Apolyton Demogame: Sneak Attack!!!

The Realms Beyond civilization right at the start of the troubles. We had nine cities, with a tenth incoming soon to the "Red" tile:

Naturally, our reaction to all of these seemingly hostile moves on the part of Imperio and the Templars was to contact them both and make an attempt to work things out peacefully. A two-versus-one war would be devastating for our team, not just in military terms but because it would almost certainly hand the game to PAL on a silver platter:

Realms Beyond to Imperio:

Please make a decision. Either (a) attack us or (b) sign a NAP with us and go attack someone else.

We have equal technology. The defender will always win in this situation. We will lose if we attack you and you will lose if you attack us. The only way to win a war in this game is to attack someone with less advanced troops.

We look forward to your answer.

Realms Beyond

It was patently obvious that Imperio was planning an attack on Cape Town - we had been watching the military builds (via C&D), civic swap to Vassalage, spy attempts to sabotage our copper, and troop movements for the past 25 turns - yet we desperately wanted to avoid war if at all possible. Our team was still developing internally, settling more cities, and researching towards critical technologies. In a war between Realms Beyond and Imperio, the result would be a stalemate that benefitted no one except PAL. So even though we doubted this would work, we felt we had to try one last time.

We got back this message:

Imperio to Realms Beyond:
Greetings Realms.

The problem is that your civilization has many areas, and you founded Cape Town in areas that legitimately owe to our team.

If you give us Cape Town now we will be able to obtain a pacific solution.

kelben of imperio.

Not surprisingly, they wanted Cape Town from us, and were angry about the city's placement. Imperio even had a legitimate point, as it was close to their capital and could be argued to be in their sphere of interest. Yet again, from our point of view, what were we supposed to do? Play the game with no copper, no horses, no iron? If this conflict was anyone's fault, it was the mapmaker (Cybershy) for crippling our start so badly with no strategic resources.

Needless to say, we weren't exactly jumping at their offer:

I'm not sure if the response should be: a) LOL or b) Bring it on

Isn't it interesting how they never mentioned their objection over Cape Town to us until they had a big stack of units on our doorstep? I mean, it's been patently obvious for months what Imperio was planning, and yet they never made even the slightest attempt to send us an email over this issue. Not that we would have listened to them anyway.

Fun responses to send back to Imperio:

- "We'll give you Cape Town in exchange for Lakamha and Chichen Itza."

- "If you want Cape Town, why don't you come and take it?"

- "I've never seen an army turn and run in the opposite direction so fast. Ole!"

- A giant laughing smiley face. Like this:

(Yes, I spent 5 minutes searching for that, and yes, it was worth it.)

That basically ended any meaningful diplomacy between our team and Imperio. They were obviously going to attack, and we obviously weren't going to hand over Cape Town. This dispute was going to have to be solved militarily on the battlefield. And as far as Imperio alone went, they had no chance to pull off a succesful strike. We knew exactly what units they had, and we were not overly concerned. The only place they could attack us was at Cape Town, where we would have plenty of warning and could get in the first strike with catapults, which would cripple their stack and leave it easy prey. Imperio couldn't split up their stack either, as that would only make things easier for us. Therefore, their only chance of success was to have the Templars invade our team simultaneously in the south, which was indeed a very serious concern for Realms Beyond...

The Templars were moving around some old units (chariots and swords in addition to spears and horse archers) along our borders. This seemed extremely suspicious, in light of their refusal to trade technology with us and refusal to sign a new Non-Aggression Pact when our previous one wore off. Still, if the Templars were planning on attacking, why were they showing us what units they had, and walking around in four or five different piecemeal stacks, in defiance of all tactical logic? It could possibly be a bluff, or show of military strength, because we weren't sure that even the Templars would be stupid enough to telegraph an attack and give us ample warning of what was coming.

