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Dynastic Cycle Edit
Care should be taken to leverage your improved boosts that chop 20% off the time it takes to complete a boosted civic/science compared to your opposition. The improved boosts don't work well with the early use of Campuses or Great Wall, because then you'll get more sciences/civics before you can complete the boosts.
Inversely though, if you focus on structures and great people that give random boosts to your eureka and inspiriations, this ability will trigger along with those bonuses. Wonders like the Great Library will benefit from Dynastic Cycle.
The First Emperor Edit
The obvious exception to leveraging Dynastic Cycle is Astrology. With builders contributing you can easily beat every other civilization to Stonehenge (presuming that you have access to Stone) and get your pick of the beliefs (of which Divine Inspiration will further accelerate our Religion start), so it's not a good idea to wait for a natural wonder before heading for Astrology. Religion will become a significant part of the game and a huge head start on that is too good to pass up. Mahabodhi should be a priority not too long later (presuming that you've placed your holy site next to at least one woods).
Other wonders should be built quickly as they become available and making some of them available should be prioritised. The Pyramids should be an early priority as it will accelerate your other wonders and improvements, paying for itself many times over, so any land within 3 spaces of a desert should be considered carefully as a potential city location.
Ancient and Classical Wonders Edit
|Stonehenge||A fast start to religion. Enough said. You want more? Okay – Great voice over by Sean Bean of a great quote from Bill Bryson.|
|Great Pyramids||You'll be using builders throughout the game, so this has long term benefits even beyond the most relevant to China, an extra 15% toward each other of these wonders.
To build it two builders used three times each (rather than exhausting one) will leave you with 4 (rather than 3) builds when it completes.
|Mahabodhi Temple||Further religion acceleration, a quick way to get your last two beliefs, possibly before anyone else has even founded a religion, leaving you (once again) with your pick of beliefs. This also allows you to burn your religion on Missionaries and start spreading your religion rather than saving for Apostles. A fast start is important in religion. If by the time capital cities found a religion they are surrounded by your religion you should be able to at least keep them bottled up. Any that you let start to spread will be far less easy to deal with.|
|Colosseum||Another strong pick. If you have any toss-ups in city placement choices without considering this and one of the choices would allow one more city to be affected by this then that's the option you want.|
|Colossus||A cheap trader and trading route (and 3 gold per turn). Strong.|
|Oracle||Worth getting, but you won't see the payoff for a long time|
|Great Lighthouse||It's difficult to see a concrete payoff from this apart from the +3 Gold and the Great Admiral (and the obvious interaction with Divine Inspiration). You'll be lucky if the increased movement even lets you get one free Envoy and it's doubtful you'll ever be sure that it did. If you have only one suitable tile for this seriously consider putting Colossus there instead (and you won't even have to build a lighthouse first for that).|
|Terracotta Army||Another long term investment, as going to war early isn't in our best interests – There are wonders to make. Possibly worth holding off on until you have a decent sized army to benefit from the promotion.|
|Hanging Gardens||Underwhelming. To even reach +1 food in a city it needs to be at +7 food already. Probably worthwhile (more so with Divine Inspiration) but a poor pick with virtually any alternative available.|
|Great Library||Two great works of Writing slots. That's probably the highlight of this and you aren't going to fill those slots soon. If that sounds good then go for it, but you are unlikely to be able to build this in time to get many (or maybe even any) boosts. Maybe they didn't just include this for posterity.|
|Petra||Very situational but can (sometimes) not only justify placing a city to get Great Pyramids but then turn it into a rock star. The interaction with Colossal Heads or Great Wall is strong.|
It's important not to leave early wonders (that you want) until competing civilizations can take them, so if boosts lead far up the tree you may want to leave them until later and instead gain an earlier science/civic that leads to a wonder that you may otherwise lose to another civilization. Wonders from further up the tree that you delay in this manner you may still get because the other civilizations can't reach the science/civic and build them faster than you can with your builders.
