Epic Ten: Rising Sun

The concept for Epic 10 was very simple: reprise the scenario we played in Civ3, a Deity game with all victory conditions except Conquest turned off. Obviously this would be easier than a standard Deity game, although winning would be far from a simple chore. I picked Tokugawa as the leader mostly because we used Japan for the Civ3 version of this game, but it didn't hurt that he actually has pretty good traits for a Deity game. Aggressive/Organized was a nice fit for this scenario. Most of the planning that went into this game therefore centered around selecting the right map to fit what I had in mind.

The original Rising Sun game had two continents, so I duplicated that in the selection of map script. After that, I rolled maps until I came across one that looked interesting. This was about the third one that I considered. What I like about this map is that the player has some breathing room at the start; not a lot, but space to achieve a decent core. Mao and Caesar are the opponents sharing the continent with the player; I didn't place them there myself, but they also fit with some of the ideas I had in mind. The plan is that the player can ally with Mao against Caesar (or vice versa) down the road to help in achieving Conquest; both of them are amongst the most mercenary of AIs, easy to get on your side in a conflict. Of course, they're also relatively aggressive themselves, but that's par for the course. I've always found it relatively easy to establish friendly relations with both of them though, so there should be some wiggle room for interesting diplomacy.

Now usually I send out start files with the initial settler unmoved, but for this game I founded Kyoto first. Everyone will have the same starting position for this game. There was a reason for that! The settler began one tile east of the start, on a plains forest. This was the recommended spot provided by the game (blue circle and all), and I knew that if I left the settler alone, most players would begin there. Of course, what I could see (I'm looking at the map in the Worldbuilder, naturally) is that there was a pigs resource hidden in the fog to the west; in fact, the tile one move west was clearly far and away the best possible spot to put the capital. I figured that this game was hard enough as is, so I wanted to give everyone a decent shot with a strong initial capital. Thus the start file went out with the first city already founded: to get that invisible pigs in play. Make sense?

I started out with a warrior build and research into Hunting. This being a Deity game, one warrior was NOT going to cut it for defense in the early going. The plan was to grow to size 2 while training that warrior, then start a worker (yes, pushing things a bit there, but got to get the growth curve growing ASAP on Deity!) I already met scouts from both the Romans and Chinese by 3550BC, their scores making a mockery of my efforts. After researching Hunting, I next went for Animal Husbandry, the obvious tech choice to make use of the cows + pigs at the start. That was then followed by Archery, which would allow me to build an archer after the worker at the capital to counter the inevitable barb hordes. My archer coincided perfectly with growth to size 3, at which time I swapped Kyoto over to a settler (this in 2680BC). With the cows and pigs pasturized, the settler would take 13 turns to complete.

This is about when the barbs began showing up in force for the first time. I had a bit of a scare when I saw this:

I was able to get my exploring warrior and archer back just in time (you can see them returning from the west); the northern archer chose to attack Kyoto rather than pillage, and so I managed to get out of this little jam with no setbacks. The one downside was that it pulled my anti-barb, fog-busting units away from the frontier, which would come back to hurt me a bit.

Second city founded in 2230BC:

Osaka doesn't have the greatest land in the world, but I knew I had to stake my claim here first, before the area was gobbled up by those monsters to the south. Notice the defensive nature of the settlement too, only overlapping one tile with the bordering Roman city. I made sure to build the city on the only hill in the region, and this proved to be a good idea, as it absorbed a number of barbarian attacks over the years.

Now here's the big downside: a barb city has ALREADY popped up on my borders to harass me. In 2230BC! This really irritated me because I had been actively sending out units to fogbust as much as possible; the archer due in 2 turns was planned to head to the southeast corner to prevent a barb city from appearing there. And that's where the best land is around the start too! Argh. A barb city in that northern tundra would have been much less of a problem.

Stonehenge fell in 1810BC (as I discovered a second barb city to the west), followed by this fun announcement:

Pyramids in 1690BC?! Welcome to Deity!

Here's the situation in 1510BC:

The third city was founded a couple of turns ago, on the eastern coast. I picked this location because it had the best land available and was sheltered from barbarians, but in hindsight I think this was the wrong choice. Not to say that there wouldn't be a city here anyway eventually, but I should have pushed to grab more of the available land while it was still open. This location wasn't going to get taken by the AI civs. Two tiles north of the clam resource might have been a better spot (although it would be doubtful to ever claim that resource away from Caesar), or over by the copper just to stake a claim to the area. Still, this kind of information is really only available in retrospect; I could only act upon the knowledge that I had at the time. And that stupid barb city in the southeast was dictating many of my actions. I probably let its presence get to me a bit too much.

