Apolyton Demogame: Striking Back

While our military tacticians moved units back and forth on the front lines, we continued to pursue expansion and city development in our back lines. (Converting everything over to military builds might help us hold off the Templar/Imperio attack in the short run, however it would be a losing move against PAL in the end.) One such project was the development of a Globe Theatre city at Green Acres:

Ruff Hi:
This thread is about our draft city. I initially made the suggestion in this post and included a link to a discussion paper on drafting from your globe theatre city.

Initially, I suggested China Beach as a suitable city but T-Hawk corrected that to 'Green Acres" - everyone jumped on that, but then in typical Realms Beyond style - no one actually wrote it down and there was some confusion regarding the actual city.

So - Green Acres it is.

Globe Theatre (6 theatres)
Food (irrigate those grassland tiles)
Size 6 city, draft down to size 5, grow to size 6 (repeat)

We wanted to get the Globe Theatre up and running as soon as possible, because it dovetailed with our massive drafting "Operation Bloodbath" strategy. A city with enough food bonuses can exploit the infinite happiness of the Globe Theatre along with Nationhood civic to draft a new unit every single turn, which is an insanely productive use of food in the Renaissance period of the game. I have seen such a Globe drafting strategy take out entire civilizations, all by itself, when used properly in Single Player mode. We didn't really have fertile enough territory to make perfect use of this tactic (it's a shame we didn't have those disgustingly rich triple fish cities that Imperio had!) but we were absolutely going to make due with the terrain that we did have. Green Acres was our best shot.

The important question became how fast we could get the Globe Theatre up and running:

OK, this is looking very good. Here's my sim:

T0: building barracks, working wines, 2x seafood, grass mine, plains forest.
T1: switch to forge, grow to size 6, whip forge (down to size 4), work 2x seafood, wines, grass mine
T2: forge done, start theatre (due in 1)
T3: theatre done, golden age over. Start barracks (due in 2!). Grow to size 5, work a plains forest.
T4: Whip barracks with 1t to go.
T5: Start globe theatre! 30 hammers of overflow into it, size 5 and 14/30 in the food box.

That's great! 5 turns to finish forge, theatre and barracks and get 30 hammers into the globe.

Now the question is ... can we finish 5 other theatres in the same timeframe?
The answer is surely yes. However, we would have to perform a 1-pop whip at Mellow Yellow. At Airstrip One we could just about do it if we finish the monastery (3 t) and then work a lot of mines to get theatre in 1 turn. Cape Town is fine. China Beach and something fishy may have to change the plans I laid out above but it is definitely doable. So I propose that we aim to start the globe theatre on turn 140. That means having 6 theatres finished by turn 139!

As sooooo's post indicates, first we had to research Drama tech, then we had to build the six theatres, then we had to build the Globe Theatre itself! All set against the backdrop of war with our two neighbors. Thus although this was a bit of a back-burner project, we made steady progress over the following two dozen turns, preparing Green Acres as our team continued to research towards Nationalism.

In other domestic news, Airstrip One had produced another Great Scientist very quickly on T137, as we took advantage of the Great Library (2 free Scientists) along with assigning 2 more Scientist specialists to run four total Scientists, which was multiplied by +200% from National Epic and our Golden Age. I think it worked out to 48 Great Person points per turn, which popped out our third Great Scientist in a mere 7 turns. We used this Scientist to lightbulb Philosophy tech - since PAL refused to trade it to us - and that opened up direct research on Nationalism, the tech we most wanted. More progress towards Operation Bloodbath...

Back to the front lines. We noticed that the Templars still had forest tiles left unchopped right next to their iron city of Jericho, which is a bigtime no-no for Multiplayer. (Declaring war before chopping these tiles was sheer folly; they had ample opportunity to clear out a killing ground that would make invasion difficult, and didn't do it.) Since we had a pike (Mariah) and a horse archer (Charismatic) in the area from killing off the Templar/Imperio chariots, sunrise decided to use these units to scout out the defenders inside Jericho:

Mariah the pikeperson moved 1NW of Jericho, found 1 axe and 3 spearmen. With the city walls, I decided that was too well defended for a HA attack. Our horse archer Charismatic, instead of moving back onto the road, pillaged Jericho's cows. I promoted Mariah to C1 and shock for the best chance of surviving attack from the Jericho axeman. Shock isn't the best promo for a pike, but I feared for her survival.

