OK, so why go through all the subterfuge? What's the point of registering alternate accounts and playing the game under false identities? Anyone reading this will know who "Locke" and "Cervantes" actually are, so let me provide some context.
When we were playing the Pitboss 2 game at Realms Beyond, our team was the center of an enormous amount of scrutiny. Every action that we took was analyzed, reanalyzed, and then microanalyzed again. Something like 80-90% of the posts in the spoiler threads (and often a majority of the posts in other teams' threads!) were focused on what Speaker and Sulla happened to be doing. While the attention was nice, it wasn't really what we were looking for. Furthermore, we felt that all of the attention that our team received out-of-game led to a significant in-game handicap, as evidenced by other teams charging literally around the world to attack us as part of an unprecedented early game coalition. We've never seen anything like the 5-way attack that was launched against India in any of the other Realms Beyond Pitboss/PBEM games, even when other teams were equally or more dominant than our position in the game. Speaker and I believed (and believe) that the attack would not have occured without our reputation as excellent Civ players feeding into the overall environment. I know that others disagree, but I stand by my feelings that if "Jowy" or "slaze" had had a major Demographics edge, teams wouldn't have been racing around the world to go attack them in BC years.
Of course, we'll never know who's right or wrong about all that... or will we? At some point during the Pitboss 2 game, we came up with the idea of playing another game with different identites to see if we would receive the same reception. That is, do absolutely nothing different in terms of gameplay, but register under different account names and see how we were treated. If the reputaiton was substantially different, then it would suggest that maybe we had a fair point about the previous game. Plus, in all honesty, with the abject failure of Civ5 I simply wanted to play some Civ4 again, and without the enormous hassel of doing it as "Sulla" (which would entail a massive spoiler thread yet again).
Now, is this fair to the other players in the game? We know who most of them are, while they don't know who we are. I'll admit that the whole thing is rather disingenuous, and for that I am sorry. Nevertheless, this isn't like setting up a smurf account for Starcraft or League of Legends, and then crushing poor newcomers. We aren't using a matchmaking system for RB Pitboss games; anyone can sign up at any time. This wasn't advertised as a newcomers game. Other people might not know anything about us, but at the same time, we knew nothing about Nakor, Jowy, Mortius, etc. in the past game, and we know nothing about a bunch of the people in the new Pitboss game. Not knowing Locke/Cervantes doesn't put teams in an unfair position; it's simply another new group that has to be evaluated as the game progress, just as we're doing with many of the other teams. And if your reaction to hearing that Locke = Sulla is something along the lines of "That's not fair, I would have played the game differently if I knew that!", then well, point proven from the first paragraph.
To carry on the subterfuge, I deliberately altered by writing style to make it sound nothing like "Sulla". I have a habit of writing long sentences with lots of dependent clauses - my girlfriend from college once commented that I was the only person who ever used semicolons while text chatting - and also tend to overuse the smiley faces on forum software. Locke would do neither of these, writing short, choppy sentences without any emoticons. I tend to be obsessive about correcting spelling/grammar errors, so Locke deliberately wrote some common slipups ("their, there, they're" and "to, too" for example), and I left all mistakes in messages without correcting them. I tried to write like someone without a great deal of training, with lots of crude netspeak "lols" thrown into messages, starting lots of sentences with "OK we will do this" and so on. The net effect was a writing style that didn't look much of anything like that of "Sulla", and seemed effective at fooling people. I was essentially acting out a role online, and while it was a weird experience, it was also a lot of fun at times.
We made the decision very early not to post very much in our Realms Beyond spoiler thread. I wanted to throw out an occasional picture, while overall saying relatively little. Even at a very early date as I write this, it's amazing how little attention "Locke and Cervantes" drew from the RB crowd. Anything posted by Sulla gets a ton of views and responses. Locke was pretty much ignored entirely. In the planning thread, virtually everyone ignored Locke's opinions, assuming that because he was new and wrote rather crudely, he had nothing of interest to say. (We could probably read a lot about group dynamics from that, but I'll leave that up to the reader.) On the whole, our team completely flew under the radar, with little attention or interest in what we were doing. That's what we wanted, so mission achieved.
