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Rise of Rome: The Persian Wars
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Date: 07/31/04 04:07
Game Type: Other
Labels:Famous Reporter(1), Civilization(1), Strategy Focused(1), Tutorial(1), Series(1)
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Report Rating: 9.2, # of Ratings: 5, Max: 10, Min: 9
Lifetime Rating for .Praetor: 8.2987
Civilization III is one of my favorite single player games. In fact, I'd been enjoying it a bit too much before I regained access to the internet. Not too long ago, I start thinking ‘gee, maybe I should waste an ungodly amount time playing another game of Civ3.' Then, while surfing the web, I discovered's Game of the Month feature. GOTM is a combination strategy fair and competition, with high score winners getting medals and accolades; and most players writing up age-by-age spoilers to describe how their game went.

I recently finished my first GOTM, and I thought ‘I should BR this'. Unfortunately, most games of Civ3 are played over several days, and my memory did not prove up to the task. Although you'll be happy to know my Greeks squeaked out a win (although I may end up competing for the lowest-scoring space race victory). Those of you who were linked from welcome to Enjoy the report, leave a comment, click on the site's banners once or twice if you see something interesting, and consider putting together your own report. They don't have to be as long as this monstrosity (especially if you have elite Photoshop skills).

But I still thought Civ3 would be a great game for a text-heavy BR, so I resolved to play a game on the highest difficulty setting, Deity, and immediately found a good candidate. Note that unlike many non-Blizzard games that get reported on, I'm not going to bother with a guide explaining the basics of the game. But you can always go to and read about it. Also on that site's forums is a brief rundown of how I was doing in the aforementioned game of the month during the Ancient Age and Middle Ages. And because I thought it was cool, I'm also going to link to a good Chronicles-style story here.

Oh, and I'm also making the biggest mistake of my battle reporting career and including some screenshots. They're ugly, and I'm sure I'll never be given a good score on a text-only BR again. Nichevo. Most of them are also .png files, so if your browser doesn't like those you'll have to do without. Also, the HTML in this report would not have been possible without the emergency help of ZerG~LinG, many thanks to his generous work.

Without further ado (sighs of relief), I present to you: The Persian Wars, first installment of the Rise of Rome.

A Fine World

We'll start with a little bit about the map. I wanted early action; and playing on Deity, I wanted a world that catered to my playing style. The landmass would be Archiplego, with maximum water (roughly 80%). The maximum number of civilizations (eight) for a standard map were chosen, all set to random. This ran the risk of leaving me alone on a small island, but the limited size of starting continents would delay diplomatic contact, ensure a slow tech pace, and probably prevent me from being dog-piled early in the game. Problems would come if my starting continent and outlying islands weren't enough to sustain me in the late game.

To ensure I could catch up, and also to encourage as crowded a map as possible, I created a world with harsh living conditions. A cold climate would spread the latitudes where tundra would be found, and an arid rainfall pattern would increase the size of the world's deserts. Finally, a young world would raise many mountains and hills, difficult terrain to travel on and utilize.

The basic idea was that if the computer opponents would be allowed to grow too large, they would overrun me or leave my slow-thinking people in the dust technologically. Archipelago also meant few rivers, and the other conditions meant less workable land, further slowing the research pace despite the number of sea squares that would be utilized.

The Computer Cheats

This may sound like I'm ensuring a win. I'm making it more likely, true, but this is just the style I prefer to play on. Some masochistic players enjoy a warm, wet, pangea world. But the computer would be competitive in this game. On Deity difficulty, they're always competitive.

The AI civilizations would start out with an extra settler and worker, allowing them to immediately found and improve two cities to my one. In addition, everything they built would cost half of normal. Their cities would gain population twice as fast, and they would start with numerous free defensive and offensive units to scout, protect their cities, take advantage of barbarians, and eventually attack me. They would have an outrageously high cap on the number of ‘free' units they wouldn't have to pay to support, whatever their government, and they would be more likely to trade technologies and resources with each other, giving steep discounts.

I may have missed a few advantages; but in short they start twice as powerful, grow twice as fast, produce units and city improvements at a pace I can only dream of, and they'll very nearly pool their research.

However, the AI needs these advantages. Because the AI is stupid. Well, compared to human players. I actually think the Civ3 AI is rather good compared to many games. Basically, the computers will irrigate too much of their land (not focusing on production), and the computer AI is not as skilled at using their units during war.

Humble Beginnings

The Roman people, a loose collection of tribes living on arid but fertile hills near the coast, chose to found Rome in 3950 BC. Their leader, .Praetor, was a benevolent despot. But they trusted him, and built their city on the desert coast, leaving more fertile lands to be farmed. A jolly people, they were known for their skill at making (and drinking) many fine wines.

