Interlude: Fun and Games with Aidun

This section is not particularly critical to the history of the Demogame, and is very text-heavy, so feel free to skip ahead to the next page if that's not your interest. What this page concerns itself with is an attempt to shed some light on the exceedingly strange diplomacy that took place between Realms Beyond and the Templars, specifically in the forms of a series of messenges sent to our team from their Foreign Affairs Minister, Sir Aidun. I'm going to first go through these correspondences, and then evaluate at the end how and why relations with the Templars went so disastrously off-track for their team.

At the outset of the war between ourselves and the Templars, we received no messages from them, not even a formal declaration of war. sooooo had fun playfully sending a series of taunting emails, as we defeated their initial military force and sent them scurrying back into Templar territory. But since we continued to be deeply concerned about PAL's growing technological lead, we sent an open letter to the Templars and Imperio asking them to please Close Borders with PAL, even if they insisted on continuing the war with us. PAL's economy was based on international trade route income powered by the Great Lighthouse, and losing out on trade routes to Templars and Imperio would severely damage PAL's research rate. We hoped that even if they were unwilling to stop attacking our team, they would at least see the danger of letting PAL's economy run away with the game.

Neither Templars nor Imperio made any move to Close Borders, or stop trading with PAL. (Not that we exactly expected them to do so, but it had been worth a shot.) Instead, Aidun began sending a series of emails and PMs to Ruff Hi, starting with this cryptic message:

Aidun to Realms Beyond:
Hi Ruff,

In response to your letter of 28/29 April, Hercules has asked me to initiate some informal 'backtrack' talks with your team. The team was not opposed to your latest proposal, but some unclarities remain. Please take your time to read this, I hope you don't mind, since I have a lot to say.

I do not have an official mandate to make binding statements and whatever we would discuss is not official or binding, but the idea is that by talking freely about our concerns here could possibly bring about a solution which we both prefer over the current one of war. This solution we could recommend to Imperio.

I have long argued within my team to engage in more open talks with your team, because my impression is that there is unnecessary misunderstanding and distrust, which has brought us to this situation of war. I hope that through this way, you can make me help understand the concerns of your team a bit more and I can do the same for my team.

For my part, I can say that we share your concerns about PAL. Right now they are running away with the game. However, we have found it difficult in this game to find allies. PAL has been friendly and helpful to my team and what you ask is that we pay back that friendship with a slap in the face. My team cannot afford to alienate friendly teams, especially not when we are at war with the secondmost powerful team in the game.

My team has been in search for security for a very long time. Warily we watched the expansion from your team and your military buildup. We know from previous experiences that in DGs, one has to find a team to join forces with. For a very long time, for us, that team was your team. In our forums we talked about a 'natural alliance'. Yet, we seem to have talked two different languages. When we reached out, we felt nothing came in return and when you reached out, my team saw it as an opportunistic action, leading to a response like: "Apparently it suits them now to team up with us, but when we asked them it was too much for them - how can we trust that they don't turn their backs on us when the weather changes again?"

Eventually we found another partner in Imperio one or two months before your team suggested to us to form a three-team alliance with your team and Banana. The response was: "Nice, but a couple of months too late." And once again: "Why didn't they agree when we proposed it back in August/September 2008?"

All my team's actions have been motivated by a search for security and indeed this war is mainly aimed at achieving security by attacking a team that we started to view as a threat to our security.

However, if we let our minds think freely, and I have encouraged my team members to do so, we could see that our team's security can be achieved peacefully as well if the threat were to cease to be a threat through peaceful means.

I have always hoped that we could establish a three-team alliance and I was disappointed to see our continent go down the road of beggar-thy-neighbor politics.

With PAL going full-speed ahead, we have to formulate an effective strategy of competition. I cannot see how that would work without extensive cooperation and coordination between the three teams of our continent. As such, my view is that if you are truly concerned about PAL, you must agree with me that cooperation is the only way.

We cannot proceed, however, as things stand now. My team is facing a hugely strong neighbor, who has the capability to eliminate us if we were on our own. As such, we need to have a satisfying answer to this question: suppose that we were to ally, how can we be sure that our neighbor does not turn on us and wipes us off the map in the blink of a second once our common threat/challenge is eliminated?

If you want to prevent PAL from running away with the game while we are bogged down in war, think about that last question in particular. If you want us to become your partners, you have to win our hearts and minds and take away our security concerns.

Unlike Imperio, I don't want to ask concessions from your team, I want your team to understand my team's situation so that you can come up with a solution yourselves. I hope you appreciate that more than arrogant demands. Perhaps you wish to offer us something, I leave that to you. However, make sure that your answer is convincing and leaves my team do doubt that we should better end this war than continue it.

I hope you are willing to explain your team's concerns to me. Make me understand what drives you. Perhaps you also have security concerns. I know that you did not appreciate all of my team's actions. I'm sure you have a certain idea about my team. It's possibly not positive, but that's no problem. Please tell me and please be honest in that. No comment can offend me, because I regard any critique from you as a learning experience. The fact that we are at war means we have both failed in a certain way and hopefully next time we can avoid that mistake.

