Welcome to my report of Epic 38, a very interesting variant game with the Mayans. The restriction that you have to merge a slave worker into any new-founded city immediately changed not only the opening completely, but also had a big impact on choosing the path to victory and thus the whole game. Several possibilities to play exist.
One extreme option would be to ignore the variant restrictions completely and play this as an OCC: You wouldn't need to fight wars to capture slaves with your javelin throwers that way. But I'm variant scum, and ignoring the variant rules in this game wouldn't be fun.
So I will have to fight an ancient war to expand my empire and the only questions are, how many cities do I want to have, and how many will I be able to get? I will found a second city a lot later than usual, and expansion in general will be slowed down tremendously compared both to normal games and to the expansion rate of the AIs, but the lower number of opponents for this map size will most probably lead to a decent-sized empire, if the ancient war is long enough and goes well. So, how many cities do I want to have?
After the initial expansion phase, there will be another problem which may limit our number of cities. The only unit capable of generating slaves is the 2/2/1 javelin thrower. Not only will there be a time when he becomes useless against strong defenders, we also will lose the ability to produce him once invention and the longbow becomes available! So while we may be able to compensate his weak offense with bombardment for some time, we won't be able to replace losses, and there will
be losses once knights and muskets appear, even if they are redlined before our jav throwers attack.
All this leads to the conclusion that in the beginning, we should try to expand as much as possible, preferrably becoming large enough to build the forbidden palace, which should make us strong enough economically to win via UN or space race, or to raze every enemy city and go for a conquest win.
That's why I decided to go for domination.
Yep, that will be hard and I don't know if I can make it at all, but I sure as hell will try! The plan is to wage war in ancient times as long as possible to capture as many slaves as possible, with heavy use of cannons later to prolong the life of my jav throwers, to generate a big enough reserve to be able to found enough cities later to reach the 66% land area and population threshold. Population will probably not be the problem, but land area will be.
Will I be able to accomplish this? Let's find out...
I moved the worker to the floodplain and the settler to the northwest, away from the bonus grass, and found ivory. Nice! Chichen Itza was founded and produced two warrior scouts and then a granary. Research was of course set to warrior code at max rate, to make javelin throwers available, and then shut down.
The Dutch found me in 3150BC, and China in 2900BC. I had a monopoly on masonry, so traded it together with 9 gold to the Dutch for alphabet and bronze working and started minimum science on mathematics.
After my capital had finished the granary, it produced a barracks, then two spearmen for defense and MP duty, and then was set to produce javelin throwers. I met Carthage in 2310BC. Some turns later, I traded 147 gold to China for the wheel, and the wheel, 40 gold and 4gpt to Carthage for iron working. I wanted to declare war soon and wanted to know here my enemy's horses and iron are!
In 2070BC, my first javelin thrower was finished - time for war! It looked like the Dutch were the only civ south of me, so I declared on them. Let's see if I can get my first slaves from their bonus starting units!
Killing two of their warriors in 1725BC sparked my golden age, but gave me no slaves.
1675BC, another two warriors were killed, but no slaves.
1625BC, another two. No slaves, no promotions. Hello?
Now the Dutch had founded the city of Eindhoven just south of my capital. I killed the spear in it and razed the city in 1550BC: No slave, no promotion.
1525BC, another dead warrior.
1475BC saw at least my first promotion, but still no slave. Nine killed units should have given me approx. three slaves, but...nothing. Uh, under these cirumcstances, domination will be hard to reach.
I had built a settler already, anxiously waiting for the first slave - and finally, in 1375BC, a Dutch spearman was enslaved! About time, really. The settler, an escort and the slave began to move to found my second city - I really could need a higher unit support!
But before they reached their destination, a task force of jav throwers razed another Dutch city, Groningen, which had been built atop of iron. No swordmen, please!
And finally, Copan was founded and the slave merged in in 1300BC, near the ruins of Eindhoven. I guess most people had their second city a lot earlier.
A short time later, Carthage demanded some gold - and I caved. I was busy with the Dutch, and with my small number of cities couldn't deal with another enemy on a different front, especially one with a 2/3 unit. But apart from the lack of slaves, the war against the Dutch went well. Le Hague was razed in 1175BC, killing two spears, but it needed three more dead units before another slave turned up. Time to found my third city, Palenque, in 1025BC!
Notice that I'm about to raze Maastricht and that two stacks of mine are advancing on the Dutch capital. Now the spell was broken and I started to generate slaves on a more reasonable basis, and even better scored a great leader in 1000BC! Unfortunately I wasn't able to form an army immediately because I only had three cities, but after founding Tikal two turns later, I had a jav thrower army. I didn't realize it at that time, but this army was the best that could have happened to me - an army full of javelin throwers can still enslave enemies and is much stronger, so I would be able to generate slaves much longer against stronger units. But more on that later.
I now had three spears and five jav throwers pillaging the tiles around Amsterdam, most important the horses there. They also managed to defeat several attacking archers and horsemen but were not strong enough to attack the capital itself, so waited for the army to arrive. And in 710BC, after losing four javs...
