No, Part 5 of this diary ending on turn 466 doesn’t mean it’s incomplete. It’s the end game. A winner is declared. Losers are made to wallow in their loserdome. Remember, like Ricky Bobby’s father taught us, if you ain’t first, you’re last. Which is Japan? Let’s find out…
1990 AD, Turn 410:
For once all has been quiet for a time, a much needed respite as we rebuild our military dominance (back up to 2nd in the world in the Soldiers demographic now). Every unit we build makes its way to the Aztec continent where it’s been used to re-garrison cities, occupy a newly built fort and citadel, and generally ensure that any new incursion from Montezuma be met swiftly and harshly. The peace treaty just expired. In the past that indicates Montezuma will launch an attack inside of five turns. I’ve directed our researchers to figure out the secrets of the Telegraph so that we might build larger naval units, called battleships, and deploy new infantry types, called paratroopers, behind enemy lines if they’re needed. Just getting to telegraph in 1990 is just so very, very sad.
During this time, Monty had the stones to tell use to leave Belgrade’s “protection” to them. Right. The guys you just conquered and I liberated. No problem, mate. Spreading the crazy around, Washington denounced us, just a few years after re-opening trade with me for the first time in centuries. If I didn’t have Monty to worry about, he’d be at the top of The List.
With new subs prowling the oceans, I’ve noted that Monty has at least five aircraft carriers positioned off his coast. I can only wonder what purpose he plans for them. Aircraft to stock those carriers require oil, and near as I can tell he has no access to oil whatsoever, though perhaps he’s managed to dredge up some in trade. This seems unlikely. Monty is a strange nut, no question. We, fortunately, have no such concerns. With a freshly constructed oil platform, we finally have more oil with which to build aircraft and tanks. We have aluminum coming out of our ears, and even a reasonable amount of plutonium, although I’ve not yet discovered much use for it. Still haven’t begun Manhatten project.
Note that by the end of the game I had never seen Montezuma deploy an aircraft. Not once. Yet he kept building carriers that cannot attack other naval ships and are highly susceptible to sub attacks. Truly bizarre behavior. I don’t even want to think about how many turns of production he wasted on aircraft carriers.
1994 AD, Turn 414:
Ghandi, the turd, landed a unit of artillery next to Belgrade. It attacks a unit of American artillery that landed right next to it. I’m not sure which arrived there first and I don’t know what game these two Real Men of Genius are playing at, but I’ll brook no other competitors here. To that end I announced to the world that Belgrade is under my protection. Woe to anyone who tests me. It would turn out Gandhi was buttering up Belgrade for reasons that will become clear later.
2010 AD, Turn 430:
Monty has completed some silly thing he calls the Apollo Project. Putting a man in space? That’s just unnatural. It does, however, tell us we have a long way to go if we are to lead the world in anything beyond the most bullets. I really let myself fall behind on the tech front during the war. I spent a lot of time building military units and not enough time making sure cities that needed them had requisite libraries, universities, and, above all, public schools. To that end I’ve devoted the empire’s time to building more institutions of learning. To keep our economy going, the cities not building such institutions are focused on new banks and stock exchanges. I’ve started losing control of my economy again. If only we had more time we might show the world that ours is a superior way, but I fear the evidence at hand stands against us. It’s becoming clear that this is Ghandi’s world and we’re all just living in it.
As for our blood enemy, Monty, he continues to rotate troops along our border. Infantry, then something called rocket artillery, and anti-aircraft guns. It’s tempting to turn this back to a shooting war, but I just don’t know… oh what the heck. Burn in hell, Monty! We’re coming for you, and hell’s coming with us you drooling, trogloditic, mass of festering guano!
2011 AD, Turn 431:
For our initial attack we moved tanks in and used artillery to open the road. Monty’s force build up was significant, but we wrecked a rocket artillery unit and set ourselves up well for the next go ’round. We also threw some gold Belgrade’s way to join in on the fun. Monty countered by focusing on our Citadel-based infantry. A strange choice as they’re the best defended of all the units in the area. He did succeed in taking them out, but it required focused attacks from multiple Aztec units, the triumphant one of which was eliminated by the Citadel itself. My first use of the Citadel structure in Civ 5. Yay, me! I’ll take that trade. Interestingly, Monty seems more interested in moving on Belgrade, where he sent multiple units, including embarking two units of infantry and a unit of anti-air in full view of our coastal destroyers and sub. Those won’t last long.
