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Epic Seven: Mano y Mano

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And presently, Alexander says hello. How, as I haven't been moving that boat into unexplored territory lately, and I haven't seen any Greek boats? It looks like he's on the island immediately west of Memphis, and his borders expanded for mutual visibility.

I signed Open Borders, and gifted him some spare resource (fish, I think) when I could. I was interested to see if I could actually get him to Friendly status and therefore never have to worry about military, ever. Religious differences made that difficult in the short run, but I planned to establish a shared religion at the first glimpse of any opportunity.

Anyway, much nothing ensues as my cities grow up to size with granaries and libraries and we slowly research Code of Laws to found Confucianism. Next techs were Sailing and Mathematics, since we certainly need lighthouses (it's at least +2 food at Thebes with the fish and lake) and the Great Lighthouse looks pretty tasty too.

Incidentally, I'm noticing that whipping is very efficient to get the early buildings constructed. With a granary and +6 or so food surplus, the cities can grow every five turns or so, which the whip converts into 44 shields. Nine shields per turn via whipping is more than a city that size can pull off the land. I must ask, though, why is whipping so good on Epic speed? I thought the paradigm for the slower game speeds was supposed to be every unit of production stays the same, while every cost is multiplied. But whipping seems to be unique among forms of production in that it increases with the slower game speeds.

My fourth city came over on copper island. But while I dragged my feet on settling my own continent, Greece started moving in on my turf. Fortuitously enough, the cities Alex built corresponded precisely to my own dotmap.

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I was thinking about the Great Lighthouse, but Alex got it before I started it. I did go for and get the Hanging Gardens in my capital. We had stone, and needed the health since we weren't Expansive and my other two cultural cities were off fresh water. I also timed Literature to finish just as we got our Great Engineer from the Pyramids and HG, and we know what that means.

Where to put the rushed Great Library was a bit of a choice, though. The benefit of the Library is not only the science; it's a hefty 8 Great Person points as well including the specialists. Memphis would be my highest commerce city, slated for Oxford down the road. Or the GL could go in Thebes, committing that city to be my Great Person (National Epic) center, at the cost of diluting the Great Engineer gene pool that's in the city now, and missing the Oxford-GL synergy. I eventually decided it had to be the latter; more Great People overall is better than maintaining the purity of each pool. (Or is it?)

And, well, GOOD thing that I reached out for that copper, and started building axemen right away...

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This was sooner than I'd expected. I wonder if there was any possible way to avoid this? Outbuilding the AI's military by enough to establish the deterrent would be impossible on Immortal difficulty, at least without hopelessly strangling your own expansion and economy. But would it be possible to get him to Friendly diplomatic status? You'd absolutely have to run his favorite civic Hereditary Rule, and get a lucky roll on one of his religions spreading to your city very quickly so you could convert. It seems just barely on the outer edge of possibility, so I'd love to see if anyone managed that (although such a game, having the ability to ignore military forever, would certainly beat my victory date.)

Anyway, I was ready for that. Here's Greece's stack of bloody flaming doom:

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I've got four axemen in that city and just whipped a spear. Three of those units suicide against my city, and the last chariot pillages a tile but leaves itself exposed for my spear.

Several turns later, I've assembled this stack, which incurs four losses but does take Knossos.

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Yes, I obstinately continued researching Music during that war, since that's the big huge linchpin tech for culture. The Great Artist settled in Memphis, as Drama was hardly worth lightbulbing. That happened to come on the same turn as my second natural leader, who happened to be an Engineer at 40% odds (the Pyramids and HG competing against the Great Library and two scientists.) His best choice seemed to be some kind of wonder; available were Parthenon, Chichen, and Notre Dame. I figured Parthenon to actually be the best bet since Notre Dame would be pretty easy to actually build with Stone and knowing Greece can't have started it yet. It went in Heliopolis because the culture would be overkill in Thebes (this is something I learned from my practice cultural game in Adventure 10), and also in hopes of getting a fairly pure Great Artist from the city later in the game. A third Great Engineer helpfully popped in Thebes shortly later, and he went for Notre Dame anyway, also in Heliopolis.

Once Knossos expanded borders, I very belatedly got that Ivory hooked up, and immediately double-whipped three elephants on the same turn. They advanced on that northernmost city of Argos, and captured it losing one catapult and one jumbo. (I'd never taken the time to research Iron Working, so I was fighting with catapults, axemen, and now elephants.)

After some time, the climactic battle of this war finally arrived.

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I'd had my eyes on Corinth there on the island for quite some time. Greece is well ahead of me in pretty much every area (8 or so techs and 300 points of score), so I need to deal a significant blow here to turn things around in my favor. Adding Corinth to my empire while removing it from Greece's, plus the sugar and clams, would do that. The city had two longbows and a phalanx on defense. Three suicide catapults softened that up such that I only took one more loss (an elephant with 66% odds) in capturing the city.

The city just happened to come with all its important buildings intact: the lighthouse, forge and courthouse (!), saving me 7 gold on maintenance! Also, it allowed me access to Judaism, meaning eventually another set of cathedrals for my glorious cities.

I'd expected Corinth to turn into a solid economic producer for myself, but it didn't. This city would have terrible unhappiness and starvation problems, would actually suffer Greek revolts about four times, would see its clams constantly get pillaged, and would never even take control of the column of tiles directly west of the city center. Still, if I'd let Greece keep the land, it would've been a strong economic producer for them. It was worth the denial, though it wouldn't've been in a larger game. Razing and replacing with a new city farther east on the island, free of Greek citizen interference and away from Sparta's borders, would've been nice -- but that'd cost me the access to Judaism here which was paramount in the long run.

Strangely enough, Alex still wants me to pay *him* for peace by giving back Corinth, which isn't going to happen. Well, we'll just keep this war phony until he comes to his senses. During the phony war, I sent galleys exploring through Greek waters, and got the circumnavigation bonus. That original exploring work boat had gone and poked around the itty bitty islands southeast of the start; there wasn't an actual coastal path all the way around the world but there was enough to get circumnavigation without caravels.

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