I've missed it before, but this time I'm ready for it: Copernicus plus Bach is an Arabian Golden Age! Here's the cultural numbers now:
Medina 1284, +21/turn
Mecca 1237, +20/turn
Najran 873, +19/turn (plus University completing this turn)
Damascus 776, +15/turn
Baghdad 715, +16/turn
Baghdad and Damascus are still the lowest of the Pillars, although Damascus has yet to build its cathedral and university. Baghdad finally completed its own university, and started a wonder prebuild.
Presently Rome and Egypt made peace, so I no longer had to worry about Great Leaders stealing wonders.
I used the Golden Age income to research Navigation, to go for Magellan's in either Baghdad or Medina. (Medina has no intention of building Leonardo's, but as the capital it can't prebuild with a Palace.)
Then I traded Navigation plus cash to Egypt for Banking, both techs at monopoly, so I could start researching Economics. I also parleyed the techs into Gunpowder from Rome and Chivalry from the Ottomans - a four-for-one deal.
With Navigation, I also sailed out to find England and France; of course, I already knew where they were. I'd expected a continent with two civs researching to fall far behind one with four, but surprisingly the two new civs are only about four techs behind us. I trade Invention to England for her 287 gold and world map.
I rsearched Economics, and Cleopatra matched pace with me on it, although I did get to sell it to England at full monopoly price (50 gold/turn) and to France for a supply of iron and luxuries. Medina, generating 34 shields/turn in Golden Age, completed Smith's soon thereafter. Baghdad also got Magellan's in there and started a new prebuild for either Newton or Shakespeare's. (I was lucky nobody completed Leonardo's for some time and there was no cascade to all these later wonders.)
It was a bit surprising how late I built some of the basic buildings. Several of the marketplaces and harbors didn't get built until after the Golden Age here in 1000 AD, but that's what happens when the scenario goal pushes colosseums and universities.
I bought Printing Press, then researched Democracy myself and revolted with the half-turn of anarchy. This might actually not be the best decision, since it does cost a turn's worth of culture for each city in the end. But I didn't want to have the "should I revolt" question hanging over my head for the rest of the game. :)
Ottomans (is anyone else annoyed by the lack of a noun form of that nation's name? I see Sirian uses "Turkey" in his report, although I find that counterintuitive and anachronistic) finally completed Leonardo's in 1010 AD, as my Golden Age ended, and very conveniently one turn before I discovered Free Artistry, which ensured no cascade to the Big Shake. Baghdad would still take 16 turns to complete it, but it was safely mine, landing the biggest cultural prize in the game in the weakest Pillar.
Joanie managed to research Chemistry on her own before contact between the continents was made, and I was able to sell her Printing Press @monopoly to get Chemistry @4th, which I resold to the last two civs for luxuries and spare change. Being the only one with full contacts is always a supreme position from which to broker. :)
Medina as the capital used Shakespeare's to prebuild for Newton's while I researched the techs for the latter, and Baghdad used the Palace to prebuild for Shakespeare's.
In 1190 AD, Magnetism finishes researching and I enter the Industrial Age, as Baghdad completes Shakespeare's. So I got all the high-culture medieval wonders except for the Sistine Chapel, and that only to the stroke of a Great Leader. The Hanging Gardens was the only ancient wonder I landed, though. It's not a bad prize, but the Colossus or Great Library would've been even better, but I had no chance at either after that attack from Rome.
Here's the cultural numbers in 1200 AD, with all of the medieval buildings and wonders complete.
Medina: 2181 culture, +30/turn, Newton's and Smith's and the Palace
Mecca: 2082, +27/turn, Hanging Gardens
Najran: 1747, +23/turn, Copernicus
Damascus: 1689, +27/turn, Bach's
Baghdad: 1460, +30/turn, Magellan's and Shakespeare's
Najran appears to be the Pillar most in need of another wonder, so it starts a Palace prebuild for its factory, and will rush a coal plant and build Universal Suffrage. I wanted Newton's in Medina because as the capital it had the most commerce, although I probably went a bit overboard in building the two wonders in that city and should've given Newton's to a lesser Pillar.
As for the F11 Top Five list, Medina and Mecca are cities #3 and #4, although the other three slots are occupied by enemy capitals with multiple wonders including Thebes at #1 with the Great Library. So I probably won't claim more than three slots here.
I apologize for this massive volume of text, but nothing interesting enough to take a picture of happened. :) I researched Steam Power; we're still in the global tech lead despite having only the five cities. I knew we would have coal, and I had an iron deal in place with France ahead of time to build the railroads. I only had about 15 workers, about half of which were skimmed off size-12 cities, but they were still enough to get most of the railroads built within 20 turns.
I gift Magnetism to Osman to advance him an age so I get brokering control over his free tech. It's Nationalism, and - surprise - Steam Power at monopoly plus 3,000 gold isn't enough to buy it. Bah, let him broker it himself; he needs the cash anyway.
Then my Iron ran out and I did need some more to build the factories. France was still the only civ with any to sell; she wanted 40/turn for it. Instead, I sold her Steam Power at monopoly for 106/turn, Iron, Ivory, Dyes, and Saltpeter. I also got more luxuries and Military Tradition from trading it to other civs. Feed my monopoly tech machine!
England - which had been attacked by France and reduced to four cities - declares war on game-leading Egypt.
I researched Industrialization in 8 turns and Medicine and Sanitation each in 7. While Najran built Universal Suffrage, all four other cities completed factories and hospitals within two turns of each other.
Now I had to decide where to build the Theory of Evolution. Here's the updated cultural figures as of 1385 AD, which figures in the doubling of the three cathedrals that I rushed in 380 AD. (Micromanagement note: On the turn that's a 1000-year anniversary - 1380 AD here - the doubled culture rate is not yet shown, but is credited at the end of that turn.)
Medina: 3195, +32/turn
Mecca: 2979, +32/turn
Damascus: 2553, +27/turn
Najran: 2502, +30/turn
Baghdad: 2423, +33/turn
Medina and Mecca are still far ahead and won't be caught by the other cities by 1802 AD even if they don't build any more culture. And Baghdad is still only slowly catching up. Damascus' rate is lagging behind because it spent most of the first millennium AD building Bach's, and won't get doublings on that or its cathedral or university before 1802. I think my best plan is to build ToE in Damascus and the Hoover Dam in Baghdad.
I also managed to get all my resource imports - iron, saltpeter, and five luxuries - synchronized to expire on the same turns. So every time they ran out, I could trade one tech to get a fresh round of all the resources. In 1400 AD, I traded Medicine around for Iron, Saltpeter, Dyes, Ivory, Silks, Spices, Wines, 100 gold/turn, and packaged with Steam Power for Nationalism. Yeah, I'm still the global tech leader. Only Egypt and France had any sort of decent sized empires; the Ottomans, Romans, and English are just about running 5CCs themselves.
And presently, I finally caught the Domestic Advisor! I'd seen her saying this cute message out of the corner of my eye on quick trips to the advisor screen almost a dozen times now, but had never managed to grab it, usually because I was too quick to jump to another advisor or back to the game. Finally I nailed it, though; and I think that ticked her off because I didn't see it again the rest of the game.
ToE completed in 1450 for the usual Atomic Theory and Electronics. Baghdad had been using Battlefield Medicine to prebuild and now swaps to Hoover, while Najran begins building B-Med for real. Damascus starts a prebuild for Wall Street; it would have to wait for Baghdad to finish Hoover and build a stock exchange, but that happened just fine.
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