With the 50% defense bonus from the forest tile, plus the Combat I/Melee combo, our pike Mariah was in an excellent defensive position. We felt no desire to move her out of there, not with Imperio still making no move to come after us in the north, and so we kept an eye on the defense inside Jericho. Charismatic pillaged the cows (depriving Jericho of its food source) and then retreated out of danger. None of this posed much of a threat to take the city, but these little harassment moves had to be irrirating Templars, and worrying them at least a little. Their main army was way down by Pink Dot and had absolutely no way to get up here to Jericho. If we could peel off some reinforcements from Pink, and get them to move up to Jericho instead, that would be a nice little tactical gain.

sunrise gave a fine summary of our situation at this point in time:

Okay, turn 137 military sit-rep post-Templar moves, pre-Imperio moves.


Objective: Defend Cape Town, keep Imperio stack in check.

*Imperio has moved their stack back into the fog. They have left 6 longbows and a pike in Chichen Itza. This actually makes their stack much less formidable if they are so bold as to send it around through Templar lands.

*Next turn I want to pull our main stack to the tile 1S of Cape Town.

*I've swapped our build to a mace (see "Center" below)


Objective: Pressure Templars if possible, defend our road network.

*Units on "pressure Templars" duty: One shock pikeman. One piece of advice - shock is not the ideal promo if a melee unit has two promotions and is sitting in a forest. Woodsman II is an extremely strong promo and should be used instead.

*Units on "defend the road network" duty: 1 horse archer, 2 chariots. The chariots are not well-suited to this task, and should rejoin the Cape Town stack. Strength-4 units are only suitable when attacking catapulted units on flat ground.

*Units threatening the road network: 1 crossbow, 1 horse archer, 1 axeman. I would like a road-defense task force of the horse archer already on station, a second horse archer, and a mace. I'm building the mace in Cape Town right now, and we should send the first available horse archer down to the road network as well. We can possibly send a horse archer from Cape Town (depends on possible attack on Constantinople or the Templar stack outside Pink Dot, see below). Ideally these units will stand on the road between the three peak tiles.


Objective: Defend Pink Dot, neutralize Templar's stack, eventually move in to pressure Templars.

*Current breakdown of forces:
-->RB - 2 maces, 2 pikes, 2 cats, 1 horse archer (44 base strength)
-->Templars - 1 crossbow, 1 horse archer, 1 sword, 4 cats, 3 chariots, 1 spear (54 base strength)

*Breakdown of forces on turn 140:
-->RB - 5 maces, 2 pikes, 2 cats, 1 horse archer (68 base strength)
-->Templars - 2 crossbows, 1 horse archer, 2 swords, 4 cats, 3 chariots, 1 spear. (66 base strength)

*Note in either scenario our maces have odds versus every unit except the crossbow even without catapults.

sunrise was planning on attacking the Templar stack near Pink Dot, only to see it retreat back into the jungle right before we could strike. That was a disappointment, but still not the end of the world. (It let us send those taunting emails, for one thing!) Up in the north, sunrise was moving a Woodsman I maceman into the same forest with our pike, intending to place a permanent harassment force right next to Jericho. The Templars had the chance to attack that pike with a crossbow of theirs, at a little less than 50% odds... but they chose not to take it. That was probably also a mistake, because now it meant that we were in business outside Jericho! sunrise reinforced the same tile with Buttercup the catapult on T142, who began bombarding down the walls at 4% per turn. Only 13 turns to knock down the walls of Jericho!