Anyway, that was the theory behind the game and why we set it up this way. I still have no idea if anyone else will ever read this, but there you go.
OK, for opening strategy/moves. I'm not going to go over why we picked our leader/civ combo, since I posted that in the RB spoiler thread. Isabella was one of the strongest options possible for this leader ban list, and England had good UU/UB options along with decent starting techs. Our start position looked like this:
This is a really strong capital, especially from a production standpoint. Those deer tiles are non-natural resources that were edited in, the grassland forest one starting at 3/1 and going to 5/1 when improved, the plains hill one starting at 1/3 and going to 3/3. Add in the plains cattle tile (2/1 -> 3/3) and you have a capital which can crank out 7 food and 9 shields per turn at size 3. At size 5, with two grassland hill mines, that's 5 food/15 shields each turn. Incredible early game production! With the starting tile also a plains hill, settling in place was obviously the best play. Even if you could get another food bonus from moving (unlikely), it wouldn't be worth giving up this spot.
How to build this capital? With this being an epic game (no time limit or city elim rules), a growth-oriented strategy was paramount. You want to focus techs and builds on expanding as quickly as possible. Going worker first was the obvious build, in order to get the deer tiles improved ASAP. As an Expansive civ, we could even work the plains hill deer and get 7 total production per turn (1 food + 2 shields
+ 3 shields [deer] + 1 shield [Expansive bonus] = 7) for a 9t opening worker. That's really fast! Any other opening build would come out slower than this.
If we grabbed a worker first, then our first research had to be Hunting tech, so that it could build camps on the two deer tiles. This was also basically a no-brainer. The next tech, however, could have gone for either Animal Husbandry (cows) or Bronze Working (chops). We opted for the latter, because our worker would need to have something useful to do after building the deer camps. I compared AH versus BW, and BW was just much stronger overall. Those early chops are simply huge. We have 5 forests here available for chopping = 100 shields. Plus, early BW means early Slavery, with no Anarchy cost to revolt for a Spiritual civ. This all dictated that our early tech path should be Hunting -> Bronze Working -> Animal Husbandry (which also reveals both early game resources, so we'll know where copper + horses are before settling our second city).
After building our worker, I looked at our options, and the best pick was building a second worker. Yeah, starting worker -> worker out of the gate again, as in Pitboss #2 with India. There are some major reasons arguing for this:
- With production overflow and a camp on the deer tile, the second worker takes 8 turns and completes on T17. Two workers in 17 turns is EXTREMELY fast on Normal speed. - We're Expansive, and the extra shield/turn on producing early workers is huge. Might as well take advantage of it. - If we follow up our first worker with a warrior, our capital will grow slowly at 3 food/turn until the deer camp is done (T14). It makes more sense to build the second worker while we're still putting a camp on the first deer, then grow very quickly at 5 food/turn once it's already connected. Having the second worker then allows the capital to stay ahead of the curve on improved tiles, with the second deer already camped with it hits size 2. - There's just enough time to mine 2 grassland hill tiles, one with each worker, then move them both to forests to chop when BW comes in. Chops go into a settler, finishing right after the capital hits size 3. First settler due to complete on Turn 30 - even faster than in Pitboss #2 game! - Map size is set to Huge with about 50% more land area than Pitboss #2. Early aggressive is therefore unlikely, and rapid expansion should carry the day.
That more or less set our initial 30 turns. But what were the other teams up to?
To understand the early game setup, you have to understand everyone's starting techs. Because this map is set to Huge, all of the techs are more expensive (about 15% more than on a Standard map), and therefore what each team has to start makes a big difference. These are the six possible starting techs:
Mining Agriculture The Wheel Fishing Mysticism Hunting
I put them in the order of how good they are for most games. But for this game, there were two techs that were big winners:
Hunting tech proved to be a big winner on this map, because of the deer at the starting positions. (I'm assuming that the starts are at least somewhat mirrored, because all of the non-Hunting techs researched the tech first. Looks like everyone has some deer!) This is actually a little bit of a criticism of the mapmakers, because normally Hunting stinks as a starting tech, and they made it the best one to have here. Teams that made dumb choices on civ picks ended up getting rewarded. But oh well, Hunting is cheap so not that big of a deal. Mining is the other key tech, because of all the hill tiles and forests to chop. You want to be able to chop early on. We swung and missed with England's Fishing tech, but having Mining tech really helped us out a lot. It literally gets us to BW 9 turns faster, and that's enormous.
