The Let's Play Archive

Civilization 2

by Melth

Part 8: 825 BC - 140 AD (First Conquest, First Wonder, and Second Contact)

Some cities have been renamed.

It’s time I talked about what city icons on the map mean. First, note the small flag waving over Tiberius. There’s one on Persian Pasargadae too. That flag means that at least one unit is in the city. As you know, I built very few military units and I’ve now sold most of those I did build since they can’t do martial law in a Republic.

Second, the fist you can see by some of my cities means that city is in civil disorder (normal after a government switch).

Third, notice that my capital (Rome) has a fancier icon than my others (bigger cities do too). That can be a handy way to figure out which enemy city is the capital. Visual differences between my cities and the Persian ones are just cosmetic though.

Alright, time to get started:

So with 20% Taxes and 80% Science I get 2 gold and 1/7 of a technology per turn.

But with 10% Taxes and 50% Science (and a bit of wizardry) I get 6 gold and 1/6 of a discovery per turn.

What gives? Well initially a lot of my cities had either been in civil disorder (and thus not actually contributing anything to Taxes or Science) or using citizens as Entertainers (and thus not working enough tiles to contribute much gold or science). By setting the Luxuries up to 40% and microing each city to work the perfect mix of trade-heavy tiles, I was able to get every single one of them out of disorder and Entertainer-free. Thus every single city is productively using every single one of its citizens. Upshot? Even though 40% of my Trade is wasted as Luxuries, I still net out to higher gold and science income.

The above is a very important tip and a big part of what I meant when I said that a Republic or Democracy is only effective on Deity in skilled hands. If you don’t know how to carefully manage your cities and don’t realize you can put your Republic bonus trade to work this way, you’ll be worse off than under Monarchy.

I continue to check the Persian attitude every turn. I want to annoy them into starting a war, but I want to make sure I’m in a good position when they finally do. In particular, I don’t want to lose the Settler you can see blocking them. Or the Horseman I ran right into their territory to scout.

Uncooperative means they might well break their treaty now. I can no longer count on it and should pull back all vulnerable people.

I’d had Rome working on a Temple and I paid to finish it a bit early. That was a key move, as I’ll now explain.

So here’s Rome now. It’s a size 2 city and growing rapidly because it’s working several nice Grasslands.

Those Grasslands have Rivers, which you may remember grant +1 Trade. The biggest perk of Republic is that every single tile everywhere that grants at least 1 Trade grants +1 more, so my Rivers give me 2 each. The city tile itself also has a Road, so it grants 3.

As you can see, 40% of that 7 total Trade goes to Luxury. Every 2 Luxuries created makes one content citizen happy (or unhappy one content). The temple makes 2 unhappy people content. So between the Temple and the Luxuries I will actually be able to grow to size 3 without disorder.

Why do that? So I can then switch every citizen to high-Production tiles and thus build the Hanging Gardens wonder of the world faster. For those who don't know, Wonders of the World are special buildings you can construct in your cities. Each one is unlocked by a certain technology (Pottery for the Hanging Gardens). And each one costs a massive number of shields to create. The early ones like this cost 200 shields. Later ones can be up to 600. And it’s important to get them done fast because only one copy of any wonder can be built between all players.

Critically, you CAN switch freely from building one wonder to building a different one in the same city with no Production loss. When you haven’t yet unlocked the wonder you really want, you can start working on a dummy wonder to store up a bunch of shields in advance and then switch over to the better one when you unlock it.

What’s the point of building wonders? Well unlike units and city improvements/buildings (the other 2 things you can build besides wonders), wonders have no upkeep cost ever. Most of them also provide far greater benefits and capabilities than any city improvement. The effect of the Hanging Gardens is to make 1 content citizen happy in every one of my cities. In the city it’s built in, it actually makes THREE content people happy. This wonder will solve my happiness problem, allowing me to set Luxuries back down to 0% and thus increase my Science and Taxes massively.

Anyway, building the Temple lets Rome grow to size 3, which will let me finish the wonder more efficiently. If I stayed at size 2 and worked the optimum Production squares currently available to me, I could build it in 50 turns. If I instead work these optimum Food squares until I hit size 3 in 7 turns and THEN set everyone to work the best Production squares, I could do it in 44 total, a minor time-savings. But it’s better than that. First of all, I get more science along the way and reap the benefits of being size 3 instead of size 2 when the wonder finishes. More importantly, in about 7 turns or so I can have had some Settlers use mines to create an additional great production tile, which will let me drop my total time down to about 27 turns.