Time for more diplomatic exchanges to sort out the situation:

Realms Beyond to Templars:
Honorable Knights Templar,

Are you interested in obtaining our knowledge of Engineering (1430 beakers) for Drama (429 beakers), Theology (715 beakers), and a 20 turn NAP? (The NAP to begin upon acceptance and expire 20 turns after completion of the trade)

Although we had some difficulties communicating recently, Team RB still values our current and future friendship with the Templars. And of course the importance of tech trading should be clear by this point to every team. Unfortunately our most recent attempt towards a mutually beneficial trade ended in frustration, but RB would like to offer the above proposal as an alternative.

Although we strive for a NAP with the Templars in any circumstances, the military value of the Engineering tech makes it particularity important. In fact, such a trade could greatly benefit both of our civilizations. Obviously RB benefits from avoiding the same sort of costly military buildup we've been forced to undertake in the north to deter Imperio's aggressive posturing, but we feel Templars benefit just as much, since after all peace is in all of our best interest.

Furthermore, as a symbol of our commitment to diplomacy, we are prepared to treat the mutually-beneficial NAP as a gift to RB for beaker purposes, and offer this otherwise uneven trade.

We hope you will recognize the merit in this offer, but we look forward to any Templar thoughts on how to refine it if you feel changes are necessary.

Once this deal is accepted, we hope we can embark on a new chapter in close relations, where both of our civs can be committed to open dialog including longer-term discussion of mutually beneficial tech paths and resource trades.

If possible, please acknowledge receipt of this message and kindly inform us of your anticipated time of reply. If you choose to accept please also kindly provide us with your ETA on Drama - we're committed to the above trade, but it makes the most sense if Templars will have Drama in the very near future.

Zeviz, interim ambassador for Team RB

Knowing that an attack from Imperio was imminent, we were obviously willing to do just about anything to negotiate some kind of treaty with the Templars. They probably knew this too, but we were hoping that they would capitilize on our position of weakness in terms of securing favorable tech trades, not by seizing the opportunity to attack. Four days later, the Templars sent this message back:

Templars to Realms Beyond:
Dear Zevis Interin Ambassador of Team Realms Beyond.

I posted your message in our forum and there is I believe a generally positive attitude to tech exchange that RB have proposed. We acknowledge the generosity in the deal offered.

There is still discusssion ongoing about the NAP extension. I will get back to you when that is complete.

Yours Templars

Well that sounded all nice and good, but the Templars were continuing to move more units up to the border with our team:

So the Templars were obviously trying to fool us, and not doing a very good job of it. If this was their attempt at deception, they should have been a bit more clever! (Now if the Templars had been good tacticians, they would have responded by apologizing and pulling their units back into their territory, then moving them out of the fog all at once in a surprise attack later on. But that would have required a good road network within their territory, which the Templars did not have.)

Meanwhile, Imperio turned around and retreated their stack back into Chichen Itza, whereas it had been one tile away from entering our borders the previous turn:

We believed that the reason for this was the fact that the tile Northeast-Northeast of Cape Town had just swapped to our cultural control. This was a "disputed tile" between the culture of Cape Town and the culture of Chichen Itza. Tactically speaking, it was incredibly important, as whoever had control of that tile could immediately move next to the other's city in a single move. Imperio appeared to be flustered by our gaining cultural control of the disputed tile (which had literally happened on the previous turn), and they pulled back briefly to reassess. A big "Thank You!" to the Heroic Epic in Cape Town for providing all that extra culture, and for popping out those one-turn catapults and war elephants!

Naturally, we passed this information on to the Templars:

Realms Beyond to Templars:
Knights of the Templar,

We are pleased to see your recent and cordial communications. However, your in-game actions are obviously damaging our relationship.

We were shocked by your actions when you reneged on the three-way tech deal with RB and Banana. We remain confident that we can come to an agreement regarding NAP and tech trades. Unfortunately, we are forced to caution now that you have moved troops to our borders.

