Sunday, April 27, 2014

Just Done F*cked Up

It took forever, but I finally finished my run in the Shoshone challenge. Part of the reason it took forever was my schedule has changed giving me less free time on weekends, and part of it was that I never felt this one. And judging by how it ended, it shows.

I tried to do a nice cultural victory but never got it going culturally. I kept getting distracted by Ethiopian missionaries or Zulu war parties. I spent some effort liberating the Aztecs from the expanding Zulu a couple times until I just finally decided to wipe the Zulus out myself. Unfortunately, that act seems to have made everyone decide I was a good target for declaring war and found myself fighting off wars from Ethiopia (which I won handily) and the Dutch (which I won easily).

However, while fighting these easy wars the Incas had been building up technologically and militarily and quickly rolled the Aztecs then moved north against my two ex-Zulu cities. The fight was brutal and he did not have too much tech advantage, but he had a lot of forces and despite killing many of them I was overrun. Then, as I planned my revenge against the Incas with half the map covered, the Ethiopians launched a major invasion again with my army spread thin and spent.

Rather than dragging out a frustrating end game for me that had no good path to victory anymore I surrendered.

My biggest mistake? I should have rolled Ethiopia early on and burned their territory to the ground. Also, should have spent less time fighting Zulus and more time weakening the Incas when I knew they were a problem.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

From Pocatello, with love

We have our first write-in game review!  Here is Udit's playthrough for challenge #6.


I started the game and made 2 cities as soon as I could. Ethiopia was being bothersome right off the bat, creating a city between my 2 cities. I found the extra starting tiles perk useful when creating cities near resources and grabbing land near other civs like a jerk. I also started off with Liberty instead of Tradition (which is usually my tradition), since my plan was to "make" many cities in this game.

The Zulus were being very aggressive and by the time the Classical era was coming to an end, had already eliminated the Aztecs. So, naturally I got in on their good side, since at the time, I wasn't leading in anything. I found that I was lagging behind on technology for quite a while, and my gold wasn't ramping up as fast as it normally does in Prince. To compensate for that, I went with the Commerce path.

Around the end of the medieval period, I decided that the Incas, who were nearest to me, would just have to go. They were leading in culture along with the Dutch and were also beginning to amass an army. So, I made short work of their capital, and another one of their cities (Machu). Their last city was in a very well-defended area, terrain wise, and I didn't bother taking it. Needless to say, this little escapade cost me tons of happiness, and I went way into the red (think negative 45). Shortly after that barbarians began spawning in my territory. I managed to fight them off, and surprisingly found an awesome solution to my happiness problem (other than buying zoos and coliseums everywhere).

I was at a point where I got my last point in the commerce tree, which effectively doubled my happiness per luxury. Seeing as I had recently acquired several cities and their luxuries, my happiness went from -45 to +45 in one turn. At this point I was sitting in a good position, and I turned my attention to Ethiopia, which I always hate because they always manage to build all the wonders before I do. I took 2 of their cities as well, leaving them with their capital. I had to stop because the Dutch and the one tiny Incan city declared war on me.

So, it was that the Dutch, angering me, sealed their doom. They had very high tourism and I planned to take them out anyway at some point, but I decided to fast forward. I had chosen the Autocracy ideology at this point, and with the Zulus also eager to fight the Dutch, I took their capital and another city (left the Incans alone). The Zulus took the 3rd Dutch city and that was the end of the Dutch.

Then there were many turns of "peace" where I built troops in preparation to take the Zulus out. The other 2 civs were no threat to me anymore. By this time I had airplanes and tons of gold (12000 ish). I also had tons of faith (because I had chosen not to found any religions, and hadn't spent anything on prophets and the like). I found that I had adopted the Ethiopian religion, and could buy many science buildings. I used up most of my faith to buy Public schools and Research centres in all my cities. Needless to say that increased my science output considerably, allowing me to research the Atom bomb.

I took out the Zulu capital and turned my attention to nuking Ethiopia, since I had saved them for a particularly grisly fate. I bought 5 nukes and nuked Ethiopia 3 times and took over their capital. I then nuked the last Incan city and razed that to the ground. I then found out that I had to take the Aztec capital that the Zulus had taken over. That was out of nuke range so I rushed them from both sides and took them over. I could have just waited just one more turn to get a tourism victory, but I wanted a domination victory, so I decided to capture the last capital as well.
End of the game stats:
Gold: ~11000
Land: Most of it. Just a few small Zulu cities remaining

City States: All allies

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Challenge #6 - Nowhere to Hide

King level again, but no oceans to hide behind. It should be extremely tough!