Further Wonder Acceleration Edit
Serfdom is a policy that adds 2 uses to each builder completed with it active. Once you acquire the Feudalism civic Serfdom should be on most (if not all) of the time until you've exhausted the ancient and classical wonders. With the Pyramids this allows a single builder to complete an ancient or classical wonder in 7 turns, 6 if your city can manage 10% of the cost in 6 turns. Note that if you're in no risk of losing it in that extra turn you should use 7 builds for each Wonder as even 10% of any Wonder is still worth more (in Production) than a build. However, to use the build on the entire 10% you'll have to micromanage for a few turns, ending each turn with the city not building the wonder, i.e. only switching to building the wonder for long enough to spend a build and then switching straight back to something else. I'd probably disable auto end turn for the duration.
To make the process even faster if you think you're at risk of losing it you could tailor your builder use to the terrain:
|Movement Cost 1 Terrain||You'll be able to finish faster with multiple builders, so long as you've left less builds on a builder than it will take to complete the wonder, because in a turn in which a builder uses its last build another builder can take its place and use one of its builds, resulting in a turn in which the wonder progresses 30%. You could finish a wonder in a single turn, but it would take considerable managing to do so and you'd almost certainly have to lose some resources by leaving terrain unimproved for at least slightly longer than it would have been otherwise. The key would be to leave a single build on each builder except the last.|
|Higher Movement Cost Terrain||Using multiple builders will slow the process down, as you'll lose a turn after each builder moves onto the tile. Note that this will only apply when the following builders have to embark or disembark to reach the tile, as land based wonders add a road to the tile when you start building them.|
An additional bonus to consider is the policy Ilkum (in the early civic Craftsmanship) that reduces builder cost by 30%. The policy by itself actually adds more to the efficiency of The First Emperor's wonder rushing ability than even the Pyramids do. E.g.: For a Classical Era wonder that costs 400 hammers, a Builder costing 56 hammers will consume 240 hammers of that cost over 4 turns, meaning for every hammer put into a builder with the 30% reduction in builder cost, you get 4.28 hammers out of that in Wonder rushing.
Great Wall Edit
The Great Wall is very situational. You can use it to get a cultural boost, but you'll be relying on the lay of the land to really make it worthwhile. If you can set aside a triangle of hexes you'll get all of 6 culture from them, which is pretty good late game when the ability to get the boosts can dry up, but bear in mind that because of the increased value of your boosts you probably won't need them to stay ahead of your opposition. This is not to say that a triangle (probably the minimum formation of walls worth considering) isn't worthwhile, but to do that you're burning 45% of a wonder, so care should be taken to balance this and the potential loss of civic boosts against the benefits of increased culture. Certainly if you can triple your culture output with a few walls it's probably worth doing it, as that will outreach every 150% civic boost, but bear in mind that your culture from other sources will increase, so triple now may be double later and very little by the mid-game unless you're in a position to make a lot more wall.
If you're going to build Great Wall segments bear in mind that as they have to be at the edge of your territory (when you build them) you can't afford to leave a spot where you want to build a segment indefinitely or your border may move beyond it.
From the end of the Ancient/Classical Wonders Edit
Having got a fast start and the lion's share, if not all, of the early wonders the trick is to keep the interest up, because your builders' one extra build each doesn't seem so impressive on top of six builds when you no longer have wonders to hurry. However, it's still one sixth more than your opposition get. At this point it would make sense to go wide (make as many cities as possible), so you have tiles to use that extra build on. Crouching Tiger means that can go wide by acquiring cities without stopping to build settlers. You could consider holding off on finishing Terracotta Army until you have a few tigers. It's a gamble, but given how Terracotta Army works there's little point in popping it until you have a worthy fighting force.
At about this point it become more difficult to achieve the boosts. To keep/get your science/culture ahead you may need to invest in Campuses/Theatre Squares, if you haven't already.
