Well, here's an overview of the map first, and let's take a couple turns to move settlers into good positions. Also, despite the warning in the game info page, I'm pretty sure you cannot pop barbarians from a hut if you don't have a city. I spread out the exploring units to grab as many huts as possible (promoting the GG warrior to Woodsman II on the way to being a Woody III healer) first. And here is Thebes in the best spot available, with three food, gold, coast, river.
Oh. There's the reason we can't just whack down the Kremlin. The Engineer isn't powerful enough - he can only do 520 hammers, and we're not going to spend 280 early game actual hammers on finishing the wonder. Thebes has to be size 15 for the Engineer to completely finish it, at 500 + 20*pop hammers.
Well, that still leaves a power play available. Whack down the Pyramids instead, using that to produce another GE for the Kremlin, and Representation happy cap to grow Thebes in the meantime.
My other city, Memphis, came over here at the next best location. I toyed with the idea of settling 3 tiles away from Mehmed and trying to flip his city with a Great Artist bomb, but decided against it. That strategy worked back on Monarch difficulty, but is a lot more chancy on Deity with the free garrisons. Instead I just settled the artist right there in Memphis; the culture will grab control of a large area and the cash starts to accumulate right away.
So my tech path was Agriculture - Animal Husbandry (both cities need both techs), Mining - Masonry (Pyramids). Both cities started warriors first because a worker was not needed right away. One effect of having weird starting techs is having no normal starting worker techs. I calculated that the fast worker would improve both corns before AH came in, so no need for another worker yet.
Then my explorer popped Fishing from a hut, obviously changing Thebes's build to a work boat. Masonry research came in, and here we are with our free Pyramids. (Maybe they were built by aliens!)
I took Representation for the happy cap, of course. Bronze Working next after the aforementioned techs, with Thebes set up to whip a settler right away. Here's an overview after a bit more expansion. I was also realizing that I goofed with Memphis being off the coast. Could have been first to that island with lots of good land, but not if we can't build boats there.
This is a weird feeling. I'm on top of the scoreboard, but that won't last as the AI cost discounts inevitably catch up. Exactly the inverse of a normal game on high difficulty.
I am Industrious and own Marble. I should be building wonders! So I sprinted to Priesthood, with three forest pre-chops lined up (20 x 250% x 3 = Oracle)...
Anyway, in the picture above, you also see that barbarian city occupying some very desirable land. I haven't managed to grab much land, so capturing that would help a lot. Strangely, it spawned with only warrior defenders, not archers. (did the sponsor inadvertently or intentionally leave Archery off the Deity AI civs?) But I don't have any units of my own to take out barb warriors. Archers aren't really good enough, and my bid for copper failed badly against that Creative civ over there. The only thing I could do was send warriors of my own and hope for a stroke of luck.
That Greek swordsman had been lopping off barbarian warriors. Now there was just one left in the city. I have 3 warriors of my own, all with terrible odds at 1%, but can they do it?
First one lost, but managed to win two rounds. Second warrior has 22% odds now. I feel good.
AND HE GOT IT! Now I feel a ton better about my chances.
That also makes me feel better! Although it tells me that something in my knowledge of the tile culture system is badly wrong. Memphis is making 13 culture/turn, and Ankara is in its outermost ring, so Memphis applies no ring-bonus tile culture there. But Ankara itself should have been adding 20 tile culture per turn to its own city center tile. This clearly did not happen - Ankara's tile is 99% Egyptian (mine). I do not understand what happened here.
The same thing was happening slower in Sparta south of Memphis. Sparta is also in fourth-ring, but it has expanded once under Creative culture, so it is only 20% mine. But my ownership is still going up, which it should not be able to do at 13 tile culture per turn versus 20.
The top of that picture also reveals my next plan. I have previously wanted to play a game with an espionage economy. This is it. Normally, the EP economy does not really take off in the early game. You really need two Great Spies, one to settle and one for Scotland Yard, which takes forever even with the Great Wall without Philosophical. And you need a religion for the biggest cost discounts. On Deity you usually can't get either the Wall or religion, never mind both. Without those advantages, the EP slider doesn't come out to a better deal than straight research with libraries. EE works just great later, but doesn't get started for real until the EP multipliers from Nationhood civic and Jails.
But this game is tailor-made for espionage. Intelligence Agencies are the second most efficient economic multiplier per hammer in the game, after only Jails. And also add 12 EP of their own, as much economy as four scientists. That's some very favorable economic math even without the religion discounts. The base EP makes Scotland Yard worthwhile by itself, better than a double academy. So Memphis ran spies to pop a Great Spy as GP #2, for the Yard in my to-be-Bureaucratic capital.
And there's the first steal. (I'm using my actual beaker research for cheap devalued techs, like Iron Working and Sailing.) Thebes was well prepared to whip the aqueduct, and with chops a-blazing, scored the Hanging Gardens.
Continued to steal Currency and Aesthetics. Pacal started to run away in tech - he got Literature and Music before I could. He was too far away to get a spy to steal Lit, so I just researched it myself. Memphis with four Spy specialists, producing a whopping 5 beakers 6 EP each after multipliers.
There's the Great Library race. Both cities have it due in 6 turns. And you can see my city specialization roles. Memphis is by far the strongest location for a Heroic Epic with three food and five hills. Thebes is my commerce leader. Anasazi is going GL and National Epic. The rest of the cities don't have much role besides to hold the borders with culture, and put out EP and spies.
The religion map is also an issue. I'm caught in the middle of three: Pacal/Mehmed on the east are both Buddhist, Pericles/Mao on the south are both Jewish, Saladin/Suryavarman on the west are both Hindu. I've stayed neutral, although have adopted Organized Atheism for civic brownie points with Sury.
I have 0% research parked on Monarchy; the beakers have to go somewhere, and Monarchy is a fine tech that 1) I need in the long run but 2) there's no rush to steal and 3) everybody has it for max devaluation.
But then Pacal stole the Great Library right out from under me! Look at that! He timed two forest chops perfectly to complete the wonder!
And Pacal started taking the hell off in tech. He blasted through Civil Service, Machinery, Engineering in about five turns each. I could keep up with EP easily enough, but couldn't get spies over there fast enough to steal all the techs!
The first war presently started - Mao against Sury. Fine with me. But then the second war started.
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