Apolyton Demogame: Operation Backstab

To provide an overview of our situation at this point in time, I'll post part of my "State of the Empire" review from T160, the same year that Jerusalem fell to the Realms Beyond:

First, let's get some overview shots of our territory, starting in the north:

What was once a tundra wilderness is now a thriving part of our territory. Since this is the "safest" part of our territory from invasion, we've got minimal defenses and cottages going up all over the place. This is where most of our worker attention has gone for the last 30 turns, especially at Bluebell Woods (where we chopped out Taj).

Next, the southwest:

We haven't made as much progress here as we would have liked, given that all of these cities were settled long before our growing towns in the north. However, it's important to keep in mind that this area saw the heaviest fighting against the Templars, especially the area just east of Pink and Something Fishy. Poor Pink Dot had to go through a LOT of emergency whips, and had a number of its tiles pillaged. We're still getting overdue infrastructure in place there now. The good news is that our military successes have pushed this territory into our safe back lines, and we should be able to continue laying down cottages + infrastructure here in the near future.

Finally, the southeast:

This is where the current military front is location, along with our prizes of Jericho and Jerusalem. We just founded Jungle Fever this turn, and plan to add two more cities here, one directly south of Jerusalem and the other in the unused space between Pink Dot and the former Templar capital. We need tons of worker attention here, and all those jungle tiles are just itching to be improved!

Here's a summary of our military, with the Oromos highlighted:

Note that we've drafted 9 of them in the last four turns - that's 81k worth of military power out of thin air! We also have 4 knights, 5 elephants, 10 maces, 5 pikes, and 12 cats even after our recent losses in warfare. (And yes, I'm also still peeved about those 99+% losses!)

Current Demographics info. Aside from population, we are #1 or #2 in every important category, and even population is deceptive because Banana's size 18 capital grossly distorts that number. Now we are in a Golden Age which makes these numbers look better, but if we can just keep settling more cities and get them up to a decent size... well, we will finally be in a position to challenge PAL for real! We currently have 15 cities (with two more on the way), and I believe PAL only has 11 at the moment.

Our team was still behind PAL in just about every category worth mentioning... except "Land Area", and that was how we planned to make up the difference. The capture of Jerusalem, and subsequent settling of additional cities in the territory opened up by that city capture, allowed us to race decisively past PAL in the overall city count for the first time. At the moment these new cities were weak and small entities, yet if we could continue to stretch out the game and give them time to grow... Let's just say that the possibilities going forward were starting to look very bright.

Also deserving of special mention was Green Acres, our Globe Theatre drafting camp:

We had grown the city all the way up to size 10 in the turns preceding our revolt to Nationhood civic. Now we were burning through that excess population, drafting an Oromo every single turn for about a dozen turns on end. (This in addition to skimming an Oromo off the top of all our other mature cities!) That produced a ton of military in a hurry. We would end up drafting over thirty Oromos in the 25 turns following our switch to Nationhood, a veritable army of musket-wielding Ethiopians. Our leader and civ pick, which had appeared strange at the outset of the game, was now paying off in spades! Those Drill II Oromos were tough fighters, as the Templars were starting to find out.

The major question moving forward was: "OK, we captured Jerusalem. Now what?" Did we want to stop here and let Imperio deal with the rest of the Templars (as our treaty with Imperio suggested) or did we continue taking the fight to the Templars, knowing that Realms Beyond was supposed to hand over any further cities captured? This prompted a great deal of internal discussion, especially on the subject of whether we planned to stick with Imperio or plunge a knife into their backs:

Here's a related and very important question, which I hope we can have the whole team discuss. We captured Jerusalem, now do we take the fight on to Constantinople? At first I thought "no", but with Imperio doing nothing whatsoever to intervene in the war, I'm starting to change my mind. Here's a look at this theatre of our continent:

This does a good job of demonstrating why Constantinople is so important for us. Between the city itself and that range of hills to the direct south, it controls the entire south. We can keep a force here and another at Cape Town and be very secure from invasion. Without Constantinople, we have to defend at the Cape, Jericho, and Jerusalem, which you can plainly see from the picture is enormously more difficult logistically. Furthermore, Constantinople ALSO controls additional copper and horses supplies, which would allow us to send off an extra horse to Banana and keep one for ourselves. Finally, we could slip in yet another fishing village further east if we control this spot, where there's a clams resource Templars never bothered to use. Yes, another one!

Plus, our army is in prime position to make this happen. We spend one turn healing up on the cows (T161), then it's a pair of easy moves north (T162) and northeast (T163), with our huge army ready to attack on T164. Plus, we could send some units currently defending in Jericho SE (T162) and E (163) to join the main stack in their attack, including several of our new Oromos. It would be a slam-dunk attack, just like the one we pulled off at Jerusalem. We want the city, we have the forces to get it - so let's go take it!

