Apolyton Demogame: Challenging Times

Cape Town had been a successful land grab made at the furthest edges of our reach. Back at the capital, we were growing Airstrip One up to the happiness cap, while working some new cottages. Unfortunately we had both a low happiness cap and an unimpressive food surplus:

That made a granary necessary, which we slipped in fairly early on. A library would have been nice, especially with the Creative discount, however we had to wait for PAL to discover Alphabet so that we could trade for Writing. Our team completed research on Sailing, then went back to Iron Working, both techs being included in our trade agreement with PAL. The work boat that was intended to connect Cape Copper's crabs still saw important use, as we used it to defog the sea passage around the north of our peninsula. That would allow us to send the copper and horses back home to our other cities.

PAL continued to produce more and more long-term headaches in these years of early development. We had founded Cape Town on T70, our fourth city, yet PAL followed that up with Elephantine (their fifth) and Alexandria (their sixth!) on the following two turns. My Excel C&D tables tracked the bad news:

This is a table showing Food and Production numbers, with Food on the left and Production on the right, for each of the teams we had met. (Starting with Realms Beyond, then going across and including Templars, Imperio, and PAL.) I'll go ahead and post some of my comments from when they were produced:

PAL just settled their sixth city, Alexandria. They are totally out of control - Rabbits have three cities over there, and Banana has two. I'm starting to worry that the incompetence of the eastern teams is going to cost us the game: PAL has seven warriors guarding five cities! They would collapse in a sneeze if faced by a real attack. Stupid role-playing teams, argh.

I think it's clear PAL is ignoring expansion costs and plans to trade their way to victory. It's not a bad strategy, especially given their central starting spot that contacts all six teams. Hooray for the map maker's extremely unbalanced starts...

* * * * * * * * * *

Food/Production table. (Food first, then Production.) This is one of the best measures of overall strength in the early game: add together total food + total shields. Our current number is 59, and growing rapidly as our cities increase in size. More cities = more power in this analysis.

PAL continues to dominate here (food + production = 73), and will likely only pull further away as their cities grow in size. Imperio is running just about neck and neck with us; they have one fewer city, but their two core cities of Mutal and Lakamha are both larger sizes (5 each). It will be interesting to see what they do next here.

There's no way around it: Templars massively suck by this comparison. They may even think they're doing "good" by looking at GNP. But they would be wrong. Total food/production of only 34 at this point is an embarassment. We reached that mark 25 turns ago! Look at the big increases for every other civ over the past ten turns, then look at the non-increase from Templars. This team is pure garbage. I DO NOT want our fate resting on them. Better to join the Dark Side and team up with PAL than have to rely on these creampuffs.

Because our four cities were widely spaced out, we had to invest a lot of shields into military units to defend them all, not to mention worker turns into connecting them together. PAL had a compact, dense empire and were running a skeleton military. Yet there was no need for anything more, since Rabbits and Banana had little in the way of military and were tied up on internal builds: Rabbits built the Great Wall on T60, while Banana built the Pyramids on T75. Now the Pyramids weren't a bad idea, as we knew that Banana had a seafood-heavy start that would benefit a lot from Representation specialists, yet the Rabbits build of the Great Wall was puzzling. While these teams were off in wonder land, PAL was snapping up all the best land on the eastern continent. Not a good sign, even if PAL had agreed to a beneficial tech trade with our team...

The first real devastating blow came on T77, when our team finished researching Iron Working and took a good look at the revealed map. Since there had been no copper or horses near our start, we had assumed all along that the Realms Beyond capital MUST have iron. After all, this map had been customized by Cybershy, to ensure "fair" conditions for each time. Imagine then our surprise when we found that the map looked like this:

Draw a line down the center of our continent in your mind, if you will. Notice how there is not a single copper, horses, or iron resource located to the west of Jerusalem! Instead there are source of all three right outside Templar territory, and two more close by the Imperio starting spot, including iron at Mutal itself. Yes, Cape Town has resources, but we've explained what a risky and aggressive move it was to reach that spot. Once again, how exactly was this supposed to be a fair map?!?

You know things are messed up when the neutral game historian is posting stuff like this:

...That just sucks so badly. Honestly, I wish I had offered to look over the map to make sure it was fair now. I think you should try to contact Cybershy and ask him why he ****ed you around so much by giving you this crappy start.

