The most popular Realms Beyond event of all time is back! Potluck - play the hand you're dealt. All players play on the same map, but each player gets assigned one of the 8 leader at random. Of course I was very excited to find out which leader I got, and was secretly hoping I would get Tokugawa as I haven't played him in a long time. It was not to be, though: I received Elizabeth of England instead - which would have been my second pick after Toku, so I was more than content with that die roll.
Part of the fun of the potluck events is to make the most out of the strengths of the leader you got, so let's have a closer look exactly what I have to play with!
Elizabeth is philosophical, which means I should take advantage of her increased great person birth rate. Double-speed universities are great too, as building universities as soon as possible very often plays a key part in my game plans. Also, cheap universities fits perfectly with Elizabeth's second trait, financial, which means I will be able to get to Education faster. However, cheap banks don't fit as well into the picture, as you will be going for either universities or banks in your empire, but usually not both. I tend to favor the university path, as the extra +100% science building (Oxford University) comes a lot earlier than the +100% gold building (Wall Street), but that depends on the specific game of course.
So while I was happy with the traits I got, I was even happier with Elizabeth's unique unit: The redcoat. Besides the Russian cossack, the redcoat is one of the strongest UUs in the game, bordering overpowered even, as there is no real counterunit to it in its era. So if you play England, it's often a very good idea to beeline to Rifling and put this fantastic UU to some good use! In many games it's a good time to expand your empire aggressively anyway by the time Rifling gets discovered, so being financial and the cheap universities should help me nicely get access to redcoats faster.
So even before opening the save, I had a rough game plan already: Put the financial trait to good use by emphasizing commerce, beeline to Education and cheap universities, then to Rifling and redcoats. Then, unleash hell on the rest of the world! Whether this plan will survive contact with the enemy remains to be seen...
So I opened the save, and found myself with a settler and two warriors. Uh...two warriors? Normally, you start with only one! Maybe Sirian put the extra warrior in there for the human player so all civs started with the same units, making potluck comparisons more meaningful? But then he should have given us an extra worker too, as the AIs start with one - strange.
Anyway, I moved both warriors to see more of my surroundings, and was faced with a very difficult decision already. The starting position was on the coast, which is very nice combined with the financial trait (with a lighthouse, you have access to 2 food/3 commerce tiles early on!). On the other hand, I hate to have my capital on the coast, as you can get even more out of well-improved land tiles. Additionally, this was a pangea map, so coastal spots aren't very important for shipbuilding either, and one of my warriors had revealed a second gem and a dyes tile...so I decided to move the settler away from the coast.
London was founded in 3970BC, with two gems, a rice and a dyes tile in its range, plus several river grassland tiles which just begged to be cottaged later on. Three hills would provide a decent amount of production (although one hill had gems, reducing its hammer output by one), so overall this was a very nice starting position. By moving, I had lost spices and, as it later turned out, horses too, but I would never come to regret the move away from the coast.
As I had a food resource (rice) at the capital, it was only natural to research Agriculture and to produce a worker first at London. After all, growth equals power! Both warriors were sent out scouting. This landmass had eight civs on it, one more than usual, so I expected it to be a little bit cramped and wanted to know my immediate surroundings to see where the best sites for future cities would be.
But before I met any other civilization, my warriors found several tribal huts to explore. The first hut gave me gold, which was nice. The second one was even better: It gave me a tech, Masonry! That was fantastic. It got even better, though: I found another hut in 3610BC, and it gave me...Hunting! Two techs from huts, fantastic! But "fantastic" turned into "ridiculous" in 3190BC, when I found my forth and last hut, which provided me with...Mysticism.
So to recap, my warriors (not scouts!) had explored four tribal villages, and got three techs out of them! That luck was really ridiculous, despite the fact two of the three techs, Hunting and Mysticism, were quite cheap. So...sorry, I guess.
Anyway, besides learning a lot from savages, my warriors also made contact with Saladin in the south, Hatshepsut in the west, and then Mansa Musa north of me. As I had expected, there was not a lot of room between us, so a fast expansion phase would be in order. I would later also meet Julius Caesar, Tokugawa and Mao before I lost one of my warriors to a barbarian warrior (the barb had 20% odds of winning... ) and recalled the other one home to escort my settlers, so the last missing leader, Roosevelt, had to find me on his own much later in 565BC.
After Agriculture, I researched the Wheel to connect the gems (Elizabeth starts with knowing Mining already), then researched Bronze Working to see where copper was, a very important thing to know in such a crowded situation! As it turned out, there was none in my immediate surroundings. So after Bronze Working, I started to research Iron Working next in 2500BC, even before Pottery or Animal Husbandry, in a desperate attempt to secure at least iron. With my neighbours so close by, I expected war sooner or later!
Meanwhile, Mansa had founded Buddhism in 3100BC and Hatty Hinduism in 2830BC. After the worker, London had built a warrior until it had reached size 2, then built a settler. The worker had built a mine after improving the rice - not on the gems, but on the other hill without the gems. A mined gems hill provides one less hammer than a mined normal hill, and although the gems would produce a lot more commerce than the normal hill, the extra hammer for the settler was more important at the moment! And since London wouldn't reach its happiness cap for quite a while because of building settlers anyway, the extra happiness from the gems wasn't needed.
York was founded in 2200BC, near a stone resource.