Ahh, but what about our agreement with Imperio? Well - what about it! They certainly haven't held up their end of the bargain. The treaty that we signed said:

Definitive Proposal:

- Peace agreement

- NAP for 40 turns

- Nationalism for gunpowder

- Alliance against Templars
It is important that you do not mention this alliance to PAL, Banana, or the Templars. They should not know that we are allied. We will say it is our unilateral decision. It is OK for them to know that there is a NAP between us. This is very important because we have to explain this to those who have been our friends up to this point in the best way possible. For example we do not like you sending three-way diplomacy to Banana, Realms, and Imperio.

- The Templars' four cities are ours. You only need to capture Jerusalem and give it to Imperio once it is under your control.

- We will belatedly declare war on the Templars once you have captured Jerusalem. Although if we can we will do it beforehand. This is important to prevent our image from deteriorating too much and this way we will hide the alliance a little and better surprise Templars.

- The agreement will be accepted and closed next turn, not this one.

They did NOT send us Gunpowder. They have NOT declared war on Templars, as they promised. We signed that treaty with them on June 10, it's now July 3, and I don't think they've even sent us a single email in that span! We can claim - with some degree of versilimilitude, and a heck of a lot of spinning - that Imperio hasn't been faithful to us. There certainly hasn't been any partnership to speak of!

Most importantly though, what's Imperio going to do to stop us? Declare war? We were already planning on doing that to them anyway! They are in the middle of a major infrastructure push, and their forces aren't close to any of our cities. If the worst happens, we're in a much better position to face them now than we were originally, facing a 2 vs. 1 earlier. But hopefully we can placate them diplomatically, stall for time, etc. until we have the opportunity to stab them in the back.

At the grand strategic level, I think the best thing to do is eliminate Templars as quickly as possible so that our continent becomes a 1 vs. 1 matchup, one that Imperio can't possibly win. (Which they also know!) It would be different if they were willing to help us and work with us... but we all know that they're not. Anyway, what does everyone else think?

General sunrise's take on the situation, laying out our options:

As for the strike on Imperio, we're sort of working towards cross purposes right now.

No matter what we do we need/want to kill the Imperio stack, either by letting them capture Constantinople with it and then hitting them, or by capturing Constantinople ourselves and then getting them to walk their stack up to the city.

I believe my marked tiles are still valid, and we can still conduct a 2-mover attack versus Mutal and an amphibious attack versus Chichen Itza. How we combine these attacks with taking Constantinople and attacking the Imperio mega-stack isn't clear, and it depends on what we prioritize. Options:

1) Peaceful option - as long as we have city spots to settle and our power is growing faster than Imperio's then we simply capture Constantinople, settle 2 more cities, and declare later when Imperio's can't counter our attack even if they see it coming.

2) Total surprise option - we gamble that Imperio will use their mega-stack to capture Constantinople. We keep workers on hand but make no move to capture the city. As soon as Imperio captures the city we declare, hit their mega-stack with all of our one movers minus 4 Oromos, and simultaneously move in our knight+ha stack and boats in the north. The dangers here are that Imperio may not move everything against Constantinople, and that once the city falls and its culture goes away they could hit our stack the same way we could hit theirs.

3) Cake and eat it too option - Capture Constantinople, use diplomacy to somehow coax the Imperio stack towards the city, and then initiate the 3-pronged attack. The main difference between this and option 2 is that we capture the city ourselves, controlling the time frame better.

4) Compromise option - Capture Constantinople, then attack Mutal and Chichen, and not worry about the Imperio mega-stack. Once our army heals we can hopefully prevent the Imperio stack from moving against us, and Imperio will be down two cities.

Right now we seem to be heading towards options 3 or 4 (based on the votes for attacking Constantinople). The biggest danger I can see with this plan is that we may not be strong enough to detach our 2-movers, capture Constantinople, and then attack the Imperio stack in short order. Furthermore we risk tipping off Imperio and having them place more units in Mutal and Chichen. Of course we have to weight against that the defensive power of controlling Constantinople.

The general consensus among our team was to go for option #2, total surprise attack on Imperio. This consisted of three separate moves: a naval attack on Chichen Itza, a daring raid on Mutal with our Mounted units to burn down the Imperio capital, and pulling off some kind of tactical maneuver to get in the first strike on the Imperio "uberstack" to destroy it before it had a chance to hit us in turn. In other words, a massive overwhelming sneak attack that would cripple Imperio's military power permanently and leave them easy meat for us to mop up afterwards.

Before going into the nuts and bolts of how our team tried to pull this off, let's discuss the morality of the decision. This was something that our team agonized over in our private discussions. Our team had strictly adhered to every treaty and agreement we had made in the game thus far, and there was a serious desire not to break our word. No one wanted to win if it meant that we had to act like total jerks and assholes in the process. The decision to go through with "Operation Backstab" was one of the most difficult ones that we had to make in this game. Here's why we ultimately did choose to go through with the plan:

- Imperio spent months shooting down all our proposed tech trades, resource deals, and NAPs.
- Imperio sent spies to pillage our resources (1 succeeded, and 3 more tried and failed!)
- Imperio forced us into a long military buildup that slowed our economic development and teching.
- Imperio declared war on us... which was kind of a big deal!
- Imperio did nothing to help their war ally of Templars, and quickly sold them out for their own advantage.
- Imperio signed a treaty with us promising to trade us Gunpowder, then reneged and made the same deal with our enemy PAL.
- Imperio did not enter the war against Templars as promised, and did nothing to help us fight, yet expected all the rewards.
- Imperio would not Close Borders with PAL.
- Imperio discovered Military Tradition tech, an extremely important military technology, and immediately traded it to PAL over our objections.
- Imperio rarely responded to our emails, and only sent something back when they were asking for us to give them something.

