And so Yakutsk began the sequence of spreading Christianity to all my cities.
Beshbalik had run out of useful items to build (the first two Christian missionaries failed), so it filled in some military for a little while. Presently, though, it would have a massive item to build: the Iron Works. I'd had a little shuffling around of the national wonder plans. Beshbalik, as the economic city, had Oxford and was supposed to get Wall Street, but a funny thing happened: I forgot about the Hermitage. It had to go in Ning-hsia which was by far my weakest cultural city. Karakorum had the early wonders and Beshbalik had the settled Great Artists. Ning-hsia also had the Heroic Epic, which meant there wasn't room for the Iron Works there. (Karakorum was full-up with National Epic + Globe Theater as the Great Artist farm; the Theatre wasn't necessary for happiness at size 15 but it was to employ the artists.) The Iron Works wasn't going to go into one of the fishing villages, so that left Beshbalik getting it.
And that squeezed out Wall Street; seven national wonders (NE, Globe, HE, Oxford, IW, Wall Street, Hermitage) just can't fit into three cities. One had to get bumped out, and in fact I'd never bother with Wall Street at all. Also, this left West Point without a home, and I never bothered with that either.
On the research front, I was just about keeping pace with the AIs. I'd kept playing follow-the-leader research up through Steel, but now I struck out on my own in order to beeline through Sci Meth - Physics - Electricity - Radio, since the Eiffel Tower is quite necessary for this cultural win.
The AIs went to Democracy, but I decided I could ignore Emancipation. With the Statue of Liberty off the table (no copper), the tech offered me nothing. Emancipation inflicted a happiness penalty of 6 or so on each city; the culture slider (not a bad thing in a cultural victory game) had to go to 10% for a short while until Broadway and Eiffel Tower completed. Yes, that's one pretty severe advantage of playing for the cultural victory condition: the huge amount of religious buildings pretty much takes care of all your happiness needs.
I also moved the Palace to Beshbalik at a moment when the city had nothing else to build. This would help on two fronts: it would make the Palace's +8 commerce subject to the boost from Oxford, and would trim a few pennies off maintenance costs. So it was 240 hammers for about 20 economy/turn, which did indeed seem worthwhile, a better ratio than you get from a typical Observatory or similar.
Around now, Japan made the third naval invasion of the game, with a laughable stack of two catapults and a grenadiers. Two of my grenadiers (one with Pinch) took care of that.
But also presently, Cyrus finally threatens me with a real stack:
OK, just a bunch of cavalry; easy for riflemen to handle, right? Well, I haven't got Rifling.
So I positioned my frigates here for a turn.
This blocked the path of Cyrus' galleons such that they could not land troops adjacent to Turfan this turn...
and the AI spent an extra turn sailing around the blockade instead. That single extra turn was all I needed. By the time the stack landed, I'd scrambled five grenadiers into the city (one was already there, two arrived from southern cities, one was whipped, and one was upgraded from a spearman), three of them CG2. I also had those two catapults ready to suicide against the stack, and whipped a cannon in Karakorum.
So the AI, being the AI...
SPREAD OUT ITS UNITS TO PILLAGE instead of attacking my city. Including the particularly boneheaded cavalry on the far left. It moved onto a DESERT tile, OUT OF MY CITY RADIUS, to do nothing but pillage ROAD.
And with all the units having been damaged by the pair of catapults (before they spread out), the grenadiers (promoting them to Formation and Pinch as available and appropriate), took out all but that one bonehead cavalry on the next turn. And that, kids, is how you repel a naval invasion on smoke and mirrors.
Anyway, here's a look at my economic powerhouse city right now:
I'm playing an economy almost equivalent to an OCC game here. This city has eight super-specialists, which in Representation are providing almost as many beakers as the base commerce; and the super-specialists and shrine are supporting almost all of the cash needs of my nation. Just like an OCC. And if you were to add in a Bureaucracy bonus of 36 commerce + 225% = 115, and replace those artists with scientists, and bump the science slider to 100%, you'd have a beaker total pushing 600, which is just about what you get late in OCC games.
By the way, I'm becoming more and more convinced that in the late game, it's not productive to grow cities past the health cap. On the right is an image of this city a few turns later. It has been reduced in size by one (by a whip), and the farm has been replaced with a watermill. Consider the total output of the two tiles I've marked in light purple, and assume that the forest up top is the "last" tile worked by the 15th laborer in the city. In the "before" image, the total production of these two tiles is 0 net food (+5 - 4 consumed - 1 for health for the forest laborer), 2 hammers, and 1 commerce. In the "after" image, the production of the watermill tile alone is 0F net, 2H, 3C -- for a strict net gain in total productivity despite the fact that the city is smaller and we're not even working the forest tile!
OK, this is an extreme case, because a watermill post-Electricity is a far superior tile improvement than a farm pre-Biology. But still, I'm leaning towards thinking that farms are suboptimal nearly any time you're over the health cap. Instead of paying extra food to support extra citizens, replace the farm with a more naturally productive plot improvement.