There was an overall better location south of London, with ivory, pig and rice, but that spot had to wait: I needed the stone now. Hatty has the creative trait and had a religion, and Saladin often favors cultual buildings, so I expected some cultural border struggles later on. To help with this, I wanted to build Stonehenge, and York started that wonder immediately. My worker had mined the gems hill already (and as soon as the mine had been finished, I allowed London to grow to size 3 before resuming building another settler) and was now connecting the stones, to help with Stonehenge. Not building it in the capital carried a slight risk of losing the wonder, but I had a reason for doing this I will talk about later.
The second settler was then helped with a forest chop which put a third mine on a hill at London (mined hills are just great for worker and settler production!), and by then my research on Iron Working was finished too. This event caused me to ignore the ivory/pig/rice spot a second time.
As you can see, Nottingham was founded near iron, but already was fighting Egyptian culture! It would later turn out that Thebes was west of Nottingham, which was Hatty's capital and the Hindu holy city, which together with her creative trait proved to be somewhat problematic to Nottingham. The city was quite far away from Thebes, but failed to get control over the corn resource for a long, long time. In fact, it took until around 700AD before I was able to use the corn!
But that didn't really matter, as the iron was much, much more important. I wonder if those English players who had founded London on the starting spot would be able to secure metal? Maybe Hatty would grab the iron sooner? At least these players would have horses...although considering that we weren't allowed to declare war before 1000BC, this game could become very interesting for them! I'm looking very much forward to report day.
But I'm digressing. Note in the screenshot above that I once again played a (weakened) farmer's gambit, relying on the fact that barbs will respect your borders for some time and that the AIs won't declare war on me that early. There will be warriors guarding London and Nottingham soon, but not yet...and I have yet to see this gambit fail.
You can also see above that Saladin had founded a city south of Nottingham already, which I had marked so that once his borders expanded I would still know where the city was exactly. This showed me that Saladin was expanding towards me, and I feared for the ivory spot! I hate it when AIs will have war elephants (and I have not...).
So I hurried to produce yet another settler to grab that spot. But before that happened, York successfully completed Stonehenge.
This should help a bit in my cultural struggles with Hatty, Saladin - and Mansa. Yes, Mansa: As you can see, this dimwit had founded the city of Kumbi Saleh 3 tiles NE of my captal, trying to get the horses most probably! He would never get them, but he took away a potential site for my fifth city. But first, I finally founded Hastings at the ivory, pig and rice spot in 1000BC, which Saladin fortunately hadn't settled yet.
Mansa would found another city in the north shortly thereafter, so the landgrab phase was over now in our parts of the landmass. I had managed to found four cities, some of them in a cultural struggle. Lots of my land was covered with jungle, which takes a lot of time to chop down. I also had no floodplains, and only one short river - not good! All this meant I had to fight a war of conquest soon, as one capital plus three mediocre cities wouldn't be enough to stay ahead of the AIs!
On the upside, I had iron and ivory, a solid foundation for war. More importantly though, I had stone! My workers would need time to remove all that jungle and connect resources, and my cities needed time to grow, too, so I used that time to build the Pyramids in London. Thanks to the stone and some micromanagement in London, I completed the wonder in 475BC.
I revolted to Representation and Slavery immediately, and let my cities grow even more. Growth = power! Meanwhile, I built libraries, workers, granaries and barracks. After Iron Working, I had researched Animal Husbandry, Pottery and Writing next, and now was going for Alphabet. Time to see what techs the other AIs had, and maybe play middle man a bit and broker some techs around!
In 385BC, Stonehenge had accumulated enough great people points for my first great prophet to appear. Now what to do with him? I hadn't founded any religion so couldn't construct a shrine. Merging him into the capital would be a nice idea that early in the game, but since I was researching Alphabet anyway, I had a better idea:
I used him to lightbulb Theology! Not because I wanted to found Christianity, although it didn't hurt that Hastings, struggling against Saladin's culture, became a holy city now.
No, I didn't even convert to Christianity, as this would completely wreck diplomacy with the other AIs. I did this because I could now adopt Theocracy (remember, I was planning to wage war soon, and the extra experience will come in handy then), and because Theology is a very nice tech to trade away to the AIs. Besides enabling Theocracy, it doesn't do anything and also isn't a prerequisite tech for anything useful either, so it's nice to trade for some more useful techs I had skipped with it. But I'm getting ahead of myself; maybe I should discover Alphabet first because planning any tech deals.
I planned to hold on my Alphabet monopoly for as long as possible. The recent games at RB, where tech trading had been disabled, have convinced me that tech trading does help the AIs more than it does the human player. In games where tech trading had been disabled, key discoveries like Liberalism or Rifling, or events like spaceship launches had happened considerably later than in games with tech trading allowed. So by holding on Alphabet as long as possible while still trading away other techs, I hoped to get the best of both worlds at once: Filling in the gaps via trading, but preventing AI-AI trades for as long as possible.
As soon as I had Alphabet, Mansa tried my patience.
Of course you won't get that tech, you dimwit! You have sealed your own fate by founding Kumbi Saleh on a spot which was rightfully mine, although you might not have realized this yet... Relations worsened, which bothered me not on the least.
However, other relations were more valuable to me.
You want Polytheism, Caesar? That's that cheap tech which doesn't no anything useful anyway, so sure - why not? Take it, and like me better!