It still puzzles us that your civilization feels so differently about natural lines of cooperation than we do, but in the interest of peace, please know that Imperio has withdrawn their stack from our border (into their city) and is now several turns away from being able to attack us.


We did not get a response back from this. What we got instead was Templar and Imperio units moving to pillage our roads in neutral territory:

The two teams were obviously doing their best to sever the road connection between Pink Dot and Cape Town, which our workers had laboriously completed through a large desert only a short time earlier. This was particularly infuriating to us because the Templars had explicitly told us that we could build that road to Cape Town in an earlier exchange a while back:

Templars to Realms Beyond:
Two things, especially, I have argued for. The first is to pay heed to your concern about the quality of land for your team and to allow your team room to expand and to allow it more than just some low-value land. Secondly, I realize that copper is an important resource for you, vital for your security. For that reason I have argued to provide for the opportunity for your team to establish a corridor from your capital to the copper city, so that your units can reach it over land without having to cross borders. This concern for your security has also played an important role in the settlement of Jericho. [...]


So in other words, despite endless hours spent wrangling over a "borders agreement", we found that the Templars were willing to go back on their word at the drop of a pin if they thought it was to their advantage. Now that's all well and good; after all, lying and deception are all part of the game. However, the Templars consistently maintained a holier-than-thou smarmy attitude, and attacked our team as being "opportunistic" on many occasions... despite the fact that they were just as willing to ignore treaties and send off hypocritical messages when it served them! We could live with the in-game actions, but the constant doublespeak from Aidun and condescending attitude definitely rubbed our team the wrong way.

We considered pre-emptively declaring war to stop our roads from being pillaged. However, declaring war on Templars and Imperio would cut off our huge "intercontinental" trade route income from PAL, Rabbits, and Banana which amounted to some 50 commerce/turn. This would damage our research rate pretty badly. (I doubt that Templars even understood that our main worry was not losing on the battlefield, but the economic damage that loss of trade route income would cause our civilization!) Secondly, going to war with both civs would cut off the supply of resources we had coming from the eastern continent: ivory from PAL and iron from Banana, most specifically. That would mean no pikes and no war elephants. Finally, we believed on a strategic level that delay was to our benefit, giving us more time to prepare for the imminent invasions. Since we had a superior production base, and could make use of better tactics (such as interior lines of reinforcement), time was on our side. Thus we sat and waited for them to make their moves, accepting some pillaging in the short term.

We thought that Imperio would start the fighting, but instead it was the Templars who moved first on T132:

Update with 3:00 left in turn - Templars declare war! Their only units moves are a stack of 2 ha [horse archers], 3 char[iots], 1 spear, and 1 cat[apult] moved onto the grass hill east on Pink Dot and inside our territory.

Sneaky and underhanded as usual, the Templars declared war and moved in their units with a mere 3 minutes left on the turn timer. Fortunately, we had rules in place for this game to prevent double-moves; we therefore had the first 24 hours of each turn to make moves, and the Templars would have the final 24 hours. When Imperio joined in the war two turns later, we went to a 16/16/16 timer for each of our three teams:

We all agreed with Ruff's comments in the above picture. The game, as they say, was now afoot!

sooooo kicked off the war with this outstanding post in the General Forum, directed at Templars:


Oh, sugar, you just gone and done the dumbest thing in your whole life.

Hilarious! We would continue to mock the Templars throughout the war, and deservedly so.

Now the Templars and Imperio likely thought that they were just going to roll over our team and win an easy victory in the fighting. Although we had repeatedly warned both teams that we were no easy meat, and that a conflict that broke out would proceed into stalemate, they didn't seem to be listening, or believed that we were merely bluffing to make ourselves look better than we actually were. But we were instead telling the absolute truth, because we were pretty confident that we had an overall strategic plan that would lead to the eventual mastery of our continent. Before getting into the tactical details of the war, we therefore have to first back up and explain the overall goal of the Realms Beyond team heading into these critical turns...

