Presently I finished wiping out Mehmed on the island. Hey, I never knew this: Once a civ is eliminated, its culture does not count towards the drafting restriction that the city must be at least 10% yours. So all the former Ottoman cities instantly became eligible for drafting. I did so.
I had known Steel was coming by way of research visibility, and had my Heroic Epic city building City Raider 3 trebuchets in preparation for upgrading.
Time to blast out the runaway tech leader. RNG antics aside (that's consecutive cannon losses at 95.7% and 94.3%, or a combined chance of 1/407), those cannons beat down the Inca as they always do.
But then -
I thought they patched that out? Pacal vassalized to Mao, which immediately put Mao at war with me. What the heck, game? Yes, the trigger was the vassaling - Mao did not visit to speak the "Now you die" confrontation, and didn't have a sneak attack stack at the ready.
But by now, I had more than enough army to finish conquering the Maya, so turned all my newly production units towards defending against China instead. Also I popped the 1-man Golden Age now. A Spiritual leader doesn't need to time it with civic swaps. If there's ever a time I simply need a tile boost, this is it.
An overview. I'm paying over 100 unit costs now, and own an empire mostly weak in economy (my conquered lands are oddly chock-full of workshops but with almost no cottages), but thanks to State Property, still breaking even at 60% cash leaving 40% for espionage. I temporarily fell behind by a few techs (Medicine, Combustion), saving up to grab Assembly Line as soon as Sury got it.
And here's the power graph, showing that I finally took the lead. Can you spot where I adopted Nationhood and learned Rifling?
The plan from here is clear. Domination victory. Suryavarman is still Friendly thanks to religion (he founded Islam and switched to it a couple times but I spy-bonked him right back into Hinduism), so I'm avoiding him. Rather, I will vassalize Mao, Pericles, and Saladin in turn until I'm over the top. I continued building nothing but units out of almost every city, also aggressively drafting Infantry now, plus whipping some units (mostly siege) with the Kremlin still helping there. I ignored Emancipation anger, going a couple clicks on the culture slider when necessary, but more often spy-bonking civs out of Emancipation to avoid that.
My next Great Person came from Thebes's mixed pool at low 7% odds as a Great Merchant, which was perfect. I sent him to an island Greek city to cash for 3000 gold, timed perfectly with the Assembly Line steal for a massive upgrade of rifles to infantry. I also stole Railroad (several turns late after an annoying string of failures at 78%, 78%, and 97%) to consolidate all my units from the Maya front over at China.
That happened just as China brought an attack stack up to the border city, and that's the final turning point. It's over now.
I used Sury's friendly culture for mobility to reach and conquer three Chinese border cities. And as my stack begins the fatal march on Beijing...
Mao cries uncle.
Taking the vassal unsettled Suryavarman, so I changed back to Organized Religion to keep him at friendly.
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