That leaves me with a one-on-one fight against Greece (hey, it's Epic Seven already.) And this is going to be a tough slog -- Horse Archers are useless against Phalanxes, and I haven't got a prayer in hell of teching up to siege weapons. (Yes, that's -19/turn economy at 100% cash.) Military production went back to all City Raider Axemen all the time, with an occasional spear thrown in. I chopped every forest that was remotely in range of my eastern cities to keep speeding axemen, and even whipped a couple. A couple bits of good news -- Alex builds both the Pyramids and Great Lighthouse (that's 500-something shields that didn't go to military), and founds Confucianism (that's beakers that weren't going towards a military tech. I *dread* longbowmen...)
My cities had all been in just about exactly the same configurations the entire game, ever since starting my first war against India. I'd never found any happiness to grow past size 4, and didn't see any coming anytime in the near or distant future unless somehow my religion managed to spread back to the west (it never did.) I did frequently tweak them to run food shortage to pump out a unit, or occasionally whip one. And I built three cottages at my capital to keep my economy in some semblance of solvency. Every other city only ever worked forests and hills to mass-produce military.
So presently, the war against Greece began. There's a Greek city in the fog just below Bangalore, which was my first target; the stack you see in that screenshot was coming up from the south and was aided by more axes from the north too. By 500 AD, I'd razed that city and the next one, while he pleased himself with building a wonder -- and a useless one on this map at that. (OK, a few aspects of the AI haven't improved since Civ 3.)
This war was a race against the economic clock -- both against my own bankruptcy and against Greece's eventual acquisition of catapults and longbows. I had *no* clue where he was on the tech tree, and now it's total financial crash time for me. I'd accumulated about 15 slave workers, which very intensively built roads through all that jungle (as in Civ 3, roads are the lifeblood of moving an army efficiently -- see my old Epic 22 report), but cost me a mint. Now that all the forests were chopped, I disbanded every worker to try and reduce unit costs, but still couldn't get that below 15 per turn, while city upkeep and income were both stuck at 30. Two axemen disappeared to auto-disbanding, but then my stack reached and razed the next Greek city, and the cash from that kept me solvent. And while the damaged units healed, the healthy horse archers pillaged all the cottages and hamlets in the vicinity for another five or so turns worth of gold.
During this war, Greece also did me a favor by trying to sneak three separate settler-horse archer pairs into cleared territory. Those horse archers would've given me significant trouble with 6 strength on city defense, but out in the open they were sitting ducks for spearmen.
And barbarians actually gave me a little trouble back home. They built another city (I don't have to take that to get the conquest victory, right?) and sent some axemen at me, and even one horse archer which killed an axeman, but none managed to deal any damage more significant than pillaging the quarry on my stone tile.
Here's my stack at Sparta; there's but three archers and one phalanx on defense.
I take only two losses, both rookie axemen, and plunder a nice sizable 150 gold. Still, though, my current offensive has only one shot against his capital. If it fails, any fresh load of axemen will go bankrupt and desert me long before they march this far.
I waited a good dozen turns after Sparta to make *damn* sure I'd accumulated enough units to conquer Athens, but even that nearly cost me bigtime. Disaster _almost_ struck when Alexander managed to build one catapult in Athens just as my stack got there. He suicided it, dealing 6x collateral damage. I couldn't bear the suspense of clicking my units into the attack at Athens one at a time, so I turned on Stack Attack and let the computer figure it out...
and my army carried the day with four units to spare. The final city had no phalanx and was a formality.
The military stats tell an interesting story. Of particular note is the number of axemen I killed: 3, and two of those were actually barbs in the endgame! The AI just *never* counterattacked my invading stack except with that last catapult.
Score (look at England's quick meltdown!):
GNP (look at Aztecs being in negative territory for the last 2/3 of the game!):
Well, that was quite a ride. The game was actually a lot more tense and exciting for me than this report probably conveys. It was my first ever warring game of Civ 4, so I was really guessing on what to expect at several junctures. My biggest adjustment from Civ 3 was learning to expect heavy losses when taking a city; the days are gone of having your cavalry stomp on burnt-out defenders without a scratch. And I had *absolutely* no idea how fast the AIs were getting up the tech tree. Every time I approached a new city, I dreaded finding a new shiny elephant or longbowman in there that could throw my game plan to a crashing halt.
Am I missing something on the tech tree, or is there really no early counter for axemen at all besides other axemen? And if a civ doesn't get metal against an axeman aggressor, as happened to India and England...
And I knew I was sabotaging my economy, but I didn't expect it to tank quite *that* much, to the tune of GNP *negative* to the same magnitude that my raw income was positive. On the other hand, I had no idea how much gold you could pick up by razing and pillaging, and in fact that's the only thing that let the strategy work.
OK, there was really a long list of things that made that whole game work. All the pillaging, all the forest chops (at least 600 shields worth total, and that's without ever getting Mathematics), all the free City Raider promotions, the copper grab early enough that India and England never had any, the subsequent horses grab, managing to research *just* enough military techs before the economy tanked entirely, and finally the luck on the last AI never researching longbows; he'd had both Monarchy and Writing forever, and founded Confucianism before I even started that last war.
Well, it all worked out in the end. One shower of flowers and affection, please. :)
Finally, one last funny story. During this game, I'd learned that a Medic promotion healed units more than other types of promotions. I'd observed that whenever a deeply damaged unit needed to heal, giving him Medic healed lots of damage right away. But when a unit got scratched killing a barb, taking City Raider II only healed like 0.2 damage on him. Then sometime after finishing the game I happened to read on Civfanatics about how promotion-healing really works.