Adventure Four: Hatty's Horses

I'm sick and tired of hearing about "We fear you are becoming too advanced!" (WFYABTA)

For those who don't frequent our forums, there's been a LONG running discussion about the in-built trading limit to Civ4 called WFYABTA. In short, you can only trade for so many techs before the AI civs simply stop trading with you. We put this in place to prevent the rampant tech-whoring of Civ3, and - while it's not perfect - the system has my full support. It just doesn't bother me. AI civ doesn't want to trade techs? OK, no problem. I don't understand why an AI civ should "have" to be willing to make a deal. That's the old habits of Civ3 talking there. We can argue fairness or unfairness until the cows come home, but in the end I'm entirely happy with what we ended up with. (If everyone could see where we were back in testing, they might not keep harping about this!)

What does this have to do with Adventure Four? In this game, the player is never allowed to acquire Alphabet by any means. Ever. In other words, no early tech trading at all, and only limited trading thereafter when the AI civs (which are notoriously late at grabbing Alphabet) finally research it themselves. What a clever concept for a game from Arathorn! We'll get to run a competition (fastest to spaceship victory) without early tech trading being a factor at all. I'll just have to research everything myself, which is fine with me, and see if later opportunities present themselves. As far as Alphabet itself goes, the only techs taken off the table for this game are Alphabet, Drama, Literature, and Music. Yep, all of them are optional, you can skip all four and still launch the spaceship. Big losses include no Great Library or Heroic/National Epics, no theatres (ouch! we're Egypt and would get cheap ones!), no cathedrals, and no adjusting the cultural rate at all, ever! Could be tough going to war then, heh. Still, this promises to be a lot of fun.

Again, I'm Egypt for this game. Hatshepsut is considered a "power civ" in Multiplayer, thanks to her free culture (Creative) and dominant Ancient Age Unique Unit (War Chariot). Those babies are 5 strength and only cost 25 shields. TWENTY FIVE! A warrior costs 15! So the plan for this game is to pull a MP strategy: rapid early growth, found a couple of quick cities, secure HORSES, build some War Chariots, and go kick some AI behind! Going into the game, I'm not even thinking all that much about a fast finish; I'm playing to kick some ass. The extra land should help me research faster later on, anyway. That's the plan going into the game, anyway.

There's the start. I moved the warrior one tile to the north, onto the pigs hill, and saw marble to the north. I thus moved the settler one tile north and founded on the spot you see in 4000BC. I don't think I really gained anything by moving (I gained a marble and lost an ivory), but I didn't lose anything either. Thebes had a fantastic site for a starting city: SIX floodplains and a pig resource for insane early food, marble and four hill tiles for tons of production. In fact, I had more food than I could possibly use here, so I decided I would cottage most of those floodplains and add even more on the grassland tiles to the east of the city. But now I'm getting ahead of myself.

Thebes builds a worker to start the game. I've got SUCH good land that I want to get it improved immediately. I have no interest in pursuing an early religion, as I plan to emphasize rapid growth, so research goes into Animal Husbandry to start. That will finish in 12 turns, timed nicely to finish a little before the worker (15). And - it will reveal horses! Hatty needs her horses, remember; an Egypt without War Chariots is a sad sight indeed. Warrior starts exploring, grabs gold from the two huts you can see in the above screenshot. Sea to the east, tundra to the south - very good. That should be a secure back-filling area later on. Buddhism FIDL in 3640BC, no loss there. I discover Animal Husbandry in 3520BC and start work on Mining; dang, no horses in range.

Move one tile to the north the next turn - scratch that, there ARE horses in range!

And just like that, I already know where my second city is going. Rice, gold, HORSES - a very good spot for a city. Yes, it wastes some coastal tiles - but I can always add some fishing cities later to grab the coast. Green dot is a potential location, depending on more scouting. The important thing is that I'll have horses. Woohoo!

And the very next turn my warrior gets eaten by a bear. *Chomp* So much for my military!

I should mention that I took many fewer notes and pictures for this game than my previous ones. The reports were getting a little out of hand (over 120 screenshots and 10 pages of notes for Adventure Two!) so one of my resolutions for this year is to spend less time writing and more time playing. There should still be far more detail than anyone really wants or needs in this report, of course...

So Thebes finishes its worker in 3400BC and starts in on a warrior, mostly just so that I can have something getting built while it grows. I WILL need a unit to accompany the first settler though, so I can't just work on barracks here. After Mining, I start research into Bronze Working. Oh yes, there will be much Slaving in this game, just you wait. Lions, bears, and even a panther continue to circle my borders in these years. I have zero military units, so I'm glad that animals won't cross into your borders at this time! Thebes gets a border expansion in 3000BC (yay Creative!), finishes its warrior, grows to size 3, and starts a settler. Already down to 11 turns on the settler, so my expansion is proceeding nicely.