I'd chosen a random tribe, but I'm always happy to lead the people that created my nickname. The Romans are Militaristic and Commercial, which means that my barracks are cheap, my units are more likely to be promoted in battle, and I'll have a slight increase in commerce and decrease in corruption later in the game. Not the best trait combo, but the Romans' unique unit, the Legionary, makes up for it. The Legionary is a swordsmen with extra defense, which makes it one of the best Ancient Age attackers and defenders. Of course, I'll need iron (and to have researched Iron Working) to build my legions.

But I had a fantastic start. Wines and hills! Good for food, production, and trade. My worker scouted one of the hills, then built mines and roads by the wineries on my plains. I started researching pottery at maximum (it's a cheap technology and I already had two commerce due to the wines) even though I didn't plan to use the granaries soon. Standard Civ3 tactics call for using a granary to create a ‘settler factory' early, but with these map settings I'd never have the space needed to expand peacefully unless I was alone on the island. I started my game by building a warrior, of course.

A turn before my first warrior was completed, a Persian spearmen unit appeared to the far north. Rome wasn't on her own island, and I was immediately intimidated. Persia is often considered the ‘newbie civ' because they have a number of great advantages that make up for the deficiencies in many people's game. Not good at keeping up in the tech race? Persia is scientific. Don't produce or capture enough workers? Persia is industrious. Have trouble with early wars? Bust out the Immortals. In my opinion, the Immortals are tied for the best unit in the game with the Iroquois' Mounted Warriors. Like the legion, they're based off the swordsman, but they have an extra attack instead of an extra defense. At four attack and two defense, they have the offensive power to destroy city defenders well into the Middle Ages - and they're just plain cost-effective. Legion-Immortal is a classic match up, but the advantage goes to the Immortals.

And I get to fight them. Early wars are virtually a necessity for a Deity level game, both to gain land and extort technology from the victim. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now. I hoped for another neighbor to pummel early on. If Persia gets to the Middle Ages and has a source of horses, they get suckered into building knights instead of the cheap Immortals.

After contact, Persia offers to trade Bronze Working and 10 gold for Alphabet. I consider, but decline, hoping to meet someone else on the island and get a better deal. My warrior exploring to the east runs into a rich game tile amidst numerous forests on top of plains. I note the idea for possible expansion, but I'm shocked when Persian cultural borders at the edge of my mapped area suddenly expand, to the point where they will be right next to my own when the culture from Rome's palace gives me my first territory expansion. The Persians aren't just close, there are only four spaces between Persepolis and my own capitol.

Expansion and Development

My own cultural expansion reveals cattle living on grassland to the north, and I immediately salivate. Cattle tiles rival wheat on flood plains and gold in hills for the bonus squares in the game. One of the cattle tiles in under Persian control, but that would be a darn good site to place my second city anyway, as long as Persian culture didn't flourish to the point my own people switch sides.

My warrior continues to explore, noting that Pasargarde has several sources of Ivory on grassland and plains. That's two good city locations for Xerxes. When I have a second warrior exploring and one staying home to keep the people quiet and happy, I start a settler. It'll be done as soon Rome increases to size three. That's not soon enough, I need another city fast before Persia takes all the good land.

Persia's third city, Susa, is up north in the tundra. I've decided to found Veii by the cattle tiles and gamble that my settlers won't join the Persians. This may mean I'll have to pursue an archer war, since Iron is only found in hills or mountains. My people finally figure out pottery as I consider the future. Since I haven't met anyone else yet, Persia and I are almost certainly alone. I start researching Bronze Working, since I'll need to know that before I can research Iron Working and find out where the Iron deposits are on the map.

Dealing with the Devil

Since I'm assuming we're alone (and therefore Xerxes won't give my technologies to another potential trading partner), I contact Xerxes and discuss trading technologies. He'll give me Bronze working and 10 gold for Alphabet, or I can buy Masonry for Alphabet and 10 gold. I decide to take Masonry. I figure if I'm going to defend against Immortals, I'll need city walls. Plus Masonry takes longer to research than Bronze Working.

The turn before I found Veii next to the cattle tiles, Persia begins building the Pyramids. This is excellent. If Xerxes is successful, the Pyramids will probably be complete in time for me to take them over. The start of Wonder building also has me consider building the Colossus in Rome. With wines, that would make for an awful lot of commerce. Then again, I don't really have the time. Xerxes also founds Arbela next to the game in the east, and I start get that wild look in my eye that I get when I know I'm behind and need to do something.

Veii is founded with a previously exploring warrior defending the settlers. I start walls there, since they're something cheap (and with no upkeep) that I can do before I have the population to build another worker. Luckily, Veii is right next to the cattle tile Persepolis was working, and I assume control of it, terrain improvements and all.

I'm building walls in Rome too, when a barbarian warrior appears to the south. Dang it. My other exploring warrior heads towards the probable location of the barbarian camp. However, I'm not watching carefully enough and the barbarian pillages the improvements I'd constructed on the plains just south of Rome. Next turn the warrior comes very close to sacking my capitol, red-lining my defending warrior.

