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.

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