Once again, sooooo started the discussion with a post in our Metagaming "Grand Strategy" thread:

As I understand it, current game situation is:

PAL have GNP lead thanks to their great lighthouse. It's the best wonder in the game if you have coastal cities. They have good prospects to expand into their continent.

RB are not far behind, thanks to our cottage-cheese capital. We have filler cities to expand into.

Imperio are third, thanks to their ridiculous gold resources and flood plains cottages. No room to expand.

The rest cannot win the game and don't matter.

PAL can always found more cities and get coastal trade routes. But eventually the advantage from their wonder has to diminish. Our land is much more improved and we have more workers than them. PAL's advantage comes in the ease that they can conquer their continent while we will need a lot of effort and production to conquer ours. However, I would argue that doesn't necessarily mean that PAL will beat us because the state of their land is currently behind ours.

My opinion is that we should go hell-to-leather and kill Imperio in the quickest time possible. It will batter our economy but the strong state of our lands at the moment compared to PAL will compensate somewhat. We will always have our research monster of a capital to fall back on. After we finish we will probably be behind PAL but I don't think their lead will be insurmountable. The longer we wait the harder it will become.

How to kill Imperio: Drafted Omoros. For this we need:

Drama (negotiated to come in in 5-6 turns).
6 Theatres and the globe. Need to decide on a globe location.
Preferably theocracy and a spread of Islam. Vassalage is out because it is in the same column as bureaucracy.
Philosophy, nationalism and gunpowder. Try to trade for philosophy from PAL. Gunpowder: decide if we wish to go via education, via education+liberalism or via guilds.
A lot of other units. Siege, mounted, elephants, pikes etc.

IMO we need to decide if this is what we want to do in the next few turns. We either go all-out for this or we don't. If we do, we need a thread similar to the great library thread where we can test how to build the units and buildings we need in time for nationalism, and we need to figure out the quickest way to get nationalism.

We had floated the idea earlier of pursuing rapid expansion into a later drafting rush, but this was when our team made a formal commitment to the plan, about a month and some 10 turns before the war began. Ruff suggested the name "Operation Bloodbath", and the planning was on:

Oh, I am completely on board with "Operation Bloodbath." In fact, I've been suggesting a plan along those lines for months now, if you read back in this very thread. I also think we should keep that name, which will be especially fun when Krill opens up the history books at end of game! Now, for some thoughts/additions:

- Rather than focusing singly on Imperio, we should leave open the possibility of attacking either civ on our continent. If we get a solid NAP from Imperio, we attack Templars. If we get a solid NAP from Templars, we attack Imperio. Whatever convenience dictates is the best path. So long as we can avoid a 2 vs. 1, we will beat whomever we go after.

- Fooling with religion is simply not worth it, IMO, as several others have stated. We chose to go a different path from the very outset of the game, and investing in missionaries/monasteries now will pull too many shields away from our attack plan. With luck, we'll get free religious spread of Islam to a few more cities, and can get limited use out of Islam/Theocracy, obviously only making those swaps during a Golden Age to avoid Anarchy turns.

- Best way to get Philosophy is to make a trade with PAL, Engineering being a good bet there. (Again, we really should send off some more emails to PAL!) We can research Nationalism straight-up from there if need be, or trying to negotiate some way of taking it with Liberalism from PAL. The easiest way to get to Gunpowder is through the somewhat unorthodox Education route; Paper is dirt cheap and we'll have TWO pre-reqs if we can get something from Templars for Theology, then we have a Great Engineer to knock out the cost of Education for us. In an ideal world, we'd trade Engineering to PAL for Philosophy, then research Paper and Education ourselves, and steal Liberalism out from under their noses, taking Nationalism with the free tech, then researching Gunpowder next. I don't think that will happen, but we can do something along those lines.

- We absolutely can and will be stocking up on support units over the next ~25 turns. Cape Town will do nothing but pump out cats/trebs, elephants and pikes, while our other mature cities slip in occasional horse archers. Add in a dozen drafted Oromos, and we're ready to kick some serious behind. Plus, if we avoid trading Engineering to Templars/Imperio, their units will be stuck moving much slower than ours, a major strategic edge.

