Egads. Mecca is defended by a warrior and a spear, against three warriors and an archer that attack across a river. By one hit point, Mecca's warrior loses to the last attacking warrior and I lose the city. Fortunately, it wasn't razed.
Now they've pissed me off! Revenge will be forthcoming!... Yeah, me and my mighty two archers!
I was way too mad now to bother taking any pictures, until my two archers that had escorted my two settlers returned and made things right. It was fortunate for me that the city dropped to size 1 when it was captured, so Caesar couldn't whip a defending unit. As it was, my archers just barely beat both the Roman archer and warrior.
Thank the gods that the archer on the left had gotten promoted against a barbarian, or I'd really be in trouble here. It was critical that I'd escorted the settlers rather than playing farmer's gambit, and also that I'd built some workers early that built the roads the archers used to recapture the Holy City.
Peace costed me 130 gold from that extortionist Caesar, but I had to pay it; I could not afford another such setback and definitely couldn't let him buy in any allies. I also bought Mathematics from him to broker for Writing.
Now I can comment on the city placements. Medina was my first city founded, with the goal of building the Colossus. I had wanted to put it at the mouth of that river, with the spices and much bonus grassland, but the Ottomans beelined to that spot (and I knew that they'd do so in everyone's game.) There was no way to get Medina both coastal and on the river without either wasting the game tile or suffering overlap with Mecca, so I placed it there off the river. It'd need a lot of worker labor to get beyond six good tiles anyway, so it could wait for the aqueduct.
Damascus is the city over at the western lake location. Actually, it should've been one to the north of where it was, to get more decent squares (grasslands) usable immediately. I put it where it is to get two hill tiles instead of only one, but that didn't make much difference in the long run.
Of course, now I had to scramble, big-time, to grab any halfway decent city sites left. Egypt and the Ottomans were moving in on my turf quickly. Medina had to abandon any plans to build the Colossus and put out a settler as quickly as it could, and Mecca did the same. Miraculously, Mecca's granary survived both captures, so the city was still in good shape for growth.
I wanted the northern lake/iron location, of course, but it got claimed by Egypt while I was busy recapturing my capital, and the desert lake went to the Ottomans. The settler from Medina headed south to claim whatever decent land I could on that peninsula. And after that, the only way I could get a fifth location with any sort of potential was to cram in Najran there, next to two food bonuses, but suffering three tiles of overlap with my own cities and some with the Ottomans as well.
After that, Mecca and Medina basically swapped the roles that I'd originally planned. Medina has the Palace and a temple, which will keep it on top culturally. Mecca had to rebuild its temple, but then with nothing else pressing it started on a wonder prebuild which I hoped would be the Great Library. The other three cities all whipped temples as soon as they were able.
Yeah, it actually turned out to be rather convenient that the Palace had moved to Medina, in the center of my five cities, rather than at one end in Mecca. I guess this is the closest thing to a GOTM-style palace jump that we'll ever see in the Epics. :) Of course, if you think my advantage from that makes up for losing my capital, two more good city locations, and any shot at the Colossus, you're on crack. :)
Minimum research on Polytheism finishes in 800 BC. There's only two techs available to trade it for, though: Map Making and Horseback Riding. I decide to hold onto the monopoly, since nobody's researching the tech (nobody's offering any less than anyone else), and start Monarchy at minimum.
Code of Laws gets around two turns later, and then I pull the trigger on acquiring 300 gold and three techs for Polytheism.
The wonder cascade broke badly, going from the Pyramids through to the Great Library, which fell to Egypt long before I had any chance at it, and dropping the Oracle and Colossus as well. The cascade did end with that and the Great Wall, though, leaving the way clear for Mecca to build through to the Hanging Gardens. Conveniently, my 40-turn Monarchy research would complete just about as the palace prebuild reached 300 shields.
I happened to take a look at this Egyptian city that was competing for some wonder (the Great Lighthouse I think it was), and look at this MAJOR !
Now, class, what trait does Egypt have? Religious, very good. What is the first building that should be built in a city with three second-ring food bonuses, especially for a religious civ? Yes, Miss Cleopatra? A wonder, you say? Um, I think we should send you back to the Regent training games...
(And that's not to mention the fact that any human player not named CivGeneral would've built on the tile one northwest instead, to get the two cattle available immediately and not totally waste that third cow...)
While Mecca continued its way on the Hanging Gardens, my other cities finished their temples, and built granaries and libraries, aided by a fair bit of whipping whenever any city tried to exceed size 6. There'll be time to grow later; for now let's get that ancient culture going ASAP. And I've built the granaries; remember that they ease the cost of whipping. Medina was in good shape culturally; as the leading Pillar it could afford to take some time away from culture, so it contributed a fair bit of military for defense against any further foolishness from Caesar.
I got Monarchy by way of minimum science, and traded it to the Ottomans for The Republic in 10 AD. That was three ancient techs that I got with one-beaker research, two of which pulled a decent haul in trade. I can see where this particular game rule is a bit overpowered and nonsensical, and why Sirian wants to try taking it off the table for Epic Thirty.
I actually delayed the revolt by one turn to make sure Mecca completed the Hanging Gardens first. The Republic of Arabia, surrounded by Ottoman cities as you can see below, was founded in 50 AD. And one city's got a wonder; only four more cities to build up now.
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