Well, I promised a perfectionist guide, and here is the first draft of my humble little effort. This isn't exactly
the way I would play, it's a modification to make things easy to pick up, since expansionism is so much easier to
explain. It still works decently enough in my tests, though.
I'd like to hear people's criticisms of it, and if the general attitude is good then I might do a second version - this one is a bit poorly written, I think I could do a better job if I put my mind to it. But I don't want to bother if people think it's a load of rubbish!
This guide is not the ultimate guide to perfectionism. The general strategy contained here will probably not get you to AC in the 1500's, more like the 1800's. It is a strategy that will allow you to easily and repeatably beat the AI at Deity from a relatively constrained starting position without needing to make war, providing that you have halfway decent terrain. No particular wonders are required, so it will not completely fall apart in MP, though against an good Deity player (or even myself! ) you will almost certainly not win like this. Hopefully, though, it will also act as a base for your new, more creative ideas.
Perfectionism is usually defined by what you don't do - you don't build many cities, you don't build a big army or go conquering. Unlike Infinite City Sleaze or One City Challenge, this doesn't give much of a clue how to play it! Unsurprisingly, the waters are muddied by the fact that there are many ways to play perfectionist. In positive terms, the perfectionist style I'll discuss here is that of trying to make the most from each and every one of your cities, by using the tremendous arrow output and boosted growth of the representative governments. It's a style often abandoned by people moving up from King or Emperor, thanks to the huge difficulty they encounter with happiness. However, with a well organized expansion you should find that the happiness problems at Deity merely mean paying more attention, and that it is really not much harder than Emperor or even King Level.
This will drive much of our strategy, and it also causes huge problems to beginner Deity players, so let's look at it in detail. You get at least one extra unhappy citizen for each city you build past a certain number, which is dependent on government, map-size and difficulty. On Deity the numbers are:
The cornerstone of this strategy is the use of celebrations to enhance growth. To recap the manual, a city will
celebrate when it is at least size three, at least half of it's citizens are happy and it has no discontent citizens.
If your government is a Republic or a Democracy, and there is a food surplus of at least one stalk, then the city will
grow by one population point per turn. Simple, and I'm sure you knew that.
But did you know there is a cap to the amount of luxuries a city can use? If it produces more than 2 times it's population level then any surplus is wasted. It takes precisely two luxuries to change an unhappy person to a content one, and another two to change the content citizen to a happy one. With one citizen 'naturally' content, it's easily worked out that you can always generate sufficient happy citizens for a celebration.
However, if your first citizen is unhappy then things change. If your population level is an even number then you are still OK, though you loose a content citizen. On the other hand, if your population level is an odd number, then you can only generate one too few happy people for a celebration! This can happen thanks to the aforementioned unhappiness due to civ size, and it also happens if you have any specialists, including entertainers. A city which can't celebrate is almost completely useless for this strategy, so we will be trying to prevent that from happening, and curtailing our early expansion at these numbers.
There are ways around these limits. The reliable one is to go to Democracy and build courthouses, which give an extra happy citizen - reliable but slow, we want to do our celebrating early or there is little point. The other is to build The Hanging Gardens. If you do build them then that is great, but it's not something that you can genuinely guarantee, especially against human opponents, so I'll leave the effect of the HG as an exercise for the reader. In general you will need a marketplace to increase luxury output if you want to celebrate in a Republic, though a harbor and putting everyone onto ocean squares can be equally good. Certainly you need roads or rivers if you are going to work the land. Add at least one happiness improvement, and you should be in a fine position to celebrate.
Research Objectives : Monarchy, Mysticism, The Republic, Map-Making if alone on an island.
Monarchy is the best government for this stage, so change as soon as possible. The aim is to expand rapidly, and to set down a good base for your later Republic. Remember that you are not expanding randomly, you are aiming for the happiness limit for Republic - as I stated earlier, eight cities on a small or normal map, and 10 on a large one. Sometimes on a small map you will not be able to reach this limit, but that's OK - make sure you get at least 6 cities, though. Be careful where you place each city. Reject poor city sites, ones without at least 4-5 squares grassland or which have lots of mountains, deserts etc. However, you also need to keep your empire fairly compact, especially on a small map. Try to avoid the common problem of building cities away from your Capital in only one direction, keep a fairly balanced 'ring.' Ideally each city will have 4 squares between it and it's nearest neighbour, but 3 or 5 are acceptable if you have no other options. More than 5 will make your job of defending a lot harder later on, and obviously less than 3 squares always leads to very cramped cities. I would only allow even 3 spaces in the pattern where it causes only one square's overlap. Try to build roads to your new city sites as the settler goes.
