In the Poland game that started with Liberty (and a couple unreported partial starts as well), I really got addicted to that early speed of Republic and Collective Rule. Liberty really is strong through those three policies. Collective Rule done right is worth as much as the vaunted Tradition finisher, and frontloaded fifty turns earlier which seriously matters. Liberty's other saving grace is to wait on the finisher for an endgame Great Scientist, which also contributes as much to the finish date for science as anything in Tradition.
Liberty's problem is the next three policies are fairly weak. Citizenship is small potatoes, Meritocracy is a deceptive trap in that it takes forever to build those roads, and Republic feels cool but doesn't amount to a whole lot. So what if we could take just those three Liberty policies then go somewhere else? Poland answered that dramatically by switching into Tradition. But most of Tradition's power is in the finisher and no one besides Poland can afford to complete both that and Liberty.
Where else could we go after three policies in Liberty? No way to get to the medieval era that fast for Commerce. Honor, Piety, and Aesthetics don't do much of anything towards science. But how about Patronage? And the civ of choice if we're going that way is of course Greece. So we'll start with Liberty, then divert into Patronage and use city-states to buoy us through the midgame where other civs would rely on the Tradition finisher.
This isn't necessarily a bid for the fastest achievable finish date, but more of just a game approach that I want to play, and we'll see if the end result comes out to any kind of competitive.
By the way, I had a weird sense of deja vu when outlining this game plan, that I'd somehow done early Patronage with Greece before. But I couldn't figure out when or where. The only other Greece game on the site didn't do Patronage early and was going for culture. Maybe some partial game that I never reported, but I don't remember any such. Anyway, I definitely haven't tried Greece since I switched to huge maps, which would seem like a great playground for the civ, with the max 24 city-states to exploit.
That is a freaking DYNAMITE start. Everything I look for. A 3-food tile for the first growth as fast as possible before the survivors ruins start. Another 3-yield tile. Hill plant. Plant on turn 0 without moving. Mountain. Enough hills for starvation settlers including those luxuries. All desert for Folklore and enough hills for Petra if a better site doesn't appear.
Ruins: first one a map on turn 3 but that's actually pretty helpful.
Next run was survivors to size 3 on turn 6. This is why that first 3-food tile matters so much: it is common to find a survivors ruin between turns 5 and 8 and so that tile makes for an entire extra city size. Also that sheep is very important here too, allowing us to work a second hill without starving, for 9 production literally as fast as is possible.
Build order: three scouts (because the starting warrior didn't come home this time) - monument (because I hadn't found a culture ruin yet and was prepared to go without one) - archer - worker - archer - settlers. I accumulated enough gold for the worker on turn 18 which is good.
Ruins: turn 7 70 gold, t8 another map actually also pretty helpful, t10 oh wow survivors to 4 although that's actually a lot less helpful because it doesn't increase production until we get to starvation settlers, t11 Archery always nice, hoplite upgrade also nice, t12 60g, t14 culture ruin there we go, t15 yet another actually helpful map...
I left two ruins to exactly turn 20 for the first chance at faith, but got barbarians and survivors.
Which was actually a problem. Can't make enough food at size 5 to avoid starvation. I had to switch to a starvation settler for this one turn until the culture expansion to a flood plain. Also, what's with favoring three flood plains over the two luxuries? I'd actually have to buy both of the luxury hills.
Turn 22 came a second culture ruin, sure that helps, but what we really need is faith, the window for Desert Folklore won't last forever.
Of my four scouting units, one had just run into a mess of barbarians around a camp, one had actually died, and one had just run into Portuguese territory that would be scoured of ruins. Only one scout was still moving well to keep finding more, so this one could be the last hope...
Praise Celestia, we're in business.
But then even my miracle man also found himself blocked for several turns with that camp in the exact worst spot between the mountain range and the sea. My scouting went considerably slower than normal in this game, a bad omen for a civ and game plan that want to exploit city states. But stay tuned.
Policies: I did get a culture ruin on turn 14 for the Liberty opener. Then t20 Republic and t31 Collective Rule.
