Brett's Games

Desert Sands

A Poverty Stricken Desolate Landscape

Composite Zip

World Builder File
4000BC Initial Game Save

Egypt & Arabia
Game Play Saves
Replay Files

Egypt Starting Position

Arabia Similar

Egyptian start, arabia is similar, but slightly different, actually, not as good, there is stone, marble, gold, and two wheat, so a very nice start, surrounded by flood plains as it is
Another Wonder Builders Wet Dream
Rock, Marble, Gold, & Two Wet Wheat


Ramesses II of Egypt
    No Anarchy
    Double Production Speed of Temple
    +50% Wonder Production
    Double Production Speed of Forge
  Starting Technologies
    The Wheel
  Obelisk (Unique Building)
    +1 culture
    Can turn 2 Citizens into Priests
  War Chariot (Unique Unit)
    Strength: 2
    Movement: 5
    Cost: 30 hammers
      The Wheel (tech)
      Horse (strategic resource)
    Immune to First Strikes
    Doesn't Receive Defensive Bonuses
    Can Withdraw from Combat (10% Chance)
    +100% Attack vs Axemen

Noble Difficulty
Tiny World Size
Desert Climate
Low Sea Level

Ancient Starting Era
Normal Game Speed

No City Razing
No Barbarians
  But Plenty of Wandering Monsters
Aggressive AI
No Technology Brokering
No Random Events

All Victory Conditions

Beyond the Sword 3.19
BUG Mod 4.5 [Build 2221]
BULL 1.4 [Build 243]
BAT Mod 4.1

Starting Hints

Call them, Myths of Your People:
The mythical alloy lies to the north; and if that rings not true, then to the south.

But one would be advised to stay at home until one has obtained the skill and cunning of a panther.

Oh, and one may wish to keep in mind: This map is called Desert Sands for a reason.

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Map Creation Discussion

This is a custom map.

So I figure, why not discuss that process a little?

Actually, those are supposed to be stars or something, anyhow four city areas are noted, the rest of the map intended to be low grade desert with a scatterin of oasis
City Placement
My conception of how the map would be traversed as one fought for power, black lines showing going to the second city on the same continent, through the islands, and up into the other continent
Traffic Flow
A close up of one of the continents, the cities in red, it is not representative, too much, of what I did, I kept the two city site... eh, maybe it is fairly accurate, certainly th essential nature
Land Details

I made the above sketches on my iPhone, going on five months ago. And considering I did not consult them while making the map, I was fairly faithful to them. Of course, the operative phrase in the above is fairly faithful.

I wanted:
  1. Two continents separated by water
  2. An Island State in the middle
  3. And, low resources throughout

My textual notes, which accompanied the images, went something like the following; meaning, the following notes are edited slightly from the original... and the final map veers off even more:

Desert Sands

Lots of Desert
Low Resources

Egypt. Ramesses II. Horse. Gold. Wheat. Stone. Marble.

Persian. Darius I. Horse. Silver. Corn. Ivory. Pig.

Arabia. Saladin.

Sumerian. Gilgamesh.
Iron. Coal. Oil. Sugar. Spices. Incense.

Middle island
Babylonian. Hammurabi
Fish. Clam. Crab. Wine. Copper.

Aluminum. Banana. Dye. Gems. Uranium.

So, no:
Cow. Deer. Fur. Rice. Sheep. Silk. Whale.
Img 1: shows the starting locations
Img 2: shows the direction of Travel (i.e. how I percieve the game to flow over time)
Img 3: is a half map of each continent with red indicating starts, green decent land, while yellow represents desert resources

I should, perhaps, throw in a barb city or two. And maybe another two minor civilizations as desert tribes. If so, it would force the construction of third desert oasis for the two main civilizations.

I think desert hills, flood plains, and oasis will be the dominant tile types.

Notes (and/or my current thoughts) on the above:

Finally, things not noted above, which concern the map:

Pre-Game Strategic Huddle

Since the land is mostly desert paroled heavily by wild panthers, I am expecting to be isolated for the first half of the game... going on 200 turns. During this time, research will be my priority... well, and building select wonders (read: all the wonders I can). But the important point in all this is that Health & Happiness will be at a premium for... pretty much the entire game. As such, the Hanging Gardens will be a higher priority than usual. But long before then, I shall build The Pyramids. And with The Pyramids, the decision (for me, anyway) is whether to run Monarchy (+1 happiness per garrison troop) or Representation (+3 happiness in six largest cities & +3 beakers per specialist). I'm leaning towards Representation... with the real trick being the construction of a few extra cities... temporary cities that will give their tiles to the capitol upon request. Yes, I will settle the iron to the North once I have the relevant technology (Iron Working) and likely any other oasis locations I can find. But even Iron Working is pretty far out.