- Didn't we say that Green Acres was the best spot for Globe Theatre? We may as well start irrigating towards it with the worker it's due to produce. Theatres are so dirt cheap for Creative civs that we'll whip a bunch of them in elsewhere rapidly, once we have Drama tech.

I do think a "Project Globe Theatre" thread wouldn't be a bad idea for Green Acres. We already have a granary, lighthouse, and library in the city; besides theatre and barracks, do we need anything else there? Besides a whole lot of irrigation?

This is going to be real fun to play out. Once our team sets our minds to a plan, we get sh*t DONE.

Thus in addition to trying to pacify Templars and Imperio, our diplomatic corps had also been working to try and pair together with PAL to advance rapidly to Liberalism and Nationalism techs. We pitched all sorts of schemes to them, including us sharing the Liberalism benefit, or doing more straight-up exchanges such as Engineering tech for Philosophy. We even promised them that we would not contest their grabbing of Liberalism (with our Great Scientists from the Library able to lightbulb techs) if they would agree to continue trading with us down that path. Anything to advance rapidly to Nationalism and Gunpowder techs, where we could really start to take advantage of our population advantage.

The problem is that PAL clearly regarded our team as the major threat to win the game, and wanted nothing to do with us anymore. They turned down all of our proposals for tech trades (even an Engineering for Optics deal, which should show how not-friendly PAL was becoming), and canceled our ivory for wines trade right after the war with Templars and Imperio started. PAL obviously wanted to see our team get taken down in the conflict, so that they would be able to run over the rest of their continent with impunity. It was a good strategic move, even if we couldn't be happy about it in-game. We canceled our Open Borders with PAL in turn (as they were receiving trade route income from us while we were not!) and continued moving closer to Team Banana. Donovan was actually willing to negotiate with us, no doubt due to his fear of being crushed by PAL the minute that team finished off the Rabbits, and we managed to do fairly well by pooling our research together. Donovan went after the bottom part of the tree (Feudalism, Guilds, etc.), while we went after the top (Drama, Philosophy, Nationalism, etc.) But that's starting to get ahead of the story.

Since PAL refused to trade with us, Rabbits were crippled, and obviously we weren't getting anything from Templars or Imperio, our team started researching the top of the tree. We didn't get the brokering value we wanted out of Engineering tech, but wow did it ever help us in terms of managing the war! From there, it was on to a slow and painful research towards Nationalism. Losing that trade route income really hurt, unfortunately...

Militarily, we were quite well entrenched at Cape Town, and not overly worried about what Imperio could do there. It was Pink Dot that held the possibility for disaster, if the Templars attacked quickly in force. Fortunately for us, they dithered and mucked around on the borders for four or five turns, and that was all the opportunity we needed to react accordingly.

We started by shifting Turnplayer from myself to sunrise, who is a Multiplayer Ladder guy with tons of experience fighting against other human players. The Turnplayer is the one who actually moves the units and sets the tone for team discussion, so this was a natural move to make. I was quite ready for a break in duties anyway, after eight months (and some 95 turns) at the helm! sunrise immediately added his own spin to the turn reports:

Domestic Military Report:
*Cape Town garrison - 5 strength-eight units, 4 horse archers, 2 pikes, 5 cats, 1 axe, 2 chariots, 1 spear, 1 archer.
*Pink Dot garrison - 1 mace, 1 pike, 1 axe, 2 archers.
*Central garrison (units in open) - 1 mace (covering road south of Cape Town), 1 horse archer, 1 pike (both covering the approach to Airstrip 1).

Enemy Military Report:
*Cape Town opposing force - 6 strength-eight units, 6 longbows, 8 cats, 1 holkan. (Note: Imperio must leave at least one unit behind to defend their city).
*Pink Dot opposing force - 3 horse archers, 2 swords, 3 cats, 3 chariots, 1 spear
*Central opposing force - 1 horse archer, 2 spears, 1 chariot.

