While attacking Lyons, I got my third great scientist on the home front in Antium. The first two had built academies in Antium and Rome already, but the third one I wanted to use to discover a tech. He offered to discover Education, but I would have finished researching it in two turn anyway, so I waited. After getting Education, he would discover Theology - a tech that I didn't want right now! So I made a trade first.
Now the great scientist would discover Printing Press for me, which was a lot better.
After capturing Lyons, my forces were spread a bit thin. I had a longer front and more cities to protect now; additionally, war weariness had appeared, and my cities had some angry citizens even at 30% culture spending. But I had to go for one more target before making peace again: Chartres! Capturing Chartres would give me horses and reduce my front line, so that was worth the cost. I lost more units taking that city than I'd liked to (two catapults, two macemen and a war elephant), but after that I was able to make peace again.
Lyons was near Paris, the French capital, so I hoped I wouldn't get the same cultural problems there as I had in Shanghai with the Chinese. It was only then I realized why Shanghai was under such a cultural pressure: Qin had founded no less than four religions, and three holy cities were at my borders (Guangzhou, Nanjing and Beijing)! No wonder Shanghai had revolted a third time already (I had more than 10 units there now). That also made clear whom and where I had to attack next.
Despite facing emperor AIs and fighting all the time, I somehow managed to discover liberalism first.
That gave me nationalism for free, and I immediately started to build the Taj Mahal. In fact, I had a small, but nice tech lead over the AIs now! I guess they had fought too much in the beginning, and in contrast to me had not been able to fund research by capturing cities. I allowed myself a phase of consolidation until I would have riflemen. Free speech and caste system were adopted, and infrastructure built almost everywhere, then I switched to vassalage and theocracy.
My golden age from the Taj Mahal started in 1565AD. Bismarck had made peace with Napoleon as well, but I was still at war with Montezuma - he wanted to have a tech for peace! But he was still unable to reach me, so I remained at war. But now, both Bismarck and Washington attacked Monte - thanks guys! It was only a short war though, where Bismarck managed to capture one Aztecan city, and Monte in turn managed to capture on German city. They all made peace in 1635AD (now Monte wanted to have Neapolis for peace. Yeah right!).
In 1640AD, after running only 10% research for some time to accumulate some money for upgrades, I had rifles. China did not. And Guangzhou was not only a normal holy city pressuring Shanghai, no - it had two religions founded in it! It had to go.
In response to this, China started a golden age! Hah, let's see if that would help them against my rifles! On their long march to Guangzhou, my stack suffered from attacks from two catapults and two cho-ko-nus, who also do collateral damage. Ouch! My units had to heal while my wounded catapults bombarded the city's defenses, but then I took the city without much trouble.
Units keep their promotions when you upgrade them, even if the new unit type would normally not be able to get that promotions. You can get combinations you would not be able to get if you had built the unit instead of upgrading it. As you can see in the screenshot, the city was taken by a city raider III rifleman - a valuable unit, as city raider promotions are not possible on riflemen normally.
The cultural pressure was lifted from Shanghai, now that Guangzhou was mine. A shrine and an academy had survived the battle for the city, so when Guangzhou came out of resistance seven turns later, my income increased by a good amount. Nice! Now I had two other holy cities to deal with: Nanjing and Beijing. I decided to go for Nanjing first, because Beijing was China's capital and thus heavily defended probably, so I should be able to capture Nanjing faster. I had to press my technical advantage!
Nanjing was defended by a lot of units as well though, mostly musketmen. I had brought 9 riflemen plus some other assorted units (catapults etc.), and fell one unit short of taking the city!
After I had attacked with every single unit I had, all that was left to hold Nanjing was one lousy city garrison I musketman at 1.4 out of 9 health! Argh. But no problem I thought, I had some healed (or nearly healed) units left to attack with next turn. One musketman? Hah, that won't stop me!
Only that next turn the musketman had turned into a city garrison II rifleman. So Qin had used his golden age to research rifling and had first promoted the musket, then upgraded. But the promotion had only partially healed him, not fully, and he had failed to bring more reinforcements into the city than one catapult, so I was still able to take the city.
I moved my stack into the city for some much-needed healing, thought about how to proceed now that Qin had riflemen, started to move reinforcements to the Chinese front, and hit "next turn" to see what the year or 1710AD would bring...
That bastard. That was hell of a bad timing! All my offensive units and then some were down in the south fighting the Chinese, so Napoleon caught me with my pants down. I had planned to take Beijing before making peace again, but that had to wait now. Napoleon was backwards tech-wise, but he made up for the bad quality of his troops with quantity. He entered my territory around Lyons with three stacks, one of which is shown here:
You can also see the pathetic defense I had in the city: One rifleman, two archers, and a warrior. Emergency procedures had to be followed at once! I made peace with China and got some gold. All my forces were in China, about 10 turns away, so I emptied my core cities and moved their garrisons towards Chartres for support. I upgraded some units. I gave Chemistry to Bismarck so that he declared war on France, which had the additional benefit of breaking Bismarck's defense pact with Cyrus (who had started to overtake me in tech!). And last but not least, I cursed Napoleon again for being such a sneaky bastard!
Nothing more I could do though, other than hope and see how my (now) three rifles in the city would fare against the French hordes.
France attacked with two catapults, then lots of horse archers, then with another catapult ( for not using all catapults first!), then even more horse archers. I lost two rifles and the archers, but amazingly enough, the city held! Wow, I had not believed that.
So next turn, I upgraded the severly wounded riflemen with city garrison promotions, and three fresh riflemen arrived in the city. So now I had five rifles there - if three rifles had been enough for the first wave, five should be enough to hold Lyons forever, right?
Wrong. Next interturn, Napoleon sent in seven(!) catapults first, then an endless number of horse archers who overwhelmed my defenses by sheer numbers. I lost Lyons, deeply impressed just how many units Napoleon had, outdated or not.
During the following turns, while my Chinese army was on its way to the French front, I could not prevent Napoleon from pillaging several tiles around Chartres and even Marseilles with his musketeers and horse archers, but my newly produced riflemen form Rome, Neapolis, Antium and Marseilles were enough to protect the rest of my cities at least. I killed the French hordes unit by unit, slowly diminishing their numbers, and then Bismarck arrived with cavalry to help me out as well. When my Chinese army finally arrived, it began to advance on Lyons to take back the city.
Which was not easy, not at all. I don't know if Napoleon has a special preference for artillery units or if it's because it was my first game on emperor, but my stack suffered from endless attacks from catapults. When it finally arrived at Lyons, about a dozen catapults had suicided themselves against my stack, and when it was finally healed again, even more catapults arrived and attacked. It was amazing! It was 1785AD when I finally was able to capture Lyons back. Had Napoleon had more advanced units, I would have been toast.
Cyrus and Washington hadn't fought for a long time now and Cyrus was threatening to run away with the game, so this war would be the ideal opportunity to distract them a bit. Washington was not willing to join the war though, saying he didn't like me enough. So I traded him Liberalism for a mere 260 gold, and lo and behold!, now he liked me enough to join my war for 190 gold only.
I didn't want to sell/gift techs to Cyrus though, so I had no way of boosting our relations further and was not able to bribe him - too bad.
After the fall of Lyons, Napoleon was out of gas and his resistance broken. Germany managed to capture Paris and Tours (I hadn't been fast enough!), but I got the rest of his cities and destroyed France in 1858AD.
All my cities were back to building infrastructure already, as my stack had been sufficient to destroy France. In the end, war weariness had been quite high - up to eight unhappy faces in some cities!