We were forced to come to the conclusion that Imperio had no real interest in working with us, and merely wanted to act as kingmaker and play off Realms Beyond against PAL for their own advantage. Imperio's willingness to sell out their current ally of the moment the minute it ceased to be convenient for them was what ultimately led to their downfall. An alliance must be based upon trust for it to be effective. We trusted Donovan's Banana team because he had consistently traded techs and resources with us over a lengthy period, even to his own discomfiture at times. In turn, we held to all of the agreements we signed with him, and were planning to help Banana in their upcoming war against PAL as much as we possibly could. We both trusted each other, due to a slow and gradual process of working together, and both our teams benefited enormously as a result.

In contrast, Imperio had never done a single thing to show us that they were worthy of our trust. They didn't hold up their end of the treaty we signed, so why should we? Our team made the strategic calculation that we would be better off crippling Imperio and working towards eliminating them from the game than preserving them as a power and working together. Harsh and cruel, but I think it was an accurate reading of the situation. Now the sad thing is that we now know from reading the opened forums that Imperio's trading of Gunpowder tech to PAL was an accident!!! It was actually a misclick, as Imperio opened the diplo window with the wrong team. Can you believe that? Yet Imperio never went so far as to tell Realms Beyond that they had made a mistake, nor did they offer to supply us Gunpowder anyway in apology. If Imperio had done both of these things, I honestly don't think we would have carried out the backstab move. For our team, the Gunpowder trade was the tipping point in our internal discussions, as Zeviz indicates:

I was away when deal was negotiated, so somebody correct me if I am wrong, but here is my understanding:

The only reason to make peace with Imperio on such insanely generous terms (we promised them all Templar cities besides Jericho) was to launch a joint attack against PAL before they got a chance to attack Banana, securing PAL's domination of Eastern continent. However, Imperio showed no interest in pursuing this agenda: They didn't follow through on Gunpowder deal, and took so long to declare on Templars that they got attacked themselves instead. So they failed to follow through on the only two promises they've made in return for our promise of Templars' entire territory.

As for attacking PAL without Imperio's full cooperation, that would be just asking for a backstab. (After all, Imperio already betrayed their Templar allies making a secret agreement with us, so there is no reason they wouldn't betray us either.)

PS I'd feel very guilty for backstabbing Imperio if the peace deal hadn't been so generous towards them and they hadn't broken their side anyway. If either Imperio had actively followed through on their side of the deal, or if the deal had been fair, I'd have voted against backstabbing them.

PPS To clarify, the problem with Imperio failing to attack Templars is that it indicates Imperio breaking the spirit of joint war against Templars clause by letting us fight alone for so long that Templars declared on them themselves. So it's not just about extremely literal interpretation of the agreement's terms.

The "Gunpowder" accidental trade certainly makes an interesting "what if?" question to ponder how things could have turned out differently...

Anyway, the decision made, the discussion now turned to carrying out our attack in optimal fashion. sunrise laid out the plan for striking at Mutal and Chichen Itza:

That said, here's the plan to move in against Imperio on turn 165:

T161 - Cape Town completes a catapult and starts a galley.

T162 - First galley completes and moves to northern spot 1. Cape Town starts a second galley.

T163 - Second galley completes, and ships move to northern spot 2.

T164 - Ships move to northern spot 3 and are visible, but their contents are not. Mounted units move to southern spot 3 and are not visible. Three workers arrive on southern spot 3.

T165 - Declare war. Naval units enter Imperio's territory and attack Chichen Itza on northern spot 4. Workers road our rice tile and mounted units move to southern spot 4.

T-166 - Mounted units attack Mutal at southern spot "5."

We would amend the exact turns later, not sticking to this exact schedule, but the actual movement of soldiers largely stayed the same. Attacking Chichen Itza was easy: we could see that it had a single longbow on defense, we could hit the city immediately on the first turn of the war (whenever we chose to declare), and two ships with four total Oromos could capture it easily. Mutal was a lot more complicated, but we could reach it on the second turn of the war with a stack of Mounted units. We had a chariot running around in Imperio territory scouting out defenders and the location of the Imperio army, so we were reasonably confident that we could pick the correct turn to attack. Obviously if we could sneak in and raze Mutal, the capital and one of Imperio's best cities, that would practically end the war before it even started!