The next turn, walls finish in Rome, my exploring warrior finds the barbarian camp, and the Persians declare war. Crap, crap, crap. All the good city spots had been taken (although there was some empty desert), and Xerxes had decided to expand into Roman territory.

The First Persian War

My defense was anemic. I had one regular warrior behind walls in Veii and one behind walls in Rome. Persepolis was close enough to Veii that Persian warriors could literally walk up to the walls of my city and still be in Persian territory. My only offensive option was an exploring warrior far to the south. I changed production in Veii from a worker to a warrior, started an archer in Rome, and directed my people to pray.

I figured the game was over, but the random number generator was kind to me during that first war. In the first year of the war, Persia attacked Veii with two regular warriors and a regular spearmen. The first two warriors red-lined my defender. But the walls held and I repulsed all three units, promoting my warrior to elite status. In the south I used my third warrior to disperse the Suren camp, ending the barbarian threat and enriching my treasury. If the war grinds to a stalemate over the next several turns, I might be able to sue for peace and still be in this game. If, of course, Persia hasn't researched Iron Working and doesn't start throwing Immortals at me.

A few years (turns) later, Xerxes sends two regular archer units at Veii. Obviously, archers pose a much greater offensive threat than warriors and spearmen. I crossed my fingers again. My elite warriors defend successfully, and to my surprise, so do my newly recruited regulars, earning themselves a promotion.

Several years later, I weaken a Persian attack on Veii with my own archer, destroying one of their units before it can attack. My defenses are now formidable, with archers taking a toll in lives from any attack force that dares approach Veii and walls making my experienced warriors legitimate defensive units.

Persia has had enough, and requests peace. I'm ecstatic, since I had expected a short and brutal defeat. Not only that, but despite the war's defensive nature, it can be considered a success for Rome. I killed several of Persia's units (losing none of my own), no damage had been done to my infrastructure, and Persia had sacrificed a lot of production and development. On the other hand, I had also put all my resources into the war. And the odds say that an iron deposit is hiding somewhere on the island. If I continued the war there was a good chance Persia would run me over with Immortals. So I accept their peace, but can only negotiate a measly twenty gold in war reparations.

Cold War

As I negotiate, I discover the Persians posses skill in both Iron Working and they have developed The Wheel, validating my fears of Immortals or even horsemen. The Persians took advantage of the peace, attempting to complete the Colossus. I root for them to finish it just as I did with the Pyramids. At this point it's a foregone conclusion that I'll sack their cities and take this island or lose the game.

Soon after the end of the war, I complete a barracks in both Veii and Rome, ensuring that when I produce more units they will already be veterans. It was irksome to complete these structures after the war, especially when I had to pay one gold a turn in upkeep for each of them, but I was likely going to need a capable attack force to take a deposit of iron. In the meantime, however, Veii produced another worker to build further improvements in the lands around my cities. Rome continued to produce archers.

In 1990 BC a great history was completed, and I was cordially informed that Romans were the most backwards people in science and learning on the planet. Joy. To be truthful though, this was entirely expected. I was going to have to extort technology from the Persians to survive the brutal technology pace common to Deity difficulty, even on an archipelago map.

A few turns later, I have Veii produce a settler to found another city. There's only one so-so city location left on the island; but since Rome wasn't using a representative form of government another city would provide free unit support. Given the ugly state of my treasury supporting the archers Rome was churning out, this was going to be very necessary. Veii was building these population-intensive units because the cattle available to her meant an abundance of food.

After building the settler, Veii began to add to my archer forces. Around this time traders also relayed information that Babylon had completed an incredible Colossus, drawing trade from all around. Nuts. The Persians wouldn't end up building this wonder for me.

Bah (that's what my notes say, ‘bah', underlined twice). Xerxes founds Gordium in the arid lands south of Rome, where my settler had been moving. It'll have to go to the last open spot on the island. I finally found Antium to the southwest. In retrospect, it's a good city location given the circumstances. Antium was founded in the middle of the desert, but it's also on the coast. This will allow it to bring in trade via the seas when I can build a harbor. In the meantime, it is just in range of the outskirts of Rome's territory (the city). So it can use two of the grape-endowed hills Rome won't use until she grows to a larger size. Between the initial trade the city generates and the extra support available to my military, I gain seven gold a turn when Antium is founded. This allows me to restart my temporarily stalled research into Iron Working.

Those mysterious trade winds bring news again, this time informing me of a surge in major building production across distant seas. Greece has built the great Pyramids. (Nuts again, Persia lost out on the one ancient Wonder that keeps its benefit throughout the game.) In what may have been a related development (because of switching production targets), the Iroquois complete the Oracle. That's not terribly alarming. But while the Oracle is a little underpowered, the Iroquois are religious and have a tendency to build early temples. Late in the game this could turn into annoyingly powerful cultural lead. Persia starts (or swtiches production to) the Great Lighthouse. That could prove quite useful on an archipelago map. Well, I'm rooting for them again.

