So my previous Rome game didn't really work out. It went super-wide with Liberty and developed well early using Rome's bonus, but just fell behind the pace at all the science milestones and couldn't get to the endgame beaker explosion soon enough to make that up. I was still stewing on that, there has to be a better way to do this.
There exists a particular plan to fix any civilization's early science speed up through the midgame: build the Great Library, shoot Philosophy, and build the National College early. Ideally you do this all on just one city before expanding. I've tried this in a few partial games and the problem is delaying expansion to more cities, they don't have enough time to develop enough to build and staff universities when you reach Education.
If only there were some civ that could develop cities faster, perhaps by taking advantage of a strong capital. Wait, there is. That would be the very Rome of the game I just finished. So I couldn't resist trying again with a new plan: go Tradition, do the science slingshot, and use Rome's building bonus to develop my way out of the expansion hole.
And I'm going to do again what Babylon did right: ruthlessly manage the city count precisely. It really does seem that any city that doesn't produce a Great Scientist doesn't help the win date. I've just never been able to quantify exactly how this goes. The cities do pay for their own cost, at least on a huge map; they produce enough to overcome the per-city science (just 2%) and culture (5%) penalties. So they seem worth founding and really don't feel negative. But it's just in the opportunity cost of the whole endeavor: building the settler itself, buying its worker, buying luxuries to cover its happiness... all that comes at the opportunity cost of selling luxuries instead and growing and buying for existing cities faster. No, the right way to do this is to follow the agenda of Gaia's Stepdaughters and keep population growth strictly controlled. The exact right number is 7 cities, that's how many can produce a Great Scientist before endgame if you're not Babylon.
Once again, something like fifty map rolls and ten partial starts yielded this:
Noteworthy is that I did settle on turn zero 4000 BC, where most games have me moving a turn or two onto a hill or luxury, but here a move onto the gems wasn't worth giving up the wheat in first-ring and deer in second. Conversely, it's not settled on a hill, which most games do, which does slow the early scouting game a few turns. I actually didn't have high hopes for this start, with the desert not really in the capital but off to the side. But the redeeming factor is two granary resources (actually three with one more wheat in the fog.) Those aren't so important when I'm planning a long run of starvation-loophole settlers, but are exactly what I need for a plan that involves two wonders before expanding.
Researched Pottery first because of course we want the granary quickly, then Mining and Writing. I've found that you can insert one more tech to the Pottery-Writing beeline and still get the Great Library. Most often that's Mining, although it can also be Calendar if that's where the luxuries are, or rarely Animal Husbandry.
Ruins: turn 2 survivors to size 2, spearman upgrade, t9 70g, t11 culture, barbs, t13 Archery, t14 100g, map, barbs, t16 Calendar!, and...
Not El Dorado, but the other natural wonder that can make a big swing in a game: the Fountain of Youth!
After that faith ruin, they dried up for a while, but then I kept finding more tucked away in secluded spots. (This is why Inland Sea is so great. Other maps don't have secluded spots.) Turn 29 another culture ruin, t34 archer upgrade, t39 Trapping! very convenient to improve the deer at home, t48 big faith, t51 late culture, t53 wow survivors to size 7, t58 late 80 gold, t59 culture AGAIN.
Although you certainly can't tell me it makes any sense for this ancient tribe a million miles away from the ocean to know anything about sailing, heh. Not that I'd ever sail any boats myself either, but I did need the trade route soon.
And one more amusing note on exploration. I always talk about getting the scouts around the outer edges of Inland Sea, because that's where AIs leave ruins the longest and also where city-states gravitate. But my easternmost scout comically just couldn't get over to the outer groove. He got pushed away from the edge by a pack of barbarians around a camp, got blocked by a mountain range, then by more barbs, then by France, then by more mountains. France's presence meant any ruins would indeed be gone, so this wasn't important, but just an amusing comedy of errors.
Anyway. Back to the main narrative, and also back to chronological order after skipping ahead a bit there on the exploring.
