1867 AD – 1970 AD
I was starting to get complacent with my position and failed to upgrade my defenders from Oromo Warriors to Riflemen once I discovered Rifling, this proved to be a costly mistake because Bismark declared war on me and marched a massive stack of CR2 cannons towards Abbis Abada. Actually in hindsight, I think the lack of a response units (in particular loads of siege, but some cavalry for flank attacks would have been handy too) was the thing that killed me. I bribed Periclese into the war with Democracy so that took a bit of the heat off me but I was sure Bismark would take at least one city. I tried to get Shaka to join in but he had enough on his hands so I was really worried about being on the receiving end of a dogpile.
The German stack took down my defences in one turn and then rolled the defending units the next turn.
I don’t think it would have made any difference what I actually had in the city and so I learnt a valuable lesson that it is crucial to engage the enemy in the field because you can’t actually defend against a decent sized stack. This was a real revelation to me because I didn’t play with Blake’s AI before BtS and was used to really insipid AI stacks that you could hold a city against.
In building news, I finish the SoL. This was sped along quite nicely by Periclese’s copper. This having allies caper is really good I set everything else to building units, Riflemen until I discover Steel and then I mix in some Cannons. I am determined to not make the same mistake of letting them get a stack next to a city unopposed because the next most logical target will be Lalibela which will sink my chances of winning via a cultural victory, or at least make it significantly harder.
Shaka ends up declaring on Toku and Monty which is a great relief. With those guys tied up in their own war I can concentrate on fighting the Germans. The Germans make a strategic blunder and send troops to the west, presumably aimed at the Greeks, but have to trudge across a nice empty plain. I caught this stack in the open:
I destroyed it over 2 turns without losses. I keep my eye on their big stack of cannons, mainly assisted by passive spying, to try to work out where they were going to strike next. They kept moving them out of Abbis Abada but would then move them back once AA went into revolt. I think this could be considered a bit of a bug because they would have been better off moving up some sort of garrison to suppress the revolt and move their cannons onto my next city. It probably would have been worth it to not actually suppress the revolt at all, it wasn’t like I had the units to take it back at that point. Anyway, after destroying another stack heading for Greece, they commit their cannons and an attack force to try to knock over Lalibela. Having learnt my lesson I engage them in the field.
Destroyed with the loss of 2 Riflemen.
With the bulk of the German forces destroyed I take the initiative and march on Abbis Abada. I have enough siege support that I will easily take the city in one turn but I use a Spy to put it into revolt to put it beyond doubt. After 30 years of German occupation, Abbis Abada is liberated. The war really took its toll on the Germans, I think the power graph tells you a lot (also: I wasn’t really prepared for war before):
I now have a choice as to end the war or make the Germans pay. I choose the later and invade with a big stack of cavalry, my mission is to tear up as much infrastructure as possible, capture stray workers and destroy any units that venture out of the cities. I end up capturing 8 workers! This is a bit crazy, while I like that they don’t run away and hide in cities, I would have thought that if there was a cavalry 2 plots away that they would run away rather than continue working on their improvements. The looting continues for 8 turns before Toku and Monty declare on me. I hastily wrap up the war and bring everything down to the Japanese border.
The Japanese send in a few of stacks that I manage to destroy cheaply. I then get peace with Toku and Monty. I am not sure what they hoped to achieve in their war, maybe Bismark bribed them in? If so, it had the desired effect.
Periclese is pressing the Vikings pretty hard and asks me to join in the war which puts me back at war with the Vikings and the Germans. I manage to destroy a small German stack before the war ends with the Germans becomes a Vassal of the Greeks. This frees the Vikings, which is odd in this situation because the Vikings were the ones getting hammered by the Greeks. But anyway, I take the opportunity of peace to enter a Defensive Pact with the Greeks.
The Vassal dance continues with Ragnar becomes a peacetime Vassal of Shaka. This worries me because I now that the Greeks are determined to destroy the Vikings, predictably they go to war putting Periclese and Shaka, my 2 long time allies, at war with each other. Sorry Shaka, but I have hitched my wagon to the Periclese train. Bismark manages to get free from Periclese a little way into the war. Predictably Periclese asks me to join the war so being a good ally I join in. I probably could have sat it out because I am not that far from victory at that point, but you never know something strange could happen and an ally might be handy in that case (like everyone else declaring on me because I am close to winning).
In 1959 a Great Merchant is born so I use him to activate my first Golden Age. In 1961 I turn off research and have 100% allocated to culture. I can afford this by having all my cities, except for my troop production city and my 3 culture cities building Wealth. Periclese finishes the Apollo program in 1963 but with victory 7 turns away he can’t possibly win by Space Race. My Golden Age finishes in 1967 at which point Aksum and Gondar go Legendary. In 1970 Lalibela joins them and I win. My in game score was 2787, normalised to 10264 which ranks me Emperor Constantine.
Not the fastest Cultural Victory ever but I found it quite satisfying because I didn’t go into the game wanting to do one, I just thought that it was going to be the easiest way to win from the mid game onwards (1060 AD was the turn that I had the idea). The other great hope for victory was through the AP but I couldn’t get Monty to open his borders to allow me to sneak a missionary in (I was his worst enemy – hey buddy you started it!).
I managed to generate 10 Great Artists in the time between 1060 and 1970. I did this with a city purely dedicated to punching out Great Artists, it had the National Epic (of course) and was running 10 artists at one point (post Biology). This was out of 13 great people all up.