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Still Inexorable

Now what to do...

I decide to go pursue some war against China. Gunpowder's still two slow techs away, and I've got a dozen elite Samurai still itching for action.

I did have goals for this war: to take as many of China's northwestern cities as possible, to keep the leaders flowing, and hopefully squeeze another couple techs from them for peace.

I quickly take Ningpo, controlling the dyes and replace it with a city one to the northwest, under less cultural pressure. I will sweep northwest from here grabbing land, and don't plan to make inroads into China's core.

As for the Leader over there... well, there's no wonders to build, and I don't want to keep him until a new tech becomes available, so he relocates the Palace to Sidon up in the northwest at the ivory. Sidon's a bit closer than I wanted the Palace, but sooner is much better than later. Also, having the Palace there will greatly minimize cultural reversion danger as I conquer Chinese cities in the area. The Palace and FP now form a very nice dumbbell shape, four rings apart, and all my original core cities are within two rings of one or the other. One whoopsie - relocating the Palace means that Tokyo has to switch off its wonder prebuild, and loses 60 shields in building a Samurai. Oh well. It starts over on a new palaceholder the next turn.

Hey, remember that Egyptian stack that I blockaded? There it is again! Persia still had one city left right now, which must have been where this stack was heading.

Egypt and China have an ROP. The great King Thunderhawk starts chuckling, then guffawing, and is soon rolling on the floor. Of all the possible things I envisioned when starting this Epic, I never imagined paying off one AI to ROP-rape another. Egypt will accept the alliance for nothing more than my only Horses plus 200 gold.

I wasn't going to invade China's core, but this is too tempting a target after Egypt damages it heavily. Tientsin captured, but then abandoned, since it's under cultural pressure.

The Leaders keep on flowing, and for the first time there's nothing important to do with him. Invention for Leonardo's could still be a long way away - China and Egypt do have the tech but Egypt wants 80 gold/turn and China won't concede it for peace. So I look around and see if there's any good building to rush. Yeah, a marketplace in Sidon. The city's my Palace, is size 8 already, and is surrounded by trade-generating Ivory, so this Marketplace will immediately produce 12-15 gold per turn.

Now, the war drags on. And on. For another five turns. Then ten, fifteen, and twenty. The Leader faucet suddenly dries up. I've had ten, twenty, thirty elite victories in capturing over a dozen Chinese cities. I'm still researching Invention at minimum science the whole time. Egypt completes Copernicus, removing one fallback wonder for the Tokyo palace build. My alliance with Egypt runs out. Now we're up to twenty-five turns of this war. I'm capturing Chinese cities all over the northwest. China will now concede Invention for peace, so all I need is one more Leader to rush Leo's and I can end this war, switch to Republic, and outbuild the AIs from here to Alpha Centauri.

Egypt and China, meanwhile, are absolutely tearing each other apart down on their border. I watch Memphis change hands two, three, four times. This is unbelievable - there's gotta be THOUSANDS of shields of AI armies burning each other up down there. All for a payment of only Horses + 220 gold to Egypt!

Unbelievably, I start running out of Chinese cities in the north to capture. So I do start pushing into their core. I capture their incense city with almost no resistance - one pike and one spear. The next city is just as easy to raze. They could spare that few units from their Egyptian war. But still no Leader!

I also decide that I will make no aggression towards Egypt the rest of this game. They made it possible for me to swallow the territories of TWO other civilizations. The least I can do is conquer them last, unless they declare war on me. :)

All I need is one more Leader to ensure that I can get both Leonardo's and JS Bach's. We're up to thirty turns and three dozen elite victories. I'm really starting to get nervous about someone else completing Leonardo's. But the palace build will reach 600 shields just as the minimum-science finishes, so can I even snag Leo's that way?

Nope. Babylon completes Leo's four turns before that plan would finish. Well... I'll still complete Invention at the minimum science - still the something-for-nothing principle. Then I'll make peace, revolt to Republic, cash rush some libraries, and blitz to Music Theory while the Palaceholder is still live.

I check out the F11 stats again: I'm second in every major category. I'm now convinced that Babylon is playing Super-AI on the other half of the world. They took an unbelievably long time to build Leonardo's; they're probably doing all their own research at first-civ prices. That bodes well for my chances at Bach's, since Babylon couldn't cascade to it, and everyone else probably doesn't have either the tech or the resources to build it.

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