The most difficult part of all was the third aspect of Operation Backstab: hitting the Imperio "uberstack" on the first turn of the war and destroying it before it ever had a chance to do anything. This was due to the fact that the uberstack kept moving around, and it would presumably be used against the Templars (if Imperio ever actually entered the war!) We had the idea of letting Imperio capture Constantinople with their uberstack, taking losses in the process, and then immediately striking it at the start of the next turn with our own army. That was the first plan, anyway.

However, turn after turn passed and Imperio still wasn't doing anything! Six weeks after we signed our treat with them, and they still had not entered the war against the Templars. With Imperio sitting on the sidelines, and Templars drafting more and more units every turn, we didn't think we could wait around. We moved on Constantinople and resolved to capture it ourselves:

From C&D stat-crunching, we were tracking Imperio's builds, and nearly all of their cities were on infrastructure. Lakamha, their best military city, was in the process of constructing a Bank. Seriously, are you kidding me?! I guess they really did expect us to capture all of the Templar cities, then tamely hand them over to their own team. Needless to say, that was not going to happen...

Bad news arrived from the eastern continent, as PAL captured the Rabbit city of Eisenburg:

Rabbits had somewhat miraculously held on and survived in their war against PAL for literally ages, even managing to expand by founding some additional cities in the northern tundra. One of these was Eisenburg, which was critical because it was located on top of an iron resource. PAL's one weakness was their lack of iron, which the map creator had not placed anywhere within a thousand miles of their start. Now PAL had control of their own source, which meant they could build cannon, knights, and (a little later) cuirassiers. They would also be able to build frigates once PAL researched Astronomy, which was very bad news for our own team. PAL began whipping out an army of cannon and knights, obviously anticipating the end of their NAP with Banana on T167. This was terrible news: if PAL managed to eliminate Banana and gained control of their whole starting continent, our own chances of winning the game would drop to nil.

The Demogame was turning into a race to see who could seize control of their island the fastest, PAL or Realms Beyond!

There were still more surprises ahead of us:

Well, what do you know, Templars just declared on Imperio!!!

They double drafted, now all three cities are at size 5.
And they also got gifted another tech. I can't make out what it is, though. Did they have Music before?


Talk about going out with a bang! One hell of a stupid bang!

Yes, Imperio never actually declared war on the Templars. For all we know, they may have intended to sit on the sidelines indefinitely. However, the Templars declared war on Imperio! I can only surmise that they were really, really angry at Imperio for breaking their alliance, and tried to get some kind of revenge before bowing out of the game. You almost had to love those wacky Templars; they certainly weren't predictable! Since Imperio was being pretty flaky about playing their turns, we sent them an email and warned them to reinforce Calakmul's garrison, which they did. Not that two maces and two horse archers were a particualarly dangerous invasion force at this point in the game...

The Realms Beyond armies encircled Constantinople:

At this point, sunrise was planning on capturing Constantinople the following turn (T165) and then moving on Imperio immediately thereafter (Chichen Itza on T166, Mutal on T167). But I was spending a lot of time thinking about the tactical situation, and argued that we would be better served waiting a little bit longer before plunging the dagger into Imperio:

OK, most importantly. sunrise posted this:

Two turns from the fall of Chichen Itza.

Three turns from the fall of Mutal!

However, I would like to make a slight objection here. There is no reason why we need to attack Imperio in 2t. Certainly we want to be prepared to do so, but we should NOT consider it a certainty. Remember, aside from capturing their cities of Chichen Itza and Mutal, our big goal was eliminating that uberstack of Imperio's. We will not be in a position to do that in two turns!

As I see it, we should wait a couple of turns and let Imperio bloody their stack against the Templars at Damascus. This is the best possible situation for us, the #2 and #3 powers on our continent wasting their power against one another in a pointless war of revenge. We capture Constantinople, yes, then heal up, wait for Imperio to weaken themselves against the remaining Templar cities, and only then plunge the knife into their back. If we attack too early, we'll be facing not only Imperio's current forces and whatever they can whip/draft out of their cities, but also whatever remnants are left from the Templars. Why not let them batter each around around for a couple more turns yet?

I don't see any need to hurry in our sneak attack; time is definitely on our side. We can start a second draft round at no penalty in 3t. Every turn that passes gets Jerusalem (and soon to be Constantinople) out of resistance and producing RB culture, giving us more control over the disputed zone in the south. We have lots of young cities that are just getting started, and slowly contributing on the military/industrial front. And if we cancel our horses deal with Banana, we could even crank out a couple more knights at Cape Town. The key thing is just to be ready to attack Imperio at any point in time; we simply need to have the Mounted stack and the galley pair ready to move out whenever the moment seems right. Ideally, we capture Constantinople, spend a turn or two healing the forces there, start moving them east, and then hit Imperio at Damascus right after they capture the city from Templars. So this would be our same plan as before, only taking place outside Damascus rather than outside Constantinople, as we originally envisioned. For whatever reason, Imperio is NOT pressuring us to sign over Templar cities to them. Let's take advantage of this! There's no need to rush into another war until we can deliver the complete crushing blow, and we need Imperio's army to be vulnerable for that to happen.