The build order will be something along the lines of:
Worker -> Worker -> Settler -> Settler -> Spam Wonders Endlessly
It would be nice to land all three of the early religions (and the resulting happiness bonuses). But I will not be trying for even the one. Rather, I will be hoping to found all four of the later religions. It would be nice to stack them in the same city, but that's not going to happen. Maybe I'll get one in my capitol. And that will be my chosen State Religion.

I'm fairly certain the first three technologies will be:
Mining -> Masonry -> Pottery
But I might switch the order and research Pottery first.

After that, the 'Metal Technologies' will be important:
Bronze Working -> Iron Working
But I haven't really done any in depth thinking on that yet. And in fact, I am planning on leaving that for the in game notes.

So, without further ado, I do believe it is time to try my hand at Desert Sands: the most barren map I have ever attempted to play.

Desert Sands

Composite Zip
<same as at top>

Autolog File

In Game Notes

Dual City Start

I built a second city right up close to the first to work the cottages as soon as possible, build them into villages and towns

Right below my main city (Thebes), I built a second throwaway city (Memphis) to help work the cottages. Later in the game, Memphis shrunk to Size 1, worked no tiles, and had a single priest. But early game, it was invaluable (OK, fine, I probably could put an exact value on it if I had to), building up the cottages. Also, it really did not take that long (maybe ten turns) to build riflemen in Memphis, later on. So, founding a second city right away really was a very good decision.

Initial build:
Worker -> Worker -> Settler -> Wonder Spam
Also, please note the two panthers in the upper right. The panthers were not as effective as I would have expected (even though I placed fifty on each continent). And when I play this game again in a few moments as Arabia (right after writing up my play as Egypt, in fact), I will forgo the Wonder Spam in lieu of an early cavalry.

Wonder Spam

I went on a wonder spree and it was fun, but in retrospect, I probably lost a lot of time
Out of the first fifteen or so wonders, I did not get three, so my completion rate was outstanding
five to six turn completion times for wonders, it was very fast, I was racking them up

I spent the first half of the game (or maybe upwards of the first two thirds to three quarters of the game) building wonders.

It was fun.

It helped me to decimate my opponents in the Tech Race, as not only did I get a Monk Economy going, but also The Great Library and so on.

Furthermore, I was pumping out a Great Person every half dozen turns or so. Now, I did absolutely nothing with those Great People but settle them. But even that helped to make Thebes an awesome powerhouse of a city.

Poor Secondary Building Sites

When I was designing this map, I wanted to see the effects of sparse cities, oddly, these were not as bad as I might have expected, they did not grow much, but with no growth, there was no need for buildings, and the tiles they had were good
Iron Ore
The land was so poor, I opted for farming, I do not think it really made any difference, the micro managing of the outlying cites was overshadowed by the power of Thebes, running Bureaucracy
Sea Access

Before I started, I was expecting to settle pure desert. But I opted against that to my benefit. Saladin of Arabia (my more or less equally matched opponent) settled far more cities and paid the price in upkeep costs. Basically, sinking his economy.

Also, note the Triremes surrounding Elephantine. When making the map, I placed twenty-five of those in the Central Sea. Of course, that still wasn't enough to kill the AI's fishing boat scouts.

Luck Never Hurts

Here's the raw data for my battle notes:

31.3% Combat odds on capital
    Darius was stupid enough to move his stack for the attack, leaving one lone spearman to defend his capital

    I brough more knights to the fight, so the ten turn peace worked to my advantage... I needed the time

The Thrill of Victory

0 Losses versus Persepolis
2 Losses versus Pasargadae 
    1 knight
    1 chariot
        both five experience

I didn't bring enough fire power against Darius the Hated Persian. Well, maybe I did, but it was going to be a bloody battle. Thankfully, Darius decided to go on the offensive and emptied his capitol to attack an ill defended city of mine ten or so squares away. It only had one defender in it, so it wasn't such a bad move. Only, I had knight within striking distance of his capitol, took the 33.1% odds, and wound up winning the battle, making short work of the war.

So, like, Persepolis (the Persian capitol) I took with no casualties. But the crappy city of Pasargadae cost me both a knight and a chariot.

Win some. Lose some. I guess.

