This is a variant game with a custom scoring mechansim, which is just the kind of game I like the most. Additionally, it's a reprise of the original Epic 11 way back from Civ 3. I had played 43 of the 50 Civ 3 Epics, but Epic 11 has been one of the seven Epics I missed - so, I just had to play this! There was only one problem: With the exception of a couple of SG turnsets, I haven't played any CIV since Epic 9 back in November 2006, over half a year ago! I felt very rusty, and also had gathered from reading the forums that I had missed quite a bit of insights and strategies that have been developed since then. If this had been a "fastest finish" type of game, I wouldn't stand any chance...however, this was a game with a custom scoring system, so it was not only about internal CIV knowledge, but also about analyzing and playing with that system. Time for some pre-game thinking...
The highest bonus (apart from winning the game, which I took for granted on Prince difficulty), a whopping 13 points!, would be awarded for hand-bulding the Great Lighthouse. Back in the original Epic 11, it had been the Colossus - and, if I remember correctly, this had been one gigantic red herring. Back then, our starting position was in the middle of a pangea map surrounded by AIs, so it had been virtually impossible to achieve this. As it turned out, we had the same situation here in this game - so it was quite clear that these 13 points were not really possible to get. After the original event closed, T-hawk had made the experiment to try to go for the Colossus, but failed! He even lost the Great Library in the process, the equivalent in points to the Parthenon in this game, so no - it would be foolish to try it in this game! You have to learn from past experience, right?
The second highest points would be granted by building the Parthenon. This wonder is quite useful anyway for a cultural game for generating more great artists, especially in a variant gamne like this were we are not allowed to increase the culture slider to more than 20%. So I will try to build this.
Most other points will come from libraries and universities, which are useful to build early and often anyway, and temples and cathedrals. This brings up the most difficult topic for my game plan: Religions! Should I try to grab some early ones like Hinduism and Judaism, sacrificing initial growth, or should I focus on worker techs in the beginning and go for the later religions like Confucianism and Christianity? To decice this, I took a look at our starting position.
Our capital would have corn and cows, both very nice resources to start with. However, going for Hinduism (Buddhism would be too dangerous to try to get, considering we do not start with Mysticism) would mean we would only be able to irrigate the corn; more worker techs would come only a long time later. So another option would be to go settler first instead. But I wouldn't like leaving these two early resources unimproved for so long, so I decided to go worker first, ignoring the early religions and focussing on fast growth instead. Considering that the map was supposed to be very crowded with more civs than usual, it might be a good idea to create a good settler factory fast, to claim my share of land!
So this was the plan: Ignore the early religions, pump out settlers as fast as possible, ignore the obvious red herring of building the Great Lighthouse, and go for the Parthenon and the Oracle to found a later religion instead. More religions could then be conquered, if needed.
After the warrior moved on the hill and did not reveal anything that would change my decision, I founded Washington on the starting spot and immediately started to build a worker. Research went into Animal Husbandry for the cows, then Mining to be able to mine the hills (I like mined hills when building settlers!), then Bronze Working to see if I could get away without Archery in the beginning. My initial warrior ran around Washington in a circle, and immediately met Alex, Saladin, Isabella, Peter, and Julius. Crowded indeed! I popped two huts early, for 26 gold and 22 gold respectively, and didn't expect to get another one, seeing how many scouts ran around. Imagine my surprise when I found a third hut northeast of Washington! I explored it in 3040BC, and surprise changed into joy:
Wow, that's very nice! Not only because I got a free tech (I had already started to research it, but still), but also because we had copper at our capital, which I got to use earlier now. Research went next into The Wheel, to connect copper, then Pottery for granaries and cottages.
Since there was so much to do around the capital and future city sites (improve the corn, cows, copper; mine two hills; build cottages; chop forests), I did something I don't think I've ever done: Build a second worker even before my first settler. That delayed founding my second city, but I like to think it helped me pumping out settlers later and building important wonders afterwards.
Meanwhile, I met the rest of my opponents: Toku, Frederick, Genghis, Hatty and Monty. Quite an interesting mix, especially considering aggressive AI was turned on! I founded New York in 2170BC southeast of Washington near Saladin's capital, to claim gold, silk and the floodplains to serve as whipping central; then Boston to the northeast in 1540BC.
I had researched Mysticism, Polytheism and Priesthood next, to be able to build the Oracle after I had founded more cities, then started on Writing to unlock Code of Laws to serve as my free tech. I completed the Oracle in 940BC, a couple of turns after I had founded my fourth city, Philadelphia.
Code of Laws gave me my first religion, Confucianism.
Philadelphia became the holy city. Now that it had a source of culture, I switched it from building an obelisk to a granary, to whip it later. After making a quick detour to another tech, I researched Iron Working next (to get rid of all the jungle), then Hunting for spearmen (I feared war, with me facing aggressive AIs and suffering from border tensions already), then Monotheism, hoping I would get a great prophet from the Oracle soon. Why was I hoping, and not knowing I would get a great prophet? Because in 580BC, I completed another important wonder, which was not a source of great prophet points.
Going for Monotheism even though I didn't need it paid off, as I got a great prophet in 370BC as I had hoped. He lightbulbed Theology for me, and I founded my second religion, Christianity - in New York, which could use the culture nicely to fight against Saladin's borders.
Some turns before, Julius had demanded gold from me (the resource, not money), and I had gladly given it to him. I didn't really want to fight his UU right now...(had he iron? I didn't look, but wanted to fight nobody really - too busy preparing for the 260AD scoring deadline!)
Atlanta was the last city I founded in this game, in 790BC. Here's a shot of my five-city empire:
This was an odd shape for an empire, not really following the "ring around the capital" doctrine. Especially Philadelphia was a bit...out of place. I, uh, don't really remember how that settler had gone so astray, but...it must have been chased by barbarians. Yeah, that was it surely, chased by barbs.