I hope this informal talking can help us bring greater understanding and perhaps peace.


You'll note that I use the heading "Aidun to Realms Beyond" because we had no clue if he was speaking for his team or if this was an unofficial message. The letter wasn't very clear on that point. As usual when dealing with Aidun, we found that we had a sea of text with very little in the way of specific proposals. I know I had to read the thing three different times before having any clue what Aidun's goal was. The last couple of paragraphs seemed to be indicating that Aidun and the Templars wanted to sign peace with us, but they wanted us to give them some kind of concession in the peace treaty. That was a bit much, as we were easily holding off their feeble military invasions, yet the war was definitely damaging our long-term chances to win the game. So while the general reaction to Aidun's message on the team looked like this:

I'd prefer we draft a formal response, preferably after I've had a chance to cool off from their insanity.

Quick reactions:

1) The reason Templars are better off if the war ends than if it continues is because they won't keep loosing all of their units to us. If they think the war is going well they might want to examine the combat logs and see which of us has units in the enemy's land.

2) We offered to be at least as helpful as PAL. We never turned down Templar offers to trade techs or resources, did we? And surely the PAL crew of MP guys wasn't charming Templars with their flowery language.

3) The criticism of us as two-faced is baseless. Sure we may have taken our time to come to diplomatic consensus, but our actions were always consistent and honest. Very unlike Templars who talked cooperation while double-moving a settler and reneging on a trade deal.

4) The idea that our military buildup caused the war is about as sound as the German claim that Polish incursions into the reich caused WWII. We built up our army once Imperio cut off communications and went all military in their cities. Then our roads were pillaged and we were declared on by both powers before we placed a single unit in enemy lands.

5) There was no reason Templars couldn't agree to a 3-way alliance all the way up to the turn their units entered our borders. But by refusing the back down they made the prospects of diplomatic cooperation much more difficult.

6) Templars have no hope of stopping PAL without an alliance at this point. RB DOES have another option. We can kill Templars and leverage that into a better position to fight PAL. We don't have to say that but before Templars ask us for concessions they should at least keep that in mind.

7) We'd be happy to sign an in-game peace agreement with no reparations required. All we ask is for Templars to close borders with PAL, close borders with Imperio for as long as they're at war with us, and agree to and stick with a tech trading agreement for at least one round of techs with a no-Imperio clause.

8) If they can't agree to such a gracious peace offering then they should listen to our original request and close borders with PAL anyways.

Ruff Hi:
Sunrise - if you view your comments as requiring a cool-off, then that would push my first reaction to nuclear.

my comments would be something like this ...
oh come on!
you guys have played a horrible game - how many cities do you have ... 4? 5?
There are at lease 2 city sites that you should be working on instead of sending obsolete units to attack us
you were the ones that pillaged our road network - a network you said we could build
when were we dishonest in our dealings with you? Go back and check the logs for the number of times that we requested a missionary from you - and you never ever even mentioned it in your replies
did we double deal on a tech trade
did we enter into a tech embargo against you

And I would be more than happy to share these observations with Aidun person to person.

Or my personal favorite:

So... when can we attack?

But like I said above, we really did want to get out from under this 2 vs. 1 war - one that we did not start and really had no interest in fighting - as soon as possible so that we could continue working on expansion and our internal economy. Therefore we put our heads together and worked out what we considered to be a reasonble peace offer:

Realms Beyond to Aidun:
Dear Sir Aidun,

Good to see you back! Diplomacy with your team was rather difficult since you left, since our emails were unanswered. We hope all is well with your personal life, since we were concerned for you when you left abruptly.

You are correct that we do have our grievances against Templars (that whole "declaring war on us" thing was a biggie!) and we note yours with us. However, we do not see it as constructive to discuss past events. We will say things that you disagree with, then argue further on the details and nothing will come of it.

As such, we will try to suggest a constructive plan for the future.

We will answer your question about our motivation. Quite simply, it is the same as yours: security. Our military build up was solely a response to Imperio, who made their intentions clear at an early stage by sabotaging our metal and building a lot of units. We never had any hostile plans towards the Templars and were happy to renew our NAP until you informed us that you did not want to do so.

We honestly do not know how we can convince you to "leave my team in no doubt that we should better end this war than continue it". As you say, PAL is running away with this game and our continent needs to settle its differences if it wants to change that outcome.

In terms of a "gift" that you mentioned, we can figure out some kind of lopsided trade if you like - the techs we have that you don't (drama and engineering) for the tech that you have and we don't (theology) - naturally, dependent upon an in-game peace deal between our two teams.

From our point of view we see this war (and our war with imperio) as a stalemate that gains nothing for any team but hurts us all. Whoever invades the other team will simply lose. That is probably the best movitation for us both. Ideally, we see the future as uniting against PAL. If we all close borders against PAL and negotiate a trade embargo, they will suffer. We can coordinate our research and trades to give us 3 vs 1 research power. This will have to be negotiated in the future after we sign an continent-wide in-game peace deal. You will gain the ability to focus more on research and religion rather than having to build units to defend yourselves.