The End Game

After the above victory, my technology kept steadily increasing; and it was more or less a straight military assault, attacking one civilization then the next until there was no one left to conquer.

{Please see the 011-desert-sands-egypt-notes or 011-desert-sands-egypt-autolog for more comprehensive coverage... or even the above image alt text for an expanded discussion of that pivotal (albeit lucky) battle.}

Desert Sands

All Out War!

Composite Zip
<same as at top>

In Game Notes

Auto Log File

there is not much to the graph, a comparision to this and the next, arabian makes the most sense, the curve is slightly more accelerated towards the end here, and smoother
239 Turns
the population grew slightly earlier and more erratic in this game, versus the egyptian play through
307 Turns

In both games, the final population was about the same. But Egypt got there closer to the end, which in this game was an advantage.

positive sloping, always reasearching, not great, but doable
239 Turns
Flat for most of the game, it fluctuates widly at around turn 250, note the negative 200 in gold outflows, bad stuff, that, and a top tech rate of 300 for only a few turns, most turns being well under 100 is abysmal
307 Turns

Though not great, the graph on the left, Egypt (the first game) has a positive tech rate throughout the game. Arabia, on the other hand, barely ever pulls a meaningful profit. And yet, Arabia won on overwhelming military units. So, technology isn't everything.

Arabian Post-Game Debriefing

Builder at Heart

I am a Builder at Heart. I may need to be a Builder who also fights, negotiates, expands, and so forth. But at Heart, I am a Builder. This is the style of game I wish to play. It not only comes easiest to me, but I find it the most rewarding. An early Axe Rush Victory would feel hollow. In the future, I foresee picking (or creating) scenarios and maps that take me to the end of the tech tree. A pre-astronomy victory isn't much of a victory, as one did not play much of the game.

I want religions, wonders, and buildings. I want to be the technology leader. Saladin was not any of those things in this game. I was lurching towards the finish line... creaming my opponents, to be sure. But lurching, nonetheless.

City Management

I thought I was being clever placing two cites in the area designated for my capitol. But in the end, this did not help me. My capitol was able to pump out one unit a turn. And if I had not suffered such catastrophic casualties (from poor military execution on my part), that would have been enough. As it was, my economy was dying, because most of my cities could not carry their weight. I probably would have been better off only capturing (and as such, in this game, only attacking) capitols, while allowing any civilization that capitulated to keep their capitol if I hadn't conquered it yet... or maybe even gifting it back after capitulation.

Or if I had chosen a builder (or simply preceded as one), I might have gotten away with settling seaside villages backed by a Monk Economy and the Coastal Wonders (The Great Lighthouse and The Colossus). As it was, I over-extended. It's been a while, so I'd have to look at unit requirements, but I, perhaps, even over-extended when I settled a city next to iron.

In short, I think I might have done better playing a self imposed Once City Challenge type game... with a large army, but minimal city conquests.

Strike Economy

Finally, it was interesting falling into a Strike Economy: a Strike Economy being where one cannot make enough gold every turn to cover their maintenance costs (and as such, units are disbanded for lack of upkeep). I will not recommend a Strike Economy, as it's defacto evidence of a failing economy. But watching the mechanics play out was interesting enough. And my production was such, the minimal unit disbandment (though annoying, as it always seemed to be the troops on the front lines that got disbanded) was not enough to get in the way of victory.

Some folks are able to manipulate Strike Economy mechanic to great effect, but I don't see how. Yes, it obviously allows one to replace an economy with an over-abundance of disposable units... but to what effect?

An Uneven Board

In Retrospect

In retrospect, this was a very uneven board with Egypt having quite the advantage. This was not my intent, as I tried to place the resources evenly. But given their preferred play styles (builder versus war monger), Egypt got the better deal.

Having created a resource poor map, I doubt I will make another... at least, not as such. I mean, I could see having resource poor sections of a map... or even consigning a civilization or two to start there.

I, also, enjoy using mountain ranges, oceans, seas, and desert as dividing features, so as to isolate civilizations... or until they discover sailing, astronomy... or what other technologies could be used as a prerequisite to map exploration and/or settlement?
Iron Working for Jungles

Environmentalism for Nuclear Waste

What else?
Of course, I could always put a starting Barbarian Battleship on the board if that's what I wanted to do. But I'd like to be a bit more subtle than that. And when you get right down to it, Nuclear Waste is the more nuanced choice. So, maybe an Apocalyptic Theme map lies somewhere down the line in my future. But if so, it's a long way off.

A Retrospective on Previously Abandoned Games is Next