But what else could we do? The only option was to soldier on as best we could. Thus discussion shifted to whether or not we could make a claim at the iron in the center of the map. Although it was very close to Templar territory, that hadn't exactly stopped us before, had it? Our team was simply not impressed by the game that the Templars had played thus far, so we once again decided to go for it, with our next settler coming out in a little bit from Pink Dot. After much discussion, we picked this location:

The pink spot (which we were planning on calling "Pink Peaks", in reference to the pink dot and many nearby peak tiles) would nicely box in the Templars, in addition to grabbing cattle for itself. The red dot was an alternate city location we had been discussing, which picked up marble and a hidden fish resource (on the blue dot) as well as sealing off the south from Templars. We decided that we could come back to this spot later though, as the Templars had previously indicated that they didn't think the jungle area in the south had much value.

While that was going on, PAL discovered Alphabet and the first round of tech trades took place. We were big winners in this particular series of exchanges:

Here's a recap of the trading sequence that went down earlier:

- RB traded Archery and Iron Working to PAL in exchange for Alphabet. (This opened up the floodgates of tech trading.)

- PAL traded an Ancient Age tech to Rabbits for Meditation and Priesthood. The most logical guess here based on position on the tech tree and tech costs is Writing.

- RB traded Fishing to Templars in exchange for Mysticism. This sets up the following trade of Sailing (RB) for Polytheism (Tem).

- RB traded Archery and Sailing to Imperio in exchange for Masonry and Meditation.

BIG Winners

Realms Beyond: Gained Alphabet, Mysticism, Polytheism, Meditation, and Masonry. Also traded for Writing on T81. The clear #1 winners in this series of exchanges.

PAL: Gained Archery, Iron Working, Meditation, and Priesthood. Also traded for Sailing and Polytheism on T81. PAL did extremely well, just not quite as strong as RB.

Treading Water

Templars: Gained Fishing and Sailing. Also traded for Writing (?) with PAL on T81. Templars did pretty good, but the techs they got were mostly low-value stuff. Getting locked out of Alphabet prevented them from joining in on the big deals.

Imperio: Gained Archery and Sailing. Better than being left out completely, but locked out of the big trades.

Rabbits: Gained Writing (?). Pretty sad haul here, really starting to fall behind.

Left Out

Banana: The big losers. They were completely locked out of this round of trades, unless they turn up with something PAL needs. (Not likely, unless they turn up with Monotheism! PAL has just about everything cheap already.) Banana ends up with nothing.

Scoring! (beaker value of techs gained)
RB: 1042
PAL: 856
Tem: 371
Imp: 228
Rab: 171
Ban: 0

Of course it didn't matter that Imperio had gotten left out of this round of tech trades, because their own research was exploding thanks to those ridiculous gold resources at their starting position. The C&D tables told the story once again, this time tracking the GNP numbers:

Imperio's GNP was approaching double that of anyone else's! This wasn't due to any particular great skill that they had demonstrated, rather purely brought about because of their Financial + floodplains + quadruple gold resources combination. This was almost like having to deal with AI bonuses on higher difficulties, only we were playing against human opponents!

For the moment, we lined up a future tech deal with PAL:

Realms Beyond to PAL:
Hi whiplash,

Slightly redudant now, but here's the confirmation that we agree to open borders without right of passage for units.

Is a religion still available at Code of Laws? Assuming this is so, we'll go to Monarchy via Polytheism, so you can take the (slightly) shorter route via Meditation.

All things being equal, we'd propose to swap Monarchy & Polytheism [later amended to Monotheism] for Code of Laws. Would this be ok for you?


Swiss Pauli

Not the match we would have wanted, but we simply were not making progress with Templars or Imperio. Templars continued to go in circles about a border agreement, and whether it should be between our two teams or be a trilateral agreement including Imperio. They refused to make any trades with us until the "border agreement" was ironed out, but how could we trust them with a border agreement if they wouldn't even agree to make mutually beneficial tech trades? (And on went the endless dance of Templar diplomacy!) As for Imperio, they simply weren't talking to anyone, from what we could tell. Repeated efforts to chase them up for conversation went unanswered.

