The start looked really dry, with only three two-food tiles in view if we settle on the starting tile.
Remembering Dark Savant's winning results in Epic 29, when he moved his starting settler five tiles to get to cattle, I planned to move up the river until I found a better site. I started by moving the worker onto a hill, which revealed all this:
Well, that makes things just a wee bit less dry. It also means that we're going to have an explosive start compared to any of the AIs. Even if some rivals have similar flood-plains, the AI can't manage them nearly as well as a human.
Picking a spot for the capital was a tough decision, though. If I settled on the starting square, London wouldn't have any two-food tiles to work until the worker irrigated that one plain. Moving inland to one of the hills would get both wheats right away, but take the city off the coast, losing the chance to build early seafaring curraghs and maybe the Colossus. The other option would be to go across the river to the plain to settle, to at least get the oasis square to work for the first 10 turns.
I finally decided on that last choice. This would preserve coastal access, get access to the oasis so as not to stunt the first few turns too badly, preserve the forest on the starting tile for early shields, and finally pull in one more flood-plain for extra food since we're still short on food tiles other than the wheats. In the long run, I was pretty happy with this choice.
I decided to run minimum science on Writing towards the Philosophy gambit, and also decided to waste no time in getting an exploring curragh going.
Somebody *else* popped the hut south of my start, and barbarians jumped out, but fortunately London built its warrior just in time.
The other hut *also* popped barbs, but my warrior took care of those too. (Been a while since I played with the Emperor combat bonus against barbs.)
My first curragh started circling the continent counterclockwise, and I soon sent out a second curragh to go clockwise, which contacted France as the original one met Russia after also contacting Italy and the Netherlands. Both new civs had Masonry, and that was the opening I needed to buy it and broker for everybody's techs. By 2390 BC, the two curraghs and a warrior that I sent exploring eastwards made contact with all the civs, and trading Alphabet to Prussia for The Wheel and brokering the latter brought me up to tech parity again.
London built a settler in 2710 BC, before a granary, as I hadn't decided on my plan yet with regard to the Pyramids and 20k. But with London's acres of food and limited shield potential, it'd be counterproductive to tie it up building wonders instead of settlers. And there's a site to the northeast that looks quite good for wonder building, with lots of bonus grasslands.
York started on its first wonder right away, with London sending workers over. I'd discovered Ivory, so this first wonder could be either the Statue of Zeus or the Pyramids.
Prussia conquered Istanbul.
There goes a HUGE part of my chance to win the Epic scoring. Absolutely totally nothing I could possibly have done about that. I'm now playing from behind on the scenario concept for the whole game.
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