Here's the layout of the land at home. I had a nice backyard all the way into that corner of the map, that deep stretch of flood plains that I could get at my leisure without any competition. My starting warrior (ruins-upgraded to spearman) had scouted that way then come back home. It's very nice to have a spearman on defense to cover workers without spending any hammers on him. But what that meant was my exploring team was running one body short of my usual complement of four. I'd stopped building scouts after three to get the granary up quickly. Now with 13 turns before Writing, I had time to build something else before the Great Library. The picture shows a worker, but then I thought better of it and went scout - archer instead. Why?
Because the scout could also account for a worker! Stole it on turn 34, which is about as early as they tend to come available. And then I also still had the scout to go out exploring belatedly but still effectively.
Policies: Tradition opener by culture ruin on turn 11, Oligarchy t17, Aristocracy t30 just as we started the Great Library, t51 Legalism from a culture ruin, t65 Monarchy, t85 Landed Elite and the Tradition finisher.
Money: I got my first worker buy on turn 18, then sold the gems on turn 25 for 5/turn and copper on turn 42 for 4/turn plus embassy, both good enough. Also sold 4 horses somewhere in there and 6 iron some time later. Bought second worker (third total including the steal) on turn 36.
So there's most of the pieces that come together for a good game. The one thing that went wrong-ish was getting few survivors from ruins (just one), but we could compensate for that. The one survivor I did get did come right away early on turn 2 for a fast start. And we built the granary fast and have three food resources so we can just grow the normal way. I did get a late ruin to grow to size 7.
Build order: Scout - scout - scout - granary - scout (that stole the worker) - archer (needed for defense) - Great Library - National College.
I started the GL on turn 30 just as Aristocracy came in, and got it on turn 44 slinging Philosophy as planned. Started the National College right then.
While building the National College, I kept hauling in gold from resource sales and city-states. Got to 500 for a settler just before the NC completed. This became very important.
Three workers had improved all Rome's tiles early and started building roads out to the expansion site to speed the settler. This was always a smooth move in Civ 4, has gotten lost in Civ 5 with the maintenance cost of roads and lesser importance of workers in general, but can still happen sometimes. That one worker is cleverly laying the missing piece of road right now to speed the settler ahead 4 tiles, and the northern worker is doing the same as the settler aims for where the spearman is.
And Rome's next build after the NC wasn't settlers yet, but a caravan to throw food at Antium instead. I'm investing everything I can right now to developing this city. If you noticed that swath of desert hills, and the Currency research target in the previous shot, you know where this is going. Antium is to build Petra. Currency was still a few turns away at its founding, so it did seem correct to put in the granary first.
Doesn't this caravan delay my whole plan of getting the settlers and last-founded city going as soon as possible? Not really, actually. The settlers are going to take just about 30 turns, so it'll work out just right to run this food route here then reassign it to the last city then. In other words, I still get the endgame of a food route pointed to the last city at the same time (no difference whether I go caravan - settlers or settlers - caravan), but I get to have this food route operating for 30 turns in the meantime. It doesn't matter if doing the caravan means settlers #3 through #6 come out five turns later, since the limiting factor on the university-scientist track is city #7.
So here goes Antium, which grew to size 4 using the wheat, and now at maximum hammers for Petra, ignoring even the wheat. Note that one food from the sheep is necessary to avoid starvation.
(And actually, this configuration isn't even the most productive. Better would be to run the wheat for one turn, then burn that food by running all mined hills. That comes to more total hammer productivity, getting 5 units on a small handful of citizen-turns and converting it all to hammers via food shortage. But I hadn't had the worker labor available to mine two more hills.)
But I've got competition. That's Petra underway there. Berlin has already been crazy wonder happy, doing the Pyramids insanely early on turn 44 and then Stonehenge. I had a head start of about five turns, but my city is smaller and of course we're competing against an AI cost discount. But my city is optimized for max hammer production and Berlin may not be. Who's going to win this race?
Well, it's gotta be me, right, I wouldn't play out the game and give you this report if I missed it, right?