After cleaning up the intro techs, I went after Iron Working next. This was one area where my spoiler info affected the game; I KNEW that there was iron at the capital, so I wanted to push there to connect it and build some swords to go after that barb city. Ironically, if I hadn't known that, I would have certainly gone for the copper resource next (for axes) and probably ended up stronger down the road. Heh.

I snapped this picture because it was the first time that the barbs managed to pillage one of my resources:

I was limited in what I could do defensively, because I had no unit better than archers myself. Argh, I definitely should have settled that copper when I had the chance! Instead, you can see my fourth city up at the top of the screen; Edo claims furs and silver, which will eventually solve my crippling happiness problems. But again, that site really could have waited a little longer, since there wasn't much of a threat of the AI civs taking it...

Here's a quick shot showing some of the absurdities of Deity difficulty:

It's not enough that on Deity you pay vastly inflated tech costs, the civic upkeep is crippling, and the city maintenance costs are jacked up to a ridiculous degree. The real killer financially is often the unit support costs; I have a paltry army of 7 total units, yet I'm already paying 3 gold/turn in maintenance. That might not sound bad, but remember that my whole income is only 11 gold/turn right now - this is a major burden! I was actually having to disband warriors as I built archers because the costs were simply too great to afford them. Meanwhile, the AIs run around with armies 5 times the size of the player's, while paying a fraction of the upkeep costs. It's beyond unfair... but that's the point of Deity, right? Still, I wonder sometimes.

So after many years of researching Iron Working at a slow rate, I finally discover the tech in 670BC. And in an amazing surprise, it turns out that I have iron!

Now I can train swords out of Kyoto and Tokyo and use them to attack that barb pest in the south. But wait! Look on the left side of that screenshot. My delay in settling the copper location has caused the Chinese to poach it out from under my nose with their own city of Tianjin. I will end up regretting this many times over during the course of the next couple thousand years.

Of course, that's still in the future at this point. In the meantime, I'm taking advantage of my food surplus at Tokyo to whip a pair of swords (the overrun from the first nearly being enough to complete the second), which then proceed to kick some behind at Libyan:

Even though that barb city had a great location, I burned it down. Didn't fit with my dotmap! My replacement city went one tile southwest, which cut out most of the overlap with Tokyo. I now had four strong cities and one fishing village, with few options left to expand further by peaceful means. Would that be enough to compete with the Deity AIs? Guess we'll find out.

There was another barb city in the west that I had hoped to capture after taking Libyan, but the Chinese beat me to it and took Gaul in 445BC. There remained some room on the coast to the north of that city where I could sneak in another fishing village, so I made plans to do that as well when I got the chance. I thought that I was prepared for the speed at which the Deity AIs would expand, but they surprised me at times, I have to admit. That barb city was perhaps another missed opportunity; could a force of axemen have grabbed it sooner? Maybe. I'll have to see how others played things in their games.

How to you deal with very low health and happy caps on Deity? Do a lot of whipping and run a lot of specialists:

Tokyo was the natural place to run specialists, with all its excess food. I added these scientists mostly for the beakers they provided, but the Great Person points wouldn't hurt either. I figured that an Academy in the capital would probably be the best use of a Great Scientist, so I might as well get to work on it now when there was nothing else to do here.

As the BC years drew to a close, I finally began having diplomatic connections to the other civs for the first time. Once it became clear that there was no more territory to steal away from me, I signed Open Borders with both Mao and Caesar, then build a road to establish a trade route. I was able to send my only cattle resource (unneeded) to the Romans in exchange for their excess dyes, which proved to be a huge help. I had plenty of health, but desperately lacked for happiness! Researching Monarchy at full speed to help out on that front, but the tech was still a number of turns away. Once the AIs got Currency and traded it around, I was also able to sell some old techs for gold. Amazingly, Caesar did not have Meditation in 175BC, and I was able to send it to him for 120g. What had he been doing?! The cash influx helped speed my way to Monarchy.

Here was the situation at the outset of the AD years:

On the whole, I was largely satisfied with this landgrab. I should have gotten the Tianjin location, but otherwise things look pretty good. There are also some wasted tiles around Kyoto that could have been handled better... but again, it's easy to criticize in retrospect. I felt as though I had made a good stab at the opening. Research was beginning to pick up, as I finally was able to add some cottages at the capital. Hereditary Rule civic was also helping enormously in getting my cities up to larger sizes. The oddity was the total lack of religion on my continent; Isabella and Huayna (both starting with Mysticism) had monopolized them all thus far. That was not my intent with this game, let me assure you! I felt that the presence of Izzy in Epic Four also screwed things up with regards to religion. Next time we do a Deity game, I'm making sure that Spain is NOT part of it!