Victory Types Edit
|Religious||Should be fairly easy if you got Stonehenge and particularly if you got Mahabodhi as well. There's a City State, Yerevan, that allows you to pick any promotion for your new Apostles. If you become its suzerain it may be best to save up your apostles' promotions until they're on the doorstep of each target city without an opposing religion just in case it acquires one at the last moment. (Don't forget that promoting a unit ends its turn and requires at least one movement point remaining.)|
|Science||You should have a fair lead through Dynastic Cycle.|
|Cultural||Though you may have a lead in Civics it won't translate easily into a victory, as you won't have achieved much tourism, or progress toward it, in the process.|
|Domination||You don't have much to give you an edge here but you should be able to make some progress with your tigers until they're out of date. You may get a slight edge from faster Great Admiral generation if your target cities are coastal.|
|Score||This could be a bit dicey. It's plausible that if you let the clock run out then one of the aggressive nations will have overtaken you not by beating you, but by beating multiple other civs. However, if you target a nation that starts to become too acquisitive you should be able to leverage your technological advantage and fast start to deal with it. Take particular care if you leaned on religion, because that (probably) won't help militarily at all.|
Historical Context Edit
China has contributed much to civilization: paper, the bell, the fishing reel, gunpowder, the compass, the bulkhead, playing cards, the oil well, woodblock printing, silk, the list of Chinese inventions goes on endlessly. China has also given civilization great religions (Confucianism, Taoism, Faism, Yi Bimoism, and others) and great philosophies (mohism, legalism, naturalism, neo-taoism and so forth). Chinese authors such as Shi Nai’an and Wu Cheng’an, artists such as Han Gan and Ma Yuan, composers such as Wei Liangfu and Cai Yan enriched civilization beyond measure. Moreover, China introduced the concepts of slavery, monogamy, espionage, subversion, propaganda, urbanization, lingchi (“death by a thousand cuts”), and more.
The so-called Warring States period (c. 475 BC to 221 BC) saw ancient China composed of seven kingdoms – Qi, Qin, Zhao, Yan, Han, Chu and Wei – at odds with each other … seriously at odds as they fought incessantly. Eventually, the king of the Qin, Ying Zheng, managed the task of unifying China, conquering the last enemy (Qi) and thus proclaiming himself Qin Shi Huang (loosely, “first emperor of Qin”). During his glorious reign, besides burning books and burying alive scholars who disagreed with him – for the Warring States period had given rise to the Hundred Schools of Thought, a distressing collection of liberal philosophies and free thinking – the Qin undertook an extensive road- and canal-building program and even began construction of the Great Wall of China to keep the barbarians out (as it turned out, a futile effort). Although he sought mightily for the fabled elixir of immortality, Ying Zheng didn’t find it – obviously – and he died in 210 BC. He was interred in a massive mausoleum near Chang’an, built by 700 thousand “unpaid laborers” and guarded by the famed Terracotta Army. The Qin Empire lasted only a few years longer.
In 207 BC Liu Bang, a peasant rebel and born troublemaker, aided by the ambitious Chu warlord Xiang Yu, toppled Qin Shi Huang’s inept successor from the throne and established – after doing away with his ally – the Han dynasty. Interrupted only briefly by the Xin dynasty, the Han ruled over an age of linguistic consolidation, cultural experimentation, political expression, economic prosperity, exploration and expansion, and technological innovation. It was a good time, made even better when Emperor Wu shattered the Xiangnu Federation in the steppes and redefined China’s traditional borders. Han traders ventured as far afield as the Parthian Empire and India; Roman manufactured glassware has been found in Han ruins. The Han emperors also scattered agricultural communes of ex-soldiers across the western expanses, so anchoring their end of the Silk Road.
The rise of the commander Cao Cao meant the decline of the Han emperor. In 208 AD Cao Cao abolished the Three Excellencies, the emperor’s top advisors, and took for himself the post of Chancellor. In 215, Cao Cao forced the emperor Xian to divorce his empress and take Cao’s daughter as wife. With prognostications and heavenly signs indicating that the Han had lost the tianming (“Mandate of Heaven”), Xian abdicated his throne in December 220 in favor of Cao Cao’s son, Cao Pi. Pi proclaimed the Wei dynasty … and unified China promptly fell apart.
For 60 years following the Yellow Turban Rebellion – imaginatively labelled the “Three Kingdoms Period” by sinologists – three kingdoms were contenders to rebuild the centralized empire of the Qin and the Han. The three – the states of Wei, Shu and Wu – never quite managed the task; it was left to the Jin to accomplish. Sima Yan forced Cao Huan to cede him the throne of Wei. Following brilliant campaigns, the Wei overran Shu (263 AD) and Wu (279 AD). But the Jin dynasty was seriously weakened by the family squabbles of the imperial princes, and soon enough lost control of the northern and western provinces (henceforth the empire was known simply known as the Eastern Jin), leading to the period labelled the Sixteen Kingdoms (again named by those clever sinologists), which lasted until 439.
