Epic 2 - Eastern Gem Dealers

Game Parameters

The Meta-Game

Before I started the game, I did what I do every time: Making a pre-game analysis about how to play this scenario. This game was not (only) about winning; it was about acquiring gems and selling them for profit to as much customers as possible. And if gems are not enough, gold and silver would be nice to have, too! Add to that some bonus points for controlling lots of islands and big cities plus building certain wonders, most of them profit, growth or sea related, and you get a lot of conflicting goals and interesting decisions to make.

Another personal problem for me was that I rarely play archipelago maps (mostly because naval combat is one of Civ 4's weakest points in my opinion), and especially tiny islands is something I have absolutely no experience with. How fast will the tech pace be? How good are the AIs at waging war? At expanding their empires? I had no idea. And because I had no idea how good I would fare against the AIs, I decided to play it safe in the beginning until I knew what would be up against, and ignore some bonus points. Looking at the scoring table, building the Oracle would yield the most points, but on this type of map, I felt getting the Great Lighthouse and/or the Colossus would be much better for my empire development. Getting all three would be impossible, as both the Great Lighthouse and the Oracle get built early by the AIs, so I decided to skip the Oracle points in the hopes my stronger empire would help me to make up for that later. For similar reasons, I also ignored the points for being the first to control gems/gold/silver, although I'm aware that someone with more experience how to play this kind of map will beat me.

A Detailed Look on the Opening Game

Starting position

I have a pretty strong opinion of how one should play the opening game for a land-locked city. In most cases, I will build a worker immediately before anything else, and will research the necessary techs to keep my worker busy in the meantime, starting with techs that increase growth first (Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, if the respective resources are available). Building the worker right out of the gate will take some time, longer than if you would do it at, say, size 3. But your worker can improve tiles earlier, increasing your growth curve in the long run. The only exception to this opening is if I want to found a religion and do not have any tech at all for my worker to use, in which case I build a warrior first.

Only...this isn't a land-locked city, and has a sea resource (clams). This is different: Now you can build something in your capital that will increase the food output (a work boat) while growing at the same time! I'm not so sure what the optimal opening moves are for this type of start: Still start with a worker and go for Animal Husbandry for the cow? Or research Fishing, and build a work boat? If so, at what speed: Should I set my capital on max growth while doing so, working unimproved tiles until it would be finished, or should I emphasize hammers instead, to get the food bonus from the sea resource as fast as possible?

In the end, I decided to do a little bit of everything. I researched Fishing first and started to build a worker in the meantime. Fishing came in in 3730BC, I switched the capital to building a work boat, and worked the cow tile for max growth. When the city reached size 2, the new citizen worked the gold tile so that the work boat would be finished ASAP - no sense in working unimproved tiles! The work boat was finished in 3040BC, and Delhi returned to building the worker. That one was completed in 2680BC, at which point I set the city on max growth until it reached its happiness limit.

While building the work boat and the worker, I had researched Hunting, Animal Husbandry, then the Wheel, so my worker had something to do immediately: He put a pasture and a road on the cows, then mined and roaded the gold hill for the happiness bonus.

I don't describe my opening moves so detailed normally, but as I'm not so sure of what the best strategy is in such a situation, I hope this might lead to some discussion. In retrospect, I think I liked how I did it, and I'm curious to see how others started their games!

After the worker, I had build another work boat to serve as a scout, and after the Wheel was discovered, I researched Sailing next to be able to build galleys to found more cities. A warrior, a galley and a settler were built, and then Delhi started to construct the Great Lighthouse. It is a wonder that gets built early by the AIs, and I really wanted to have it in this game! Building a wonder so early, after only one settler, would delay the growth of my empire, but the extra trade route would allow me to found more cities than my rivals during the first expansion wave, so I think it's more than worth it.

I planned to build more wonders in Delhi later, so I needed another strong city to serve as my settler factory. There was a small island directly southeast of Delhi, but I ignored it despite the precious gems it had. Instead, I founded Bombay in 1390BC on a larger island in the south, which had wheat, cows, incense, and several hills - a perfect place for a tiny island archipelago map! Hammers will be hard to come by on this map, so Bombay will be ideal for building military and settlers later. Since my worker had improved most tiles on Delhi's island already, I ferried him over to Bombay immediately to get the city up to speed ASAP.

