You can see I'm still keeping my cities limited in size, to keep my own score down. My total population score at the end of the game was around 300; if I'd grown all the cities as usual that would've been maybe half again higher than that. So limiting my cities this way did help the balance in the end by a few percent.
France and Rome researched a number of techs for which I could swap my own research, propelling me into the Industrial Ages even sooner than expected in 700 AD.
839.25 average for the top four civs, 570 average for the bottom four. Balance ratio 67.91% for a score of 13.58 points. Not as terrible as I'd been expecting, but certainly not top-notch.
Researching Steam Power brought a scientific GL, which I held for a little while in case I needed to take control of the wonder cascade; he'd eventually rush Universal Suffrage. I have coal - at Novgorod, the Russian city I captured. Score one for being lucky. Once I got that connected, my workers that had been doing the Spain and Turkey irrigation projects continued building rails on all the irrigated squares as well.
Italy was offering monopoly price of 170 gpt plus Democracy for the tech, but I refused. The increased food production of railroads are the best tool I have to affect AI scoring right now, and I'm keeping a lid on that tech. However, a short time later the Turks got it as their free scientific tech and traded it around.
Then last-place Turkey joined in. That's also okay with me. France was powerful enough to keep Italy's units pressed into their own lands, so Turkey wasn't in any danger. And the RoP that I was still maintaining with the Turks made sure they always had tactical maneuvering advantage.
I spent some cash on city investigations. Take a look at this one, and at the information I gleaned from it:
- Spain has 6 luxuries, maxing out all their size-6 cities on happy faces, so giving more won't help.
- Spain has 2 horses resources, so I can donate my last one to the Ottomans allowing them to build mobile units for their war, and import more for myself from Spain.
- This city has no aqueduct and won't have one soon, so it's useless for me to build railroads on its food squares at the moment.
I researched Electricity next, and then gifted Prussia three techs to pull them into the Industrial Age, since I'd be happy with any tech that they'd get. Either they'd break France's Nationalism monopoly, pull Medicine for me to trade for, or pick up Steam at 6th-civ. They got Medicine.
I believe this is the first time I've ever seen FOUR civs all with different monopolies! I researched Electricity, Prussia got Medicine, France researched Nationalism, and Spain unexpectedly researched Military Tradition but bizarrely hasn't traded it around yet. Here's one side effect of my promiscuity with giving resources away - it makes it harder for the AIs to trade techs to each other, because there's less space for them to add resources to the tech trades to make the deals even. Interesting.
I could mostly ignore those wars, though; Italy and Russia are right in the middle of the score rankings so I don't much care if they move one way or another, and I can protect Turkey well enough if need be. I just had to blockade France and Italy from getting any major concentrated force to the other's territory, and I was able to do that well enough.
Here's a picture of my lands presently:
You can see I'm still keeping my cities limited in size so as to restrict my score. The scientific GL just rushed Suffrage, although this was just a convenience as I've got full control of the wonder cascade. If the Age of Science worked, I'd've used the leader for that instead. York would proceed to clean up on ToE easily, but then a big DOH hit when it couldn't build Hoover due to lacking a river. London had to do that.
To recap, here's York's wonder list. The city got Statue of Zeus, Pyramids, Bach's, Magellan's, Smith's, Newton's, Suffrage, ToE, all the small wonders including a fairly early Heroic Epic and FP, and would soon add Shakespeare's as well. This was a good pace for a cultural victory probably before 1870 AD.
You can also see my blockade extending across my territory and Holland's. I never closed off the blockade completely (I didn't really have enough units to do so), and eventually maneuvered to include a couple Dutch cities as part of the blockade line to let Holland move their units through. Holland wasn't at war with anyone during this whole time.
Turkey and Spain went to war with each other as well, which was a worst-case scenario for me, the two weakest civs fighting. Spain got the upper hand briefly, getting a small stack of knights almost into Turkish territory that I started gearing up to blockade, but then the Turks got some Sipahi going and turned the tide. The Sipahi got up to Spain's doorstep, and I started loading units onto boats to run a blockade in Spanish territory, but then the two made peace MUCH to my delight. I got the bad balance break early with the Prussia-Turkey war, but these later wars have been breaking fairly well for me.
The AIs researched Rep Parts as they usually do, which I traded for. I upgraded artillery and started drafting some infantry, to get ready to take some fight to the French. Then I realized I didn't have rubber and that I was drafting rifles instead. Oops.
A map scan revealed that the easiest way to get rubber was to gift Electricity and Rep Parts to Italy, then trade them Scientific Method for their surplus rubber.
Now in 1220 AD, here's the scores:
Everything's going about as well as it could have. I've helped Turkey and Spain all I can, and am in the process of railroading Prussia's and the Netherlands' territory for them. Russia is still crippled from my pillaging rampage a while back - their cities are still all tiny and they aren't gaining in score. And Italy is getting decimated rapidly by their current wars, but they control all of the far eastern island so there's no danger of them getting eliminated.
That leaves one big problem there: France. It's high time to try to get in an honorable war with them. I'd finally managed my blockade over the last few turns so that France's growing stack of riflemen wasn't adjacent to any of my cities, and so it was time to demand France withdraw from my territory.
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