I was careful to differentiate between captured and enslaved workers, using the shift-N trick T-hawk proposed.
Some turns earlier, Rome had demanded some gold from me, and I had caved a second time - again a civ with a 3-defense unit I wasn't ready to fight. Yet. Apparently Caesar then had threatened Carthage as well, because war broke out between these two, and later Germany and China joined the fray against Carthage as well, which was fine with me - more time for me to fight the Netherlands and to found more cities. So Yaxchilan was founded near iron and dyes, and Utrecht was razed next (netting two slaves). Since the Dutch now had only one city left, I decided to make peace in 550BC for all they had: Code of laws, map making, horseback riding, mysticism and 9 gold pieces. I had several slaves now, and it was time to expand and to improve my lands a bit.
During the next centuries, several new slave cities were founded, one claiming the ex Dutch iron. I also did some more trades in 270BC: 500g and 16gpt to Carthage for the republic; the republic to China for currency, polytheism and 20 gold; currency to Carthage for 260 gold. Now that I finally knew the republic, I...er...I somehow forgot to revolt! It's always the same: If I do some more trades on the turn I get a new government, I tend to forget to revolt. Stupid, stupid me. I noticed that in 10BC, banged my head against the next wall, and then revolted, drawing another six turn of anarchy.
But before that happened, my peace deal with the Dutch was about to expire in 170BC. I had my last settler/slave/spear trio on the way, so it was about time to generate more slaves: War was redeclared in 70BC. This immediately caused trouble, as every city of mine except my capital had a Dutch slave, which immediately became unhappy... During the same year, I was able to beat a Chinese settler by one turn to horses in the jungles to the north. This city was stretching my empire quite a bit, but getting a second horse resource was worth the risk.
The Netherlands posed no problems of course, and I intended to get rid of them completely this time. Haarlem was razed in 50BC, and in 30AD, while enslaving a Dutch spearman guarding a settler, a second leader spawned! I sent him to Chichen Itza with the intention of rushing the heroic epic.
Well, both plans (destroying the Dutch, rushing the epic) had to be reevaluated in 90AD when this happened:
This was the current situation: Rome had finally destroyed Carthage two turns ago. I was still in anarchy for another turn. My rather weak army was occupied with the Dutch in the west. The Chinese were right on top of me, and had lots of land. My border to them was long and full of jungle. But - the Dutch would soon be destroyed, and I needed more slaves! Additionally, the leader had just arrived in Chichen Itza and still could form a second army, so I refused to pay the tribute, and China declared war.
Destroying the Dutch wasn't a priority anymore, so I made peace with them again and hurried all my troops to the Chinese border. I was a republic now and had set up two 2-turn worker factories, which I decided to continue despite the new, more dangerous war. I desperately needed more workers! That meant that my second army remained empty for some turns, though.
My first jav army had to defend Palenque alone for some turns, because my other javelin throwers were slower to arrive there. It had to kill and enslave several horses, using the terrain to its advantage, but eventually had to heal for a turn, and my second army was forced to move to Palenque to defend it against a horse despite the fact it only contained two javelin throwers yet.
And it got worse! I refused to pay tribute to the Germans, and they declared war on me as well. My armies were busy defending Palenque while I slowly accumulated enough troops to go onto the offense there, but only a few turns later, the first German MDIs appeared near my weakly defended northwestern iron and horse cities. They were busy building temples, but I had to switch to walls to protect them, losing dozens of shields.
And it got even worse! In 260AD, Germany bought Rome into the war against me, too. I started to build catapults now, expecting to see legionaries soon. On the bright side, though, I got more and more slaves, and had enough units at Palenque now to attack Chinan, razing it in 270AD. Bad combat luck left my army with only three hitpoints in the open in reach of a Chinese horse, and bad strategy left me unable to cover it. Lucky for me, the horse enslaved itself against the army.
But in 310AD, the situation threatened to get out of control. A SoD of six German MDIs appeared at my northwestern horse city, and against that, not even walls would help. Additionally, China surprised me by sending two horses to a weakly defended city in the same region, so I decided to make peace with both nations. From China, I was able to get a discount on feudalism, but Germany I had to pay 120 gold for peace, which I swore won't remain unrevenged!
I used the slaves to found cities again, one on ex-Chinan, and waited for the Romans to appear. And they did come! In 360AD, 12 MDIs, 3 legionaries and three archers could be seen. I positioned my units to pick on them on their way to my core. I killed what I could, but in 410AD, 20 MDIs, 8 archers, 4 legionaries and a longbow were still alive and were threatening Palenque and Tikal!
That was way too much for me to handle, so I renegotiated peace with Rome. Despite killing a lot of Caesar's units, I still had to pay 40 gold to him.
Some quiet turns followed, where I founded more cities and improved my core. But in 490AD, I still had extra slaves but no more room to settle, so it was time again to clean up my backyard. My Dutch citizens didn't like that, but were wise enough to shut up in 620AD when...