Next research was Machinery. It's not usually a builder tech, but it sure is here. Watermills and windmills both activate both sides of the Golden Age hammer/commerce boosts.
Oh, also, Moai Statues is a MONSTER. TWO hammers from every water tile. It'd take a while to construct, but I put it in Rouen, the city that's almost useless without it. Tours has as much ocean and could get it done considerably sooner, but is already a viable enough builder with hammers from its couple hills.
Buddhism finally spread to me. With no need for diplomacy, I got to choose a religion based entirely on its Apostolic Palace status. Although I didn't need the happiness, temples (and monasteries) would be worth building for +2 hammers and +2 Sankore science. Both would be essentially free, paying for themselves in hammers before expiring.
Except that India beat me to Sankore! It was entirely my own fault - I punted it by squeezing in a regular university at Paris first. That's going to hurt for space, losing out on a couple thousand beakers in all.
So now my master plan is to beeline to Sid's Sushi, with a one-tech diversion to Democracy. Democracy's research cost will be more than paid back by the Statue of Liberty: 1875 beakers (2250 / 1.20 prereq discount) compared to 13 cities x 6 beakers x 50 turns = 3900. And I really want some Emancipation; in a high-speed game, growing cottages faster has more impact.
Great Merchant #2 spawned after Paper, and I considered a Printing Press lightbulb but that would only be worth 750 beakers. He could cash bigtime on a trade mission for 1150 instead, and remembering the beaker-gold skew, that's worth more than 1150 beakers.
GP #3 was a useless Artist at tiny odds from Paris. He could lightbulb Drama then Music, and later Radio if I got those two, but I intended to probably skip those two permanently. So the only useful thing he could do was settle for a few pennies. #4 Engineer settled. #5 Scientist for Academy (I need a few more of those, please...) #6 also a crappy Artist, settled again. #7 Scientist, nice Academy (although now I need a Merchant for Sushi.)
Oxford University queued up in Paris, expecting the pair of synergies of Nat Park specialists/Rep beakers/Oxford and Nat Park specialists/Nat Epic GPP. (Anyone see the problem here?)
Now that's a speed builder game. 1-turn research clock for nine out of the ten techs on that list.
Another note on the tech tree involves Astronomy. Astronomy always ends up neglected and delayed when I play builder. Everything else just seems more important. It seems like Observatories should be a high priority for a researcher, but they just aren't as exciting as Liberalism or Democracy or corporations. And even banks are a better builder payoff for the hammers. And with the Colossus, Astronomy is even net negative for the time window between discovery and actually building the observatories.
Unless I need it for trade routes or actual invasion, Astronomy pretty much always gets neglected until picking it up in trade. The AIs prioritize it but trade it freely. (Similar techs are Iron Working, Feudalism, and Guilds. All have military applications to attract the AIs, but no wonders or spaceship parts or special trading restrictions like Corporation.)
But here, since I can't trade for Astro, and I do want it before Sci Meth for the prereq discount, I'll take it now. At high science slider, banks aren't great and observatories are a higher priority. And now that I'm in Representation, the Salon artist will make up for the Colossus loss.
Actually, I think I made the wrong choice on Marble over Stone. I've actually done quite a bit more with Stone: the Sankore bid, Moai, Oxford, against only the National Epic for Marble.
Beyond that, though, it's surprising how few wonders I've achieved here. My only two are the Great Lighthouse and Colossus. I wanted Oracle, HG, and Sankore, but lost the races. Beyond that, a surprising number are completely useless in this scenario: Sistine, Chichen, Great Wall, Statue of Zeus, Mausoleum, Taj Mahal. The AIs were also strong enough to beat me to Notre Dame, Angkor Wat, and Great Library before I even considered them.
And speaking of AI strength, I also lost the Economics race by several turns. India got Education, but I wasn't paying attention to how he'd also gotten up to Banking. I was four techs ahead on the top of the tree (Democracy over no Philosophy), but four behind on the bottom (now Economics over no Feudalism.) In fact, India is keeping right up with me in GNP as seen in that graph.
It was at this point that I was satisfied with my playtest and shipped the game off to Griselda to post. Now there were no rules problems, so my chief remaining concern was game balance against the performance of the AIs. If Asoka was going to beat me to all those wonders, and to Economics, that's good enough for me. In the Civ 3 version of the game, I had to seriously cramp the player's land area to allow the AIs to keep up. But Civ 4 AIs are good enough that a moderate handicap of Emperor difficulty is all they need.
Wow, when you don't need any units or defense, cities run out of things to build pretty quick. After all the economic multipliers, I started building Jails and Security Bureaus. Although beaker and cash production was already maximized, there was still more economic production to squeeze in the form of Espionage Points. Jails/Bureaus produce free EPs; a Bureau is like having two free spy specialists.
EP can directly convert to beakers via stealing, and also pick up a minor indirect effect. The baseline EPs from the palace and courthouses won't add up to any economic value on their own, but can pay off towards a technology steal when added to active espionage production.
This investment paid off on T114, with a steal of Banking from Ramesses. There's a turn gained towards the ultimate finish date. That one steal marked the espionage buildings as worthwhile; they had now already produced more beakers than if the building hammers had instead been Research beakers.
I slinged Liberalism to Medicine, and actually went to Environmentalism - didn't have any other economic civic yet and did have a fair number of windmills and forest preserves.
Aesthetics T76 (only as prerequisite)
Literature T77 to get the National Epic up in Paris.
Printing Press T86 (now running 100% science after trade mission)
Meditation T87 (hee)
Priesthood T88 (hee hee)
Philosophy T89 (now sandbagging on Liberalism)
Democracy T95 (yes 2 turns to research it, although that needed -165 cash deficit and two cities on Research.)
Sci Meth T105
Biology T107, 900 beakers/turn at 1000 AD.
Liberalism T108 (slinging Medicine).
Feudalism T110 (now backfilling to Corporation.)
Physics T113 (diverging from Corporation for a moment, because...)
Banking T114 (Stolen from Ramesses!)
Rep Parts T122
Steam Power T123
Assembly Line T128
Industrialism T131 (yeah I've slowed down to 3 turns per tech for a while. That's thanks to Sushi corp payments. The time will improve as the cities grow into their sushi and hire scientists.)
GP #8 was my third terrible odds Artist and again settled. I had to flip to Caste System for one GP to get a Merchant for Sushi. With Caste, I also grabbed Mercantilism for a spell, since everybody else was in it cutting off trade routes anyway!
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