2016 AD, Turn 436:
Monty’s move on Belgrade was for naught. I decimated the transport ships he recklessly embarked on his western coast. On the eastern coast, my sub and destroyer have made short work of his useless aircraft carriers and sunk two more embarked units besides. Although I do think the military AI is improved here, between useless aircraft carrier builds and the number of melee units he lost at sea, Monty really hamstrung himself. The AI should have better awareness than that by this point. The main ground, however, is Tlatelolco. I must admit, when I saw Monty’s collection of rocket artillery and masses of troops I wondered if I could truly take and hold the city, and believe me when I tell you that Oda Nobunaga is not one to question his military prowess. I should stop overestimating my Azteckian friend. Yes, Azteckian. It’s okay, I’m college certified at making up words. Using our tanks’ attack and withdrawal capabilities, we made short work of his ranged units, while pounding away at his ground troops with our own artillery. The city soon fell and Monty’s reinforcements have not proven up to the task. I offered Monty a respite, mostly because I’m such a softie, but he refused. I have to admit, I’m glad for that. I like the look of Calixthlahuaca. It’s the perfect place to test out the siege capabilities of my new battleship (turns out – not so great at that), which now approaches Monty’s eastern coast. Gandhi may be destined to rule the future, but in the now, I shall have my fun.
2020 AD, Turn 440:
Calixtlahuaca has fallen to our armies and is now my puppet. By annexing a couple of puppet cities and purchasing courthouses (instead of building), we were able to immediately bring empire happiness back to stable ground, which gives me a warm fuzzy. Monty came looking for peace last year. As if! Now that we’ve mechanized our infantry into even more effective fighting men and women, I will turn my attention to the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. I will see Monty running from his very home to seek shelter in whatever spoils I deign to leave him!
During this time we also completed our first great project in over a thousand years – the Great Sydney Opera House. I don’t know why we call it Sydney Opera House when it’s located in Tokyo, but I’m told it’s for the best. The genius of this build is it immediately allows us to further our progress into the autocratic social principles. Combined with our own cultural expansion I expect to have a significant breakthrough soon that will make these grumpy sods living in my empire be happy.
2022 AD, Turn 444:
The Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, falls! Carelessness cost us a pair of artillery units that would have made the siege easier, but our heroic mechanized infantry were more than up to the task of bringing the once mighty capitol low. Montezuma retreats to Tlascala. Rather bizarrely; it’s his biggest city, but of his three remaining, it’s cut off from the other two. I think it’s worth noting at this point that it seems like the AI does a good job with strategic city placement. I have constantly had trouble bombarding from safe distance with my artillery because of the city being behind hills or mountains. (Artillery can bombard three hexes away if unobstructed, but lose a hex of range if they have to shoot over rough terrain; cities only have a range of two no matter the terrain.) He’s even been able to turn rivers to his advantage, although that’s a little bit coincidence since I encroach on his territory from the north instead of the south.
2025 AD, Turn 450:
And now Tlaxcala belongs to Japan. Monty is down to his final two cities – Teotihuacan and Atzcapotzalco. Being a merciful and generous conquerer, I have granted him a stay of execution.
In reality I need to get my happiness and economy in order. I actually have absorbed most of the happiness hits; I sit -1 right now, but I’m now losing 59 gold per turn. I think a lot of this picture will turn around when the three newly conquered cities stop resisting. The peace treaty will allow time for that to happen. Once it’s expired, I aim to exterminate Montezuma for good. It’s only fair.
Here’s a look at the current demographics. If this weren’t so late in the game, I’d say things were finally looking really, really good for Team Japan!
2029 AD, Turn 459:
As we expand our knowledge of autocratic principles, we have developed a working model of the Police State. This genius of an idea has allowed us to use our extensive network of courthouses to make people be happy. I love it. So do the people… or else. My happiness just went from 10 to 54. Yowza! Too bad I didn’t get to this policy sooner.