Iron Working (in case you couldn't tell) is taking forever to research. Part of the problem is that I'm forced to increase luxuries to 20% of my commerce intake. I hadn't seen that coming, seeing as how I have wines keeping the people of Rome drunk and happy. But riots occurred when the city grew to size six, and I realized I hadn't built any temples at all. Usually that's an early game priority for me, for this very reason. Oh well, it's too far into my war plans to stop now.

Just as my treasury starts to run low again, due to the now sizeable archer horde I've accumulated, Iron Working is finally researched and understood by my smiths. Greedily, I eye the map for a source of the metal. Unfortunately, that source turns out to be in a mountain fairly deep in Persian lands. At least, as deep as a small island like this allows. Unfortunately, I can't see into their territory to see whether or not they have the resource connected or not.

Nevertheless, my plan is clear. My archers will exit Veii en masse and march on the nearby Persian capitol, Persepolis. Taking that city, they will then conquer Arbela. Arbela is close to the iron, and those two cities will make sure it stays firmly under my control. Since the iron isn't right next to Arbela, I'll use a worker to build a colony, and begin the production of proper Legions immediately. With that accomplished (and my archer horde likely diminished), I'll upgrade what warriors I have to Legions and switch back to a defensive game plan.

Checking the historiograph, Persia is ranked at three times my strength in score (based on territory and population), two and a half times my power (based on production ability, science lead, military strength, and other minor factors), and they're dead even in culture. This is surprising in two ways. First, the only building I have producing culture is my palace. Which means the same holds true for them. With both of us leading little more than uneducated brutes, the likelihood of a city revolting and switching back to Persia drops significantly. Second, with the Persian city and technology lead, and the number of spearmen probably defending their cities, an imposing lead on the power graph looks to actually include few offensive units for a counterattack on my own lands. My military advisor says we look weak compared to the enemy, but he's always a pessimist.

Antium has been slowly building walls and some warriors for defense since it's been founded. It also has the benefit of being off the main transit routes. Even without needing to worry about its defense, it still looks like I'm going to have to have to fight a tight war with little room for error.

The Second Persian War

For defense I have a regular warrior and a regular archer behind walls in both Rome and Veii. Antium has no archer, but will soon complete a second warrior.

For offense I have one elite warrior and one veteran warrior to absorb initial attacks on my archers. The attacking archers themselves are organized into thirteen veteran companies.

Finally, a warrior I had in the southern lands since forgetting how it got there moves onto a mountain and fortifies, hoping to make a tempting target for any units produced from Persian cities in the south.

When the preparations have all been made, I take a deep breath and move into Persian territory, declaring war. Almost immediately my warrior in the south is driven from his defensive position and destroyed. Worthless piece of...

More alarming, however, are the Immortals standing placidly on a hill next to Persepolis. To quote my notes again: "Holy freaking Golden Age, batman!" A single winning battle by a unit of Immortals and the Persians will enjoy a surge of production, potentially burying me in units. I resolve to act fast. But making things worse, Persepolis has grown to size seven (thanks to the fresh water provided by its convenient location on the shores of a lake). In the picture above, Persepolis occupies the one unexplored area along the lakeshore. Oh well, there's only a tremendous defensive bonus for being in a city that size.

My army presses forward, attacking the visible Immortals to prevent their incredible offensive power from coming into play. They're still decent defensively, and two of my veteran archers die attempting to take the unit out. But despite this setback and my fears, the assault on Persepolis goes well. I destroy four spearmen defending the city, losing only three archers. Three enemy workers are captured and become slaves under my control.

Despite the pressure I feel, knowing I need to win this war, a feeling of satisfaction spreads through me already. It's an unusual situation, the first city you capture being a sizable enemy capitol, and that capitol being unlikely to quickly revolt. And while other civilizations may have tormented me more often, the Persians have knocked me out of games early in a way no other civilization can quite manage.

A warrior and two archers take advantage of the newly captured roads around Persepolis and move onto a mountain near the iron deposit. My elite warrior and the rest of my archers (most injured to some extent) defend Persepolis.

The Persian response kills the warrior and one of the archers advancing on the iron. Two more Immortal units move up from the south, approaching Rome. A fifth comes out of the fog of war and rescues one of the workers I had captured and moved just northwest of Persepolis. Checking my treasury, I am immediately worried. I don't have the money to upgrade my warriors to Legions even when the iron is secured. And I'm going to need the Golden Age triggered by my unique unit to keep up in production.

