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New Horizons

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If this game's going to be on Epic speed, we may as well make use of it all the way and go conquering. I'm actually in good shape to run a beeline through the military part of the medieval tech tree, Engineering to Guilds to Gunpowder to Chemistry to Military Science and Steel. My GNP is comfortably ahead of my rivals; I won't really miss universities. Grenadiers are the axemen of the renaissance age; they outclass everything else and lack any countermeasure vulnerability. Grenadiers beat older units (muskets and knights) on simple base strength; riflemen by the unit's ability; and even cuirassiers by virtue of getting combat promotions while the horses don't get defensive bonuses. Only Cavalry stop Grenadiers, and I should easily get rifles myself by the time anyone gets there.

So, uncharacteristically for me, I'm going to prioritize the land area score vector rather than GNP for 1500 AD. I think the timeline will work out that I can come pretty close to domination right around that date. And the GNP score vector doesn't seem all that interesting; maximizing that means building for culture to leverage the Free Speech and cathedral multipliers, and I've had enough of cultural games lately.

matara.jpg 500x484So in line with the domination plan, I've selected my Heroic Epic city as Matara. This city has my strongest base hammer production with three hills, two forests, and a cow; and also several food bonuses and farmable grassland to run workshops. I never realized this before, but the medieval-renaissance military beeline runs right through both Workshop boosts (Guilds and Chemistry), and a full-power workshop is as good as a grassland hill!

Matara's location on the west side fits well with my plan too. My first target is clearly Montezuma; although Matara is on the back lines from there, I have plenty of time to build up military from this city while preparing. After Monty, then Matara is right on the front lines for my next attack which will have to be India.

And finally with that plan, I settled my Great General in Matara, to get newly built units to 5 XP. I'll get another in short order once we start with Monty, for my Medic III and then the third will go for the Military Academy.

Man, this game is SO much more fun with a clear plan.

This also means a religious about-face. Instead of Buddhism-buddy with Asoka and Montezuma, I'd rather take Judaism to buddy up with my later and stronger rivals Peter and Louis. I did have a few cities with Judaism, so started spreading that too. Also, it's the Apostolic Palace religion, and I wouldn't mind more voting clout there and the building hammer bonus.

most-advanced.jpg 387x369A "Most Advanced Civilizations" report popped up, and this is actually some serious clues for me. My military targets, Monty and Asoka, are at the bottom of the barrel. And my soon-to-be religious buddies, Peter and Louis, are on top. I like this alignment.

I got out some caravels, planning to explore beyond Louis to make more contacts. There were none at home. Lincoln was a colony vassal of Louis on an island. Hannibal turned out to have a homeland on an iceberg continent of his own, and then the last Unknown Civ turned out to be Charlemagne on another isolated continent. This is a Custom Continents map? A pangaea plus two iceolationists? Well, if they're not going to be useful trading partners, they'll be useful conquest victims. :) And those caravels did land me the circumnavigation bonus.

Anyway, I've reached Gunpowder and now it's time for Montezuma's Revenge. My Heroic Epic city was cranking out Oromo Warriors, and a couple others had built Stables to make Knights. Monty was still at war with India and had several stacks in my territory. Declaring war kicked them out, and I then waited a turn or two for Monty to re-advance into my territory so I could counterattack on my terms. After several turns of killing a kabillion inferior Aztec units and getting my Medic III general, I made my move on the first Aztec city. My stack is three trebs, three Oromo Warriors, two knights, two macemen, two crossbows, one longbow, and one elephant.

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War weariness showed up of course, and I went to turn on the culture slider... only to realize I lacked Drama. Heh, okay, we'll start research on that. And hey, we get cheap theaters, and hey Peter will sell us Dyes. +3 happy for an effective 48 hammers.

And then:

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Talk about a fortuitous event! The "medium" reward, +1 happy for 30 turns, is actually better for me than the "big" reward of +1 relations with Jewish leaders. I'll take it!

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And I got another splendid event the very next turn! Free Judaism for three cities that I just conquered - and also free Judaism for Russia! That should keep him firmly in my religion, and he's far down my targets list.

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Here's a shot of Aztec territory presently, with a tactical micromanagement note on the healing. I put my Medic III knight where you see him, so that he could heal units on the circled square this turn. Next turn, he can move exactly six squares to end up adjacent to Xochicalco to heal damaged units there.

As I often do, once I broke through the front lines and gassed the civ, I had two offensive stacks going. The now-southern stack included the trebuchets and was patiently stripping defenses from strongly-cultured cities. The northern stack contained plain units (Oromos, Macemen, Knights) and was cleaning up 20% defense cities.

In 940 AD, I'd broken through to the Aztec capital (taking the Hanging Gardens that should've rightfully been mine) and cleaned up all the other cities. War weariness was now through the roof at over 1200 and 40% culture slider, so we struck peace, earning a concession of a nice size-9 city, Scythian. The most helpful part of that concession is that I save at least five turns of renewed war weariness in not having to march to capture it later.

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So here's a big huge overview shot. I'd heal and return in 10 turns to mop up the Aztecs, keeping Tlatelolco and razing the other two junk cities. That cleanup would be done with just knights and a few suicide trebs; I started walking all the foot units over to the west side of my empire to get started on Asoka. I had also popped Great General #3, who I held onto for a few turns until unlocking the Military Academy in my Heroic Epic city.

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