A great scientist also made his way to us during that time. Using our recent research into Rocketry, he discovered a new and useful application of it: putting devices, called satellites, into orbit. For the first time we have a truly global look upon the world. We’re not impressed. Still, we must analyze this new data. I cannot began to fathom how the hippocrites that run these nations can possibly call me tyrant with a straight face! Ghandi appears to have eliminated the Germans from the game (I must’ve missed that development. I’m all about attention to detail.) and nuked those territories in America and France that he hasn’t already conquered. I am a warlord, this is true, but even I in blanch in the face of such wanton destruction. If the Americans and French had but worked together they might have prevented the Indian juggernaut. Instead they glow in the dark, which I admit is rather pretty from a distance. I really should have kept a closer eye on foreign relations.
I believe it’s time to erase Monty’s existence from the globe. We do that and perhaps we can at least make life harder for Ser Gandhi the Bloodthirsty.
It didn’t occur to me at the time, but is it me or are the cities really jammed in here. It looks very inauthentic to me. There’s a limit of three open tiles between cities and it looks to me like every city here is within four tiles of at least one other city. That may play to the game model where having more cities can be a real boon (pending your victory goals), but if so, I think that’s a weakness in the game model. Of course earlier, I complimented Aztec city placement. I dunno. It just looks weird to me.
Anyway, doesn’t change the larger point. Larger empires should absolutely be capable of being more powerful, for certain, but they should also be harder to maintain. My experience with the game has been the opposite of that: it’s gotten easier as I got bigger. In the late game the only time I encountered serious economic woes, was after conquering three cities inside of ten turns while also producing military units like they were going out of style. That was a very temporary situation. Once unrest died down I had money coming out my ears again (though I also built a lot of banks and stock exchanges). And the end game, when I was at my largest, is the only time in the game where I was consistently ahead of the happiness curve. Granted, that’s thanks in huge part to the Police State policy, but even before that I had managed to get my happiness to a game high +10, despite constant acquisitions over the previous 100 turns. Again, this strikes me as the opposite of how it should be.
2030 AD, Turn 461:
This day shall henceforth be known that Montezuma the Craven was dragged from his bunker -kicking, pleading, and weeping- to be brought to the Japanese capitol, Kyoto. There I personally severed his head from his shoulders. A better fate than the treacherous fool deserved. And we did it in a shade under 2,000 years. There will be celebrating in the streets tonight!
2032 AD, Turn 465:
We turn our attention now to global politics. As our satellites confirmed, India is at war with everybody but me. You would think in the face of such onslaught France, America, and Mongolia would ally together to stand opposite a common foe, but no. France wars with Mongolia and America has denounced France. They’re making it easy for Gandhi. In a desperate attempt to get them to see reason I gave Khan a piece of every excess luxury and legacy strategic resource (no aluminum, oil, or uranium) we have access to to end the war with France, which he accepted. Perhaps that will help matters at least a little.
Whatever voodoo sex magic India has at its disposal has seduced Belgrade. The city I rescued from Montezuma and vowed to protect now allies itself with Gandhi and allows him to build up forces there. I probably should have thrown more money at Belgrade, as you’re about to see. The problem was India had unlocked a social policy that caused city-state relations to degrade more quickly for all other nations. Combine that with the diminishing returns on cash bribes for city-states and it becomes a poor investment. That said, given that it was late in the game, it probably would have been worth it to keep them my allies. As much as I would prefer to wait and prepare, Japan cannot allow Gandhi to use Belgrade as foothold on our turf. We will gather our forces and prepare to attack. Incidentally, the Global Politics tab on the diplomacy screen has Gandhi having maxed out five social policy trees. I’ve actually been watching this for a couple dozen turns now. It’s taken him awhile to get the last one, but he has it now and is very likely building the Utopia Project that will end the game. I will say this, this will be the first AI Culture Victory I’ve ever seen in a Civ game (4 included). Nice.
