Fishing-based cities, spared by disasters in empty lands, grow into a runaway success that is fed by Patronage and protected by Astronomy.
The map I drew might be identified by cartographers as a Classic Bean. The only unusual element was that one region was very isolated. It had one neighbour and was otherwise surrounded by frontier. Two seaside regions were nearly as isolated with only one region and each other as neighbours.
I thought this arrangement might help keep problems like civil war confined, but the isolation caused more problems than it solved. I never invested in the travel advances, so getting tribes into or out of these regions was complicated.
The woods and mountains and the frontier starting point were distributed randomly, but as luck would have it, many wood/mountain pairs fell together alongside the sea. This would be my homeland.
Never having taken Fishing before, I decided to base my empire on this technology. Tribespeople spread out across the seaside regions. A volcano, earthquake and sandstorm fell on the unused spaces, a blessing that paved the way for the growth to follow.
We built a city and researched Fishing in the same turn, avoiding the need for a farm.
Masonry was our next advance. Over time, this would allow my civ to build four 2-AV cities without a single farm. This approach was working so well that after getting mining for cash and metalwork for self-defence, we picked up Engineering to allow my fishing cities to grow to 3-AV.
A few rounds later, a tsunami struck. I was disappointed to discover that Engineering protected Wonders, but little else. Still, the damage was modest.
I knew we'd need to expand into those grim desert spots soon, so we picked up Agriculture and learned about this disturbing idea of *growing* food that travellers kept talking about.
The next goal was talking to strangers. In my two previous games, I'd been wiped out on the first card by invasions, and Diplomacy seemed prudent. However, I went about this advancement badly and took Government without being ready to build Diplomacy in the same round.
The First Great Setback
My empire was hit immediately with corruption, which Government aggravates. Cities withered across the empire, and I no longer had room for new advances like Diplomacy.
Advancement slowed and without new research, people focused on building farms, while the masons rebuilt.
A flood did more good than harm on the dry side of the board, creating a forest at the cost of only one tribe.
In retrospect, I tended to lock the barn door too late this game. I build Irrigation after a flood, not before. I bought Medicine after a disaster, not before. An authentic recreation of the real world, but not smart.
We finally achieved Diplomacy and would eventually become trading partners of all four foreign nations. The negotiations left nothing to chance. Discarding whatever plans I had at the moment, I would offer 8 tribes on every visitation to ensure a warm welcome. That's a lot of streamers.
Income and Insurance
I knew from a previous game how valuable Patronage could be, now that I had cities in most regions. I pressed my luck on some mining ventures and earned enough money to buy both Patronage and Banking, which would soon be worth 5 gold a turn. These advances were followed by Astronomy, allowing my people to dodge one terrible event each era.
This income and insurance would lead to a golden age. Historians disagree about the dates of these advancements, but they fell between late Era 4 and early Era 5.
Greed nearly undid us.
I was working toward the bonus-rich advancements of Civil Service and Law. Corruption struck again when I had a modest pool of gold, and I used Astronomy to avoid it. A terrible mistake. Almost immediately after I discovered Mythology, civil war struck at the heart of my empire. Fighting over their visions of god, my people did immense damage to our cities.
Had I taken Slavery, I could have hastened the rebuilding, but our AV levels had dropped so far that no new technologies would be discovered for years. A dark age for science, when you can’t even figure out how to enslave people.
The one hopeful note was that I'd detoured to get Shipping before the collapse. As my people multiplied with no advancements to buy, I sent them off on rich expeditions. At my peak, I had 47 gold. We began to collect wonders. The Hanging Gardens. The Colliseum of Death. The Huge Monolith of Impressiveness. A Gilded Statue of Me. The City of Atlantis.
The Golden Age
At long last, our city AVs recovered enough to buy Civil Service, accelerating the rebuilding. I discovered that I hadn't planted enough farms in the dry lands, so growth wasn't as fast as it might been, but we were on track to hit the maximum 8*4=32 AV. Our scientists produced mathematical proofs that no empire could be greater than ours.
Shortly after researching Law, a meek "law-yer" noticed something important in the Pocket Civ rules. You could buy the same Wonder twice! Even in the same region.
My civilization launched a nationwide franchise of Halls of Justice. With low prices, comfortable chairs and high quality coffee, they put mom-and-pop justice out of business.
Looking at our AV, our scientists realized that the empire's brainpower could only hold three more ideas, ever. As Era 8 opened, the meek but mini-maxing rule lawyer went back into the rules and identified the three advances worth the most VP. We built them without ever opening their boxes. I even forgot that Equestrianism would let me stop doing the tribe shuffling I'd been doing for the entire game.
The end of Era Eight was approaching. One last seaward expedition was ready to earn cash for a final Hall of Justice, but it was not to be. Our superstitious people announced that the End Times had arrived. Meditation would have allowed me to stop on the last card, but I'd used Astrology to avoid another civil war. Fearing that last card might be a wonder-swallowing volcano, we bowed to fate and ended the game.
Score and Lessons
Victory points for advances: 224. For wonders: 375, including six Halls of Justice. Total: 599 victory points, a number I'm unlikely to see again.
I do think that Fishing plus Masonry will become my standard opening, when the board allows.
In future games, I'm going to allow my empire to build only one Wonder of each type, because spamming Justice felt like poor sportsmanship. This variant would have left me with nothing to build in late Era Eight though, so perhaps I'll assess a bonus for ending early.
For the curious, here's my build order from this game: fishing, masonry, mining, metalwork, engineering, coinage, agriculture, government, diplomacy, literacy, irrigation, medicine, arts, architecture, theatre, patronage, banking, astronomy, shipping, mythology, meditation, democracy, civil service, philosophy, law, navigation, sails, organized religion, ministry, horticulture, equestrianism, cavalry.
The cavalry put on a little parade at the end. It was lovely.