In the first part of this report, The Black Sword took advantage of a lush map and the Cree's early game trade route bonuses to rocket out to a fast start. As we'll see here, he continued developing his position over the following turns as the first districts and city governors came into play. The world also began to open up as more of the players met one another and diplomacy began in earnest between rival civilizations. There was a gap in the Cree reporting for seven turns before TBS provided a series of new posts starting on Turn 42:
The Black Sword:
There was a lot going on here worthy of further commentary. For starters, TBS had just picked up his pantheon by reaching 25 accumulated faith. He hadn't met any Religious city states and had no faith-generating abilities as the Cree which resulted in being one of the last players to pick from the pantheon list. Fortunately there was still a powerful choice available in Goddess of the Hunt: +1 food and +1 production on camps. Normally Goddess of the Hunt is pretty mediocre but this fertile map seemed to have plenty of deer resources in the Cree homeland, not to mention a pair of truffles tiles to the north of Bondsmith. Given that TBS wanted to settle for camp resources anyway to make use of the Cree trade route bonus, this was a natural pairing. Just look at the tile yields resulting from the deer camp at Bondsmith:
3 food, 4 production, and 2 gold - wow! Those truffles tiles would similarly have 2 food / 4 production / 5 gold yield once they were improved, no wonder TBS wanted to get a builder in place to add camps. Down to the south, one thing that these screenshots didn't manage to capture was the building of a Campus district on the tile to the west of the Government Plaza marker (just under the minimap in the above image). TBS started the Campus and proceeded to finish it in between his posts and therefore never actually showed Bondsmith building the district. This was another smart decision, as the Campus had +4 beaker adjacency bonus and nearly doubled his current science rate while also boosting State Workforce civic. The plan at the moment was to build the Government Plaza in the second city of Windrunner once that civic finished researching, but TBS would later cancel that decision and produce the Government Plaza in his capital instead. More on that in a moment.
Two cities on Turn 42 isn't a particularly fast rate of expansion in Civ6. However, TBS had been using these previous turns to crank out some key infrastructure (the Campus district, a monument, the second trader, etc.) He was waiting for the arrival of the Colonization policy and its +50% production bonus on settlers, setting up a civics swap to drop God King as soon as his civilization had finished stocking 25 faith for pantheon purposes. This avoided inefficiently training settlers without the Colonization card in place followed by double settlers out of both cities once it was enacted. This wouldn't work on a smaller, more congested map with nearby neighbors but the PBEM17 map was spacious enough that there was no pressure to move quickly on expansion. TBS was doing an excellent job of linking together his civics research and policy setup with his production queues in both cities.
One other thing to note here was the selection of Pingala for the first governor. City governors were added in the first Rise and Fall expansion of Civ6 and they're one of the best additions to the gameplay in the expansions (if somewhat micro-heavy to use effectively). Governors can be assigned to any city with a 5 turn delay to "move" to that location and they provide various benefits to the city while stationed there. In the initial Rise and Fall expansion, Magnus was luducriously overpowered as a governor since he added +100% to chopping/harvesting yields and this was under the old overflow mechanics where the entirety of that production would apply to the next item in the build queue. Players could chop a galley with the Maritime Industries production card in play (+100% production on naval units) along with Magnus and then get 150 production overflow into anything they wanted. Ridiculous.
Here in Gathering Storm, Magnus has been nerfed down to +50% for chopping/harvesting and production overflow has been super duper nerfed such that only the base production will overflow into the next item in the queue. Take this example from CivFanatics, producing an archer with Agoge policy (+50% production on melee/ranged units) and chopping for a base of 30 hammers:
Overflow Mechanics Example:
In the original non-expansion versions of Civ6, all of the production would overflow into the next build regardless of any modifiers in play. Here in Gathering Storm, only the *BASE* production will overflow and everything else will get wasted. Look at example #2 above where the player chops for 45 production on a build with 10 hammers missing and only gets 20 overflow instead of 35 overflow. I don't want to get too technical here but it's important to understand how the mechanics have changed since it results in major shifts in the gameplay. In earlier versions of Civ6, the ideal result was to build something to near-completion with a production bonus policy card in play and then chop for huge overflow into the next build. In Gathering Storm, chops/harvests should only be used when they will *NOT* complete the item in question to avoid having overflow production wasted. This is a huge change and it completely alters how city production needs to be managed.
