Early Landing Comparison Game #7
This game illustrates the robust Monarchy system.
So many rivers and excellent city sites made this map almost ideal for early landing attempts. The SSC site was the best used so far in these games, too. Since most cities could be linked by rivers, there was usually no need to follow my newest practice of building a road on the way to founding each new city. On maps without so many rivers, Ive found that clustering the first few cities near each other and putting roads down on the way to founding each new city actually speeds up the process of acquiring early techs and getting to Monarchy and Trade quickly. Using Zenons Venice-like map, cities could be added more quickly, speeding up the process of early expansion. Because of this, I believe the 500 AD barrier can not really be broken or a new official record set until these feats are accomplished on an unedited, randomly generated map.
Since converting from my early Republic system to the robust Monarchy strategy used so effectively by SG(2), Slow Thinker and Zenon, Ive experimented with several variations of doing this and have found that by far, the most important consideration is the quantity of cities and the speed with which they are established. The early policy should be to just build settlers and found more cities. Even after Trade was discovered, my emphasis remained on adding more cities, at least for a while. Obviously there comes a point where this has to stop, so I decided on using 500 BC or 24 cities (whichever came first) as a rough deadline for accomplishing this. This meant researching Map Making right after Trade instead of waiting to trade for this tech after building MPE. Getting an earlier start on founding colonies was more important to me than the ability to build MPE a few turns earlier than I actually did.
The earlier the landing attempt, the earlier all cities need to reach size 3 to allow we love celebrations to commence. This is why I put a priority on founding colonies earlier and looked for food specials to help them grow quickly. The bananas and spice I discovered on the Spanish continent to the southeast became a prime colony location, where a total of six cities where established. Earlier, 5 others were founded on the small islands along the way to the Russians, who became the best AI trading partner because of their demand for silk. Even with this extra emphasis on early colonies, I felt that building the Pyramids was also another ingredient needed to get these cities up to size 3 in time. In future games, Im thinking of going for Map Making much earlier, since another map as favorable as this for rapid growth is most unlikely.
The other deadline I established for this game was to get all cities up to full size by at least 1 AD or before the discovery of Railroad, whichever event came first. Since the HG expires, I felt that a lot of this wonders use is wasted, whenever those extra happy citizens in the SSC and other cities are no longer available to help we love celebrations. Since the SSC takes so many turns to celebrate to full size, I also decided that this must be started earlier, too, in order to meet this deadline. This meant another deadline of switching to Republic by about 500 BC, so that enough turns were available to accomplish full SSC growth. In general, Ive found that setting up these deadlines in advance and working towards their achievement improves my play. While booming along in Monarchy, there is a great temptation to remain content and to delay the preparations needed to switch to Republic in time for rapid we love expansion.
A big difference between robust early Monarchy and a lean and mean early Republic, is the way in which happiness was controlled. With an early Republic, temples were an early priority in helpers, which were all kept perfectly content at size 3 until much later in the game when they grew further during Democracy. However, doing this wasted some luxuries that were needed for early SSC growth. I have learned from following Zenons games that the Hanging Gardens in combination with some luxuries is sufficient to keep helpers and colonies content until Michaelangelos Chapel is built to commence their we love growth. Resources I diverted towards building temples in early Republic were better used to add more cities and to produce more caravans for more early wonders and additional trade. The extra cities provided more than enough raw science to carry the extra techs of Pottery, Polytheism and Monotheism, which were required to build the HG and MC wonders. I have always appreciated the power of MC as the most efficient way to keep many cities content, but now have a new appreciation for the power of HG. Without this wonder, I do not think robust early Monarchy would work half as well as it actually does. I had never been a fan of wonders that expire, but now I make an exception as a firm advocate for this one, as well as for Marco Polos Embassy.
Later on, when all cities were full size, I ended up using colosseums for maintaining happiness. With so many cities, it might seem more efficient to continue with JSB and temples instead, or to even take a risk on the Oracle. However, one colosseum along with MC does the whole job adequately, and by the time colosseums are needed, almost enough income from trade was available to build and maintain them. Another goal I set was to accomplish happiness control without using any luxuries by the time The Corporation was discovered, so that science could be set at 100% to start and maintain two techs per turn. Since many wonders were needed at about the same time (Isaac Newtons College, Darwins, and Leonardos) and income from trade had decreased, this part of the game was the hardest to manage. Here is where the little bit of extra income from the Colossus would have really been helpful, but hey, you cant have everything go exactly as planned.
Now on to the log:
In the beginning its simple, only settlers for new cities and warriors for martial law, while racing to discover Monarchy. Any small amounts of gold that are accumulated are used to help rush new settlers.
4000 Beijing, Shanghai
3750 Sha warrior
The first warrior was sent off exploring and scouting for the best city sites, as well as checking out that promised land of gold and rubies. He went on to meet the Japanese, the only other civ on the home continent.
3600 Code of Laws
3500 Sha warrior
3450 Bei settlers
3300 Bronze Working
3250 Bei warrior
3050 Sha settlers
2950 Ceremonial Burial, Nanking
2850 Can settlers
2700 Nan warrior
2650 Bei settlers, Monarchy, switch made to that government
This augured well getting into Monarchy 4 (or even 8) turns earlier than usual. Now science was set to 70%, and taxes to 30% to get to Trade and Map Making quickly. I expanded quickly towards the SSC site, already anticipating the possibility of 3 tech turns near the end of the game. Since the SSC provides almost one of these turns all by itself, you want it positioned very near the beginning or the end of the city list.