You also want a settler to work for each city. Your last two cities are almost inevitably lagging behind your first 3, so use those cities to provide the settlers for your last batch. Try to even up the development of your cities in this fashion, if one races ahead in productivity make it build a diplomat or two, if some are behind then apply your gold for rush-buying. Make sure you have enough warriors for near-future riot control, then build temples in each city. If you have been unable to keep your cities in a neat pattern around your capital, then you probably need to research Masonry and relocate it to a more central location. This is *very* important for the next stage, because corruption eats into your luxury output.
Take one final look around. Are you sure you don't want to trade horses? You can still do a mean ICS or fast-conquest game. However, if no-one threatens to overrun you, the land is fairly bountiful, and you haven't suddenly discovered a huge tract of land to colonize then it's time for....
Research Goals : Trade, Construction, Monotheism, Sanitation, Democracy, others to preference.
On the next oedo year, declare a Revolution and go to Republic. Very likely you have currency now, so start all of your cities on building marketplaces. Your settlers should have finished enough roads and irrigation by the time those are finished, and all of your cities should be size 3 or four. When they are, push your luxuries up to 80% and wait until all of your cities are at size 7, where they will stop celebrating. Take your luxuries down to 40%, this is normally necessary to control happiness.
You will notice that your tax and science rates are now.. roughly the same as before, really. Luxuries eat up a substantial amount of your arrows. So what was the purpose of that, you ask? There are two points: one your productivity should now be considerably better, and two your overall trade is much better, which increases the bonus from caravans. So start banging out those camels! Three per city for trade-routes, and some more for whichever wonders you wish to build. Send the trade ones to the nearest decent-sized AI city, there ought to be a size 5 or so nearby unless you are unlucky. This increases your trade in each city by 50%-80% - better than both a library and a bank, without the maintenance, and of course you get the sizable bonuses to gold and science. Don't give in to the temptation of running a deficit economy, you want that cash for later. Note that while you don't have to build any more caravans for the rest of the game if you wish, there is little reason not to build them while you have the commodities to use. Up to your preference.
Once you're happy with the state of your trade, you should be able to take down your luxuries by a notch. Start building aqueducts, and use the substantial amount of cash you have to rush-build them. Hopefully here you will be able to build Michelangelo's Chapel, otherwise build coloseums or cathedrals. Celebrate to size 12, build sewer systems and either get J.S. Bach's Cathedral or build whichever happiness improvement you neglected before. Go to size 19-21, depending on how things work out.
By now you are in a Democracy, at which point you can afford to begin expanding again. You don't have to, but the population is very cheap once you have built courthouses. Just build the settlers a little before you celebrate top a new level. Look around and decide for yourself, but you will need to pump in large amounts of cash to get those new cities to be of much use.
Research goals : Explosives, Refrigeration, Automobile, Space Flight et al.
At least against the AI, it should be simple from now on. If you don't already have courthouses in all of your cities, build them, and celebrate to as high a population as possible. Use engineers to work your way to all farmland, and celebrate again, probably going to a population of around 30 in many cities. Superhighways are also fantastic, once you have them you can probably put your luxuries down to 10%, if you also have stock-exchanges. Do the research necessary to build your spaceship, set your taxes to 90% - this should rake in ~2K gold a turn, at least - and rush-build the fastest SS you can.
Obviously I've neglected a lot of detail here. Certainly you should build libraries, universities, banks, stock-exchanges and so on, but they aren't necessary to any particular stage, so fill them in where you find it convenient. Also, there are some other strategies which work excellently with this one. Most notably that of a Super Science City, or SSC, which most of you will have heard of. Build the Colossus, Copernicus' Observatory and Isaac Newton's College in the same city, and watch your research fly by. No doubt that and others will come to reside in the Great Library, so keep experimenting!
Couple of thoughts reguarding use of luxuries. You stated that it was important to remember that any luxuries past
a certain point (2 goblets per citizen) were wasted, but you say:
When they are, push your luxuries up to 80% and wait until all of your cities are at size 7
80% in republic is max, and likely going to waste a lot of trade. With proper control of trade (trade routes, marketplaces, workers on high-trade squares) and cities ringing your capitol closeby to control corruption (which you advocate), anything over 60% will almost certainly waste trade, 50% should be more than enough, and you likely could get by with 40% to celebrate to 7.
As a followup to that, if you can celebrate at 40%, 20%-30% should be sufficient to maintain order. Perfectionism usually needs decent micromanagement to work well, and with only a few cities, that shouldn't be that much of a strain to optimize each city.
Also, reguarding a deficit economy - again using caravans to establish trade routes will compensate for that, as well as enhance science significantly, and if you really need the extra gold for a turn or 2, you can always fiddle with the science rate or produce some taxmen for a couple rounds. Yes, commodity caravans are not essential, but they probably get you.