I see to enjoy playing around with less obvious strategy games: just as the latest expansion for Civilisation V comes out (Brave New World), I decide that I’d like to give Empires of the Smoky Skies a playthrough. This was one of the bundled mods/scenarios in CiV: Gods and Kings and if you haven’t guessed from the title, the theme here is steampunk.
I opted to go a random faction, and was given Cyrus Rotheram of the Eruch Empire (special power – speedy airships). I set the map to “Europe” (which should a random, but Europesque playing map) and the difficulty to King.
The mod you off at the start of the industrial revolution with three settlers, a could of land ironclads (!), some scouts and workers. Which is a weird way to start, but there you go.
From nothing the mighty metropolis of Eruch rises, between the bay and rolling hills,
While the future belong to the masters of steam, for now we erect simple windmills.
The scientists are set to work puzzling out Analogue Computation theory that we require to build Difference Engines. Giving the cities of Eruch (well, city, but there are more to come) access to this technology should give us substantial boost to our production capabilities. Smoke will belch and mighty airships will rule the skies! And through the airships, we can dominate our exceptionally polite rivals!
As we’re both true and proper gentlemen, we swap embassies and leave things at that. Haggling over goods and trade should be left to the middling classes. A true and proper gentleman’s calling is to the engines of steam and the secrets of science.
In due course, sites are found for the founding of Eruch’s sister cities, Essen and Dortmund. Essen is located at the foot of a mountain, and on a whimsy, the scientists are allowed to build themselves an observatory. They want to unlock the secrets of the stars. Tomfoolery. We should first unlock the secrets of steam! Before the Orlin do! And Pulias! How can we look to the stars when there are practical matters of industry at hand?
Not everybody on Earth is an enlightened gentlemen. There are also Luddites to contend with. However, without the knowledge of steam, they are no match for our land ironclads!
In due course, Eruch completes the windmill and the engineers ask for new directions. A new project. Something that will make a statement. Nothing crass. But something to tell the world that the Eruch Empire have a certain primacy, in art and industry. Something civilised. Something like the Louvre. Even the simple signing of the work order has an inspirational effect on our citizens and in a floury of activity we develop social policies on the Republic, Communism and Trade Unions. Furthermore, the scientist and technologists report that the theory of Analogue Computation has been developed and Difference Engines are now ready to install in our cities. Their next task is to figure out how to get propulsion and flight working in a practical fashion.
Some new competitors emerge on the scene:
I don’t trust that guy. Or this guy:
Well, we can be friends, but I’m not sharing my knowledge.
And, talking of spirits, we have a problem. While industry runs on steam, good governance runs on something stronger.
A halt must be called on progress until we are resupplied.