Before I will finally tell the story of the following wars, I'd like to present you the GNP graph to show how I had climbed out of the economy hole.
But having only 7 mediocre cities also meant my war preparations couldn't possibly have been as good as those of the AI's - and a look on the power graph indeed proved this suspicion.
Despite the war Saladin was fighting already, he had by far the biggest army! I had indeed chosen to attack the strongest civ on our landmass, and I was looking forward to that fight.
I had stationed some units down in the south to deal with any counter-attacks, and had sent a small stack north to attack Saladin's city there first, while my cities were still busy producing more units to be able to attack Arabia's heartlands. War was declared, and I advanced on Sakae with four cannons and a grenadier.
Notice that the screenshot says the city has a 65% defensive bonus? Well, next turn it actually had over 100%! . Not that this posed any problems to my cannons...and while they were busy bombarding the city, I decided I didn't want the rest of the world peacefully teching ahead while I was fighting, and stirred up things a bit more. (I just love diplomacy! )
Next turn, my city raider cannons attacked the poor garrison at Sakae, and captured the city. Collateral carnage, baby!
While I assembled my main army on the southwestern border to Saladin while dealing with his camel archers trying to pillage my lands, Saladin realized he had a far more dangerous enemy than Hatty and wisely made peace with her in 1590AD. That didn't help him against me, though! He had a lot of units to deal with (I'm always impressed in my games with the amount of units Saladin keeps around...), but I was able to advance on Damascus nonetheless, and took the city in 1615AD.
Although I had cavalry now as well, it was still fun to use cannons instead: It's nice to have a unit that can bombard as well as attack cities, and collateral damage can be brutal. But all in all, I have to say the age of cannons is way too short for me to use them more often.
I marched through large stretches of enemy territory towards Medina next. I had to suffer from a small counter-attack of several catapults there, but then even my wounded cannons were more than enough to capture that city as well.
In 1645AD, first emancipation anger appeared, so I researched Democracy next and actually switched civics back to Bureaucracy to build the Statue of Liberty inbetween. I really like the Spiritual trait! It didn't help me though, as the Statue got built elsewhere 10 turns before I would have completed it. I'm not good with wonder-building in this game... Anyway, I continued my research path towards riflemen, artillery, and then tanks. But before that happened, my stack marched towards the Arabian capital, where I had to face some stiff resistance!
I suffered lots and lots of attacks there, lost some units and actually had to wait for reinforcements before I was finally able to capture the city in 1685AD. I decided that it was enough for now; attacking his western cities would take too long (I already suffered from severe war weariness), and his lonely eastern city I needed as a cultural buffer against the Chinese - and so I made peace with Saladin.
Let's see what Livy has to say about armies and their sizes...
Looks like I have reduced Saladin in size a bit. Now Qin had the largest army (and thus there I could gain the most fame), so the next target was clear. But to reach him I would have to go through Hatty first.