Well, sort of. What happened was I actually lost the race by one turn, a margin of less than 10 hammers. I really didn't want to throw away this map and start over, but it'd be so depressing to play it all the way out missing Petra on such a great setup. So here's the answer. I actually reloaded from three turns back to chop a forest in order to land Petra that all-important one turn sooner. Judge me as you will for this, but you have here my full confession. I'm only screwing the AI, and hey, I actually did get my comeuppance. Germany flipped from friendship into mad for "you built wonders that they coveted" and he denounced and hated me all game.
Anyway, Antium's next move after that was the Hanging Gardens. That one I could get cleanly with no competition, as only one AI on the map was in Tradition and I could see they weren't building it. Stacking these wonders works out well. It's not overkill to have the two food wonders together, it's actually quite synergistic. A Petra city can actually have trouble growing while working all those huge mines but for lack of food. The Hanging Gardens fixes that; in other words, the food from the HG has the best value in the Petra city because what it's growing onto is Petra hill tiles. (Also by the way, don't build one of the artistic Guilds in the Petra city, you don't want to give up Petra hills for the specialists.)
Back to expansion. After the food caravan for Antium and one more archer for defense, Rome did indeed go all settlers. It wasn't a starvation setup with the granary and all those food tiles, but it didn't need to be, it's also just fine to build settlers legitimately using the food surplus. I'm approaching the 5th social policy, and notice that Landed Elite wouldn't play here: the rule is that every fourth food converts to a hammer for settlers, so there's no difference between 4 and 6, so we took Monarchy first instead. That would help add more money to buy workers at each of the new cities as they got founded.
As we founded the cities, there arose a tactical puzzle of the sort I like to drop on you guys. I just founded Ravenna here, clearing a barb camp where the fortified archer is. That leaves a worker that's going to run away to the next nearest barb camp. But we can't catch it this turn. How do we ensure it next turn?
Here's the usual 1000 BC overview. 5 cities and 15 population is not at all spectacular, but everything will soon turn the corner to grow quickly.
I'm heading towards Civil Service there, reached it on turn 83, compared to Babylon on turn 80. But now I decided to go directly to Education and not Engineering for aqueducts first. It's only three aqueducts and they can wait a bit while I manage the interim between Rome's bonus, lots of food heavy terrain, and buying improvements as necessary. With both the less-wide build and the Fountain of Youth, happiness should be manageable without buying luxuries, so money can go into other things. The Tradition finisher also arrived presently, turn 85, compared to Babylon on 79.
I did all this expansion on barely adequate military defenses, three units, the one spearman and two archers. I made "zone defense" work well, keeping the units between cities and ready to respond when a problem arose. It actually helped a lot that Germany was my neighbor and was swarming around several barb camps to take care of them for me.
Cumae is helping out above by building a caravan to help supply the new cities. Remember my goal is 7 cities, and actually all the pieces fit together just right for that. Four will have the Tradition aqueducts, and there's exactly three trade routes available (with Petra completed) to supply the other three. Cumae's caravan supplied Ravenna, the original Rome-Antium one expired and supplied Arretium, and the Petra caravan supplied Mediolanum. (The last two rehomed to Ravenna because that's the supplier within range.)
One thing that didn't come together was the cascade of city-state quests that happens sometimes. I got a few, a natural wonder here, a great wonder there, but none of the resource-triggers-resource cascades. And none of them were militaristic, no free units at this point when you need them most, so I had to build a couple extra archers presently to defend my expanding territory.
And another aspect that proceeded awkwardly was the religious game. With no desert at Rome, faith came in slowly. At least the religion coming late meant all the other cities got the pantheon on their own, which doesn't always happen. The prophet came on turn 84, late, but would have to do, but again with happiness running OK we didn't have to rush to pagodas. Actually, pagodas would be delayed even more by the necessity to convert all the cities by missionary, we couldn't wait for pressure conversion at size 1 this time.
Well, here's one answer: build Borobudur. I almost always skip this, just busy building settlers or workers instead, but here was a great chance for it. I needed to convert exactly six cities and hey that's exactly what three missionaries do. So the best way to push development of the later cities was to do that, and then go directly to the enhancement Prophet for Religious Community.