For whatever reason, our team wasn't taking many pictures during this period of stalemate in the war. We entertained ourselves with stories of the latest Templar tactical ineptitude:

Templars probed our Longbow on the hill, by attacking with a catapult (at 2.5% odds).
Elizabeth did not even get a scratch. Templars minus one cat.

Well done! A catapult thrown away against a Guerilla longbow on a hill with fortification bonus. No damage done. But thanks for the free experience, now we only needed one more XP for Guerilla II!

We also used this interlude to found two new cities, one in the far north and one redeeming some wasted wine tiles in the center of the map:

As the text indicates, the northern city was named Frozen Clams. It had godawful land, and yet the double clams resources made the location worth settling. With a whipped granary, lighthouse, and barracks, we could draft here every 10 turns and make back some decent income on the side by working all of the Colossus-powered coastal tiles. Definitely worth the cost of a settler.

The other location was called "Upper Burgundy"; we had disputed heavily between whether to found a city on this spot or the "Lower Burgundy" tile also indicated in the picture. In fact, I think this was the most polarized decision we made in the whole game, which should tell you something about what micromanagement fiends this team was made up of. Upper Burgundy had the goal of working the rice tile and the two wines, and doing nothing but building lots and lots of soldiers for our team. It would also be a great spot to draft units. This spot had absolutely no commerce potential at all, and thus the decision to turn it into a barracks camp. We knew it would take quite a while for these cities to become productive. Still, the war looked set to last for a long time. If we stopped expanding and getting stronger, we were just giving up and waiting to be destroyed. Thanks to our relentless expansion, we now had 12 cities. Imperio had 7, and the Templars a mere 5!

In the center of the above screenshot, you can see our small stack of horse archers, positioned there so that they could play "zone defense" and quickly reinforce Cape Town or Pink Dot as the situation dictated. On the right side of the picture, our trio of maceman, pike, and catapult were on the tile Northwest of Jericho, still slowly bombing down the defenses a little bit each turn. Otherwise, the same stalemate existed as it had for the past half-dozen turns. Imperio was afraid to attack in the north, and the Templars were afraid to attack in the south.

Imperio's stack had pulled back from Chichen Itza into the fog (likely trying to bait us into invading), but our spy quickly turned up their location:

They were right where we expected, a couple of tiles back from the border where they could immediately reinforce Chichen Itza if we chose to invade. This was critical information for us to have; we needed to be sure that Imperio wasn't sending their "uberstack" through Templar territory to join with their forces at Pink Dot. (They probably didn't have quite that level of trust with one another!) We knew from C&D Soldier Count that this was literally everything Imperio had. They had a couple of longbows and holkans on garrison duty, and that was it. In other words, so long as we kept visibility on that stack, and made sure it never moved away from Cape Town, we could rest assured that there would be no surprises racing out of the fog against our cities.

With the uberstack located, and secure with C&D knowledge that about 2/3 of the overall Templar military force was located either outside Pink Dot or inside Jericho, sunrise was able to propose a bold plan for striking back:

Anyways, lets discuss Operation Joshua

*With the Imperio army located, we have visibility onto the vast majority of the Templar and Imperio combined military.

*Our enemies do not have visibility on most of our army.

*As long as Templars and Imperio don't merge their armies, our existing Cape Town and Pink Dot garrisons are sufficient to defend our territory against their opposing armies, even if those armies were to grow up to 50% larger than they currently stand, provided we merely want to hold our territory and cities.

*Therefore we have a short-term opportunity to divert our military production into a third army without risking our cities, so long as we can draft to play catch-up.

*So one proposal:
-->Our cities produce knights.
-->We use these knights to replace macemen defending Pink Dot.
-->When we have an army of 7 macemen ready, we send them, our central horse archers, 2 workers, and about 6 catapults into our forest next to Jericho with no warning.
-->Neither Imperio nor Templars will be able to reinforce the city with their armies, so we can cat the defenses down and hit the city in one turn. With only a single unit that will have odds versus macemen we can take the city with only 1-2 losses.
-->The next turn we road the forest we've been holding and send the cats back to their normal stations.

