Epic 25 - This...Is...Sparta!

Game Parameters

Welcome to the first report on a game of Civ from me in a very long time! The last Epic I played was Epic 13, the last Adventure was 24...so this being Epic 25, you can see I didn't play in a looong time. This is an Always War game, which I haven't played a lot of, and not at all since BtS and its improved AI was released. So because I felt very rusty and lack always war experience, I decided at once to ignore honorable mentions and simply focus on winning this, and having fun again!

T-hawk hinted that he would not take the easy route of going for a culture win and hoped that other advanced players would do the same. I don't feel I'm an advanced player anymore, not at all, especially not compared to the illustrous list of players who posted they would play too, like Timmy, Zeviz, Sunrise and Compromise. But as a cultural victory won't fit the theme of this game, I aimed for Domination. My grasp on the game may be rusty, but I think I'm still experienced enough to win this on Prince!

Moving the scout revealed a second clams, and after some thought I founded Athens on the spot: Plains hill, fresh water, three food resources...nice site overall, although a bit too many coastal tiles for an always war games for my taste.

Since the map size is only small, I built a warrior first for defense instead of my usual worker first build. Research was set to Animal Husbandry to improve the pigs, then to Mining and Bronze Working both to reveal copper and to give my worker something to do, i.e. chop forests. But after the warrior had finished I delayed building the worker again and instead produced a work boat at no growth/max hammers configuration first, and only then a worker. While the worker improved the pigs and built mines on the forested hill tiles, a second work boat was built, then a second worker, and only then a settler. While doing all this, I always made sure that any chops would go into the settler and not into any other builds, to make use of the Imperialistic trait the most.

Meanwhile, my scout got Sailing from a hut and found out that I was on a small peninsula with copper, wine, sheep and fish, and lots of jungle north of a nice choke point. While I was really glad to have both copper (and horses, as it turned out), the lack of early happiness resources concerned me.

As my scout moved out of my peninsula followed by my warrior, I met my first opponent: Tokugawa of Native America.

Yikes - protective archers and aggressive dog soldiers right on my doorsteps! Not good, as my phalanxes will have a hard time against the dog soldiers. In fact, any of my units usable for attacking cities will run into serious problems, except horse archers. And after some more exploration, it turned out that Toku will get elephants later too...

A lot later I realized that Toku guarded a junction, with two opponents east and west of him, in both cases an aggressive one with an early UU (Shaka of Sumeria, Monte of Rome) coming first, with a more long-term thinking and economical-oriented civ securely behind (Mansa of England, Darius of Netherlands). Very interesting map setup!

But first things first. I made a gambit here: I skipped Archery for the time being, and instead fortified my warrior on the forest choke point, sealing off access to my peninsula. In my experience with the AI, it won't send units against me super-early, and that fortified warrior should be enough to deter any lone warriors or even archers that might happen to come along until I would have settled my second city at the copper, connected it and produced my first phalanxes.

The settler to do so was en route in 2600BC, and I used the opportunity to revolt to Slavery. Sparta was founded one tile west of the copper in 2550BC - unfortunately the screenshot for that didn't get through, sorry for that. The location wasn't very good: Sparta had only access to copper and wines, but no food resources at all, making it grow extremely slow. Because of that, I think I never whipped it except once, when I desperately needed a unit in an emergency. It also had below par production capacity, but it had copper in its first ring, which was all the was important for now.

Sparta built a barracks, then churned out some phalanxes for protection and potential harassment of Toku. I had to retreat then quickly however, since Toku had several dog soldiers running around, which even attack my phalanxes on jungle tiles! So much for a quick rush.

Athens built a third worker, and after having researched The Wheel (to connect copper), Pottery (for granaries and cottages) and Writing (for a library at Athens, see below), I went for Mysticism, Meditation and Priesthood next - you can guess why.

After Priesthood, I shut down research until Athens had built a library, then switched it back on full steam. The library had two purposes. First, it allowed me to speed up research considerably, which I needed now because I wanted to follow my tradition of slingshotting something unusual with the Oracle. And second, once I had the Oracle, Athens would produce Great Prophet points, but I wanted to have a great scientist first to construct an early academy. Hiring two scientists served both purposes fine.

In the meantime, I founded Corinth in 2100BC on the hill at the choke point, which gained access to horses and would serve as a nice point of defense for my peninsula. The peninsula then had only space left for one more city to claim sheep and fish, but I delayed that city in favor of a better one, Thebes, on the island right next to Athens, which would make for a nice production city with fish and lots of hills. That were enough cities for now, although they all lacked commerce and happiness - but I planned not to advance on Toku for now.

