I wouldn't have thought, under these conditions, that you could get to Philosophy first AND have Polytheism on hand to pull a free Monarchy. But you did, and so you not only got the tech free, but you got to it 1500 years ahead of when I did. Going full research on Polytheism rather than min sci did the trick. Nice work. As to whether or not we should take that out of the Epics, I don't know. The reward is massive, but it is one of the few areas of the game where strategy matters more than luck, and the risks are also high. You had to sacrifice with full bore research for 33 turns to pursue that gambit, and if you had not been first to Poly, that investment would have gone for naught. Fortune favors the bold.
The one thing I did expect from you and did not see was an early suicide curragh. A little luck there could put folks way ahead of the curve, and I've been very worried about what that will do to the Epics. Putting that much benefit into the hands of one or two dice rolls in the early game... you know how I feel about that. Trying it is akin to a warrior or archer attack gambit circa 3000BC, but even worse because there's less at risk. You don't have to start a war to take your chances. I'm not sure what to do about this.
As for the Ambrosia of micromanaging a Civ3 start, all of that micromanagement would be moot if the game didn't truncate and waste remainders. I too enjoy the puzzle aspect of making the most of a Civ3 opening. It is akin to a chess puzzle "mate in three moves" or a crosspatch word puzzle, or a logic puzzle. But in the big picture, it means that too much rides on minding the minutiae. Those who pore over the diplomacy screen every turn gain significant advantage. Those who pore over cities in the early game to save a shield here, a food there, and fit the puzzle pieces together to minimize remainder loss are significantly advantaged. These are not strategic choices, but merely willingless to endure tedium for advantages. This is one of Civ3's biggest failings, always been Civ's achilles heel, and it also plagues GalCiv, but is blessedly absent from MOO.
Are you going to be joining us for any MOO action? There are no remainders to manage, but there is some "attention to detail" advantage to be won, and via bona fide strategic choice rather than no-brainer efficiency management, through adding to the planetary reserve and redistributing some of your wealth to strategic priorities. As a fellow connoisseur of ambrosia, I must inquire as to whether you've sampled that particular vintage? If you have not, I believe it would sit well on your palette.
I'm looking forward with excitement to the first tourney game for MOO. Of particular interest to me is how much range in AI performance there will be across the games. In my Epic 39, Carthage totally dominated Egypt from the word go, and that seems to have been anomalous. Your Egypt thrived quite nicely, and so did many others.
I too had the idea to use civil engineers to add shields toward buildings, then swap to units. Doesn't work. The game takes away the shields added by the civil engineers. Score one for the C3C team in stamping out loopholes.
Congrats on your launch. Thanks for the scenario, your report and insights, and not revealing to the masses about how I couldn't tell whether this was a standard or small map. Oops, did I just say that out loud?