This a critical decision, and we need to start planning for it immediately, so let's get some feedback here. I know that sunrise wants to move Lady Godiva up by Mutal, but I'm going to plead again here to keep it in the Calakmul/Damascus area, so that we can watch what's going on with the Templar/Imperio fighting. Sorry about that!

This argument proved to be rather persuasive, so we agreed to delay the Backstab slightly, at least until we were in a position to hit the Imperio uberstack. Imperio also popped up in-game and offered to trade us their newly-discovered Military Tradition technology for Education (which we had lightbulbed with yet another Great Library Scientist), which was great news! The only bad side was that Imperio also traded the same tech to PAL for Chemistry, in another example of sitting on the fence. Their constant deals with PAL were another reason why we felt compelled to go forward with the backstab.

We went ahead and captured Constantinople as planned:

Operation Mehmed II successful! We now control Constantinople.

sunrise will have the preliminary turn report up shortly. Here is the battle log I took down during the fighting. We lost 8 suicide cats, but only two real units, both maces. No Oromos died, and 5 of them won battles to gain XP for another promotion!

7 cats suicide
CR2 mace against CG1 crossbow (80%) wins!
C2CR1 mace against CG1 longbow (87%) wins!
Col cat against mace (17%) dies!
C2 mace against CG1 longbow (93%) dies!
Oromo against mace (93%) wins!
CR1 mace against C1 mace (86%) wins!
C1 mace against longbow (93%) wins!
Oromo against mace (94%) wins!
C1 mace against mace (87%) dies!
Oromo against mace (96%) wins!
Oromo against longbow (99%) wins!
Oromo against longbow (99%) wins!
Mace against mace (98%) wins!
Mace against mace (98%) wins!
Pike against mace (97%) wins!
Pike against longbow (99%) wins!
Pike against longbow (99%) wins!
Constantinople captured!

In Soldier count, we lost 58k of units and Templars lost 105k. Nice!

Constantinople had the largest garrison of any Templar city. From here on us, the game was well and truly finished for their team. Their last two cities, Damascus and Acre, had armies from both Realms Beyond and Imperio converging on them. Our scouting chariot continued to watch the Templar/Imperio infighting each turn:

The bad news was that Imperio had suffered few losses in capturing Damascus, due to using all of their City Raider maces. The good news for Realms Beyond was the same thing, that Imperio had used all of their mace promotions on City Raider stuff, which would be useless in the open field where we planned to attack them! Imperio also continued to move their injured units forward against the last Templar city, rather than pausing to heal them. I'm sure the thinking was that these units could wait and heal after the Templars were finished. However, we weren't planning on giving them that extra time! The tactical movements made by Imperio were actually playing right into our hands.

Once the Military Tradition trade went through with Imperio (allowing us to build cuirassiers!), I drew up the formal Backstab plan for taking down the Imperio uberstack:

Alright, now that our Military Tradition trade has gone through with Imperio, we can start thinking in earnest about how we're going to slip the knife into their back. I spent a while this morning looking over the map, and based on how Imperio has moved on their turn, I think we can pull off something pretty good. Here's the current situation (T166):

There are a couple of injured units in Damascus, but the bulk of their stack has moved (without healing) southeast onto the hill towards Acre. My best guess is that the Templars don't have very many units in Acre, and Imperio is just going to move in there and finish off the job quickly. That means we have to be fast as well if we're going to be in position! Fortunately, we can do all of the moves necessary with only two workers, leaving the other two outside Jerusalem to finish pasturizing the cattle there. Here's how I would play this:

We first move our exploring chariot SE onto the hill with the Imperio stack, so we can watch their battle against Acre in full. (I didn't bother to draw this in, but wanted to state it for clarity's sake.) Now Imperio should move either SW or S with their big stack, along the arrows draw in. We are only in trouble if they move SE, so let's hope that they don't move along the coast! Assuming that they go in the other directions, everything works out.

We gather all of our healthy units on the three "red" tiles around Constantinople, and combine them together into one large stack on the yellow circled tile. This is essentially the staging turn, in other words. Meanwhile, two workers move onto the boxed white tile located SW-SW of Damascus. Imperio does NOT have visibility on this tile, so they shouldn't see our workers moved into position there.

Next, on T168:

Imperio will likely attack and capture Acre on this turn, hopefully from one of the two tiles indicated in the picture. (It's not a disaster if they don't too, as I'll explain in a minute.) We begin by having our two workers road the tile in white, allowing our "red" stack of military units to move SE-SE-Se onto the arrowed tile indicated. This tile, three west of Acre, is the critical spot. Imperio again should NOT have visibility on this spot, and it allows us to hit every target we want.