Whether it’s better to focus on high Production immediately or high Food now and then higher Production in the future is just an algebra problem. Generally speaking you should choose to grow first and produce later if the following are true: 1) Your city has more high-Production tiles in range than it has citizens. 2) Your city is currently small and has great Food tiles available. 3) The wonder will take a long time to build either way.

Now the Hanging Gardens isn’t the only wonder I want to build and I don’t want to sit around waiting 20 or so turns for each of the others. Fortunately I don’t need to. For one thing, I can have a different city start on a different wonder right now. But more importantly, there is a VERY powerful trick to build wonders with extreme speed: massing Caravans.

Caravans are a non-combat unit unlocked by the Trade tech. They cost 50 shields to make. If you walk one to a city that’s building a wonder, you can consume it to add 50 shields to the wonder. Essentially you can pool the Production rates of any number of your cities to work on one project with perfect efficiency. Awesome. In fact, you can prepare the Caravans ahead of time, pile them up somewhere, and then instantly build the wonder when it unlocks.

Now you don’t NEED Caravans to do this. Any unit which is ordered to disband in a city will contribute ½ of its shield cost to whatever the city is working on. So even without Caravans you can have your cities work together with 50% efficiency, which is a darned sight better than nothing.

I’m still trying to learn the techs to get Trade, so I can’t build Caravans yet. I CAN build Diplomats though. Diplomats are special units which I’ll talk more about later. Right now the important thing is that I can use them as a placeholder. Just like you can switch which type of wonder you’re working on without penalty, you can switch which type of unit you’re working on without penalty. So if I have, say, 20 shields put into building a Diplomat when I learn Trade, I can change to making a Caravan and already have 20 shields done. The reason I choose Diplomats in particular as a placeholder is that they cost a relatively large number of shields and thus are unlikely to be completed before I learn the tech. Also, Diplomats have no upkeep cost and are useful, so it’s no big deal if I do actually end up building a couple.

Anyway, I am now building either Diplomats or Temples in most of my cities.

Ah ha! I kept checking the Persians and their liking of me dropped to Icy. This is it. At this level, they are VERY likely to break their treaty and sneak attack me. Additionally, even the slightest provocation in diplomacy could cause them to declare war then and there. That’s better than waiting to be sneak attacked, so I’m going to phone Xerxes up and be a twerp to him and hope the idiot declares war.

First I get ready. I pull one Horseman back to safety, have the other fortify on a Hill, and advance the Archer into Persian territory so it can have a Hill bonus.

Oh, meanwhile I’m sending a Settler out to explore the south pole and am having other Settlers work on expanding my Road network back in the heartlands. Having lots of Roads is VERY useful during war.

Diplomacy time! I don’t even need to annoy him, he just opens with a threat of war.

Oh no! I totally didn’t see this coming! What a disaster!

So I end my turn and he attacks and gets completely shredded. Just as planned!

I’m going to go into a bit more detail about combat so you know what happened and why, but I’m still going to stick to the simple lie version I outlined last time. So last time I said that every unit has 10 HP and that every combat is secretly a bunch of rounds in which someone loses 1 HP until a unit dies. With a chance = Attacker’s Attack / (Attacker’s Attack + Defender’s Defense) the defender is hurt, otherwise the attacker is.

But what’s important to understand is that you can have a bunch of bonuses influencing your Attack and Defense. Common ones include that veteran units have 50% more Attack and Defense, units on Forests or Jungles or whatever have 50% more Defense, units on Hills have 100% more Defense, and units which have fortified themselves have 50% more Defense. All these bonuses stack multiplicatively.

So Horsemen normally have 2 Attack and 1 Defense and one of his Horsemen attacked my northern Horseman. Terrible for me, right? BUT, my northern Horseman was 1) On a Hill 2) a veteran 3) fortified. So my Defense was 1 x 2 x 1.5 x 1.5 = 4.5. So the attacking Persians were slaughtered and, as you can see, my Horseman was barely injured.

Something similar happened in the south where his horseman attacked my archers. Archers have 2 base Defense, and mine was on a Hill and thus had 100% more, so 4. After winning, my Archer became a veteran and is thus 50% stronger from now on.

