Given our dominant status when the game concluded, Speaker and I were the official winners of Pitboss #2. While I was glad that we came out as the victors, I hated the way that the game ended. In retrospect, I wish that we had all accepted Nakor's proposal to end the game a couple turns earlier. Sigh.
Let's conclude by first looking at the status of the five surviving civilizations at the end of the game:Sullla:
I'll wrap things up with some pictures from the final turn. sunrise sent me the ending savefile and admin password, so here's a last look at how each team was faring.
We honestly did not know just how badly Holy Rome had been hurting from the war. I mean, we knew that we were damaging them economically, but until the game ended I had no idea that their research had been slowed to a complete crawl. Dantski's Statue of Zeus wonder turned out to be more effective than I anticipated; I guess it wasn't a waste to build it after all. This game was indeed pretty much over, as we had a commanding lead in essentially every category. Even if all of the other teams attacked us together, I don't think we would have lost at this point.
Looking over the course of the whole game, here are my thoughts on the other team, proceeding in reverse order:
Mortius (Zulu): Not a whole lot to say here, unfortunately. I'm sorry you had the misfortune to be eliminated so quickly. Bad luck, pure and simple.
regoarrarr, sunrise, and darrelljs (Byzantium): We thought that you would be our big competition in this game. Didn't quite happen how we planned out though! Byzantium actually had a pretty good game plan, but unfortunately it was all thrown out the window due to the aggressive city plant against the Ottomans. Obviously that was a terrible mistake in retrospect which ended up costing Byzantium the game. Nevertheless, their team nearly survived that initial attack, and probably would have done so if regoarrarr hadn't moved some of the warrior defenders out of Paris right before the attack took place. If they had just researched Archery tech prior to planting that city, a single archer would have been enough to hold that city against the Ottoman chariots. That would have resulted in a wildly different game, with no vacant space between Greece and the Ottomans, and very likely no large alliance attack forming against India. It's an interesting counterfactual to consider. Too bad this team wasn't able to sneak a settler off to the outer islands and survive as Korea did - maybe that would have been possible if Byzantium hadn't insisted on finishing the Oracle in their capital! Better luck next time.
Jowy (Greece): Jowy caught a tough assignment in being paired between our India and the Byzantium team on the Donut. He complained quite a bit about lacking copper at the starting position, and while I do think that was an oversight, it didn't make much of a difference because we made no aggressive moves in the early game and Byzantium was caught up in their own problems. Two irons and horses nearby meant that strategic resources weren't a major factor. Overall, I think Jowy did a great job on the diplomatic side of things. It was clear that he focused really heavily on conversations with the other players; I think 80-90% of the posts in his spoiler thread involved diplomacy in some way! The downside is that there was very little discussion on the actual Civ side of things, as in little mention of things like tech goals, where and why to found cities, build orders in cities, etc. That was probably what ultimately dragged down Greece in this game, since I know that Jowy had a lot less practice with the actual gameplay mechanics than Speaker and I did. We have some posts in our thread analyzing some of this, where a couple of mistakes were made along the way.
The decision to attack India was a very bold gamble, with high risk and high reward involved. I don't think it was a terrible decision, just one that carried grave risks if it would fail to succeed. Slaving out so many phalanxes in the early game, and then marching them around (and ultimately losing them) in enemy territory put Jowy too far behind the rest of the other teams economically. Some tactical mistakes in positioning cost Jowy half his territory in the first war, and put him into an unwinnable position for the future. I'm extremely glad that Jowy took us up on our peace offer, rather than fighting it out to the death during the first war. He could have done some major damage at that time with his stack of Praetorians. By the time of the second war, Jowy's allies had all gone off to fight other targers, and he just had no chance. I wish Jowy had put up more of a struggle at the end, but hopefully this was a learning experience for him.
One other thing which was controversial at the time: Jowy's decision not to send iron to Byzantium to save them. I still think it would have been better for Greece to save this team, and I'm not saying that from the perspective of "it would have been better for India". The key to winning one of these games, if you've got a neighbor on both sides, is to get a rock-solid alliance with one of those teams, then go conquer in the other direction. My team failed at that, miserably, in the early game... and you all saw what happened when we finally did get such an alliance with Dantski later. (Just conquer around the circle in clockwise fashion.) Jowy could have saved Byzantium - with minimum effort - securing himself a very strong alliance to his east, while also slowing down an otherwise runaway Ottoman team. Now, you have to contrast that against having a runaway friendly Ottoman team as Greece's neighbor, which is the other option. I still say that's a worse option for Greece, because you're counting on a team whose core cities are *VERY* far away to save you if you come under attack. In the end, athlete did basically nothing to help save Jowy when the time came. Even more simpler than that, if I'm forming a long alliance, I want to be the strong partner in the alliance, not the weaker one. I want someone who's not a threat to win the game to be the one helping me out (see: Dantski in the lategame). I'd rather have a partner like that than a runaway Ottoman team who already had lied to and attacked their neighbor. Plus, it's just good to have your neighbors fighting each other and weakening themselves. Anyway, that's the way I would have played things, feel free to disagree.
Whosit (Rome): Whosit inherited his civ early on from LiPing, and spent most of the game locked into a long back and forth struggle with Korea, which was located only a scant distance away to the west. I thought that Whosit waited much too long to attack Korea initially; that war started around Turn 85, and with a determined rush to Iron Working, that attack could have come much sooner. Given the situation Rome was in, you should probably build one settler (to claim iron if you don't have it) and then do nothing but chop and slave Praetorians once you have Iron Working. A determined rush can have 8-10 Praetorians by Turn 65 or so. With more speed, Whosit could have eliminated Korea before they were able to escape to the offshore island (where they grabbed their only copper resource), which would have changed the game around completely.