Despite some consolidation – brought about by rivers of blood – it was not until 589 that the whole of China was together again under one ruler, the short-lived Sui dynasty. It was followed by the Tang dynasty, which managed to stay on the throne of a unified (more-or-less) China until 907 AD. The Tang was much like the Han administration, emphasizing trade and diplomacy, bringing stability and prosperity. Thus it was that religion and culture flourished. The Grand Canal project begun by the Sui was completed, the Silk Road reopened, and the legal code revised; among other steps, the latter effort expanded the property rights of women and instituted competitive imperial examinations for bureaucrats, along several other innovations. Taxes were standardized based on rank, and the first Chinese census undertaken so everyone paid. Brilliant poets such as Li Bai and Du Fu celebrated the age, setting high standards for Chinese literature for centuries.
But the Tang Empire was struck by a century of natural disasters; floods on the Yellow River and along the Grand Canal followed by widespread droughts brought devastating famine and economic collapse. Agricultural production fell by half, and as usual desperate people turned elsewhere for leadership. Beset by endless rebellions, in 907 the former salt smuggler risen to military governor, Zhu Wen, deposed the last huangdi (emperor) of the Tang. Thus was ushered in the period of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (the label pretty much says it all) which ended around 960 AD. In the next four centuries, five dynasties would rule reunified (again) China: the Song, Liao, Jin (again), Western Xia and Yuan (established by Kublai Khan after the Mongols slipped past that Great Wall). Each contributed its own technological discoveries, philosophical insights and social advances to the tapestry of civilization. But it is the Ming dynasty that captures the imagination.
Throughout the core of China, there was significant resentment to Mongol rule, exacerbated during the 1340s by famine and plague and marked by numerous peasant rebellions. Obviously, the tianming had been withdrawn from Kublai’s descendants. The poor-peasant-turned-rebel-leader Zhu Yuanzhang (known today as the Emperor Hongwu) proclaimed himself emperor of the Ming in 1368 after capturing Beijing. He’d come a long way; according to legend Zhu was the youngest of seven or eight brothers, several of whom were sold to raise money for the starving family. After the Yellow River flooded out his village and plague killed all his remaining family, he took shelter in a Buddhist monastery, which was destroyed by a Mongol army retaliating against Zoroastrian rebels. Thus, Zhu came to join the rebel movement himself, rising to its leadership by the age of 30. Vengeance begat vengeance.
The Ming dynasty ushered in a glittering age for China. Once secure on the throne Tatzu (an alliterative name for a complex person) instituted a number of policy initiatives. Among the first, a move to limit the advancement and influence of eunuchs in the imperial court, where several had enjoyed great power under previous dynasties (perhaps some of the empire’s later woes could be blamed on their return to influence – establishing a virtual parallel administration). In the social order, four classes were recognized, each with its own rights and obligations: gentry, farmers, artisans and merchants. Later Ming emperors granted ever more benefits to the merchant class, viewing their efforts as generating wealth and taxes for the empire. Besides fighting off the Mongol threat again, wars with Korea and Japan used up a lot of that wealth. And then a cycle of natural disasters struck yet again. By 1640, masses of peasants – starving, unable to pay their taxes, and unafraid of the oft-defeated imperial army – were in rebellion. When it was all sorted out, the Qing (or Manchu) dynasty ruled.
And it did so fairly effectively until the Europeans started making waves. Although the Polos and other occasional visiting traders and adventurers had made their way through China’s back door, the Portuguese arrived by sea in the guise of Jorge Alvares in 1513. Soon enough they had conned the Ming emperor into granting them a trading “enclave” in Macau, with the first governor there taking up his duties in 1557. Meanwhile, under the Qing the economy and government – which wisely tended to avoid foreign adventures – were stable. A high level of literacy, a publishing industry supported by the government, growing cities, and a pervasive Confucian emphasis on peaceful exploration of the inner self, all contributed to an explosion of creativity in the arts and philosophies. Traditional arts and crafts such as calligraphy, painting, poetry, drama and culinary styles underwent a resurgence.
