game - players on 1.59 beware of trading them wonder techs!)

Bye-bye Tokugawa:

I was now sure I had enough land to win the game. Future expansion prospects did not look good, as Mansa Musa and Roosevelt were my allies, while Huayna Capac on the western border had an army that dwarfed mine. It was time to consolidate and build up the Japanese lands, then see what direction the game took from there. One last thing to note here, however:

Edo is almost sure to flip to the Incans. This is one of the places where Civ4's culture system needs some work; Huayna has never controlled this city at any point in time, yet the city's nationality reads 99% Incan? That seems a little off. We're going to have to rework the culture system somewhat when it comes to disputed borders for Civ5, that seems clear.

On to page two of the report...