Epic One: Wonder Time

Having grabbed the first city site I wanted, I now continued on with the peaceful building of my civ - not that I could do anything else, given our variant rules here! The next message I got was that Hinduism was FIDL in 1600BC, and here I need to say a word or two. Based on the civs that were present in this game, as well as the stone at the starting position, I decided not to pursue a religion out of the gate. I expected the religions to fall quickly. But - they didn't, as you can see. With no happiness resources around the start, my cities therefore got stuck at a low size for lack of religion for a number of turns. That may have been a mistake, but I just did NOT expect the AI to be so slow on the religions. As it was, Monty didn't even found Hinduism - it was Gandhi yet again. Will this be the same across all the games? I don't know. This is one area where other players could have potentially got ahead of me, in other words - but I stand by my initial rationale!

After finishing Archery, I went back and cleaned up Pottery. More importantly, Paris finished the wonder it had been working on:

OK, I know that the free obelisks didn't do me one iota of good as a Creative civ. But I wanted the free Great Person points, and seeing as how I could build the wonder in only 12 turns (on Epic, remember!) it was more than worth it. The Great Prophet points began accumulating in Paris, though with 150 required here on Epic, it would take a while for that to mean anything.

For the next few turns, not all that much happened. I had Paris set to max food, which allowed it to grow quickly with its cow and wheat tiles. While it was growing, I had the city finish the barracks it had started earlier, then go on to build several archers to guard my cities. Orleans was buried in jungle and had little productivity, so it was slowly building a granary down in the south. Like so many of the cities I founded in this game, it would start out slowly but have great potential down the line. In 1200BC, I finish Pottery and start research into Polytheism, intending to head towards Priesthood and the Oracle. After building three archers, Paris went onto a settler for my third city; I already had a nice site picked out in the west. Judaism FIDL in 1050BC - again by none of the civs I've met! Gandhi thus got all three of the early religions - bet that didn't happen in every game!

Here's the picture from 1000BC a couple turns later:

Paris is working on a settler to head to the red dot indicated. That city spot has 5 hill tiles and 2 food resources, so I plan on mining everything in sight and making it a true shield powerhouse. (Orleans, by contrast, I can already see will be cottaged and turned into a commerce city.) I still can't cut down forest or jungle, and currently 13 of Orleans' tiles have some kind of vegetation on them, so you can see why it's off to a slow start. Paris is stuck at size 5 for lack of more happiness (here's where going for an early religion would have helped!) I planned to build the Pyramids for Representation happiness soon though, so hopefully that would solve that problem. Finally, take a look at the Mongol archer/settler pair circled in brown. Temujin would found a city ON that tile the following turn, in an aggressive move at my borders. By coincidence though, the city slotted in well with my dotmap, and there was a good chance that it would flip, so I wasn't complaining!

After finishing the settler, Paris produced a long-overdue second worker. Lyons founded in the west in 900BC - just you wait and see this city later on! Tons of potential there. Research went from Polytheism to Priesthood to Bronze Working. I made the observation in 640BC that I could actually build the Oracle faster than I could research Bronze Working - ha! My commerce stunk in the worst way early on. That's a problem that everyone will have to deal with, and indeed it will be interesting to see how they'll solve it. Naturally I needed Bronze Working to finish before completing the Oracle, I hope you can see why...

As a result, I squeezed out another settler in Paris before going on to the Oracle. That settler headed way down to the southern coast to mark my claim there. Grabbed a site with cows and a clams resource - and one of the few locations on my subcontinent not buried in jungle. Heh. All my early cities except Orleans were huddled on the coasts, afraid to head into the jungle-choked interior until I got my hands on Iron Working. I also finally did meet Gandhi around this point, in 600BC - I could have had contact centuries earlier if my scouts hadn't been killed! Oh well.

Meanwhile, my awesome culture was putting the squeeze on Temujin's new city:

This is why Creative is not an underpowered trait. Free culture is indeed quite strong early on in the game; I had total control of the land between myself and the Mongols, giving me plenty of warning of an invasion. Turfan is an almost useless city, due to the fact that I've stolen almost all of its tiles. It never did flip to me, but I did have a ton of pressure on the city. City turned out to have copper too, making it an even more desirable spot for future acquisition should Temujin decide to pick a fight.

Bronze Working was discovered in 360BC - I now went back and started researching Fishing. (Yes, I had skipped it entirely up to this point; like I said, my commerce stunk!) My civ had gone almost broke researching Bronze Working (I certainly couldn't afford more cities at this point), so now it was time to build up some infrastructure for a while before pushing forward with renewed expansion. But first of all, the reason why it was so important to get to Bronze Working quickly:

So that I can take Metal Casting with the Oracle! (Look at that research time - 104 turns! Ha!) Thus I was able to get my double-speed forges into play VERY early on in the game. Forges ordered up all over the place, in both Paris and Lyons to start. Getting to Metal Casting early on is one of the best strategies that Industrious civs can employ for just that reason. This part of the plan is working out very well indeed.