Anyway, this was a roundabout way of explaining that Pingala now seems to be the ideal early governor in Gathering Storm, not Magnus as before. Pingala's governor abilities were pretty terrible in Rise and Fall before getting significantly buffed in Gathering Storm. The default Pingala ability is a 15% increase in science and culture in his stationed city, decent without being great. The real power comes from Pingala's next two promotions: Connoisseur is +1 culture per turn for each pop point in the city and Researcher is +1 beaker per turn for each pop point. Since these are flat bonuses instead of percentage bonuses, they have their maximum power in the early game and slotting a triple promoted Pingala in the capital city seems to be one of the most effective strategies for Civ6 Multiplayer. Think about it: the entire Cree civ was making 10 beakers and 6 culture per turn at the time of the screenshots above. A triple promoted Pingala in size 5 Bondsmith would be worth 5 * 1.15 = 5.75 beakers and culture per turn, a massive increase in both categories, and would only scale further as the game continued and the capital gained more population and more science/cultural output. Players who picked other governors in the early game would struggle to match the same science and cultural research.
Elsewhere on the map, the one Okihtcitaw who was still conducting deep scouting found two things of importance. The first was the presence of several more city states, enough to reach the boost for Political Philosophy and continuing speeding ahead to the first governments. TBS received no free envoys as all of these city states had already been met long ago by other players, however he did have the good fortune to roll the "construct a Government Plaza" quest at Militaristic city state Akkad. That was something that his civ was going to be doing anyway in the near future and an easy envoy for +2 production on units in the capital would be a nice little bonus. The other important discovery was meeting Kaiser's Greece in the far northeast of the continent. Kaiser was significantly closer to Cornflakes' Rome and this led to a natural pairing between the Cree and the Greeks. No one wanted to be run over by Roman legions and their civs were the two most likely targets. While this was an AI Diplomacy game with no communication allowed outside offers on the trade screen, there was the potential for these two civs to work together down the road against a common opponent.
Turn 45 was a busy turn with iron appearing on the map, the first new settler finishing in the capital, and a volcanic eruption that forced TBS to shift his plans:
The Black Sword:
I also didn't know that volcanic eruptions could destroy resource tiles - those poor sheep! TBS made a good decision here in the wake of the fiery explosion, choosing to build the Government Plaza in the capital instead of the second city and use Bondsmith as the main destination for his trade routes. (The Government Plaza adds +1 food and +1 production to trade routes so it needed to be constructed at whichever location was going to be the trade route hub.) It was better to build the Government Plaza at the capital simply because it could be finished much faster there, and having the district done at a sooner date would increase the snowball effects from having another governor promotion for Pingala and getting the Ancestral Hall into play sooner. Thus Bondsmith would become the big trade route center for the rest of the game, not the original (slower) plan to use Windrunner.
TBS also picked out the location of his next two cities for the two settlers under production. The "city 3" spot was absurdly strong in terms of terrain, on a plains hill with a pair of spices in the first ring and then truffles, deer, sheep, and horses in the outer rings. TBS mentioned that this would have been the location of his second city if he had scouted out the area earlier, and it was clear that this city was going to be a monster down the road. The "city 4" location was another strong spot with a 3 food / 2 production bananas tile in the first ring and then a truffles tile in the second ring which would have 3 food / 3 production / 5 gold yield once improved thanks to the Goddess of the Hunt pantheon. TBS was able to settle all of his early cities to take advantage of his pantheon and score crazy-good tile yields immediately.
En route to settling these two locations, TBS finally encountered the last remaining player on his continent: TheArchduke of Russia. This was the neighbor to the north and some rough terrain had kept both of them from running into one another throughout the early turns of the game. TheArchduke had founded the first religion of the game, as expected for a Russia player, and was stockpiling huge amounts of faith for use in an upcoming Golden Age. He had the highest empire score in the game (albeit somewhat deceptive because the Russia unique Lavra district counts double for score purposes) and good science/culture output as compared to the other players. It was immediately apparent that TheArchduke was going to be one of the major competitors in terms of winning the game.