I didn't feel I could really do much against Toku anyway - the only units not horribly disadvantaged against his dog soldiers were mounted units, and chariots cannot really capture cities. Horse archers might, but researching Horseback Riding is expensive, and horse archers still have problems against spears in cities. I guess I could have rushed him with horse archers...but then I've decided to do something different in this game, to have some (even more!) fun.

"You see", Toku said with a big, arrogant smile, "I have seen the movie 300 as well and know what your phalanxes are capable of. So I did a bit of meta-gaming and decided to employ lots of anti-melee units to box you in!"

"Well", I answered, "good then that Sparta is full of variant scum who do not like to play the same again and again. Only enough phalanxes were built to hold my peninsula; now say hello to my unit you have no counter-unit for..."

So in 850BC, after manually researching Metal Casting, Athens completed the Oracle and I slingshotted...Machinery, for Crossbows! Never had done this before, and I'm not really sure if this will work...but an archery unit with a 50% bonus against melee should be great against all units except horse archers. But since I can give my crossbows formation and horse archers cannot take cover (in fact, the AI rarely uses that promoton for any unit!) and they have no defense bonus, I should have very good odds against all of Toku's units!

The alternative would have been researching Monarchy, slingshotting Feudalism and attack with longbows. Monarchy would have meant a dramatic happiness improvement (wines and Hereditary Rule), but I preferred the 50% bonus against melee units and the fun factor in this game.

So, uh, why can't I build crossbows then?!?

Ah. Did you know crossbows require iron, and not copper or iron, as macemen do? Yes? I'm sure you knew.

Man, am I rusty! There's a reason I only comment on meta-gaming and diplomatic issues in the Apolyton demogame! In fact, I did a lot of embarassing mistakes in this game because of my rustiness; I will mention some of them throughout the report, but believe me that I made a lot more than listed here.

Feeling sheepish, I started to research Iron Working next. If it turns out we have no iron, I would look really foolish...but Sulla was kind and I had iron on the island, and only had to connect it. Then I churned out crossbows, and *loved* them! I had odds on vultures and dog soldiers even on jungle tiles if I felt the need to attack them there. Phalanxes? Bah humbug. Crossbows! THIS...IS...SPARTA!

And I needed those crossbows right away, as soon thereafter the first larger enemy stacks appeared, sporting praetorians and horse archers as their most dangerous units. It was around that time I spawned my first great general, who turned into my first Medic III chariot.

While I repelled enemy stacks and built up a force large enough to capture Native American cities, I also tried to improve my economy. As planned, Athens gave birth to a great scientist who built an academy there (even though I only had very few cottages, sadly this was still my best science city!). I went for Code of Laws next, wanting to have a religion for more happiness and as a prerequisite for Civil Service. This was probably a mistake, as it took ages to research, and Monarchy or Math->Currency would have done me more good in the long run.

I also managed to send a work boat around the world to snag Magellan's, and found a hut on a large island south of Sumeria with an unclaimed hut!

My initial scout was long dead (lost him against Mansa Musa), so especially for that hut I built another one, ferried him over...and got rewarded by Horseback Riding!

Frustratingly, I was unable to really advance on Toku for ages. Every time I believed I had a large enough force, a new stack of doom appeared from one of my enemies I had to deal with first. Around 1AD, the first catapults started to appear, which meant I had to leave more units at home to be able to attack enemy stacks, instead of letting them suicide themselves against Corinth!

The next great generals became a military instructor and a second Medic III chariot, and even though I really wanted to take the fight to Toku, I took the time to build the Colossus in Athens to improve my economy. Research wise, I went for Mathematics, Masonry and Construction next, delaying Monarchy, Currency or Civil Service yet again to get catapults ASAP. I also founded two more cities: The fishing village at the sheep/clams location on my peninsula, and Argos, at the iron/dyes location outside my safe zone.

I pondered founding Argos on tile south, to get the fish and the banana, but decided to take the hill instead. Now I had to defend not only my choke point, but a second city as well - better have some defensive terrain! I also had a galley transporting units from Corinth to Argos and vice versa, depending on where the attacking SoDs decided to go. The naval movement bonus from Magellan's came in very handy here!

Finally, at the end of the fifth century, I had amassed enough units in the forest at Poverty Point to be able to attack. Incidentally, Toku's SoD was gathering there too, so I could wipe it out and raze the city at the same time!

It took me some turns to clean up the whole stack and all defenders moving in to the city, but it was destroyed in 520AD. Now that I was finally on the roll, there wasn't much Toku could do to stop me.

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