More problematically, we still lacked contact with the remaining teams, Rabbits and Banana. This was yet another failure of the scenario design, in that teams on the "edges" of the two continents had enormous difficulty in contacting the ones on the other edge. In contrast, PAL had contact with all six teams very early on, and used their central location to conduct lots of tech trades, Open Border agreements, resource deals, and the like. PAL could also play off Imperio and Templars against Realms Beyond, while we could not do the same because we lacked contact with their rivals! It was a fundamentally unequal scenario, and serves as an example of why all of the teams in a game like this need to have a fair chance to meet everyone else. We would have to go through some herculean endeavors to meet up with Rabbits and Banana before the age of caravels:

Yep, we built a galley out of Cape Town, as its first build in fact, and loaded it up with a warrior and a scout. The RBS Discovery then was sent on a voyage through the icy waters of the extreme north, with the goal of meeting up with the teams on the other continent. It would take quite a while to get there, however...

In the center of the map, we suddenly had reason to worry with this innocuous-sounding post:

Q: If you don't slave the settler, what turn will it be able to settle the city? Turn 88? And what if you do slave it, Turn 86?

sooooo explained why this was cause for concern:

Oh crap. Last time Krill asked us what time the settler arrived we were just on time. Still, a double whip seems excessive. If we are beaten to iron peaks, is it really a disaster? We would lose knights, right? That's annoying I agree. Crossbows? Are they any good in multiplayer Sunrise?

What I'm saying is that we have other nice spots we can settle if we are beaten to pink peaks.

This was Krill's one major mistake as historian in the Demogame: by asking about the timing of our settler, he unintentionally revealed that we were in a race with the Templars for the same iron spot. Lesson learned, it didn't happen again afterwards, but it was still a slip. We talked things over and reasoned out that we were probably already beaten, even if we did choose to whip the settler under production in Pink Dot. Sure enough, Krill's warning proved to be correct:

This was another bitter pill to swallow, the first time we had lost out on our plans for a border city location. In particular, it was the underhanded way in which the Templars founded their city which made us angry. While in the middle of discussions with our team on this whole "border agreement", the Templars planted a city in what we considered to be disputed territory, and did so by double-moving their settler!

T85 has gone very badly for us. The Templars - who were obviously full of BS with their borders agreement talk - double moved a settler at the end of last turn and the beginning of this one. CivStats clearly shows them logging in with mere minutes left on the turn, moving their settler, then immediately moving it again at the start of this turn. Not technically illegal (since we didn't have our own settler in the region), but definitely pushing things.

Finally, to add insult to injury, the barb warrior killed our own warrior Gogo (fortified on a forested hill tile) at 3% odds. Sorry guys, can't do anything about that one. The only good news is that we picked up another XP point for Betty Hur, who now has 6XP and is getting closer to Heroic Epic range.

Nothing technically illegal there, but the whole double-moving thing was pretty shady at best. I wanted to send them a really nasty message, and plan for some military action in the near future, but cooler heads on our team prevailed. We decided ultimately not to send any message to the Templars at all; they had sent nothing to us, and so we didn't feel compelled to respond in kind. (Templars likely did not even consider this a disputed area, although we did!) The good news was that we still had a backup spot for our settler in production, at the red location by the marble in the southern jungles. We had pledged not to expand towards Templars in exchange for a similar promise, but since they had moved aggressively towards us, we felt we could go ahead and do the same right back to them in turn. It was the same thing as before with Pink Dot - might made right, and neither side was willing to declare war to dispute the other's claims - so our team was just going to have to live with it.

We found out on the next turn that PAL had traded Alphabet to Imperio for Monarchy, in a clear violation of the deal that our teams had agreed upon. This was another harsh blow, so we sent off a message demanding an explanation. PAL followed up with these messages:

PAL to Realms Beyond:
Our turnplayer was not in synch with the team consensus when he made that trade. We are working on a way to make it up to you.

Please understand we wish to maintain good relations with you.


We did not find this persuasive, as it was clear from CivStats that PAL had been the one to initiate the trade with Imperio, not the other way around. But PAL was kind enough to make things up to us, without our team even having to bug them:

PAL to Realms Beyond:
OK, we'll give you code of laws in return for monotheism. Nice deal for you!


That largely ended this particular snafu. It was strange though: we would find our allies "accidentally" breaking tech trades that we had lined up with them previously over and over again in this game. Not until the very end would we find a team who served as a real ally, instead of a team that was merely playing for short-term advantage. The diplomacy in this game was really weird, I have to say...