Finally, on T169:

Our workers move SE and build a road on the tile where our military stack is located. Our units can then move along the former Templar road network and then hit Acre, Damascus, or either of the tiles from which Imperio is likely to attack. It's the perfect spot from which to backstab them! And if Imperio doesn't capture Acre on T168, we simply wait a turn and execute the plan on T170. This tactic is nicely flexible in that regard. We simply have to move the galleys in the north to the Imperio border on the turn that we expect Acre to be captured (this will likely be obvious, thanks to our chariot scout).

I'd like sunrise to vet this plan before putting it into execution. Comments and suggestions welcome - we have to make sure we're all on the same page before committing to such an important decision!

We made a few minor alterations in moving the workers, but otherwise the plan above would go through in full. It allowed us to get pretty much our entire army into range of the Imperio military without being seen, moving through neutral territory and building roads along the way. Now we just had to cross our fingers that nothing out of the ordinary would happen in the next three turns as we set up everything for the big backstab...

Despite the high tensions on both continents, Donovan was kind enough to return our horses supply for a few turns. (We had been sending him our only horses for about the past dozen turns, in payment for Donovan sending us his only supply of iron for a lengthy period earlier.) That allowed us to debate upgrading our Mutal strike force knights to cuirassiers at 50g each. I lobbied for us to do so, based on my simming projects of the attack:

Did some simming of Mutal attacks this afternoon:

Sim I: Optimistic Scenario
Mutal with CGII longbow (full fortify bonus) + whipped pike (no promotions or fortify bonus)

1) 2k die, 2k + 5ha survive
2) 3k 1ha die, 1ha retreat, 1k + 4ha survive
3) 2k die, 2k + 5ha survive
4) 1k die, 3k + 5ha survive
5) 3k die, 1k + 5ha survive
6) 1k die, 3k + 5ha survive
7) 1k die, 3k + 5ha survive
8) 2k die, 2k + 5ha survive
9) 2k die, 2k + 5ha survive
10) 2k die, 2k + 5ha survive

OK, pretty clear that there's no need to do any upgrading if we face just the longbow and a whipped pike. All 10 attempts won pretty easily, even with some awful luck on sim #2. However, things become dicier if we have to face a third unit in Mutal.

Sim II: Worst-Case Scenario
Mutal with CGII longbow (full fortify bonus) + whipped pike (no promotions or fortify bonus) + CGII musket (no fortify)

1) 4k + 1ha die, 1ha retreat, 4ha survive (SUCCESS)
2) 3k + 3ha die, 1k + 2ha survive (SUCCESS)
3) 3k die, 1k + 5ha survive (SUCCESS)
4) 4k + 2ha die, 3ha survive (SUCCESS)
5) 3k die, 1k + 5ha survive (SUCCESS)
6) 4k + 3ha die, 1ha retreat, 2ha survive (FAILURE, 2 defenders left alive)
7) 3k + 1ha die, 1ha retreat, 1k + 4ha survive (SUCCESS)
8) 3k + 2ha die, 1k + 3ha survive (SUCCESS)
9) 4k + 5ha die (CATASTROPHIC FAILURE, all 3 defenders left alive! Although there were some atrocious rolls in here.)
10) 2k + 1ha die, 2k + 4ha survive (SUCCESS)

Even in what I believe to be the worst case scenario, we still capture Mutal in 8 out of 10 sims, although the combat was often close, and the last horse archer took the city several times. Now here's the same situation simmed out with cuirassiers instead of knights:

Sim III: Worst-Case Scenario with Cuirassiers

1) 3c + 1ha die, 1c + 4ha survive (SUCCESS)
2) 4c + 5ha survive (TOTAL SUCCESS)
3) 1c + 1ha die, 1c retreat, 3c + 4ha survive (SUCCESS)
4) 2c die, 1c retreat, 2c + 5ha survive (SUCCESS)
5) 2c die, 2c + 5ha survive (SUCCESS)
6) 1c die, 3c + 5ha survive (SUCCESS)
7) 2c + 2ha die, 2c + 3ha survive (SUCCESS)
8) 3c die, 1c + 5ha survive (SUCCESS)
9) 2c die, 2c + 5ha survive (SUCCESS)
10) 2c + 3ha die, 2c + 2ha survive (SUCCESS)

All of these sims were successful, even #10 where a cuirassier died against the Imperio pike without doing a single point of damage. And perhaps equally importantly, cuirassiers survived every single sim to live and fight again, as opposed to the slaughter of knights in the previous sim. On average, 2 out of 4 cuirassiers lived. My recommendation is therefore that we spend the 200g to turn all our knights into cuirassiers. Think of it this way: is it worth 200g to be absolutely certain that we burn down the Imperio capital? I say yes, especially because we'll loot at least 100g back in the taking of the city! This also insures us against Imperio getting a fourth unit into Mutal (somehow), meaning we still have a good chance at success. My sincere hope is that we won't even face defenders as tough as the ones I estimated here!

So was it worth it to spend 200g to make absolutely certain that we would succeed in burning down Mutal? Uhh... yeah, duh! We went ahead and did the upgrades.