Anyway, it seems that you want us to suggest a peace deal. It seems strange to invade our lands, retreat your units and then ask us to propose a deal, but we will get the ball rolling.

Our proposal is:

1. An immediate peace. We re-open borders and sign a 20 turn NAP.
2. You do not pillage the roads in neutral territory.
3. We have attempted to talk to Imperio about peace. They have continued to state that they will not sign peace with us unless we give them our city of Cape Town. Clearly we will not do this. If we cannot agree peace with Imperio, then we cannot have them using your lands to attack us from. Thus while we are still at war with Imperio we must insist that you close borders with them. If you wish to broker a peace between our nations then take your best shot at it. However we will not be giving them Cape Town. Maybe they would be more willing to sign peace if our civilisations sign a peace treaty first.

The meat of this proposal was in the last three bullet points. We were willing to grant the Templars what was essentially a white peace, with no concessions on either side, so long as they made sure that we couldn't be sneak-attacked through their territory by Imperio. We also told them we would be more than happy to make technology exchanges that were in their favor, send them happiness resources that they lacked, and work together to limit PAL's growth. Considering that the Templars had been blackballing us on trades for months, had declared war and pillaged our territory, and that they were in the process of losing that very war they had started, we thought this was fairly generous.

Aidun's reaction was not quite what we expected:

Aidun to Realms Beyond:
Thanks for your message. Once again apologies for the length, I need a lot of text to make my message crystal clear.

My last letter was an unapproved message. I do not know, but there might be members who would have preferred that I would not have shared what I wrote in my last message. However, it is something which I have wanted to share for a long time with you; 5 months ago. I have seen our relationship decline. And while part of the blame undoubtedly lies with you guys, we share the other half of it. It frustrated me, because we could have achieved a lot more through cooperation and I wished we had joined forces back in August.

Mutual mistrust brough us here and I had my part in that as well. There have been many occasions that I have also thought about the questions I formulated in my previous letter. Before I proceed to matters at hand, I want to ask you once more, to express your grievances and talk about the past. I do not wnat to go into a discussion of who is right or who is wrong. That was not why I openly expressed Templar feelings in my last letter. I want to understand your point of view and it is for you important to help me with that, because that will help me to place your proposals in a wider context, opssibly giving them more legitimacy.

That gets me to our current situation. I think I can convince my team members to refain from pillaging right now, but they will be hard-pressed to agree as long as your troops are assembling before Jericho, so we have a tit-for-tat situation there. One thing in return for the other.

What I need from you is something to return with to my team, to present and say: hey, look what I got from those RB bastards. 5 months ago we would have solved things differentlty. Then we were equal partners, then a proposal like the one you proposed would have worked. Now we are not equal partners. You are big, we are small. There's mistrust on my team's side. But still a couple of members said: ok we give you the benefit of the doubt. Try to get us something, but make it substantial. Now as much as I'd like to, with your current proposal, I cannot return.

While being big has advantages and being small has serious disadvantages, being big has disadvantages too and likewise being small also has certain advantages.

I understand that in this situation, your team is not happy to make an attempt to please a team with which it is at war, let alone make gifts. Who are those Templars, to be the demanding party? However, the situation is as follows. Right now, your team is second to PAL and Imperio is third. The Templars, are not one of the big and powerful teams. The chance is very small that we are going to win this game and my team members have been thinking like that. They don't see a reason to end this war, because whether we lose here or 200 turns down the road, we lose either way. Our ambition is fairly small. We are no longer in this game to win. In other, more modest ways, we can define our victory. Even if we lose, we win.

As such, we don't have to go for peace deals. In fact if we do, the team that would most benefit from such a peace deal is yours, since it grants you a shot at defeating PAL, while our chances at that are forgone anyway. There needs to be something in this for my team, something that is so valuable that it would make us decide that we would better stay in this game and fight alongside RB instead of against RB. Is that unfair to you? Perhaps it is, but such is your dilemma right now. In chess, you sometimes have to sacrifice a piece, sometimes even the queen, to win the game. That's what this situation is like. The question is whether you are prepared to make that move.

I know that would we form a three-team alliance, together we would be very strong, unbeatable perhaps, but the partner in the alliance which would win the game would be your team. My team would serve as support for that. An intact Templar partner has much more to offer you than a stale-mate or a defeated Templar team with cities in ruins. The question is how much and what are you prepared to give up for that? Likely you want something in return and I think there is still a lot the Templars can give RB in an alliance.

Consider all those things. But be careful. While it may not seem like that, I am reaching out, perhaps more than I have ever done. I can do that only once. Also, I can foresee that with the current developments, in the near future, truly unrepairable damage will have been done to the relationships between our teams. There are hard feelings on both sides now, at the current pace they will quickly increase. Now we have a chance to get past that. So do not wait to take your decision. Would you need more time, I advise whoever is making the military moves in your team to observe some constraint to the military actions, particularly around Jericho. As I said above, tit-for-tat.


