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Epic Twenty-two: Tree Huggers

Since we're required to revolt to Environmentalism on the first turn, we have a free turn to move the settler without any time loss. I did so, but then moved him back to the starting square after the scout revealed that that would get four food resources, the most of any available site.

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And in the Alpha Centauri theme from earlier, I'm really going to take my civilization down that path and play as the Gaians. So here's our headquarters, Gaia's Landing.

health.jpg - 12kbRemember hospital-recommended.jpg - 13kbwhat I said about growth and health? Health doesn't even have to wait for the preserves. And yeah, we've got THAT much of it.

So what the heck are YOU smoking, build suggestor? crazyeyes.gif - 1kb

As usual, Terraformer Worker First seems correct. For the tech department, we have Hunting and plenty of deer awaiting camps, so no need for any worker techs immediately. Actually, I think the right move is to beeline Pottery for our cheap granaries and huge growth headroom, starting with The Wheel.

3450 BC brought a surprising note: Catherine, not Hatshepshut, founded and converted to Buddhism. We'll see how that develops.

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After three deer camps, I started my first Forest Preserve. 12 turns is a hefty demand on worker labor in the early game...

Now my Pottery beeline seemed a bit of a mistake. I reached the tech in 3025 BC with Gaia's Landing at size 4, but that was exactly when I wanted to start building settlers instead since the city was out of good tiles to work. I should have gone straight for Bronze Working instead to start a whip clock, and make up for the anger with forest preserves, then let the granary drive growth once some preserves were actually done. Well, that was a minor fracture in a solid game plan.

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Amusingly, my two scouts "circumnavigated" the world in 2900 BC.

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Here's city two, claiming five deer. This seemed the strongest site anywhere nearby with the five food resources and lots of river tiles.

copper.jpg - 38kbWe have two coppers, but neither is particularly easy to claim. The northern one is nearly impossible to connect. That super early mind worm barbarian city popped up there, rendering it impossible to connect the copper by water by settling on green dot (c'mon, in this scenario, every dot is green dot). I could settle on greener dot to connect the copper overland to my capital's river, but that's a super awkward squeeze of a location with no other redeeming features.

So it has to be the southern copper, at green dot to connect it by water. It does snag two deer for a pretty decent location overall. (OK, thinking about this again in retrospect, that location is bleedin' obvious. I expect almost everyone to settle on that same spot.) And I next researched Sailing to enable the water trade route.

I would get only two more naturally founded cities, for a total of five. They would claim a banana location in the jungle, and claim nothing new but establish the border with Egypt.

Well, the limiting factor in city growth here clearly turned out to be worker labor. In normal games, one worker per city is usually just about right. Six turns on Epic speed is usually about the clock for both city growth and tile improvement. And as the core cities hit the happy cap, their workers can fan out to improve newer cities and run the roads inbetween.

But this game skews both sides of that. With the acres of deer all around, plus the cheap early granaries, the growth interval was about four turns. And the tile improvement clock for forest preserves ran about 14 ticks, including walking time to access each new forest tile. That means three or more workers per city to keep up.

So my cities built loads and loads of workers. Maintaining 21 non-combat units was definitely a recipe to crash the economy with unit costs. I limped to Writing slowly, sometimes as low as 5 beakers per turn. Each city's first few population contributed no commerce by way of prioritizing food and hammer resource tiles. But once the cities started working the lucrative forest preserves (as good as an instant hamlet), that would recover nicely. Once Writing arrived, we built our cheap creative libraries right away of course, getting out of the gutter for good.

BTW, this is my first game in a while with random events on, and I have to say they're annoying. By the calendar change, three slave sites had revolted, five terrain improvements had exploded, and two rivals randomly slapped "-1" diplomatic stickers on me. I think I like games better without them; the positive event rewards always seem weak sauce, and the negative hits get seriously bothersome.

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OK, they're not all bad, but Sturgeon's Law does apply.

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I next went for Iron Working for swords to clear out the barb cities, but a funny thing happened. The capital just didn't have anything else to build - it needed to grow rather than stall on workers - so it cranked out axemen for a bit that did the job. I replaced the city on green dot, to reach the most resources, and maintain road connectivity through the hill and deer plots.

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There was also a second barbarian city nestled in the woods, and I got there first with a pack of swordsmen. I'd intended to raze it and replace with a city that could reach all five deer, but unfortunately a French city popped up (just under the map) blocking that (it's exactly 2 tiles diagonally from where I'd settle on green dot.) Anyway, it does have a full 20 workable tiles including four food resources and two hills, not bad. And this attack also got me the vital 10 XP axeman to qualify for the Heroic Epic.

Yeah, the Heroic Epic. It's most certainly my favorite wonder in the game; it's no accident that it serves as a name for this here site here. But not at all because it's a militaristic wonder - rather because it's the best peacetime wonder. I've written this before but it bears repeating: the Heroic Epic promises to double one city's military production, but if that is the only city producing military, it doubles your entire civ's military production. One Heroic Epic city spending most of its time on units is practically always enough to defend against barbarians and maintain a roster of up-to-date garrison units.

I even consider it a minor design flaw that the barbarian XP limit coincides with eligibility for the wonder. Because of this, several hundred or more hammers of unit production become dependent on whether the dice rolls go correctly to get a 10 XP unit before the barbarians disappear. Miss your chance against barbs and you need a real hot war in order to qualify. Either the threshold should be reliably reachable against barbarians, or push it out of barb range so only a true war can beget a Hero.

Anyway, I digress. Here's a nice overview of Treeville, complete with proper Gaian city appellations.

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