Since I drew the map, I knew the best place to found was on the starting square. I was also testing for playability and balance, and since the starting square is where most players would probably found that's what I did. Also, I decided to expand and settle in a natural pattern, rather than beelining for the northern iron/horse location.
Since we have both Pottery and Ceremonial Burial, I decide to start on a 40-turn research on Alphabet.
Now, of course I needed to plan out for cultural builds in all five cities. The best way I could think to do that was this: have the capital build a temple early, and then rely on that and the Palace for a strong ancient culture base. This city would produce the settlers, workers, and military, while the other cities would mostly build a temple and then go straight to a wonder. In particular, I wanted to get the Colossus with my second city.
I intended to play Honorably as much as possible. If someone tried to pick on me, I'd milk the war for all the Great Leaders I could get, but as long as I was left alone I was content to build up my wonders in peace.
Mecca built two scouts to explore, then a warrior, then the granary. The worker naturally irrigated the flood plains and then went to mine the bonus grasslands. By 3650 BC, I'd contacted the Ottomans and Romans (since I knew where they were), traded for a few techs and started minimum research on Iron Working.
Mecca finished the granary, then two turns later I had it whip a temple to finish that in 2470 BC. This should give Mecca a good cultural leg to stand on for quite a while until I can build a medieval wonder in it. Next came an archer, to fend off a barbarian and escort the upcoming settler.
The turn after the archer was built, I got a boost towards the settler by disbanding a scout for 2 shields, whipping an archer, then switching back to the settler.
After that settler came a worker, which was built in two turns at 5 shields/turn. My early game management and builds are often influenced by the exact cost of items like this; 5 shields per turn is great to build a worker, while 7 shields per turn is better for building a spearman or archer.
My 40 turns on Iron Working finish in 1870 BC, and one-beaker research on Polytheism is started as my first couple settlers head out. I apologize for not getting a good picture of the cities, but I was in a bit of a rush to playtest and ship the game off to Griselda. You can see the cities later on.
In 1625 BC came a bit of a surprise - a Roman stack wanders right up to my capital city. I know there's a barbarian camp down on the western side of the gulf; the Romans are going there, right? Right?
Ah. Sure, Caesar, sir, whatEVER you want. No problemo. Friendship is good.
HEY!!!! You can't do that! Demand tribute, get paid, and declare war on the same turn?! That's GOTM-level dirty tactics!
It was at this point that I sent the game off to Griselda to start the Epic. I'd hoped to playtest out to the five cities, but now that was going to take more time (this was already on Monday afternoon, after the little time I'd had over the weekend resulted in testing and rejecting a true 20% land map.) This map had played out well enough already - I couldn't have better planned the tradeoffs at my Medina city site - and if Rome was going to smack down even a fairly mild farmer's gambit, let them!
And no way did I want to fight this war still in a "playtest" mindset. If I managed to lose a game on Monarch difficulty, I'd never hear the end of it at RB...
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