Presently Education came in on turn 102. I think that's the earliest I've managed it in BNW, six or so turns ahead of the Babylon and Shoshone games. So it turns out that the 1-city NC slingshot and skipping Engineering does work. I waited one more turn until Mercantilism came in, then bought Rome's university to enable the bonus everywhere else. I ended up buying the last university at Mediolanum and built the rest. Rome could then build its Garden while the other cities built universities, so that Rome's bonus would kick in on everyone's Gardens as well next.
Presently I finally started picking up some barbarian camp clears. In fact, this started making culture come in too fast. I've kinda been ignoring this aspect, but I'm really coming to realize that your culture in your cities doesn't mean crap in BNW. The problem is the severely nerfed culture line of buildings (meant to force you into the expansion feature of Great Works), and the lack of artist specialist slots. There's literally nothing you can do to pick up more culture, except acquire cultured city-states. Those work, but too well; your progression through culture policies midgame is really entirely determined by those city-states and nothing else.
Here there were a LOT (seven) of cultured city-states on the map and several were feeding me. I got Commerce policies fairly early on turns 94 and 103, plus the Oracle in there. These meant that after Education I had to take Acoustics next to open Rationalism before the next policy arrived. This isn't really where you want to go; the real important spot in the Renaissance is Printing Press, for both the Leaning Tower and the World Congress. Acoustics also delayed Engineering for those last three aqueducts yet again. But I had to do it, Rationalism overshadows all other considerations from here forward.
I figured that at least the early Acoustics would let me do an early Sistine Chapel, but that didn't come together either. Machu Picchu, Notre Dame, and the Leaning Tower were all more important, and I only got to finishing Sistine at a pretty ordinary turn 145.
Well, one thing fast Commerce did was to enable Landsknechts. Some of my exploring scouts had gotten killed attempting barb camp fights. So I actually went ahead and bought two Landsknechts, to go each direction around the inland sea and aim for more camp clears. A pikeman/landsknecht is usually strong enough to clear a camp by itself. It took quite a while (~30 turns) but eventually each landsknecht did find and clear a camp or two.
I also finally got a militaristic CS friend. Here's my free unit...
What the heck is this thing?! I had no idea this existed. Well, it doesn't cost anything to keep around with Oligarchy, but it's not exactly useful for anything. Well, here's one thing it did:
This happened almost by accident. I don't think I ever managed this before. I happened to notice the ask-for-tribute button on Geneva wasn't redded out as usual. I was building one more unit for defense anyway (a horseman to cover ground looking for barb camps and possible German invasion from the north.) I brought it over here, and sure enough, got a worker. This also wouldn't have happened without the purchased Landsknecht that was still nearby, so this itself made him worthwhile.
That was successful enough that I tried it again, especially since it would also satisfy a neighboring city-state's quest. Except it just didn't seem to work this time. Malacca was ignoring my military. The line-item for Geneva had said +100 threat from military near city-state, but this only says 25 with the very same units. I experimented by deleting units and it seemed that only the horseman counted. So I really didn't get how this works.
I looked around Civfanatics afterwards for some guidance. I didn't find any full explanation, but I pieced this together: what counts is the melee combat strength of the units relative to the CS's own combat strength, so Malacca's must have been high enough to ignore my units. I guess that makes some sense.
The next overview at the usual date of 1 AD. I'd already built most of the universities and bought Mediolanum's. Although they completed much more raggedly than the lockstep in my Babylon and Shoshone games; those two in Ravenna and Arretium still show three turns to go. The cities just weren't quite up to size and production power thanks to their late post-NC founding and still no aqueducts. The policy to be picked is the Rationalism opener.
And I had to do the Writers' Guild in the capital. I don't like doing that. It's inefficient. The capital doesn't need the culture, it's already had plenty of time to acquire all its good tiles. And supporting artistic specialists in a capital wastes some of Landed Elite and growth that should be feeding more citizens into the National College multiplier. But no other city had time to do the guild anytime soon, while Rome did after its university got bought.
I also felt like I didn't have quite enough workers, 8 for 7 cities. Really gotta stick in a couple build orders for those earlier, you don't get quite enough just by buying and scavenging from city-states and barbs. But presently the worker labor caught up, thanks to the lull in demand for improved tiles that occurs when you plug two citizens into the university. That gave time to finally make the road connections, which also synched with Machu Picchu multiplying them.