Our fifth city went to the marble location, and was dubbed "Something Fishy" due to its seafood resource:

From the tech bar, it's clear that we are about to wrap up research on the cheap Priesthood tech. However, our earlier plans to proceed on to Monarchy had been invalidated by PAL's trading error. PAL was going to give us Code of Laws essentially for free, and it did not seem wise to research Monarchy unless we had to because Imperio already had the tech. If we could research something else, and then trade it to Imperio for Monarchy, we'd be sitting much better off. Plus, we were going to have marble connected in the very near future. That opened up some interesting possibilities, to say the least. I laid out the options in this fashion:

Here's the big topic: what do we research next? We completed research on Monotheism this turn and are faced with a fresh choice. We have enough funds to research for about 10 turns. These are the potential options:

Monarchy - the tech we need the most, but also a tech that Imperio (and PAL) already have. If we choose to research this one regardless, we should knock out Priesthood first for the pre-req discount. 7 total turns (1 for Priesthood, 6 for Monarchy)

Mathematics - ideally, Imperio will respond to our trade offer and we can research this next. Would also be useful in chopping for Great Library. Otherwise, not particularly helpful for our situation. 6 turns to research.

Aesthetics - we could also ignore Monarchy temporarily and drive straight for Literature. Ideally, we'd get Monarchy for Aesthetics in a trade. Would be a little harder to chop for Great Library without Math, but time is of the essence in wonder races. Biggest fear - is Imperio already researching this tech? 8 turns to research.

Currency - another economic option. We'd surely be the first ones here, and could very likely get Monarchy in a trade. Extra trade routes would be gigantic. Does take us further away from Great Library, however. 10 turns research.

Horseback Riding - useful if we want to go all-out war. Not my recommendation, as you all know. 6 turns research.

This decision is really, really important. It means the difference between staying among the tech leaders, or falling back into the pack and getting left out of the loop. Please give your input on this - how do we play this one?

We wanted to carry out a deal with Imperio: us sending them Mathematics and Monotheism for Priesthood and Monarchy. That would get us the extra happiness we needed so badly, plus the forest chop bonus at Mathematics. We would then proceed on to Aesthetics and Literature, using forest chops to knock out the Great Library quickly. However, it takes two to tango, and Imperio wasn't buying it:

Imperio to Realms Beyond:
Dear Tealm Realm,

We are researching Maths now, so maybe other trade?

If possible that a member of your team can read spain? , we can read english well but have very bad write.

With Imperio not going for Mathematics, and PAL unable to trade us Monarchy (due to the "No Tech Brokering" option), we were sort of in a pickle. Templars had a pretty sad tech rate, and we lacked contact with Rabbits and Banana still. After some serious discussion, our team decided to go directly for the Aesthetics/Literature pair, gambling that we could trade these techs to the other teams and get value out of them down the road. We would also almost certainly land the Great Library, a major plus! However, we would have preferred not to go this route because it didn't do much to help out the growth curve of our civ. It was a move taken out of desperation, frankly, and lack of other trading options.

We had a new crisis arise shortly before T90. T-Hawk posted the formula for determining the actual production in enemy cities, working backwards from the Espionage screen. With this new tool, C&D production analysis revealed that Imperio was working on the Oracle in their capital!

For C&D archival, here is the formula to determine a city's current hammer production count. The required pieces of information are these:

TheirEP = Their Espionage Point count against us
SabotageCost = Cost shown for the Sabotage Production mission
InvestigateCost = Cost shown for the Investigate City mission

Basic equations:

BaseInvCost = 2 * (TheirEP + 100)
Multiplier = InvestigateCost / BaseInvCost
SabotageCost = 6 * Hammers * Multiplier


Hammers = SabotageCost / (6 * Multiplier)
Hammers = SabotageCost / (6 * InvestigateCost / BaseInvCost)
Hammers = SabotageCost * BaseInvCost / (6 * InvestigateCost)
Hammers = SabotageCost * (2 * (TheirEP + 100)) / (6 * InvestigateCost)

Hammers = (SabotageCost * (TheirEP + 100)) / (3 * InvestigateCost)

For Mutal at the moment, (556 * (112 + 100)) / (3 * 491) = 80.