Finally the moment had arrived. First, Imperio finished off the Templars by capturing Acre:

Goodbye and good riddance! To the credit of the Templars, they did not throw in the towel when faced with an unwinnable situation at the end of the game, but continued to play out their turns without fail. We at Realms Beyond may have wished otherwise, but Templars kept on drafting out more maces each turn and went down fighting to the bitter end. We salute the Templars for sticking with the game and not giving up, this was easily the most noble thing that they did in the entire Demogame!

Here was the tactical situation in the south. I'll leave this picture full size because of its importance:

Our army was in position, and Imperio had its units split up all over the map. They still had no more than a single longbow in Chichen Itza, and we believed that Mutal had nothing better either. There would literally never be a better moment for us to nail their military. Thus on the start of the next turn, mere hours after the Templars had exited the world, we commenced Operation Backstab!

We gathered in the chat room and on Teamspeak to plan out the moves during the crucial Backstab turn. It took a full two hours for the moves to play out, as a bunch of us discussed each and every promotion and attack on a unit-by-unit basis. And there were a metric ton of units to move! Yet the result was a staggering success, as evidenced by this summation of combat results and pictures:

Here's how it all went down:

Mounted Stack
Moved to iron tile, 1 longbow alone spotted in Mutal!

Chichen Itza
Oromo versus longbow 9% - dies
Oromo versus longbow 60% - dies
Oromo versus longbow 99.9% - wins
City captured, Worker captured, two Oromos stay for garrison

Southern Knight
C1 pike versus C2 knight 63% - dies
C1 pike versus C2 knight 99% - wins!

Main Imperio Stack
BarI Cat suicides
BarI Cat suicides
BarI Cat suicides
C1Dr2 Oromo versus C1Sh knight 87% - wins!
C1Dr2 Oromo versus C2 knight 96% - wins!
C1Dr2 Oromo versus C1 knight 97% - wins!
Dr3 Oromo versus G1 musket 88% - wins!
C2 mace versus G2longbow 94% - wins!
Dr2 Oromo versus C1 elephant 94% - wins!
Dr3 Oromo versus CR2 mace 96% - wins!
Dr2 Oromo versus elephant 95% - wins!
C2 elephant versus longbow 96% - wins!
C1 elephant versus elephant 88% - wins!
C1Sh mace versus cat 99% - wins!
W2 mace versus CR2 mace 87% - wins!
C1 elephant versus CR2 mace 92% - dies
C1 elephant versus CR2 mace 92% - dies
mace versus cat 96% - wins!
C2 pike versus cat 89% - dies
C1 pike versus cat 96% - wins!
C1 pike versus CR2 mace 97% - wins!
Lady Godiva versus cat 99% - wins
Betty Hur versus mace 99% - wins!

Battle of Damascus
CR2 catapult RETREATS 26%!!!
CR3 mace versus longbow 98% - wins!
CR2 mace versus mace 94% - wins!
C2CR1 mace versus 96% - wins!
CR1 mace versus 99% - wins!
Dr2 Oromo versus musket 99% - wins!
City captured, CG longbow and Oromo stay for garrison

Our losses:
2 Oromo
2 pike
2 elephants
3 cats
Total: 61k

Imperio losses:
4 knights
2 muskets
3 elephants
6 maces
4 longbows
1 pike
5 cats
1 worker
2 cities
Total: 191k

Better than 3:1 in losses, woot! I apologize for not typing more in the chat, had to keep pretty focused on the conversation and the tactical situation. Thanks to everyone for joining us in the chatroom and on Teamspeak, huge representation on both!

Operation Backstab Successful!!!

We weren't quite able to get to all of the Imperio units; we didn't have enough units to hit their small stack of maces separate from the main stack and their defenders in Acre. (If we had brought our horse archers along, they would have flanked the Imperio catapults and then we could indeed have wiped out everything. But all of our Mounted units were up in the north, as part of the decapitation strike against Mutal.) Nevertheless, this representing a staggering military achievement, as we killed off about 75% of Imperio's entire armed forces in one move, while taking relatively light casualties ourselves. Imperio had been building up the bulk of this force for the past 50+ turns, so the destruction of this army was nothing less than a catastrophic setback. And, if we were successful in taking Mutal, Imperio would have lost two of their best three cities before the war even properly began. With our humongous advantage in population, production, and territory it would simply be a matter of mopping up the rest of the Imperio cities one by one.

All eyes now turned to the raid on Mutal:

OK, first choosing the best promotion and attack order:

- The CG3 longbow is the top defender no matter what unit we select.
- Mounted units cannot get Cover (anti-archer) promotion, and even if they could, I found in the Worldbuilder that it barely increased the combat odds (22.7% to 26.8%).
- Combat 3 promotion has the same effect as Cover - not much (22.7% to 26.8%).
- Therefore, it seems like a better idea to wait and use that promotion on either Shock or Formation.

- After wounding the longbow, the next matchup always occurs against the pikeman. The odds are 28.8% with C2 cuirassier and 34.1% with a CG2/Shock cuirassier. Again, this doesn't seem like the best use of the promotion.