Templar unit silliness report:
The tempars have seen fit to upgrade [promote] many of their units. MP players know you never upgrade until you have to defend or attack, since by waiting you can tailor your unit upgrades to suit the enemy defenders. Rather than heading this advice, Templars have done the following:

*2 swords to city raider - these will do very well in the open versus our maces
*1 spear to city raider - because we all know strength-four units that get defensive bonuses are best used on the ATTACK
*One chariot with the withdraw promo - guaranteed to loose to any regular-strength chariot!
*One cat with collateral already applied - apparently they thought they wouldn't have time to do this during the 12 real-world days it would take the unit to reach our city.
*Finally, my favorite, the spear with combat III - Earn the right for the super-effective level 3 anti-horse promotion on an anti-horse unit, and then decide a 30% base strength boost will be more effective. Note this still isn't close to even defeating an unprompted axe

In the last few turns leading up to the attack, we had been upgrading spears to pikes wherever possible (gotta do it before our team lost the iron resource coming overseas from Banana!) along with chopping and whipping out additional units. Maces and elephants on the front lines as the top 8-strength units, horse archers and catapults in weaker production cities away from the front lines. We generated a Great Scientist right before the war started (from the Great Library), and opted to pop a Golden Age for the extra emergency wartime production. (We then ran two scientists in Airstrip One during the Golden Age to get an additional Great Scientist in a mere 9 turns!) Our team also took advantage of the Golden Age to get a free swap into Islam and Organized Religion, which would later help out our developing cities quite a bit, even if it didn't have military implications. In a handful of turns, therefore, we went from virtually nothing in the Pink Dot area to a credible defense force. We were as ready as we could be for their opening moves.

The Templars started out the war by moving a stack of 2 horse archers, 2 chariots, 1 catapult, and 1 spearman onto the hill overlooking Pink Dot. sunrise and I chatted over the potential dangers posed by this stack, and he suggested that we take our two maces in Pink (the only two maces in the city!) and attack with them both, in order to kill the horse archers in that stack and rule out pillaging or fast-moving strikes towards our lightly-guarded city of Something Fishy. The rest of us weren't so sure about this, but he was the expert, and so we went ahead and attacked with both maces, at 65% odds for each battle. The numbers were kind to us, and both maces won! sunrise covered the damaged units with a pike, and just like that the Templars had lost their initial striking power:

sooooo kept up the taunting of the Templars with this sarcastic message:

Realms Beyond to Templars:
Dear Hercules,

Thankyou for your email. Did your team have chance to finish discussing the NAP extension? We are glad you favour our trade proposal. What is your ETA for drama?

Realms Beyond

We did not get an email back... They responded on their turn by combining all of their units together onto the hill tile (which is what they should have done in the first place!)

Now that stack looks decent enough, but keep in mind that this was no longer the Ancient Age. We were running around with maces, pikes, and war elephants, and none of those units were particularly intimidated by a stack that was heavy on swords and chariots. The Templar goal had clearly been to win a quick and easy victory at Pink Dot, while the bulk of our forces were tied up with Imperio in the north, yet that was proving to be a false hope. Just look at the comparison outside Pink Dot:

*Pink Dot garrison - 3 maces, 1 pike, 1 horse archer, 1 cat, 2 archers.

*Pink Dot opposing force - 1 horse archer, 2 swords, 3 cats, 3 chariots, 1 spear.

They weren't breaking through that garrison, and both our teams knew it. The minute that the Templars came down out of their hill cover, their stack was going to be annihilated. We furthermore kept on adding to our own defensive forces with more whips and forest chops at Pink and Something Fishy, while the Templar reinforcements had to lumber in slowly, one tile at a time, through dense jungle with no roads to speed movement. They had nowhere to go except to retreat, but their team was too stubborn to admit at first that they had made a terrible blunder, so for the moment the Templar soldiers sat on the hill doing nothing.