*Why macemen and not knights? They're cheaper, will be obsolete sooner, and will have about the same odds versus the city defenders, plus once we take the city we'll have units with defensive bonuses available if we want to keep it.


1) Assuming we can capture the city with minimal casualties, do we want to?
2) If yes, do we want to keep it?
3) The only drawbacks are we loose 2 workers from other tasks and we get our cats out of position for about 5 turns. Worth it?

All of us expressed interest in this plan, and asked sunrise to provide us with some more details of what he had in mind. This was the further explanation:

@M_H - We can attack Jericho on turn 147 if want to. Our 2-movers are already positioned properly, so they're ready to go now. 5 maces and 3 cats can move up from Pink Dot in time, and the remaining mace or two can move down from Cape Town. There are problems moving so quickly though:

*Pink Dot is almost totally undefended, so we had better hope the Templar units retreat towards Jericho rather than press up on Pink.
*Any units we use from the Cape Town garrison will be visible by Templars the turn before we move them in. We should discuss which tile looks the most like a simple repositioning rather than a prelude to an advance.
*We would need 9 cats to fully bombard down Jericho's defenses for a t147 attack, leaving Cape Town with only a single cat.

I think an attack on turn 149 might work.
*T144 - Jericho's defenses stand at 42%.
*T145 - Jericho's defenses stand at 38%.
*T146 - Jericho's defenses stand at 34%.
*T147 - Jericho's defenses stand at 30%. Units from Pink Dot move NE onto the desert road tile between the peaks. 2 cats from Cape Town move south along the road no later than this turn....we may want to move them south and then past Jericho earlier to disguise what we're doing though.
*T148 - Jericho's defenses stand at 26%. 2 workers, 5 maces and 4 cats from Pink Dot, 2 knights and 2 cats from Cape Town, and all of our 2-movers from the central garrison move into the Jericho forest. Also as of t148 we need at least three knights to have been produced and stationed south of Upper Burgundy in order to relieve the Pink Dot defenders sent north.
*T149 - Bombard defenses with 6 cats down to 2%. Sacrifice 1 cat attacking the city. Maces attack (only the one attacking the healthy crossbow at 9.6 vs. 11.7 won't have odds) and capture/burn Jericho. Workers road the Jericho forest.
*T150 - Chariots/horse archers cut any roads connecting Templars to Jericho or the city ruins. Any cats not needed for a counterattack return north, and can hit Imperio attacks on turn 151. Likewise any horse archers unused in the battle can head south should Templars advance on Pink Dot, and can attack Templar units on t151.

Here's what our armies would look like if we go with a T149 attack. This assumes we'll configure Pink Dot, Airstrip 1, and Something Fishy as necessary to produce three knights before we move in, and that Cape Town will produce a pair of knights itself.
*Cape Dot army - 9 strength-8 units, 2 pikes, 1 axe, 2 cats, 4 archers.
*Pink Dot army - 3 knights, 1 elephant, 2 pikes, 1 longbow, 2 archers.
*Jericho army - 2 knights, 6 maces, 7 horse archers, 1 pike, 7 cats, 2 chariots.

The touchiest situation would be if Templars move their entire force against Pink Dot on t148. They could hit the city on turn 150 before any other RB units could make it inside the city. However, we will have odds with all three of our horse archers and the elephant attacking out against the Templar stack. If we manage four victories, that will only leave the Templars a horse archer, crossbow, sword, and three chariots to kill a longbow, 2 pikes, and 2 archers in Pink. Even with three cats, that isn't happening against a 40% city on a hill. And remember, if Templars wait a turn to bombard our horse archers are back in the fight.

All that said, I'm very confident about this plan, provided Templars don't reinforce their southern army with 2-3 more high-strength units before turn 148. If they do we're going to need to either delay the attack or be willing to slave an equal number of units of our own in the south.

@Swiss - As long as we pillage the roads connecting Jericho to the Templar land I hope they try to retake the city. With all of the cats we'll have on hand and our 2-movers at more or less full health we'll crush their stack of maces and crossbows. It would be touchier if they could hit us on turn 149, but they can't due to a lack of roads.