So the war is off to a great start, but I’m hit with a wave of civil disorders. I fix things up by shifting those cities’ citizens to tiles that grant more Trade and thus more Luxuries or by buying the Temples they’d been partway through building.

A few more battles later I’ve killed more than 6 total Persian units and taken only mild injuries due to my excellent positioning.

Then I suddenly get this announcement. You typically get announcements when any civ starts building a wonder, changes the wonder they’re working on, stops building a wonder, is nearly finished with a wonder, or DOES finish building a wonder. But somehow I never heard that the Sioux started or nearly finished this one. Anyway, the Sioux are the ones who wiped out the Vikings a while ago. I’ve yet to meet them, but it’s looking increasingly likely that they’re the most powerful AI civ in the world.

In unimportant news, my throne room now looks like a room instead of a cave. It even has a chair!

Back to the war a turn later. Notice that my northern Horseman has healed slightly. Units heal when not in use. Like a lot of this game, the healing mechanics are needlessly complicated and not explained anywhere. There seems to be a different healing rate depending on unit type, distance from the nearest city, distance from the nearest fortress, actions taken, and whether or not the nearest city has a Barracks. The important thing is that if I order a unit to stay put, it will heal slightly every turn. And sometimes I may retreat a unit into a city so it will heal faster.

Let’s talk tactics! You’ve no doubt noticed that I’ve kept my southern Horseman lurking on the Tundra behind my Archers. Why? Well if I put it on the Plains with the Buffalo, the enemy could attack and kill it. I’d much rather they attack the tougher Archer. If I put it on the Hill with the Archer, it SHOULD be safe. However, they’d be a stack then. If the Archer died by luck, my whole southern army would be blown up in one attack. That’s too risky. From this position, the Horseman can assist by moving west and then attacking north. I’m going to do that right now to clear out that Warrior so that there is no Zone of Control stopping my Archer going west into the Forest. The Forest is slightly inferior terrain, but my Archers are now veterans and thus tougher overall than when the war started. Plus I think the enemy is now running low on units. Most importantly, I can attack the city from the Forest when I’m ready.

Elsewhere on the map, you can see that I’ve nearly completed a Road right to the front lines which will merge with the old Persian Roads. Roads built by any player work for everyone and you can connect yours to them freely.

Also, I’ve had my Settlers begin constructing a Mine on a Hill terrain that has a Wine resource. Mines are the last of the 3 main terrain improvements. Just like an I symbol means the Settler is Irrigating that square and R means it’s building a Road, M means it’s building a Mine. That generally takes longer and is pretty much only possible or worthwhile in Hills (where it grants a spectacular +3 Production).

So I moved in this turn. All of my units are now vulnerable to attack from that city, but I believe the city has only 1 weak defender left and you’ll note that I have very nice terrain bonuses to counter with. Next turn I can crush that city unless I’m injured by an attack. If injured, I can probably just sit here and heal up and THEN attack.

Ok, I learned Bronze Working and thus unlocked Currency. For once the Science Adviser recommends a tech that’s actually good, but right now I need to get Currency and then Trade so I can get Caravans so I can speedily build wonders.

I cautiously waited to heal instead of attack for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, I do NOT want to lose any of these units. I see no reason to make an attack while injured when I can make one while unharmed instead. Second and relatedly, that settler you can see there walked into the city last turn and walked out this turn. Settlers are actually really formidable defensive units and I did NOT want to fight him in the city if I didn’t need to. As usual, the AI’s compulsion to move nearly every unit every turn caused it to move the Settler back out and leave its city more vulnerable.

Bam! You can see I was right to be worried; my veteran Horseman almost died in the attack. If I hadn’t healed up, I’d be down a good unit now.

Anyway, normally I would now own their city. However, the city was destroyed instead. Why? Well a city without City Walls shrinks by 1 whenever a unit in it is killed. My Horseman killed a defender, so the city shrank to size 1. Then my Archer took the empty city, which also shrinks it by 1 (to 0). So I get a tiny amount of money as usual and can steal a technology as usual (except the Persians don’t HAVE any technology that I don’t already have), but the city is destroyed instead of captured. Oh well, nothing I could do about it. It wasn’t a great city site anyway.

