Part 23: 975 BC - 300 BC (First conquest, second war, second wonder, and roads everywhere)
Last time left off with me manipulating the Greeks into an early war. I dont really have much of an army or a great position, but it should be good enough if Im careful.
Winning ASAP requires taking some major risks and attacking before Im really ready.
What Im hoping will happen here is that the Greeks will send some of those decent defensive units to attack my Horseman. Normally theyd have a good chance to wipe me out, but my Horsemen is a veteran and fortified and on a Hill, so his terrible 1 Defense has become a solid 4.5. Either way, I should be able to either destroy or take the city next turn.
On the Aztec front my city is growing nicely. Im not quite ready for a war here, but I definitely can't afford to let the Aztecs set up with piles of Elephants and whatever next to my city either.
So Ill phone them up and tell them to clear out.
Ive noticed that for some reason Demand tribute for our patience ALSO does an Insist that you withdraw your troops. Since the AI can choose to end the diplomacy without warning after any thing you say is resolved, I might as well choose the action that does both instead of trying them one at a time.
So far so good.
So you can see, they were forced to clear out all their troops from my territory, even though its also their territory. Repeatedly demanding that they do that will make them less friendly, but its the best way to hold them at this chokepoint since there isnt any good terrain for me stand a unit on instead.
Of course, sharing a border with them has some difficulties. One of those is apparent here. Ive mentioned a few times but never fully explained that only 1 city can work a given tile. This applies to both allied and enemy cities. So you can see that the Pheasant Forest there that Id like to work has a white boundary around it showing its in-use and thus cant be used by this city.
Theres no direct method to claim it from them, but there IS a workaround.
I sent out a Horseman (any military unit would do) to stand on the Pheasant. See, cities also cant work tiles that another civs unit (peaceful or not) is standing on.
This has a couple of applications and implications. One, very late in the game, is for sieging. If you take a whole bunch of troops and stand them on all the Production-granting squares around an enemy city, the enemy city will end up with no Production and thus be forced to disband all or most of the units its supporting. This can be handy for taking a well-defended city.
Another which is basically only a problem for human players is that if an enemy unit walks into or spawns atop a good tile your city has been using, your city will automatically change which tiles it works- often to something incredibly stupid. The result can be starvation or disbanded units if the city changes to work tiles that dont grant enough Food or Production. You must be constantly on guard against this.
And the last big one is the one Im about to demonstrate.
I had to withdraw my horseman, but its Ok! He only needed to stand there for 1 turn. Now that Pheasant is available because the Aztecs had to stop working it because my unit was on it. Thus I can now start using it.
And the Aztecs wont be able to take it back from me directly, just like I couldnt take it from them. Their only chance would be to walk their own military unit out onto it. They might do this by accident, but theyre not smart enough to do it on purpose, so I should be able to secure more or less permanent control of the Pheasants as long as I demand they withdraw any troops and send out my Horseman to repeat the process any time they get lucky.
Thus I get their Pheasant more or less forever- just like Ive got their Fish. My city gets stronger and theirs gets weaker. Peace is a mere continuation of conquest by other means!
Remember the missing Archer? Id been preparing some Crusaders at nearby cities to kill him if he showed up there, but instead he came in behind my Horseman. Thats bad; they might actually win that fight. Fortunately, I think I can solve this problem in my usual underhanded manner.
I just took the city with the units I had ready, ignoring the Archer and the rest. I get to steal the Iron Working tech (its a prereq for some stuff I want, unlike The Wheel). More importantly, I believe most of those enemy units will now automatically disband because I think they were supported from this city.
And I was wrong, every single one of them was supported from somewhere else. Fortunately, as usual, I had a contingency plan. The Greeks are executing it for me, but I could have just contacted them instead.
Oh and just in case THIS plan doesnt work, I sold the citys only building (a Barracks) to make sure I got maximum possible profit out of holding it.
Excellent. This will give me all the time I need to get my vulnerable units to safety and secure a permanent hold on their city. I COULD try the fight to the bitter end option in hopes of getting them to offer me some gold to sign, but a ceasefire really is beneficial for me right now and I dont want to run the risk of them not making that offer.
Well, a fragile peace has been established. Time to undermine it and force them to get out of my new territory immediately!
Yeah, this is MY city now! Clear out!
Darn, no money. Next turn maybe.
The Archer was outside the withdraw range, so it remains at large, but everything else pulled back. Now I can scout and prepare to sack my next target in peace.
Back home Ive finished scouting the Viking peninsula. Really not much to see. Probably not worth building any cities out there since its basically all Plains and Desert.
Take that, Nietzsche!
Thank you, everyone, for your excellent whale puns. Between yours and mine, I think I should have enough to use one for every single city that has a Whale in range for the rest of the game.
I finished building my first Crusader unit. Im not making a ton of these yet since I shouldnt really need many and I still have loads of other important things to build.
