Previously I finally revisited the Shoshone after a long gap. Also on my list of civs to revisit since rediscovering Liberty has been Babylon. I actually tried a Babylon-Liberty game for a while (if you watch my urls, that's why there's a gap at /bnw21, it was that game) but it just wasn't exciting and wasn't gaining any time over my nearly perfect Babylon Tradition game. For a new game to be interesting after so many, I feel like I need more than one new idea in play to come together; just one change like flipping from Tradition to Liberty isn't enough.
That second factor that I needed was of course Jesuit Education. Every time I talk about Babylon, I point out how they accelerate science on both ends, faster to Education and faster to produce Great Scientists. If there's any civ positioned to take perfect advantage of the quick Jesuit universities, it should be Babylon.
And here's a third factor: dropping to Prince difficulty. The consequence I hadn't anticipated was that the Great Library remains available considerably longer. Enough that you can build it in the second or third city rather than delaying the capital's build queue of settlers. It's possible to go late enough to shoot Civil Service (my Aztec game did), although that needs luck even on Prince. I'll settle for Currency or Drama, which still speeds up Civil Service by several turns.
Targeting Civil Service ASAP is the core of my strategy here. Just like in Civ 4, the really important aspect of this tech is that it starts to work immediately. It doesn't require a building or wonder or any other investment; the farm food in Civ 5 or Bureaucracy in Civ 4 kick in right away. This is how to take advantage of Babylon's research, where most plans result in simply outresearching what the cities can build. In fact, I expect that the Great Library will actually pay back its construction cost through Civil Service farms alone. It costs 110 net hammers over the regular library. A free 280-beaker tech will reach Civil Service about 7 turns sooner. 7 turns times 15 farms civ-wide matches the Great Library's net cost.
This plan demands another adjustment that I wanted to make anyway. I need to skip temples and get them out of the build queue until later. Even at half price, 50 base hammers is too far to push back aqueducts and libraries and cargo ships. And researching Philosophy delays Petra and Engineering and Civil Service by too much. Egypt ran afoul of all that and saw how much time could be lost there; I was constantly frustrated at how behind the curve those cities seemed to be developing. Even though temples at 50 base hammers for 3 faith sound like a good payback ratio, Civil Service is better in providing several food for free.
And pagodas. Egypt did prove that pagodas can indeed coexist with the Jesuits. You need as much desert as possible, but if every city is immersed in desert, that does give enough faith to buy out all the pagoda slots before Education arrives. Even on Babylon's accelerated timeframe, I hope. That happy from pagodas is so important and no other method can replace it.
Finally, there's one more slingshot we need to make: save the Oracle to go into Rationalism. I used to do this routinely before BNW on Emperor when playing one of the good science civs. I haven't done that with the Jesuit games, instead using the Oracle to grab the Reformation itself before we lose the belief to an AI. But I'm going to take the chance that on Prince difficulty and with pagodas' culture, we can simply get the 7th policy soon enough anyway. My fastest science civ so far was Poland, whose ability to accelerate Rationalism with the midgame freebies is a very significant turn-saver, getting both Secularism and Free Thought 10-12 turns sooner. The Oracle is the only other way any other civ can approximate that.
Wow, that's interesting. I rarely do coastal capital starts, because you'll rarely find everything you need in the fewer land tiles available. But this one has most everything I could ask for. Heck, if I designed a coastal start from scratch, it would look about like this.
I grew the city to size 2 on the oasis as usual, then kept growing to size 3 as well. I've found over many games and partial starts that this is best. The opportunity cost of that second growth is 24 hammers, or 33 to size 4 if a population ruin takes you to size 3 in the meantime. That cost is significant in delaying scouts by a couple turns... but then it does pay back quickly enough, before you're done producing settlers. With the starvation loophole and Collective Rule, every extra city size produces an extra 3 hammers minimum working a bare hill, or 4.5 after it's mined. The growth is paid back soon as six turns of settler production, plus you get the beaker and Desert Folklore faith as well.
Early ruins: barbs, spearman upgrade (actually very significant), t7 culture and we're on our way, barbs again, map, turn 19 finally population to size 4.
Here's why that spearman upgrade was so significant:
A lone spearman with his 11 strength is enough to seize tribute from a city-state at a default starting strength of also 11. A spearman upgrade can actually serve as a gold ruin in disguise! This doesn't happen on Emperor difficulty when city-states usually have a combat unit by now, but does on Prince. Here, I got two tributes right next to each other. This made up for the lack of any gold ruins and accounted for enough to buy my worker now on turn 24.
Here's my surrounding territory. Enough desert, and enough luxuries to work with in cocoa, citrus, pearls. Wittenberg in the middle is a bit of an obstacle but I could work around it.
I continued to grow the capital manually from size 4 to 5 rather than stagnating growth to work hammers. This costs 44 food that could be hammers instead. But even that would still be paid back after at most 15 turns of starvation settlers. Still worthwhile, and then the added citizen is still there when the capital starts on Petra too.
I continued to get ruins, fairly few but enough to be playable. (I'm breaking myself of the habit of showing every one of them.) Turn 29 came the faith ruin for Desert Folklore, followed by a big-faith prophet ruin. Turn 34 came a jackpot of a population ruin to size 6!, making my earlier manual growth that much more worthwhile. Later I got Trapping, some gold, and one more very late (t90) culture ruin.
Build order: 3 scouts to explore - monument - 2 scouts for cover and escort - worker - settlers.
Research: Babylon always starts Mining - Pottery - Writing. Then it really doesn't matter after that, as the academy researches everything faster than you can use it. I researched all of the ancient age except for Masonry and Bronze Working (not on the path to Civil Service), then moved up to Currency.
Policies: I got only one culture ruin, so policies didn't come fast. Turn 7 Liberty opener, turn 21 Republic, turn 36 Collective Rule. CR coming this late was actually fine, synced perfectly with the worker build and the last manual growth, putting all the pieces together to churn out settlers. I had to buy two hills for the laborers to work but that was worthwhile too.
As always, there's my -10 food disappearing into unaccountability.
The Collective Rule settler planted here with two wheat, and immediately started on the Great Library as planned. Of course that 62 turns would come down as it grew onto hills.
I skipped showing the ruins, but I'll show a fortituous worker scavenge and then a standard steal. It was a little far from home and would take the workers a while (~15 turns) to get back there, but I grabbed the chance now while I had it. I did have to make peace with Geneva immediately rather than let the city shoot my scout.
And another, which I show here for the tactics. My scout can't reach the exposed worker this turn because it's zoc-blocked by the barb in the camp. But by moving my scout as indicated, it in turn zoc-blocks the worker from reaching the camp this turn and guarantees that I capture it next turn.
For both Geneva and Wittenberg, I kept the scavenged workers. Religious city-states aren't important to befriend, a drop in the bucket next to Desert Folklore. And Wittenberg's gems are a duplicate of a luxury I already have.
My Prophet is also visible there, and he just founded the religion now, no need to wait for anything. My first two cities were growing fast enough that they wouldn't wait for an early conversion at a small size. Once you're committed to that one missionary, the pressure from three cities converts everything else, so new cities will only lack Desert Folklore for a short time, and it's not necessary to wait on the religion for them to get the pantheon first.
Expanded out to six cities by turn 57. Notable is a minor trick with the capital. Twice it came just short of finishing a settler then completed it next turn with lots of overflow, so each time I put that overflow into a work boat for the pearls. That would basically sneak the +50% Collective Rule modifier onto the work boat too, getting that with minimal delay to the settlers.
One aspect of the coastal start that I now noticed: it was actually very useful to have one direction shielded from barbarian spawns. Between that and Wittenberg distracting them on the southern side, I got away with probably one or maybe two fewer military units than usual. And of course any hammers that aren't going into military are going into the production snowball.
Akkad completed the Great Library as planned on turn 69, taking Drama. (I'd already reached Currency several turns before thanks to the Babylonian academy.) Guilds was available as a bigger beaker payoff, but Drama is what we need on the route to Civil Service. I couldn't risk pushing the GL all the way to Civil Service itself, as the Dutch were building the wonder too.