He’s going to want peace. I don’t want peace. Doesn’t matter, ALWAYS meet with the AI. There is absolutely no benefit to refusing to meet them ever.

So I’m actually ok with a ceasefire. I didn’t necessarily WANT a war with the Persians, I just knew I was going to have to deal with one eventually, so I pushed them to start it before they were ready. However, I believe that the Persians are desperate enough that they will pay me to sign a ceasefire if I refuse initially.

Now this is critical. As a Republic, there is a 50% chance that your senate will overrule you and sign peace treaties you don’t want signed or refuse to declare war or the like.

Anyway, there was no loss to me if the senate signed the ceasefire, I just wouldn’t get the chance to get paid to sign it myself.

I was right! And for once the senate was right since they supported me.

As usual, signing treaties makes them like you a bit more.

Now this I genuinely don’t want. I don’t know the locations of their other cities, so I don’t know what territory I would need to vacate under a peace treaty. What I do know is that the Persians WILL go to war with me again in the future. They will violate a peace treaty just as readily as they will violate a ceasefire, so I get no benefit from having a peace treaty instead. My best defense is to push on into their territory to learn their strength and find an ideal defensive point to hold. I can’t necessarily do that under a peace treaty.

So I achieved the ideal outcome for me.

Not much else to do. I would totally demand tribute for my patience if I could, but Republics/Democracies can't do this (not that the game ever tells you that).

You can see I’m making very good road progress. Also, I’ve circled a Mine the Persians made so you can see what one looks like when finished.

While we’re making Life of Brian jokes…

So I had a Settler walk up and make a city in what was Persian territory. I pulled my injured Horseman back to heal up more quickly here. That S symbol is for either Sentry or Sleep. The unit will stay put until either it hits 100% HP or an enemy walks next to it or a transport ship leaves the city (in which case it will load aboard)

Also, notice how huge the Food growth rate is compared to the way it was at the start of the game. Yay not being a Despotism anymore!

Rome has grown, so I shifted everyone to maximum production as planned. Soon my settlers will finish the mines in the hills nearby and I’ll go faster.

I’ve been using the Persians’ Roads to explore their territory quickly. Note that I am NOT counting on the ceasefire to protect my units. I make sure to end every turn on good defense terrain, and ideally not next to them.

Remember what I said last update about trying to attack with fractional move remaining. If that Persian Archer moves along the Road and then attacks me this turn, it will have to do so at only 2/3 of normal power and will therefore be slaughtered by my veteran Archer on a Hill.

The arctic explorer has finally found land. You can see that there were a couple of Tundra square sticking off the Glaciers down there before this spot, but nothing good like I would normally expect to find. Anyway, I’ll check this spot out and hopefully it will be good for making a city.

I’m apparently the second-weakest civilization in the world and the Persians are 2 places stronger than me. Like I said, there’s very little you can do to control your ranking on these things when they randomly show up and it doesn’t matter anyway.

…. Darn it.

For the third time now I have been screwed over by an important tech being randomly unavailable. This time it’s Trade, after all the time I spent unlocking its prereqs and building up to it. This is even more of a catastrophe than losing out on Literacy and thus Republic for 10 turns. This means I will be much later on finishing the Hanging Gardens, which is the one thing I need to actually become prosperous. It also means a whole bunch of my cities are going to end up producing Diplomats before I can switch to Caravans, which will hurt my efforts to speed-build wonders even further.

I’ve had just terrible luck this game. Oh well. I’ll go for Mysticism. It’s a garbage tech, but it’s the next step in the important religion line.

Since the Hanging Gardens aren’t coming soon afterall, I’m going to need to build more Temples to control disorder. At least the Persians left me this fantastic Mine on a Coal Hill.

Ok, THIS is a problem. Elephants are one of the best ancient units. I didn’t think the Persians had the tech to make them. They’re sort of like Horsemen but with 4 Attack instead of 2. My Archer there has a Def of 2 (Base) x 1.5 (Veteran) x 2 (Hill) x 1.5 (Fortified) for a total of 9. Very nice. But if that’s a veteran Elephant and I need to give up ANY of those bonuses, I could be crushed. And the Horsemen will be flattened regardless of defensive measures. What I need to do is get a war declared on my turn and then slaughter it with a first strike. I also need to beat the Persians entirely before they get more out.