This led to more taunting, of course!

Templars hiding on their grassy knoll:

Realms Beyond to Templars:
Dear Templars,

It appears you have declared war on Ethopia. We're traditionalists here at Realms Beyond, and normally these kind of things occur with a "Now you should pay for your many insults" or similar. To be attacked by a team roleplaying the Knights Templar with no fanfare or email was rather anticlimactic. Sort it out, Templars!

Realms Beyond

[In response to a question on why the Templars didn't pillage the mine on the hill where they were standing]

They probably looked on the screen to see whose tile it was, before pillaging. And it said 'Mine'.

Since the Templars were just sitting there, slowly bringing up reinforcements, sunrise began occupying the nearby forest with our two maces, then moved in a pair of workers to road the tile. This would allow us to avoid the river crossing penalty and strike at their stack with minimal defensive bonus on their side. Seeing that, the Templars pulled back and retreated into their territory:

Thus handing us our first tactical victory of the game! Naturally, this was followed up with more taunting emails:

Realms Beyond:
Dear Templars,

The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

How's it going? We noticed some of your units climb our hill ... and then leave again. What's up with that? Were they just on a mission to collect the bodies of their (sadly deceased) mounted brethren? If that's what you were worried about we could simply have had them shipped back to you to give them a good christian burial. We're not barbarians over here!

Realms Beyond

Might as well, right? After all, the Templars continued to decline to send anything back to us. Their not-so-secret attack plan was failing spectacularly, and we took great pleasure in continuing to spike their wheels.

The other military threat in this period took place in the central desert region, where Templar and Imperio mounted units (chariots and horse archers) had been busy pillaging our road connections:

We couldn't do anything about it so long as our civs were officially neutral, however with the dual declarations of war our team was able to strike back. This was another potential chink in our armor; my one great fear was that a mounted column of horse archers would race straight northwest out of Jericho, and push for Airstrip One, which was extremely lightly defended. We had to knock out these units, repair the roads, and allow the flow of reinforcements to reach the Cape once again!

First sunrise eliminated the units threatening us in the region. A pike from Cape Town killed the horse archer directly south of the city. Two of our horse archers moved from their holding position in the central desert and wiped out both of Imperio's chariots too:

However, this left the horse archer Real Quiet next to two Templar spears, giving them the opportunity to kill our horse archer in turn. Yet this was something we could deal with as well; the presence of four workers in the central desert meant that we could road directly up to Real Quiet's tile. The Templars did indeed kill our horse archer with their spear, moving the second spear on top of the first to guard it, but...

No time for a full report yet, but I'll do the fun stuff:

*Charsi [maceman] at 99.6% on the Combat III Spear = dead spear

*Charismatic [horse archer] at 99.5% on the wounded Spear = dead spear and revenge

We immediately killed both of their units in reprisal. Trading a spear for a horse archer is a victory for the spear (since it costs less, 35 shields to 50) however trading two spears for a horse archer is a net loss. To this point in time, we had lost one unit, the poor horse archer Real Quiet, while the Templars had lost 2 horse archers and 2 spears, while Imperio had lost 2 chariots and a horse archer. That was a ratio of 7:1 in our favor, not to mention a loss of 50 shields versus 280 shields. And of course we had regained tactical positioning too, as our workers were rapidly reconnecting the road to Cape Town. Within five turns, all of the roads had been repaired:

The opening stages of the war had clearly been a victory for our team, as the Templars/Imperio alliance failed to knock us out of the conflict quickly. Instead, we were settling in for a long war of attrition, which seemed likely to weaken all of our teams and hand the game over to PAL. We knew though that if could hold out long enough, we would be able to start drafting an unbeatable army of maces or Oromo warriors. And sunrise was identifying a possible attack target even sooner than that, if we employed the proper tactics...