Like Caravans! Id been building Crusaders in several cities that I was actually planning to switch to Caravans. Its time to make some wonders!
I still need more Settlers and Temples and such though, so I cant build that many of them yet.
I really dont need that many more techs. Feudalism, then Theology is it for land wars. After that I'll want Navigation for Caravels, then that should be it.
Ok, this is a perfect moment for war. I caught the Archer in the open with one of my Crusaders and I have a bunch of good units in range to run up and strike Athens right now. And then my Legion (stacked with the Horsemen) is ready to hold it if I get it intact.
I COULD just sneak attack them, but Im pretty sure I can make them declare war during negotiations.
Well I made them more unfriendly, so I can almost definitely make them declare war next turn when I try again.
Now note one very important thing here. If it was actually critical, I COULD still sneak attack now. There was absolutely no loss to me for trying to make them end the treaty. And there was some potential gain in the form of either tribute or me keeping my reputation intact.
Make sure to keep tabs on the enemys friendliness and never, ever get caught by surprise by a sneak attack by them. Its ok if you know its coming and are ready of course. But generally the best thing is to make them declare a war during negotiations on your turn when you can first strike them and not the other way around.
This is totally true! But I bet I can get these guys to end that treaty before they get to enforce it.
Lets try this again.
Excellent! Now this moment isnt quite as perfect as last turn would have been, but theyve still signed their own death warrant.
For example, my Crusader was able to kill their Archer only with difficulty because they got a Hill bonus instead of being caught on the Grassland.
And because they moved in more troops, I couldnt immediately take the city. But I did kill a bunch of their units and get ready to finish them off next turn.
Darn! They pulled in a Charioteer from the fog and killed him. Thats unfortunate. Oh well, they suicided another defender into him first, so Ive got them now.
Way back in the second update of the first game I started talking about the Zone of Control mechanic, but I left out a few complicating factors.
As I explained it then, youre not allowed to move from one square which is next to another civs unit to another square which is next to another civs unit (doesnt matter if its the same unit or anything). This is true except for a few exceptions I left out.
One is that a few units like Diplomats ignore Zone of Control (though I believe they enforce it themselves)
Another is that youre always allowed to move into a tile one of your units is already in- even if that tile is also next to an enemy unit. You can therefore use Diplomats to allow OTHER troops to ignore Zone of Control. Just send the Diplomat into the forbidden square and then stack whatever units you want onto him.
Finally, youre always allowed to move into or out of a city. Even an enemy city. So once the last defender IN the Athens tile is cleared, Im totally free to walk a unit into the city tile and take it even though there are still a Warrior and Phalanx standing by that tile.
So thats just what I did. Just like last time, Im hoping some of these troops get immediately disbanded (which they will if they were supported from this city).
Well it worked on the Warrior, but the Phalanx was supported from elsewhere apparently. And now she wants peace again.
A ceasefire would be moderately beneficial to me now for solidifying my control, but its not actually a big deal like that time. Therefore, Ill gamble that I can make them fork over some cash to get me to sign it.
Just as planned. My magnificence really is manifest, isnt it?
Might as well do this too so I can get that Phalanx out of my hair.
This will either 1) immediately enforce the treaty and thus get the Phalanx out of there (possibly getting me MORE of their money) or 2) end the treaty immediately, which will still be ok for me.
Darn, oh well. Ill just keep up the pestering till they declare war again.
This is a wonder Id kind of like and that I kind of dont want them to have, though its really not a big deal either way. By the time I get to them, the Romans will have much bigger cities because of this. For those not in the know, the Pyramids count as a Granary building in every city and never expire. A Granary makes it so that when a city changes size, its food box starts half full instead of empty. This basically doubles the natural growth of all of your cities forever. Thats fantastic. Theyre even a cheap wonder to build!
The only reason I dont get them all the time is that I dont need natural growth when using Celebration and that in games like this I need other wonders like the Hanging Gardens and Michaelangelos Chapel more.
Now that my Crusaders have arrived, I can spare a Horseman to go off exploring. One key of winning ASAP is that you cannot stop exploring. It doesnt matter if you are in a gigantic war of conquest, you MUST be setting about finding your next target so that no time is wasted. You should also be doing things like building Triremes dozens of turns before youre beaten all your land enemies for similar reasons.
Rinse and repeat for best results.
Hm, thats interesting. I actually hope they finish this one because they're in range for me to quickly take it from them.
So a few things to note here. One is that even though I havent scouted the Aztecs lately, I can now see that their capital is walled for some reason. Thats bad for me, but not a catastrophe by any means.
Another is that I sneaked a Horseman by to start scouting their lands a bit. It turns out there isnt much land to the west, so I dont have a big area to search for their cities when the time to conquer the Aztecs comes.
And lastly Ive begun pressing into the Greek lands. Ill use Zone of Control and the AIs love of moving all the time to find their cities and fortify outside then and bring up my troops.
Come to think of it, its about time to try to squeeze some cash out of the Aztecs and start moving toward war.
