Epic Eleven: Universities and Cathedrals

The next scoring date wasn't until 1500AD, a long time away. My immediate concern was the outbreak of the first AI vs. AI wars; first Alex declared war on Frederick in 290AD, followed by Temujin declaring on Hatty in 320AD:

I cut and pasted the two screenshots together into one annoucement. Also note that Taoism has fallen seven turns before I reached Philosophy. That may have been another mistake on my part; I could have gotten to the tech first if I had researched Philosophy before Music. However, Hatty already had Literature tech, and I didn't want her stealing the free Great Artist at Music. I gambled that I could still get to the religion first, and it didn't quite work out. (The Greeks popped it with a Great Scientist.) Oh well. There was a decent chance that I could get Alex to spread the religion to me later on.

These war declarations meant that there were now three conflicts ongoing, including my own against the Spanish. Yes, my swords were easily slaughtering the Spanish defenders (Izzy lacked anything better than unpromoted archers) and Barcelona fell to me in 335AD. Since Spain still had several cities scattered all over the place, I decided to move on Madrid and take it as well. The war between the Mongols and Egyptians was phony as far as I could tell (a good thing, since it was on the other side of the map where I couldn't influence events!) but Alex was tearing Frederick a new one. He captured Cologne in 395AD, and I got this request shortly thereafter:

Alex wants my help in the war? Given that the Greek military was about three times the size of mine, there was only one possible answer: whatever you say, Alex! I could fight a phony war and build up even better relations through "shared military struggle" bonuses. Of course, Frederick would hate my guts forever, but he had already disliked me due to his Buddhist faith (check the right side of the screen above). And with Fred clearly a weak, largely irrelevant civ, the choice of who to support here wasn't difficult.

I just have to make sure Alex doesn't kill Frederick entirely!

Shortly thereafter, my swords completed the Spanish campaign by taking Madrid:

Adding another holy city into my hands, excellent. Madrid had possessed fairly strong cultural defenses (+60%), but there were only three archers on garrison inside, two of them unpromoted. I had six swords outside; the first won at 40% odds, and it was a romp after that. At this point I made peace with Izzy, since any further attack would eliminate her from the game, and I didn't want that! The important thing was getting additional cities (I now had 8) and access to a third religion to buid more cathedrals. Incidentally, you can also finally see just how lousy the Madrid location was that I talked about on the last page!

Now I was planning to stop here in terms of fighting, but the borders of Munich to the west expanded and began to crowd Madrid very badly. Since I was still at war with Frederick, I figured I'd head over there and at least see what the defenses looked like. When I saw nothing more than an archer and a spear in the city, the decision became a no-brainer:

At this point, I did make peace with Fred and let the poor guy off the hook. Between Alex's legions of horse archers and my swords, he never had a chance. Amazingly, I had gotten a popup in 515AD where Herodotus said that the Germans were in second place on the "Most Advanced Civs" list (behind me, of course). How did THAT happen?! Well, with the German civ devastated by war, Fred wouldn't be leading in tech for much longer!

Great Prophet #2 from the Stonehenge/Oracle combo was another no-brainer, used for the Confucian shrine in New York:

Chalk up another four base culture per turn in New York! The shrine income didn't hurt either; with 19 cities already following the faith, Confucianism was well on its way to becoming the dominant world religion. But the culture was the most important thing, since this was the weakest of my three cities (even if Boston still trailed in culture... for now). Notice also the mis-management of the city in the screenshot above; my worker has just completed the unworked grassland cottage THIS turn, and I snapped the picture before swapping over to that tile. I didn't screw up here, honest!

The only other usage for that Great Prophet would have been to save him for lightbulbing Divine Right, but I was quite confident that I could get that without help. None of the other civs had Theology yet, so there was no possible way for them to steal the world's final religion. After I finished researching a slightly-late Civil Service in 575AD, I started in on grabbing that fourth religion.

Meanwhile, Alex was STILL venting his fury on Frederick:

So much for the German capital! (I deleted a clams resource here and added a lot of plains tiles; just look how the plains above are sitting in the midst of the jungle! I hope I wasn't TOO obvious here...) This was good for my captured city of Munich (no more German culture pushing up against it), but bad in the larger strategic sense. Fred had only a couple of cities left! Fortunately Alex gave him peace a little bit later, but the Germans were going to be very weak from here on out.

