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Epic Twenty-seven

So this is showing the general strategic flow of what's going on.

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Both eastern fronts are totally stalemated right now. Between Nara and Samarqand, I have a stack of units sitting on a forest hill. Nowhere near enough to beat Kublai's longbows in the hill city, but they are counterattacking and wiping clean any force that Kublai sends in. Similar action is happening at Mauryan on the border with Egypt. Hatty sends some War Chariots on a pretty regular basis, but my city has easily been able to whip elephants to kill them. But I can't advance either without something to kill longbows.

So I am doing all my city cracking over in China at the moment while Mao still lacks Feudalism. The logistics have been made easy for me, since for some reason, all three western AIs focused each and every attack of theirs at Beijing.

Kyoto did the Heroic Epic, then I sheepishly realized that the right place was Osaka which has considerably more hammers. Oh well, Kyoto also has the settled GGs and it's good enough.

And I'm still broke. You can see lots of cities having to build economic buildings now, courts and markets. The shot shows two turns to bankruptcy, but that would not happen, I'm also two turns away from conquering Shanghai for more cash.

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So I cracked Shanghai. The RNG has been treating me well all game. At Shanghai, I didn't even bring catapults (had kept spending them counterattacking stacks) and still won with zero losses. I won at odds of 67, 67, 82, 48 (sword vs axe), 95, 95, 99, 99. The cumulative chance of winning all of those comes to 15%, within probable range but still favorable. And more generally, I feel like I'm winning almost every counterattack battle that's in the 80% range.

Shanghai's cash (including pillaging) provided five more turns of solvency, which was enough time to complete (whip) most of the markets and courts in the above screenshot.

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And it's slowly dawning on me that economy would indeed be a good path here. Upgrades convert gold:hammers at 3:1, which is typically not so great a ratio. But those hammers are FOCUSED. Those hammers appear instantly right when and where you need them (no 12 turn walk from the core to the front), and with great leverage in the form of highly promoted units. Some of those guys would look great as macemen and later rifles, yes?

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With China eviscerated (not dead), the next closest target was a Byzantine city. Justinian still lacked Feudalism, so the troops were raring to go... but then an unexpected obstacle showed up in the form of crossbowmen. They will shut down swordsmen pretty well... except not outside of a city where the elephants roam. Ten points for procurement strategy, Justin, but minus fifty for tactical execution.

My CR3 Cover swords actually had odds on the two longbows in that city, and I won with only one casualty. But after that, I figured I couldn't seriously break into Justinian's core without macemen. Also this city-busting stack was continually trying to get reinforced by catapults, but they kept not making it there, getting tied up in skirmishing with Spain north of Beijing. I kept attacking with just one or zero cats per city, sustaining minimal losses thanks to good RNG luck, but that couldn't continue without maces.

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Ok, Justin is light on defense because he's trying to attack me. This would be a recurring theme; it's what Aggressive AI is supposed to do. Aggressive AI builds units to USE on attacking instead of parked on defense sucking up maintenance. But you, sir, have exactly no idea at all how to beat elephants. Every single unit in that stack loses horribly to jumbos. He DOES have metal, I can see iron at one of his cities. Minus those ten points again for procurement strategy.

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To my surprise, on the Mongol front, Kublai Khan broke my fortified position! Did it the same way a human would too, suicide three catapults to get favorable odds. The hammer exchange still went in my favor, but not by much.

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And so much for that RNG luck. Yes, that is losing CONSECUTIVE fights at 99.0% and 98.5%. One in 6667 chance of that. At least the fight was low leverage, just a routine cleanup of a few incoming units and the losses were no big deal.

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Another tactical trick, since I always enjoy pointing these out. There's one of my Great General medics (I'm up to three on different fronts.) He is a melee unit with the first two Woodsman promotions in hopes of becoming the Medic 3/Woodsman 3 super-healer. But there's another use for Woodsman 2. (Besides the one time it made him survive a fight, defending in a forest against a chariot I hadn't seen.) He can sneak into that forest, to check out what might be in that hidden city, and back out if he doesn't like what he sees.

What he saw turned out to be a walled city with three longbows. Okay, I'm not nailing that on the cheap with that ragtag force there. So I brought catapults up to bombard while waiting for the real city buster stack to rendezvous from farther west.
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On the Egypt front, I figured out to send a trireme over to go bother Thebes.

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Kublai and I had a bit of a back and forth between those two forest hills. Until this happened. Note that not a single one of those units gets a defense bonus on the 75% tile. My stack of elephants wiped that out.

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Then two turns later Kublai did that AGAIN on the same tile. Yes, I really see why multiplayers don't have much interest in fighting AIs. I'm logging this to demonstrate how to get good hammer exchanges in wartime. We all know that the key to war is getting good hammer exchanges; I'm trying to demonstrate HOW it happens.

Another unusual item: I have to keep building workers. With the scattered fronts all over the place, and barbarians, I kept getting workers killed while they were trying to road or replace pillages or such.

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Anyway, next I nailed another Spanish city. But this one hurt. I got impatient and pounced too quickly, with only a little wall-bombarding and just one suicide catapult. In the carnage, I lost four or five of my good city raiding swords and two elephants.

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On the eastern front, I played smarter and used a full four catapults to take this city with only one true loss. (Academy? ACADEMY? This is the exact opposite of a commerce city!) Kublai is showing Engineering on the scoreboard and I'd really like to make some progress here before he gets castles.

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And on the Egypt front in the southeast, Hatshepsut has no idea what she's doing. About ten times now, she's brought a stack of mounted and cats up to Mauryan, bombarded it, then walked away.

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