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Egypt - Infinite City Sprawl

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I'll take that start, light on resources but very lush and green. Oh and Marble, the perfect complement to Egypt's ability.

Pottery still had to come first, but then with both stone and marble, I headed straight for Mining - Masonry. The Pyramids were a must here, since with Egypt's bonus plus marble, the wonder was actually cheaper than the two workers it spawned. Thebes' build order was scout - monument - scout - granary - warrior - warrior - Pyramids.

Scout first sure seems like the way to go on larger maps, to collect more ruins. Here I got a map, archer upgrade, 95 gold, barbarians, Calendar, and my favorite, 20 culture. As always, that culture shot me to the Liberty worker and settler policies quickly.

I'm never quite sure what to do with early gold. +5 income in the early game adds up as the turns pass quickly, plus of course you meet city-states and find ruins. Buying a city-state doesn't seem right so early, since the influence will wear off without additional investment. My choice here was to purchase a Stone Works in Thebes. That seemed like the best available snowball accelerator. It converted 320 gold into 75 hammers directly, but actually more like 150 additional hammers of turn economy production since it would be a decent while until I'd build the Stone Works otherwise.

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Here's city two from the Liberty policy, of course, claiming some nice luxuries. (Naturally, settling at the MINIMUM POSSIBLE distance from my capital earned a warning about aggression from my western Ottoman neighbor.)

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Thebes started the Pyramids once the marble was improved, and completed it in very good time at 1960 BC.

In technology, we needed Trapping for the ivory and Bronze for the jungle gems, then Wheel and Horseback Riding. With this much land around, there would be a lot of barbarians, and I really wanted a couple strong horseman units.

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Horseback Riding turned out to be a good call, since Rome came at me with one of the AI's famous patented 1500 BC warrior rushes. I built one horseman, repelling that easily. That unit in Thebes is a War Chariot; I built one to try it out but wasn't expecting much and got my expectation. The War Chariot isn't very good, because the base Chariot Archer is pretty underwhelming to start with, barely stronger than a regular archer and more costly. And the War Chariot's extra move is useless with the unit's rough terrain penalty. Definitely not the Civ 4 version of the unit.

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My western neighbor Suleiman attacked too and met the same fate, with insult added by stealing his worker just before signing peace. Notice that I'm already on top of the scoreboard.

With those wars out of the way, and some luxuries hooked up, I began expanding in earnest. Anyone remember my first game of Civ 5 where I had four cities at 0 AD and thought that was weak? Seven here, all decently strong and all following the ICS variant rule.

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Yeah, that's Rome at war with me again. But I had seen it coming ten leagues away after a denouncement and some other complaint. I had that horseman ready in Pi-Ramesses and a second being built in Memphis. The two horses easily gobbled those warriors and archers.

That's Hagia Sophia under construction in Thebes of course. It gave a Great Engineer, and along with a naturally-produced GE from the Pyramids, I rushed both Notre Dame and Porcelain Tower as usual. Then I also added a very late Oracle, which hadn't been part of my plans but seemed worthwhile with Marble Egypt's big wonder multipliers. The Oracle picked up Organized Religion as per my original plan, which together with ND drove me into an unexpected level of +25 happiness! And Elephantine is building Machu Picchu (+25% trade route income), another wonder geared towards a large empire.

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And there was a Golden Age going on, actually two of them, from happiness and finishing Liberty. I intentionally took a different policy (Piety) to delay the Liberty GA for a moment, in order to fulfill the happiness GA first, since happiness doesn't continue to accumulate during another GA.

Presently the Golden Age income made investing in a city-state worthwhile, so friendly maritime Cape Town got 500 gold. This kicked off quite a snowball of self-feedback. The wide build and Golden Ages racked up quite a lot of gold, so I started buying more maritime city-states all over the place. Naturally, that food fed back into more gold by working more rivers and trading posts. So I could buy even more food from city-states. And the CSes provided luxuries too, to trigger WLKTD to apply a multiplier to all this surplus food.

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Yeah, as in new cities get to grow in 2 turns from founding, with four maritime CS allies now.

By the way, the Collective Rule policy and maritime food are a terrible non-combo. You want to build all your settlers in the capital for the +50% bonus, except that that completely wastes the big maritime food on not growing. (Excess food on a settler build converts to hammers at 1:0.25, not 1:1 as in Civ 4. Yet another casualty of Civ 5's "too much food" design, since settlers would be ridiculously cheap and easy with full conversion of the +40 food that Civ 5 cities can reach.) I ended up building all my settlers in Thebes anyway, since the +50% paid off now and Thebes could have time to grow later, but it still felt quite wasteful.

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