There's an academy at Rome visible in that shot. My first Great Scientist had come quite early, on turn 107, thanks to early Great Scientist points from the Great Library and Oracle. Should I settle him? The endgame bulb value of a scientist is around 12k beakers... but the value of a marginal scientist is not that. It's more like 4k beakers because a marginal scientist will bulb somewhere between public schools and Rocketry. The settled value is 14 beakers per turn immediately (with NC and university) and 25 in the endgame with all multipliers (Free Thought, research lab, Workers Faculties, Rationalism opener.) There are about 70 real turns of research to go, plus over 100 "virtual turns" of research by way of each scientist bulb that counts for 8 turns. So overall I figured the academy value would exceed 3000 beakers, close enough to the value of the marginal later bulb that it was worth doing, and it would accelerate to schools and labs a bit sooner.
One thing that went wrong was never getting We Love The King Day in Rome, and in fact in many other cities. This does matter, WLTKD accounts for about two extra city sizes and the lack is noticeable. Rome rolled Marble for its demand, which might be the worst choice of all. Marble is hard to come by. The AIs never have extra marble because it doesn't bunch up in multiple copies on the map like most luxuries do. And it rarely or never occurs at city-states. I could have overpaid for an AI's last copy, but that was never worthwhile for just the single instance of WLTKD. The Dutch never had marble for me to take advantage for their discount for that.
My neighbor Dido denounced and hated me, so I knew to keep a watch for hostilities, and here they come. My best guess is I could fight it off by buying about three Landsknechts, which should work fine thanks to carrying the pikeman's anti-mounted modifier against those elephants ...
... or I could just pay her to go elsewhere instead. That's just about as cheap, carries no risk of losing fights, and also spreads out my payment into the future rather than all immediately.
Turn 131 Printing Press and the World Congress, so start Leaning Tower and propose Sciences Funding. I rotated my diplomats and paid for the votes to pass Sciences Funding with no problems. Humanism came on turn 130 and Secularism on 147.
I'm giving you the usual t150 overview two turns early to show some stuff that's going on. I targeted Scientific Theory before Industrialization this time, since with Rome's bonus we would build not buy the public schools. (If you're buying them, Industrialization is important for Big Ben and the Order ideology for Skyscrapers. If you're not buying the schools, then the ideology can wait and you just want to hit the tech ASAP to start building them.) I did spend one scientist bulb towards Sci Theory, reaching it on t147, about the same as the other games.
So here I just bought Rome's public school to enable the building bonus for the rest. What I would buy with that money on hand is the workshops in Arretium and Mediolanum to speed those schools just enough to match the rest. Also my first Great Artist just spawned for the Golden Age to help build the schools. And this sets up for culture to overlap the Golden Age plus the Sistine Chapel bonus plus the industrial-age value for cultured city-states, maximizing the value of the 8-turn sliding window and then we could pop Great Writers for their highest value.
Whoa, that caught me by surprise! Double war! I did not see that coming. Neither of them had an invading army in position. That seems unusual, although it's actually been quite a while since I ever got declared on in Civ 5 so I'm not quite sure how it goes. I'm guessing they had made a 10-turns-to-prepare war agreement, which I think the AI will do but it's not actually good at preparing during those 10 turns.
Anyway, it was easy enough to fend off. I bought two landsknechts, upgraded that siege tower to trebuchet, built one crossbowman, and that was enough. Germany never sent any units. Carthage sent a steady flow that I steadily eliminated. 22 turns later, both signed peace. Germany paid me most of his money, which amounted to more than I'd spent on military in the first place. As for Carthage:
Holy crap. She'll give me a fully mature size 15 city for plinking off a half dozen elephants? Hell yeah I'll take that...
Or perhaps not. Shows how little I've ever conquered in this game. I didn't know a city ceded for peace incurs resistance (it didn't in Civs 3 or 4.) No, I have to say that's not worth it, it would drive me into significant unhappiness and only come online very shortly before the end. So I reloaded to decline the city and take Carthage's treasury instead. By the way, this is why I don't care about playing to the CFC HOF. I value the freedom to make experiments like this over the nitpicking of the submission process.