This polar region I found actually sucks. First of all, the terrain is terrible and there are no resources. Second, the area is too big. As I mentioned previously, an area which is just a single tile of good terrain connected to the Glaciers is an amazingly safe place to put a city. This place has no such advantage. I’ll keep moving.

So the whole high Trade -> high Luxuries -> no disorder strategy only works if I actually have high Trade. In this city that’s hard. I can work the Ocean, but that would leave me with 0 Food growth and 0 Production, so it’s not really a good option. What I need is to have the Settler that’s costing me so much in support go off and found a city somewhere.Then I'd have positive Food and Production while working the Ocean.

… darn it. This could not have come at a worse time and location. My entire army is cut off from the barbarians by that wandering Elephant’s zone of control, so I cannot move any of them back to help out AT ALL. I could try to violate the ceasefire to kill it and then run back, but that would destroy my reputation and the senate would probably overrule me anyway.

Meanwhile the barbarians have access to like 3 of my undefended cities, some of which are quite good ones. And there’s a whole bunch of barbarians. And they’re Archers, a strong unit type.

I have no cash because I was just forced to buy a bunch of Temples due to the whole no Trade tech debacle. I have very bad income, so there’s no way I can get the funds to buy a good enough military unit in the 1-2 turns before I’m attacked. And it’s not even like that would really work since I have no idea which of the several cities they’ll target. Plus nothing can easily take on that many Archers alone.

My only chance is to switch my economy around to be 60% tax, 40% luxury for a few turns to maximize my income. That should give me juuuust enough that one barbarian will let me pay him to not sack a city. And if I can get this darned Elephant out of the way, I can get my troops back in time to kill the other barbarian.

A bunch of new disorder pops up too, though that’s a smaller problem.

Also note that I’ve got 2 Settlers working on making Mines near Rome. Multiple Settlers can work together with perfect efficiency to do terrain improvements in fewer turns.

Oh and I made some Irrigation earlier and circled it so you can see what it looks like on the map. Irrigation generates +1 Food and can be built on most terrain types. Critically, Irrigation can NEVER be built unless you have a source of water next to it. That can be a River, the Ocean, or another tile of Irrigation (in which case it must be diagonal) but the automatic Irrigation in a city square does not count. Getting Irrigation built efficiently can be an interesting tactical puzzle in its own right for that reason.

As you can see, the city that I talked about before is in particularly deep trouble because I had to work its Ocean to get enough Trade to end the disorder. Which gave me 0 Production. Which meant I don’t have any shields toward this Settler. Which means if I changed to an Elephant and tried to buy it, it would cost double. Which means it’s far too much to afford. This is really a perfect storm barbarian attack. It was neatly coordinated with the Persian Elephant and the ceasefire and the tech bad luck nonsense and the terrain of this particular city to cause me maximum difficulty.

Awesome! That wonder is 100% worthless for the AI; they already cheat to know all the info it gives anyway!

So I got clever because the Elephant did NOT move and thus I could NOT get my army back in time to kill either of the Archers. Since it’s not possible to pay 2 ransoms, I’d have actually lost a city. Instead I intercepted one Archer and killed it… with a Settler. It was really close, but it had good odds to work because Settlers are secretly a really hardcore unit on defense. Sure they only have 1 Defense (and 0 Attack) but they have 20 HP, so they’re twice as good as they should be. And by putting that Settler on a Hill I doubled its Defense to a more respectable 2. So it actually killed the Archer. Even if it hadn’t, it would have delayed the Archer another turn- and THAT would have let my army arrive in time. Losing a Settler is better than losing a city, especially since this Settler was from a city that was struggling to support it anyway.

Also, veteran Settlers! Start running!

Lastly, notice that weird looking barbarian unit. That’s a leader. Most big barbarian groups come with a leader who always stays stacked with one of the real units. If you can catch them alone and attack them, you get a sweet gold bounty that I mentioned before. But this does NOT apply if you kill them in a stack. Which is usually your only choice. Basically the only way to catch these guys is to first win a battle on defense against a barbarian Archer (VERY hard to do, and a poor strategy as I mentioned) and then ALSO have a Horsemen or something on hand in that city to ride out and chase down the leader.

I THINK the Sueves were some sort of group in Germany that the Romans had to deal with. Which I guess is sort of appropriate.

Anyway, my strategy worked, so I save this city for a mere 50 gold. I made the best of a bad situation there.