Culture: Shoshone
Map size: Small
Map type: Seas (i.e. all land except for a few seas)
Resources: Sparse
Difficulty level: King
Challenge Creator: Bill

Pocatello_0000 BC-4000.Civ5Save

Monday, March 10, 2014

Between A Rock and A Hard Place

I started the game with the idea that I would be a small nation with a powerful navy, much like England during the 1800s. Maybe go for a diplomatic victory or a cultural one. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men.

Things started fine, founded a second city to my south and north of the City state Valletta there. Met the Poles right to my north east. Walked west and... holy shit, ran into the Indonesians. I'm surrounded already and its only turn 60.

From later on, but you can see my Ottoman capital and Polish and Indonesian cities around it.
With no place to expand I put a third city on a nearby island but knew I was in trouble with my capital getting crunched for space early on and no where else to easily expand. To make matters worse, the Poles also were tight on space and had their eyes on me.

Fast forward centuries. I've held off the Poles in a couple wars due to a good defensive position but the Indonesians are running away with the game culturally, technologically, and militarily (see above screenshot for a sample of a portion of their fleet) while the Poles were no slouches in any department. Meanwhile the Celts and English were also powerful. Only the Assyrians who had the unfortunate luck to spawn next to the leading Indonesians were doing worse than me. With no religion to boost and falling behind technologically, I needed to do something or I was going to lose this one bad.

During a period of friendliness with the Poles, they asked for open borders and I gave it to them to appease Casmir and keep the peace. I watched as a red wave walked through my territory and attacked the Indonesians (who recently kicked the Assyrians off the contintent). Casmir must have felt they were a big threat as well and decided to deal with it. feeling like this was my chance I decided to attack as well sending a force to the south of our landline collection over the small sea to attack the old Assyrian capital now under Indonesian control.

The gamble paid off and I took Asyr and made it my new outpost. Then I swung north and took Surabaya as well, solidifying my empire nicely. With a more solid core I worked to rectify the tech gap with lots of research buildings and research agreements. Slowly I made ground but was worried that Indonesia, still strong culturally would win anyways. Meanwhile, Poland was preparing for another war... with me.

Poland attacked soon after I reached peace with Indonesia and I braced for it as I knew he was classified as having the biggest military and good tech. I weathered the initial wave ok but was startled to see the secod wave not appear. It turns out the Casmir sent the bulk of his military against my city state ally Vancouver to his south! This fortunate turn of luck allowed me to launch an assault on Lodz and take it. Then, just before Vancouver was about to fall Casmir sued for peace as I started bombing and pillaging around Warsaw! Glorious victory!

Now I entered another rebuilding and solidifying period as I worked to integrate my new gains into my greater empire. I watched with concern as Casmir and Indonesia build up armies on my borders.

I thought for sure Casmir would be the one to pull the trigger... but in one turn Casmir asked for some trades and then Indonesia launched an attack. Thus began the Indonesian purge.

I weathered the initial attacks barely in Asyra with the bulk of my army stationed on the Polish border and rushing back, but my navy proved superior and I slowly pushed the enemy back. Then reinforcements arrived and my artillery legions opened up, decimating the enemy lines. I took Medina, razed Ninveh, and sieged Jakarta. I sent in my ironclads and privateers to die to the city's guns but it helped and I put the Indonesians out my my misery. With the West won, I turned to the east.

By now my tech had caught up with the Poles and was only behind the English and powerful Celts, but they were fighting each other a lot. Casmir must have decided to pitch in and try to take some English territory as he went to war with them, so I figured now was the best time and launched an all out war with Poland. Our land forces were equal but my new battleship and submarine navy were too much for his aircraft carriers and ironclad and I bomed the ever-living shit out of anything red. He sued for peace but I was out for blood and took his last city at Krakow. The continent was now mine.

At this point I had allied almost all the city states and was working on the last handful so I decided to go for diplomatic victory. I missed it in the year 2000 by one vote, but the extra delegatesI got for being the leader in the vote assured me I would pass in 2020 which I did. I was concerned for a bit about the Celts making a technological win as they built the Apollo program, but another war with England distracted them from that goal so I could win.