Research: Mining first, then would be all the first-level techs (Archery via ruin). Then we actually didn't need any urgent second-level tech, not Calendar or Trapping or Masonry for a resource nor Writing for any library-related slingshot, so went to Bronze Working to find iron to settle.
Here's the starvation settlers (this is starting the second one), actually the same 28.5 hammer number that arose in the Poland game.
The Collective Rule settler went out here, a bit of a walk, but a great site with cotton and two wheat (behind the city billboard).
Also notice my maritime neighbor Manila. This was important.
Despite my earlier worries about running out of ruins, my scouts got themselves unstuck and went on to find more. I would over time (to about turn 70) collect half of the ancient age techs from ruins (Sailing, Trapping, Writing); three more survivors taking non-capital cities to sizes 2, 2, and 4; two more culture ruins, one big faith, and more gold.
Except that this culture ruin was a problem. I had been perfectly aligned to reach the classical era with Mathematics at the same time to put the fourth policy into Patronage. That culture ruin screwed that up and made the policy come too soon. It would have to go into Citizenship. I guess that's OK and probably actually stronger than doing Patronage now, but it's not what I wanted. If I'm going to take an offbeat game plan, I'd rather dive into it as steeply as possible, but now Patronage would have to wait one more policy cycle. And well, this did let me switch off Mathematics to Calendar for the moment since we now needed plantations for two luxuries.
Thanks to having a capital with actual desert unlike the past couple games, my Great Prophet came in good time on turn 48. But I held off on the religion for the moment, for the usual reason that I was about to found several cities that needed to get the pantheon first. In the meantime I could cleverly use the Prophet to go pick up that ruin that I hadn't managed before (the archer that had spotted it then urgently had to go fight barbs instead, then escort a settler.)
And that also gave me reason to walk the prophet over to Corinth and make that the holy city instead of Athens. Because it was better situated to project pressure onto more neighbors, including all three of those city-states there. It would then send a missionary back to Athens as the first faith purchase, and as usual the overlapping pressure instigated by that first missionary would convert everything.
Tactical puzzle time. I want to found this city on the horse tile next turn. (This works fine, we get the two hammers under the city, and the stable even still adds the third.) But we can't just move the settler and archer there this turn, because the barb spearman could kill the archer. What's the best way to do this? (It's not a guarantee.)
I usually go to 1000 BC for the first expansion overview, but here 7 cities in 55 turns seems worth a look. I'd researched to Mathematics now to open Patronage with the next (fifth) policy, which came on turn 64. Patronage's -25% influence decay is additive with Greece's -50%, meaning that each city-state only loses 0.25 influence per turn. And that even goes all the way to 0 for a city-state that shares your religion.
Nice stroke of luck here. I had cleared a camp and killed one barb for Samarkand, which was enough influence (5 + 50 + 12 = 67) for an alliance but short-lived. But I really needed the happy, two resources worth. I was really agonizing on whether to blow 250 scarce gold to refresh that. Then in the nick of a time they asked for that copper quest that I was already in position to insta-complete that same turn.
And another mercantile camp clear, which plus the worker retrieval already means enough influence (100) to last the whole game (40 / 0.25 = 160 turns.) And my other reward for this was...
Another ruin. What else. (Actually two, see the other one behind Singapore revealed by its visibility.) It popped survivors taking the nearest city to size 4, nice.
Here's the 1000 BC overview. I went to 11 cities, spread out so much that these overviews need two screenshots stitched together.
I took a lot more care to build enough workers in this game than in the previous few. Liberty games always hurt for money to buy them compared to Tradition (I think I bought only four), and also I didn't get any stolen from city-states or barbs this time. So most of the first ring of cities built a worker somewhere in their first few builds. Actually the pattern was this - each city would build a worker which would improve two or three tiles, then leave for the next newest city while the original city built a replacement. This happened at Knossos -> Ephesos, Sparta -> Halicarnassus, Pharsalos -> Mycenae, and actually Corinth -> Athens.
Happiness for this wide build came by managing to get a LOT of luxury resources. Five unique ones of my own (reached out far for citrus at Halicarnassus and marble at Ephesos), four from city-states, and one in trade.