Alright, the first Mine by Rome is done. You can see that my Production is now very high indeed.

I finally learned Mysticism. Now at long last I can learn Trade. Or… I could learn Philosophy! Philosophy is the next religion tech (and the only other one I need to unlock the critical Monotheism). It doesn’t do much of anything, except that the FIRST civ to learn it can learn another tech instantly.

So I’m going to take a gamble here. If I’m in the lead on religion techs, then I can learn this at the same speed I could learn Trade and also get Trade for free as my bonus tech. If I’m not in the lead, I’ve put off getting Trade for a bunch more turns because I won't get a bonus tech and will have to research it normally afterward. Pretty certain I’m in the lead though.

No more veteran Settler. He founded this city atop the formerly Persian Buffalo Plain.

I’m finally getting a bunch of Settlers out working on this northern peninsula. I haven’t done a ton with it yet because the terrain sucks and there was no rush to claim it before someone else, but I’m running out of other areas to work on. Plus, with the addition of a recent graduate of Ball So Hard U, I finally have a critical mass of Settlers that will let me actually make the terrain here decent.

I’ve said there are 3 things Settlers can do to terrain (build Roads, Irrigation, and Mines), but this is not quite accurate. Settlers can also actually turn some types of terrain into others. For example, trying to Mine a Plains will turn it into a Forest. Trying to Irrigate a Forest will turn it into a Plains. This takes a long time and most of those terrain types suck anyway. But Jungles and Swamps, which are horrible, can be Irrigated into wonderful Grasslands. These Settlers have been working on this Jungle for a while now and they’re going to get the eastern one too and then found a city there.

Oh here’s another as-yet-unseen resource: Oil. Oil can actually appear on both Deserts and Glaciers, though it has slightly different effects on each. It makes 0/0/0 Glaciers give 0/4/0. So still basically unusable. And it makes 0/1/0 Deserts give 0/4/0. So… still basically unusable. At least the Desert can benefit from Roads and Irrigation.

Also, I found a goody hut. Let’s see what’s inside.

Sweet! I got the rare outcome where I get a Settler unit. It has free support forever. I’m definitely not going to waste it just building a city; I’ll march it home and have it build Roads and Irrigation.

This should be good. You can see that I’ve now explored a lot more of their land and found what may well be their capital.

I can only imagine how stupid their least wise emperor must be.

Even dumber than this apparently. Just like you should never give money for peace, you should never give techs for peace. Especially amazing techs like government types.

Excellent. Having them declare war during diplomacy on my turn lets me hit them before they can sneak attack me.

Ok, it’s first strike time. There’s that Elephant and an enemy Horsemen. Both are dangerous on offense but vulnerable on defense. My western Horseman already moved (getting next to that Elephant triggered the diplomacy) and is thus unavailable. I need to go all-in and get clever to take them both down. First, east Horseman came charging up from behind (it had been sent to deal with the barbarian Archers). Remember what I said last update about fighting at 2/3 or 1/3 strength if you only have that much move left when you make an attack? Well that just gets factored into combat calculations same as the other multipliers. Even with that penalty, this is going to be my 2 Attack vs his 1 Defense. I’ll take it.

Also, you can see I’m exploring the pole in the other direction too.

So the Horseman did indeed win. Now the Archer unstacks from that Hill, moves into the newly opened Grassland on the road, and attacks the Elephant. In total this is 3 vs 1.5 (As an exercise for the reader, see if you can tell me what multipliers make my total Attack 3 and his total Defense 1.5), so I should win. Much better than trying to weather his 4 Attack.

Mission accomplished. The only thing that could go wrong now is that he could have an Elephant in that city that charges out along the road and kills the Archer. I’d still kill it on my turn, but I wouldn’t be in a good position to keep up the attack after that.

Well that’s a cruddy hut outcome. The war continues nicely and I’ve moved in on their capital.

Up in the north, the Jungle has been turned into a Grassland.

Now Mining or Irrigating or Road-building never affects resources in any way. A Hill with Wine that gets Mined has the bonuses from both Wine and Mines. But transforming terrain obliterates any old resources. The new terrain may randomly have an appropriate new resource. This new Grassland didn’t turn out to have a Shield resource, but it could have.

As I feared, several Diplomats have finished because I couldn’t make them into Caravans instead. Oh well, Diplomats are a fantastic unit in the right circumstances.