So let's compare the starting techs between teams. No one has both Hunting and Mining techs, the ideal combo. Only two teams have Mining actually, ourselves and plako's China. (England gets Fishing/Mining, China get Agriculture/Mining.) We both have similar starts: research Hunting first, then go for BW next, although China could also go AH next for cows and get the pre-req bonus there.
Three civs started with Hunting first: sunrise's Zulus (Agriculture/Hunting), and then Warlord's Greece and Nakor's Vikings (both Fishing/Hunting). These civs can immediately research Mining -> BW and have a start similar to ours, albeit slighly slower because Mining is more expensive than Hunting. Alternately they can go for AH first, although that *REALLY* slows their progress towards BW and delays early Slavery/chopping by quite a bit. I don't think that's the best play, (unless there are hidden horses at the capital, which is possible) but it's a viable alternative. Of course, if there's hidden copper at the capital, it would put us way, way ahead with our early BW!
The other five civs started with neither Mining nor Hunting. They all researched Hunting first, but then are still a full two techs away from BW, and still lack AH to boot. These civs really got screwed by the starting landscape, and will have a slower growth curve. It's a shame for them, since the common Agriculture/Wheel starting techs [Sumeria, Egypt, Babylon] are usually very good. Not on this map though... Poor Arabia is incredibly screwed, with the starting techs of Wheel/Mysticism. While they have a 100% lock on a religion, since no one else has Mysticism, they're ages away from anything that boosts growth. With expensive early game techs, what you pick here at the start matters enormously. I think most teams are going to go Hunting -> AH just because of the two food resources, which will slow them down a lot compared to our chop-fueled opening. We'll see what happens!
sunrise's team is the only one that moved on the first time, and they moved to the coast (15 land/6 water tiles in capital's borders). I'm guessing that they moved there to get a fish resource (?) They didn't research Fishing first though, which means they are building a worker and going for AH, using Agr/Hunting prereqs. I'm a little confused by them, although maybe when I can see their land it will make sense.
This is the current turn. Speaker, there is some slight water peeking out from the fog over there in the northwest, and also water to our northeast and southeast. We also appear to be in the southern tundra. I really don't know what map script this is, or what the overall shape might be. Just exploring for now. It feels like the main contact routes will be from the west or the north, although it's possible that there's a landbridge to the east where we haven't explored. We just need about 5 more turns to be safe from someone wandering into our capital and ending the game.
The two spots I liked the most for early cities are both inaccessible - I wanted the peak tile west of the fish and the lake tile near the rice/corn. But oh well. Something that grabs rice + corn will probably make for our second city. Depends on what else we find.
Where are the happy resources?!? Better be some around here soon...
Almost missed this turn, because I lost power at my house and had no way to tell Speaker that I couldn't log into the game. Fortunately, I managed to steal Internet from someone in the area who didn't password protect their connection, heh. This feels way too much like last year, when the same January/February period wrecked havoc with our connections in the Pitboss #2 game...
Anyway, we now have a worker. Since none of the other teams have grown to size 2 yet, that means that everyone else is also going worker-first. Smart play! Too bad, I miss the days of the Apolyton game where teams were stupid and opened with Stonehenge or triple warriors...
Warrior still scouting, has found nothing of interest yet. I suspect that since every other team also started with a worker, they're all exploring conservatively around their capital, and thus we're unlikely to run into anyone else at the moment. Fine with us. (3 of 9 started with scouts anyway, so we have a 1/3 chance on contact to meet a scout and be in zero danger.)
Warlord finished a tech this turn. 9 turn research. This means he went after a tech that cost ~90 beakers, and since there was also a global increase of 2k Power this turn, we can pin his research down for Mining tech. Good call there, I'm sure that Warlord is going for early chops and BW. His early tech path will therefore look almost identical to ours, only we're a turn ahead because we researched cheaper Hunting tech instead of Mining, plus we have a warrior instead of a scout.
