By the way, a curious feature of Sulla's savegames - both the warrior and settler seem to be fortified, requiring an actively issued wake-up command to move on the first turn. I also noticed this in the Sid's Sushi game, where the executive started fortified.
Anyway, moving the scout one square didn't reveal any reason not to settle in place, so we did. This site isn't so bad: three food resources and a river. I count nine surplus food, which is more than enough to support cottages on every one of the six plains tiles and the two grasslands.
And despite Sulla's exhortation not to lose the game before it starts, I think worker first before military is the right move, as I almost always do. Research goes to Agriculture, naturally.
The first hut to the south popped a map, revealing lots of deer and two more huts, which in turn popped gold and another map. Moscow's first border expansion revealed that we start in the corner of the map, which is certainly not unwelcome, meaning fewer directions to defend.
I decided to go for Archery as my second tech. With raging barbarians, we need stronger units to go scouting, not weak warriors that will lose to barbarian archers. A position reinforced when my scout was eaten by a bear as soon as turn 12!
And a barb archer appeared in my territory - on my river wheat - as soon as turn 29, just as I trained my first archer. This was an extremely tense moment - I had to send my archer against the barb at a 50% coin flip - but fortunately my guy won! (Moscow did have a warrior, so the barb archer wouldn't have taken the city, but losing that fight and the pillage would've meant many turns stuck in the city training another archer.)
My heroic archer and a second one set out as scouts, and soon contacted Lincoln and Justinian. OK, they're not too aggressive, not bad to have as neighbors. Lincoln is Industrious though, so look out for competition on the wonders.
Now, with Raging Barbs and the Industrious trait, building the Great Wall seems like a no-brainer. After Bronze Working, Moscow had hit its happy cap at size 5. I wanted to start on a settler before the wonder, but another barb archer appeared, and I had to revolt to Slavery and whip a third archer. The overflow went onto the settler, plus I chopped a forest, and the settler came out at the same time as Masonry came in.
So the whipped archer set out with the settler - leaving Moscow defended only by a warrior while building the Great Wall, but I had confidence in whipping another archer for emergency defense if necessary. So here's the overview shot:
And, with that first worker madly chopping forests at Moscow...
So no more danger from the barbarians, just need to escort settlers outside the boundaries. St Petersburg claimed the copper and would build a few axemen to train themselves cleaning up barb archers.
Civilization is funny.
Now the next step required some thinking. I eventually decided on a run at the Oracle. 24 turns to research to Priesthood, plus 8 to build the wonder, puts me at 700 BC. And if I miss it, at least I'm on the doorstep of Monarchy. So during the religious branch research, Moscow went barracks - worker (my third counting the one in progress at St Pete) - settler (triple-whipped from size 6 to 3) - archer (completed in one turn with the overflow from the whip to escort that settler) - warriors for police (while regrowing to size 5.)
City three came in 1240 BC, south of Moscow. This is actually a deceptively very strong city site. With five food resources, this city will have more than enough food to support working 8 cottages on each available tile.
And, with some massive forest chops at Moscow (and a notice of some loony building the Great Lighthouse on this map)...
I took Monarchy with it, which had been the plan all along. See, the greatest problem on this map is actually not city size or commerce. It's the happy cap. We're stuck at only 4 here on Immortal difficulty, and there's nearly no happy resources in range anywhere, just some Gems out at about third-ring distance. But Monarchy lets us rapidly zoom the happy cap as far as we need anywhere. Also, this map brings the property that our cities will be at wildly varying sizes depending on food availability, and Hereditary Rule fits perfectly with that to customize for each city's happiness needs.
I got my first Great Person as a Great Spy shortly thereafter. At this point, my research was seriously stalling out with rapid expansion and police unit costs. I pretty desperately needed any economic boost I could get, so settled the Great Spy at the capital for the beakers. This would have ramifications in a bit.
So I kept expanding, and city five would give me a funny look:
I'm not quite sure how they can want to join the Greek Empire when we don't even know they exist yet?
But I did finally get a Woodsman III axe through the middle to make contact with Pericles and Huayna Capac. Incidentally, Woodsman III is a GREAT promotion, especially on this map. +50% attack into forests gives a Woodsman III axe the advantage over any contemporary unit, until macemen. And the double movement makes him a refrigerator-sized scout.
After filling in Pottery and Writing, I needed another research target. That settled Great Spy had paid off well in information, getting me research visibility much sooner than usual. Both Lincoln and Justinian were researching Alphabet. So I could go for Code of Laws, for several reasons: trade it for Alphabet, found Confucianism, and get courthouses started.
So during this phase of rapid expansion, I seriously crashed my economy. In addition to the usual city maintenance costs dragging research down to about 40%, I was also paying up to 15 gold in costs for police units. Briefly I even ended up in the negative at 0% research. But the way out of it was the same as always: build cottages on every eligible tile, and just wait. For cities that had no more food to grow, and no commerce tiles available to work, I built libraries and hired scientists to continue some push on research. And Great Person #2 came very helpfully as a Scientist at Moscow, who went for the academy.
I did get CoL to found Confucianism, and a crash to the desktop - thank
God Confucius for the autosave. :) This paid off in spades. The package of Code of Laws and Monarchy proved great trade bait, netting me Alphabet, Iron Working, Poly, Mathematics, Monotheism, and Sailing, and many (20) turns later Currency from Huayna and even later Horseback Riding from Khan.
I also got some axemen down to capture a barb city on a lake, and decided to keep it. I didn't realize it for quite some time, but this is actually a very strong city site. It can build the Moai Statues and lighthouse, making the three lake squares into very strong 3-1-2 plots, which can support working cottages on the four plains and two freshwater tundra plots.
I also pushed through to contact the Mongols, then finally England. And now with Organized Religion available, it was time to pick a state religion. Despite having founded Confucianism, I had to go with Buddhism. Both Justinian and Lincoln, my neighbors, were Buddhist, which pretty much made that diplomatic decision automatic. Pericles had founded Judaism, but fortunately we've got a nice lovely thick wall of mountains between us.
So here's an overview shot at the end of the land grab. (I know 740 AD is late for this. Apologies for not giving more detail on my city placements and expansions, but I wanted to play this game with alacrity, not with documentative detail.)
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