Part 2: New Friends, New Targets, and Speedball is a Terrible ArtistNow, where were we?
I send my warrior west while the scout is training--they're slower over rough terrain but the point is figuring out what's around us NOW. Hidden on the map are goodies that only go to the first person who finds them, and it will let us know where next to settle.
It already pays off.
This is a city-state, a neutral city that won't try to invade us (barring a buddy of theirs declaring war). They give us money for being the first civ to meet them, go us! As they are a militaristic city-state, if we manage to do things they like, they'll donate free soldiers to us.
Couple of turns later, our Warrior discovers some Ancient Ruins (think of them as like random treasure chests you find early-game) and this one fills out a part of our map.
A big part of our map. It would have taken a dozen turns to fill all that out. There's still some spots of fog of war in there but right now we have a general idea of what's over there. Namely, a hell of a lot of mountains and a ton of sheep.
Sheep are just a food booster, our workers will build animal pastures over them if there's a city nearby. Nothing to go hog wild over. There's also Elephants (for Ivory, a luxury resource) and silver down there, and fish.
Knowing where luxuries are is really important because they make our people happy when we mine them. Any early-game expansion must keep goodies in mind, because founding new cities gives us a hit to our happiness.
At the far edge we can see a little purple border there. Hovering our mouse over it lets us know that it belongs to Rome. Our first target!
But only as soon as we're ready for them.
Sorry, Boudicca, we all know how much you hate the Romans, but we want to make sure you actually win against them this time instead of getting caught.
Our Scout is up and running, and he runs northwest, soon discovering a Natural Wonder, the Barringer Crater. Natural Wonders are mountains (or other impassable terrain) that give unique benefits. Our workers can't improve them but we can mine them for certain resources. Some give food. Some, like Mt. Sinai, give faith points.
Discovering Natural Wonders is pretty important because we get a bit of permanent happiness just for bumping into them (some natural wonders also give us additional happiness if they are within our city borders, but more on that later).
Yep, that sure is a crater, all right. There's also Silk and Salt up there, more luxuries! Next to a river! Oh, mama, we are going to want to settle over there absolutely as soon as possible. Especially for the salt. Salt gives us bonus food and production points, it's possibly the best resource in the game.
SON OF A BITCH
We have found another City-State, right to the north of Barringer Crater. They will surely hog the silk to themselves unless we take steps to be their friend, probably the crater and the salt too. God damn it.
Speaking of which, let's declare ourselves to protect the city-states, for now, at least. Doing so will make our friendship meter hover up to 10/30 by default. These guys could potentially give us free armies, we want to be their buddies.
Dammit, so close. Well, worse comes to worst, we can always conquer them and force them to work for us. Let's not do that too soon yet, we're not Genghis Khan.
The warrior goes further west past the mountain ranges, discovers a barbarian camp (guys who send out random hostile attackers periodically to annoy you and city-states) and a big dessert, yadda yadda yadda
And we discover pottery. Yay.
We are going to beeline Calendar, for multiple reasons. Calendar lets us build plantations upon plant-based luxury resources like Cotton, Spices and Silk, and that's what we've got right next to our capital, but it's the Wonder it unlocks that we need to get the most. Stonehenge. We are the Celts, after all, and Stonehenge is a huge faith-generating building. With our strategy in mind, we will need a shitload of faith as quickly as possible.
We also meet the wandering warrior of this muscular dude. In this game, "Polynesia" is a sort of hypothetical alliance of various island nations that did not exist in real life. Their unique gimmick is that they can cross deep ocean on turn 1.
Kamehameha is pretty chill, but he likes to plunk down lots of cities so we need to watch him and prepare to kill him, maybe even before we can kill Rome.
DING DING DING. We have accumulated 10 Faith Points before anyone else could and now get first pick of religious beliefs. Everyone else in the game will need to accumulate more and more faith points to do the same, so we have completely beaten everyone else to the punch.
This screen is asking us to pick a "pantheon," sort of an old-world proto-religion rather than a big world-spanning modern religion. We can't spread it around, we can't get Big Benefits, yet, but we can get something that will forward our agenda and help us out in the early game.
If we were on tundra or desert tiles, Dance of the Aurora or Desert Folklore would have us quickly swimming in extra faith points. Right now, though, the only thing that gives us a terrain advantage would be Oral Tradition, +1 Culture for every plantation (so once we farm that cotton and spice near Edinburgh, we get more culture points from them).
Or, we could also choose something generic like %15 faster border growth, %10 faster city growth, +1 culture from shrines, or +30% attack strength for our cities.
We're going to go with the plantations one, Oral Tradition, because we could always use the extra culture.
As I said earlier, religion is a "first-come, first-serve" thing in this game. Once we pick a belief, nobody else in the game will get that belief, and as more and more people beat them to the punch, it'll take more and more faith points to establish a pantheon until the stragglers are left unable to found a religion at all.
Not that that's a completely bad thing, because it's possible to benefit from the beliefs of someone else's religion if it spreads to your cities. If we want to prioritize building armies instead of building up faith points, that's cool too.
Now, we just need to grind up 200 faith points as quickly as we can to get a Great Prophet who will start our first proper religion. Stonehenge will massively help with that.
Further west our Warrior discovers yet more desert, and the faith-generating Mount Sinai. It'd be nice if we could sneak a settler all the way over there, but first things first. I tell my scout to start heading back east because that area is unexplored and the west is likely picked over by Kamehameha. Also: there are a lot of cows over there!
Hot damn. At this early stage in the game, that is a ton of culture. I now get to show you this screen.
Social policies! This is a secondary "tech tree" for our game. Building up culture points lets us unlock these. Each of them gives us a benefit for clicking "Adopt," there are five policies within and a special benefit for completing a group. The greyed-out ones unlock in later technological epochs.
It boils down to this: Tradition helps our empire grow vertically, if we take it our first four cities will grow quite well, with free culture buildings in each and extra population growth.
Liberty helps us grow horizontally, giving us a free worker and a free settler and a boost to trade routes between cities, and a free Great Person (more on that later) if we fill out the tree.
Honor gives us nice military-related benefits but can wait until later. So it's down to deciding which we want to focus upon, Tradition or Liberty.
Next time: I hit the fast-forward button and we stop dicking around each turn so I can show you what happens when things heat up.
Let the "Tradition vs. Liberty" arguments commence!