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I just finished an epic Civilization V game played as the Ottomans. The game was first heading for my general loss, the possibly to my domination victory, then threatened to turn to my space race loss and finally ended in my diplomatic victory. :) I hadn't played Civilization V on an archipelago map before so I chose that one. Then to take advantage of the environment I chose to play as Ottomans as their special ability is Barbary corsairs: when your naval unit enters a tile next to a Barbarian naval unit, there's a chance that the Barbarian unit will convert to your side.
I started on a small-ish north-northeast – south-southwest island to which I managed to fit three cities: Istanbul, Edirne and Bursa. Knowing that the map consisted of several small islands I figured that optics would be the technology to strive for as it allows embarking the land units.
So, I first got the sailing technology and then evetually optics as well. My navy was pretty much building itself with Barbarian vessels rushing in to join it after I had built just one or two triremes. ;) I quickly spread out to other islands, deciding that I wouldn't pursue the social policies as their cost increases the more cities you have.
With a navy of those primitive vessels I felt like I should use them for something and declared war on the city-state of Ragusa. This was probably around 0 to 500 AD. It was located on a small island quite far (well, compared to the abilities of the vessels of the time...) to the west from my main island. Unfortunately I hadn't thought about it through and didn't have any melee units around to actually take the city! I only had a crossbowman which indeed collected quite a bit of experience by attacking the city. But when I started to lose too many vessels I had to agree on a peace with Ragusa.
Anyway, after this things went quite peacefully for quite a while. I kept expanding until Gandhi suddenly decided, probably around 1250 AD, that it was not OK that I built two cities to "his" continent and declared a war on me taking one of the cities. He was located right to my east but there were deep ocean tiles (that my embarked units couldn't cross) between my island and his continent so I had no short way of actually moving my troops to respond to his act of war. I just made a mental note to destroy him later...
Gandhi had apparently also bribed Montezuma (to my north, on the same continent with Gandhi but with a city-state between them) to declare a war on me. However, he sent no ships or troops to me and the war with him was quite one-sided: I sunk a few of his ships and then he begged for peace. Darius (on the same continent, to his north) later destroyed him, I never really got to know him better. Pity.
After making peace with Gandhi there was a situation like this:
- Me: "Oh, Elizabeth has a nice army right around my borders! I'm glad I'm not at war with her!"
- Elizabeth: "I declare a war on you!"
- Me: "D'oh!"
This took place on a remote island where I had two cities and Elizabeth had one. The island was also right next to the English main island. So Elizabeth quickly took my cities around 1400 AD and I, again, couldn't defend myself. At this point I was also seriously lagging behing in scores: I had 395 points whereas Ramkhamhaeng had 574, Darius had 566, Alexander had 480 and Elizabeth had 444 points. Just Gandhi, Montezuma and Hiawatha had less points than I did.
This was a wake up call for me. I directed my technological research towards navigation and once I got it I started to build lots of frigates. It didn't take much to achieve the naval superiority around the English lands: I even destroyed their first (and only) two ships of the line right into the docks. By 1800 AD Elizabeth was so much in terror because my ships kept bombing her cities and destroying her units so that she happily gave me one city and several luxury resources just to get a peace treaty.
I then used the newly received luxury resources to get to a golden age and to upgrade some units with the money it produced. A few turns after the 10-turn peace treaty ended I noticed Elizabeth had a large amount of embarked units in the water and declared a war on her again. She immediately lost those embarked units, about five of them, and as I had received my old city from her in the peace negotiations I used it to launch an attack on the two other cities in the same island. I took those quickly and then proceeded to take her main island. With some ten frigates around the island it was pretty much a breeze, even though she did try to put up a fight.
After destroying the English empire I sent my frigates to explore the world. This was a mistake, as Alexander, who had been really nice to me until this point (well, so had Elizabeth until she declared the war...) decided that he wouldn't stand to have one of his cities on the same small island as one of my cities. Fortunately I got the frigates back just in time to help repel the attack with the troops that already were in the city. I then proceeded to one by one take his cities that were scattered on several islands, ending my quest on his main island (east from what used to be the English empire). There, I liberated one city-state and puppeted all but one of Alexander's cities, just like I had done to Elizabeth.
