The topic of scouting deserves some attention. This is something I've glossed over and just reported the results, but it's worth going into some detail. The ease of scouting is a significant reason that Inland Sea is the best map type for these exercises.
I strongly feel the best opening build order is scout - scout - shrine - granary, with monument from Legalism and a bought worker. This means the starting warrior should return home for barbarian defense, since you don't want to delay the buildings eight turns to build another unit. So first figure out where you are in relation to the sea, which is usually possible by examining the directions of your river flows. Loop the warrior around in a circle then back home. If your capital is near the sea, loop the circle outwards towards the edge, or vice versa.
The right route for scouting scouts is near either the edge of the map or the shore of the sea. AI units following a random walk will tend towards the middle of the land band, so ruins will last longer for you at the boundaries. The best path is three tiles away from the edge or the sea, just close enough that you will not "waste" any of the scout's sight radius beyond the boundary or miss and bypass any city-states. Besides ancient ruins, this technique also finds the most city-states the fastest. CS skew markedly towards the edges and shore of Inland Sea; this tendency is very noticeable by rolling a huge map. So don't waste time in the middle.
Like that, two ruins still there on the edge as late as turn 27.
And the predictable macroscopic layout of Inland Sea is also key. It lets you keep the scouts moving, moving, moving. Pangaea-type maps sometimes result in a scout getting stuck behind someone's border or a mountain range or wasting a dozen turns walking up a narrow isthmus and back. Inland Sea hardly ever has this happen; you always know where more open land is. A scout born on turn 5 will explore 20 tiles distance by turn 15, very consistently.
Longer term, ideally you want to send two scouts each direction around the sea, in the inner and outer grooves as you see on the right side of that minimap. The opposing scouts will eventually meet at the antipode, when they can double back and fill in the middle, or maybe even team up to clear a barbarian camp or two, especially if any got ruins-upgraded to archer.
I go into this much detail because the ruins gave me an even bigger embarrassment of riches than usual. I got survivors to size 2, culture (Tradition opener turn 6), survivors to size 3, culture again (Legalism T11), a map, survivors to size 4 (sheesh), 95 gold, 70 gold.
And, dear gosh, survivors to size 6. That was four free city growths for a total of 118 food, all by turn 24. That let me freely ignore food and work max hammers for the shrine and granary. (Paying 63 food to grow a 2-0-1 river tile is clearly weak; don't try to grow onto bare tiles.)
All that extra population significantly accelerated the first few turns of research -- enough that a bought worker wouldn't even finish a farm before Calendar and a plantation would arrive. So with that bit of slack time, I actually decided to buy a third scout before the worker. This scout had a good chance of paying for himself by finding another gold ruin or even stealing a worker (he didn't), but did find enough city-states over about twenty turns.
I followed up by buying the worker as Calendar came in, and started the usual snowball from there. Sold the first cotton right away (turn 25) to buy a second worker, then built two more plantations and sold those luxes too to buy a settler.
Nice neighborhood. Lots of faithful desert, enough luxuries, mondo rivers. I'll keep it.
Bingo, there's the religious city-state I needed. Pantheon on turn 24 (you can't found it right away at 15 faith, must wait for the turn roll.)
Writing followed soon. I decided to make a move for the Great Library, again thanks to the inflated population from all those ruins. The GL would target Philosophy and then I'd add an early National College too. I usually don't bother with the NC and instead just keep expanding, but I've got a decent platform to do it here.
I couldn't do the NC at just one city, though. Can't let cash sit idle, gotta buy settlers, especially when they return that cash right back, every settler that grabs and sells two luxuries buys another settler. And every settler is more Desert Folklore too.
They say Emperor AIs will build the Great Library as soon as turn 45. With some careful micromanagement and timely mines on two hills, I had it scheduled for the end of turn 44.
Got it. The shot also shows my second city in the south and third settler on his way east.
See how both Antium and Cumae are founded on cotton resources. That's a not insignificant detail, hooking up the luxury about eight turns ahead of waiting for a worker to arrive and work, which amounts to 64 gold worth of selling it earlier. (Or in Cumae's case, keeping it for my own happiness.)
You can also see my Great Prophet there in Rome behind the archer. That's religion on turn 46, taking Ceremonial Burial and Pagodas. (BTW, I had to do that in the right order, found Cumae then the religion. Other order means Cumae misses the pantheon. Yes I'm still complaining about that.)
Rome added a second archer while researching Masonry, then started right on the Pyramids. Then Mathematics - Currency. T49 sold horses, bought fourth worker. T52 borrowed money, bought fifth worker. T61 had enough faith for a missionary, a better choice than a pagoda. Equal happy (two spreads via Ceremonial Burial), but then the spreads in turn start exerting their own pressure.
Skipping ahead, here's my usual 1000 BC overview. I paused at these three cities to build the National College, there two turns from completion in Rome. Antium built the library but Cumae had to buy. The 19 population appears to be a bit short of my other good games that had 22 or 23. But not really! There are three additional population points hidden in this picture -- can you find them?
The three settlers already on the move, of course. So that's the first time I've ever made that play, intentionally pause expanding to build the NC. They say that the NC pause really doesn't slow your expansion much, and looks to me like that does indeed hold true. Just slow down on settlers for about 10 turns, in which meantime you can buy workers instead and recoup several of the delayed turns by prebuilding roads out to the city sites. (Unfortunately the extra three cities pushed back the Tradition finisher by a few turns, but oh well.)
Rome's next move was naturally Petra. I'm ashamed to say I never realized this before: Petra should always be built at max hammers, trading off food. At 114 growth cost at size ten, that means each food represents 1/114th of adding 2 food 1 gold 1 beaker (a Civil Service farm.) But each hammer into Petra represents 1/250th of adding 7f and 7h and 7g. That's way more per investment, so Petra now and grow later, reconfiguring Rome for hammers to build it in 12 turns. And finding small little bits of synergy is always fun: Petra's free amphitheater counts for Rome's UA so other cities can piggyback off it.
Sneaky move: take Isabella's $112 just before she died by Attila's hand.
And I'm still complaining about how that janky pantheon followers mechanic yields dumb results. Antium here somehow had the pantheon fall out of majority status before the religion gained it. So it lost Desert Folklore for several turns until Christianity reached majority.
But there's a nice stroke of luck. Somehow those two city-states attacked that barb camp and left it empty allowing me to claim free influence with both of them. Mercantile Marrakech in particular was extremely helpful with the happy crunch now going bigtime at the home cities.
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