And the Demographics from 5AD. Not much to see here, pretty much last in every category. I mainly snapped the screenshot for comparison purposes to other games. But hey, at least I'm leading in, uh, life expectancy!

When I discovered Code of Laws in 65AD, I was able to send it to Caesar in exchange for Mathematics. How an Organized civ like Caesar could manage to avoid Code of Laws until the AD years (on Deity!) is beyond me, but it happened. I was definitely surprised by the number of trading opportunities that popped up in this game, even with just the two opponents to wheel and deal with. Kinda thought that I'd be so far behind as to be out of the loop entirely.

The big payoff, however, came when I popped my first Great Scientist in 140AD. He was lightbulbing Philosophy, a tech which NONE of the AIs on my continent had discovered! (Isabella had already founded Taoism though, nuts.) Well, so much for that plan of using the Great Scientist on an Academy! Let's trade, baby!

Six for one, mmmm. So where do we stand now?

Still AT LEAST six techs behind Mao, just based on what I can see currently. Welcome to Deity!

I puttered along, following in the wake of the AIs and generally trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible. The next major event to take place was the emergence of a religion (finally!) on the starting continent:

Yes, Mao (of all AIs) founded Islam, the final religion on the tree. With no competition on the whole continent, Mao would spread the faith around like wildfire; with his bazillion Great People, he had the shrine up very quickly too. As a result, I would see the unusual result of Islam becoming not only a major religion, but the DOMINANT world religion in this game. Overall, I viewed this as a plus for me. If I could convert to the new faith, I'd reap huge shared faith bonuses with both Caesar and Mao, decreasing the likelihood that they would attack me.

Yep, there we go. That didn't take long, did it? You can see that Mao and Caesar had already converted over themselves. My plan at this stage of the game is simply surviving to reach the end of the tech tree. Once I reach that point, I can shift gears over to military production and decide how to play things further. If the three of us form a big lovey-dovey Islamic triangle, that's great news for my Japanese people. Getting Mao and Caesar to Friendly status (at which point they won't attack me) is the number one goal at this point in time.

In the meantime, I had discovered Civil Service in 335AD, getting a sizable boost from the Big B in my small empire. I sent the tech to Mao for Compass and Monotheism; hardly a fair deal, but why not? Mao's only going to get it himself soon enough; better to get whatever I can now and simply push further up the tree as fast as possible. In 605AD, I noted happily that my GNP had actually ticked above Caesar's in the Demographic rankings! Of course, I've been concentrating on nothing but my commerce for the last 100 turns, and the Romans are destroying me in every other category, but it was still noteworthy.

When I finished that Optics research you see above, I whipped out three caravels and began exploring. I know where the other continent is located, naturally, but I wanted to find the other two AIs to open up further trading opportunities. Finding Huayna was no surprise, but I got major news from contacting Isabella:

She only has THREE cities! (Look at that list on the left side.) And sure enough, a quick chat with Huayna revealed that Barcelona was in Incan hands. The AIs on the other continent are fighting each other! Great news for me. In fact, with Izzy's score lower even than my own, I hoped that there would be a future opportunity to poach some territory on the other continent at minimal effort down the road.

I used my second Great Scientist on an Academy in Kyoto in 755AD; the Bureaucracy/Academy combo exploded my research in the capital, allowing me to somewhat keep pace with the AIs. And amazingly, I actually managed to achieve this a couple turns later:

Ha! Take that, Deity AIs! Down the road, this could be hugely helpful for executing a transcontinental invasion. At the moment, I was happy to sell my map info every couple of turns for pennies, Civ3-style.

Mao, the uber-AI, was the first to discover Liberalism at the disgusting date of 965AD. I never had a chance at it, of course, but I WAS the first civ to discover Nationalism. I picked up Guilds and Theology from Huayna for it and 770g from Mao (because I had exceed the WFYABTA limit with him, he refused to trade me techs). Caesar also refused to trade techs with me for the same reason, so I did something really different with him:

I GIFTED him Nationalism for free, taking relations up to Friendly level! I now was 100% insured against Roman attacks for the future, which was a huge relief because he could have swept me off the map without batting an eye. Even better, the WFYABTA trading limitation disappears with Friendly civs, so I would once again be able to swap techs with Rome down the line. Was giving away a tech worth it to gain this kind of security? You bet it was!

Now, if I could just get Mao and Huayna to Friendly status as well, I would really be set.