My religion was developing nicely fast, better than in the previous few games, with loads of desert already being worked. I was just about to start buying pagodas. One difficulty was that my cities were a bit too spread out for a good pressure network; there were a lot of 11 or 12 tile gaps between cities. I would eventually fix this by enhancing the religion for Itinerant Preachers (the +30% pressure range), which with this city layout would result in quite a bit more total extra pressure than Religious Texts.
My city build orders went a bit haphazardly. I was determined to research Engineering before Education this time, with no Tradition aqueducts and lots of maritime city-state food streaming in to multiply. But I also came to Writing right after. I ended up building about half the libraries first and half the aqueducts first, which sounds inefficient and incorrect in one direction or the other, but I didn't know which. Anyway, probably didn't make a lot of difference as they'd both get built in succession anyway.
Turn 81 was my next policy for Consulates (+20 to influence resting point) and we started to ramp up the city-state game. Remember my early dead and slow scouts? I was still missing contact with 9 city-states this late... but that could actually be an advantage. Once you have Consulates, new contacts begin at that new higher resting point... or so I thought. It then seemed that new contacts started not at 0 or at 20, but at 10 influence, which is a weird rule I didn't know about.
Another stroke of luck - this scout wandered into an empty barb camp! And this turned out to win alliance not only with Geneva, but with a second city-state as well. The move onto the camp itself triggered contact with another CS, which also had a quest for that same camp, which kicked in actually inbetween moving onto that tile and clearing the camp.
And a natural wonder quest for this maritime, bringing it to 57 influence (the resting point was still ticking up towards the Consulates value), and so it was a super easy call to pay them the 250 to boost that to alliance. Even at only 20 influence from the payment, that was still good for (77 - 60) / 0.25 = 68 turns of alliance.
At home, I had researched Horseback Riding, and built two of Greece's UU Companion Cavalry. This is why I didn't so much mind my earlier scouting trouble, since I'd planned for this all along. The two companions would go each direction around the inland sea, hunting down barbarian camps and quests, and filling in any missing city-state contacts.
Nice, that paid off quickly. 20 from Consulates + 5 from protection + 50 for the camp = 75 influence = 60 turns of Greece-Patronage alliance.
And another. That's now four maritimes pumping in food. Exactly how I wanted the game plan to go.
And a two-for-one. Neither maritime (religious and militaristic), but still welcome.
Turn 96 came the Philanthropy policy (+25% influence from gold gifts), just in time for this here. I wasn't above buying city-states either. Especially this one where the wine was a unique luxury and triggered 2x WLTKD. The best value is after getting one quest into the friendship range, so one gold gift boosts that into alliance. I hardly ever do this in most games nowadays, it's just not enough value for the short-lived alliance. But Greece with Patronage gets 4x the regular alliance length, 4x the value for the money. The money was coming from resource sales and AI loans. I had dozens of units of horses and iron, and several surplus copper and cotton luxuries to sell, and many (five) friendships to buy them.
Or sometimes buying only into the friendship range is even worthwhile. I always hate renting happy from mercantiles rather than finding permanent sources... but with Greece's power, city-state purchases are tantamount to permanent. And I needed that happy in the worst way right now here, pegged at 0, actually avoiding growth in several cities with all that maritime food streaming in.
Or sometimes you buy from scratch directly into alliance. That was worthwhile here, for a fifth maritime ally, and the ivory was a new unique luxury for me.
Six maritime allies.
SEVEN. Okay, this game is going exactly as I planned!
Actually just six, as Askia had rudely attacked and conquered one of them here. I tried asking him for peace, but his price came to something like 22 gpt worth of cash and luxuries which was too high. (Or was it? That's actually not that much more than paying 500 for an alliance anyway.) The swing point of that decision was that I had pearls from somewhere else so Mombasa's weren't helping me, so let it go.
Although he did pay me a big pile of his spoils (Songhai's civ UA gets triple for conquering.) "Sorry we burned down your ally. Here's some gold."
F!CK YOU STOP ATTACKING MY ALLIES! But this time I was actually in position to help by gifting units to Riga. First my old exploring hoplite who wasn't needed any more with the companion cavalry prowling. Then a knight which had just come to me from one of the militaristic CS. These actually turned the tide and Riga survived.