These following years were peaceful for my civ. I continued to spread Confucianism around, and started to build missionaries for the other secondary faiths as well. Even without my help, Confucianism was still spreading very well amongst the other AIs, particularly Peter. I pushed down the tech tree as fast as possible, trading with one of the many AIs in the game for the techs that I bypassed. Toku declared war on Frederick in 725AD, but that was meaningless because he had to go through my territory to reach the Germans, and Toku of course refused to sign Open Borders! Heh.

I spent the medieval years planning out which wonders to build in Washington and Boston, plus what order to build them in. This was the first one to complete:

Even though the Hanging Gardens wasn't worth a tremendous amount of culture (only 6/turn), I went for it because it was one of the earliest ones on the tech tree. The health would be a nice boost too. You can see the next two wonders already under construction, with Angkor War in the capital and the cultural powerhouse Sistine in Boston. This is where that marble resource I'd picked up at Atlanta became a HUGE factor. I could have Washington (and its greater overall shield output via Bureaucracy) build the "stone" wonders, while Boston cleaned up all the "marble" wonders at a discount. That wasn't planned at the start of the game, but it worked great in practice.

Once the new cities in the north expanded their borders, I noticed something interesting. Take a look:

From coast to coast, my blue American borders block bisect the continent. In other words, no one can pass from east to west unless they have Open Borders with my civ! I would soon have a chance to use this to my advantage, as Alex declared war on Isabella - but he couldn't reach the tiny Spanish civ, as I canceled our Open Borders agreement! Thus I was able to keep the two "weaklings" alive at essentially no cost to me. You can see the final Spanish and German cities hanging out together right at the top of the above screenshot. I certainly wasn't in a position to declare war on Alex to protect Izzy.

Divine Right finished a short while later, and Islam was founded in Seville:

One of the ex-Spanish cities, naturally. I had major plans for Seville: look at that terrain closely. All jungle aside from the two peaks, plus a couple of bonus food resources with the rice and bananas. This was the perfect location to set up a Great Artist factory! It was going to take ages to cut down all that jungle, naturally, so I assigned three workers up here permanently and they spent the next few centuries cutting down and irrigating all that foliage. (I had a desperate need for more workers when the Spanish war finished; I think I had the capital build four of them without pause, with several more popped out of other cities. That was what I most need though, so that's what I built!) I'll come back to Seville later; I wanted to show the "before" picture now, since this site turned out to have such tremendous long-term potential.

A quick point here: this wouldn't be a bad spot for one of the Big Three cultural cities either. However, because the jungle terrain would be useless prior to researching Iron Working, and would be slow to develop even after that, I chose to acquire the area late and then use it as a supplemental Great Artist factory rather than as one of the main cultural centers. I'm sure some players will opt the other route, and the comparisons will hopefully prove insightful.

Disaster struck just after 910AD, as the Arabs culturally stole their marble tile back from me!

Since Atlanta had a library, theatre, temple, and monastery I didn't know how I had lost control of that tile. (I kept a savestate here and looked at it later; Saladin had put an Academy in the competing city, good grief!) However, I wasn't about to be beaten so easily! By crippling Atlanta's production and growth, I forced the two Artist specialists seen above and boosted the city's culture from 9/turn to 17/turn. A couple turns later, I reclaimed the disputed marble tile and things returned to normal. Whew!

Angkor Wat completed on schedule next:

This wasn't worth any scenario points, but it did have a nice cultural output at 8/turn, not to mention the fact that with all these temples, the shield boost to Priest specialists would come in handy! I had to build Angkor Wat before other competing wonders because a bunch of other AI civs already had the tech Philosophy. When in doubt, I built the wonders that were most in danger of falling first. I know that's just common sense, but I probably should mention it anyway.

New York didn't have enough shields to take part in the wonder race, so I had it build my first cathedral to stay competitive in overall culture:

Used the whip, naturally; New York had a lot more food than it did shields. 37 base culture was decent, although I needed to add more religions here to build the other temples and monasteries. There always seemed to be more things that needed doing and not enough time to get them done, which is usually the sign of an interesting game of Civ4.

Next up was Sistine in Boston - and some major news in the north:

Sistine's is the granddaddy of all wonders for this game; at 10 culture/turn and 2 more culture PER specialist, players who miss this one are going to have trouble competing for a fast finish. I didn't assign any scenario points to it, because everyone should make this a huge priority regardless. That boost applies to super-specialists as well, making Great Artists worth a whopping 14 culture/turn! Have I mentioned that this wonder was important?

As far as the war declaration, Isabella looked like she could be in serious trouble. My cities were all tied up on infrastructure, so I was in no position to jump into the conflict myself against the Aztecs. (My best units were swords, which didn't match up well with the Aztec horse archers.) So I did the next best thing: gift Feudalism to Izzy along with some 400g to pay for upgrades. I could only hope that this would allow her (running a One-City Challenge at this point) to survive the onslaught. Fortunately, it turned out to be; I saw nothing of the war, but the two eventually agreed to peace with no change in the status quo. Did my actions make a difference? I have no way of knowing! Turned out OK though, which made me happy.

After putting a library and theatre in Seville, it was time to add this crucial national wonder next:

Yep, going to run the Globe Theatre/National Epic combo here for mucho Great Artists. And the best part is that both national wonders produce Great Artist points, for a 100% pure Great Person pool! I was still a long way away from that, but the foundation was being set. Over the following decades, I would whip out just about every possible building that this city needed. The unhappiness penalty reached 100 at one point, heh. I suppose that I could have put either of those two national wonders in one of the Big Three cultural cities (they're worth decent culture themselves), but I wanted a devoted Great Artist farm more. Was it worth it? We'll have to compare notes when the game closes and find out!

I had to pit-stop for Divine Right in the medieval period, which took a while, but otherwise I was on a direct beeline to Liberalism. It was clearly the best play, due to the +100% culture at Free Speech civic. I got there at the decent date of 1172AD:

Given that this was only at Prince difficulty, I definitely could have done better here. But I had configured my capital for shields, NOT commerce (as most players so often due) in order to add more wonders for their culture. Would it have been better to get down the tree faster with more commerce at the capital, but build fewer wonders there? Good question, and one that I don't have an answer to. Maybe some of the reports will answer that.

I revolted to Free Speech immediately, even though Notre Dame was due on the next turn. (Didn't want to put off that culture boost for even one turn!) The wonder finished easily in 1184AD.

There's not a whole lot to report from the following turns. I was still in builder heaven, adding wonders like crazy in Washington/Boston while the rest of my cities built missionaries + temples, or pursued general infrastructure. I had little military and little need for it. All my neighbors (expect irrelevant Spain and Germany) were my allies, basking in the glow of a shared Confucian faith. By no means am I implying that these turns were boring though - I was having a great deal of fun! The first of the new wonders to complete was Versailles:

Can you tell I didn't build this wonder for its actual function? At a mere five tiles from the capital, I don't think it was exactly saving me much money in maintenance costs. But Versailles is worth a ton of culture (10/turn) and also 2 scenario points for this game. As the first to discover Divine Right, I had a free run on this wonder, so of course I took it. It also helped to be an Industrious civ with access to marble!

Washington continued the wonder action a few turns later:

Versailles' partner in crime, the other wonder at Divine Right that rarely tends to get built by humans. Once again, I built it purely for culture - but I actually had a decent amount of Confucian temples and monasteries too! Notice the positive income at 100% science, heh. Been a long time since I played a game at Prince level!

And yet ANOTHER wonder, as Boston rolled through the Hagia Sophia. I'm not finished yet either, as Taj Mahal is up next. (Have I mentioned how much having that marble helped? ) I built Hagia Sophia after Versailles because the AIs still had not discovered Engineering yet, and frankly, at that point neither had I! (Remember, I beelined to Liberalism after picking up Divine Right, so I didn't discover Engineering until well after having access to Versailles/Spiral Minaret.) Score another 3 scenario points for me.

Alex had built a city right on my western border around 500AD, in a rather poor desert location. I could see that it would fall within my territory once Washington hit Influential status (7500 culture), and would have no prayer to avoid a flip. Sure enough, the first revolt came in 1262AD, and the city fell in 1334AD:

Corinth was a weak site that wouldn't amount to much, but I was running a surplus at 100% science, so why not keep it? At the least I could train military and missionaries out of here. Thus I picked up my 10th city through purely peaceful means.

I originally planned to put the Hermitage in Boston, but with all those wonders jacking up its base culture I decided to go with New York instead:

I know that this is the eternal debate for culture victories, whether to put the Hermitage in your strongest or weakest cultural city. My thinking here was that since Washington and Boston would be getting the later culture-boosting wonders (Broadway and its ilk), I should put Hermitage in New York to help it keep pace with them. Maybe that was silly, and maybe I would have gotten a bigger payout overall from having this in the capital. Still, I wanted to keep the three cities accumulating culture at roughly the same rate, and this was the best way to do that. It seemed to work out OK.

I didn't want to research the techs at the bottom of the tree, but the AIs didn't leave me much choice due to their slowness in grabbing the Guilds/Banking line. I snapped them up and then picked up the free Great Merchant at Economics, merging him as a super-specialist in (surprise!) New York. Even 2 base culture/turn was better than nothing, right? After that, the next item of interest was the competion of Taj Mahal in Boston:

This turned out to be a really well-timed Golden Age, coming right before the 1500AD scoring deadline and giving me time to pursue a number of the buildings there. For example, just look at Boston pushing a Confucian cathedral above. (I had just enough time to finish the cathedral and a university here, which I had delayed to build all those wonders.) Even my non-Big Three cities were able to get into the act by frantically competing temples to open up more cathedrals. Coordinating the temples + religious spread via missionaries was a lot of fun!

I'm at war with Izzy in the above shot because Alex declared on her, and asked me to join in. It was 100% phony, but I thought I should explain that.

Boston was due to produce a Great Person right around 1430AD; I could get good use out of any of the three options, Great Prophet (shrine), Great Artist (duh), or Great Engineer (another wonder). Thanks to the Hanging Gardens, I ended up with a Great Engineer at about 25% odds! Now, what to do with him... I debated researching Democracy and going for Statue of Liberty, but ultimately used him on something less glamorous:

He rushed Oxford University in New York, adding 4 more base culture to my weakest city. This was also a major boost to my research; the little beaker icon shows that New York (with its six cottages and two gold mines) was already my top research city. I don't know if this was the best play, but it seemed like a solid move. I would end up skipping Democracy tech entirely and never researching it (or building the Statue). I wanted to push down the tech tree ASAP instead!

I thought that that would be the last event of note before the scoring deadline, but Montezuma had other ideas. He declared war on Frederick, and proceeded to move a large army after the pathetic German city. I thought about declaring war on Monty... for about one second, until I saw his army. I gifted Feudalism to Fred, but it wasn't enough. Auf Wiedersehen:

If I'd had a settler on hand I could have gifted him a city - but I didn't. And I wasn't giving up one of mine. So the first AI departed this world, never to be seen again. On the plus side, I poached the spot and picked up another city with decent commerce potential!

Here's what things looked like in 1500AD:

I took a shot of the Demographics, but I was first in every important category (except soldiers), so there's no real need to post it. Now, for the important comparison: how my cities were doing culturally!

I was proud to get all three cities over 200 culture/turn by this early date, even if Boston just toed the line! The order of the three cities in overall culture remains the same, still Washington/New York/Boston. However, that culture per turn number is actually somewhat deceptive; New York is out in front of Boston because it has way more cultural multipliers. All of the cities are getting +100% from Free Speech, but Washington also has two cathedrals (total of +200%) and New York has two cathedrals plus Hermitage (total +300%) while Boston only has a single cathedral (+150%). The BASE culture is actually 94/turn for Washington, 80/turn for Boston, and a mere 57/turn for New York. So while Boston is behind now, and has the least culture overall, it will catch up in a BIG way once more cathedrals get added.

I hope that wasn't too boring, but I enjoy crunching these kind of numbers.

For the scoring, I totalled 9 universities and 5 cathedrals, a total of 19 points. You can see the universities and the Confucian cathedrals above; I also had one Christian and one Islamic cathedral. (This is verifiable via savegame, if desired.) My number can certainly be beaten, but hopefully not by TOO much. If someone ends up with 20 universities somehow, then I clearly messed up this scoring element as well. My hope is that the need to build libraries before universities, and three temples for each cathedral, will keep things within reason. No scoring system is ever perfect, so we'll see!

Next up: cranking up the cultural machine into high gear.