Once again, our immediate reaction was: "Wait... say what?!" We made a specific offer to Aidun, and we had hoped to get some feedback on it. Not this massive block of text which never even mentioned our peace offer. The main thing that this message achieved was to confuse our team as to what exactly he was talking about or looking for, with all this talk of "gifts" and "sacrificing queens" and whatnot. (Unfortunately, Templar diplomacy with Aidun always seemed to go like this. We could not understand why Aidun would not simply state in plain terms what he wanted, and respond to our own initiatives the same way.)

Ruff sent back a quick message asking Aidun what exactly the Templars meant by using the term "win", and received back this... explanation (?)

Aidun to Realms Beyond:
To win the game is the only formal way of winning, but to achieve something that was thought unachievable, even if it is not winning the game, is a victory, if a minor victory. For some athletes it is a victory to be among the top 10 of the world, while for others it is a shame to be less than fourth. Winning is therefore relative.

I cannot exactly say how different members of my team subjectively have defined their terms of what is a 'win' and what is a loss. To be defeated and kicked out of the game is a loss. To be an irrelevant player, whose actions do not matter is a loss as well, even if it can still get you in the game. Still, I would say that to win through peace is to get something valuable that is unachievable or extremely costly to achieve through war.

I hope that helps. Feel free to ask for more clarification if you need to.

To which our response was essentially, "No, not really." Ruff even posted, "I wonder what he would say if I asked him what 2+2 equals..."

By now we were getting pretty sick of Aidun, but Ruff decided to try one more time for clarity:

Realms Beyond to Aidun:
Sir Aidun,

We feel you are playing a game with us. You say that you don't want to make a demand from us. However, you claim you will not relay any proposal to the templars unless it is sufficiently amazing for them (queen-sacrifice quality). We feel you are just playing us to see what kind of offer we can make.

We would like you simply to ask your team exactly what you want in a peace deal. We'll consider whatever they say. We know you didn't have authority to make binding agreements in your first two messages. But you do have access to your team's board, so please ask them what they want.

We received back the most bizarre message yet - which is saying something in this sequence of exchanges!

Aidun to Realms Beyond:
Hi Ruff,

My apologies for not responding any sooner. I wanted to send you a reply last sunday, but Apolyton didn't allow me and then my study and work-related things interfered. Once more, a letter in two parts.

You wrote that you feel that I am playing a game with you to see what offer you can make to my team. I must admit that I am indeed playing a game with you, although not the game you seem to suspect me of. The game I'm trying to play is a diplomacy sub-game of this demogame our teams participate in. It has its own rules and mechanics which have no relationship to the rules of the demogame itself. The rules of the diplomacy sub-game are, however, founded on interests that rise from actions and situations in the demogame itself. I'll try to explain here.

When I wrote my previous letters I was concerned that you would misunderstand, but it is difficult to anticipate on that. However, understand this very well: this diplomacy sub-game I cannot play on my own, I need you to play it with me. As they say: it takes two to tango. That implies that in a way I am dependent on you: as high as my demands may be, they can be only so high as what you are prepared to pay. I cannot overcharge you for that would make you slam the door in my face and we would both be worse off than if we kept talking. That is why I share this with you - so that you do not completely mistrust me and at least keep the door a little bit opened so that we may talk. In that respect I should thank you that you leave me room to explain despite your or your team's opposition.

In my past two letters I have tried to explain that our different positions in the game created different benefits and costs, different advantages and disadvantages and different ambitions. These different benefits, advantages and ambitions lead our respective teams to different rational strategies.

Would I have been on your team, I would be doing everything I can to win the demogame. The war with the Templars and Imperio would be an obstacle to the fulfilment of that ambition and so I would want it to be solved. To that end I would, paradoxically, be dependent on those other teams. Even though my team would be stronger than those other two teams independently or even stronger than their accumulated power, I would still be dependent.

The Templars and on the other hand are in no position to have a shot at winning the game and have accordingly different ambitions. Compared to RB, the Templars are relatively weak, however, because RB is dependent on both the Templars and Imperio, paradoxically, the Templars are in a strong negotiating position. Even though they are relatively weak, they can make high demands from your team.

The problem with that is that to make such a demand would likely not go down well with your team. You say that you guys are willing to consider every proposal, but I doubt you would be happy to see the suggestions I have seen and which I will keep for myself now. Suppose, however, purely hypothetically, that the Templars would ask you to gift a city or for instance the exclusive control over a resource, to mention two random very expensive potential demands. If I were on your team, those are not the kind of demands I would like to see, especially not from a relatively weak team like the Templars with which 'my team' would be at war! It is afterall a kind of blackmail.

So we have this diplomacy sub-game in which we can arrange a mutually much more profitable outcome than the current war presents for both teams, but the costs one of us has to make to get there are so high, that this keeps us both from achieving that outcome - some kind of a Prisoners' Dilemma.

One possible solution would be that the Templars simply do not make their demand, however, that ignores the Templar ambition and interests. As I said, the Templars need to be convinced to adopt a different strategy and need incentives for that, which are presently absent.

My hope was to find a different way out: to let you guys make the offer without the Templars making a demand. However for that to work, you guys would need to know what the Templars would want. For that purpose I explained the Templars' security dilemma, to make you understand what the Templars would want. I hoped that you would put yourself in the Templar position and imagine what you would ask from your team if you were the Templars. Then, being aware of this hypothetical Templar demand, you could determine to which extent your team would be prepared to realise that.

As such, I am not playing a game as would I be a customer walking through a farmer's market to see which farmer would offer the lowest price for his foodstuffs. This is a genuine attempt to reach a deal that is in the future profitable to both your team and mine.

I would also like to talk with you about how we can find a solution to your team's concern about Imperio's power and how this led your team into an armsrace in an attempt to deter Imperio. The reason is that I know from the Templars that they won't agree to any solution, unless Imperio is onboard, because they understandably don't want to betray their ally.

Perhaps, as hint, I could suggest that to use the Templars as buffer between your team and Imperio, would make both teams dependent on the Templars in a way, while the Templars would be dependent on both teams for military protection and technological innovation. I have an idea of how to realize that, but I don't want to make demands.

Regarding a solution for the security delemma you have with Imperio, I am open for all ideas.

Meanwhile, I'll talk to Imperio, to exchange some ideas and see with what they would be willing to agree.


Aidun's message was so ridiculous, I wasn't even sure how to respond to it. The fact that he was apparently completely serious makes it all the more hilarious.

Keep in mind that I work in academia in real life. That means I deal with a lot of theory nonsense that others like to throw around, and I've gotten pretty used to sniffing out Grade-A bull a mile away. And needless to say, this message from Aidun stunk to high heaven. Aidun obviously wanted us to make some sort of peace offer to the Templars, yet he was unwilling to tell us what terms his team wanted, and instead asked us to guess on our own what they wanted. All this talk about the "diplomacy sub-game of this demogame" appeared to be little more than Aidun jerking us around for his own amusement. About the only worthwhile information in there was that the Templars believed that they could play the role of kingmaker, and were threatening to throw the game to PAL if we refused to do what they wanted. Just lovely. Still, I don't know why Aidun wouldn't just come out and say that, instead of wasting time with all this hidden message garbage. And the Templars still had never officially responded to our initial peace offer!

A gallon of "game theory" and a thimbleful of common sense, that was Aidun in this Demogame...

I am ashamed to admit that there were a few voices within our forum even considering the notion of surrendering cities in exchange for peace. (I was not one of them!) But sooooo eloquently summed up why this was ultimately a pointless series of negotiations if we were actually trying to win the game:

It's not the fact that I'd rather lose the game than lose the city. If I had the option presented to me of (a) lose a city, win the game or (b) keep our cities, lose the game then obviously I'd go for (a). However, I think there is such a negligible chance that giving up a city will help us win the game that I think we should state that to the templars to save time in negotiation.

The fact of the matter was that we no longer really wanted an alliance with the Templars. They had proven themselves to be utterly incompetent at this game, with their horrible expansion, outdated military forces, inept worker/tile management, and pitifully weak economy. The Templars appeared unwilling to serve as the junior partner in an alliance at this stage, insisting that we be "leveled down" to their status, when their own poor play had put them in that position. Obviously we were not going to accept those kind of terms - no team would! No one in their right mind would! It was as though the Templars were accusing us of playing unfairly simply because we happened to be good at Civilization 4, as a way of masking their own poor skills at the same game...

This was an attempt to salvage the situation:

Realms Beyond to Aidun:
Sir Aidun,

You didn't spell it out exactly, but we think we have worked out what templars are after: Cape Town. We will not give this or any other city up to either you or Imperio. This is a firm statement, so please get the idea out of your minds. Other concessions are on the table, such as resources, cooperation agreements and techs, but you cannot have any of our cities out of principle. While your team was attempting to build wonders and founding religions, we were building settlers and workers. One member of our team has likened you to Italy arriving in the new world in the 19th century and demanding an equal share of the continent. Remember that your team declared war on us and pillaged our territory - in an area that Templars had previously told us we were free to settle - and thus we will not trade away in diplomacy what we have defended with force of arms.

We will listen to any offers (honestly we will, just state them no matter how silly you think they are) as long as they do not involve giving cities away. If there are no circumstances in which you will agree peace without gaining a city, then our negotiations may be at an end.

But Aidun still wasn't interested in a white peace, and continued to want to go down the kingmaker path:

Aidun to Realms Beyond:
Hi Ruff,

I hope my last letter by PM did arrive. In any case, while I would love to take the time for these peace negotiations, other players in the game have come knocking on our door as well.

This time PAL is seeking to court my team. We both know that it is in PAL's interest to do so, in order to keep your team at a distance through the war.

But like the leader of a random small country in the real world doesn't generally turn down an offer from the President of the United States of America, so my team finds it hard to say 'No' to a friendly PAL, when the Templars as an individual team can benefit from it. In fact in this time of war, the team can use any help that is being offered.

Still, the attitude in the team is that they want to give peace a chance if not quite for free, as I explained before, but then we should make haste with peace deals, because we can't first say 'Yes' to PAL and a day later turn our back on PAL. Your first proposal, which you sent by e-mail last week was not deemed sufficient.