Industrialization followed after Sci Theory, although that might actually have been a mistake. No coal turned up pre-mined, so that took another 6 turns, and by then the ideology would come just as fast by simply researching to Radio.
I got Order on turn 168... which is just far too late. Babylon had it on 153. That's a gap of half a scientist's worth of GPP and half a tech worth of Workers' Faculties. Really gotta get there faster.
I had previously culture-bulbed my two writers to get Free Thought and Sovereignty in Rationalism. At least I had the next policy timed ready to go into Order right away on reaching Radio. I'd get two more writers (the third natural one and the Globe Theater), but those still wouldn't be quite enough to finish Rationalism and Order, the last tenet would come in on about turn 201. I had to resort to buying cultured city-states to bring that forward.
Turn 175 I spent three bulbs to reach Plastics. Not sure if that was a good idea, but I felt I was just floundering on research and needed to do something to jack it up. I already had enough money to buy the research labs, and the bulb value wasn't escalating any more without them, so let them fly.
Where did I get all this money for the labs and cultured CS? Turns out that fewer cities actually make more money! More cities are negative for income. The wide Rome game managed 180/turn in Golden Age at endgame, while here I was over 200 even without it. More cities are negative thanks to the maintenance cost of their buildings. They were positive before BNW with gold yield from rivers, but in BNW extra cities don't make up their money cost unless they're working a lot of trading posts or claiming many luxuries to sell.
However, more cities do produce more faith, at least in desert. I didn't have much here, still under 100/turn faith production. I usually ignore shrines and temples all game, but had to build them here to get to 5000 faith by endgame for the third scientist (1000 + 1500 + 2500).
I even got one more regular Great Scientist than planned. I had expected 8 normal production from 7 cities, since it usually happens that the capital produces the 100-point scientist then gets in the rotation for another. But here the capital actually produced at 100, 200, and caught back up to the rotation even once more after that. That happened thanks to the Great Library GPP and also Rome buying its university and public school far ahead of all the other cities building them.
That last scientist spawned on turn 188. Once you're 8 turns after labs and running all Secularism specialists, you can simply bulb everything, no reason to wait, the value doesn't go any higher. But this problem arose: the great scientists just weren't enough! I had 11 bulbs to spend (5 natural, 2 faith, 3 wonders, 1 Spaceflight Pioneers) at a value of 9400 each... which wasn't enough. The Modern, Atomic, and Information Eras total 160k beakers and that's only 103k worth of scientists. (That total is for this map size and city count and after subtracting the last two techs as the Rationalism and Oxford freebies.)
So I spent four bulbs up to Rocketry on turn 187 and started building the spaceship parts. The last few scientists followed, from Hubble and faith with Rationalism finished. But they just didn't finish the tree. I couldn't do anything else but research Telecommunications and Mobile Tactics the slow way at 7 turns each. (Oxford went for Particle Physics.)
I took the Party Leadership tenet (+1 food/prod/gold/science/culture per city) over the usual Five-Year Plan (+1 prod/mine) because the science and culture were needed more, although it most likely didn't actually save any turns.
At least the delay on that research saved time on building the last part, because I'd get the faith counter back up to 1000 for an engineer. Using both that and the Spaceflight Pioneers engineer could instabuild the last part in one turn.
Germany attacked one more time, so of course I bought five rocket artillery and two bombers to smack that down. (For the first time I noticed that the spaceship techs don't include the best late-game units. You don't get any of modern armor, mech infantry, or the giant death robot. The best available were rocket artillery or the Xcom squad.)
Victory on a hideously slow turn 216. 30 turns slower than Babylon. About half of that came from the end game research shortage, but the other half came somewhere along the line between Education and Plastics. Even though that's when Rome's building bonus should have been in full gear going faster, it just didn't happen. So 7 cities isn't enough and you need more after all... but that 15 in the previous game is too many. I have some thoughts on how to resolve this, in due time.