Much later on, here's something you don't see often at all: a city-state Great General. That war actually lasted long enough for Riga to earn a GG.
The traditional 1 AD overview, in two untraditionally spliced halves, but what can you do. The maritime food is working, bringing the outer cities up to good sizes, just about matching the Shoshone's legendary acceleration.
Civil Service had come on turn 94, which felt slow, but then Education followed on t108 which is competitive after all. One turn slower than Poland, but really ahead since we got Engineering too this time. The picture shows all the universities going up, powered by the happiness Golden Age.
Policies: t64 Patronage opener, t81 Consulates, t96 Philanthropy, t107 Scholasticism via the Oracle. That last is the policy I really wanted to get sooner and that got delayed by having to take Citizenship before Patronage opened. It was worth 30 beakers/turn on top of my existing total of 132. Really wish that could come sooner to get to Education faster, but oh well.
t109 was the next policy (9th total including Oracle). This had to go into Liberty. Because the next policy would have to start Rationalism, so we had to progress Liberty now to one policy short of finishing, to maintain easy access to the finisher late game.
Poland took Representation here, but this time it had to be Meritocracy. Because I hadn't made the happy Golden Age yet. If I took Representation here, its Golden Age would essentially be wasted entirely - it would replace the happy GA and bump its cost counter so I'd never get there. Also I was really constrained on happy with so much maritime food and needed Meritocracy for that, where Poland got by without it. At least I had seen this coming from a distance, and started building the road connections for Meritocracy ahead of time.
Rep was also less attractive because I'd missed Chichen Itza. The AI just beat me to it, as my capital was crunched busy on the Oracle and a late/expensive National College. Same happened for Machu Picchu which I rarely lose, but someone must have had a mountain in the right place for it.
Meritocracy's roads cost bigtime on worker labor, though. I had several cities working as many as three unimproved 1-1 plains or forest tiles. Really should have figured out how to fit the Pyramids in there somehow, that makes a big difference on road building. Also the roads had come a bit too soon. The time you really want to build the roads is while building universities, since then the specialist slots alleviate the demand for two improved tiles per city. That timing wasn't quite right here, but wasn't any significant setback.
Another problem was the maritime food even outpacing cultural expansion. Cities like Ephesus here even ended up with unemployed citizens since no more tiles had been acquired to work. I bought a few tiles at a few cities for this, but tried to hold back so the money could go into city-states instead.
I entered the Renaissance at Banking this time. Astronomy wasn't worthwhile with only two observatories available - wouldn't pay back the research cost by anywhere near public schools. Didn't have enough time to go to Printing Press before the next policy that needed to go into the Rationalism opener. Printing Press did then follow on turn 128, that's my fastest by three turns so far.
My first great scientist spawned on turn 127. Worth settling for an academy? 10 base beakers after Sci Theory x +200% endgame multiplier (NC, university with Free Thought, observatory, lab) x (50 real turns + 15 scientists x 8 virtual turns) = 5100 value... nah not enough, just save him for bulbing as usual.
The industrial era puzzle pretty clearly resolved to simply researching directly to Sci Theory this time. I didn't have Mercantilism and my money had been spent on city-states, so it was clear we would build rather than buy the public schools, and building them doesn't need the ideology. Sci Theory came on turn 142, still a few turns faster than other games, though we might lose a bit of that with the delay to build the schools. The picture there shows them under construction. The right move to the ideology was then just to go straight to Radio.
T121 Rationalism opener, t134 Secularism, t144 Humanism, t152 Free Thought, moved pretty fast through the Rationalism policies. That culture mouseover shows +130 from city-states. I'd bought three of them to have all five on the map allied.
I was pushing as hard as I could on culture for policies. Reason is that we needed one more than normal. In most games, you get exactly enough policies to do 6 in Tradition/Liberty, 3 somewhere else like Commerce/Patronage, then 6 in Rationalism and 6 in Order. But this game needed one more, since it had left Liberty at only 5 early and put one extra into Patronage.
