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Golden Age!

The Golden Age came a tad earlier than I would've liked; I was hoping to use it to get Cathedrals and a good head start on Sistine Chapel. But I've still got four Ancient techs to go: Construction, Currency, Polytheism, and Horseback Riding. All four came in at 4 turns each with a cash surplus of 1000 by the time the last completed.

The Forbidden Palace also completes one city north of Persepolis. There just isn't any better place to put it, and having it this early is still quite good.

The Zulu also got their Golden Age when they completed the Great Wall coupled with their Colossus. Fortunately, the AI doesn't know how to prebuild wonders. Despite starting the Golden Age four techs away from the Middle Ages, I still managed to apply most of the GA production towards Sistine anyway. Persepolis had a Courthouse available to use as a placeholder until Monotheism came in as the free tech in the nick of time, then a Cathedral to hold until Feudalism came in four turns later (as the GA ended) also in the nick of time, then Sun Tzu's to hold until Theology came in ALSO in the nick of time (one turn before the Zulu completed Sun Tzu's.) Percy got the Sistine Chapel, before it even had a cathedral, in 720 AD.

I was also taking care to keep every city defended with two spears, upgrading one to pike when that became available. The AIs almost never attack (especially breaking a deal to do so) if there isn't a juicy weak spot to hit, and I exposed none. Shaka researched Chivalry, making me slightly nervous, but I got the Iron connected via harbor, and felt safe with Immortals to fend off Knight invasions if necessary.

I reached out from my home continent with only three cities: two on single-city-size islands somewhat nearby, and a third to a shared island with an available Iron (there was none on my home continent.) For the first time ever, I saw an AI not attempt to settle all the available space. A good half of the world went unclaimed for the entire game! Of course, any more cities would have been useless 1 gold/1 shields; apparently patch 1.29f makes the AIs less rabid with the settlers. Interesting.

This game could be so much more interesting if the AIs could choose their research a bit more intelligently. Shaka beelined to Chemistry and then switched to the education branch. Sigh...

I also decided to divest myself of anything that could be demanded, and so traded my two lux for Shaka's three, which we renewed a few times. He demanded something like 30 gold a couple times, which I gave.

With me following two to three techs behind after picking up Music Theory, the Zulu went directly to Industrial without getting any optional techs besides Chivalry, and got there in 1030 AD. That's the same turn I got Theory of Gravity, and Persepolis swaps over from Bach to Newton to claim it this turn. Same culture and it's cheaper, and the AIs take forever to backtrack to optional techs like Music Theory once they hit the Industrial Age. And the science will also help. Percy starts over on Bach's. Shaka had gotten Sun Tzu's, Leonardo's, and Copernicus.

And then Shaka demands Music Theory. Ugggggggh... I cannot let him get Bach's - Zimbabwe could probably beat me to it. I figure he is bluffing, since I've got quite a decent defense (two pikes and an immortal in most cities) and he hasn't got any Saltpeter (neither do I.) Plus he's still Gracious. I refuse, and wow - he's still Gracious.

You can see all my cities and all the significant Zulu cities in this shot. There's one Persian city hiding under the minimap. Samaria has the iron. All the rest of that land would go unsettled the entire game, and there was even a goody hut and some barbarians left when it ended!

I make the Industrial Age, and Nationalism comes in for free - so that's that; he'll never be able to conquer me. Whew.

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