Luckily, I manage to do fairly well in the next stage of the Second Persian War. Two archers produced at home use roads to approach and destroy the two Immortals that were moving towards Rome from the south. Unfortunately, another Immortal had approached Persepolis and killed the elite warrior that was my best defensive unit there. Those immortals became elite themselves because of the battle.

I move my fresh archer off of defense in Veii and attack that immortal with the regular archers and a healed unit of veteran archers from Persepolis. Perhaps due to the defensive bonus for being situated on hills, the Immortals survive both attacks with two of its five hit points left. Luckily, Mars is still with me in the south and I kill two spearmen units advancing on Rome (probably to pillage the surrounding countryside), losing only one archer. In the far north, I pull another archer out of Persepolis and attack the Immortal which had liberated the captured worker. That Immortal is killed and I re-enslave the worker. I move that worker towards the iron, deciding that getting a Golden Age started was vital. Two wounded archers make it to the mountain containing the iron deposits.

I decide to move the second warrior providing for Antium's defense into the southern lands, hoping to sit on a mountain again and this time actually provide some stubborn resistance. Antium itself produces a replacement. I might need the gambit to work; the Immortals tormenting me next to Persepolis decide not to retreat and heal, instead they kill another defending archer. Veii also temporarily falls into disorder. Moving one of the defending units out of the city had reduced the military police level, hampering my ability to rule.

Still, that captured worker is finally put to work creating a colony on top of the iron deposit. With Rome and Veii now having the material to equip Legions, everything is still up in the air. As an added bonus, my sole elite archer sallies out of Persepoplis and kills a Persian archer escorting a settler (possibly to some forested tundra nearby). Two more slaves are added to my workforce. Another archer (leaving just two defending units in Persepolis) finally finishes off the Immortals holding the hills next to Persepolis. A unit transferred from Rome ends the rioting in Veii, and Legions will soon be produced by both of my core cities.

The Persians pull a surprise, but not of the military kind. They had continued to produce the Great Lighthouse in Arbela (now their capitol), finally finishing a Wonder. This would allow their galleys to sail faster and on rougher waters, and could allow them to set up a refuge on a far island if I was victorious at home in the future. I become even more certain Arbela must be captured.

A newly produced Legion is produced, and immediately heads to defend my Iron. Before it gets there, an archer of mine defeats a Persian counterpart attacking my iron, gets promoted, dies to an Immortal, and a second Immortal does down to an improbable defeat to the last archer defending the iron. An archer from Persepolis also kills an approaching Persian archer. And my sacrificial warrior in the south manages to take out one archer before dying to a second. Finally, Arbela's zone of control expands just as my Legion arrives, dispersing my colony without taking the area by force. In case you weren't certain yet, I need Arbela.

Persia assaults the one Legion in the mountains by Arbela, losing one Immortal before killing my unit. Hey lookee there, Golden Age. As I note the minuscule increase in income and minor increases in production, I consider that it may have been a tad too early to be truly effective. In any case, a second warrior is produced in Antium and I start a barracks there.

And then my most active defending archer in Persepolis takes out a regular archer that had appeared in the city's vicinity and apparently does so well a great leader appears. Oh, ho. Most interesting. This occurs in 1000 BC, which makes it an excellent time review the situation I'm in. (Apparently 1000 BC is considered a good measuring point for how well your early game is going.)

I only have four cities, which is actually pretty decent considering the type of map I play. As you recall, it brings new meaning to the word ‘crowded'. These four cities have nineteen population between them. Rome and Veii are size 6, the maximum they can grow at this time. Antium is size three, which is pretty good for a city in the desert. Persepolis has dropped to size four, due to riots and starvation after it was taken over.

My culture, income, and military are pretty anemic, however. My palace is still my only cultural building, nearly guaranteeing I'm far behind every other civilization save the Persians. My cities are producing only 38 income. Seven commerce go to luxuries, five go to corruption, four go to science, three to maintenance, now only two are necessary to fund my military, but I'm finally building my monetary reserves, saving 17 gold a turn. Below you can celebrate the arrival of a Great Leader and enjoy a little mini-map update.

Persia unloads an Immortal from a galley next to Antium, we trade archers outside Persepolis, and I decide it's time to stop being conservative and dedicate everything I have for an attack on Arbela. My leader forms my first organized army, merging three archers into one powerful co-ordinated unit, and this army moves south to Arbela. The next turn, four more archers follow.

Antium loses a warrior to the Immortals on its doorstep, and I curse. I'd forgotten to force the population to build a spearman, and the defense of the city is now very shaky. When it's my turn to attack, my army destroys a veteran unit of spearmen defending Arbela, but it loses four hit points. Three of the reinforcing archers deploy to defeat units approaching my army, killing a warrior and an Immortal, but losing one of their number. In addition, only one of the four is available to attack Arbela next turn.

