With artillery - lots of it, twenty units upgraded from cannons and many more being produced now that the factories are up - it's time to get moving on offense.
I have less than seventy turns remaining before Shanghai registers its cultural victory. 70 turns sounds like a lot, but think about it - that's a bit over one player rotation in a succession game. And look at the number of enemy cities on this map: it's also right around 70, meaning that I've got to average better than a city conquest each and every turn - with slow artillery - if I want to make this work.
I will be razing all cities from this point on. The captures of the Iroquois cities were to turn them into productive core cities for myself; it's too late for any newly acquired cities to develop well enough to do that, so they shall all get flattened.
On that same turn, I pay to investigate the Mongol capital:
One conscript rifle and two muskets? Heck, no need to wait for the artillery to do that. The city never reached 1000 culture, so 3-movement cavalry can reach it in the same turn. Combat workers move in to build rails across now-neutral Mongolian territory, and the cavalry armies raze Karakorum this turn. The next two Mongolian cities go on the next turn - they never expanded borders at all so the artillery can reach them immediately, and I found a replacement city to claim some Dyes for myself.
I'm finding that I have more than enough infantry (one per tile really suffices since the AI won't attack them), and generally I'm finding myself with more cavalry than I have targets each round, even though I do need to use a half-dozen each turn to fend off yet more Ottoman, Persian, and Babylon invaders on the western front. If my cavalry can't find targets, that means I'm lacking in one thing - artillery to pound more cities. All my military-producing cities (which is most of them) cut over to almost exclusive production of artillery.
With Mongolia to be eliminated in less than a half-dozen turns, I considered going into War-Time Mobilization. But I looked at the numbers, and only about five cities would get up into artillery-every-turn production status instead of every other turn, so I decided not to. Besides, doing that would slow Shanghai's culture accumulation which I still don't plan to do.
Leader 31 came repelling an Indian seaborne invasion, and rushes the Hoover Dam in Shanghai of course.
So, with that cultural time limit still there, my golden rule here was to Use the Artillery SoD Every Turn, by whatever means necessary. That means was, of course, combat settlers.
I had Tatung, my worker farm of old, build a factory, which allowed reconfiguring of the city into an every-other-turn SETTLER farm. That city would put out over twenty settlers for me to use in combat zones like this one.
With the rails, I was moving my artillery back and forth between both fronts, wherever more cities were available to attack on each turn. Once I got through the last couple Iroquois cities, Babylon's cultural expanse would delay progress on that front for a couple turns, so I kept blazing a trail of destruction through Indian lands.
My military goal now was not to eliminate the civs one by one. Rather, it was to cut a path directly through the middle of each of the civs, destroying enemy production capacity, and securing me neutral-territory railroad access to points farther afield. As Sun Tzu says, destroy the enemy's ability to make war, not the enemy. Look at the inset map there to see the geography of such a plan.
Some of those ruins were original Indian cities, some of those were cities India replaced in the razed lands, and some of those were temporary cities I planted to get my artillery access to the cities. My cities weren't throwaways; I did defend them for a few turns until they were no longer needed and the infantry were ready to move on. They were temporary, but construction and dismantling of forward military bases is reasonable within the game context; and heck, I'd have gained by keeping them for more free-unit and allowed-armies support. But I didn't want to bother.
While that Indian rampage was happening, I planned ahead with a combat settler in the other direction, and dropped a nasty hammer on Babylon:
By taking three turns to move that settler into Babylonian lands, I get same-turn artillery access to both those two core Babylonian cities. Dropping these surprise attacks on enemy cities worked very well: since I only left slow units three tiles away from an enemy city, the AI didn't feel threatened, and so I didn't have to pound through three just-conscripted defending units.
I'd never before done a big campaign of conquest in the artillery pre-tank era. But now I know that with the help of combat settlers, artillery are absolutely not slow at all. With combat settlers, they can attack the same 3-tile range into enemy territory as the cavalry can, and thus can conquer every bit as quickly as cavalry against muskets or Modern Armors against infantry. And the logistics were quite a bit simpler to just cover all the cavalry and artillery stacks with one infantry which the AI wouldn't attack, as compared to stacking up a half-dozen infantry on each square to guard against tank counterattacks. And that's not to mention not having to deal with enemy air power or radio towers, both of which do frustrate tanks.
