It actually took me a few seconds to find the save in the folder to start the game. It showed up way at the bottom of my saves list, meaning it was older than any game I'd played. in fact, Sirian generated this savegame (at 5 AM) on the same day as Epic 5 and presumably Epic 6 as well.
I couldn't see any compelling reason to move the settler, and building it on the spot turned out to keep the southern coastline precisely in range of the city. The hut popped a scout.
With that scout to explore, wheat in range, and Agriculture known, I decided that Worker First was the right thing to do here. As for research, it's a cultural game so I'm heading for religion, so it's gotta be Mysticism, then Meditation.
My scout explored northwards, and found a hut in the north worth 56 gold. And here's what the world looks like now that I've explored my whole continent. My warrior is fortified on the silver southeast of Thebes for fogbusting against barbs.
It's time to dotmap. Fortunately, this continent turned out to have enough space for at least five good city sites, so I can have the three cultural cities plus others to support my military and culture.
Blue dot looks like the only good way to salvage the southeastern area, getting the flood plain, pigs, and silver, despite wasting that one-tile-peninsula river forest. Also it can share the wheat with the capital, a tactic I used to great effect in Epic Five.
Red dot seems quite natural for bunches of resources and perfect spacing with the capital, then yellow dot follows as the only way to exploit the ivory. Then purple dot gets the rest of the resources up there, including the ability to improve both lake tiles with a lighthouse. OK, this dotmapping really wasn't terribly complicated; I fully expect several players to come up with the exact same scheme. The original Epic Seven had that too, with half the players even building the Forbidden Palace on the exact same tile.
So the next question is, which of the locations to run for my other two cultural cities? Red dot is a no-brainer, but blue, yellow, and purple are all very close in strength. I decide it'll be blue, since that location will get up and running sooner than a northern choice, with more food bonuses (including the flood plain.)
In retrospect, I think the best choice might have been to consolidate the two northern cities into one very powerful location one tile southwest of where I had my purple dot (where the bear is in that picture), to serve as the third cultural city. Blue dot turned out to be very awkward to manage over time; the site had decent hammer potential but almost no ability to support cottages. It would've made a great noncultural military producer, but was underpowered for long-term culture generation from the slider.
My scout killed four animals but then lost to a bear, which means Thebes had to train a warrior posthaste after the worker.
I got both Buddhism and Hinduism, but didn't go to any state religion just yet since the benefits were nil at this point and the multiple-holy status of Thebes would rack up extra culture. Next, I wanted to complete the Hydra, but a more pressing initial priority was Fishing with fish resources at both Thebes and red dot. Then I went for Bronze Working, in case copper would alter my dotmap, and in hopes that I could rely on axemen for barbarian defense and not worry about any of the other early military techs. But Thebes did shortly grow to size 5 so I had to pick a state religion to raise the happy cap.
Here's a pic of the city. You can see the effects of that Holy City culture adding up already.
Bronze Working reveals NO COPPER ON OUR ENTIRE ISLAND. Thank you, Sirian. Well, looks like we'll plod along with warriors for a while as pretty much everything seems to be higher priority than Hunting and Archery.
Anyway, here's Memphis.
And now it's time to work out a bit more of a game plan. Do we want to go for either Stonehenge or the Pyramids? I think Stonehenge has to be a negatory; it's probably too late by now, and we're Creative so the effect isn't that great. But the Pyramids... the happiness from Representation would be tres nice for the cultural cities, and it basically produces a second or even third wonder too via the Great Engineers.
While I researched Masonry, though, Judaism was FIDL, dividing the Hydra. Ouch, as that means my rival has had Masonry for some time, but I'm pushing ahead with the Pyramids plan anyway. The next research is Animal Husbandry since we need some kind of military (and we have pigs to tame) and there's no way Sirian would've left us without copper AND horses. Right? Sigh.
Anyway, Thebes would double-whip that next settler and then start on the Pyramids. Heliopolis was founded on the blue dot. After Thebes leveled off back at size 5, Heliopolis grabbed the wheat tile instead.
Both Stonehenge and the Oracle would soon be built in a faraway land, but that should mean my path to the Pyramids is clear.
While the Pyramids went up, each of my two new cities put out a worker for itself. Memphis would become my primary commerce city, since it's suited for that quite a bit better than Thebes is. Thebes has loads of hammer production so would be a wonder factory. I next researched Pottery-Writing-Code of Laws.
Not doing too badly, we are. I quite like how Civ 4's game mechanics for a culture victory shift much more of the production to the later game, thanks to the culture slider. The only serious change you need to make from a normal early expansion plan is to focus on founding religions (which you may well be doing anyway.) A cultural win in Civ 3 required some serious distortions in the early going, with your cultural city scrambling to build every ancient wonder it possibly could, ideally putting out the bare minimum of no military and one settler (or even none if you got one from a hut.)
And I built an extra Work Boat just to go exploring, which found some seriously important copper on the next island over.
The Pyramids completed this turn, and I immediately went to Representation.
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