So I spent one scientist bulb here on this turn to reach Radio, which was necessary for the policy timing to work right into the ideology. Right now the value of Great Writers is at its maximum, with 8 turns of artist Golden Age just past, which included the Sistine Chapel and the industrial-age value for cultured city-states. Wait and that actually drops when you're out of Golden Age. I had a regular policy coming next turn plus those two Great Writers, which would fill both Free Thought and Sovereignty, and then need the ideology enabled to put the second writer's policy into. Therefore the Radio bulb now, even though the timing regarding beakers was bad with schools under construction and Free Thought just about to kick in.
Industrialization followed after Radio, and for once I was in a position to use the prophet trick, settling a holy site on coal to hook it up immediately rather than waiting for a mine. This move even cleared the forest too.
There's Team Greece. 20 out of 22 city-states on the map allied (two had gotten conquered), with the only holdouts being a useless mercantile (alliance adds no more happy if you already have its resources) and a religious that wasn't necessary. All but one or two already had enough influence to reach the end of the game. I actually managed those mostly by gifting obsolete units. That's usually not enough to get anywhere useful, but Greece gets 20 alliance turns out of that 5 influence.
Ha, okay, passed Sciences Funding super easy with all my city-state delegates. My rotated diplomats and bought votes hadn't even been necessary. What I don't know is why this never happened before. Did I never before get to the modern age for the CS delegates before this vote? Did I just never have enough CS to notice? Do CS delegates not normally apply but something else unusual happened here? I admit I'm fuzzy on when exactly new delegates kick in for votes. I could've sworn that I previously didn't see delegates from the Forbidden Palace apply mid-session, but maybe I'm misremembering?
Next I bulbed twice to Plastics, at a good plateau 8 turns after Free Thought and most of the schools (and with most factories still 5+ turns away), reached it on T162, tied with Poland.
Buying labs without the Commerce discounts hurts. It's 900 bucks per lab even with Skyscrapers, compared to 540 with the discounts. I had to take enormous loans from the AIs. Athens had to actually build its lab, first time I've done that in forever. Also having missed Machu Picchu hurts, that comes to about 50 gold per turn. So I couldn't buy all the labs right away, in fact only got about four, and it took a good ten turns to accumulate money to fill in the rest.
So one outlet for money was to turn on my own allies. I'd gotten an infantry from a militaristic CS, whose high strength value plus a few other units added up to enough power to extract tribute from each of these city-states. A rocket artillery followed to make sure as well. I had more than enough influence to spare the -15 for each of these demands without losing alliance.
Amusingly, I ended up embarking my whole army to tour a circuit around the inland sea, extracting tribute from every city-state on the way. City-states really cluster on the shore of Inland Sea, more than half of all of them here. Gunboat diplomacy isn't just in the Autocracy ideology tree, apparently. Anyway, I got 1500-some gold from doing this, helped a lot to catch back up on the missing research labs and SS factories.
And even more amusingly, I got an XCom Squad from another CS right before the end, who with that 100 strength value was all by himself enough to extract tribute over again.
Back to the narrative. Policies: Workers' Faculties on T151. Socialist Realism on T164. But then a problem happened.
I missed the Globe Theater. This happened because I neglected to get a Garden into the Writers Guild city. Not exactly forgot, but the city had such low production that it took forever on the school and workshop and factory and just kept neglecting the garden. It always turns out that I get the 300-point Writer then build Globe. That was on schedule to happen here late but just in time on about turn 180. I had counted my culture very carefully, even doing the Musicians Guild for a bit more, and was going to be able to complete all the needed policies on right about turn 185, but this killed that.
See, the big problem with this game plan was needing one more policy than normal. My usual plan is 6 Tradition and 3 in Commerce to Mercantilism, then Rationalism and Order the rest of the way. But here we'd done 5 Liberty and 4 Patronage, and still needed to come back for one more to finish Liberty. There really isn't room for an extra policy in these space games. You get at most exactly 21 throughout the game, including four freebies from the Oracle, Kremlin, and two ideology tenets. The culture production available from cities is just so rigid and you can't do anything to push it any more. Even maxed out on cultured city-states and with Representation's discount for the last few, it was going to take right up to the edge on turn 185 to cram in that one more policy, and lacking the Globe writer killed that completely.
