Well, for the first time in quite a while, we had a full house yesterday (six people)! With the final arrangements being a bit last-minute, we went with Advanced Civilization as being familiar and relatively straight forward. Early picks went to Babylon (Jason) and Egypt (Mark), and then Zjonni picked Italy (a bit rare in our games), I contemplated taking Africa (and possibly should have) but ended up going with the AST-friendly Thrace, while Patch took Crete and Dave took Assyria.

Zjonni went fairly aggressive, and started pushing into the north, and my starting areas, taking a while to develop southern Italy and Sicily. Mark stayed in fairly local in Egypt for quite a while, heavily developing the Nile valley, which meant that west Africa stayed empty for quite a while. Babylon also had a fairly compact start, while Dave raced southwards to the headwaters of Mesopotamia and into Asia Minor, before occasionally sending shiploads of extra population west into the Thracian starting area.

Meanwhile, Crete, once they’d overpopulated their island, built two ships and sent colonists to Greece and Asia Minor, and then repeated the process a couple turns later when the population built back up. I’m not sure if Patch ever built more than one city on Crete itself. Meanwhile, he colonized Cyprus, half of Asia Minor, southern Greece, passed through southern Italy and built Carthage.

All of this left me with very little room, and after what had started with a standard high-population opening, I struggled for half the game, with pressure coming from three sides, and a number of early disasters keeping me from getting much done. I got up to about five cities normally, and then had everything I could do to maintain three or four for a long stretch (with one turn at two). I didn’t necessarily help matters by spending 12 population to build a city in Crimea, but I did retain that city for the rest of the game, and I had no idea I was going to have long-term population problems at that point.

Towards the end of the day, I finally started making some headway (aided by a couple turns with no real interference from disasters, and receiving four population in North Africa from a Civil War), and was probably going to be stable at around six cities from that point. Some good trading helped my position out a lot, with a seven-card Salt turn in, and good Grain (I think?) and Bronze turn ins. The last powered a last-turn purchase to get me into the Early Iron Age.

Dave had done well in much of the early game, and became stable at around seven cities, with a fairly dominant position before slowing down. During the second half, Crete’s early high-maintenance expansion paid off, and Patch spent the last few turns at nine cities, bouncing back from anything calamities could throw at him. I had been unable to do anything about his presence in southern Greece for most of the day, but at the end of the day established a city in the north half of Euboea, which was a desperately needed city site for me.

The end of day rankings were a surprise for us:

Side Player AST Cities Civ Cards Trade Cards Treasury Total Place
Italy Zjonni 1000 250 265 5 0 1520 6
Thrace Rindis 1100 100 640 24 0 1864 2
Crete Patch 1200 450 1220 28 1 2899 1
Assyria Dave 900 250 530 33 4 1717 3
Babylon Jason 900 250 510 0 9 1669 4
Egypt Mark 900 200 550 9 4 1663 5

I’m pretty sure we’ve had a 1000-point gap between 1st and last before, but not between 1st and 2nd. Of course, things would have been a little better if I hadn’t received Iconoclasm & Heresy on the last turn, which is what knocked me down to two cities.