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Brave New World - Island Trading - Morocco partial game

I got this on my very first map roll. Yes, we will be playing a double salt and marble and two more food resources start.

And since for once we don't have to chase a fast religion, or even build any scouts since we're on a pelago, I can do a good old fashioned Civ 4 style start of Worker First and Mining for the salt.

Extra population on turn 2 seems a good way to ascend the growth curve. The build order was the worker followed by monument, granary, shrine. Tech was Mining - Pottery - Sailing then two triremes to explore.

On turn 20, I had to choose Tradition vs Liberty. Considered the latter, but remember the focus of this game is gold, and the money from Monarchy in Tradition will be significant. I expected I'd probably just about finish the 6 policies of Tradition before moving into the medieval era to open Commerce.

The Great Library fell on turn 36 which is ridiculously early, good thing I didn't want it.

Turn 40 Pantheon, took good old Fertility Rites (10% food growth.) This turned out to be a terrible idea, never needed the food. Pantheons on island maps are problematic in general, since most work with some particular type of tile, but archipelagos have less land of all types. And once your religion is founded, new cities don't get the pantheon, and on an island map they're too far for natural pressure.

Two triremes, then with Marrakech at size 6 and no more good tiles to grow onto, settler. Bought second worker after the first had gone to the new city. Research to Optics to get embarkation, Masonry for the marble quarry, then directly to Iron Working for the Colossus, timed for both the marble quarry and the Aristocracy policy.

Turn 54, here's my first trade route. I'm supposed to focus on gold, but +6 gold is pretty paltry and +7 food seems too crazy a burst up the growth curve. Well, until this:

Man, how am I supposed to stop that? The enemy ships just have to reach any single square on your route to pillage. It's impossible to intercept and kill an incoming ship in time. How are you supposed to do this? You'd have to monitor every tile like twelve tiles out from your route to be able to get in three attacks for the kill.

Well anyway, that wasn't much of a setback, since Rabat didn't need the food anymore. That +7 was actually kind of an overkill waste since all it did was grow onto useless unimproved tiles.

Moving on, here's city three, which took me an extra half-dozen turns to maneuver around the barbs to drop there. The trade route for its food jumpstart is ready to go right away. Colossus under production at Marrakech.

Turn 81, Colossus done, and now we finally get to take a gold trade route. I now learned that Morocco's trait is NOT included in this text, and the culture from the trait is also not included for the city. Both the gold and culture apply at the national level after everything else is totaled.

Next plan was an unusual beeline, to Compass. We need like everything there: ranged naval unit, trade route range, harbors.

Incoming nasties, and here's another illustration of the inability to really protect sea trade routes. Thanks to it already being damaged, I was able to sink this one in one hit. But if not, there's no way short of a full line of blockading ships that I could have prevented it getting onto my trade route. And my other question is, where did that ship come from? I sailed upstream to the west for quite some distance, but never found a barb camp that could have spawned that galley. Do galleys spawn all by themselves without camps?

Interesting detail - city-state units cannot claim ancient ruins. Anyway, this became my fourth city site, on the ruin. That is the natural wonder Cerro de Potosi there, 10 gold production from the tile, nice addition to a gold focused game.

In the policy department, Tradition proceeded as usual, finishing on turn 95 with essentially zero effort. I bought a library or two in order to do the National College at 4 cities now.

Here's a 1 AD overview. The first round of trade routes had expired and now were all converted into gold routes. Just finished Compass, and starting the next cargo ship, and harbors. I have a settler on the way to the pearls island on the top right.

Compass also extends the range of sea trade routes. But the tech tree doesn't say by how much, or even what the range is before that. I was flying completely in the dark as to what the range of these ships is... until embarrassingly belatedly noticing the range indicator right there above the trade route list. Anyway, now there was a good rival capital within reach of mine, so here comes that juicy 13 gold/turn, actually 16 with Morocco's trait.

Also just about to get a policy, my 7th after finishing Tradition. I had my eye on Commerce for the 25% purchase discount at Mercantilism, three policies in. But actually that doesn't ramp up so much until later when stacking with the Big Ben discount. No, now I noticed that the new Exploration tree also opens with the medieval era, and that looks better in the short term, particularly that +3 production for all coastal cities at the second policy. That came on T136.

I now created City Connections (the old trade route system, renamed and still extant) by way of harbors. There's a stupid rough edge there that the connection doesn't kick in until another extra turn after you actually build the harbor. But 10 gold from a city connection without paying road maintenance is pretty decent.

It also seemed that not much of anyone was making trade routes TO my city. I thought there weren't any at all, and belatedly found this screen that shows the incoming ones, two here. But why aren't there any more? I don't think I'm out of range, or am I? I guess maybe the AIs started with some land caravans and never swapped them out for ships? Or they just have more profitable partners than me? Not sure what's going on here, what the AIs are doing with their routes. Do you need the East India company to make incoming routes more attractive for them?

More WTF in the trade protection department. It's impossible to defend against a barbarian ship appearing and instapillaging before you can react, even with my own ship sitting RIGHT THERE. And what the hell is with a barb trireme in that ocean square?! Can't attack it, but it still exerts ZOC so I can't get to the other (damaged) trireme. Pfaugh.

So much food and nothing to do with it! I'm now starting to think that Tradition was a mistake. Most of the benefit of the tree is in food, but food just goes to waste on an island map. There's nothing to do with the population but work useless goldless sea tiles. I built the Writers and Artists guilds just to absorb some of the population as specialists (and conveniently to fill the Legalism-provided Amphitheater's writing work slot). Then universities.

Religion came late. I picked Religious Community for the production, and went with Tithe for the gold theme and because it seemed likely I'd have a lot of fractional followers scattered around by trade route pressure.

Got a Great Merchant from the colossus plus the one market specialist Marrakech ran for lack of any good tiles. Settled for a Customs House. Seems weak at +4 gold, but it actually feeds another 0.5 gold into each of the trade routes as well.

Technology proceeded to Astronomy, to embark settlers directly over the ocean to target sites instead of paddling for dozens of turns around the edges of known islands. I also then finally got to Metal Casting and workshops to plug in production trade routes to the newest cities.

But... at this point I started becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my game plan. It just wasn't hanging together right. The big problem was chafing against the happy cap. Every city past four was a big struggle to find happiness to support. But the problem actually wasn't the city count: it was that the existing cities were too big and consuming too much happiness. Tradition had been the wrong way to go, giving useless overkill food.

Exploration was also a mistake. The production policy was nice to have, but the opener of naval movement doesn't really do anything (since it doesn't help embarked units), and all this was pushing Mercantilism too far into the future.

Especially now that I belatedly got to Metal Casting for production trade routes. These just swamped everything I was trying to do with purchasing, a far better way to get new cities bootstrapped. Even a +15 gold trade route plus Morocco's +3 trait only really works out to about 4 hammers per turn after the poor cash/hammer conversion ratio of purchasing, inferior to a production route. A food route was also inferior to production, since the city would just balloon past what the workers could supply in improved tiles, and would even become a liability in consuming too much happiness.

A better coherent game plan was forming in my mind. I really wanted to try it, but there was no way I'd want to play two full islands games to completion. I do do this on occasion, abandon a partial game for a new one, you just don't hear about it in report form.

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