Now for the promised Civ update: I'm out of the hole! It turns out that capturing cities gives you stockpiles of gold. That replenished my reserves enough where I never ran out, and slowly but surely, building and capturing cities worked my way up gold-wise. It only made sense, of course.
Beyond the settler being a unit itself (and thus, when it dissolves, taking away one negative gold plus giving me lessened unit upkeep via the new town), there was also the bonus that each new town provided extra commerce with no extra cost. I mean. A lot of the cities I've built? Worthless. Cannon fodder, practically. And yet. At the same time. These cities served a purpose, one they have fulfilled magnificently.
The Macedonians are gone. They had a ridiculously high number of units in Corinth (northwest of Sparta) and also had plenty of fight in Delphi (southwest of Sparta), but all their cities from Nesebur to Pharsalos (on the island) are now mine.
And, for the first time ever, I have done something: I have gotten the necessary percentage of world area for domination, yet not won. How? Simple. I lack the population. (I'm sitting at 32% give or take.) This, on turn 49. I think the reason why is a combination of me liberally rushing production with a government using forced labor, my aggressive settler-building policy, and simply the AI cheating to have megacities.
Still, it's only a matter of time; it could go over any turn.
Know what that means?
In the mean time...I get to have some fun.
I don't need to go onto a conquest of any nation--but I can if I want to.
I actually don't want to war against the Scythians, but I'm going to aggressively push on their boarders with settler-spam. I'm hoping to assimilate them through culture-hugging them to death. If they declare war on me at any point, I'll abandon any cannon fodder cities as necessary and just plow through them. (Nations tend not to look so kindly upon culture-hugging.)
I still don't want to tick off Carthage. One part is that they just sent a very large force to wipe out the Egyptians, successfully so. Like, ten or so heavy cavalry (five attack) and an additional five or so war elephants (four attack + extra health), and to be honest, that level of swarm is more than my African strongholds can take, no matter how quickly I churn out units spammed. I'm going to expand into Africa the same way I did as the Carthaginians: with settlers, not with a huge military force.
All the same, my four armies are in the four corners of the Persian empire: Africa, Scythia's southeastern boarder, and in Nesebur, the spearhead point where I'd launch into their northwestern boarder.
The fourth is up there at Salonae, guarding against the Romans. I really want to war against them, but I'm not sure I can pull it off: the Romans have a full fleet of ships. I counted a minimum of five, but I coulda sworn they had more than that; I think the total's closer to eight, maybe even ten galleys.
They also have Legionary IIIs by this point (attack 6 defense 5), meaning my poor Immortals (my best offensive unit) are hopelessly outclassed and so too are my Numidian Mercenaries (my best defensive unit) at a distinct disadvantage. There's a darn good reason that the Romans and Carthaginians have largely been at a stalemate, neither gaining an edge.
The Carthaginians are second to me in both world area and size, not to mention, cities: they're churning out units at a ridiculously high rate, and these are powerful units which can do some real damage. The Romans however haven't lost ground because they've fended off the assaults. Neither side has gained an edge because for all the Roman's unit superiority they're still facing a not-exactly-zerg-rush of Carthaginians.
I want to tip the balance of scales in favor of Carthage. For a start, this is because the Romans are closer: I can actually assault them. It might be costly, but I can do it. However, by far the main reason? The juicy, juicy wonders they own. Great Library? If I get that, so much for technologically backwards; I'll get all the techs in the game at once! (In this case the AIs being better than human works to my favor: they build wonders faster and they build techs faster so I get to steal both).
Hadrian's Wall? That'd help me in my militaristic pursuits.
Of course, the main reason I want to go after the Romans is that they are stealing Bacchanalia from me. They're building it in Croton. Getting both spices and silks is supposed to be nearly impossible--but they nabbed the ONE AND ONLY SOURCE OF SILK ON THE WHOLE FREAKIN' MAP I don't control. Near as I can tell, similarly so for spices. (Okay so some other nation may control some, but that's some other nation.)
I want to go on the offensive.
Even though it'll be hard.
Because if I can conquer Rome at her prime on the hardest difficulty, I'll have truly won the game.