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Adventure Forty: The Illuminati

This is the story of my game of Civilization IV Adventure Forty from Realms Beyond Civilization.

So where can I go with this?

Let's start by thinking about the civ choice. The Industrious trait is obvious, to help us build the Great Wall for a spy economy or the Pyramids for specialists. But Imperialistic doesn't do anything, and I don't see why we would be Rome. If it were a pangaea-type map, Praetorian conquest would make sense, but Custom Continents pushes military victory out of Praet range.

But maybe I do understand the choice. The natural second trait would be Philosophical to turbocharge either spy or specialist economy, but of course that doesn't come with Industrious. However, there's that often-neglected Roman UB, the Forum, +25% Great People production. That's a weak faux-Philosophical, and comes as close as you can to combining that with Ind. I get it now. In fact, I'll bet that the Ind-Forum combo is the real point of this game, and that Rome's legendary legions will be neutered by unavailability of Iron.

So where do I go? The scenario essentially rules out a cottage economy for research, or any of its derivatives like a trade route economy or monk economy (both of which still rely on turning commerce into beakers.) So we need to think of an alternative economy. I like those sugars at the start - clearly intended to kickstart Standard Ethanol - but that only helps in the very late game.

I've long wanted to play a game with a dedicated espionage economy... but this isn't it. EE wants to be on high difficulty, where the AIs research fast and the multiplicative discounts for stealing become seriously important. Monarch AIs will leave me bored with piles of extra espionage points waiting for them to research steal-fodder.

I'm not too hot on a specialist economy either. Oh it's easily enough winnable - just replay Farmer's Gambit. Add some help from EE later, and space or industrial conquest should come without trouble. But I just did a late cross-continent military win in the Dan Quayle game, and this game lacks the extra time of Epic speed for conquering. Space victory on pure EE has also been done and is quite tedious.

That leaves... No Economy. Also known as a culture victory.

It sounds strange, but all the pieces really fit together. The science slider is verboten, and the espionage slider subpar, which leaves the culture slider as the perfect place to put commerce. Industrious is a fine trait for culture. The Forum and Parthenon just about add up to Philosophical. That capital site should serve as a glorious Great Person Artist farm. And I have in the past taken Rome to an uncharacteristic cultural win.

Lately, my culture victories have been suffering from some serious one-more-tech-itis. National Parks, corporations, Democracy, and even levees have all distracted me from the tri-legendary goal. I want to get back to basics with a true speedy culture win. As we know, all you really need is Music, Liberalism and its prerequisites, and that's about it. Music should be beelineable by pretty close to 1 AD on Monarch, and then it takes a total of five Great Scientists to bulb Philo, Paper, Education (2), and Liberalism. Use those and Liberalism's bounty to trade to parity (at least Gunpowder and Nationalism), then sit on culture. Monarch AIs can't get to rifles fast enough to overcome drafted muskets on my end.

The Report