Contacts and Wonders

My scouting work boat finally made some contacts, too: I met Genghis Khan in 1120BC and Julius Caesar in 940BC. A few turns later, Delhi completed the foundation of a soon-to-be powerful Indian empire:

Great Lighthouse

With only two cities, the extra trade route wasn't noticable yet - but that would change as soon as Bombay would spit out more settlers! Now I wanted to go for the other Big Wonder for Archipelago maps: The Colossus. I was researching Metal Casting already, which would also allow me to build forges (more happiness in conjunction with my gold resource!), but research wasn't finished yet. So Delhi built another wonder in the meantime which surely would come in handy later:


After that, a second work boat scout and another settler were built before starting the Colossus, which in contrast to the Great Lighthouse gets ignored by the AIs for a long time usually. Somebody built the Oracle in 670BC however, and while I lost 10 scenario points here, I'm still glad I didn't try to go for it, considering how many otherwise useless techs you have to research to get to it.

My two scouts were sailing in different directions, one west, one east. They found Cyrus and Mao next, and then found themselves in 565BC and I received the +1 movement bonus for ships for circumnavigating the globe first. I love work boat scouts! I didn't know Magellan was an ancient guy though...

After Metal Casting, Iron Working was researched next to finally connect my gems. I delayed that for so long, I really doubt I will score any scenario points for conecting my second gems...but I hope I will have a stronger empire in the long run in comparison. In 295BC, my first great person emerged, a great prophet. Now what to do with him? I am not allowed to found a religion with him, so neither can I use him to build a shrine. The only techs I would be able to discover with him were so cheap they wouldn't be worth it, so I could save him for a later golden age. But I expected to get a lot more great people later, as I intended to build a lot more wonders in Delhi, so I merged him into the city instead. The extra hammers so early are powerful on this type of map and will help me to build more wonders faster, and the extra 5 gold are nothing to sneeze at either!

While I was going for Alphabet and Literature next, some single-minded idiot lacking the sense for the future published a list of the most advanced civilizations, and India was listed dead last! Wait and see what happens, is all I can say to that...

Cathy and Toku were finally found too, and I founded more cities on gem and gold islands. Delhi was still busy building wonders, Bombay spitting out settlers, and all looked well. All except...

Khan declares war

*sigh* As in most of my games, I'm very thin on military during my first expansion wave. Khan of course sensed this, and declared war in 70BC. "Prepare to meet your doom", you say? Well Khan, maybe you should have brought more than an empty galley then... I did not attack with my galleys, as the 10% tile bonus in sea combat makes attacking ships of equal technology always a gamble (which is the reason I really don't like sea combat in Civ 4), but moved all my galleys towards Mongolia and protected my sea resources. He sent some more empty galleys, probably to pillage, and I sunk two of them on defense. He accepted straight-up peace in 245AD.

In 20AD, I had finally connected my first gems and was disappointed to see that nobody had anything to offer except Rome, and Rome did not want to have gems! That meant Julius had a source of gems of his own, which is something that will have to be corrected sooner or later...

I also started to trade some, now that the Colossus was nearly completed.

Trade Metal Casting to Cathy for Meditation, Priesthood, Mathematics

Oh, have I mentioned in previous reports that I find it very silly that the AIs neglect to research Alphabet for way too long? Yeah, I think I have.

in 80AD, I was officially rich.


I also had a customer for my gems finally:

Sell gems to Cathy for spices

And while I continued to expand, another nuthead came knocking, this time not from the east, but from the west.

Rome declares in 275AD

Oh man, that gets annoying. Rome landed a horse archer and an archer near Bombay! But while it was annoying, it was stupid too: Why only one offensive unit? Why not directly adjacent to Bombay, but two tiles away? While I've seen some incredible landings from AIs in later stages of Civ 4, I'm really not impressed how the AIs handle archipelago maps during the first third of the game so far. They pillaged the mine and the cow, and the horse archer died attacking my fortified city garrison archer in the city on a hill with a culture bonus...

I moved all my galleys towards Rome now to intercept any incoming Praetorians, but...those never came. In fact, nothing more came at all from Rome, and peace was reestablished in 575AD.

Next Page