El-ad David Amir
Once again we unboxed the devilish game of Civilization. The attendees this time were Jan, playing Russia; Alex, a newcomer who has proven to be a frighteningly fast learner, as Spain; and myself, playing the Romans. The Romans are amongst my favorite civilizations, second maybe only to the Americans. I was looking forward to a challenging game.
Note: We were playing with two variants. First, each starting tile was surrounded by three unrevealed tiles (everyone are equidistant from each other). Second, Endowment for the Arts costs 2/4/5.
We're off to a standard start, with the exception of Spain's Seven Cities of Gold (the least worrying relic, in my opinion). I decide to go for a turn two Pyramids. I was debating between Pottery/Pyramids and Metalworking/Colossus; essentially, my dilemma was between flexibility and raw financial and military strength. I was aiming for the earlier option, although I am not convinced that's an optimal decision.
Nothing interesting to say for turn two.
Russia levels the playing field by activating Horseback Riding, targetting me in exchange for a Hut on next turn- a deal which I think favors us both. Spain founds a dangerous city, surrounded by two Coins; along with the Military-Industrial Complex and the bold attack on a Village (which leads to a third coin), Russia and I are starting to sweat. I decide to take Mathematics for some military prowess; I have access to Iron using a Scout, and the threat of a Lightning Bolt should buy me time to bolster my forces further.
I try to slow Spain by throwing them into anarchy, and buff my financials. Russia dedicates Russia 2 to culture generation. Rome is oblivious to its neighbors' latest recruitment efforts. After revealing School of Confusius, I ponder how to claim it (otherwise it will be taken by Spain). I decide to change my tech plans from Metalworking or Animal Husbandry to Navigation in order to get the School; I estimate I have about 60% of getting a Great Person that will save me from military demise (either a General or someone with a useful special ability).
I acquire an Iron to power up future Mathematics, and claim the school, receiving a much needed General (to Spain's disappointment). Russia and Spain take the all powerful Metalcasting, while I hope a third city and Machu Pichu will get me an actions advantage that will help me close the gap.
Spain is quickly sprinting towards an Economic victory, backed up by a solid military and culture infrastructure. The Great Artist/Thinker convinces me to aim for a Culture victory, and I proceed with the plan to build Machu Pichu, reasoning it should get me between four and five resources- a fair trade for a city action. Russia's bold sujourn into Spanish territory proves deleterious, as Spain snaps with a Defection and continues to wreck havoc on Russia's forces.
[i]Note: I forgot to advance on the Culture Track after building Machu Pichu. This would have allowed me to reach Level 2 a turn earlier; an unfortunate mistake!
I start fueling my Culture engine, hoping to race Spain's economy and Russia's military strength, which is further bolstered this turn by a Great General. At this stage, I doubt I can defeat Spain on my own- I will need either lucky card draws, or Russia's "assistance" in delaying Spain. The attack on Russia has been a "sacrificial lamb"- we have agreed to no bloodshed, and in exchange Russia will take 3 Culture. I used it to play the two Duty and Honor, and got my flag off harm's (=Spain's) way.
Russia's Drought is exactly what I was hoping to see; it was evident at this stage that Russia was hoping to milk me for a Military Victory, and planned to delay Spain until that option materializes. I had to play Defection on the flag stealing my technology, or Russia would have gotten its Level 4 Tech a turn earlier. I guessed he had an Uranium (he did not use his Village) and could not risk a Nuclear Missile yet.
Another Drought delays Spain long enough to guarantee my victory, unless Russia and Spain somehow manage to delay me for two turns (which will lead to Russia getting Space Flight).
Throwing Spain into anarchy seals the deal on any coin gains off Banks. Despite the Nuclear Missile, I still advance significantly on the Culture track. Russia and Spain discuss their options and cannot find a course of action to stop me.
Rome is Victorious!
Some final notes
I have made at least two obvious mistakes this game. One, I knew a Nuclear Missile is coming on Turn 10, and still opted not to use my Great Builder/Inventor: Ada Lovelace. I had both The Citizens are Revolting, but there was still a small chance Russia have a Spy, which could neutralize my capitol. There was no reason not to stockpile on even more Culture. Two, I had no reason to sacrifice a flag to Russia- I had enough movement to run away, and enough hand limit to keep my Honor and Duty.
I am still not sure my tech choices have been correct. I aimed for flexibility over raw strength; I actually considered moving to Fundamentalism several times throughout the game, but decided that the threats against me are always slightly weaker than needed to destroy me. This flexibility-based strategy has been further strengthened by a six cards hand- I did not have to discard any Culture cards. Choosing Metalworking and Colossus would have meant I did not need Mathematics, opting for Democracy instead for Coins. Of course, it is difficult to play the "what-if" game.
The School of Confuscius has been a challenging decision. I had no use for Navigation other than getting the School, and it was always possible I will get two duds. Fortunately, while the Great Scientist has not been useful (Louis Pasteur), the Great General (Sun Tzu) allowed me the comfort zone I needed.
During Turn 3, Spain had an opportunity to attack Russia 2- the military bonus was identical (+6 to both sides), and Russia had no units beyond their starting hand. This has been a wager, but could have reaped great rewards for Spain. Spain has been too timid; in retrospect, the only trick up Russia's sleeve was his silver tongue.
On the other hand, Russia has obviously been too bold three turns later. Blazing into Spain's territory with no option to cancel Defection was risky. Losing three units has set Russia back significantly.
Russia lamented not investing in Public School starting turn 4. In theory, that would allow Russia to claim a Tech victory a turn sooner. However, I doubt Spain would play two Exchange of Ideas on Russia in such a scenario. Furthermore, it is possible the coin loss would hamper Russia's regular end-of-turn research efforts.
All in all, this has been an extremely tense game. I feel that I managed to strike a good balance between securing my borders and advancing my strategy despite the formidable adversaries. Thank you for reading!