Dun dun dun! See the little Irrigation lines on that Plain there? Some as yet unseen civ in the area made them. Time to meet someone new next turn…

I’ve started simultaneous work on a second wonder. I actually won’t build the Great Library here, that’s just a placeholder for the still-locked wonder I really want.

Ok, it’s the Japanese. And they don’t like me much for some reason.

They’re a Despotism, interesting.

Yay! New techs!

We pursued totally different parts of the techtree, so they have lots of stuff I don’t have. Not coincidentally, these are garbage techs for me right now.

Many expert players argue against trading for techs you don’t want because the more techs you have, the more science it takes to unlock new ones you do want. However, you WILL want pretty much every tech by the end of the game. The early ones in particular are all prereqs for many things. And I need to acquire them right now because right now the Japanese don’t hate me. If I turn them down, they may well declare war next turn and I’ll lose this opportunity (and my Settlers).

Us primitive? No wonder they’re still a Despotism, they don’t even have the most basic techs required to get Monarchy.

I’ve said that you should usually trade them whatever tech they ask for instead of trying to haggle. This is an exception. Do not hand over governments. Also do not hand over cutting edge military units that you can’t beat in a fight.

This is a bit risky, but no way am I giving them a great tech like that for free.

As I expected, they didn’t mean the threat. Peace sounds good to me.

If anything this is a good thing. Marco Polo’s Embassy is 100% worthless for the AI and this one is only 90% worthless, but Marco Polo’s Embassy could actually be useful to me.

All 3 Settlers up there are working on turning this into a Grassland.

Alright, my Diplomats have arrived while my military kept the Persians bottled up. I can now do whatever I want with… diplomatic impunity.

This is indeed the Persian capital. Otherwise I would have the option to "Incite a Revolt." More on that later.

So Diplomats are special units. They’re the primitive version of Spies so they have cruddy combat stats and can’t attack, but they have 2 move and they cost nothing for upkeep. They also ignore Zone of Control, so they’re awesome scouts if used carefully. More importantly, they have a TON of special powers and abilities they can use instead of attacking. It is not an exaggeration to say that Diplomats are more dangerous than Tanks.

First of all, Diplomats can buy enemy units. The price depends on the unit type and owner’s government type and how far it is from its capital. It’s usually quite expensive, but this alone can turn the tide of a war. The only sure counter is that Democracies are immune to all bribery and that so are units in stacks.

Second, Diplomats can buy enemy cities by “inciting a revolt”. Forget nuclear weapons. In fact, don’t be too proud of ANY of the technological terrors you construct. The ability to destroy a city is insignificant next to the power to buy the whole thing intact (defenders and all) in a single move without even breaking a peace treaty or annoying your senate if you do it right. Really, the sheer power of this attack is impossible to overstate. The only real defense is that Democracies are immune (and so are capitals). This action consumes the Diplomat.

Third, Diplomats can establish an embassy by reaching an enemy city. For the rest of the game you have complete knowledge of that civ’s tech level, diplomatic affairs, number of cities, government type, and more. This consumes the Diplomat.

Fourth, Diplomats can do Industrial Sabotage in a city. I believe this undoes all shields toward whatever the city is building. You can also destroy some city improvements. This isn’t guaranteed to work and consumes the Diplomat. Sometimes it’s a good idea, but it’s not as good as inciting revolts most of the time.

Fifth, you can steal technology. This isn’t guaranteed to work and consumes the Diplomat, but at least you don’t waste your move if they don’t have any techs you don’t already know. Very powerful and the AI will ruthlessly try to do this to you. Don’t let their Diplomats get close.

Sixth you can consume the Diplomat to just reveal all details about a city. You know the exact status of every defender, the exact buildings in the city, what it’s building, which tiles it’s using, etc. just as if it was one of your own cities for one turn. Rarely worth spending your Diplomat on that.

I built an embassy as a good opening move. Interestingly, these guys apparently have not met anyone else at all. They also DO have a bit of money. I might be able to extract that in exchange for peace. Weirdly, they are only now learning Polytheism, which is required to build elephants. Maybe they got one from a goody hut? Or maybe they’re cheating.

