Three redcoats, two cannons and a grenadier had landed near the city. Cathy had only one infantry in the city, but also three longbowmen and a pikeman. I made a real effort saving this city by gifting hundreds of gold each turn to Cathy, hoping she would use the money to upgrade the longbowmen. She didn't at first, but Victoria needed some turns to bombard the city. When she finally attacked, Cathy had upgraded at least one of the longbowmen - and the city held, albeit barely.
We were still unable to reinforce the city via sea, as Victoria and Huayna ruled the sea (Mansa only sent the odd caravel to try to blockade some harbors), so I continued to gift Cathy money. She upgraded another longbowman eventually, but then Huayna's forces arrived on the scene too.
Ouch, that were a lot of units! Cathy's (now three) wounded infantry were able to kill some of them, but had do succumb to the high number of units eventually. Yekaterinburg fell to the Incans. I had planned for a peaceful builder's game, yes, but this city had to be retaken! Not only because of it was a matter of principle, but also because we now had lost two cities in the war, which made the price for peace exorbitantly high. Additionally, war weariness was terrible now, slowing down our research as well.
So while we still fought and slowly gained sea superiority, I spotted this:
Two transports full of units on their way to not-very-well-defended Kushans! Luckily I had three destroyers in the area and managed to sink the enemy destroyer and one transport, but the other transport came through and landed one cavalry and three cannons on my shores. Thanks to another emergency upgrade, I was able to deal with that threat though.
Then, Industrialism came in, and I had assembled a nice fleet at Moscow to ferry over some newly-built tanks. Time to retake what's rightfully ours!
I returned the city to Cathy. Retaking the city and killing all these enemy units during the last turns had dropped the price to peace to a meager 130 gold pieces, and I accepted to pay. I had thought about retaking Smolenks as well, but that city had been heavily pressed by foreign culture anyway, and war weariness was way too high already, so I figured making peace now was the better choice.
I had resumed research on Rocketry already and completed the Apollo Project in 1824AD, then went for Computers and the research labs (should have done this before Apollo), then Robotics for the Space Elevator. I found out that my main production sites were not able to build the Elevator, but Moscow would finish the Iron Works in two turns! So maybe...Cathy would start the Elevator there...?
No, she didn't. Instead, she started it in St. Petersburg, a much less potent site. Not only was it a coastal city with several cottages and only one hill, it also had no lumbermills on its forest or railroads on the mine. So I sent over a sizeable squad of workers to fix this for her.
Since the big AI team was on par with us tech-wise and better on research power than we were, I feared we might lose the wonder...but first, the UN got built somewhere. The large AI block voted itself into power.
Both Alex and Victoria abstained, which was a Good Thing - if it ever came to Diplomatic Victory elections, they had enough votes to let the big team win!
This might be another peaceful way to win this game much faster: Try to befriend the large block, hoping they would vote for you in the elections. I had considered this to be far too unpredictable to try, though.
Anyway, a couple of turns later, I got another great engineer, and to my delight found out I could use him to rush the wonder in one of Cathy's cities.
The big AI team completed Apollo in 1900AD, but by then we had already completed six parts. One problem of being in a team with an AI is that as soon as research on a new spaceship part was complete, Cathy would sometimes start to build that part before I had a chance to do so. The cities she chose to build the part in were not always the best choice...I really feared she would start the last part in some junk city, endangering our victory!
But Cathy was a good girl, and she started the last part in Moscow, her iron works city. I had started the second last part in Baghdad already, which was my iron works site, and after merging two great engineers into the city and putting it on a starvation/max production diet, Cathy and I completed the last two parts on the same turn. Perfect teamwork, baby!
We launched in 1921AD. Here's our empire after the launch:
1921AD is no good date for a space launch; I'm quite sure I get beaten by lots of people there. Going the military route would have been faster most probably, but fighting AI teams might turn out to be a lot harder than your usual warfare... The war I had to fight was manageable, but only because I didn't need to go on the offensive. I think I lost about 15 turns during the war, though. I had to upgrade a lot of units, and suffered from a lot of war weariness. Not thinking about the potential consequences of signing an alliance with someone who had cities on another continent had clearly been a mistake. In the end, Alexander might have been the better choice! On the other hand, I don't like Alex. He would have been more likely to declare war on somebody, too. But I'm curious to see if somebody has chosen him as a partner instead, and how that game went differently!
This game had been a lot of fun! Not being allowed to conquer an AI on the starting landmass was a nice change of pace, as usually I would have done so, especially given our mediocre lands. Having to try to forge an alliance was fun too - normally, I would have changed to Free Religion much sooner, for example.
Having to face large AI teams was quite interesting, although I was very astonished about their slow research speed. They researched faster in the end than Cathy and me combined and had a tech lead after we've launched, but for three quarters of the game, their research speed did not feel like a four-to-one situation. I hadn't thought I would stand a chance to get Liberalism first, and yet got that tech relatively uncontested. But to be fair, my advantage of course was that I knew I would pick up a lot of techs as soon as I had signed the alliance, which was a good compensation for the lack of tech trading.
Thanks go to Sirian for another very interesting scenario!