I opted for "no space race" because I've had a lot of games end just when I got the fun modern units as once the other civs start going for alpha centauri, you've got little choice but to try yourself. I chose noble difficulty because I was afraid of investing too much time only to discover my position was untenable. (In my last huge game (epic only) the stupid RNG had placed me alone on a continent and everyone else on another, much larger, one. Since I was the Romans, my best advantage, the Praetorian, was useless and by the time I met anyone, the other civs had tech traded themselves way ahead of me. Ten hours of play to discover that I had little or no chance.
I went with the Americans as the Navy Seal is an awesome late-game unit and because I was hoping to avoid the mid-game cash crunch.
I start with a good position, on a nice floodplain. I grow my first city and then use it as a settler/worker generator. To the north, I plant New York as an industrial unit generator. To the south I plant Boston as a nice coastal cash generator. Washington and New York are both next to lots of gold, so I expect to be money rich.
I soon discover that I share this continent with the Aztecs. They quickly fall behind me in score...seems they started in a bad position, and I find three copper nearby my own cities. I found Hinduism,start planting more cities and go for ironworking. Soon, I start generating axemen.
One interesting thing about huge maps is that barbarian cities pop up more often. This is nice. My axemen make short work of the barbarian archers and so I gain three cities without investing in a settler.
At this point, I have 8-10 axemen and twice the cities. Time to liberate the Aztecs. He only seems to have a couple of axemen of his own. I make his sole iron deposit my first priority, so he never gets any others. Soon, the continent is mine. Time to settle down and research.
I really don't want the other civs to discover each other first. Instead, I want to discover everyone so that I can stay ahead in the tech trading game. I go straight for caravel. In the meantime, I use a couple wilderness areas to generate barbarians to train my troops. My strategy is simple. Once I discover other civs, I will invade the weakest continent, and then the next weakest, etc.
I do indeed discover caravels fast, and using explorers I'd already built and gallery upgrades, I start exploring almost immediately. I manage to explorer much of the world early in the game. (Helped because only the Japanese and Spanish refuse open borders.) Because I am the only one who is in contact with everyone, I'm able to quickly trade myself to tech dominance and my score is moving up and down in the top three.
The closest continent, to the south, is the largest, occupied by the Persians in the North, the mostly landlocked Japanese to the southwest of them, the mostly coastal Chinese in the west and far southwest and the Germans to the southeast. In the continent to the east are the Greeks opposite me and the Romans beyond them. To the west, the Arabs are alone in a large continent. The English and Egyptians share a continent and the Spanish have a smaller one to themselves.
I usually play a more pacifistic game. This time, I'm going heavy on the military and this seems to make the other civs like me more. No one attacks me until the very end game.
Since the bottom to civs on the score chart are the Greeks and Romans, their continent is target one. I go straight for galleon, which takes a while and causes me to temporarily lose my tech lead. But when I get it, I've got a nice invading army of macemen and catapults all ready.
I'm aided by the fact that there's a nice, fat barbarian city on Greece's coast opposite me. So my ships make two trips. First, they drop troops on the barbarians while Alexander looks on oblivious. Once this city is mine, I hit Alexander with the army that took it from the North and a second load of troops from the west.
The Greeks don't last long. Alexander does not appear to have iron or copper, so other than a couple horse archers, he's really got nothing. My first few knights land as I'm taking his last.
Next up, Caesar, who watched my conquer his neighbor. I get my troops on place, and invade, one stack from the southwest, another from the northwest. His lands are in a crescent, and both stacks aim for the ocean, cutting him in half. He's a bit harder to deal with as he's got longbow. I have to rest up between cities and by the time I push him off the continent, I am a bit overextended. I build up for twenty turns or more, and then conquer the few islands he had left. By this time, I've got rifles and cavalry.
During this, I'm not raising cities, so I've obviously got maintenance issues on this continent. I try to get Versaille, even using a great engineer, but the damn Arabs snake it from me. Eventually, though, I get the Forbidden City on this continent so maintenance isn't too bad.