After my Radio beeline, I returned to follow-the-leader research on Steam Power, Corporation, Railroad. I noticed one important detail: Machine Guns don't require Rifling! I can focus on economic techs and skip Rifling until enemy Marines appear. Combustion came next, as I'd need to keep pace in naval technology with destroyers.
So my three cultural cities built Broadway, Rock N Roll, and Eiffel Tower at the same time. They let me turn the culture slider back down to 0 (even without Emancipation still.)
Game naval invasion #5 came presently from Qin to the tune of one infantry, three cavs, and a buttload of catapults. I've got machine guns on city defense, but for anti-pillage counterattacks still nothing better than grenadiers and cannons. But that stack was still easily dispatched, with the rail net allowing instant reinforcement of the city, at the cost of only two suicide cannons (plus one that retreated.)
Also at this time, with all my cities essentially done constructing buildings (my research pace was consistently slower than my building pace for the occasional item like a factory), I flipped out of Org Rel into Pacifism. With that, I also aggressively disbanded all my obsolete units, including all the remaining knights and chariots. No more conquering for me. I toyed with the idea of grabbing that one offshore Indian city just to get access to Hinduism (as I'd done with Yakutsk and Christianity), but didn't bother. That city wasn't a useless desert island; it was strong enough that it seemed like attacking a core city which wasn't what I was trying to prove here.
By the way, could somebody please explain this to me?
St Pete and Ning-hsia are exactly equidistant from the circled tile. Both are in the 7500 culture category, so that their influence extends to the circled tile. Ning-hsia is clearly far ahead on culture, and reached that tile first -- but it's under Russian control. I know there's some rule that a city can't influence tiles on or adjacent to another landmass, which explains why Ning-hsia doesn't get control of that square. But why does St Pete get to own it?
Research proceeded to Rifling (finally), Assembly Line, Biology (and I irrigated over the towns to power up my Artist farm to the max), Medicine, and Artillery. The cultural cities built factories and hospitals; the fringe cities stayed on a more-or-less constant program of Destroyer building to keep my shores secure. I was falling just slightly behind on technology; the AIs had picked up several nonessential techs (Democracy, Communism, Military Tradition, Flight) that I couldn't quite spare the research to match. But as far as core military and space techs, I never fell behind. And I'm sure that if my original capital had been a commerce city instead of a Great Artist farm, I could've stayed equal or ahead in research all the way through the space race.
With Pacifism and Biology, Leaders Twelve through Fifteen all came as Artists in 1870, 1894, 1918, and 1947. The first two settled, but then it was time to save the rest for Great Works.
Qin completed Apollo in 1893, but I'm not worried. My cities have about 30K culture to go, at 330 per turn... that's 90 turns to go minus Great Works, and my rivals will take longer than that to complete the spaceship tech tree. I was still a bit worried about a diplomatic loss, should somebody decide to go for Mass Media and the United Nations.
That 330/turn came from an average cultural multiplier of around +300%, with three cathedrals, the Eiffel broadcast tower, two +50% culture wonders, and the Hermitage in Ning-hsia. Each city had a base cultural value of around 80/turn. Karakorum had all the early wonders; the other two cities had three or four Great Artists and a wonder or two; and each city had 20 or so culture from the mundane buildings.
On the naval front, I had four cities with Drydocks constantly cranking out battleships in an effort to keep my fish safe. The +2 health from the fish (harbors) was badly needed and I couldn't afford to lose it. Fortunately, I didn't have to defend any other area from naval attacks; every single ship the AI built went straight for my fish resource. However, I couldn't tip the naval kill ratio significantly in my favor. I'd occasionally get a battleship to Combat IV, but even that wasn't good enough for better than 78% attacking odds, and it would lose eventually.
But then I got to Submarines, and had some fun with promoting them to Flanking II. It was fun to soften up enemy battleships with 80% withdrawal Submarines, to get my own battleships near-guaranteed odds. That finally swung the naval kill ratio far in my favor -- a cost of one submarine per five enemy battleships. :D
And I dare you to read the first line in that image without laughing. :D
Cyrus delivered me naval invasion #6:
But I've now got a dozen cannons and four tanks, which cleaned that up at the cost of one suicide artillery and one Barrage 2 tank attacking at 65%.
And the seventh and most credible naval invasion came, to the tune of a Chinese tank, four gunships, and seven artillery.
The cost this time was four suicide cannons (a fifth retreated). Marines took down the damaged gunships and my tanks cleaned up the rest.
And Gandhi sent a joke of a stack that barely counted:
although the RNG swung against and killed off two of my tanks attacking at 70% odds.
And... that's all, folks. I did not bother playing out the last 30 turns of foregone conclusion. I certainly couldn't lose by conquest or space, and now there wasn't enough time for anybody to research Mass Media and build the UN. So I apologize for not having an exact final cultural victory date, but it just wasn't worth the time to finish in a shadow replay. :) It would have been sometime in the 1980s.
The AIs collectively -- all five of them -- sent only eight attempted invasions all game! I'll certainly remember that level of capability for the next time we need to play Archipelago Tech Turtle...Index