Back at home, TBS was training a builder in his capital city with the intention of chopping some of the forested hills. He needed some mines for the Apprenticeship tech bonus down the road, and by chopping several forests it opened up the potential to finish the Government Plaza quickly for the third governor promotion. In fact, TBS thought that he could finish not only the Government Plaza but the tier 1 government building as well, the Ancestral Hall. This is by far the best of the three tier 1 government building options, granting +50% production towards settlers in the city and, more importantly, a free builder in every new city! TBS was trying to line up the completion of the Ancestral Hall on Turn 54 so that he could score the free builders in both of his new cities. This would require more chopping than he could do with a single builder though, and therefore TBS sent out offers to Rome and Russia of 3 gold/turn over the next 30 turns for 70 gold immediately. Somewhat surprisingly, this deal was accepted by Cornflakes on the next turn:
The Black Sword:
TBS therefore decided that he would use both of these settlers to lock down the border with each neighbor. The eastern settler would head to the original "X" spot and TBS was content to concede anything further east beyond that to Cornflakes. This was not a period to be clashing with Rome when they had their unique unit in play. Cornflakes arguably made two mistakes here, first accepting the offer to trade 70 flat gold for 3 gold/turn and then again by offering a Declaration of Friendship. Immediate gold in hand is worth much more than a trickle of gold over the next 30 turns and TBS used this cash infusion for an immediate builder purchase in the capital. The Declaration of Friendship similarly ensured that neither side could declare war for the next 30 turns, granting a perfectly timed period of reprieve from the possibility of a legion attack. By the time that Turn 80 rolled around, knights and crossbows would be on the scene to counter the Roman unique units. It was a strange decision to rule out even the possibility of an attack.
As for TheArchduke's Russia, TBS needed to delay settling for a few turns anyway so that he could complete the Ancestral Hall in his capital. He therefore decided to walk the settler further north and grab a city location in the disputed border zone with Russia. TheArchduke had also offered a Declaration of Friendship so there was no immediate risk to making an aggressive city plant, not with both sides unable to declare war for the next 30 turns. As it turned out, there was a natural desert border between the Cree and Russia and TBS wasn't stealing away any territory that would have otherwise belonged to his northern neighbor. Nevertheless, the decision-making process was sound here even if it didn't end up producing an advantage.
With the help of three forest chops from a pair of builders, the Ancestral Hall finished on Turn 54 at the capital of Bondsmith:
TBS had no screenshots at all of the Ancestral Hall under construction since he managed to finish it in three turns, extremely impressive for a building that costs 150 production. Bondsmith was already an amazing city pushing 20 production/turn and then the triple forest chops did the rest of the work from there. Note the stellar science/culture yields at the top of the screen from having a triple promoted Pingala in the capital at an early date. The completion of the Ancestral Hall even granted another governor promotion, which TBS used to take Liang and begin installing her in one of his new cities. Liang's default ability is to grant +1 builder charge to any builders completed in her city, and TBS would spend the rest of the game moving her around to pick up that extra builder charge wherever possible. More importantly, the Ancestral Hall also granted a free builder in each of the two new cities founded:
The intention at Skybreaker had been to construct one of the Cree Mekewaps on the floodplains tile southeast of the city. Unfortunately here TBS ran into an undocumented change in Gathering Storm that prevents Mekewaps from being constructed on floodplains tiles, not that the interface in-game ever mentions this. (The documentation for Civ6 has been poor ever since release; I do not understand how a flagship strategy game title can be so sloppy in this regard.) TBS had to fall back on a farm instead which at least would help push towards the boost for Feudalism civic. Skybreaker only had "good" terrain instead of obscenely powerful terrain and it would develop a bit slower than some of the other Cree cities.
Lightweaver, on the other hand, was pure nuts from the outset. TBS immediately purchased the truffles in the second ring and used his free builder to improve it into a 3/3/5 tile. The city also had the 3/2 bananas tile in the first ring and a bunch of plains hill tiles to mine for additional production as it grew. But that wasn't even including the real star of the show: the trade route. Windrunner's initial trade route from the beginning of the game had just run out and TBS redirected it over to the new city of Lightweaver where it would run a new route to the capital. Thanks to the Campus district, the Government Plaza, and a trio of camp/pasture improvements, that trade route was instantly worth 6 food / 2 production / 3 gold each turn. Holy cow! As TBS mentioned in one of his posts, Lightweaver would hit size 4 in the span of half a dozen turns and instantly become a mature city outputting 15 production per turn. He already had the city on military builds to help with the next strategic objective. Oh, and the trader would also culturally acquire four or five tiles as it moved over towards the capital city so that they wouldn't need to be purchased down the road. This was completely crazy in terms of developing a new city; no one aside from the Cree could have pulled this off.
Between the trade routes and the free builders from the super-fast Ancestral Hall, the game was snowballing at a rapid pace. How would the other players respond? The next bone of contention would center around the city states and who could incorporate them into their empires the fastest.