Since I knew the map, I knew the best option was to settle on the starting square right off. Actually, I know too much, and I'm too good a player. I'm going to deliberately slow myself a bit.
I built three warriors to start - one for MP, two for barbarian defense, going up to the 4-unit-free threshold as I often do. Then Carthage started the Pyramids instead of a granary. This, I think, will slow my own development to about the rate that an "average" Epic player who didn't know the map would achieve. Also, it would make the playtesting a little less tedious for me (since I've played it about six times now) by not having to manage the granaries. Finally, it'll give me a better look at the AIs' progress. In my last playtest, France wound up being significantly ahead of the other AIs, and it was they that built the Pyramids. I couldn't tell if their advantage was due to that wonder, their civ traits, or some advantage in the terrain that I hadn't realized. (It did turn out in this game that it probably was mostly due to the Pyramids.)
The Pyramids are, of course, only 200 shields under Accelerated Production rules, and completed in 2390 BC. While doing that, I researched, all at max rate, Pottery, Bronze Working, Writing, and Map Making.
Carthage shot out settlers as quickly as it could, and I had two more cities founded only seven turns later. Of course, I knew where the best sites were, having drawn the terrain myself.
All the cities could build settlers if they wanted, since they all had the granary effect from the Pyramids. Using that, I had all my core cities founded within only another twelve turns. You can also see that by now, I've finished Map Making, and am speeding on my way to Republic.
Shortly thereafter, I started contacting AIs. France was the first. Yikes - Joanie's up on me by The Wheel, Iron Working, Mathematics, and Mysticism! Did I give the AIs too much help, or slow myself too much? Well, let's see what happens.
The same galley then contacts Korea, who has all the techs France does, plus Philosophy and Code of Laws already. But, Korea hasn't made contact with France.
I buy both of those techs from Korea - at monopoly price - because then I can resell them to France at monopoly price to get techs that are NOT at monopoly price. That nets me The Wheel, Iron Working, Mysticism, Mathematics, and 30 gold. I think I'm satisfied with the game balance at this point. It's okay for the player to be a little bit behind, and have to work brokerage and such to catch up. We know how to do that by now. :)
After acquiring the two pre-Republic techs, I start maximum research on Republic, of course. This game is no time for a minimum science gambit. :)
I did consider changing some of the game rules to match Accelerated Production - things like 20 turns for minimum science, 10 shields for a whip, 10 turns for Golden Age - but decided not to. Let's see how Accelerated Production plays out by itself. Besides, there's lots of things I can't change - anarchy length comes to mind as an example.
I contact India last, and they've got Horseback Riding in addition to all the other known techs.
Note that I still didn't trade contacts around, waiting to see how long it would take the AIs to do it on their own. They did okay in my last playtest, though, and they did again here, all contacting each other by 1400 BC, only eight turns after I made contact myself.
1350 BC sees Korea get The Republic, while I have 5 turns left on the research. I pay Gems, my world map, and 13 gold/turn to get it. I do that because I can trade Republic to India and Korea to net Wines, Construction, Horseback Riding, and 110 gold. We revolt immediately, of course, pulling a lousy 6 turns of anarchy.
By the time I come out of anarchy in 1200 BC, Literature, Polytheism, and Currency have all gotten spread all around (three techs in six turns!), but I've got 32/turn income to go spend. 65 gold straight-up gets me Currency - now that's cheap! Polytheism costs 29 + 1/turn, and Monotheism costs little more.
With everybody in Republic, now the game kicks into Turbo Mode.
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