In the category of unimportant details, Antium and Persepolis build barracks and start working on spearmen. Antium barely repels Persia's attacking Immortals, saving the city. And I trade archers with Persia again in the battlefields south of Rome.

My army destroys another of the spearmen defending Arbela, and is reduced to five of thirteen hit points. The veteran archer nearby waits for his compatriots, and the siege continues. Veii is emptied of defenders, to relieve units moving south out of Persepolis. Production is reduced and entertainers enlisted to make up for the lack of police.

There's a slight calm as archers from Persepolis approach Arbela. I'm informed Egypt has completed the Great Wall. This means they're far ahead of me in technology. It's also generally a bad thing when Egypt is allowed to develop unmolested. My treasury is now a respectable 168 gold and I throw research at Ceremonial Burial. Oh, I didn't even have the first tier technology for temples. Ahem.

Before my assault, the Persians sue for peace. I ignore them. But I also fail to take Arbela. Two Persian spearmen fall, but so does my glorious army. The next turn, I kill two more speamen, and lose another archer. Before I have another chance at a desperate attack, Immortals come from the south and destroy my remaining archer. Dang it.

Time for Plan B: Winning the Peace

I took a few minutes to formulate plan B. The benefits of a turn-based game. Of course, I started by suing for peace. Initially I can see he has Writing and The Wheel. I want them both, but he won't give me either. Eventually I give him my maps and 132 gold as part of the peace deal. He gives me writing and his territory map. I'm pissed. That's a pretty poor prize for a war that had me on the offensive (however weak) most of the time. I check the trade window again and Persia also has Code of Laws and Map Making. I begin to research Literature at full speed (it'll take 18 turns). I may actually need to trade it to him. I chose Literature not for the buildings I can produce but because it isn't actually required to advance to the Middle Ages. This makes the AI less likely to research it early on.

A turn after the war I produce spearmen in Antium and Persepolis, and settlers in Rome and Veii. Temples are started everywhere. One of my settlers is heading next to the iron deposits. If I found a useless city right next to the iron, it'll be mine due to the proximity to my city (which is founded right outside Persian borders). The other settler is heading northeast to a position between Susa and Pasargarade which contains an unoccupied Ivory luxury on forested tundra.

According to the historiograph, Persia and I have pulled even in score. Not surprisingly, he is still rated two and a half times more powerful than I am. My military is in that kind of state. Culture is still pretty even, but Xerxes is starting to creep ahead due to the minor cultural benefits of the Great Lighthouse.

In the turns to follow, Iron City is founded between Arbela and Persepolis. I name it thus because I don't intend to keep it. Cumae is founded on the Ivory. Rome builds a temple, and starts the Heroic Epic. This will double my chances of victorious elite units generating a leader (to one out of eight victories). I hadn't intended to go for it. On archipelago if I get an early leader I like to save it for a Forbidden Palace on a productive island far from home. In this case, I had decided I needed the army for short-term gains. Better than nothing, I guess.

Several temples also build, reversing the cultural advantage Persia had slowly been gaining. Apparently Xerxes also builds temples in his two or three key cities. Antium is finally connected to the rest of my Empire by road. With the iron being smuggled through Iron City; Veii, Antium, and Persepolis all start building Legions.

Soon after I'm feeling like I'm back on my feet again and my Golden Age ends. I don't actually notice a big change in my realm, but it'll take Literature a few more turns to be researched and the Heroic Epic several more turns to be built. But my Golden Age wasn't without a few advantages. I'd upgraded my cities a bit more and brought military production back online quickly. About now I also notice that Persia still has iron, there's a source near Susa in the north I hadn't seen before. (Insert expletive here.)

A Dangerous Risk - A Touch of Greatness?

After Rome's scientists develop Literature I build three libraries for culture as much as for their research. Suddenly, I get a brilliant idea. What if I make a stab at the Great Library? Now I almost never try and build a wonder of my own before Theory of Evolution in a Diety game. The odds are just so low and the production cost so high. But here I may actually be the only person with Literature so far. The computer probably has no wonders of its own in progress to switch production. And I have a partial prebuild in the form of a budding Heroic Epic. It's too tempting, and I go for it. Rome switches for the Great Library. It doesn't come cheap, and with Heroic Epic almost completed, it'll still take me 28 more turns to finish. If I'm not beated to it. I decide not to start Heroic Epic in another city for fear Rome will have to switch back.

After building libraries, Veii, Antium, and Persepolis produce more Legions. I'm certainly not going to forget my military. Cumae and Iron City have been fortified, both building walls and Iron City building a few spearmen. Cumae starts a temple since I don't want it to secede due to the surrounding Persian culture. Iron City builds a barracks for more Legion production. My scientists soon debate the benefits of Philosophy and I begin Code of Laws. I'm a little apprehensive at how fast I'm achieving these advances (even taking about 20 turns for each). If other civilizations are far ahead of me in technology, that could make them easier to research. Which would be a bad sign.