At the end of the war against Greece I had a large navy of experienced frigates: they could shoot three tiles away, some even twice a turn. Ah, the power! Now, Gandhi had been taunting me throughout the entire game so as soon as the final Greek city (which was hiding somewhere up north!) was mine I moved all my ships around Gandhi's region. I was also upgrading them to destroyers whenever I had the money.
Speaking about money, an turning point in the game for me was the time when I was able to activate the autocracy branch of the social policies. It dramatically reduced the unit upkeep costs and all of a sudden I was making more than 100 gold per turn, compared to the puny flow of coins (which sometimes was negative) I had before! This took place around the late 1800s when my war against Greece was just ending or had just ended.
So anyway, with this newly gained money I was able to quickly buy a few units and to upgrade the old ones, and quickly wiped Gandhi's grin off of his face. He didn't really stand a chance against my superior navy which could reduce the defences of his cities to ashes so that his indirect fire wouldn't even reach my frigates and destroyers.
If the war against Gandhi was brief then the next war against Caesar went past in a blink of an eye. Caesar's island was, from my point of view, behind Gandhi's continent. I never did much business with him and I believe no one else did either. Caesar hadn't even spread out to other islands. The battle was not epic, fair or long and Caesar was destroyed in about ten turns.
At some point in the recent history Ramkhamhaeng had decided that he would like to join Elizabeth, Alexander and Gandhi. I hadn't paid much attention to him before as he didn't have much of a navy to talk about but after taking the Roman island I used it as my base and moved my vessels around the Siamese cities. I quickly liberated a city-state they had conquered and captured one city from their main continent, but then the attack pretty much grinded to a halt. See, Darius had completed the Apollo Program and was already building the space ship parts! So I decided that the only way I could still win was a domination victory and went directly after Ramkhamhaeng's capital city, Sukhothai. Well, Sukhothai being in the middle of his other cities, albeit on the shore, I couldn't take it directly so after trying in vain for a decade or two I had to take a new angle into the problem. The new angle was east where they had an isolated city on a tiny island. I was able to paradrop into that island from the former lands to the English and took the city. I then proceeded to liberate Monaco and then captured Kamphaeng Phet, then Sukhothai and then the rest of the Siamese cities. In the war against Ramkhamhaeng I had my trusty navy, a couple of helicopter gunships and a couple of paratroopers. Surprisingly, it is possible to capture a city with a helicopter gunship.
In the middle of the war against Ramkhamhaeng I also took a few vessels up north and put Hiawatha out of his misery. He had two cities at the edges of the Persian region and could not put up a fight against my superior units.
So anyway, when the Siamese civilization was destroyed it was just me and Darius. Darius was still somewhat ahead of me in the technology tree and had, for example, built the Manhattan Project before me. He also had many space ship parts ready when I had none. I thought I'd need the Manhattan Project to take his capital city because he had an impressive army, but I had also been planning a conventional attack.
It did appear to me, however, that taking Persepolis would be very risky with no guarantees of success, so luckily for me Darius had also built the United Nations and the UN had been voting every 10 turns. I was in good terms with the city-states of the world but gold wasn't bringing in as much influence with them as it used to, so no one had gained more than five or six of the 10 votes that were required for the diplomatic victory. At that point there had just been a vote and I had gained seven votes. Gaining the final three wasn't going to be easy, especially since Darius also had allies within the city-states and I would have to pay them more than usually to convert them to my allies. Luckily Darius helped me: I met him and asked what he wanted for 2000 gold and he responded that he would be happy for a couple of luxury resources and some 25 gold per turn for 45 turns. Seeing that the game would last for just 10 more turns if my plot would succeed I happily agreed and spent the money on bribing the city-states. Then all there was left was to wait for the few turns to pass by before the next UN vote and to hope that Darius wouldn't complete his final space ship part, which he didn't!
A gallery of some defeated leaders: