And here we are.
So the starting square (a plains hill for the extra city square shield) seems a fine choice, with two food bonuses now, two wines coming later, several hills for shields, and some lake tiles which would actually be important. This also reveals Marble just outside the fat cross, which means this could be a fine time to try an Oracle slingshot. However, that requires quite a few techs to set up: Masonry (for the quarry), Mysticism, Mediation/Polytheism, and Priesthood. And we also want some worker techs, and oh yeah, some military techs would be nice too.
Well, I decide to push for an early religion first of all, since we'll definitely want the culture in the long run. There's only one Spiritual civ in this game (although it is indeed Spain-who-turned-out-to-be-on-a-Lake), so I've actually got a shot at some religions. I go for Mysticism-Polytheism first, as I expect Spain would beat us to Buddhism, and they do. My capital assigns all its laborers besides the corn to lake tiles. OK, Rome-on-a-Puddle isn't quite Spain-on-a-Lake, but it's good enough when there's no other competitors.
Incidentally, what's the logic behind lakes offering so much commerce? I know it's what makes lake tiles useful in the game mechanics, and also that it's kind of a holdover from Civ 1 which made no distinction between ocean water and inland water. But when you think about it, just how does a lake really facilitate twice as much commercial activity as a river? Before we even know how to build *boats*? And in 3500 BC, just whom are we trading with anyway?
I get Hinduism, and realize that the +5 culture from being a Holy City will actually be very important to expand the city border for that Marble in time for the Oracle. (We can't start the quarry until the border expands.) Ignore the barracks in that screenshot; I just clicked on anything when the build order popup came and I'd change it later.
Anyway, after Polytheism, my next researches were Agriculture (corn), Masonry (quarry), then Priesthood (Oracle). Then I realized I needed The Wheel to actually connect the marble resource. I'd cede Judaism to Spain while I set up the Oracle slingshot, as I planned to clean up on the later religions; the Oracle slingshot path includes Confucianism and provides a lock on Taoism.
Initially, I built three warriors to explore which was probably one too many, then a worker. Worker first was clearly wrong here since I skipped the worker techs at first. But even with the techs, I just can't bring myself to ever do a worker first, when the city could produce the worker twice as fast by first growing to size 2.
Thanks to sending one warrior along the southern edge of the map, I got four huts for maps, 45 gold, 73 gold, and an extra warrior.
After the worker, my build order was obelisk (while growing to the happy cap at size 5), settler, Oracle. All this time, though, Rome was working all the lake tiles for the commerce, because the Oracle - Civil Service slingshot is limited by research. Actually building the Oracle itself is pretty trivial with Marble available.
Now 'twas time to pick my second city location. Definitely NOT the site the game is suggesting at that circle NE of the capital. :
There's many reasonable sites nearby, but none spectacular. One southeastern site, marked by blue dot, looked pretty good, with all quality terrain, a food resource, the river, and a few hills. But it should wait to be the third city settled, as it's on the back lines.
For the second city, I wanted the resource-rich area up north, but there was quite the series of tradeoffs. White dot #1 gets the cow and makes good spacing with the capital, but has five junk peak tiles. #2 trades the junk tiles for sugar, but misses the wheat. #3 gets loads of resources and still some hills, but makes for absolutely terrible spacing with the capital. Finally I decided that a cultural victory city had no business building anywhere but at the best site possible, and went for dot #3.
The worker from Rome followed my settler pair, connecting roads as it went. Rome didn't need any more improved tiles immediately, and could easily put out a second worker for itself after the Oracle (in Bureaucracy!) but the new city would take quite some time if it had to do its own worker. Antium's first build was an obelisk, as we didn't yet have the tech for a granary, it needed the border pop ASAP, and a library would be too expensive.
And here's Rome's city config during Oracle construction, with Code of Laws research timed to complete along with the Oracle itself:
And voila, there's a perfectly executed Civil Service Slingshot, on my first attempt at it. You can also see that Antium is the Confucian holy city -- the camera zoomed in on that as Code of Laws research just finished this turn. With the holy city culture to move the border, Antium shelved its obelisk in favor of a temple instead.
And wow, that meant I entered the Classical and Medieval eras on the *same turn*. (Yes, I know now that that's standard procedure for the slingshot.) I also converted to Confucianism and would keep it the whole game, picking it over Hinduism just because the free missionary would get it started sooner.
Now, a Great Prophet will come from the Oracle sometime soon, so let's plan now for what we might be able to lightbulb with him. Philosophy would be ideal, since that's on the path to Liberalism which we want ASAP. To lightbulb Philosophy from my current position requires getting Meditation, Monotheism, Theology, Divine Right, and never mind that's not going to work. OK, scratch that idea, especially since I've got plenty of religious shrines to occupy the Prophets anyway.
The most important immediate research now I think is Animal Husbandry since both my cities have resources that need pastures. After that, I started getting really nervous about the cardboard military I was pushing, so went to Archery. Rome built a settler to build my third city on the blue dot, then went for the Parthenon, as that's a big cheap cultural prize and we've still got marble to speed it.
Bronze Working came next so that a forest chop could speed the Parthenon, then Alphabet and Literature, so Rome could start on the Great Library. I estimated that three or four early wonders (hooray marble and Bureaucracy) would have Rome set for culture for life, so the medieval wonders and artists could go entirely to the other two cities. (Occasionally Rome would later revert to old habits behind my back, and I'd turn around and find it had built a Taj Mahal when I wasn't looking.)
Alphabet comes in, and there's some to do at the trading table but not much. Bismarck only has useless Sailing and refuses to trade Iron Working. Isabella has decided I'm her worst enemy. Victoria will offer Monotheism and Iron Working, but the only trade bait I've got is Alphabet as I'm not ready to give up Code of Laws. Alphabet isn't quite worth both of her techs, so I put two turns of self-research into Iron Working so I can get the two-for-one, then start Literature myself.
My first Great Person came as an Artist, at about 20% odds from the just-built Parthenon versus 80% Prophet odds from the Oracle. Literature was way too cheap a tech to lightbulb and Drama would be next on the list. And it's way too early to culture bomb. So Homer settles in Cumae. Why there? Well, to put culture somewhere other than runaway Rome, and also to get Cumae its first border pop which hasn't happened yet (it's religionless and hasn't built an obelisk.)
City number four came in 125 BC, at a location that I'd picked out when Iron Working revealed that resource there. Spain had already moved in on that turf, but war with them was inevitable due to religious differences, so I knew I'd be fighting sooner or later. And Rome always needs iron to fight. And since this city wasn't a cultural city, it would groom to become a military factory which we sorely needed. These four cities would be my core for the first fifteen centuries AD.
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