With two continents, I am nicely in the lead, and after a bit I've got nearly twice the score of my nearest competitor. (Usually the Arabs or the Persians.) I settle down and start building. I get Frigate. I set every coastal city to building them, determined to have sea superiority. I also use this time to push for democracy, etc.
At this point, I probably have fifty cities.
Eventually I decide it's time for another invasion. The best strategic choice is the biggest continent to the south. At first, I consider the Persians, just to the south, but they are pretty strong. I've got infantry and cannon and they've got riflemen. Better choices are the Chinese and Japanese, at the bottom of the score chart. It takes me a while to get the troops there, but I make pretty short work of the Chinese. Not only is their best unit the longbow, but they don't seem to spend much on the military.
I almost immediately attack Japan. They turn out to be a tougher nut. I use the remnents of the China conquerors from the south and new troops from the north. The Japanese use a massed attack to take out all my infantry in the south. I save my artillery and cavalry, but they have to retreat to a city.
But the result is inevitable. My infantry just keep coming from the north.
I pause for a bit and start building more. I get flight. I get battleships. I appear to be way ahead in tech. I actually slow down my tech and ramp up culture as I want territory. I've got 40% of the land, now. I need 54% to win.
I look for a target. The Persians are obvious as I surround them on three sides. From the north, I've got 8-10 battleships ready to pound the coast and my newly created navy seals. From the south, huge numbers of infantry and artillary plus ten bombers. My tanks are just coming online.
I've just built the UN. Finishing with a diplomatic game would be nice. I try for it and am only 60 votes short. My babe Elizabeth voted for me, but Cyrus abstained. He pops up asking for a defensive pact.
Will this give me his votes? I say yes, and immediately move my fleets to the Germans shores.
The next vote comes...this time, it's Cyrus who is running against me! Not only does this mean I don't have the votes, but Elizabeth votes for him as well. The thought of diplomatic recedes, but since by now, I'm off Germany's shore, that's where I invade. I demolish Bismark pretty quickly. In the process, I start to upgrade to modern armor and stealth bombers. I have yet to see anyone else with a tank, plane or SAM infantry. I watch the victory screen. My percentage of landmass goes to 48%...49%...50%...50.55%. I need 54%. So close... I need just a bit more.
So again, I move my fleets and armies toward Persia. I now surround it on four sides. I now have six ICBMS. His lands are long and skinny, so I figure I can probably take a third of his cities on the first round.
I'm ready to attack. In the meantime, I decide to put Germany out if it's misery. It had one island way on the other side of the world.
He apparently had a defensive pact with the Arabs. They declare war.
I've got two choices. Ignore the Arabs and continue on with my plans or give the Persians a break. I opt for the former as I'm afraid of Arab fleets. They are second on the score list (though with a score just over a quarter mine.)
So I've got to move everything half way across the world. By this time I'm nearing the end of the tech tree. The Arabs have only a few coastal cities. My battleships knock down all their defenses in one round. I use a nuke on one to allow a single navy seal to take the first port. Eight transports of modern armor immediately disembark. I nuke the two nearest cities so that a single tank can take each and then go on the march.
Modern armor against a few infantry and more rifleman. It goes pretty fast. It's mostly hampered by the circular nature of the continent.
Saladin pops up, asking for peace. I'm at the gates of three of his cities. I say no, conquer those three, and offer peace. He takes it. I've taken maybe 40% of his land. (Ten cities.) Then it's just a matter of ramping culture up to 50% and waiting. A few turns later, domination victory. 15,901 points.
It was a pretty insane game. It took 32.05 hours of gameplay. In the end, I had all but three or four techs and 122 cities. Civilization is a pretty amazing value considering that it costs the same as a game like Halflife 2, which you might place twice, for a total of 20 hours or so.
I was pretty impressed by the performance. In Civ 3, a huge map was unplayable after a time. The AI would take longer and longer, to the point where it was taking 5-10 minutes a turn. Civ 4, on the other hand, despite the huge map and probably 200 cities in the game, was still only taking 30 seconds or so on my 1.8 Mhz centrino laptop. Micromanagement was also not as bad as it could have been.
I think that's my last huge map for a while.
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