Bad news followed good news, however: Gandhi finished the Pyramids in 220BC. Wow, that's quite early, especially for Epic. I can only conclude that he had stone near his start too. I was planning on building the Pyramids myself to help out with happiness, but obviously that wouldn't be possible now. At least I didn't waste any production chasing it though. It will be interesting to see if this happens in the other games; someone could potentially have gotten a large boost from the Pyramids and done better than me in that regard. It was not to be in this game, however. Then Washington built the Great Lighthouse in 160BC! Wow! I don't even have Sailing yet at this point! Not that I was really targetting that wonder, but these AI civs are moving fast.

Remember that I moved the settler on the first turn of the game so that Paris would be a coastal city. I did it because that was the best spot I could see to place the city, but one of the effects of that was that my early grab of Metal Casting allowed me to build this:

Yes, I got the Colossus in 80AD. And I cannot tell you how important this wonder was in helping me out this game. This being a pangaea map, you wouldn't think that the Colossus would be a big deal - but that was very much not the case. Although I had a lot of land, most of it was all but useless, buried under huge stretches of jungle that I couldn't even cut down yet, much less do anything useful with. Furthermore, there were no rivers anywhere within a thousand miles of the starting position. With time, I could use cottages to up my commerce to a significant level, but for the early portions of the game, my GDP was just pitiful.

The Colossus changed all that. With the building of just a lighthouse in a coastal city, all of a sudden I had a viable source of income, virtually anywhere on the map. ALL of my early cities aside from Orleans hugged the coast. For centuries and centuries on end, basically all of my commerce was coming from the sea - and I was getting a 50% boost to it from the Colossus. It was as good as being Financial! So this was a huge boost to me, not just at the start but straight up until I researched Astronomy hundreds of turns later. Will those who settled on the starting spot be able to get this wonder? It will be interesting to see, and also to find out how they were able to compensate and generate commerce if they didn't. On this map, it would have been very easy to bankrupt yourself with a bunch of commerce-less cities!

Meanwhile, you may wonder why I was researching Meditation in the above picture. Well, I had already generated a Great Prophet in Paris in 120BC, and I wanted to use the free tech to grab a religion. In order to get one that wasn't already founded, however, I needed to research Meditation and then Monotheism so that the free tech would change to something else. I did in fact do this, and in 310AD I discovered Monotheism. That led to this shot:

Now that I have Meditation and Monotheism, the free tech becomes Theology, which I took and founded Christianity. I would have preferred to get Code of Laws (for courthouses) and get Confucianism instead, but beggars can't be choosers. (Not like I can ever use Theocracy...) Orleans became the holy city, and I sent the free missionary back to Paris, which allowed the city to FINALLY grow past size 5! It had been stuck there for ages on end. I could have used Slavery civic more in the early going, and that might have reaped some nice benefits, but I still don't know how to use that properly as yet. I still haven't made any civics swaps to this point, nor do I plan to change in the immediate future (I'll explain why later).

A couple turns later in 330AD, Lyons finishes the Parthenon!

This is funny, because I wasn't even trying to build the wonder. I just had nothing better to build there, and thought that I might as well start the wonder to get some gold from it when another civ inevitably beat me too it. Well, I chopped three forests in the course of mining the hills around the city, and that along with being Industrious was apparently enough to get me the wonder. Unbelievable. I get a wonder without even trying for it! At the very least though, that would help me generate more Great People out of Paris, never a bad thing.

Here's the big map from that same turn, in 330AD:

This is the first chance you get to see all of my cities at once. You can also see just how MUCH jungle there really is over there in the west. Anyway, Paris is working on a monastery both to get the slight boost to research and also to spread the faith to cities that need it. I saw no reason to go to Organize Religion and pay the High upkeep cost there when I could easily spread the faith with monasteries and I was getting +25% shields already from my early forges. Heck, my commerce was sad enough as it was without having to pay even more in maintenance costs! Orleans is still buried in jungle and trying to grow as best it can. Lyons is a powerhouse city, and only likely to become more so as it gets improved further. Rheims is still a fishing village at this point, but it will be able to pump some shields too once its hills get mined. The red dot is the plan for my next city site, designed to avoid overlap with the existing cities as much as possible while remaining on the lake. It too will have a lot of jungle, of course... Blue dot is a possible site for future expansion, provided I can muster up the resources to defend it from attack. It would slot in nicely with Paris and put some more cultural pressure on Turfan.

The tech up at the top is listed as Monarchy, but I actually changed my mind after taking this picture and swapped it to Iron Working (and that was a good decision, as I needed to get started on those jungles ASAP). Meanwhile, one last thing to point out: note the barb archer at the bottom of the screen heading for Rheims and the black X indicating where a barb city must lie. They're out there, breeding away in the festering jungles. And with a psychotic Khan on the other side of me, I have to deal with the barbs sooner rather than later.

The Barb Wars have begun.