2033 AD, Turn 466:
An envoy from some piddly-doo world organization that calls itself the United Nations arrived on our doorstep asking who we thought should lead the world. We answered ourselves, of course. As if anyone else were fit? We then sent him on his way, though I considered eating his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti. It was only later that we were informed this vote had the full measure of force and effect and that city-states around the globe agreed that Gandhi was the man for the job. We have no choice but to accept this verdict, lay down our arms, and let this honorless beast lay claim to the globe. If you’ll excuse me I have a sword to fall on. Now how did I not see that coming? UGH!!!
Well, that was humbling. Say what you will about the way the AI has handled itself at points throughout this game, but Gandhi absolutely cleaned my clock. On Prince difficulty. Not only that, but he was in position to win at least two ways, culturally and diplomatically. I don’t think I ever saw an AI civ win a game of Civ 4 via culture or diplomacy. (Not saying it can’t happen, but I’ve never seen it, and I’ve played a lot of Civ 4.) So, kudos to Civ 5 for that. Seriously.
What we saw unfold in these last 66 turns was fairly typical of what we saw in the first 400. Although it was I who was the aggressor against Monty here, it was obvious the way he moved troops around that he was still trying to come up with ways to overtake my front. He never really could. His best shot of that was back in diary #3 when he made his initial foray. Despite losing ground from that point on, he refused to change tactics (by trying to maintain peace) until it was so obvious that I had him on the ropes that it would have been stupid not to finish the job on him. As much as I would rather have attacked Washington for being a punk, or Gandhi for running away with the game (once I realized it), Monty really made that impossible.
I think if you look at how things ended up, it’s reasonably clear that I lost the game on the growth front. Not in terms of land, but in terms of making sure my cities were growing. Right from the get go I failed to do a good job managing empire happiness, which hampered city growth throughout the game. That’s entirely on me as the player. You can see what great position I was in at the end game in terms of demographics.
Also, I’m a poor military leader. To win a military victory you have to conquer the other civ capitols. I got two, mostly because I could not manage to run a multi-front war. I tried to focus on one adversary at a time and that was just too slow for the progress I wasn’t making. Being by myself on a continent didn’t help that, though. I couldn’t eliminate anybody until I got to the point of Navigation, which is a mid-game tech. Getting across an ocean and invading a continent is not a gimme and takes time. If I had it to do over again I would have gone towards America first, instead of Babylon. That would have provided me with more Civs to go after, though the result would likely have been the same, only with Montezuma, left unchecked by me, running away with things.
Back to the demographics. The big reason I surged forward so much late is because I was both huge in territory and finally able to get my happiness rating above zero and keep it there. That allowed my population to grow rapidly, and with Monty largely on the ropes, allowed me to focus on civil construction instead of military units. My obsession with unit production at the expense of research-generating buildings throughout the mid-game caused me to fall way behind on the tech track. I wasn’t so much behind the other AIs (Gandhi excepted), but I was way behind the times. Discovering the Telegraph in 1990 is not a good indicator. Too many of my cities lacked either a library, university, or public school. I’ll grant you, Civ 5 encourages you not to build everything in every city by making sure to charge maintenance on most building types (something Civ 4 did not do), but it certainly seems as though you have to build the gold, research, and happy generating buildings just about everywhere if you want to keep things humming. I didn’t do that, at least not in a timely manner, and paid the price.
The bit that really stuck out to me, however, is the screenshot for turn 459. One, the AI was using nukes against the AI. Yikes. Don’t fuck with Gandhi, I guess. But more than that it’s the array of cities in that shot. (I called attention to this above.) They really just look spammed everywhere, don’t they? Look at the global map at the bottom right. The right-most continent is my home continent. My cities are spread out a bit and generally haphazard because I expanded where I thought I could maximize demand for strategy and luxury resources. I could have done a better job here, I’ll grant you, but compare that to the big continent dominated by green. It has cities placed, to my eye, very robotically. There is no place where you could stick another city that wouldn’t violate space limitations.
This gets to my core disconnect with the AI as it presently stands. I have a lot of thoughts about that I want to address. This post is already exceedingly long, however, so I’ll close it here and I’ll do one more “wrap-up post” (it’s already written) that I’ll put up on the site tomorrow where I talk about why I think this game still isn’t quite over the hump and why I think it’ll take a full (and probably never to happen) expansion to get there.