Orenburg there had revolted to me once, quite some time ago, but was stubbornly clinging to Russia despite total cultural domination by my city including 76% in the city tile itself.
Damascus would double-whip its university next turn, which would be the seventh, allowing Mecca to start Oxford.
I was tempted to make my next research path Constitution -> Democracy, to get the Statue of Liberty sooner and more reliably. But I couldn't justify spending first-civ research on those techs. Tech devaluation is not what it was in Civ 3, but it's still a difference of up to 30% between first-civ and last. So rather, I finally started filling in along the Engineering path (and Iron Working, with which I'd never bothered with no need for swordsmen, but needed now to clear the jungle on the dyes at Harappan.)
Medina was now really done with all its cultural buildings, so it changed configuration to max Great Artist production. Leader Ten was Virgil in 1480 AD, who settled in Najran just like the first three.
Alex and Cathy were both quite happy to be on my side, thanks to our shared Taoism. Catherine had a -4 modifier for close borders, but a whopping +6 from religion and the usual assorted peaceful pluses to get her to Friendly. Alex only gave me +4 from religion, but only -1 from close borders, so he was pretty happy too. I kept sending Taoist missionaries to the large reachable cities of both civs, to ensure that they stayed on my side.
And here's some interesting news. I'd intentionally left Harappan religionless...
Oh ho! The religious honeypot attracted a Christian bee! OK, the city would finish that granary, then whip a Christian missionary right away to start spreading the Good Word.
And incidentally, here's a bizarre graphical anomaly:
Novgorod was so desperate for fresh water that they built an aqueduct spanning that whole bay, to get fresh water from that mountain waay over there. And on the way, they figured they'd build an auxiliary branch so they could swim down to the fish spawning grounds on the left. But that threatened to tip over the whole aqueduct, so they built a counterweight on the other side.
So my research continued, with Replaceable Parts and Rifling the near-term goals. Presently, I had the choice between Mercantilism vs Free Market, which was a tough call. Deciding on that required a revisit to the diplomacy table. I'd studiously avoided making any deals with the off-continent teams, for fear of triggering "worst enemy" resentment on the part of my teammates. Time to check who my buddies actually hate... Catherine hates most of the 3-man team but doesn't mind the 4-man. Alexander considered the 4-man team his worst enemy.
Well, that means I'm not going to sign Open Borders with either of them anytime soon. And Cathy is already in Mercantilism, so that means I'm only giving up trade routes with Greece if I go to Mercantilism myself. And Mercantilism means I can customize for each city's needs much better than a blanket commerce boost -- commerce that I hardly even need as I'm not planning to research much longer. So Mercantilism it is.
Another civic-related question is whether to go for Democracy at all. It's a _lot_ of research on two techs I'd not likely care about otherwise. Can I absorb the happiness hit from Emancipation, once I cut the slider to all culture? The Statue of Liberty pays back some of the investment, but it's small when going for cultural victory.
Well, I figured it like this: I had a Great Person due from Mecca in three turns at 77% Engineer odds (thanks to the ancient Pyramids and Hanging Gardens still accumulating points). If that did turn out to be an Engineer, I'd go for Democracy to spend him on the Statue. If not, I'd skip Democracy. (Puzzle pieces galore.) He was, and so I went for it. If you're counting, this makes three wonders rushed by the Great Engineer points from the Pyramids: the Great Library, Sistine Chapel, and Statue of Liberty. The Great Engineer production makes the Pyramids insanely powerful in the hands of a Philosophical leader. Four wonders for the price of one.
Next Leader was from Medina as an artist. Still close as to whether to save him for a Great Work or to settle, but the cash and Representation beakers from settling tipped the decision that way.
Here's a strange one:
So if he would never trade with me, why's he offering to trade with me? An artifact of the team system, I guess. Anyway, I declined.
And lo, that Russian blight finally sees the light of glorious Arabian culture.
Novgorod started to follow as well!
And now, after Democracy and Rifling finish, is it time to cease research? There's no more culture to be invented until all the way to Radio for the Eiffel Tower. The available techs are Mil Trad, Corporation, Astronomy, and Chemistry. The next military upgrades over riflemen are four techs away at either Assembly Line or Railroad. Cannons come at Steel, but we didn't have iron or any prospect of getting anyway.
Cutting over to full culture now puts my lagging city (Mecca) at 13000 + 400/turn. If it gets two culture bombs, the win's now in 72 turns. That's not distant, but it's not exactly soon either. Could any of the AIs, in 72 turns, research to and build enough military to damage me?
Well, I decided to at least pick up the fairly cheap Chemistry first, for the counter to riflemen... but then it was time to go hedonistic. Culture slider to 70%. And I'd been running Representation all game, of course, but now it was time for an unusual late-game civic swap to Hereditary Rule. Why in the world would I do that, when the culture slider just took care of all my happiness needs? Well, it's the favorite civic of both our teammates. All along, I'd planned to switch to Hereditary in a heartbeat if either asked, though they never did. Also, Catherine has switched to Free Religion, losing the faith bonus with me, so we need something to shore up relations. Really none of the Government civics have an impact on a cultural endgame, so we can spare this civic slot entirely for the diplomatic relations.
Did Sirian intentionally select two Hereditary Rule leaders to be our neighbors and teammates? If you don't go for the Pyramids, you'll naturally be in HR for a very long time, which here would greatly help the diplomatic situation. I bet that was 100% intentional.
Two other civic swaps also forthcame: Emancipation after the AIs had started going to it (after holding on to the Slavery whip while we could), and Pacifism again. The days of spamming missionaries and religious buildings were mostly over, and the few remaining cathedrals had the +100% resource bonus that'd dwarf the 25% from Org Rel. And the days of needing a few more Great Artists were upon us. All these civic swaps also lowered my upkeeps, which raised my culture slider from about 69% to 75%.
Nothing to do now but cruise.
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