That said, a mistaken post by Zeviz on our wall, which Hercules informed me about, but which I haven't been able to read, about an all-island alliance was well-received.

I don't want to give the impression that I am trying to see what I can get, but other members are more of a mind 'grab whatever help we can get' and given the war situation that seems quite understandable.

The Templars are unsure which way to go, which side to choose, and as much as I have expressed my faith in our negotations, I stand currently rather empty-handed and with little more than messages of good intentions from RB to convince my team. I give this hint to you that they might need some persuasion from your team, a response to this move from PAL. A bold move perhaps. That is a difficult situation for you, which even real world foreign-policy makers like in the State Department would have difficulty with, but try to make a decision om that shortly.

Best, Aidun.

sunrise correctly pointed out how the Templar logic had ceased to make any sense:

What the f?

Their entire argument is that they have to war against us to hold the leaders down. And then they go and consider allying with the FIRST PLACE TEAM?!?!

It was rapidly becoming clear that the Templars were simply trying to screw us over as much as possible. If they actually believed that we were going to hand over cities to them, when they had attacked us and failed miserably, they were sadly mistaken. Somehow the Templars in general, and Aidun in particular, had developed a deep and abiding hatred of our team, for reasons I still don't understand. We never attacked them! They shot down all our technology and resource trades! And then when they attacked us, and we defended ourselves, they attempted to throw the game to PAL to spite us! Honestly Templars, if you're reading this, what did we ever do to make you hate us so much???

That was about it in terms of meaningful Templar diplomacy. We stopped responding to Aidun's messages, as their peace demands were utterly ludicrous and not something we would ever agree to. We went ahead and attacked Jericho, capturing it as detailed in the previous page. Yet there were a few final exchanges of messages to follow our taking of the Templar city:

Templars to Realms Beyond:
RB team,

I quote from our Ambassador Aidun's report to us.

" I have also urged them to observe 'some restraints' as to their military activities, especially around Jericho. RB apparently interpreted that as 'no pillaging'.'......

.....Things seem to work out more or less now, with an informal kind of a cease-fire as long as we talk".

It was our team's understanding that a 'de-facto' cease fire was in place during negotiations, which is why our stack on the border near Pink Dot stayed in situ. However RB did not abide by that informal arrangement and instead continued to attack us.

The de-facto 'cease fire' was also part of the reason we didn't argue to the reloading of the RB error with the Horse Archer.

So from our perspective, not only has RB been selfish about land border proposals but also dishonest about 'peace making': RB was simply land grabbing and buying time.

Our main intention at the outset on this island was to achieve an equitable split of the island and its resources, long argued for by Sir Aidun on our behalf.

Indeed Sir Aidun went out of his way as to NOT demand but to ask you what you thought might resolve the situation.

We recognised that a war between us 3 would hand the game to PaL. We thought you would grasp that fact and offer a reasonable settlement, that would allow us Templars and indeed Imperio, hope for the future.

You have not grasped that opportunity. So yes you may win the battle against us on this island but you will lose the game.

Hercules for the Templars.

We were all absolutely furious at this message. Go ahead and look at the correspondences posted above. In no way did we EVER suggest anything along the lines of a cease-fire. I don't know what the hell Aidun was telling the rest of his team, but it sounds as though he was simply lying to make us look bad. This was completely ridiculous, and it prompted an immediate angry response from our team:

Good grief the arrogance of it. They invent a de-facto Cease Fire in their heads and are angry that we didn't stick to it!?

The problem with his assertion that they were trying "to achieve an equitable split of the island and its resources" is that apart from Jericho they've made no attempt to expand in our direction, and have instead sat back in their under-improved land with their thumbs up their @rses!

Lets just tell them they are deluded idiots and wipe them off the board ... now where did Sooooo put those taunting pictures?

Ruff to Aidun:

This is a private message from me to you. Not from Team RB to Templar.

We just got an email from Herc saying that they thought we had a cease fire. What a load of rubbish. Go back and read all of our messages - 'cease fire' was never mentioned anywhere, by anyone. The last communication two weeks ago (2 weeks!) was us asking you to propose a peace deal.

Simply put, you should have actually read our messages and acted on them.


And the Templars tried to make us look like the bad guys in the General Forum during this incident, for doing exactly what Dreylin said: making up an agreement in their heads and then becoming angry when we didn't stick to it. What a load of bull. By this point, everyone on the Realms Beyond team was thoroughly convinced that the world would be a better place with no Templars in it, and good riddance. That would become the focal point of our group strategy moving forward.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So before we move on, let me try and work out why the Templars had such a strange world-view, and why they became so antagonistic towards Realms Beyond despite our lack of military aggression and desire for trading connections. Now I would like to get this explanation from the Templars themselves, but they have refused to answer any and all questions about their performance. They also have refused to open their team forum to perusal - the only team out of the six to refuse, in a display of poor sportsmanship - and so I am forced to speculate as to their true motives. Fortunately we can view the complete Templar/Imperio diplomatic correspondences in the Imperio forum, which does an excellent job of shedding light on how and why the Templars acted the way they did towards Realms Beyond.