Two more scavenged workers as well. For the one on the right, oddly the damaged barbarian went into the camp while the healthy one walked away; they had been the other way around the previous turn. Weird but I'll take it.
That barbarian camp near Wittenberg turned out to sneakily be my own ally, as it stole another worker from the city-state that I could re-steal for myself. That also made me think to check Wittenberg for tribute... and I could get yet another worker there! That brought me to a total of nine workers: one built, one bought, seven stolen and scavenged. This is a major reason to play down on Prince difficulty; this just doesn't happen on Emperor when the major AI civs and city-states both have the units to defend and recover their own workers.
I had also planned this for a while, but only now got a scout down here after being occupied escorting settlers and scavenging workers. I went ahead and declared war to steal a Dutch worker. I also alertly bought an embassy in the Dutch capital for a free look right before canceling the payment by declaring war.
That led to this:
Holy crap! Just like the Egypt game that attacked America for a worker, I got a free ceded city for no reason at all! And unlike New York in that game, this is a very strong city in its own right. Two unique luxuries! Also horses and several other animal resources. No Desert Folklore, but I can hardly complain.
Presently I finally got myself two maritime allies. Cape Town was easy, retrieve that worker, clear the camp, and then my spearman would hang around for a while and kill more barbs and re-retrieve a second worker. For Riga, I borrowed exactly enough money from friendly Pedro to buy them. This isn't all that efficient; 79 influence on a hostile personality doesn't last long. But the ivory was a unique luxury and what I needed at this moment was any happy even if it was temporary. Riga turned out to be a difficulty later on. I refreshed the alliance with 250 gold once (inefficiently as always), then with two gifted units when I had no money, but later ultimately had to let that alliance go once I finally got another ally with ivory instead.
I needed that happy to deal with Rotterdam. I had to annex it in order to buy its luxury tiles and build its courthouse, but it would be an anger liability for ten turns until all that happened. Fortunately, I was just starting to ramp up on pagodas, first one on turn 70 (actually I delayed accepting Rotterdam for two turns until I had that pagoda's happy) which helped cover that.
Overview at 1000 BC. 27 population which is decently good, about as much as you can get without a maritime ally, thanks to ceded Rotterdam. That total is tied with my previous Babylon game that went Tradition and had the boost from El Dorado.
Note that I stopped at 9 cities for the moment. I'd learned in a previous failed attempt at this game (missed Jesuit Education) to do that. Any wider and I would have to halt growth for happy reasons. I didn't have a ton of luxuries this time, unlike my fastest Poland and Shoshone games. Here I had to tap the brakes very briefly (about three cities for about three turns) to avoid going negative on happiness.
The other reason to stop sooner with settlers is to get Petra going. Babylon is completing that on turn 76 here, which is also record speed. The opportunity cost of settlers rises dramatically once that cost is Petra and you have maritime friends.
Civil Service came as indicated in the picture, on turn 79, setting a record by one turn ahead of the other Babylon game. I was correctly poised to take maximum advantage of this, having already built quite a few farms and handled Rotterdam well. Once Rotterdam's luxuries and courthouse came online, I surged ahead with enough happy headroom to grow as fast as the cities were able. Which was quite fast, with most cities at 12 to 15 food surplus and growing every five or six turns.
One thing that broke my way was the AI policy choices. None went deep into Piety, so I had no worries about missing Jesuit Education this time. China could still get there with one more policy (this screen doesn't count openers and Reformation is three-deep beyond the opener) so I couldn't dawdle forever, but I got there easily enough. This sequence was the Piety opener on turn 53, Organized Religion t73, Religious Tolerance t84, Reformation for Jesuit Education on turn 97.
However, there were enough AIs in Liberty that I ended up taking a miss on the Pyramids. When my capital finished Petra, the Pyramids were already under construction in Washington and Amsterdam and had been for several turns. Well, I can live without that. It's more important when you take Citizenship because that gets roads down to 2 turns, but I could live without it and use my hordes of scavenged workers to make up for it.
Another turning point on happy came here, clearing a camp for both Cahokia and Antwerp. Cahokia's alliance wore off quickly and I wisely didn't chase it with more money, but Antwerp was a game-long alliance. I returned that first worker, kept the second (in the camp), then that first worker got re-recaptured by barbs and so I re-re-recaptured it again for myself since Antwerp already had enough influence.
