I realized after a minute's thought that the right location here is on the silver. Puts the 2h 3g right on the city tile, the wheat in quick range, and brings the 3-0-2 citrus in first ring for a quick start. (Citrus grows in desert? Is that a thing? NO, don't go start a twenty post sub thread talking about how citrus really does grow in desert.)
I did a double scout start, since they'd go explore around the Inland Sea in each direction, while the starting warrior returned home for defense (after getting ruin-upgraded to a spear.) They collected plenty of ruins as is always a good start: the spearman upgrade, culture (Liberty opener on turn 10), 90 gold, map, culture again (turn 15 Liberty worker!), archer upgrade, Writing!, 100 gold, and later survivors taking Thebes from size 6 to 7.
Nice area, lots of unique luxuries in all directions. Tech was Pottery for the granary, then Mining to insta-hookup silver (under Thebes) and sell it. And when the customer neighbor is Spain, you know they're going to have a bigass pile of gold to spend for it.
So I bought a settler, and plunked down a second city at the early date of turn 29. (Those barbarians weren't dangerous, the spearman plus city took care of them easily.) I followed up with a worker purchase at Memphis with my next chunk of cash, and then sheepishly (nyuk nyuk) changed research to Animal Husbandry after realizing the worker didn't have anything to do.
Heh, what a waste. The legendarily rare El Dorado is on this map... and owned uselessly by a city-state.
I built Thebes' shrine after the granary, and got my Pantheon on turn 37. There's clearly one best choice for an ICS game, although also acceptable would have been Sacred Waters. The Inland Sea map produces a lot of rivers.
Shortly after that, somebody founded a religion at the crazy early date of turn 51 1960 BC! They took... phew, Mosques, not Pagodas. Egypt is a good faith civ with the UB, but not right away, takes a while to ramp up.
Thebes continued to add the Pyramids, always worth its cost, and even more so with Egypt's wonder bonus. The Pyramids satisfied a quest for one culture city-state where I'd already gotten some influence for killing a barb camp. That free alliance boosted my culture production, which was a standard Liberty tree opening. The third policy for Republic came on turn 39, then the fourth for the free settler on turn 49.
Calendar arrived, and I connected and sold my citrus to buy another settler also on turn 49. After they planted, here's my burgeoning world. Top of the scoreboard on Immortal difficulty as soon as 1800 BC.
Thebes is building yet another settler, which went east to claim more citrus. I sold those and bought a mercantile city-state, which is a very efficient happy fix early on: 500 gold for typically 11 happiness total (4 from its normal luxury, 4 for the mercantile luxury, and 3 for the mercantile effect.)
My research push was to Mathematics - Currency, for Petra. I was trying to expand rather than wonder-whore in this game, or at least focus only on wonders that would apply to a wide empire, like the Pyramids and later Machu Picchu. I was skipping things like the Hanging Gardens, Stonehenge, Terracotta Army that we see all the time when going tall. But I couldn't resist Petra, with Thebes so awesomely positioned to take advantage of it. I hadn't really thought of Petra as a useful wonder before. It's +1 food +1 hammer on non-floodplains desert, which seems pretty blah, turning desert into functional plains, what's so special about that, you can find plains anywhere? No - now I realized that Petra goes bonkers on desert HILLS, making them all crazy good 1-4-1 tiles!
Petra even works on the city center! Even now the wonder is adding 5 food and 6 hammers - far better than even the once-mighty now-nerfed Hanging Gardens. Wow... If you can get Petra, then desert hills become the best terrain in the game. Something to think about for an OCC or other culture wins.
And Petra is a whole big package of awesome on top of the tile effect. It provides a free amphitheater, for culture plus the artist specialist, to get the muscle to acquire all those hills. It's a Great Engineer point, perfectly matched with the Pyramids. And it has a later game culture effect too.
After Currency came Philosophy to get started on those Burial Tombs to fix the happy cap, then Guilds for Machu Picchu. These should have been the other way around since I didn't actually start building Burial Tombs until after the Piety opener which doubles them, but no big deal.
I bought a peak tile at Memphis to enable the key wonder. And I was vastly amused by the fact that Memphis built it on the WRONG MOUNTAIN, the north one that isn't even inside my border.
With some shrines and burial tombs now up, faith flowed into my Great Prophet. Religion in 275 BC, and got the beliefs I wanted and needed, Ceremonial Burial for happy and Pagodas for more happy.
The fifth social policy had to be Meritocracy, but then for the sixth policy I took the Piety opener. Even though I intended Rationalism later, it seemed worth the policy spend to accelerate by 70 hammers per city on halved shrine and temple costs. The Egypt ICS plan is very dependent on that 2-happy UB and this boosted there quickly.
Also in the ICS department, I did add the Oracle. That fits, most social policies do operate nationwide. I took the Patronage opener with it, then Philanthropy with the next policy. It was time to explode the ICS build by buying maritime city-states, of which there were four on the map. (Although I contacted three of them very late, and was nervous for quite some time that there wouldn't be any on the map - crowded out by no less than seven mercantile CS.)
By the way, I finally figured out this message, where the AI thinks it can't offer you enough for a luxury if it doesn't have the full 240 gold on hand. It is perfectly willing to pay with a combination of cash and credit, it just won't offer the GPT of its own accord, you have to manually do the negotiating.
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