Getting out of the stagnation actually wasn't complicated or difficult at all. Just build workers ASAP, then spam cottages. We had tons of rivers and two coastal cities to boost commerce as well, so it wasn't all that long before our GNP got back up to a reasonable level, running science at 50% or 60%.
The much bigger problem was the technology hole in which the years of stagnation had left us. Any Civ 3 veteran knows that you dig out of tech holes by reselling and brokering, which means that priority one is now to acquire a resellable tech by any means possible. In Civ 3, that would mean mortgaging your future income to the max and beyond to buy something on credit. In Civ 4, that means browsing the breadth of the tech tree to find an unpopular tech to research yourself for resale.
After Bronze Working for axemen to secure the borders, I went for Alphabet as the diplo screen showed only two of the civs had it so far, but the research took 10 turns and everybody else got it by the time I did. Next, I tried the same thing with Literature, but I only managed one trade of that, to England for Monotheism + 70 gold, but that's still a two-for-one.
Then I noticed that Hatshepsut was at +6 with me (+3 for wisely choosing my Civics!), so I asked very nicely for Mathematics (because it's a cheap tech and acres of forests awaited chopping) ... and she gave it to me!
That clinched it that I must keep Hatty as a sure friend. Buddhism became my state religion (only in 2 cities right now but I'd spread it right quick) with Organized Religion.
I kept research at 0% while accumulating cash, so that I could wait as long as possible before deciding on my next research attempt. By the time I'd racked up 300 gold, all 11 available techs were held by at least one civ, but Music was a monopoly in Hatty's hands. So I slammed to max research on that, scheduled in 5 turns at a -55/turn deficit. Rome almost screwed up that plan by demanding 60 gold, but I pulled some Civ 3 style micromanagement tricks to get it without losing a turn (ok, I hired two scientists), and got it before anyone else did!
I resold Music four times, to Mansa Musa, Qin, Julius, and Elizabeth, picking up Code of Laws, Iron Working, Calendar, Currency, Metal Casting, Horseback Riding as a throw-in, and 100g. And the following turn, Rome lets me get Construction for Code of Laws + 70 gold. So that's an EIGHT-FOR-ONE on that research. Who says Civ 3 style tech brokering is dead?!
Now after a few turns of 0% again, time to decide on my next research (options Drama, Feudalism, Theology, Civ Service, Philosophy, Compass, Machinery.) Complicating that fact is the Great Scientist (at 85% odds) due from my GP farm in two turns. Every tech on that list is held by several civs, except for Philosophy which is a monopoly in Saladin's hands. And checking the list of GSci tech preferences, Philosophy will be first among those. Perfect, since that tech is expensive enough to trade for Civil Service!
And five resales of Philosophy were available. I start selling, and after the third:
Nuts. NUTS. And again I say thee NUTS. THAT's what says Civ 3 style tech brokering is dead.
I'd read about this limit, but I didn't think it hit nearly this soon. Eighty-six techs on the tree, of which I've traded for about twelve in the medieval era, and this slams in already? Nuts. Also, this means I did my trades in the wrong order: Hatty is Friendly so there would be no WFYABTA limit with her, but I did her trade first. Thanks to that, I missed out on Machinery and Feudalism, though neither were immediately important. I now trailed by only those two techs, though, and did make sure to get the critical Civil Service, as the chain irrigation was desperately needed for a few cities (especially Cordoba the GP city.) And Bureaucracy was adopted.
To recap the city assignments: Seville, Madrid, Barcelona, and Santiago are all commerce cities. Toledo and Salamanca are shield builders, and Cordoba's the GP farm.
Presently, my second Great Person popped, and he was an Artist. Nuts, stupid National Epic. He could partially research Divine Right (bleagh). That left settling or culture bombing. Cordoba was in a cultural battle over its rightmost column of tiles and had built two religious cathedrals towards that effect. But with those bonuses (and Free Speech certainly coming soon), simply settling would rack up more culture than the bomb in only 100 turns or so, with a nice cash payoff in the meantime. I wasn't going to manage a flip on that city at all, just trying to hold on to those tiles, so the settlement seemed sufficient.
I now set research to a beeline for Paper - Education - Liberalism. Civ-wide research is up to 229 beakers at 100% or 134 at a sustainable 60%. Paper will take 3 turns total to research, getting me two more trades; we are officially un-stagnated in 1190 AD. Education is ordered up, but I don't get it first, and can't make any resales.
Do I have any kind of chance to research Liberalism first? It'll take 10 turns, but Mansa and Hatty have already had Education for at least two. If I make it, it'll be a big huge payoff, but if not, I just wasted a whole lot of research. I decide that to the bold goes the luck, and go for it. But that plan turned moot...
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