Moving the worker to the game square didn't reveal anything useful, so I founded on the starting square.
I decided to take a bit of a builder's gamble at the start. We know Sirian customized the map, and I'm going to wager that he kept the rival starting positions at least a little ways away from the player. And remembering how much getting that granary in early helped me with early fighting in Epics 14 and 26, I committed to that. We also know there are no barbarians in this game. Beijing built one warrior for MP, then the granary.
I used a settler as a placeholder until Pottery finished - couldn't use the Pyramids because then I wouldn't get the shield credit from the forest chop. The timing came out fine, with Pottery finishing in 3450 BC with the settler due in 2. I researched Bronze Working at max after Pottery, as you can see.
The worker's first job after the forest was to irrigate a plains, not to improve the bonus grassland. Plains take five turns to improve (one turn to access, two to irrigate, two to road) - longer than the intervals between Beijing's growth - so I had to push hard on irrigating the plains to make sure Beijing had sufficient two-food tiles to continue growing at max rate.
Also, I decided to delay contacts as long as possible, for obvious reasons. I sent NO warriors exploring anywhere. My expanding and settling would be done blind, in the fog.
Shanghai was founded in a fertile-looking river valley to the south, and next Canton was founded by a wheat to the west.
My first contact pops up as I found my third city. Unfortunately, I fell one turn (and exactly one beaker) short of researching Iron Working in time to trade. America has The Wheel and Ceremonial Burial, while we have nothing to trade them. So, war is declared. (Yes, I was stupid and didn't think to use that spearman to kill the American scout.)
After Iron Working, I had to pick something to research; none of the choices looked particularly appealing. Alphabet can be bought from another civ, and so can The Wheel since America has it. So my research was Ceremonial Burial, which took four turns. Next up... well, Alphabet and Wheel didn't get any more attractive, and neither is Mysticism. So, let's save up cash and try to buy a tech or two, since a purple city border has become visible beyond Canton.
City Four soon came, next to a wheat in the east. By now, it seemed fairly likely that there was a limited amount of land and no civs to my east and south, so I chanced sending one warrior out to explore in that direction.
In 1575 BC, the first stack of enemy units appears.
Fortunately, I have an archer arriving from Beijing just in time, and between those two units all three American warriors were defeated with no losses.
And now, I've decided to put my promised plan into effect. The land layout has worked out for it - I've got a very good city site in a location sheltered from enemy attack. Shanghai will become a 20,000-culture city. It already built its temple (that's why I researched Ceremonial Burial), and is now building The Pyramids towards that effect. The city did not build a granary; with that food bonus it's already at growth every 5 turns and will hit the size-7 plateau long before it finishes a wonder.
But, the game scoring says that victories will be ranked by number of civs eliminated. And I presume that almost everybody winning the game will do so by conquest. So, my goal is now to achieve a conquest AND cultural victory, on the SAME TURN. Crazy? Of course. That's why you come here.
Why did I decide to do this? I'm not quite sure. I just wanted to give myself a bit of extra challenge, as per my post in this game's info thread suggesting that Always War on Monarch was easy. This plan will include lots of extra research on optional techs in the Middle Ages. And, I guess I wanted to see how pushing a 20k city with leaders to rush all the wonders will work out. And finally, if the Always War scenario turns out to be a good deal more difficult than I'd expected, it'll serve as a backup victory condition if by some ungodly chance conquering turns out to not be possible.
Between the 1575 BC and 1550 BC turns, both Hiawatha and Gandhi pop up and offer me deals. I decline both, preferring to deal with them on my terms on my turn. I'm not quite sure of the Always War rules here - they were written before PTW, when the AIs did not buy contact with the player - but I think the idea is supposed to allow for one round of brokering before declaring war. So, let's broker.
Iroquois and India both have contact with Japan, Babylon, and Mongolia. I pull the usual trick of buying the cheapest contact, which is Japan for 53 gold. The cheapest contact is usually behind in tech, and it's true here. I can buy Mysticism to resell to Japan, but then all they'll give me for it is 11g.
Japan cannot trade me any more contacts; I don't know if Japan has no other contacts or doesn't have Writing. Unfortunately, with only 94 gold left, I'm not going to be able to afford both Alphabet and Writing to broker the latter to Japan.
I take a chance at buying the next cheapest contact, the Mongols for 40 gold. They also lack Mysticism and cannot trade contacts. I trade Mysticism plus 17 gold to Temujin for Alphabet.
Writing is indeed available to buy from Iroquois and India and resell to Japan and Mongolia. But it would cost around 130, and I've only got 37. OK, I confess to not having a whole lot of real game (non-Epic 14) Always War experience. Mental note - next time in Always War, research less and save more at the beginning. That one round of brokering that you get can be big.
I decline to buy the last contact, Babylon, and declare war on all four newly-met civs. Maximum research started on Polytheism, since we're heading for Monarchy as soon as I can get there.
I didn't check F4 every single turn, but I noticed Persia and Babylon both on there in 1150 BC. So we deal with them now. The plan had been to research Polytheism in time to trade it to any new contacts, but that failed to happen.
Unfortunately again, I can't do a danged thing with diplomacy; the only thing I can trade to either of them is my world map to Persia, which is worth precisely 28 gold.
Here's my world in 1100 BC.
Polytheism was discovered and that iron at Tsingtao was hooked up this turn. I ran afoul of the quirk where, when you discover any technology, the game auto-upgrades all your build orders for you. I wanted to build a few more warriors for cheap police and upgrading, but it didn't happen. One turn sooner on Polytheism or later on the iron and Canton, Beijing, and Nanking would be building warriors instead. (Xinjian isn't hooked up yet.)
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