This was NOT an easy victory, trailing the entire game in tech and facing some powerful enemies. I look forward to the next round.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Brute force diplomacy

Sometimes things don't go quite as planned.  Going into this King level game, my initial thought was to build up a solid economy, and then shower gold on all of the City States to earn a diplomatic victory.  To this end, I decided to avoid the majority of the cultural buildings and all faith-related buildings, and simply focus on production, research, and wealth.

Fairly early on it was apparent that real estate would come at a premium on the map for this challenge; with the Poles to the east and the Indonesians and Assyrians to the west, I had to act quickly to carve out three nice cities.

My base of operations - 50AD

As my economy ramped up I took an early lead in all of the important growth indicators (Technology, GDP, Crops), but something changed around the year 1200AD, and the Indonesians started pulling ahead.

Worried that I'd be in jeopardy later on if I didn't act quickly, I amassed a fleet of two Frigates, a Galleas, and a Privateer and sprung a sneak attack on Indonesia just as they were ferrying ground units west.  I easily dispatched the vulnerable embarked units, and then took control of the enemy navy using the Ottomans' crazily overpowered Barbary Cosairs civilization perk.  My beefed up navy then proceeded to lay waste to Jakarta, which fell quickly.

Capital #1 - Jakarta - 1310AD

At this point I realized that I had a significant advantage over the remaining Civilizations if I acted rapidly, and a domination victory wouldn't be difficult if I could find enough Iron on the map to build more Frigates.  To this end I invested heavily in the City States that had Iron to offer, and built up a fleet of eight Frigates and two Privateers.

Navy in hand, it was time to do my dirty work.  First on my list was the Assyrians:

Capital #2 - Assur - 1460AD

Next came the Polish:

Capital #3 - Warsaw - 1550AD

The poor English:

Capital #4 - London (plus York) - 1585AD

And last but not least, the Celts:

Capital #5 - Edinburgh - 1610AD
This whirlwind blitz was completed before I'd ever reached the Industrial era, which is when naval warfare really gets fun, however I was not about to risk my first King-level difficulty victory just to play around with Battleships and Ironclads in a few hundreds years.

For posterity, here is the final score that I wracked up at the end of my reign of terror.

Final score: 3419 

Apparently it pays to turn the seas red with blood!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Challenge #6: Return of the King

Bill and I have tried a King difficulty game only once before - during our single-city challenge.  In retrospect, that was a bad place to start since all of the other Civs could run amok while we were artificially constraining ourselves.

I'm not sure why we dropped back to Prince difficulty after that debacle, but it's time to ramp things back up.

Challenge creator: Andrew

Culture: Ottoman Empire
Map size: Small
Map type: Archipelagos
Difficulty level: King

Link to the game start:  Suleiman_0000 BC-4000.Civ5Save

Admittedly, this set up is a little like having training wheels, since the AIs are generally crappy naval officers, but we have to start somewhere, and this seems the best way to get our feet wet with the idea of King difficulty.

Too Little Too Late

In our latest challenge, I wasn't sure how I was going to try and win until I saw in the early game that there was a lot of unclaimed land around my starting area except for the Greeks to the north who I had inadvertently stunted with one of my early cities. So I decided to build a big empire and try and win on pure aggression, a decision that was reinforced by the two large continents (due to the lower sea level I picked in creating the map) and the mistaken impression I got from somewhere that I needed only 6 of 10 capitals to win the game. Doh.

I easily rolled the Greek capital in a surprise attack, and after a botched attack on Paris through a jungle I dismantled the French empire from the south up, and then marched south in an unstoppable column through the Babylonians and Celts. With 5 capitals secure (including my own) I thought I needed only to pick off the weakest adversary on the second continent to win... and then I found out I needed ALL capitals to win.

Having built my strategy on a false assumption, I gamely tried to invade the second continent but allowing these other empires time to develop on their own found my requiring a bigger and updated military to made headway, especially after I attack Washington without air cover and found my Grand Army smashed to smithereens.

My second attack made better headway but with only 60 turns left and four capitals to conquer in modern warfare and really long supply lines, I knew it was a hopeless case.

Making Headway.

The heart of my empire.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Incans in Space!

It took a couple of weeks, but I finally managed to find enough time to finish up my playthrough of Challenge #5.