But those annoying outsiders continued to meddle. By the early 19th Century, Imperial China found itself vulnerable to European, Meiji Japanese and Russian imperialism. With vastly superior naval forces, better armaments, superior communications and tactics honed in fighting each other, the colonial powers sought to dictate to the Qing government, dominate China’s trade, and generally do whatever they liked. In 1842 China was defeated in the First Opium War by Great Britain and forced to sign the infamous Nanking Treaty, the first of many “unequal treaties.” A series of such trade treaties ruined the Chinese economy by 1900. Japan, which had quickly modernized and joined the colonial fray, forced China to recognize its rule in Korea and Taiwan. While the Qing remained nominal rulers, the European powers, including Russia, divvied the entire country up into exclusive “spheres of influence.” The United States, meanwhile, unilaterally declared an “Open Door” policy in China.
It was all too much. In 1899 the populist Yihetuan (“Militia United in Righteousness”) launched the Boxer Rebellion in an effort to return China to its own devices. Unfortunately, they lost. In the crushing peace treaty of 1901, the “Eight Nations” (those who had been attacked by the Boxers) forced the execution of all in the Qing government who had supported the Boxers, provided for the stationing of foreign troops in the capital, and imposed an indemnity greater than the annual national tax revenue. The nation plunged into growing civil disorder; in response the Dowager Empress Cixi called for reform proposals from the provincial governors. Although wide-sweeping and innovative, even if successfully adopted, it was too late. In November 1908 the emperor died suddenly (likely from arsenic poisoning), followed the next day by Cixi. In the wake of insurrections and rebellions, in 1912 the new Dowager Empress Longyu convinced the child-emperor Puyi to abdicate, bringing over two millennia of imperial rule in China to an end. And China descended into another period of contending, bloody-minded warlords.
In the 1920s, Sun Yat-sen established a revolutionary base in south China, and set out to unite the fragmented nation. With assistance from the Soviet Union (themselves fresh from a socialist uprising), he entered into an alliance with the fledgling Communist Party of China. After Sun's death from cancer in 1925, one of his protégés, Chiang Kai-shek, seized control of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party or KMT) and succeeded in bringing most of south and central China under its rule in a military campaign known as the Northern Expedition (1926–1927). Having defeated the warlords in south and central China by military force, Chiang was able to secure the nominal allegiance of the warlords in the North. In 1927, Chiang turned on the CPC and relentlessly chased the CPC armies and its leaders from their bases in southern and eastern China. In 1934, driven from their mountain bases such as the Chinese Soviet Republic, the CPC forces embarked on the Long March across China's most desolate terrain to the northwest, where they established a guerrilla base at Yan'an in Shaanxi Province. During the Long March, the communists reorganised under a new leader, Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung).
The bitter struggle between the KMT and the CPC continued, openly or clandestinely, through the 14-year-long Japanese occupation of various parts of the country (1931–1945). The two Chinese parties nominally formed a united front to oppose the Japanese in 1937, during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), which became a part of World War II. Following the defeat of Japan in 1945, the war between the Nationalist government forces and the CPC resumed, after failed attempts at reconciliation and a negotiated settlement. By 1949, the CPC had gained control over most of China and on the 1st of October that year, Mao Zedong established the People's Republic of China.
Emerging triumphant over the Nationalists shortly after World War II, the Communist government spent the subsequent sixty years consolidating power, modernising infrastructure, and improving the lives and education of its vast population, a process which included a number of massive missteps, including the disastrous "Great Leap Forward" and the bloody "Cultural Revolution" which did great harm to its ancient culture. In the past 38 years since Deng Xiaoping's successful economic reforms, China has emerged as a major world power, an economic behemoth which will soon dwarf all other economies including the once unstoppable United States.
China is not without its difficulties, however. Much of its energy is expended simply supporting its huge and growing population base. Pollution is becoming a major problem as more and more factories are built, and more and more automobiles are clogging the bigger cities. Tibet - which depending upon your point of view is either a captive nation or an integral part of China - remains an open wound and major political distraction for China. None of these are insurmountable, though, and China stands poised to dominate the 21st century.