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Epic Twenty-four: Pax Americana

This is the story of my game of Civilization IV Epic Twenty-four from Realms Beyond Civilization.

The genesis of this idea came during my Artist replay of The Greatest Person. I had a load of fun playing out that landgrab to 20 cities, and that invoked memories of the Huge Map game back in Civ 3. So, thought I, why not play that in Civ 4?

I went over Sirian's original writeup and adjusted the rules for Civ 4. I pitched the idea to Sullla, and he helped me with several details. Sullla rightly pointed out that corporate management would take over the late game if left unchecked. We both thought there was a game option to turn them off (as with espionage and vassal states), but there isn't. After some thought, I came up with the scoring system to restrain overuse of corporations parallel to the penalty for excess militarism, and we both agreed that sounded good.

The civilization should be America for the theme as with Civ 3, and of the three leaders, Franklin Roosevelt was a natural fit. Organized is a no-brainer for a huge map builder game. Industrious lets the player go nuts with wonders, many of which shift dramatically in power on a huge map. And FDR was arguably the grandfather of the real-life Pax Americana.

Now, I wanted to play this game as a full competitor, not as a shadow sponsor. Sirian did this frequently in the early days of Civ 3, although we haven't seen the practice lately. This requires me to roll a random map, but instead of inspecting it in Worldbuilder and spoiling myself, I have to just start playing it to check for viability. Make sure the start is not isolated, or boxed in by Montezuma, or surrounded by ice, and so on. However, I started by playing with several of the map scripts, rolling maps and looking at them in Worldbuilder. Hemispheres seemed to most consistently generate a good playable scenario. There would be two landmasses as with the original Civ 3 epic. There may be a few islands to be interesting, but not too many to overwhelm the player with naval management or spawn overly many Sushi resources.

I rolled several Hemispheres map starts. I had playtested with barbarians off, but after a couple brief playtests I decided they had to go back on. Without them, I could expand to double the AIs' city count by 1 AD while they wasted effort on escort units. Also, I'd been working with an opponent count of seven, but felt that one more neighbor was needed to create some diversity in Blood Enemy/Brother and in invasion choices later on.

One playtest got rejected because of the neighbor situation: adjacent to Buddhist Isabella and some aggressive civ. Everyone would buddy up with the Buddhist and pick the same Blood Enemy. I also playtested and rejected a second map when stone, marble, ice wasteland, and the Zulu all turned up too close to the player start. (I don't mind stone and marble being accessible a little ways out, but at first-ring from the capital it's too easy to gobble up points for ancient wonders.)

rb-epic24-2.jpg - 38kb

Then I liked this start. I'm aware the capital has a mediocre food start, but it's exactly what I wanted:

1) To raise the effective difficulty a smidge above basic Monarch, where most experienced players can trounce the AIs.

2) To spread the game out beyond the OCC-plus paradigm common in the early-middle game. With a weaker capital, managing ALL the cities will be required for effective expansion. Get out there and explore!

3) Continuing with the decentralization motif, it fits the game theme. Many world countries are nearly synonymous with their capital - France with Paris, Britain with London, Italy with Rome, Japan with Tokyo. Not so for America, where the capital isn't even nearly the largest city, and at least Washington, New York, and Los Angeles are equally prominent on the world stage.

4) This site has a few hills to produce early wonders and pump settlers, but by the middle ages it has too many plains to really be hot. But it presents some interesting long-term tradeoffs. With restraint in chopping forest, this could make for a very strong National Park or lumbermilled Iron Works location -- but then you won't be chopping Stonehenge!

5) I also expect there's hidden resources within the city radius - quite likely metal on that bare hill there.

The Report