For the record, if anyone from Templars wants to type up their own perspective on what happened, I'll be happy to host it here in order to provide their side of the story. But given the way they've acted since the game came to a close, I rather doubt that we're going to see that happen...

First of all, the Templars started the game with a series of incorrect assumptions. Based on their diplomatic messages to ourselves and Imperio, it became clear that their team envisioned this Demogame as being a race to colonize the "New World" continent on the Terra map. For the Templars, the team that would win the game would be the one who could reach the New World first and settle as much of it as possible. In order to reach the New World, the teams on each starting island would want to work together to reach Astronomy tech as quickly as possible, so that they could secure as much colonization territory for themselves. Thus the Templars placed a great deal of focus on securing these various "three-way agreements" between Realms Beyond, Templars, and Imperio. Everything was about getting to the New World ASAP, before the other continent did. And they assumed that the other teams would share this mentality too.

Of course this was a completely false worldview from the beginning. The Terra map script was an exceedingly poor choice for a Demogame, and the teams that performed the strongest in this game (Realms Beyond and PAL) were the ones who knew very well from the start that the New World would be a complete nonfactor. In a Single Player game against the AI, you can mess around with the New World and have fun roleplaying it. In a Multiplayer game, any team who invests tons of resources into building an overseas colonization force is simply going to get wiped out by those who remain in the Old World. Furthermore, with Vassal States turned on and "colonization" maintenance costs in play, it wasn't even economically efficient to settle over in the New World. Building cities over there wasn't even smart in the first place!

Furthermore, Templars said that they had extensive Demogame experience, so they should have realized that three teams working together in harmony on the same continent was an impossibly utopian and idealistic dream. In a multi-continent game, the winner is always the team that wipes out the others on its island first and rides that position to victory later. Always. I have seen this play out over and over again, in Civ4, Civ3, and even in non-Civ games, and the dynamics are always the same. First to wipe everyone else out and control their continent wins. Since a three-way split of our continent was never going to be perfectly equitable, someone was going to get the loser's share of the spoils and be unhappy about it. Surprise, surprise - that turned out to be the Templars. And sure enough, they went to war to try and rectify their situation later on. Thus their OWN IN-GAME ACTIONS didn't mesh with their starting assumptions about the game. Yet they seemed to blame Realms Beyond for reality not living up to their initial vision, rather than realizing that the starting assumptions had been inherently flawed...

Now Templar grievances with Realms Beyond appear to have centered around two points:

1) Realms Beyond expanded too quickly, and claimed too much of the land on the starting continent.
2) Realms Beyond was "opportunistic", and traded with all of the teams instead of trading exclusively with the Templars.

Let's start with the first point about expansion. Our team makes no bones about the fact that we expanded aggressively at the start of this game. We took a leader with the Creative trait, invested heavily in workers and settlers, and pushed our borders towards the other teams on our island. I can see why this would irritate the other teams like the Templars and Imperio. Yet at the same time, I think it's important to ask the question... "so what?" Expansion is the name of the game in Civilization. Either you expand or you die. When teams start close to one another, there's going to be contention for land and resources. That's just the way the game works. You can't get too terribly worked up about it; it would be like complaining when someone built houses and hotels in Monopoly! ("I have to pay so much more money with the hotel there... that's not fair!")

The fact of the matter was simply that Realms Beyond did a much better job of expanding than the Templars, and they seemed to hold this against us. As I said, we invested heavily in a growth-oriented start, and based our entire strategy around that. The Templars decided to invest in religion out of the gate, and they expanded very slowly as a result. That was a tradeoff that both teams chose to make; the Templars could hardly complain if they waited 50 turns to build their first settler, and then found that much of the prime land was already taken! You simply can't do everything at once in this game. Notice that Realms Beyond made no move for an early religion, and we had to live with virtually no religion for about 3/4 of the game's length. We really could have used the happiness from a religion at one point too. Yet that was the tradeoff we had made to grab some of the disputed spots we wanted, and we accepted that. No one saw our team complaining about our lack of a religious Holy City, or insisting that Templars or Imperio *GIVE* us one of their Holy Cities to "balance things out." But that was exactly what the Templars kept doing with us: not investing in expansion and then complaining when we ended up with more territory and more cities! Well duuuuhhhh! OF COURSE we had more cities and more territory! We worked really hard to get it too...

It often felt as though the Templars were criticizing us for playing the game well, like it was somehow our fault here that we knew all the little tricks of the trade to get maximum value out of what we had. Despite the fact that Imperio, PAL, and everyone else was also racing for control of the land, the Templars chose to blame us simply for being the most successful at it. I don't think this was particularly fair.