We're going onto our second worker now. I'm expecting most teams to start growing at this point, especially the Hunting teams who don't have a single military unit. Will anyone else open with double workers? Should be fun to compare afterwards.
Now we have two very strong city locations confirmed (rice/corn and sheep/gold) to go along with weaker coastal cities making use of the fish and crabs. The number of health resources is almost disgusting, especially combined with our Expansive trait... Well, no need to fear health loss from forest chopping!
Speaker, any initial thoughts on city placements? I know we still have some fog to push back, but if you've got any ideas, let me know. Keep in mind that we will probably delay Mysticism/monuments for a little while, and so getting resources in the initial 9-tile radius of cities will be very important.
sunrise/regoarrarr researched a tech this turn, which means that they went for Mining as well and not Animal Husbandry like I thought. I'm still really curious as to what they're doing. Why move to the coast and research Mining first? I really thought they were going for early Fishing with that decision... Oh well.
Camping a deer apparently only takes 4 turns, not 5, so we'll be ahead of my micro plan. I'll adjust that soonish. And that's it for now - the gold tile makes our neighborhood so much better looking.
Nothing of interest to report on our end for the new turn; worker still has 2 more turns to finish the first deer camp. Exploring warrior only uncovered one more tile this turn, which had nothing important on it. We did work up a pretty sick micro plan for our workers, where we essentially grow to size 4 while training a settler, getting it out on T32, for a grand total of:
All to be done in the first 32 turns of the game. Crazy stuff. Granted, we do have strong land here and are Expansive, but that's almost impossible to pull off in a normal game. I almost wish this was a public game to show off our l33t skills again. Sigh. Just need to get through a few more turns without a random warrior popping into our capital and ending the game...
The final team (Nakor + Gaspar) researched their first tech this turn. And because it took 11 turns and there was a global increase of 4k Soldier points, we can pretty much pin this down to Wheel tech. Ummm... Very interesting. I'll leave it at that. Techs that each team has now:
I've starred the teams which are still two fulls techs from Bronze Working, and therefore behind. Especially screwed are Arabia and Vikings, who don't even have Agriculture to speed them to Animal Husbandry. Vikings just invested 11 turns into a tech that they really don't need (roads of course don't increase tile yields) and still lack Agr, Min, AH, BW. Wow. They are already seriously behind!
Speaker, one other team is running max shields currently. No idea who that is. Everyone else is going food-heavy, so it looks like they all went worker first, then backed off to train a military unit while running max food. That's a decent enough opening, but far inferior to our current plan.
We should start seeing the first pop growths on Turn 16 if I'm correct.
Warrior found more water down in the far south this turn (T12), along with more tundra. Really looks at this point like we have water to the east and south, with the rest of the land extending north and west.
One team built a warrior this turn. So who was it? Well, if teams are swapping production builds around it could be anyone, but I'm going to assume for the moment that everyone is building one thing at a time. Now it really looks like everyone built worker first, since no one has grown yet in 12 turns. If everyone goes worker first, it takes this long to produce it:
Similarly, the fastest rate at which someone can build a warrior is 3 turns, by working their plains hill tile + three production plains forest = 5 shields/turn. We are only on Turn 12, and so therefore the team that built the warrior is almost certainly one of the Expansive teams.
Which one? Not us of course. Not sunrise's Zulus, because they moved on the first turn. Not the Bismarck team, because they have 8k power, and building a warrior would take them to 10k power, which no one has on the Demographics. So that leaves Warlord's Greece, which had a Hunting start and also had an incentive for a fast warrior. And Warlord is a MP guy who wouldn't feel comfortable without a warrior for defense. Pretty sure it was him.