A good sign is that my workers are filling in the open spaces around my cities, and they've made all the land I'm working highly productive. Another bad sign comes when Xerxes contacts me, offering to trade contact with the Zulu for Literature. In the trade window I see he's up six technologies (at least) on me. I refuse. The Great Library gives technologies when two people that you've contacted also know the technology, so I want to carefully control who I'm speaking to. Xerxes' list of cities also indicates he's founded one town off of our shared island. Not a good thing.

A few turns after the rumor mill informs me that all the other civilizations start working on the Great Library, I finish it. The dedication is a wild party, I can now happily ignore most reasearch and maintain tech parity for a good portion of the game. I start up the Heroic Epic in Persepolis, which is kind of ironic if you think about it. It'll take twenty-seven turns. I discover another good sign when I have to lower my research (I want Code of Laws so I can demand Republic from the Persians after the next war). This means I'm starting to really pay to support my military. I want to be at maximum possible strength when I begin the Third Persian War, and this is an indication I'm nearing that goal.

In 30 AD (turns represent progressively fewer ‘years') another great history comes out: I'm the second happiest nation. Of course, population happiness is possibly the least important statistic. Several turns later, I finalize a Code of Laws. My scientists begin to consider the possibility of a Republic, but I don't encourage them much. After all, we've got a war to fight.

When my treasury is supporting minimum research and starting to shrink, so I decide it's time to use the Legions I've been stockpiling. I'm lucky enough that a few workers are passing by Cumae as Xerxes sends them somewhere unknown. I demand that he remove them from my territory or declare war (didn't know you could do that with workers), and he does me the favor of declaring war (the aggressor in a war takes a slight reputation hit).

The Third Persian War

This time my defense is much stronger. I have six cities, all walled, with two veteran legions in each city. Two regular spearmen also sit atop my iron deposit. Experienced players will probably consider this defensive overkill, and I admit the strategy is a bit conservative. However, the Legion has defensive capabilities as strong as its offensive capabilities, the island is quite small (making any of my cities potential targets) and core cities on both sides are next to our borders. When possible I also like to employ that old maxim: ‘what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable'. Since they had nothing important to do, I also hid my workers in my cities.

All my attacking units were in one giant stack headed directly for Arbela. This force consisted of eighteen veteran legions, one regular archer, one elite archer, two veteran archers, and one veteran unit of spearmen. I figured the spearmen could serve as part of a garrison. And I also had one legion attempt to be another distraction-on-a-mountain in the south.

As far as my economy goes, I had Rome, Veii, Antium, and Iron City producing legions at a good pace. Persepolis was still nine turns from producing the Heroic Epic. Well, I wasn't going to wait for it. Cumae was producing a library.

On the first turn of the war I move next to Arbela. Xerxes attacks the southern distraction with two Immortals, losing both. However, one Immortal harassing the attack group manages to kill a Legion (the attack group was on a mountain, no less). I may not be accurately portraying just how kick ass the Immortal is in this report. It's my favorite attack unit until the Industrial Age.

Arbela falls next turn. I lose three of the archers and two legions, but the outcome was pre-ordained. Another legion is lost when I accidentally attack it into that pesky Immortal (who is also on a mountain), but the rest circle around to attack Persia's two cities to the south. Another ‘oops' is heard when Persepolis is swept by civil disorder. Apparently the Persian half of the population there didn't like going to war with their homeland. The spearmen and one Legion remain to garrison Arbela. And I'm now the proud owner of the Great Lighthouse. Maybe I should learn to build galleys one of these days...

Xerxes assaults my attack force with a few archers coming up from the south (those cities are now cut off from his iron supply in the north). Somehow I manage to lose another Legion. His pesky Immortal-on-a-mountain also manages to kill one of the spearmen I have defending my iron. I also have reason to reconsider my defensive plans when two spearmen and five Immortals move next to Cumae. Oops again. The good news is that these units are all regulars, indicating a lack of barracks in Persian cities.

I lose two Legions taking Tarsus in the south, and much of my attack force stays there to rest and recuperate. The five fresh legions I have remaining move on to Gordium, the last Persian city in the south. They are joined by one Legion each from Antium and Rome's defense forces. A new Legion from Iron City defeats the weakened Immortal who was threatening my iron. It was still a close battle, due to the mountain's defensive bonus.

Unfortunately, the Persians have an easy time of it at Cumae. They take the city, thankfully not destroying it. Only one Immortal perishes in the assault. This causes Persepolis to be angry again. I guess they really liked the Ivory that Cumae had supplied. My conquest of the south is considerably more painful, as I lose three more Legions taking Gordium. However, I am pleased to note that Arbela and Tarsus both retain their harbors. Unfortunately, Gordium's was destroyed in the assault.