We tracked the rate of shield accumulation in Mutal, and calculated that Imperio would finish the Oracle on T92. regoarrarr put together a nifty plan for us to try and chop out the Oracle ourselves, but we couldn't get it done any faster than T95. There wasn't anything we could do about it. Our team had been counting on one of the trailing civs (Templars, Rabbits, Banana) building the wonder - it was a crying shame that the thing lasted as long as it did! But both Realms Beyond and PAL were on growth oriented starts, ignoring the monk part of the tech tree for the most part. That allowed Imperio to get lucky and sneak in an easy Oracle build.

Now recall that we knew Imperio was researching Mathematics. Code of Laws was the only tech stopping Imperio from grabbing Civil Service with their Oracle build, and PAL was potentially in a position to trade it to them! We got on the phones and desperately tried to lobby against that:

Realms Beyond to PAL:

We don't need CoL [Code of Laws] right now, and I doubt you do either, so do you think you could go to zero research and contact Imperio to let them know your barb problems leave you with warriors to upgrade ASAP? Mention the horses you're getting from us, and maybe they believe you.

So what's in it for PAL? Firstly, Imperio have a 2-gold, FP-heavy capital that will be a monster in Bureaucracy. If they get CS [Civil Service] so early, they should be able to pull into a winning lead. If they amandon the CS Sling plan, and claim another tech on hearing of your CoL delay then we both avoid the nightmare scenario.

The second scenario is that Imperio delays Oracle, and allows TeamRB to steal it. We could grab Metalcasting and trade it to you for Currency, for example. This would turn a lose-lose into a win-win. Our ETA for Oracle is T95, but we'll see whether we can get this down by a couple of turns.

We understand that you don't want to behave unreasonably toward Imperio, but the stakes are enough for us to make this highly unusual proposal.

Let us know what you think.

Swiss Pauli

At the same time, PAL was requesting that we send them horses for some reason:

PAL to Realms Beyond:
Hi Realms,

Yes your concern is understandable, but we are a trust worthy group; if we win this game it will not be down to underhanded diplomacy manoeuvres (winning at all costs is not our style).

Moving on … We have a request, which we require a response to within this turn. We ask you guys for horses for a few turns, we don’t believe you guys need to make chariots right at this moment and we have given you guys skewed technology trades in the past. We feel our relationship is mature enough for you guys to grant this fairly small request.

We have Code of Law next turn and will be ready to make the trade – But do not want to wait until then to trade horses.

As for out next technology, we have not discussed this just yet, but as soon as we do we will let you guys know.


We kept the letters flying back and forth to PAL:

Realms Beyond to PAL:

A quick update on our very important ongoing discussion:

Imperio completed research of Mathematics this turn, as we stated they would in our last email. Furthermore they currently have 124 hammers invested in The Oracle in their capital. If PAL trades Imperio Code of Laws for Mathematics Imperio will slingshot Civil Service. Coupled with their GNP of 116 beakers-per-turn this will allow them to run away with the game. Obviously both RB and PAL have an interest in preventing Imperio from doing so.

We would like to reiterate our request for you to delay your trade with Imperio, and reaffirm our promise to gift you our free tech if we are able to successfully land Oracle on turn 95. We eagerly await your reply.

Please acknowledge receipt of this email.

Team RB

And it worked! After bouncing messages back and forth, our teams essentially agreed that we would supply PAL with horses for ten turns and in exchange PAL would delay sending Code of Laws to Imperio for a few turns. We didn't know why PAL needed those horses - they told us it was to "deal with some barbs" - but it seemed worthwhile. We definitely did not want Imperio getting into Bureaucracy civic with their monster capital city! Of course, those horses would turn out to have major effects on the eastern continent, which we would not know about until later...

Our team therefore successfully stopped Imperio from getting Civil Service, but the news was still pretty bad. Imperio finished the Oracle on exactly the turn we predicted, grabbing Feudalism tech instead. Powered by their gold and floodplains tiles, Imperio would have the clear tech lead for dozens of turns to come.