We did spend a little time discussing this, but the "yay" votes easily carried the day. Everyone was eager to strike back at the Templars in retaliation for declaring war on us. We would proceed with the plan outlined above with essentially no alterations. The only flaw was that we were weakening the defenses at Pink Dot for about two turns, as we moved out a lot of macemen and horse archers to the northern region. We were still confident that we could whip out enough defenders if the Templars chose that moment to attack. It just might get a bit "interesting" if they moved in!

We were discussing knight builds because Banana had finished researching Guilds and traded it to us as part of an advance deal for Nationalism. And much to our surprise, the declarations of war from Templars and Imperio had *NOT* cut off our resource deal for iron with Banana! It did cut our trade routes, but not our resource deals. That was a huge boost for us, as knights are the best unit by far in the medieval period until the arrival of muskets.

The plans for Operation: Joshua continued moving forward (what an awesome name!)

I logged in today to get a sit-rep of our armies. Here is the various armies, the tiles they are on as of T146, and which of our 3 armies they belong to

Strike Force Jericho (J)
Pink Dot Defense (P)
Cape Town Defense (C)
Unassigned or it was unclear to me (U)

On the tile N-NW of Pink Dot, we have 4 cats (J), 5 maces (J), 1 Ele (P). The Jericho armies will move to the signed desert tile on T147, and to the forest NW of Jericho on T148
On the forest NW of Jericho we have a mace, pike and cat (all J) - these guys are already in place and have already completed 5 circuits around the city walls
In Cape Town, there are 2 pikes, 1 ax, and 4 archers (C) and 1 knight (J)
On the tile 1S of Cape Town, 4 maces (C), 5 elephants (C), and 6 cats (2C, 2J and 2U)
On the hill ESE of Pink Dot, 1 longbow on a hill (P)
3 North of Pink Dot, 1 Horse Archer (J)
Near Upper Burgundy, 6 Horse Archers (J). All 7 horse archers will move to the desert tile on T147 and to the forest NW of Jericho on T148
In Pink Dot, 2 pikes and 2 archers (P)
2 west of Pink Dot, 2 chariots (P)
Knight due to be whipped in Pink Dot on T147 (U)
Knight due in Airstrip One on T148/9(U)
Knight due in Something Fishy in T150 if not whipped(U)
Knight due in Cape Town on T148 (J)

So, if I add correctly,
Strike Force Jericho (J) - 7 cats, 6 maces, 1 pike, 2 knights, 7 horse archers
Pink Dot Defense (P) - 1 ele, 1 longbow, 2 pikes, 2 chariots, 2 archers
Cape Town Defense (C) - 2 pikes, 1 ax, 4 archers, 4 maces, 5 elephants, 2 cats
Unassigned or it was unclear to me (U) - 2 cats, 3 knights

I know we talked about moving those knights to Pink Dot for defense, but we can play it by ear if we need them in Jericho or not. Also, there were 2 extra cats that I was not sure if they were desired at Jericho or if they should stay at Cape Town for defense vs. Imperio if necessary.

T147 - the Jericho strike force should all congregate on the desert tile

This picture shows how we were pulling units from all over our territory for the strike at Jericho. (The black Xs were some tiles that we could consider roading after the fall of Jericho.) We even had the possibility of moving on to Constantinople after Jericho, since we were assuming that there was little behind Jericho in the way of defense. We could have a significant stack of horse archers right next to Constantinople one turn after Jericho fell...

First, we had to capture Jericho, however:

One turn away from moving in now, with all of the "J" tiles on the map indicating the units that would strike at Jericho. The group of 7 cats, 6 maces, 1 pike, 2 knights, and 7 horse archers should be more than enough to deal with the defenders inside. Best of all, the Templars had no visibility on any of these units aside from the ones right outside Jericho. It was going to be a total surprise attack: the best way to deal with humans! Everything moved in at once:

With all of the Templar and Imperio stacks remaining in place. The Templars were still in Serfdom civic, meaning no emergency Slavery, and their embarassingly bad road network meant that they could not reinforce from any location other than Constantinople. The Templars ended up with 2 maces, 2 crossbows, 1 horse archer, 1 pike, 1 axe, and 2 spears inside the city. It looked like we were actually going to pull this off!

