I crafted this map specifically for this Epic ruleset, of course. I rolled a dozen or so maps until I had one that met my general plan of giving the player space to expand in open, largely flat terrain, with contacts coming fairly early. I deleted several rivers, to keep the player's commerce production down and make the specialist economic production more attractive. Those were replaced with several lakes to still allow freshwater cities and the agricultural trait to work while in despotism. I also made sure the player had several luxuries immediately accessible, to help the cities grow large and play with the specialists rather than having to hire entertainers.
My first playtest ran into a problem, where somehow this small map had standard-map values for tech costs and optimal number of cities. I fixed that by re-importing the map into a fresh .bic file, and took that chance to tweak the map a bit. The wines at the start were originally on grassland, but that extra food resulted in the player expanding and taking the lead too fast. I also removed a few more forests and made some bonus grassland into regular.
And so once all that was settled, I started my shadow game. Founded on the starting square, naturally, since I knew a better site couldn't be gained for quite some distance around.
Here's a lesson from the T-hawk School of Micromanagement.
With +3 surplus food available, growth is in 7 turns. But we can run +3 food for 6 turns (18 food total), and one turn of working the forest instead for +2 food and an extra shield. Q: When is the correct time for the 2-food turn?
A: On the sixth turn, after using the first five turns to build a warrior for exploration. Since we're building that warrior in 5 turns at 2 shields/turn, that one extra shield doesn't help for the first 5 turns. The seventh turn is also not correct, since then the city will not get to auto-pick the forest for an extra shield upon city growth because it'll already be in use. So the sixth turn is the right time. I did that, and that extra shield actually does turn out to get the second warrior out a turn sooner.
Anyways, we start with Pottery. I decided to start research on Mysticism, to go for a Monarchy beeline. Without Republic, that is certainly the near-term government of choice. With several lakes around that will get cities up above size 7 fairly quickly, I know that Feudalism won't be all that great.
What to do with the worker? With mining off the table, and irrigation doesn't help the wines and grasslands in Despotism of course, really the only thing to do is build roads. Interesting - players who realize this will get both exploration and economy off to quite a decent start. My research on Mysticism finished in 19 turns total, somewhat slow but still decent for a non-river start.
I built my usual three warriors, keeping one home for police and barb defense, then the granary. The goody hut to the south popped Bronze Working. The granary finished in 2800 BC with Entremont at size 4.
I had picked the neighboring civilizations - I wanted them to be industrious to accentuate their shield advantage over the player, and they also had a good chance at building the Pyramids. I met the Egyptians in 3150 BC. My research on Mysticism finished two turns later, but I decided to wait until contacting Carthage to trade it. (Yes, I'm using my full spoiler info here.) I started maximum research on Polytheism next.
In 2850 BC, I contacted Carthage too. I still held off on trading Mysticism, checking that Egypt wasn't researching it by monitoring their offer for the tech, until Egypt got Alphabet so I wasn't buying that at monopoly. I sold my Mysticism at monopoly for Alphabet and Warrior Code, and at 3rd-civ for Masonry.
So I expanded out with settlers, as usual. My first one went to the central lake with the fish, spices, and forests, which I knew was a great location. Entremont could do a settler every eight turns, and had time for a warrior between each settler. My third settler grabbed the river to the north and would use the flood plains to put out several workers, and my fourth city went in the southern tundra to get furs, using Entremont's cultural radius to get grasslands to work.
In 1625 BC, I once again used my spoiler information. Because I know the terrain layout, I know that Alesia is a very, very good spot for the Forbidden Palace. It takes 8 cities on a small map to become eligible for that, and Alesia should be able to accumulate 200 shields right around that time, so it swapped to a prebuild. Just gotta hope that barbarians don't interfere. Entremont would shortly send over a second warrior for garrison and defense to help towards that end.
I still LOVE playing the opening moves of a Civ 3 game. Interlocking plans and strategies like that are gaming ambrosia for me.
Also in 1625 BC, I got Polytheism first (a total of 33 turns of research, significantly faster than if I'd done minimum science) and sold it around for a pile of techs including Writing.
I know that the other civs here just got Writing, and I know that there's only one civ (England) on the other continent that started with Alphabet towards that branch. I could research Philosophy in 10 turns right now -- can I possibly go for that and grab Monarchy as the free tech?
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