One score increase this turn (T14), and a bizarre one. plako's China researched a second tech after already picking up Hunting earlier. Since there was no increase in global Solider points (and you can only research the cheapest techs possible in 7 turns each), this confirms that they went for Fishing tech. So plako's tech path looks like this:
Start with Agriculture and Mining Hunting (T7) Fishing (T14)
I... don't understand this at all. sunrise's team moved onto the coast and has 6 water tiles at their capital, but everyone else has all-land capitals (21 land tiles). Why would they want early Fishing tech? It delays their push towards BW and/or AH by a full seven turns. It doesn't get them to Wheel or Pottery any faster, if that's what they wanted. They have no water tiles to work at their capital. Even if their second city will be settled on the coast, it's still foolish to take Fishing 20 turns before founding that city. I don't see any reason to do this. How do you take China, get the best starting techs in the game, and then waste them with silly research like this??? Oh well, good for us.
Scouting warrior found a fish in the deep southern tundra, but too far off the coast for any city to work down there. Still not much to see there.
Luddite's team grew to size 2 this turn (T15), first in the game to do so. This is the same turn we would have grown if we hadn't built a second worker: 9t worker + 6t growth [3+3+3+3+5+5 = 22 food]. I expect most of the teams in the game to grow their capital next turn, since it will be the same formula for all non-Expansive civs.
Three teams built warriors out in the fog. I've made some guesses as to who it was, but I don't think it really matters much either way.
Nothing found of interest in the southern tundra. Still think we need to scout it out though regardless (because of proximity to capital) before heading out to try and find other teams. Game continues to be quiet and uneventful = good when you open double worker build.
That's the bottom of the map down there, so at least we know this isn't a Toroidal worldwrap. Looks like the south will be our secure backlines, and we can expand north/west first (although I wouldn't be surprised if there's another civ nearby across a water barrier). We have whales and furs down there; hopefully there will be another food bonus in the area, so that we can settle a city there that's not hopelessly gimped. Whales and fish can only be accessed via third-ring cultural borders or by settling on the offshore island. Longterm project.
Unless we find something really weird in the east, I'm expecting our first settler will go west somewhere in the area of that rice tile. We have to be very careful with our early city placements, as we're going to lack monuments for cultural expansion for quite some time. (Early tech is moving really slowly thanks to Monarch + Huge size.) After Bronze Working, I think our tech path has to look like this:
Agriculture first because we'll need it for our second city at the rice. It's really the only place we can go. If we go AH first, then our second city would have to be near the sheep, and that would be 6-7 tiles away from the capital. Foolishly dangerous and silly. Going for the fish or clams first seems like a weak play to me; I guess we could settle NE of the cows, but that creates a LOT of overlap with the capital, and claims very minimal territory. We can't go for the gold resource because there's no food bonuses in immediate range, and it will take a long time to expand borders (since we'll delay researching Mysticism for better stuff). I think it has to be something near the rice, and with the rice in the initial 9-tile radius. That dictates Agriculture.
Then AH has to be next, so that we can connect the cows at the capital, and have it on hand for the sheep at what will presumably by city #3. AH will also reveal horses, and there's a very good chance that we have horses somewhere in this area (lots of plains tiles). It's a bit of an expensive tech to research, but note that by going Agriculture (and Hunting) first, we'll have max pre-requisites and get 40% bonus research.
Then we want Wheel for roads and Pottery for granaries/cottages. Wheel will arrive right around the time that we hit 3 cities, and we'll be wanting to add roads for connection purposes. Pottery is simply a must-have tech for Expansive civs; we want the granaries, and we want those cottages up and running ASAP at the capital. I'd really like to get Pottery even sooner, but I don't see how we could do it. We need Agr/AH first to boost the growth curve, and in extreme early game you go food/shields first before cottages. Always. Then Mysticism, while a nice tech and all, gets delayed until after Pottery. We'll probably 1-pop whip our granaries for their first slaving job, then whip the monuments next after they regrow to size 2 (and fill up their food boxes).
I realize that that seems extremely slow, but all of the other teams are going to be in the same boat. Techs are costly on this map. And these are just estimates, the pace will likely pick up as we found more cities.