There was considerable excitement among our team, leading to a big group gathering in our private chat forum for the moment of the attack. The expected result:

T149 Battle of Jericho

About a half-dozen of us gathered in a chat room tonight to help plan out the Battle of Jericho. Thanks to some excellent simming work ahead of time, General sunrise led us to victory! We captured Jericho with minor losses, and now control our own source of iron!

Here was the exact breakdown:

- Bombarded with 3 catapults (city defenses 14%)
- Attacked with 3 catapults, all three died without retreating
- Attacked with knight @70% against pike: Win!
- Bombarded with final catapult (city defenses 10%)
- Attacked with knight @72% against spear: Win! (Great General born in capital! )
- Attacked with knight @88% against crossbow: Lose! This was our only real setback.
- Attacked with mace @83% against crossbow: Win!
- Attacked with mace @84% against ???: Win!
- Attacked with mace @86% against mace: Win!
- Attacked with mace @89% against mace: Win!
- Attacked with horse archer @67% against spear: Win!
- Attacked with horse archer @67% against axe: Win!
- Attacked with horse archer @88% against horse archer: Lose!
- Attacked with horse archer @99% against crossbow: Win!
- Attacked with horse archer @99% against horse archer: Win and capture Jericho!!!

We then used our last horse archer to pillage the road connection to Jericho to the southeast; only two-move units can hit it between turns. (This revealed that Templars have an appallingly bad road connection; no roads between Jerusalem and Jericho! Will post pictures shortly to demonstrate.) We have defending in Jericho:

Two knights (strength 6 and 4.6)
Two maces (both full health, C1 and Woody 1)
Four horse archers (6, 6, 2.6, 1.0), and another healthy horse archer one tile SE of Jericho
One healthy pike

Note that ALL of these units (except the pike) will be able to promote next turn! sunrise and I think that we should move all of the Mounted units to the tile SE, to open up the lightning raid on Constantinople for next turn. We need to decide on this before the turn timer ends. Please post your thoughts/comments. I will make the further case for it tomorrow.

Total success!!! We lost three suicide catapults, a knight, and a horse archer to kill all of the Templar defenders and take the city. Losing the knight was the only real setback, as we had 8/9 odds to win that battle. The catapults and the horse archer were easily replaceable. In the battle itself, despite attacking into a city with fortified defenders, we lost 5 units to kill 10 Templar ones. That was of course a 2:1 kill ratio, and the result in Soldier count points (probably a better measure of the power exchanged on each side) was 31k lost for Realms Beyond against 66k lost for the Templars. Best of all, we now had our own native supply of iron!

Our team had discussed razing Jerusalem versus keeping it, and we ultimately decided that the Templars were too weak to have a realistic chance of recapturing the city. In fact, we already had more ambitious goals in mind, as our six surviving Mounted units all continued on past the city, hoping to move into an undefended Constantinople and raze it on the following turn. Constantinople was the Templar military center, and their only source of copper and horses. Losing it would be a devastating blow if we could pull it off with a lightning move. It was all going to depend on the units inside the city...

As it turns out, it was not to be. Templars had a surprising amount of military force in their back lines, much more than we had expected. Obviously our Mounted stack of 2 knights and 4 horse archers wasn't going to be able to punch through that, so we pillaged the road connection to Jericho and retreated the units back into the city for healing (assisted by our Great General Medic III chariot, Lady Godiva!) This might seem like nice tactics on the part of the Templars, but no, it was more a case of them lucking out and having units in the right place at the right time. Their civ had a horrendous happiness crunch (not a single happiness resource at all!) and thus they had to keep huge garrisons in each city for Hereditary Rule purposes. Four of these units were needed in Constantinople just to keep the city from becoming unhappy. These units would have been a lot more effective up on the front lines than guarding cities deep in the rear... (Further maddening is that we had offered to trade our wines and silks to the Templars on multiple occasions, and they shot us down each time. Pure insanity from this team!)