After garrisons are reassigned, my surviving Legions reassemble in Iron City to reform the army. This time I'm heading north. I intend to recapture Cumae, but not just that. I'm pushing for total conquest of the mini-continent I share with the Persians. I have no reservations at all about doing this, because I can still extort technology for peace from the Persians when Xerxes flees to his overseas possessions.

Of course, as my army is on the way a veteran archer I'd missed kills a lone Legion in the south before being put down. Sigh. In retaliation I kill an Immortal snooping around Persepolis. A few turns later, reinforcements from Persepolis kill a spearmen moving south to pillage my lands. My tight defense allows for the extra units to spend on these lone spearmen, which normally claim some productive regions in my wars with other civilizations. The same turn, my army of the north moves out of Iron City, with a core of veterans from the southern campaigns and many new recruits. It consists of seven veteran legions, four elite legions, and that one veteran archer that hasn't managed to die yet.

On the way to Pasargarde, I lose two legions to Immortal attacks on my column. One Immortal unit is killed in the process. I take revenge, killing one of the attacking Immortals and a spearman that came to cover them with two Legions and the archer. I lose an elite Legion, which doesn't make me happy. For some reason I ignore the last attacking Immortal and move on to Pasargarde with the rest of my troops. That Immortal, of course, kills my archer (who was exposed when it separated from the rest of my task force to attack last turn).

I take revenge and then commence my attack on Pasargarde. Immediately it becomes apparent that the random number generator is not with me this turn. The battle is a near disaster, but I manage to kill the last defending spearman with my last available Legion, an injured unit that had survived the Immortal attacks. I lose five Legions in the assault, and all my units are injured. Already my northern offensive has been blunted.

However, I now hold an overwhelming production advantage. The end is just a matter of time. I expedite the process by moving up the surviving spearmen defending my iron (which is now sufficiently deep in my territory) to help with the garrison of Pasargarde.

I manage to move in reinforcing Legions at about the same pace Persia moves units into the vicinity of Pasargarde. My Legions kill a few units and I lose one, but my main army has been resting in the newly captured Persian city (do not try this against a culturally superior foe; it's not nice to lose a whole attack force to an angry populace). The Persians are still making do with green troops.

Reinforcements and healed units allow seven veteran Legions but only two elites to move next to Cumae. My city is retaken without much difficulty, no Legions are lost. Two injured Legions garrison the city, and I begin to rebuild my temple and library. Workers are also released from my core cities to efficiently organize the new territory I've taken from the Persians. Persepolis builds the Heroic Epic, conveniently after I lose most of my elite Legions.

Ack! The iron next to Iron City is exhausted, and no new supply turns up in my lands. This means I'll have to take Susa with the Legions I have now and those in immediate production or the offensive could start to get really expensive.

Eight Legions fortify next to Susa, which I notice is on a hill (providing extra defensive bonuses). I want Susa's iron hooked up quickly, but I'm patient enough to wait two turns for three more Legions to join the attack force.

Susa is taken, with the loss of three legions. I also find out where all of Persia's workers have been hiding, capturing five of them. Antioch is even farther north than Susa is, it must be very cold up there. Antioch is also on a hill, but it is the last Persian city my cartographers know of, and the end of the war is imminent.

Two more Immortals that had been hiding up north manage to kill another Legion before they are put down, but seven Legions move next to Antioch the next turn. The city is taken with only one loss. On a side note, some local authorities had to be executed when it was discovered Rome had wasted two turns produced an archer after my iron had run out. The archer was disbanded.

I contacted Persia, giving my terms for peace. His city list consisted of one location that wasn't his capitol, so I demanded that from him. The small town of Sidon would be my first overseas possession. I also took his world maps, which turned out to be quite extensive. Having demanded so much, Xerxes became a bit reticent and it turned out I had to choose what I wanted most out of contacts with the rest of the world, the secrets to a Republic, or various other technologies the Persians knew of. In the end, I was amazed by the amount of gold he was willing to pay me: 30 gold straight up and 37 a turn for 20 turns after that. He must have been getting a large amount of money from other civilizations (perhaps for selling technology), as there was no way he could make that much off of one little city. I also took the secrets of the Wheel, which allowed me knowledge of where quality horses could be found in the world.

Thus, the Third Persian War was ended in glorious victory for the despotism of Rome. I had decided against taking Persia's knowledge of other civilizations. My people wanted to pursue an isolationist approach and further improve our cities. I also wanted to delay the bonus from the Great Library, to maximize its effectiveness.

You can see the Persians' last city, Bactra, in the final screenshot. The minor outpost of Sidon is just southwest of Bactra. But now, good readers, I must beg you to wait for the rest of the story. For your scribe thinks this is quite enough for now, that the wars with the Persians make for a good story in themselves, and my lust for comments must be satisfied before the future of the Roman people can be revealed.
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