Discussion turned next to where to plant our upcoming sixth city. Having planted so many aggressive "push" cities, we could now go back and start filling out our safe back lines. The debate centered around these two spots to the west of Pink Dot:

I wanted us to go for the green spot first, if only because it had two different seafood resources. The land-based tiles were clearly better at yellow, however that spot had only the single clams, and would have a slower start. In researching this history, I came across this amusing post from sooooo:

Green is a terrible city - why settle that one first? It has a handful of good tiles. Yellow is a very nice city with lots of grassland to cottage. Settling green and turning it into a "worker pump" by working two clams is very short-termist. Working two clams and maybe a mine does not produce fast workers at all. It produces workers at a very average pace. We should definitely settle yellow and get it started early on a granary, barracks etc. We need productive cities in this empire sharpish, not cities working two clams and maybe a grass mine in the future. I'd leave green till near the end of our plan. After yellow we should build military and then settle one of the dots near the templars.

This was pretty hilarious in retrospect, as we would later turn the city of Green Acres into one of the most important cities in our empire! Anyway, there was a narrow consensus in favor of green first, and the settler headed there, founding the city on T95.

Somewhere over on the eastern continent, we learned at this time that the first war had broken out: PAL and Rabbits were going at it!

Now technically we can't tell just from this info who was the one declaring war. But keep these facts in mind:

- PAL has been doing some crazy whipping of "something" that has been increasing their Power rating steadily.

- PAL's Soldier count stands at 130k, #1 in the world by a large margin. (We are #2 at 96k.)

- Whiplash is a vicious MP pro, while Rabbits are a group of role-playing pacifists.

I'd say the writing is on the wall here. PAL has been using OUR horses to whip a bunch of War Chariots to crush Rabbits. Unless the Rabbits can pull a miracle out of their hats, they're probably finished. At the very least, we need to send some kind of diplomatic protest to PAL. What was all that about needing horses to fight off barbarians? Pure bull! They wanted horses to attack their neighbor!

The ONLY way this could turn out good for us is if PAL gets dragged into a long, unproductive war where neither side makes gains. But PAL has 8 cities to Rabbits 4, and they wouldn't have attacked unless they felt sure of winning. I can't see this ending well...

I believe that it was actually the Rabbits who declared war on PAL, however our assumptions were correct in that PAL was using our horses to whip out War Chariots to fight against Rabbits. That was hardly what we had in mind when we sent them over the sea! That whole talk about "dealing with barbs" was a whole lot of hooey. PAL would go on to raze the Rabbit city of Watership Down on T96, the ruins of which we would see a little bit later on. With Rabbits apparently going down in flame, this was dire news!

But the worst news of all was PAL's construction of the Great Lighthouse on T99:

PAL building Great Lighthouse is really bad news for us too. They get "intercontinental" trade routes with everyone on our island, and we can't even cancel borders with them because then they'll simply draw their income from Templars and Imperio. Catch-22 for us, unfortunately. This game would have been vastly better balanced if we had simply had one continent (as the map was initially), or if we had used an actual map script that creates two continents!!! The poorly done, narrow little channel of water, has created all sorts of balance problems that PAL and Imperio have been able to benefit from.

As I said at the time, the introduction of that silly "intercontinental" trade route bonus in Beyond the Sword made the Great Lighthouse ungodly powerful on this map, as all of the cities on the other continent gained that trade route bonus. Kudos to PAL for realizing this and taking advantage of it; absolutely brilliant move, which propelled them into the position of dominant civ for ages and ages on end. PAL's weakness had always been their poor tech rate, which lagged behind Imperio and RB in the early game due to their rapid expansion. The Great Lighthouse instantly solved their one problem, allowing PAL to fuel virtually unlimited number of cities, and then use their food and production edge to get further and further ahead. In the space of three turns, PAL's GNP increased from 59 to 110, and it would go up further from there as they developed their cities.

This was all deeply bad news for our team, which was still struggling against that brutally low happy cap. All of our cities were maxed out at size 4 or size 5 (at the capital), unable to grow further. The only option was to plant more cities on the map, then grow them all together once we researched or traded for Monarchy tech. In the meantime, we were falling further and further behind the dynamic duo of PAL and Imperio...

Between losing the iron site, watching Imperio slingshot Feudalism and PAL build the Great Lighthouse, and nervously worrying that Rabbits were about to collapse, this had been a challenging period for our team in the Demogame. Things had to get better soon, or Realms Beyond would slide into Templar-like irrelevancy!