2450 Sha settlers, Nan warrior
2400 Can settlers, Currency, Bei warrior
2300 Xin warrior
2250 Tsi settlers, Can warrior, Japanese peace, give tech
2200 Chengdu, Bei warrior
Chengdu was the SSC and also the 7th city. Its job was to just grow.
Trade came even earlier than I really needed it, so it might have been better to research Map Making sometime before learning Trade. In previous games, once Trade was discovered, most cities would switch from settlers to making caravans instead, to get MPE built quickly and to get going on early trade. This game, the focus remained mostly on expanding the number of cities instead, and on getting the first colonies started as early as possible.
2000 Nan settlers
1950 Sha settlers, Che warrior, Can warrior
1900 Map Making, Han warrior, Tientsin
Map Making was the final early tech that was urgently needed. This is the part of the game where the AI become most helpful in acquiring techs, and coincidentally the time when my own city science is at its weakest. In earlier games, when playing with a lean early Republic, I had always maximized research, but doing this had probably been a mistake. At this stage, city growth and development is the priority, and what is really needed most is more gold to help speed along this process until caravans deliveries take over the job of providing income. Since I could wait a bit for the next critical techs, I reduced science to 30% and maximized income with taxes at 70%, another good idea picked up from following Zenons successful games. As more cities were added during Monarchy, some of the 30% being used for science had to be shifted to luxuries to help control citizen anger. Slowing down my own research also provided the AI a bit more time to learn techs that could be traded for. Techs coming through trades do not cost any turns of research, so maximizing the chances of this is the best policy.
1800 Tatung, Bei trireme, Sha warrior
Tatung was the 10th city and filled in the last good empty spot north of the SSC, so the first trireme was loaded up with two settlers, heading for two small islands I had located by black clicking southwest of Chengdu, the SSC. Before sending off these settlers I had determined the likely commodities Chengdu would be trading and had black clicked around my home continent looking for potential colony sites, using map coordinates to check for useful wildcard commodities. The two islands to the southwest each had two promising colony sites, so each settler was assigned its own island to develop. The plan was for the first settler produced on each island to found a second city on the other promising site. A little further along was a third and smaller island, which became the target for a settler on a following trip. Since all of these islands were very close to the large continent (#5) to the west, I thought they would also be well positioned as a base for conducting trade with the AI civs in that area. The southwest portion of continent #5 was located in the part of the world having the strongest demand for silk, a commodity I knew the Chinese would be producing a lot of. The distance to that area was also just right for lucrative trade.
1800 Japanese 25g tribute
All those warriors maintaining martial law now outnumber any AI armies on my home continent, so tribute can be used to tap another source of income. At this stage, every coin helps. I had also hung around Kyoto long enough with the warrior making contact with the Japanese to allow it to be teleported home.
1750 Tsi settlers, Han warriors
1700 Can warrior
1650 Tsi warrior
1600 Tie warrior, Macao
I wanted a few more cities just to the south of the SSC on the home continent. They could help rush caravans when needed to make SSC wonders and were needed as seaports for conducting trade with the colonies and AI later on.
1550 Che dye, Tat warrior
1500 Nan food, Japanese trade for Mysticism & Iron Working, give tech, share maps
I was just about to learn Writing, but was pretty sure it would be available later when MPE was built, so had to slow down my own research by making trades with the Japanese. I was very happy to see they had Iron Working, since all the rivers on the map had made Bridge Building more important than usual. Now this tech would be only more one step after learning Construction. Now that almost all the cities needed on the home continent had been established, it was time to shift more of them towards building caravans. On the previous turn the SSC produced some dye to be used for the first AI trade a bit later.
1450 Xin food
1400 Sha food, Bei food, Tsi warrior, Che warrior
1350 Bei Marco Polos Embassy, Han trireme, Mac warrior, Anyang, French trade for Writing & Masonry, share maps
After several EL games, the MPE wonder has become a staple among all players. In games without huts, it is more efficient not to explore and to use this wonder instead for making quick contact with all of the AI. On average, careful use of this wonder provides 5 more techs than would usually be available through trades with the AI. This capability of MPE more than pays for its cost. During this stage of the game, taxes were maximized and techs came through AI trades or by beakers earned from making caravan deliveries. After some tech trades with the French, the beakers I had accumulated towards Writing could be shifted to Construction, which was the next tech I wanted. At this time the AI had the following techs I lacked: Horseback Riding, The Wheel, Warrior Code, Masonry, Writing, and Pottery. Two techs I didnt have they were researching were Polytheism and Literacy.
The trireme built in Hangchow was going to be used to carry a settler to found the first colony beyond the southeast side of the home continent. The French occupied a small island to the south, and there was a larger island to the east of them I had noticed by black clicking. Further north and to the east was another large continent. I hoped to find some good colony sites on the larger island east of the French. A group of colonies there would become a good base for conducting trade to the southeast of the home continent. I also wanted two groups of colonies to provide more chances of profitable oil trades later on during the game.
The dye produced by the SSC was also going to accompany this settler, and since dye is universally in demand, I could wait to make contact with the other AI, until the trireme was near its destination. With MPE I like to contact the AI on separate turns if possible, to help avoid setting them up with the prerequisites to research techs already selected by others. It helps to see what one is going to research next, before deciding how to steer the research of the others.
Anyang was founded on this turn, a colony on the first island. On the following turn, colonist #2 started Shangtung on island #2.