Hinduism FIDL in 2800BC. Obviously could have gotten that if I wanted to - but instead, I already have my pigs pasturized and Thebes cranking along towards another settler. I'm quite happy with the choice I made here. The discovery of Bronze Working reveals I have copper at the starting location too! Excellent, that's as good as having another hill tile in range. Thebes is going to be an awesome city, mark my words. Finish settler in 2600BC, Thebes starts barracks while growing. Yes, Thebes has no military unit guarding it at this point, but it's well worth it in my opinion; why build 15-shield warriors, when I can build 25-shield War Chariots in a couple more turns? This is as close to a Farmer's Gambit as Civ4 gets, and I'm going to push it here until I get those horses hooked up! A steady diet of pigs and floodplains quickly pushes up Thebes' population. Memphis founded 2520BC, starts a barracks. It will be my military center for the near future, pumping a steady stream of War Chariots. Thebes interrupts its barracks build once it hits size 4 to pop out another worker (already down to only 5 turns!) And as soon as it finishes that worker in 2240BC, I've already got horses hooked up and can start on a War Chariot for real defense. Here's the picture from when that finished:

Do I win the race for "fastest to War Chariots"? I do think it was important to get them hooked up quickly, just so that they could be built for defense rather than warriors or archers. Archers and War Chariots cost the same amount of shields, but War Chariots are almost twice as strong and get 2 moves. I know what I was planning to build early on.

So at this point I already have connected pigs and copper at Thebes, plus two mined hill tiles. When Thebes was growing, it would work all the floodplains and explode up in population, and whenever it stopped to produce a settler/worker, it would work the shield tiles for fast production. You can't set up that kind of system too often, but it's very strong when the conditions are right. Memphis was off to a good start too, with rice and a floodplains for growth and horses/gold for production and commerce. It would build my early armies of War Chariots. And note that I've already met Qin at this point! One of the game's Financial civs is a neighbor? That's... interesting.

I had already researched Masonry to enable quarries, and the research you see above is heading towards Priesthood. Yes, with the marble on hand, naturally I'm heading for an early Oracle. While researching that, I had Thebes start on another settler once it hit size 5 in 2040BC - and the time was already down to 7 turns. Wow. This might possibly be my strongest start ever. And I haven't had to do stupid stuff like burning a million forests on early chops either - my cities are going to remain strong ages and ages down the road. I'm already liking the look of this. Heliopolis founded in the south in 1640BC (grabbing cows), Memphis finishes its barracks at about this time too and starts cranking the War Chariots. They begin exploring in all directions for targets. (No-Scouting Sulla? We'll see in this game, Sirian! ) Stonehenge is FINISHED in 1560BC (wow! glad I have no need or desire for that!) in a distant land, and I hasten my Oracle research. Fortunately, I can build it in just 6 turns with marble at Thebes... so I do so.

Time to take Metal Casting and do the traditional Sulla early Colossus, right? Wrong!

I take Code of Laws and grab a free religion instead! Heliopolis becomes the Holy City, I send the free missionary back to Thebes and convert it. Now, why the religion? First of all, I didn't feel a pressing need for early forges here. My cities had plenty of shields already! Colossus was considerably less useful on this map, as there was lots of good (very good!) land available. No, the primary weakness of my civ was that I didn't have a whole lot of happiness resources nearby. Ignoring an early religion allowed me to expand rapidly - and now the Oracle allowed me to grab a religion at almost no cost whatsoever, allowing that expansion to continue past what would have otherwise been the happiness limit. The shrine income wouldn't hurt either down the road. I'm confident that the religion was the best selection from the Oracle in my situation - and the early chance to build courthouses didn't hurt either!

Thebes went right back onto a settler when it finished the Oracle, then it built another worker when that was finished. By 1000BC, I already had 4 cities and was still in great shape economically:

That gold resource was probably enough to support an entire city all by itself in the early going, so it was well worth it to have Memphis work the tile (even though it slowed the city's growth a bit). Heliopolis is the Confucian Holy City; it has good production, but it's low on food and always will be. Elephantine is just getting started, but will be a strong fishing city down the road. The ability to ignore culture completely with these Creative civs just lets you expand so fast! By no means is this trait underpowered.