Meanwhile, the Templars had decided to get frisky and move forward their large stack to the south!

Templars logged in a second time right at the 16 hour mark. They've tried to play hard and fast with the timer rules so many times, I logged in afterwards to see what they were up to:

They're moving in against Pink Dot! Oddly enough, Templars did not move their crossbow/axe mini-stack, which would have made more sense. While this is obviously not good, we should probably be OK, although it's going to force more whipping and upgrading of units. Here's where we can pull additional units on defense:

- We have two pikes and two archers in Pink; we will have to upgrade at least one (probably both) of those archers to longbows.
- There is an elephant playing zone defense NW of Pink that can return to the city.
- The longbow guarding the hill moves NW-W and can make it into Pink with no problems.
- We have a knight, horse archer, and chariot in Upper Burgundy saved for exactly this situation, who can move into Pink.
- Something Fishy produces another knight next turn. We also probably going to have to whip the cat in Pink, unfortunately.
- The leftover maces and cats from Operation Jericho can make it to Pink by T152. This is one turn after Templars can attack the city (T151), so if they pause to bombard the city, we'll be in great shape to shred their stack on the counter attack.

Now that Templars have moved in, we probably DON'T want Imperio to move in as well, because we're necessarily going to need a couple of the anti-Imperio units to move down to the Pink area. Hopefully sunrise will be back tomorrow to take a look at all of this and give some input. My take is that we're going to suffer some damage, but shouldn't lose any cities. Most of that Templar stack is obsolete anyway. Three longbows in a city on a hill, plus pikes, elephants, and knights, should be enough to hold them for a turn or two until reinforcements can arrive. (If Templars go for Something Fishy, we have even more time to reinforce, and therefore are in better shape.)

I dunno what Hercules is thinking here. Suicide attack from Templars prior to giving up on the game, maybe?

That stack had been located on the jungle tile east of our longbow on the hill, right on the border of Templar territory. Now it was moving into our territory, for reasons that were not entirely clear. I suspect that this was a bit of a panic move on their part, hoping against hope that by moving so many units up to Jericho we had weakened our defenses at Pink. Our team talked things over, evaluated the seriousness of the Templar units, and ultimately decided that they were not a real threat to capture Pink Dot. Even if they moved in immediately by going a tile Northwest, we could hit their stack with catapults, do tons of collateral damage, and huddle up inside our city, on a hill, behind 40% cultural defenses, and wait for the cavalry to return home from Jericho. We might see some pillaging, but that was about it. sooooo whipped the catapult in Pink Dot, the overflow going into another catapult, and that was all in terms of emergency moves.

The tactical response from sunrise on the following turn:

Domestic Military Composition Report:
*Cape Town garrison - 2 elephants, 2 pikes, 1 axe, 4 archers.
*Jericho garrison - 4 maces, 1 elephant, 1 pike, a medic III chariot.
*Northern army - 2 elephants, 6 maces, 8 catapults.
*Pink Dot garrison - 2 archers.
*Southern army - 4 knights, 1 elephant, 5 horse archers, 1 cat, 1 longbow

Enemy Military Composition Report:
*Cape Town opposing force - 10 strength-8 units, 4 horse archers, 3 pikes, 6 longbows, 1 pike, and 11 cats, 1 galley.
*Pink Dot opposing force - 2 maces, 2 crossbows, 1 horse archer, 1 sword, 3 cats, 3 chariots, 1 spear, 1 Quechua.
*Central garrison - 1 crossbow, 1 axeman.
*Constantinople garrison - 1 mace, 1 crossbow, 3 longbows, 1 cat, 1 Quechua.

Military Action Report:
*Ok, here's what I'm planning.