Our game start ended up being in the most ideal location on the entire map for the Incan Empire.  Surrounded by hills and mountains, the Incan unique tile improvement (Terrace Farms), unit ability (move through hills as if they were open plains), and special ability (no maintenance cost for improvements on hills) made it relatively easy to seed a strong empire.  Food was plentiful from terrace farms adjacent to multiple mountains, and careful placement of roads led to a nearly free transportation system.

My main cities for most of the game - click to enlarge

I was initially worried that the game would be rough when the first two civilizations that I discovered were the Greeks (directly north), and the French (to the east).  Both AIs are serially insane, and I've been jumped by them time and time again across many playthroughs.  I built and maintained a strong defense from the start of the game, and was rarely ranked any worse than second on the military leaderboards.

As the game progressed it became apparent that Alexander was playing the diplomatic game, while a second civilization (Ethiopia, unknown at the time) was gunning for either a domination or cultural victory.  That second country was particularly troubling because they started running away with all of the major demographic indicators within a few ages.

At some point before picking up the Dynamite technology I finally decided on the victory condition that I would pursue:  Technology.  I'd been running in first or second place for most of the game, with the Greeks as my main competitor in the area.  As soon as I earned Dynamite I bum-rushed Alexander, burned down all but three insignificant cities, and captured Athens, which would hence-forth serve as a valuable northern port.

With the Greeks neutered I went in search of the other big power, and eventually discovered Ethiopia, who were having their way with a continent full of invalids.  Most of the rest of the game was an asymmetrical race to the end, with Ethiopia supplanting the Greeks as the darling of the City States and the absolute power in the World Council.

I did stage an invasion of one of their cities, Gondor, which I intended to use as a jumping-off point to seizing  Addis Ababa (the capital), however I never did manage to conquer it due to Ethiopia's dominating economy.

Prior to the failed invasion - click to enlarge

The late game mostly consisted of turns where I did nothing except clicking the "Next Turn" button, and I cruised into a technological victory 14 turns ahead of the United Nations session that would have handed Ethiopia control of the world, and the final victory.  He tried one last futile attack on Gondor, but it was ultimately meaningless:

Unbecoming behavior for the wannabe world leader - click to enlarge
While my final score wasn't impressive, it was more due to a desire to keep my holdings tight - I only expanded when it had strategic advantage (location or resources), and even then quite reluctantly.  Still, a victory is a victory - and I managed to get the Incans to touch the stars.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Challenge #5: Young World

Challenge Creator: Bill

Culture: Incans
Map size: Standard
Other map settings: young wet world with low sea level
Difficulty level: Prince

Link to the game start: Pachacuti_0000 BC-4000.Civ5Save

The Incans have a lot of synergy with a young world given that the terrace farm they have is most effective when there is a lot of hilly terrain around.

Want to see if you can do better than us?  Feel free to join in and try the challenge as well. Simply dump the file into your Civ5 save folder (C:\Users\[name]\Documents\My Games\Sid Meier's Civilization 5\Saves\single), and then selected from the Load dialog in the game.

 If you email us your results we'll post them here. Contact emails: Andrew, Bill

Monday, January 6, 2014

So Far...

Challenge #1

Greeks, Small Map, Pangaea , Challenge to conquer world in classical era. Andrew succeed much more quickly than I did, I had to make several attempts.

Challenge #2

Persians, Standard Map, Pangaea - Very hard starting position, Huns to the south, China leading tech wise, neither of us win.

Challenge #3

Mohawks, Standard Sized map of Earth - Both of us conquered Europe and Asia.

Challenge #4

Moroccans, Standard Map, We both "won" on score at end of game which involved conquering neighbouring Greeks. In my game Japan was the ascendant power on other continent while in Andrew's it was the Dutch. See the mini-maps in the following pictures.

Andrew's Score.

My Score.

Challenge #5 - In Progress

Incans, Standard Size Map, Prince level, young wet world with low sea level.


This blog will be where Bill (me) and Andrew (him) record our results from common shared starts in games of Civ V.

"Say What?"

Okay, its like this: one of us creates a Civ 5 single player game with interesting settings or challenge in mind, saves it on the turn 1, and sends the save file to the other person. Both of us play the game to completion and see what happens.

So far we've seen games change entirely based on early random dice rolls determining the fate of AI empires. For example, one game saw the Dutch rise to power on another continent early on in Andrew's game, while in my game of the same start the Dutch were wiped out early and Japan rose to dominance.

It also allows us to see how we each make different decisions in politics, city development, wars, etc.