Their second complaint, one that came through their diplomatic messages again and again, was the notion that Realms Beyond was too "opportunistic." That is, the Templars were unhappy that Realms Beyond was not willing to commit to a long-term exclusive alliance with their team and instead wanted to trade technology, resources, etc. with all of the other teams. I'm not making this up either, as the Templar emails to Imperio make it quite clear that they were very angry about Realms Beyond trading with PAL and not their team. First of all, I'll start by saying that this was never something that the Templars had the right to dictate over us in the first place. All of the teams in this game were theoretical sovereign entities, with the ability to contract with whomever else they pleased. (And yet the Templars constantly insisted on trying to tell us what we could and couldn't do, not just in terms of tech trading but with our domestic decisions too!) We were certainly not obligated to trade exclusively with the Templars just because we met them first. I don't know what they were thinking on that score - this probably was tied in with their erroneous assumption that our continent would be one big lovefest en route to the New World - but I've never seen that in other Demogames. The Templars practically acted like a scorned lover when we made it clear we were willing to trade with anyone and everyone.

Secondly, it was their own poor scouting and lack of interest in the other continent that denied Templars the same opportunity to act as Realms Beyond did. In the extreme early game, the Templars had the chance to meet PAL, and they chose not to make contact. We thought that was foolish, moved ahead and contacted PAL, negotiated a deal for Iron Working and Alphabet techs, then the Templars got angry that we traded with PAL? When they themselves didn't even try to meet the other team?! Someone please tell me how that is in any way fair towards us. Perhaps if the Templars had shown a little more initiative (did they contact Rabbits at all, ever?) they might have had the same opportunities we did. But it hardly seems fair to not aggressively push contacts, then attack another team who did push for them and received benefits in return.

Thirdly, we would like to point out that we made innumerable attempts to engage the Templars in trade of one kind or another, which were almost entirely shot down on their end. I lost track of how many different times we offered various tech deals that they rejected, nearly all of which were advantageous to their side in terms of beakers. Over and over again, always the same result: send offer, two weeks passing with no diplomatic response, we chase up Templars, they reject the previous offer. The only two trades that actually went through were an early Sailing/Polytheism exchange (which I believe was actually a mistake that the Templars wanted to reject!) and a lopsided Metal Casting deal that the Templars only accepted to try and hide the fact that they had a military alliance with Imperio against our team. That was it, out of at least a dozen different offers we made throughout the game. We also stated on at least three occasions that we were willing to trade resources, or even gift wines/silks outright to the Templars, as a sign of positive relations. These were all rejected too, which was pure lunacy as the Templars had ZERO happiness resources and desperately needed them. We also had at least three different Non-Aggression Pacts (NAPs) shot down by the Templars at various times, and the only one that they accepted was again a move intended to mask their hostile intentions. So who exactly was the intransigent side in this relationship again?!?

Fourth and finally, the Templars seemed angry that we would not commit to an exclusive technology and military alliance with them in the early game. We rejected this offer because when it was made (around T70), we already had technology deals lined up with PAL and had no desire to cut off our flexibility by tying our fate to that of another team's so early in the game. But this was just a prudent move, it didn't mean that we hated the Templars or had any aggressive desires against them. We just didn't want to throw in our lot with that of another team in the opening stages of the game. It would be like insisting on a marriage proposal on the third date! However, as best I can tell the Templars were so angry about this rejection that they started working on a military alliance with Imperio to destroy our team immediately thereafter. Like - wow. Talk about overreaction! (Then again, judging by how Templars have handled the post-game situation, I guess I'm not all that surprised.) Either team up with us from the beginning, or we will spend the rest of the game doing everything possible to kill you? That's a little crazy... I used the analogy of Templars acting like a "spurned lover" before, and I think it's fairly accurate here.

In the end, it was definitely a good thing that Realms Beyond didn't sign an exclusive alliance with the Templars. Our fear was that their team was falling behind both in expansion and in terms of their economy, and therefore would be little more than a burden later on. This largely proved accurate. What baffled me then, and still does now, is why the Templars were so happy to cuddle up with PAL. Their team was just as expansion-driven as Realms Beyond, and surely just as "opportunistic" as they traded with everyone while playing the role of the middleman. And I'm sure that there were probably ten times more emails sent by our team trying to talk things over with Templars than the PAL ladder guys, not known for their communicative skills... Templars seem pretty hypocritical on this score.

So we come back to the original question again: why was there this deepset, irrational hatred by Templars towards Realms Beyond? I can identify the symptoms, but I guess we'll never know all of the answers. sooooo made a comment in our forums that summed things up really well:

I have a strange feeling that they do believe they are being genuine. They have convinced themselves of things that are simply untrue.

Over time, the Templars warped their worldview in such a way that our team appeared to be evil, power-hungry, scheming manipulators who could not be trusted. Somehow, they literally convinced themselves that we were lying to them with every new message, reading subtext and deeper meaning where none exist. (Aidun probably had a lot to do with this.) As time passed and their worldview became more and more out of sync with what was actually taking place in the Demogame, the Templars became more and more angry at Realms Beyond, like a Marxist becoming infuriated at capitalism not collapsing under its own contradictions, to the point where they were willing to vassal themselves to PAL simply to spite our team. Ultimately, the paranoia built up by the Templars became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as their war declaration against our team resulted in their own defeat and destruction. It seems the universe is not without its just desserts...

Enough ruminating through all this text! Let's get back to the story.