Tossing in one more overview out of the usual sequence, because a number of points need commenting here. First is Education finished on turn 100, a record by three turns over my best Spain game.
However, I had only enough faith saved for just one university! Maybe reaching Education so fast doesn't help all that much after all. It hurt noticeably that I had about 20 population that wasn't working desert for faith, in the eastern cities. I hadn't bought all the pagoda slots quite yet, and had continually needed the happy badly enough that I couldn't ever pause on them. Also I hadn't reached Mandate of Heaven yet, still 12 turns away by the current culture counter.
What was also missing from the religious sequence was the enhancement prophet. I hadn't done that while spending on pagodas instead. In fact, I have Babylon building the Hagia Sophia for that prophet, so as not to consume faith there away from universities.
What had gone nicely was city development. The core cities had finished granary, monument, shrine, watermill, library, and several of them had even done their temple already. The coastal cities got food cargo ships and skipped the granaries, another tweak I've learned to do.
But mostly the cities developed so well thanks to the best tile in the midgame: a farmed riverside hill, two food and two hammers. I've come to realize that hammers are better than food for a midsize city, unlike in Civ 4. It's all about the payback ratios and horizons. Growing a size-7 city costs 77 food to add one worked tile, which will typically provide 4 total yield so +2 net over feeding the laborer. That's a payback horizon of 38.5 turns. Or instead, a watermill costs 75 hammers for +3 net factors and a payback horizon of 25 turns. Additionally, the population may require happiness costing another 50 hammers worth of colosseum which screws up the ratio even more. Other buildings can also give similar better payback than population growth, like the aqueduct at 100 hammers for something like 5 virtual food (20-turn horizon), or even a stable or stoneworks, or of course caravans and cargo ships. So this means that hammers are generally better than 1:1 equivalency to food once a city has made the first few cheap growths up to size 7 or so. Of course it depends on what the hammers are going into; once a city's build options come down to something weak like a market, switch back to food instead.
Also I had added those two more cities in the southwest, building the settlers from the capital after Petra. I couldn't stand to see so much desert going unused. I hoped I could still push out a Great Scientist from one or both of them before the end of the game. My previous Babylon game managed Great Scientists from 9 cities (7 is most typical without Babylon's GSci bonus), and I wanted to have 11 cities available to make sure we could get as many scientists as possible.
One more thing I decided to fix for this game plan: Don't build Gardens right away. I keep doing that in every game, in every city, figuring that time to the last Great Scientist is always a limiting factor. Thing is, you have to build all the gardens for any of them to work. To accelerate that last 900-point scientist, you must also accelerate the city doing the 800, and for that the 700, and all the way down the line. I've always been building Gardens everywhere right after the Jesuit universities... but that may be a mistake. I should aim to match the gardens with public schools instead. There are only about 35 turns between universities and public schools, so 210 base GPP per city in that time; the Garden adds 25% which is 52 GPP, which is only 2 turns on the last scientist (endgame cities produce 27 scientist GPP/turn.) For a huge hammer cost midgame right when we still need to be on aqueducts and watermills instead. Also waiting a bit on the gardens means that the first couple cities can skip them after already having spawned their scientists.
Presently I enhanced the religion with the Hagia Sophia prophet. The second follower belief slot was actually still up in the air. I didn't predetermine it and had left the choice for now. Feed the World is only half strength without the temples. So is Asceticism (1 shrine happy) as compared to Religious Center (2 temple happy). Either food belief (Feed the World or Swords into Plowshares) is less attractive coming so much later and when the cities are already mostly up the steep slope of the growth curve. I had actually thought Guruship might be the pick for cities that were getting university specialists so quickly.
But the belief I needed here was Religious Center after all. I'd surprisingly built quite a few more temples than I'd expected by now. And I could continue to add food and hammers by other means, but happy would continually be a struggle and that is the strongest happy belief. The enhancer belief was Itinerant Preachers because the two new cities needed that to convert, and there were quite a few 11-13 tile gaps between my cities and neighboring civs as well.
Another turning point, got this camp clear for two more maritime city-states. Also back home, I would keep seizing tribute from Wittenberg constantly, basically every time a militaristic city-state gave me a new unit. I also scavenged yet one more barb-captured worker from them. Poor city-state, but that was the best way to use it towards my own ends. Wittenberg's tribute money (100 to 120 each time) made a serious difference in averting bankruptcy as my income sat at -40 for dozens of turns until I finally connected roads.
The 1 AD overview, back on my usual sequence. 91 population, which is a little behind the other fastest games (Poland 98, Shoshone 100) but still solid, and actually still a bit ahead of Poland on beakers with one fewer city.
The cities are stuck just a little bit on happiness and growth. But I just finished buying all the universities (except for Shushan which was being stubbornly slow to convert) and now finally filled in the last three pagodas. Mandate of Heaven had finally come in on turn 109 to accelerate that, late compared to other games because I hadn't used the Oracle towards the Piety tree.
I still needed to build Notre Dame and colosseums to really solve the happiness problem, and started on that now. But I also finally got a decent resource cascade from city-states. I cleared a camp and recovered a worker for La Venta, which finally improved its dyes, which triggered a resource quest for three city-states including Milan, which had spices, which triggered two more city-states and also finally WLKTD in my capital.
The next policy in 7 turns has to go into Rationalism. I couldn't quite make Printing Press that fast, so had to enter the Renaissance at Banking instead. That's OK but might cost me one turn on the last great scientist by Sciences Funding coming those five turns later. Printing Press would come on turn 127, tied with Poland, and the World Congress was Sciences Funding as usual even over AI objections.
I reached the Renaissance on turn 122, timed with a regular policy for the Rationalism opener and the Oracle for Secularism all at the same time. Finally I had a game that could push through Rationalism satisfactorily quickly. This move with the Oracle doesn't just accelerate Secularism, it accelerates all three of the important Rationalism policies up to Free Thought; they each come one policy slot sooner which means 12-15 turns each. Humanism followed on t135 and Free Thought on t145, not bad compared to Poland who had it on t141 thanks to the industrial age freebie.
Presently I got my first city-spawned Great Scientist, and settled it. I rarely do this but it felt correct here. The math comes to something like this: 30 turns of 8 base beakers + 50% multipliers, then 30 real turns and 80 virtual bulb-turns of 10 base beakers + 150% multipliers. This is over 3000, which is competitive with the alternative option of bulbing this scientist. A settled scientist doesn't need to outdo the endgame maximum bulb value; he needs to outdo the earliest bulb you will spend after back-counting all the scientists from the end of the game. This value spent towards Sci Theory typically is around 3000 beakers. Also, intuitively, Babylon will have more scientists than other civs and so it's more worthwhile to spend one to increase the yield of all the rest.
So I resisted showing all the ruins, but can't resist showing lucky breaks against barbarians. Right here, that hand-axe jumped out of the camp to grab that Indian worker. My scout could move as indicated, which ZOC-blocks the axe from getting back into the camp this turn, guaranteeing I'd clear it and recover the worker in there next turn.
Turn 130 came the happy Golden Age, slightly late but it doesn't really matter exactly when as long as it happens before any other GA raises the cost counter. This one happened to be perfectly timed to complete the artist guild to get the first great artist right before the GA ran out, which chained into Taj Mahal, which chained into the second Great Artist all the way to the end of the game. In other words, I had continuous Golden Age from turn 130 onwards.
Turn 136 spent the first scientist bulb to reach Sci Theory on turn 137, almost a record one turn behind Shoshone. I spent this bulb now because the faith counter was just under 1200 (after having bought all the pagodas and universities and taken prophets at 500 and 800). So that was four public schools now and then fill in the rest. I actually built two schools manually, since that would take just as long as accumulating the faith to buy those last two schools; and these were in cities that had already spawned a great scientist so didn't need the GPP. Overall that meant no time lost on schools and 1⅓ research labs worth of faith saved.
Presently I built the National College embarrassingly late on turn 143. The capital's build queue had just been clogged with all the other wonders first; Hagia Sophia was a significant setback there, then Notre Dame and Leaning Tower were too urgent to wait. Also I'm not sure if I misplayed the coastal capital. I had used the two early trade route slots to send food away from Babylon to the other two coastal cities, reasoning that bootstrapping them from zero was better than feeding an already strong capital. But that could have been a mistake; I always say that growing onto Petra hills is the strongest use of trade route food. I did that with the second interval of the trade routes after the first 30 turns expired.
Moving along to the next overview. 139 population, which is starting to worry me, falling behind Poland's 158 at this date. But this was the population number that exactly matched my happiness count, just 2 surplus right here and that one colosseum coming in Dur-Karigalzu, which would be enough until the specialist anger saver Universal Suffrage kicks in on the next policy.
Note that the Oracle -> Rationalism move was key here as well. With the important parts of Rationalism done, I can take Universal Suffrage here right away. If not for that move, Suffrage would wait another 12-15 turns during which I'd have to halt city growth. I even debated spending a writer now to get Suffrage right away with the ideology, but nah, we didn't need it quite that fast and I didn't want to repeat Egypt's mistake of spending a writer for less than full value and falling short of Space Procurements. (Of course, Poland never has such problems at all.)
But a looming problem might be money. I'm at 59/turn where Poland was already over 300. This game was slower to build marketplaces (many under construction now) and trading posts without Citizenship. We'd get there, but perhaps too late. Also the Prince-level AIs were broke as hell and had very little money to feed me for resources compared to Poland's Emperor opponents. And of course this game has to buy spaceship parts at the full undiscounted price of 18,000 total rather than saving with Mercantilism and Big Ben as Poland did.
At least this game did have a better capital than Poland, once the sea trade route food had been going for a while to get Babylon up to size.
I spent two bulbs on turns 159 and 160 to reach Plastics. Tied with Poland, one more scientist spent here, but then again that's Babylon's prerogative. 3400 faith on hand bought 7 research labs right away, same as Shoshone had done. I would actually never do one last lab, because that faith had to be saved towards the 2500 total for two great scientists that way. (Itinerant Preachers over Reliquary was probably a short-sighted mistake.)
From a militaristic city-state... what the heck is that? I looked it up and found that it's a Polish UU, that I never even noticed in three games as Poland. Heh, I guess the game is seeing my ongoing Poland-envy and taunting me about it!
T165 bulb Dynamite, overflow to Railroad, Navigation
T167 bulb Flight, overflow to Ballistics
T168 bulb Electronics, overflow to Radar
T169 bulb Rocketry and Satellites (finish at EOT)
Presently this problem manifested. My culture had flopped. After the Statue of Liberty, I needed three more policies to complete Rationalism and Freedom. Despite saving one policy before Rationalism, I was still going to fall short! I had three Great Writers on hand waiting for maximum value, but even they only provided 1500 each and didn't get there. Thank goodness for the Oracle-Rationalism move (which still accounted for advancing every policy involved by one slot), or my finish date would be completely wrecked by this problem.
This happened thanks to an acute lack of cultured city-states. 39 is only one ally and one friend, far short of the five or six allies that good games manage. You really want over 100 culture per turn there. I just didn't have any way to get it, no money to buy the city-states on top of saving for the SS parts, and no luck on random or camp quests for them.
Other than that, I pieced together the endgame perfectly and it was immensely satisfying. All on the same turn, I was set up to finish Apollo, Hubble, the last city-spawned great scientist, Porcelain Tower for another, and Oxford. So then all on the same turn, I would bulb three scientists to Combined Arms, Computers, Robotics, and claim Nanotechnology from Oxford.
(By the way, it's very possible to click things in the wrong order and screw up on something like this. You actually have to queue up all three bulb targets on the previous turn, otherwise clicking to select one would instead trigger Oxford claiming it. You need to spend all three bulbs without touching the tech screen, then click on Nanotechnology for Oxford. I got this correct here, but the leeway to mess this up and reload if necessary to fix it is part of why I don't care to play for the CFC HOF.)
