Although I hadn't been the first to Nationalism, I managed to build the Taj Mahal first in 1696AD and immediately started to build the Statue of Liberty in the same city (Cuzco, if I remember correctly).
In 1740AD, Hatshepsut adopted Emancipation, and I had my first share of angry citizens. I ignored them, though. Then in 1746AD, Roosevelt adopted Emancipation as well, but I still ignored it - even if it meant I had to increase culture, I wouldn't convert during the rest of the game. Why? Because I stayed in Caste System all the time! Now that Huamanga was larger than size 20, every additional citizen was turned into a merchant specialist, to generate great merchants. This was a self-feeding cycle: More great merchants joining the city meant more food, which meant faster growth, which meant more merchant specialists which generated great merchants faster...
I reached the modern age finally in 1760AD.
1760AD is not good, but I had expected this. In the unlikely case that I will score a point with this I will be very happy, but I won't fret if I'm dead last. My priority laid definately elsewhere, and I'm looking forward to see when others who might have ignored the population rankings will reach the modern age!
I popped another great merchant, who of course merged into Huamanga at once. To speed up growth, I next beelined to Biology, which meant I had to research Gunpowder and Chemistry first. I discovered it in 1776AD. At that point, I had assumed that food would be the limit for Huamanga's size at 2050AD. As it turned out, not food but time would be the limit in the end, so instead of trying to win a lost race to the modern age, I should have definately beelined to Biology instead! I think I lost one pop point with this weedy decision.
However, I made other unusual decions to improve Huamanga's growth. As it turned out, the only hill in Huamanga's city radius had coal. You need to mine that tile to get coal's boni - here's what I did, though:
I built a windmill on the hill, which provided me with an additional food. I'm convinced it's small stuff like this that matters in the end! It's also amazing how priorities change if you play a variant game. I beelined to techs I seldomly touch in other games: Medicine, to be able to build a hospital, then Genetics for the +3 health in all cities. As I've mentioned earlier, with the Globe Theatre in place and Huamanga growing larger and larger, health became more and more an issue. I also made a civic switch:
I adopted Universal Suffrage so that I could rush-buy health improvements in Huamanga. I remained in Caste System for unlimited merchants, and I adopted Pacifism to increase the speed at which Huamanga would generate them. To the same end, I rush-bought the National Epic in Huamanga as well. All this hurt my economy quite a bit, but I didn't care.
In 1798AD, Roosevelt declared war on Louis. I actually gifted Louis Chemistry, as I wanted him to have grenadiers to defend against America's riflemen - I planned to conquer Louis' lands myself later on, but I planned not to fight Roosevelt. As usual in Civ 4 with two AIs on different continents fighting, nothing happened during the whole war.
To fight the increasing Emancipation anger, I built Broadway and Rock'n Roll. In 1830AD, I discovered Assembly Lines. Time to build factories everywhere! Er...no, actually not. There was one great fear I still had: That sooner or later, global warming would hit one of Huamanga's tiles. I have no idea how Civ 4's eco system works, but chances are that the odds of global warming happening is somehow tied to either health or hammers. I didn't really need high production anyway, so to be on the safe side, I did not build any factories or laboratories anywhere, and beelined to Ecology next to build Recycling Centers everywhere. The only exception I made was that I built the iron works and a factory in Corihuayrachina, to have one high-production city at least.
After Ecology, I ignored the rest of the tech tree and next raced to...Future Tech! Why that? Because every Future tech gives you +1 health in all cities! For example, in 1856AD, with all health improvements built, Huamanga still lost 7 food to unhealthiness at size 36. So for the rest of the game, I researched only Future Techs, and would make it to Future Tech 24 in the end.
There was still one problem left, though. Somebody would build the U.N. sooner or later, and then I would have to face elections. Unfortunately, with domination victory disabled, I had no idea exactly how large my population was in comparison to the other civs, as I do not trust the demographics screen very much. So to be on the safe side, I declared war on Louis again and conquered his cities. I don't think it's necessary to say much about this war. Suffice it to say, it was not really a fair one:
It should also be noted that the French U.N. ambassador voiced a formal complaint along the lines that "...there's something wrong with the charta of the United Nations if it encourages civilizations to wage unjust and aggressive wars simply for the reason to secure more votes to be able to blockade the council". In an unfortunate incident, he got accidently rolled over by a modern armor when leaving the building.
As it turned out, even a very small number of my cities without factories producing units were more than enough to swallow France. I made peace again in 1907AD, when the continent was mine and I had no interest to build a navy to capture his island cities. And sure enough, Hatty completed the U.N. in 1904AD. As it turned out, I had enough votes:
After proposing a non-proliferation treaty, I did not put forward any resolutions for the rest of the game. I made one last civic switch, though:
Yes, I know it sounds silly, but I actually adopted State Property, thinking it would grant a food bonus for windmills. As I only found out when cropping the screenshots, it actually gives that bonus only for watermills and workshops. Whoops.
I generated a lot of great merchants now, and Huamanga grew and grew. But global warming struck more often now, too! Clicking "next turn" was really exciting, as I crossed my fingers that it won't strike at Huamanga. Hey come on, that city only produces 5 hammers!
In 1946AD, two tiles turned into deserts on the same turn! Not near Huamanga, though. Years passed, more deserts appeared, but Huamanga got spared. A new millennium began...and some turns later, the "Global Warming striked near..." message appeared again, and to my horror, the screen zoomed to Huamanga!
Phew, that was close - a grassland tile at Andahuaylas had turned into a desert. My heart nearly stopped - one tile to the west, and Huamanga would have lost four food, which equals two pop points! (Again, funny how priorities change: Normally, I'm anxious not to get attacked at this point of a game. I didn't really cared about that in this game, though. )
As I've said, I generated a lot of great merchants, which was very nice. Unfortunately, my great people pools in my cities were not 100% "pure", so I also popped two great artists and a great engineer inbetween. Considering the high number of great people I generated, that had to be expected though. The last great merchant was born in 2044AD, bringing Huamanga to...exactly 100 food! And as it turned out, not food was the limit to Huamanga's size, but time: It grew one last time in the 2040s, and would have had potential for growing two more times. Alas, the 2050AD time victory came faster.
So here's my city I throw into the ring for the "largest city" competition - fully fed, of course!
Size 48 - I wonder how many votes that city alone had contributed to the U.N. elections. Just for the record: If I hadn't miscounted, there were 20(!) great merchants in that city, plus 28 forced and 1 free merchant specialists.
Overall playing time for this game had been 6 hours, 43 minutes. Here's my empire at the end of the game.
That had been a very fun game! I had formulated a plan before starting to play, and it worked almost perfectly. Sure, I made some minor mistakes here and there, like not prioritizing Biology, but overall I'm very happy with my game. I suffered no bad luck as well! Does that mean I'm guaranteed to win the competition? Of course not! Someone might come up with a better plan anytime, that's why I love the Realms Beyond so much - a lot of potential for surprises there. For example, a hybrid strategy could have been better, like ignoring the 1500AD population score and trying to compete in the fastest finish scores instead after the 1AD mark. We will see...
Here are the numbers again for the scoring:
I hope not too many players have passed this Epic because of map size or time constraints. Thanks Sirian for sponsoring this event, and thanks to all for reading this! See you next Epic.