Remember what I had written earlier about not diluting your great artist points pool? Well, after having spawned great artists number 6 - 10 between 1560AD and 1770AD, the first great person born in Mecca after I had finished the Statue of Liberty was...a great merchant. Argh! A great merchant! Oh that was just great, I had just flushed 4000 culture down the drain.
As you can see in the screenshot, Mecca was generating +96 GPPs per turn. That was nice, but by no means fantastic. Had I not lost several wonders to the race, and had there been flood plains at Mecca (or had I irrigated more tiles) to support more artists, I would have been able to generate about +150 GPPs per turn. Well, not in this game though, but at least I had hired 14(!) artists in Medina to increase the chance of producing great artists there as well.
Of course, Murphy's law came and bit me. After the merchant in Mecca, I got another one in Damascus - as I needed any money... Then, Medina spawned a great engineer. Hrmpf! At least that one I could use, to rush Hollywood with it, after I had missed the Eiffel Tower by two turns to Mao earlier. (Yes, another race I had lost... ) I had been able to complete Rock'n'Roll, though.
Except going for the Eiffel Tower and Rock'n'Roll, all my cities were producing culture by now. After researching Mass Media, I also shut down research and set the culture slider to 100%. After broadcast towers, no cultural building or wonder would give me more culture than this! With all my specialists and the research bonus per specialist from representation, I was still able to research techs at a reasonable pace: 12 turns for artillery...
I only had infantry to defend myself while the AIs had tanks and mech infantry in the end, but again I relied upon my good relations to remain at peace (and, in case of war, on my trading skills...). Also, Louis had declared war on Hatty once again, and this time Hatty had enlisted the help of Frederick against him, so the three most dangerous civs were busy anyway. They all kept asking me if I wouldn't want to join their war, but of course I declined.
Then, in 1902AD...
Strike one, and without the help of a great artist! Now all that remained was to wait for more great artists to help Medina and Damascus. Note that both Mecca and Medina generated more than 100 GPPs per turn now...
Damascus, which was rather food-poor, was only able to hire four artists; Mecca had 10, Medina 14. All cities were set to starvation as well, to squeeze out even more culture - the game would be over before the cities would actually starve. My only worry was if I would be able to keep peace long enough - Washington had already cancelled the open borders agreement with me! The other AIs liked me, though.
As you can see, Egypt, Germany and France had mace peace again too. Now that Mecca had reached legendary status, I had put it from producing culture to producing military instead - just in case... Great artist number 11 spawned in Damascus in 1951AD and brought Medina to legendary culture, and three years later, great artist number 12 spawned in Medina.
He was the first who had no name other than "Great Artist", and yet he was the most famous of them all because he was the winner! He built yet another great work in Damascus, and...
I had really done it - I had achieved a cultural victory in 1953AD with three cities only, on Monarch, despite losing several good wonders! Here are my final statistics.
Note how I lacked GNP, manufactured goods, and crop yield compared to my rivals, which was no surprise with my small empire. I had an above average land size though, thanks to my overwhelming culture, and was first in approval rate, life expectancy, and imports/exports - no wonder, because I had traded a lot of resources around. It's also nice to see when I constructed great works with my great artists - they produce nice dents in the culture curve.
This had been a really fun and educational game! I had certainly reached my goal to learn more about trading and diplomacy, as I think the key to victory in this game had been my ability to remain friends with the AIs. I think I might have been able to hold off one AI attacking me, albeit at a high cost and delay in culture, but if another AI would have smelled blood and attacked as well, I don't think I would have stood a chance. So delaying culture in the beginning in favor of converting as many AIs as possible to my state religion had been a wise decision.
What surprised me though was that I had managed to keep up in the tech race for so long. On a Pangea map with civs a lot larger than me, I had expected to be left behind much earlier. But intelligent and frequent trading, along with the nice combination of large cities, a lot of specialists, and representation had kept me on par until the end when Egypt finally managed to race away research-wise.
It also surprised me how good my economy had been. I had never built markets or banks, and yet made a surplus most of the time, mainly because I had such a small empire with nearly no upkeep costs (my main spendings were on military while being pacifistic), and because I had converted so many cities to Judaism. Selling techs and failing to get wonders helped me in this regard as well.
A cultural victory with a normal, larger empire would have happened a lot earlier, though. With a larger empire, I would have been able to build more cathedrals, the Oxford University, and other goodies, as well as getting to key cultural techs sooner thanks to a faster research. I also would have had cities dedicated to produce military and other important, non-cultural stuff. But I had definately more fun this way, and the need to keep a close eye on diplomacy had been very educational.
Next up will be a more military-oriented game, though. I've got a lot to learn there yet!