I have a TON of Diplomats and not much else to do, so I had one investigate the city. And what I found was interesting. There is only 1 formidable defender: the Archer. The Phalanx is trying to fortify but not ready this turn, so he only has 2 defense. The Warrior only has 1.5 regardless. If I attack now, I DO need to worry about the Archer, but I should be able to wipe out everything else if I can break that one unit. It’s worth the risk; I can crush this city here and now with no casualties with about 75% odds. With > 95% odds I can capture it by next turn, losing at most one of my own units.

Got them. As usual, you get only a tiny amount of gold which doesn’t seem to be related to their treasury for seizing a city. Typically I would also acquire control of the city and get to steal a technology. But once again the backward Persians don’t know anything I don’t know and once again their city was exactly small enough that it was annihilated instead of being captured.

And I’ve exterminated the Persians completely! A song comes to mind:

So that was one of the least-costly wars I ever fought in civ. The entire campaign to wipe out the Persians cost me a grand total of 0 gold, 0 casualties, 0 shields, and 0 loss of diplomatic reputation.

It was also one of the least profitable wars I ever fought in civ. I gained a total of 87 gold from it, almost all of that a payment to get me to sign a temporary ceasefire. I gained 0 cities. I gained 0 technology. At least I got some turf and some security. And I turned one of my units into a veteran I guess.

By my count, I killed 16 Persian units over the course of the war, used only 3, and took no casualties. Good military tactics + good diplomatic tactics confer huge advantages.

Yes! This announcement means I WAS the first to discover Philosophy. My plan worked perfectly.

So I instantly learn Trade at long last.

And then start learning Monotheism conventionally.

Meanwhile my 2 explorers have now circumnavigated the entire south polar continent without EVER finding a halfway decent spot to build a city. Darn. The worst part is that one of these guys was from a city that needed him to found a place soon. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to settle for that bad spot I found earlier and maybe also try to start a colony right in Japanese territory.

At long last Caravans are unlocked and I switch most of my cities to producing them.

The long awaited punchline!

And the Jungle is finally turned to Grassland and a city is founded there.

The first Caravan is finished. This whole supply and demand thing is semi-interesting later but 100% irrelevant right now.

So the Persians built nothing out here. I bet they didn’t even explore it. I might actually find a whole other civilization they never contacted here

Yes! At long last.

I will talk about this a LOT more later. Suffice it to say that the arrangement of Beethoven’s 9th that plays when a city celebrates We Love the Ruler Day is the most wonderful sound in the game. Well maybe the siren when you nuke someone is better. I don’t know, it’s close. Sadly, I believe the Council of Europe has already snagged Ode to Joy as their anthem. I hope I can at least convince my congressmen to vote for the nuclear attack sound as a replacement for the Star-Spangled Banner.

As I mentioned, the Hanging Gardens make 1 content person happy in all other cities I own on this continent and 3 happy in this city. That’s everyone (after the Temple makes some unhappy people content). As long as there are no unhappy people in a city and the number of happy people is at least 50% of the population and the population is at least 3, the city will celebrate We Love the Ruler Day. What this means depends on your government but it is always awesome. Never more so than for Republics and Democracies when that city has a positive surplus of Food.

But most of that stuff can wait. For now, I’m going to re-organize my tax rates and all my cities.

I no longer need Luxuries, so I can boost my Science and Taxes back into the stratosphere. I could pump Science higher of course, but I don’t actually need Monotheism for about 8 turns. On the other hand, I could REALLY use 8 turns of +30 gold per turn in the treasury. That’s more money than I’ve seen all game.

So here’s the usual final picture of the whole world as now known. That’s a MUCH bigger area than it was at the end of the last update. I only built 4 cities this time, but I’m poised to build many more and I’m in a far better situation than when I started this update. I started off impoverished with loads of civil disorder and no way to grow my cities and a looming war with Persia. Now the Persians are dead, my unhappiness problems are over, I’m about to speed-build 1 or 2 more good wonders in a few turns, and I’m about to become both the richest and the most advanced civ in the world.

Meanwhile there are numerous interesting new opportunities: I need to decide what to do about the Japanese and also the unexplored and promising region north of former Persia.

But it won’t be all fun and games. The Sioux are out in the darkness somewhere, as is at least 1 civilization I haven’t even heard of that has an even bigger army than the Persians. Furthermore, I’m over a thousand years behind schedule because I had such awful luck with tech research availability. I’ve got some catching up to do.

Delenda est Carthago!