When discussing what kind of variant game to play next, someone at the Realms Beyond Succession Games discussion thread over at Civfanatics had (jokingly?) suggested a game without military units. Several players quickly came to the conclusion that being not allowed to build any military unit would be suicice, and impossible to win. "Wouldn't that be unwinnable in certain situations? [...] a completely undefended civ would be tempting to enemy civs.", said Mike Lemmer; "I think the AI is too smart in Civ4 for a civ to even survive with no military units." was Knupp715's conclusion, and LKendter replied "I don't think a no military game is viable in Civ4. There was a fundamentally AI change between 3 and 4.".
Well, the AIs have been changed fundamentally in Civ 4, no doubt about that! But...impossible? Somehow, this label makes it very attractive for me to try out things like this. I guess I've been hanging around at Realms Beyond for too long now, and madness has finally settled in. So here it is, my try at a game where I'm not allowed to build any military units at all! The only units I'm allowed to build will be non-combat units: Workers, settlers, work boats, missionaries, and spies. My survival will completely depend on my diplomatic skills!
For my first try of that concept, I stacked the deck in my favor a bit, though. I wanted to see if it's possible at all, and how good the human can be at forging friendly and stable relationships. So I decided not to play against random opponents, but hand-picked my opponents and removed the completely nuts ones like Tokugawa and Monte from the game. I would of course play as Gandhi of India - who else would be more fitting to this theme of nonviolence? My opponents would be Catherine, Victoria, Cyrus, Washington, Peter, and Mansa Musa. (Yes, I know, I accidently picked Russia two times...)
Map type was Pangea so I would be able to use diplomacy on everyone early on, and barbarians were switched off for obvious reasons. So here we go! Hint: Total playing time for this game was 1 hour 44 minutes in the end, so, yeah, have a guess at how successful I have been...
The starting position was fantastic: A lot of floodplains combined with four hills and one (non-hill) forest meant I would have a fast-growing city with good production and a lot of tiles for cottages. Perfect! The only down-side would be that health might become a problem, but at least there were cows there to help a little with this. The best of all though was the oasis tile! Normally I'm not so fond of oasis tiles, as they cannot be improved, but here...wow. Why? Because the oasis provides me with commerce from the get-go, which helps a lot with the early research which would be extremely important in this game. Now, at the very beginning of the game, the diplomatic foundations of my future survival would be laid down, in the form of...religions! Not one, not two, no - more! Even the Hydra from the RB1 succession game shall pale before what I have in mind!
You see, the CIV concept of religion is a tricky thing. It provides happiness, can boost your production via organized religion, can improve your income if you have the respective shrine, and adds overall variety to the game. But I'm convinced that the real reason why religion had been included in the game is to sow dissent and distrust between the different civilization! By adopting different religions, two or more diplomatic blocks are formed in all games, and tensions arise, which eventually will lead to war. A game with no conflicts would have been boring, so the designers gave us religions to quarrel over! But I am Gandhi the devout pacifist, and I don't want the world to go to war, so let's see what happens if religion is taken away from the game. Okay, not completely, but...what if there would be only one major religion in the whole world which all civs would adopt, while the other religions are kept stashed away, hidden in my capital? Then there would be only one large faction in the world, all believers of the same faith, all friends with each other!
At least that was the plan. To achieve this, I would have to found all (or nearly all) religions, and be careful to spread only one to the AIs. Gandhi starts with knowledge of Mysticism, so I would have a good chance to nab at least the first three religions, Buddhism, Hunduism and Judaism. To achieve this, the oasis tile with its extra commerce came in very handy! It was not Spain on a lake, but nearly so.
So research was set to Meditation, and Delhi was set to work the oasis tile. When the city grew, I made sure that flood plains with their one commerce were worked next. Next question though was, what to build? Military I wasn't allowed. A worker would prevent the city from growing, which was bad as I would need the extra commerce later on to beat the other AIs to the early religions. So I started to build Stonehenge instead - its great prophet points would come in handy later anyway.
All worked as intended - I discovered Meditation and Polytheism first.
Nice! I immediately converted to Buddhism. And while the other AIs were probably building their first settler already, I continued to build Stonehenge and researched Masonry, then Monotheism next.
I love it when a plan comes together... (Whoops, I guess that smiley doesn't really fit in here... )
Meanwhile I had sent out my initial starting warrior (the only military unit I would be allowed!) to scout a little bit around the capital, but sent him home then. He was the first believer of Buddhistic Pacifism, threw away his weapons, and vowed to guard the holy city of Delhi from then on, never to leave it again! He had made contact with Catherine, Peter, Victoria and Mansa Musa already, and the others found me soon thereafter.
While Delhi finished to build Stonehenge (and I adopted organized religion to speed it up), I started to research some worker techs next: Hunting, Animal Husbandry, Fishing, the Wheel, and Pottery. Inbetween, I slipped in Priesthood and Writing. Delhi finally built my first worker (I've never built one as late as in this game before!), which first improved the cows, then mined the hills, then put cottages on the floodplains. I used the fact that Gandhi is spiritual to my advantage, and switched back to paganism while building the worker, as organized religion had forced me to pay upkeep cost!
Meanwhile, the AIs started to expand, and happily settled their cities, some of them touching my northern border. So, after founding three religions, building a wonder and a worker, in short: After such a long delay, it's about time to build my first own settler, don't you think?
Bzzzt! Wrong answer. Why do you think have I slipped Priesthood into my research queue? Yep, for the Oracle (for which I switched back to organized religion again). And why Writing? Because Writing is a prerequisit tech for...
Say hello to the fourth religion in Delhi, Confucianism! All other AIs were still heathens, as I was in control of all religions so far and made sure not to sign open borders with anyone, to minimize the risk of one of the religions spreading to anyone. This had also the advantage of blocking the AI's access to the lands south of me, as Delhi had a quite impressive cultural border already.
Speaking of the lands around me: My initial ex-warrior, now-pacifist honor guard had only explored a little bit of the lands around me. Founding Confucianism gave me a missionary I never intended to use however, which made for a nice scout during the next centuries. Once in a while he would complain about being forced to scout, babbling about a "holy mission" he had or something like that, but I told him either to convert to Buddhism, or shut up and continue exploring. Somehow, he preferred exploring...
Okay, so now it's time for my first settler, right? Uh...wrong again. I had this monster holy city with four religions sitting with three heathen cities directly on its border, and I feared the wrong religion would jump over to the AIs. So I next built some Buddhistic missionaries! In 1120BC, I signed an open border agreement with Victoria, and spread Buddhism to one of her border cities. She immediately converted. Before my second missionary was finished, something else happened though: I got my first great prophet in Delhi! Time to build the Buddhistic shrine and improve my pitiful economy, right?
Okay, this probably gets old fast, but...bzzzt! Wrong! Of course I did use him to discover Theology instead, and...founded Christianity. In Delhi. Again. Then I made the same open border/spread Buddhism/convert maneuver I had done with Victoria already, this time with Peter in 925BC, then with Washington in 875BC, and Catherine in 675BC. And then I finally found the time to build my first settler and found my third city!