Note the city of Otrar, which I had founded myself earlier. I was nearing the domination limit, so I had started to found cities of my own again to fill in the gaps. Two on my home island:
After this game, I wondered whether I should have founded these two cities right at the start - after growing, they would have paid for themselves rather quickly. But I think limiting myself to four cities in the beginning helped me to research to Currency faster and I was able to start my conquest of Japan earlier, so I think I've made the right move here.
Here's another city I might have founded earlier, on the iron island west of the starting landmass:
In case you wondered why I never talked about Persia and China: That's simple. They posed no threat, none at all. Here's why:
I had parked a galley on a tile where any Persian or Chinese galley would have to go through if they tried to reach me. Oh, they tried, from time to time. But thanks to the 10% defense bonus on water and some combat promotions, they never succeeded. As you can see in the overview shot of ex-India, they also had no path to reach me from the other side, so this one galley managed to keep me perfectly safe.
I could reach them, however. So I sent a pillaging party to China.
Unfortunately, Qin was more advanced than Russia or India, and had Cho-Ko-Nus already. They managed to kill my units quickly, and I decided not to try again.
Instead, I researched my way to Guilds and knights next, and also began to bring back my Indian forces - which took a loooong time. Before they arrived, I had knights, and prepared a stack to invade Cyrus next. Unfortunately, he discovered Optics while I did so.
Luckily I had seen his first caravel coming and had time to unload my units, but he managed to kill one of my galleys. And while I used another one to kill his caravel in turn, it was clear that I needed caravels of my own to protect my galleys.
When I discovered Optics, I shut down research for some turns and, while building caravels, upgraded my swordmen who had finally arrived back home to macemen. Then, in 1565AD, I began my invasion.
I was surprised about how tame Cyrus defended, and my speed of conquest was mainly limited by having to ferry over longbowmen to protect my new gains, and the movement speed of my slow catapults. I was also surprised that nearly now Chinese units attacked me - it looks like since I never entered Chinese lands, Qin never saw a threat in me.
Here's the Persian mainland, after I captured his last city on the continent:
Before I could advance on the first Chinese city, some borders expanded and I reached the domination limit in 1691AD.
I had a lot of fun with this game! It wasn't particularly hard, as in the AIs didn't posed much of a military threat. The real enemy was the economy, and I had fun thinking long-term about what I had to do to support my growing empire. I also enjoyed having to anticipate which types of units would be needed where, as supply lines were very long. And while I think I played a very strong opening game, I somehow lost steam while conquering India, and especially took way too long to prepare my assault of Persia. I could have attacked there much sooner, had I planned more carefully.
Take a look at the GNP graph from the end of the game...
It really looks like my economy was crashing in the middle game, but in the end I was fine. It shows a lot of spikes, and overall I had a very unstable economy, dependant on capturing cities quite often. I was surprised though that Qin and Cyrus didn't have a larger lead in the end!
I like the power graph a lot.
I especially like the regularity of civs dropping to zero on this graph. I made my kills at regulat intervals!
I wonder how much my decision not to build any wonders affected my game. I could have built the Pyramids or the Colossus quite easily, and especially the Colossus would have helped enormously. But I loved the constant economic struggle, and maybe building the Colossus would have made the game too easy. I think Qin built it, so I never captured it either.
I was also curious about the effect of my decision to attack very early, and to use chariots to accompany my main attack troops. Only in the end, in my invasion of Persia, did I use knights; before, only swords, axes and catapults "riding" on chariots were used.
A completely different strategy would have been to found all six cities on the starting landmass immediately, maybe one or two more on the small islands around it later, and to turtle up and power-research to Guilds as fast as possible. That way, you would have knights which are capable of attacking cities on their own, and could also serve as support units for catapults. Fewer galleys would be needed, and if researched fast enough before the enemy has longbows, would be able to steamroll over the enemy. Maybe this strategy would have been faster?
I had had so much fun with this game that I decided to play it a second time, with the knights strategy to see how differently it would play out. Well, it played completely different!
I forgot the exact date when I discovered Guilds, but the AIs had longbows and caravels by then, and also macemen and war elephants. I still was able to conquer them quite fast, but not as fast as I had imagined. I abandoned the game in the 13th century when it became clear it would take longer to win, also because galleys are so slow. I'm interested to see how others played this!
Thank you Sirian, for a very enjoyable event!