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Crash Culture Course

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Mecca and Medina are clearly "have" cities, having made good progress on the ancient culture buildings, with the Palace in Medina and a wonder in Mecca already. Damascus and Baghdad are clearly "have-not" cities, with late starts, poor shield terrain, and even more importantly, delays on getting worker labor. Najran is somewhere in the middle; it also got a late start, but has good terrain and low corruption and the workers are right there.

So as soon as I got into Republic, Baghdad's library and Damascus' colosseum were cash rushed. Damascus now had all three ancient culture buildings, and Monotheism for a cathedral was a little ways away, so this city now started a Palace prebuild for a wonder, hopefully the Sistine Chapel. Here's the cultural values now, including those rushed buildings:

Medina 366, 9/turn
Mecca 232, 6/turn
Damascus 176, 9/turn
Najran 140, 5/turn
Baghdad 62, 5/turn

So, the cities keep building. Mecca builds its library and colosseum, while Medina builds a barracks and contributes more military. Najran also finishes its colosseum, while Baghdad gets its colosseum rushed as soon as I can afford it. Colosseums aren't that bad after all; the two content faces are actually pretty helpful this early, before you can build cathedrals and import luxuries. They just get outclassed by marketplaces and cathedrals pretty quickly, but in this game all the colosseums were pretty important.

In 280 AD, I get my first cultural flip:

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Mandatory rejection of cultural flips is often one of the more frustrating aspects of limited-city-count games, so I wrote the rules for this one specifically to allow temporarily accepting the city. I accepted this flip to wipe out its garrison and food/shield boxes, and take the free spearman for myself, then gave the city back to Osman.

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Then he complained about that spearman, which was still within his territory, with a hilarious complaint (and also my excuse) that I hadn't seen before:

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Tech went on slowly for a while. It took until 380 AD, two dozen turns after entering the middle ages, for Monotheism to become available, after the Ottos got Feudalism for free. I needed Monotheism and the cathedrals ASAP, of course, so I paid full price to the tune of 450 gold to Rome for it, and cash rushed cathedrals in Najran and Baghdad right away. And when I could afford it after that, I also rushed Baghdad's aqueduct and then colosseum.

I also bought Theology at full price, because my palace prebuild was running out (it's only 300 shields in a 5CC) and Damascus needed to swap to Sistine. Finally I got to pull a brokerage, buying Education to resell to Rome for Feudalism.

I ran one-beaker science to get Engineering, but the AIs all got it on the same turn that I did. The one scientist parked on Printing Press next as usual.

With most of the regular cultural buildings complete, of course the way to build up all Five Pillars was to focus on some wonder building. Here's what that looks like:

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In this picture, my goals are for Damascus to actually build the Sistine Chapel with Bach's as the second option; Najran to build Bach's with Copernicus as the second option; and Medina to build Copernicus if the other two succeed. Mecca already has the Hanging Gardens and is doing very well, although poor Baghdad is still running behind the other cities and is gearing up to try for Shakespeare's to get some sort of respectable culture going.

The wonder dominoes started falling in 710 AD with Egypt completing Sun Tzu's in Thebes. Fortunately, Invention became available that turn, and I got it in a two-fer with Astronomy. Najran could then swap to Leo's to continue building towards Bach's, or it could take Copernicus now. It was probably now or never for the science wonder, since cascade from Sistine would probably drop it, so I took it now in Najran. The science is helpful, and the wonder is also Expansionist for half my Golden Age.

Around this time I established an embassy with Rome and saw that their capital was three turns behind me on the Sistine Chapel, but very shortly after that Rome completed the wonder anyway. Had to have been a Great Leader (they were in a minor war with Egypt), and once again the AI is a moron for using that Leader for about 100 shields worth in the city when it could've been worth 600 in another.

Well, my only choice was to change Damascus to Leonardo's to keep building, and hope nobody got that wonder in the five turns until I could complete research on Music Theory myself, but that worked out. With the Palace prebuild restricted to only 300 shields, managing the prebuilds was pretty interesting.

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Damascus took a LONG time - from 50 AD to 800 AD - to build that wonder. The city is in poor shield terrain, had to start building it at only size 7, couldn't grow very fast with no food bonuses, and I couldn't have a worker farm city to pump it. Good thing it got started so early.

Before I completed the wonder, Music Theory also got me full monopoly cash price (125 + 30/turn) from a very stupid Cleopatra, and some spare change and a worker from Rome, so researching it definitely paid off.

Also, from now on I'd be pushing research at maximum rate myself, for most of the rest of the game. I hadn't expected to be able to do that in a 5CC, but I really didn't have that much less land than any of the other world powers. And a sale of one tech at monopoly price is usually enough to fund three or four techs worth of maximum deficit research. Monopoly sales are why researching at "max sustainable income rate" is generally unwise. Push yourself into debt if you need to; once you get that tech you can make your investment back and more.

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