Sad, but the option that had to drop out of the mix was Liberty and its finisher. That was worth only one Great Scientist. The Rationalism finisher is worth three faith scientists plus a tech, and Spaceflight Pioneers gives both the scientist and engineer.
Anyway, the rest of the policy game was t176 the Rationalism finisher, t182 Five-Year Plan by Kremlin, t183 Spaceflight Pioneers by that last writer before what would have been the Globe Theater one.
Speaking of policies, let's check in on what Scholasticism is doing. 90 science. That's kinda OK, but less than an additional city, and really hardly more than the science component of Mercantilism. It looks like city-states do build libraries at least. Manila's number matches that perfectly: size 12 plus 6 science from the library plus 3 from its palace = 21 which × 25% equals that 5.25 exactly. But I guess they don't build and staff universities, or at least not in the time frame before I get to space.
One thing I did correctly (as usual, but this is a good illustration of it) was stop growth in the cities. Look at Athens here. It's running 17 food surplus, and notice that it's working four 4-food tiles to do it, three flood plains and the oasis. It could grow in 9 turns in this configuration. Or I could have the city never grow again and put those four food laborers into the specialist slots instead. In other words, there are 36 citizen-turns that could go into growth or into 36 specialist-turns. Of course there are not 36 turns left for the would-be newly-grown citizen to make that up, so it's correct to stop growth here.
Another thing I did correctly was manage trade routes late in the game. The correct move is to figure ahead of time what cities will build your four or five sspaceship parts, and reassign any expiring routes as production to whichever of those cities needs the most help.
Turn 170 I started spending 3 bulbs to Rocketry, reaching it on turn 172 after the usual overflow cap workarounds.
Turn 176 took the Rationalism finisher for Satellites. This is a penultimate column tech so a bit short on beaker value compared to the end, but it was better to get all the faith scientists in play right now, to reach Nanotech for the second-to-last SS part. With the faith scientists and the last naturally spawned one, T177 bulbed all of Fission, Adv Ballistics, Computers, and Robotics, and also even completed Oxford the same turn for Nanotech. (A UI quirk: I had to queue all those techs for research the previous turn, because when the Oxford freebie is available, that blocks queueing them because instead the click chooses the tech for the Oxford freebie.)
Endgame building didn't go great. Without Tradition, there's no engineer for Hubble (the one from SF Pioneers needs to rush the last part), and I had to do both Apollo then Hubble sequentially in the capital. I also had my second-best city tied up on the Kremlin. And finally, the lack of money meant the SS factories came really slowly, and no chance at power plants. So building the parts took about three turns longer than usual.
I overshot the last tech by about three-fourths of a scientist, not because I produced too many of them, but because Hubble came too late and my regular research had ticked up that far. Anyway, that didn't matter as the other SS parts proved the limiting factor as usual.
I actually started selling the labs and schools four turns before finishing research, because the beaker loss wouldn't matter as the Hubble scientists would already overshoot, so that added the last SS factories and a power plant or two sooner.
Eretria here had to complete its part one turn sooner because it was outside the 10-tile railroad range from the capital. It also had trouble because it couldn't get a power plant - it's not on desert for a solar plant and the uranium hookup came too late for a nuclear plant. But I miraculously saved that turn by buying a crapton (five) of bare unimproved (but riverside hydroplanted) hills, and with a forest chop in the nick of time (notice how the dial indicates a gap falling short of completion, that difference is a forest chop coming in.)
And brought it home on exactly the same turn 190 as the Shoshone and Spain games. Didn't break Babylon and Poland's 185 though.
So I didn't think Greece maxing city-states was going to be a super speedy finish, but was something I wanted to try out and see what there was to learn. The maritime food was fun but didn't really translate into finish date. What I learned is that it really is important to buy public schools rather than building them. It's not just getting the schools' science sooner, though that does help. It's accelerating the cities' build queues by those 300 hammers. Buying doesn't just speed up the schools, it also speeds up the workshops and markets and factories and watermills that also come at this time. And so a fast science game plan really does need to run through Mercantilism to make that happen, there just isn't enough money without.
This is the last game I'm going to fit in before Civ 6 releases in two days, but I still want to try a couple more here before moving on.