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In the beginning...

I decided to move one space north to found Moscow. Getting cities closer to the coast makes it easier to fit in more cities without overlap. No food bonuses, but a river and plenty of bonus grasslands; not a bad site. We start with Pottery, so I set research to Alphabet. My scout went west, and decided not to pop the hut on the first turn, so that I'd have a chance of getting a settler from it on the second.

That paid off.

Where should he found his city? I take a couple extra turns to look around, since city placement is so critical in this scenario. We find a wheat. Perfect. I go against conventional wisdom and found the city OFF fresh water, but on the coast and next to the wheat. Also, this position is in perfect mesh with Moscow's city radius. It's off fresh water, but I don't care! This city will be my settler factory and isn't going to get above size six until aqueducts come around anyway. And with this city producing settlers, Moscow is free to build wonders!

Both Moscow and St. Petersburg built a scout first, making three total, since we want to view as much of the land as possible before founding more cities to find a good layout. And grab huts, of course.

I quickly met Egypt, and traded them Pottery for Masonry + 10 gold. Then I met Greece, and traded them Masonry + Pottery + Ceremonial Burial (from the hut) for Alphabet + Warrior Code. Research set to Iron Working at max.

St. Pete then built its worker and a spearman, while Moscow did build one settler and a warrior before getting started on the Pyramids. Here's my first three cities, and you can see how much of the map my scouts have uncovered in only 22 turns:

Iron Working comes in, and now set to Writing at max. Gotta get to our cheap libraries.

More goody huts:

Hey, wait a minute, that's the same Alemanni tribe in both pictures!

I also see something very unusual: an AI settler temporarily without an escort. Didn't realize the AIs ever ran farmer's gambit.

I make another round of trades: Iron Working + Mysticism + Alphabet to Egypt for The Wheel and a worker. Then Mysticism to Babylon for a worker. Early worker buys (this was around 2500 BC) are not off the table yet for the Epics - and I did overpay for them. We can't use them for work under the variant rules, but what we can do is merge them into Moscow and greatly speed up our Pyramid building.

After a while, Babylon demands contact with Greece! I hadn't even realized they weren't in contact. I decline, since Hammurabi is too far away to hurt me, and he knows it. But then I trade the contact plus Alphabet to him to get Horseback Riding.

I keep building settlers and expanding, running a little bit of farmer's gambit but escorting most settlers with spears. One of my scouts spotted silks way down southwest, and I rushed a settler there to get them (Smolensk was founded before Sevastopol.) I goofed with Minsk's location; it should have been one more to the northwest, so that Sevastopol could have been one to the northeast and on the fresh water. I left the northern tundra peninsula for last, since nobody else would be going for those lands for a while. Almost every city built its worker before anything else.

The Pyramids complete in 1325 BC, around the time the AIs usually build the 200-shield Colossus. I feel like a Deity AI in this game! Started with an extra settler, and now growing and expanding at twice the rate of everyone else. :) And speaking of the Colossus, nobody cascaded to it after I built the Pyramids - the AI capitals are not on the coast. Moscow decides to take a shot at building it next.

I beelined Literature of course, and whipped out most of the libraries. Started research next on Polytheism and then Monarchy. Traded Lit to Egypt for Mathematics + 62 gold. Lit + WM to Babylon for Map Making. WM to Greece for his 16 gold.

Now, I've claimed all the reachable land, and that still totals only 8 cities. We want 14. And somehow we're NOT first in the world in territory - apparently an unknown AI is ahead - so we can attack a city...

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