So there's what the world looked like, showing the layout of the land and my neighbors as we finished the land-grab phase. Notice the barbarian city to the south that had popped up to swipe the copper; that would become important shortly. As you can see, the Great Library is just completing. And the city of Niani is rolling on the Heroic Epic, possible thanks to barbarian kills.
That last became quite important when Justinian declared war! He took two cities. One got autorazed. Thanks to that timely Heroic Epic, I recaptured my city with elephants about ten turns later. And another while later, I had accumulated enough of an army to go on offense.
Notice no stack defenders, it's all siege and elephants, thanks to my lack of metal resources. That wasn't much of a problem, because the only attacking unit that can threaten elephants is spearmen, and in fact the catapults would defend against those. Presently I finally figured out to research Archery and add some Skirmishers. Heh.
My offensive against Byzantium then got cut short, when Japan attacked too.
Fortunately my Heroic Epic city was right on the Japan border, so it was able to produce skirmishers and elephants before Japan's invasion stack reached it, and my city held. Eventually my stack from Byzantium finished traveling back south to the Japan border, where I conquered two cities, then made peace under mounting war weariness.
This adventure marks my first game of Civilization 4 since I started playing Civ 5. But I felt right at home here since this game totally felt like a Civ 5 game! Tech was running way ahead of my ability to use it by building things. There was no connection between gold and technology, as in Civ 5. Most buildings didn't need to be built (markets, banks, courthouses.) And the AIs were crazy about declaring war but incompetent about it tactically. I actually even caught myself trying to build a monument to speed up my next government choice.
Tech kept rolling all through the above-mentioned wars, with a change of plans. Rather than trying to Liberalism to Democracy, I just researched up to Democracy the direct way. Education plus Liberalism cost more than Democracy itself, so you can actually get to Emancipation faster by skipping Education. The advantage of Education is that it is bulbable. But bulbing was not optimal here; when the science slider is locked at 100%, academies are worth quite a bit more than normal and the opportunity cost of bulbing is greater. I got up to about six academies very quickly with some time in Pacifism/Caste for Djenne there up above.
So I got Democracy on T147 740 AD, although Emancipation came two turns later because I'd badly timed the Representation revolt. But that was still pretty early, and should set me up well for a fast space finish.
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