Yeah, we're going to be playing from behind. This game feels like I'm not really going anywhere, just going through the motions. We are isolated enough that military loss is no concern, and now it seems pretty natural to aim for a drafted-Redcoat conquest of Saladin. But that's a long way off, especially on Epic speed.
Alphabet in 215 BC, here's the tech picture. Um, espionage economy really doesn't work so well when there's this little worth stealing! And the Colossus fell in 260 BC, long before I could even think about Metal Casting.
Another weird feeling came from looking at my EP totals. Economically, it's as if I already have a couple more techs banked, like Math and Construction (Saladin's current research.) I just don't actually have them until some spies catalyze the EP into techs.
Well, it's not quite no tech trading!
Here's the calendar change and my first steal. That is not quite my real tech rate, that's with a serious deficit. But I have been a good Financial little girl, and recovered quite healthily to 50% research. A big help was Sitting Bull coming to ask for Open Borders, enabling lots of juicy intercontinental trade routes.
But dammit, I NEED A PLAN. I really do need a religion for espionage economy. Best way to do that is bulb Philosophy for Taoism. And the only way to do that any time soon is to hire scientists in London. That will take long enough that I have time to sidetrack to Monarchy for the happy cap fix (we also have wines), plus also steal Calendar for more happy.
Saladin popped up again with a nice trade, Construction for Currency.
A Great Scientist was BIAFL, but Taoism did not disappear in the next couple turns. Presently, London's GP meter finished filling. It's going to be mostly a coin flip, 60% scientist vs 40% spy. Hit end turn... and Ernest Rutherford invents the Tao of Philosophy.
Whoa, what is HE up to? I cannot look to see if he has enough on his hands. I am building some swords at home - to go for the barb city and also thinking to poke any weak spots in Saladin's defense.
I missed getting a screenshot: I was trying to milk the barbarian city for a Heroic Epic unit. I knocked it down to one archer remaining, and my axeman at 8 XP... then Saladin conquered the city. And Saladin also got Feudalism. Okay, early Feud + no Heroic Epic means no war till later.
On second thought... I could declare war now just to enable the Heroic Epic. Do it. I should stay safe once we make peace - Saladin will still not attack at Pleased and we'll still have +7 shared faith with him. And this is silly, but declaring war on Saladin will AVOID him getting to Friendly, and save my conscience later when it comes to real war on him.
So I declared war! (And somehow forgot a screenshot again.) Saladin had just settled one weak border city, defended only by chariots (?), easily razed by my barbarian task force.
A remnant of my espionage economy - I still had two spies hanging around the Arabian border, who kept a tight lookout for any enemy advances. When the coast was clear, I slipped in with an extra settler to reclaim the area where Saladin's city had been razed.
Holy crap, the AI made a naval invasion against the same continent! Kudos to the AI! But... it's two catapults, how exactly are those going to conquer my city? Oh well, it tried. :)
I continued to milk the war just long enough to spawn a Great General (we are Imperialistic). I settled him in my future Heroic Epic city. Time to ask for peace... he won't take it?
He's preparing an offensive stack for Oxford... and actually razed it. I was researching Machinery, and had been counting on a couple maceman upgrades to save the city, but Saladin attacked sooner than I thought he would. With the defense of a fresh city at zero, the AI had no need to waste time bombarding. This was a blow to my ego, but hardly any dent on the game plan. Oxford was only stuffed full of archers on defense; Saladin blew way more hammers than I did on the exchange.
But there was an important loss: my Heroic Epic unit also perished in the fight. He got caught as the top defender remaining after the archers defended against the catapults, and lost a coin flip to an attacking longbow. Now I have to milk the war AGAIN, either a natural 10 XP unit or a Great General to attach will do. That did come to pass, but Saladin still wouldn't do peace. What a silly, petty, war.
This war just kept going on and on and on. Saladin brought another offensive stack against my city Newcastle, which devolved into a comical battle. It consisted of about five catapults and just one regular unit, which wasn't going to capture my city, but did continually redline all the defenders so I couldn't counterattack. (Usually it's an advantage that new units get produced when you click End Turn, so they can defend immediately. But here that hurt me since any new unit would get redlined by cats before it could counterattack.) By the time I brought over some horse archers to flank out those cats, Saladin had another stack of HAs and cats on the way.
Also in the confusion, one of Saladin's horse archers slipped past and reached Coventry. I whipped its horse archer as defense, but Saladin won the coin flip attack... then next turn promo-healed and also beat the archer on defense to capture the city from me. I recaptured it, but of course it suffered infrastructure and population damage.
Well, I had said that this war could only help me. The exchanges of lost hammers in units was strongly in my favor, even if I'd lost a little bit of ground. Saladin must be churning out nothing but units everywhere, while I'm fighting it off with one hand and developing just fine. Still, it cost me more than I'd bargained for in the infrastructure department, with the two front line cities whipped time and again and again.
Back home, I got a late Hanging Gardens in 600 AD down in York. I picked this city because it would make use of the aqueduct (not coastal or river), and because it has no other calling for Great People Points, meaning it should be able to give me an engineer in a millennium or two in case I want a hammer corporation.
But I'm really feeling the happy crunch. Our land is just terrible for happy resources. Three total, all weak with no doubler, spices and incense and wine.
Holy hello! And just as Forges are going up! Better to be lucky than good.
Anyway, the next moves on the tech board were to steal Compass and research Optics. Whip a pair of caravels and let's see who else exists in this world.
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