-->Next turn our three workers near Pink Dot road the desert tile 1SW of our 6 mounted units in the central desert.
-->That will allow those mounted units to hit the Templar stack outside of Pink Dot next turn if they move to attack.
-->Our worker on the grass hill N of Something Fishy is covered by a knight and the plains forest 1E of the Templar stack is covered by our longbow.
-->Even without cats, our knights will have over 70% odds on the Templar stack next turn. With the two cats we'll have in play we can easily take our nearly the entire stack next turn.

Questions and notes:
*Notice the distribution of our units in the north. We have an elephant in Jericho in case Templars want to road and hit the city with a crossbow. In Cape Town we have two Elephants in the city to deter a mounted attack after the disputed tile flips.
*Imperio's power has been very flat over the last few turns...so no real risk of knight stacks in the short term.
*Our first Trireme is in the channel between Cape Town and Chichen Itza. Any name recommendations.

Thus, due to some great tactical micro and use of workers, we had the bulk of our Mounted stack ready to hit the Templars even if they moved in to attack Pink Dot. (We still didn't know exactly where that big stack was moving.) As it turned out, they diverted to the south instead:

This was an awesome compilation screenshot from sunrise, which he started to do more and more as time passed. Kudos for putting these together, sunrise! It seemed as though the Templars had decided to move their stack down into the southern jungles. Where these units were going was still an open question. Their best move probably would have been another retreat back into Templar territory, where they could serve as a counter-invasion force to deter our own future attacks. (Much like what Imperio was doing in the long standoff in the north.) We were pretty sure that the Templars didn't even have visibility on Something Fishy, since they had never scouted over there since the early BC days. They must have been literally wandering around in the dark!

On our side, however, we had full visibility on all of the moves that the Templars made, and could reinforce easily with our superior road network. We desperately wanted the Templars to move in and attack, which would be the worst possible move they could make. It would be running head first into a buzzsaw!

Templars stuck to the defensive terrain, moving onto jungle and then onto hills:

But by this point, we had had an inordinate amount of time to prepare our defenses. When it comes to Multiplayer against humans, you need to attack by doing one of two things. Either attack quickly with the element of surprise, hitting them before they know you're there and can prepare a defense, or strike with such overwhelming force that there's nothing the other guy can do about it. This attack was too slow to be a surprise move (a "dagger" in the Multiplayer lexicon) and too weak to be the massive buildup (a "sledge"). It fell somewhere in between, and that meant that these units were toast!

We sent in three suicide catapults first, which all died, then our knight defeated their top unit at 89% odds, and the romp was on from there, 95%+ odds on each battle thereafter. We lost 3 units to destroy 12, a clear 4:1 kill ratio, and the exchange in Soldier count was 15k lost for us against 75k for them, an even better 5:1 exchange. Since we had a very good idea of the overall composition of the Templar forces (via C&D), we were fully aware that this blow eviscerated the Templar military. They had garrison defenders for their cities, and that was essentially it. They could no longer contest our control of the field, only huddle up in their cities and wait for the blows to fall.

And what of Imperio, the ally that the Templars had placed so much faith in?

Still waiting around as part of the standoff at the Cape. We weren't moving in our army, they weren't moving in theirs. We both knew that the first one to invade was going to lose, as they would be hit by a barrage of catapults for collateral damage. The only interesting thing here was that Imperio built a galley at Chichen Itza, and we immediately responded with a trireme at Cape Town. No naval action, or indeed any military action, followed from these moves. Of course that suited us just fine, as the one on the short end of the 2 vs. 1 situation. Tactically speaking, Imperio was making the right moves here. But strategically speaking, they were selling out their ally and thus undermining their own longterm position. If Imperio remained joined to Templars in an alliance, the writing was on the wall that they were going to follow right behind the Templars and be the next ones to fall. Thus diplomacy once more began to return to the fore with Imperio, after ages of little to no contact from the Spaniards...

But first, we experienced a bizarre interlude of diplomacy with the Templars that deserves its own section and commentary.