Plus keep their troops from entering my territory.
Darn, no money. And their attitude didnt even lower. These guys are aggressively friendly.
Oh this should be good.
They want me to voluntarily (we dont have an actual peace treaty, just a ceasefire) withdraw from a city I havent even found. If we had a peace treaty, it would actually be revealed to me, but its not now. Oh well, I know Im close.
And next turn I got them to declare war.
Dont stop founding cities until youre out of good spots or you know the end of the game is coming very soon.
Here goes another. And Ive got others planned.
This one went down even easier than the last ones because now I have my Crusaders all here. But it was destroyed rather than captured.
Stop me if youre heard this one before
No benefit for a ceasefire for me at the moment.
Heh. Havent seen this message in a long time. Itll be even funnier when the idiots declare war on me next turn now.
Im certainly not going to stop demanding gold just because I know for certain that they gave me every coin they have!
My Caravans are starting to arrive.
There shouldnt be more than one more city to find. I was surprised they had more than 3 actually.
So Id been working on these for a while of course. Then in a really, REALLY embarrassing turn of events I accidentally sold them. Immediately. Yeah, that was a ridiculous mis-click. I could have reloaded from the last turns save or something, but that would be cheating.
Actually one gets this all the time from the AI. Im not entirely sure if it means they switched cities (discarding all previous progress) or if they just switched projects to the same thing in the same city. Certainly one gets a similar sequence of messages if theyre forced to change to a new project because you built their old one, so that suggests that this is just a change to the same thing within the same city.
Those treacherous, warmongering weasels!
I believe (and Ive read, though I cant prove it) that the AI (and only the AI) receives an x2 Attack bonus when breaking a treaty to attack. Just another reason to make them declare war during diplomacy on your turn instead.
Well they took out my veteran Horsemen with their Warriors, and thats unfortunate, but its not a big problem.
Ah ha, heres their city. And the interesting thing is that it actually connects back into an explored region of the continent. Thats convenient for getting these troops somewhere useful when Im done.
Hm. 2 Legions. Thats pretty bad.
By now Im sure everyone is sick of the whole Wipeout joke with the Surfaris every time I wipe out another civ. Time for a new one!
I lost the Archer, so I actually suffered 3 casualties taking these guys down. Thats more than I lost to every civ other than the Sioux combined last game.
Its not that these Greeks played much better or were stronger of course, they had about the same number and quality of units as the Persians. The difference was that this time there was no good defensive terrain for cover while approaching their cities and also that I had to go as fast as I could and take risks instead of building up and making a flawless approach.
So I had a bad situation here, but I think I made the best of it. This Warrior will tie up one of the Legions for one turn. The other can then either ransom a city from me or try to kill my Settler while attacking at 2/3 strength. Either way, Ill have enough military units ready to kill them both on my next turn.
The Greek lands have been mostly explored and dont go anywhere new.
So heres the last tech I need for anything not sea-related.
There we go. A minor setback.
So Ive got my Crusaders and all spare soldiers marching up to get ready for war.
Doesnt tell me much. If it was about whos the most advanced or largest I might have learned something useful from how low or high the Aztecs are.
Ugh, the Romans are going to be a mess to deal with. Id better find them soon.
The Skraelings must be at least moderately successful to have done this, but this wonder isnt any kind of problem.
I was just about to start pestering him with demands for tribute.
Mathematics is a step closer to Navigation, Ill take it.
Meanwhile, Ive got a lot of Settlers working hard. In just a couple of turns, Ill have every one of my cities connected to one Road network and a fair amount of Irrigation too.
One of the keys to efficient Road-building is to start from multiple sections at once instead of trying to build along in one direction. If you only try to build from one direction, a lot of Settlers moves will be wasted walking into the same roadless squares and so on.
Hm. Id rather the Aztecs finished it so I could take it from them. Oh well, they had their chance.
As you can see, Ive got my army loaded up and ready for war.
Ive been pestering these guys and trying to knock their friendliness level down till they declare war.
Excellent. I shouldnt have any unhappiness problems as I finally let my cities start growing now.
These guys are just too friendly! Every turn I demand tribute and their attitude often drops down a level, but then it pops right back up!
Here comes the last of my most important group of wonders
Ok, theres been no progress and there isnt going to be.
And I cant wait any longer when Im trying to win fast. Screw it, Im breaking the treaty.
And one city obliterated. I dont really have time to set up proper defenses here, but I did at least get my Elephant out in front of the more useful Crusaders.
Theres only 2 breaks in the Road and theyre being filled in.
Alright, the second war is starting and my important wonders are done or well under way and my massive Road network is now in place. Its a good place to stop.
The biggest problem to deal with next time is that it looks like my continent might have been (almost) fully explored and there arent any other civs on it. Thats bad; Id much rather be able to start a land war against another civ or two before having to start building
Theres quite a few unnamed cities waiting if anyone has any ideas!