Now with that said, here's where I would put our first couple of cities:
Blue would be my first spot. It's close to the capital (4 tiles), has rice + 2 grassland river tiles + 2 grassland hill river tiles in initial radius, and then potential for lots of production later on with all those hills. Yeah, it's kind of weakish but we can run 4 grassland cottages + 4/5 hill tiles there, and that makes for a pretty nice early game city. It falls off lategame, which shouldn't matter that much. I also liked the spot one tile south, but then yellow becomes an illegal city location, and the tile one west, which is a lake. Freakin' lake...
Yellow would be my third spot, and it's a strong city location. Very reminiscent of Fredericksburg from our last game with the gold tile and sheep. Farm one or two of those grassland tiles for growth, and turn it into a great commerce city.
Everything else is a future project. Red has corn and is on a river - needs more exploration. Orange really should be on the peak tile, but it can't be there and has to be west. White, who knows, something over by the crabs. Priority will be going north and west.
Anyway, that's what I'm thinking. I think we need the rice, so we need Agriculture, and then go for the gold/sheep spot next after that. Any thoughts?
It worries me to wait so long to get the Wheel. Planting 3 cities without any roads is cool game play. Maybe Animal Husbandry can wait and we can build a mine in our capital instead? It gives up 2 food (3-3 vs 1-3).
I don't like Orange Dot. It will take way too long to get a border pop for the fish. That peak is horribly placed. FU Krill. The city may need to go directly south of the fish and get Moai. It would have 9 water tiles and a couple hills, and could split off the plains cow. Something to think about, at least. Yellow and Blue look reasonable enough.
Hmm. Maybe we can go Wheel before AH. I'm not sure. I'm not really so concerned about the capital (although delaying the cattle tile definitely hurts) because we'll have plenty of mines to work there, and as you said 1/3 isn't that much worse than 3/3 when building workers/settlers. I'm more concerned about not having AH for sheep at the third city. Then again, we need to expand borders for the sheep anyway, so who knows, maybe. There's a good chance (I'd say at least 50%) that we have horses near the capital, which is another reason why I like early AH.
I also hate the Orange location. That peak tile is the perfect right spot for the city - that mountain screws us over pretty badly. Argh. Umm, maybe we go south of the fishes, it's not the worst spot in the world. I feel like we want to be claiming land though with early settlers...
These are tough city locations. Lots of spots that are "almost right", and missing something or inaccessible. The fact that production runs so far ahead of commerce from that start also makes everything problematic.
There's a plains deer down here in the south, so the land isn't completely terrible. Probably put our fourth or fifth city down here to get the furs online. Not exactly a high priority.
Speaker, any thoughts on exploring with these warriors? We have one that's just about done exploring the south, and another one due out of the capital in 4 turns. One needs to stay back and guard the capital/workers. Which one should that be? And what should the other one do? Go exploring in depth and try to find other teams, or clear out the remaining fog to the east (in what looks like a peninsula)? I'm curious as to your thoughts.
We are last or next to last in just about every Demographics category right now, since the other teams have nearly all grown to size 2. I looked again at the numbers for the start I expect most teams to play, and it comes out ahead of our position during the first 30 turns. We catch up and then pull ahead during the Turn 30-40 period, due to the forest chops that we're using at the capital. But other teams will likely get their first settler done about 3-4 turns before we do. (In exchange, we'll hit size 4 before them and we have 2 workers to their 1.) Of course, if they slow down growth to produce more warriors - as several teams are clearly doing - then we'll be even stronger in the comparison.
Some teams are also going to find themselves with idle workers on their hands, especially if they lack Mining/Wheel techs. Most teams have clearly gone Hunting -> AH in their opening, to hook up the two resources at the start. However, once they have the deer + cows connected, there's basically nothing for their worker to do. I guess build roads to the future city location (?) But not all teams have Wheel tech. Ourselves, plako (China), and Warlord (Greece) are the only teams with Mining tech so far. Anyway, I'm not sure if all the teams have simmed this out and realized that production runs far, far ahead of research. Hopefully they'll be stuck wasting some turns because they failed to plan ahead.
Random addition: whenever I start to feel antsy about not being able to read all the spoiler posts in the other threads, I just look at what lurkers have posted in our thread (six comments about the color of our borders, zero comments about actual gameplay stuff) and remember that 95% of everything is probably useless spamming.