So often have I repeated the mantra of "don't attack infantry, wait for tanks." Not anymore; not if you have a stack of 50 artillery. That's enough to redline all but the most stiffly defended infantry cities, and was often enough to do so to three or four secondary cities in the same turn. A 5-HP cavalry attacking a 1-HP infantry even in a metropolis does have the advantage.
Well, I would push research up to tanks; there was nothing else to do with the gold anyway, if I wasn't keeping cities and rushing buildings towards domination.
Well, the Mongols did eventually go anyway, mostly because they had very few riflemen left, just muskets, so the cavalry attacked without artillery support.
As you can see in the world map there, I simply bypassed weak America in favor of decimating the stronger AIs. I can hit America any time I want, and they were useful to have around as a supply of targets if by some procedure I found myself with artillery on a turn that couldn't reach another strong AI core city. Japan also served as a similar punching bag: most of their cities had never expanded borders at all so the artillery could simply walk up and bomb away.
Also, I stopped keeping track of Leaders now. They mostly went to form armies whenever I lost one, which did happen when I used them to attack full-strength infantry on occasion. One rushed Wall Street in Shanghai after a few stock exchanges went up. Also for fun I founded a city in an Iron Works site near America's capital, and rushed the Iron Works and a factory there with Leaders. Had to keep alive that streak of now seven consecutive games with the Iron Works.
I was also pillaging all the Rubbers I encountered, of course. Along the way there I realized that Persia had none of their own rubber, and must have been buying it from India; after I disconnected India's rubber supplies, a diplo check with Persia confirmed that they now lacked the resource. Babylon and the Iroquois are sitting on three rubbers between them, but are far away from Replaceable Parts (they lack Electricity) so those won't get put to use. It looks like NOBODY from this point on will produce any more infantry. The Ottomans never had or got to buy any rubber. So once my run through India and Persia's current infantry is complete, my pace of conquest should speed up.
In 1540 AD, only 20 turns after my first artillery assault, I've chewed all the way through Mongolia, India, Japan, and Babylon, and am moving into Persia's core.
Persia had, unfathomably, racked up around 9,000 gold in their treasury. Thanks, Xerxes; that will power my deficit-researching engine very well.
India's last city fell the next turn - note that I'd used my artillery in the middle of Persia's core last turn; behold the power of rails. Somehow while eliminating their last few northern cities I overlooked that city in the middle of nowhere that they must have just re-founded. That city had like four rifles to chew through, too.
Oh, and to amuse myself I tried some Propaganda on the cities on the northern islands so I wouldn't have to bother sailing boats there.
Presently, I arrive at Persepolis. A full FIFTY artillery shots only redlined about half of the city's defenders and left four infantry at 2 HP. But then my cavalry armies move in, and raze the city with no losses to me.
And I expect that to be the last seriously tough nut to crack. That was the last original AI capital with infantry: Egypt and America are nowhere near Replaceable Parts, and the Ottomans have somehow never had rubber. And Shanghai is still 45 turns away from cultural victory, meaning I should have an easy time finishing up conquering all the rest of the AIs. It looks like I'll even have time to reach and build a Modern wonder or two in Shanghai.
As my artillery continued to rampage through Persian and now Ottoman lands, I diverted some of the cavalry armies to eliminating America without even bothering to use artillery against them. Once again, though, after America's last city fell, I noticed another American city in the middle of nowhere that I'd missed. Let's investigate it.
Wait a minute - how in the world did that city get five riflemen - all regulars, all unfortified? America RESPAWNED! I thought that only happened in the Ancient Age. Sheesh; I'm going to have to deal with this on all the AIs, aren't I. Well, if I can prepare for it I can make sure to have some artillery left to reach and bombard the respawned cities on the same turn.
Remember before when I said I'd have to average one city conquest per turn? Somehow, I no longer think that's a problem.
My stack of artillery is 80 strong by now; those can rip apart a half-dozen or more rifle-defended cities each and every turn. Compare the world maps in the previous and next pictures; that's two turns worth of warring. 1575 AD saw me blast through a sequence of six Ottoman cities that had all not expanded their borders yet, giving me access to Persia's last city and, after a respawn, eliminating them.
The Ottomans followed, and they didn't even respawn since respawns happen on the same continent but their capital ended up moving offshore.
And after some island-hopping in which I get one final Great Leader (after a drought of a good 30 elite victories), Japan is reduced to their last city.
Index | Conclusion