All that was to set up for the capital and Sippar to start building spaceship parts right then immediately after Apollo; there's one part available at Satellites and another at Nanotechnology. This was because I still didn't know how much money I would make for buying SS parts. I could see that 12,000 for four parts would happen and 18,000 for all six wouldn't, but wasn't sure about 15k for the fifth part. So Sippar started building it, since there was no harm in just buying it later instead if the money did catch up.
Both cities kept using the shrine-rebuild trick described in previous reports to gain hammers. Although it doesn't do much on spaceship parts, since the +105% modifier on the shrine comes by losing the +50% from the SS factory plus the 25% from Hubble's own effect.
The money did come to pass, thanks to a series of these moves. I'd gotten a Mobile SAM unit (60 strength) from a militaristic city-state. It went floating around seizing tribute from every city-state within 8 tiles of the inland sea. (This isn't always possible on Emperor because they'll have more than 60 total strength of units, but works on Prince.) Particularly satisfying was this episode here, where the SAM came 8 tiles from Zanzibar just in time to satisfy that bullying quest from Bogota! And then of course it tributed Bogota too. Overall, this unit got tribute from eight city-states in total, which went a long way towards affording to buy one more spaceship part.
I saved every penny I could. Deleted workers, didn't build railroads, made gold trade routes with newly-built and previously-expiring cargo ships, switched cities from building Research to Wealth. Eventually I did have enough to buy the fifth spaceship part and build only one. (Whenever I talk about things like gold or culture falling short, I mean in relation to a goal of matching my best win dates, meaning turn 179-180 at present.)
Ultimately the limiting factor did come to be culture to the last policy for the Rationalism finisher, by two turns longer than both building the one spaceship part and accumulating the gold. I'd had to leave the Rationalism finisher for last because the previous policy had come too early on the tech tree to get an expensive tech (somewhere lower than Rocketry). It also takes four extra turns after the Rationalism finisher itself to record the victory! Turn 1 buy the faith scientists but they can't be used yet. Turn 2 bulb them but the last can't quite do Particle Physics in one shot so end turn to get it by overflow. Turn 3 buy the last spaceship part, but then end turn before that can be used too. Turn 4 actually add it to the ship to win.
In the end, I actually probably should have gone Order instead. The time elapsed from Apollo Program to the win was 9 turns, which is usually how long it takes for Order cities to build the parts, so the turn or two saved from Workers' Faculties science would be a net gain. Order doesn't have those turn-losing timing hiccups at the end, since the two great people from Spaceflight Pioneers can be used right away, and so can a spaceship part that was built rather than bought.
Victory on turn 185, same as the previous Babylon game, but better played without the crutch of El Dorado. And I really had all the pieces by turn 182, close in spirit to the turn 179 Poland game.
How did this compare to Poland? Babylon and the early rush to Education did their job, spawning three more scientists from cities than Poland did. But that didn't translate into a faster win date. That was because Babylon just didn't keep up with Poland, having about 10% less population and beakers from the midgame on. That happened because Poland did go for aqueducts before Education, and also had Feed the World. Babylon got less lucky with luxuries and city-states, and had to spend the second religious belief on happy rather than growth. Babylon also had one city fewer than Poland, which was correct as this game never had the happy to support one more.
Man, Poland just gets to compensate for EVERYTHING through sheer volume of options. Babylon's advantage of three scientists was actually rendered nearly moot. Poland made up one each from the Liberty finisher and from faith. Compared to the policy path in this Babylon game, Poland got to add Citizenship (frontload), Meritocracy (allowed a religious belief slot to go for food instead of happy), Liberty finisher (scientist), Theocracy (gold and culture), and up to Mercantilism (another scientist, by buying labs with cash so the faith went to one more great person instead.) Poland also leaps faster along the way to key components like Mandate of Heaven and Free Thought, backfilling the other advantages later at leisure.
It's looking to me like Poland and Shoshone are the only true top tier competitors for strength of speed to a space win. Babylon doesn't quite match up since Poland gets so many ways to push growth and speed and scientists. Only the extreme frontloading of Shoshone or a super lucky Spain can match that bag of tricks. I just did Shoshone and don't have much desire to keep chasing Spain luckfests, but might still have another idea or two to try.