- After wounding the pike, obviously the C1 cuirassier defends. Our own C2 cuirassiers have 67.6% odds. However, if we take the Formation promotion, that goes up to 79.8%. This seems like the best use of our extra promotion to me.

That would make the attack order:
- C2 cuirassier versus longbow (22.7%)
- C2 cuirassier versus pike (28.8%)
- C2For cuirassier versus cuirassier (79.8%)
- Last cuirassier
- Horse archers

I used this attack order and did a bunch of simming of the battle:

1) 0 units die, SUCCESS
2) 1c dies, SUCCESS
3) 3c + 3ha die, FAILURE (monstrously unlucky here, two cuir died to pike and did no damage at all!)
4) 4c + 3ha die, FAILURE (wow... more crazy attacks and no damage)
5) 0 units die, SUCCESS
6) 1c dies, SUCCESS
7) 2c die, SUCCESS
8) 2c die, SUCCESS
9) 3c + 1ha die, SUCCESS
10) 2c + 1ha die, SUCCESS
11) 1c dies, SUCCESS
12) 1c dies, SUCCESS
13) 1c dies, SUCCESS
14) 1c + 2ha die, SUCCESS
15) 3c die, SUCCESS
16) 1c + 1ha die, SUCCESS
17) 1c dies, SUCCESS
18) 2c die, SUCCESS
19) 2c die, SUCCESS
20) 1c dies, SUCCESS

OK, so that's a success rate of roughly 90%. It's possible for us to fail, but we have to get very, VERY unlucky in the combat rolls, with multiple cuirassiers attacking and doing no damage. Let's pray to the RNG [random number generator] that we just get average combat results here.

Most of the time, I used the Formation promotion for our cuirassier, but there were times when it flipped the matchup between the defending cuirassier and an injured longbow or pike. In those situations, I used Combat 3 instead. It will be pretty obvious when this occurs (usually, the longbow/pike would be around 4/6 health). We will figure this one out as we go along through the attack.

Anything other than monstrously unlucky combat results would see us take the city. Things played out like this:

*Mutal Battle: (sorry guys, I promoted wrong - I thought the first battle wounded the longbow enough to promote to Formation)
-->Cuirassier vs GG longbow at 26% - Dies and wounds to 3.8
-->Cuirassier vs pike at 33% - Dies and wounds to .3
-->Cuirassier vs GG longbow at 76% - Wins! Also, GG born!
-->Cuirassier vs Cuirassier at 68% - Wins!
-->HA vs pike at 99.9% - Wins and razes Mutal!

Not only did Imperio lose their capital, they also lost their only source of iron. And just like that, the war with Imperio was effectively over before it even started!

Imperio's reaction was rather predictable, expressing shock and outrage over our actions:

Incredible I have just entered in civistats and see that RB captures two cities to empire with an active NAP and an agreement of distribution of the territory. I demand an explanation immediata!

I take hundreds of hours spent in the game, with the diplomacy, with the translations, etc, in order that now a team illuminated like RB jumps all the ethical procedure.

I wait for an urgent solution. If can be that someone of the persons in charge explains to me if such a situation is considered to be legal.

I hope that it is a question of a mistake or madness of sunrise089 because of not being like that it will suppose my retreat immediata of the game.


We felt pretty bad about having to backstab Naldo, who seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and he was obviously pretty worked up about the situation. The problem was not with Naldo himself but with his team, who had acted in untrustworthy fasion over and over again. If it had been Naldo running Imperio from the start (he had apparently joined at some point in the middle), we might have acted differently.

Naldo also tried to claim that it was unethical for a team to break a treaty, and that in their Spanish community such a thing would never be done. However, the fact that it was IMPERIO who was making this claim rather undercut his position. We felt a lot better seeing as how the other teams in the game seemed to feel that Imperio was getting exactly what they deserved:

conmcb25: [Templars]
Ha Ha hilarious

If true it couldn't have happened to a "nicer" bunch of folks.

By the way oh Dons of Juan. That isn't a dispute. Its just another Banana Republic getting it right up the old poop shoot.


Indiansmoke: [PAL]
He is obviously saying that RB cheated by breaking an out of game NAP....while lame...i don't think there is any rule for that.....

Funny things is 2 turns ago he refused Education for free from us and instead gave RB mil trad for Education....go figure!

Imperio's downfall was their attempt to play off all sides and never commit to any allies. By the end of the game, Realms Beyond, Templars, and PAL were all sick of this team's waffling, and unwilling to trust them in the least. Although the attack by Realms Beyond was certainly "dastardly", it was no less so than Imperio's own attack against us some 30 turns earlier, or Imperio's decision to sell out the Templars as soon as they saw personal advantage in doing so. It's not nearly as fun when YOU'RE the one getting sneak attacked, eh Imperio?

With Imperio crippled, the fate of the western continent was pretty much already decided. Attention now shifted over to the east, where the PAL/Banana conflict was getting underway, and which would ultimately decide the final outcome of this Demogame.