Also note the barb city in the northeast (which I plan to conquer sooner rather than later) and that I've met Huayna Capac as well. OK, the game's two Financial civs are on my borders? This is TOO perfect. I didn't think that there would be anyone south of me, but Huayna got shafted with a tundra start to my south and west. He would remain weak and largely irrelevant for centuries. As for Qin... I still hadn't found him yet, and I had explored quite a ways. Look at that minimap! I have War Chariot scouts in the northeast, northwest, southwest, and direct south. So much for "No-Scouting Sulla!" The only downside is that I've got all these War Chariots and no civs close enough to use them on. Argh!

Then again - it wasn't all bad. Starting isolated let me expand very quickly with few worries. And all those War Chariots turned out to be useful after all, as the isolated start turned out to spawn lots of barbs. They never posed even the slightest threat to me, as my War Chariots slaughtered them in large numbers before they ever reached my cities. Seriously, I don't think they ever got even one tile improvement from me. Can't wait to see how everyone else handled the barbs - I think I got real lucky in that my army was coincidentally sitting around to deal with them once I realized that I had an isolated start!

One more thing from the above map - it's 1000BC and I still don't have a single cottage up yet. In fact, my worker was building the very first one outside Heliopolis. That was about to change. Now that I had successfully pushed growth by early maximizing food/shields, it was time to back that up with commerce, specifically by cottaging all those lovely floodplains around Thebes. I was near the bottom in GDP at this point in time, but that wouldn't last for long. Techwise, with early Alphabet ruled out, I simply pushed for early Currency instead to reap the maximum economic benefit. Nothing supports expansion better than early acquisition of Code of Laws (courthouses) and Currency (markets and +1 trade routes)!

I finally met Kublai Khan in 800BC; he was the Hindu founder. He also soon swapped to Judaism, revealing that he had founded THAT religion too. How often do you see a Mongolian HinJewism?! I also met FDR a little bit later too. 5 civs on my continent? Unusual. Must be 3 on the other continent then, according to the info Arathorn had provided us with. Lots of building turns followed this, which I don't have a lot of details on. Alexandria was founded on the northeast coast in 475BC, Pyramids were built in a distant land in 400BC. I had not been trying for them, naturally.

Finally I was ready to attack the barb city of Zapotec in 350BC:

It was 5 War Chariots against 2 archers, so the battle was never an issue. I suffered no losses, guess I was being a little overly conservative on the attack, heh. Zapotec was an amazing city site, with clams, rice, ivory, bananas, and sugar all present. It would take some time to hack out of the jungle, but WOW what a location. Came with a free barb worker too. And it even left room for another fishing village to the east to grab the cows and fish! Good stuff all around up there.

Currency discovered in 225BC, the same turn I hit 1 million population. That was #1 by a wide margin according to the demographics; in fact, I was dominating everything except GNP, where I was still #4. Hmm... still have work to do there. In a stroke of luck for me, Kublai turned up with Alphabet in 125BC. Now I could trade with him! I only actually made one deal, but it was a significant one: Code of Laws for Monarchy. I swapped to Hereditary Rule and told my cities to grow grow GROW! I was also able to exchange rice for incense to further allow more city growth.

Pi-Ramesses founded in 75BC as "whipping boy #1" (I'll show the picture in a minute). Thebes generates a Great Prophet from the Oracle in 50AD, who heads to Helipolis and builds the Confucian Shrine (Kong Miao) the following turn. Here's how things stand in 100AD:

I have seven cities, and I'm still running in the black at 70% science. That is very unusual, but Thebes is already working 5 cottages (!) and it's size 11. Memphis also has two cottages, and a gold resource, and Heliopolis is kicking is already kicking in 10gpt from the 10 cities in the world with Confucianism. Aside from Slavery and Hereditary Rule, I'm running all default civics and my overhead costs are still very low. No Organized Religion for me! (I don't have Polytheism OR Monotheism, in fact!) I'd rather just build missionaries the old-fashioned way and keep on growing. Deserving of special attention are Pi-Ramesses and the island to the north of it (where I will soon found Giza). Those are pure fishing cities, BOTH with two food resources, where EVERYTHING will be whipped. Magnificently useful locations, both of them. Anyone who failed to settle them (and make HEAVY use of the whip) is going to be missing out on an excellent source of income!

Oh, and as far as the Demographics go?

I'm already #1 in the three most important categories: GNP, Production, and Population. Also barely second in land area, which will change soon. Frankly, I can't remember ever being #1 in GNP this early with a non-Financial civ on Monarch. I think I'm off to a good start here.