Many people claimed at the time that Whosit lost nothing by joining in the attack on India, but nothing could be further from the truth. Whosit signed peace with Korea to go attack our team, giving up on his best chance to eliminate his neighbor, in what was possibly the biggest mistake of the whole game. I don't think it would have been too difficult to destroy Broker and plako at that time, if Whosit had simply kept fighting. Then Whosit had to invest 200 shields into four galleys to transport all those units, plus pay the maintenance costs of moving all those units outside his territory for dozens of turns on end, and so on. None of that was worth it to try and hamstring a team on the other side of the world. With Korea crippled and Zulus eliminated, Whosit should have been able to dominate this game through careful expansion into all that open territory. Instead, Whosit crashed his economy through over-warring and failed to capitalize on his strong position. Whosit was a great teammate, *TOO* good of a teammate, I would say, doing everything possible to help out his allies. But no one else did much to help Whosit, best symbolized by Holy Rome doing nothing to prevent Korea from conquering their neighbor. The attack on Inca was, clearly, another terrible mistake when seen in retrospect. Whosit's empire collapsed for the same reasons as the real Roman Empire, too much warring while the economy slowly drained away through conflicts of attrition. Whosit, your antics were extremely entertaining (even if they were usually opposed to my team!) and it was great having you around for this game.
athlete and kalin (Ottomans): Our primary competition for much of the game. This team deserves a ton of credit for recognizing the threat posed by Byzantium and acting on it immediately; this was pretty much what Jowy's game would have looked like if he had succeeded. High risk, high reward - and it worked. The actual attack against Paris was pretty fortunate to succeed, and four chariots really should not have been enough. More aggressive chopping of chariots would have been helpful there. Nevertheless, the strike did indeed work, and that was one of the key moments of this game.
As far as attacking India goes, I think it was a pretty sound move on athlete and kalin's part, not least because most of the units fighting and dying weren't theirs! Nevertheless, there was indeed a cost associated with it, as the Ottomans had to rebuild all those units lost, and some of their cities were pillaged by barbarians due to lack of defenders. (It wasn't quite the slam-dunk that many of the lurkers seemed to believe.) But the attack unquestionably put the Ottomans into a leading position in this game, plus reaped lots of diplomatic benefits, making it worthwhile for this team. Not so much for Whosit though! Reading through the thread and trying to get the "feel" of the whole thing, I believe there was too much focus on the attack from this team. As soon as Byzantium planted their forward city, the whole discussion turned to "attack attack attack!" OK, fairly so, but then even before Byzantium was gone, the main subject of discussion turned to attacking India. Then while that war was going on, half the emails with Whosit had the subject of attacking Inca once the current war was done. Internal development of the Ottoman civ seemed to get lost in the shuffle somewhere along the way... I could be wrong, that's just the impression I had from reading. After the early game, there wasn't much talk about what the Ottoman cities were researching or building. All diplomacy and the current/next war taking place.
The key mistake for this team was the attack on slaze, which was then repeated a dozen turns later with the second round. That first attack allowed our India to wipe out Greece while the Ottoman armies were off fighting and dying deep within Incan territory. The second attack permanently embittered slaze as an enemy, when the Ottomans desperately needed Inca as an ally to help them fight off India. It simply wasn't a good play from a macro standpoint, engaging in a bitter war of attrition against one of the few powers able to stop the runaway civilization. I thought the Ottoman/Inca war was the turning point of the game, taking India from a favorable position into a winning one. As for the final war of conquest... well, it was a poor effort, and we'll just leave it at that. If we had reversed positions, Speaker and I could have made the invasion a living hell, even if we probably couldn't have stopped it altogether. Don't give up so quickly in the future!
Dantski (Romali): The first of the players on this list to survive until the endgame, so congratulations Dantski! We had initially sounded out Dantski as our preferred ally after meeting him and Jowy, largely due to his leader traits being weaker than Jowy's Expansive/Financial combination. However, Dantski's lack of email contact and generally cold shoulder caused us to turn our efforts to Jowy instead, although of course we failed badly there as well. The general lack of diplomacy and few email messages from Dantski was one of his biggest weaknesses in this game, I thought. When Dantski made the decision to try and attack us, it was another high risk/high reward gamble that simply didn't pan out. I said at the time that Dantski's decision to attack was foolish, and I stand by the same comments in retrospect. Plowing all of your production for two dozen turns into a huge army of axemen just doesn't work very well in a No Tech Trading game. Even if my team had been eliminated, Dantski would never have caught up to the tech leaders (and probably would have been the odd man out in a future war, since Jowy/athlete/Whosit/Nakor were all pretty tight with one another).
As for the decision to switch sides, it was great for my team but almost certainly the wrong move overall. Once you commit to a huge gamble attack like that, you have to go through with it to the finish. In one stroke, Dantski created four powerful enemies and received only lukewarm support back from our team. We assumed that he had to strike at Holy Rome after changing sides, but instead Dantski loaned some of his units to India and generally sat back on the defensive. Because Holy Rome was teching faster than he was, Dantski's decision to postpone the attack was a huge mistake. Building all those axes and then never getting anything out of them was a deathblow to Dantski's chances to become a major power. By the end of the game, Holy Rome was so far ahead that Dantski had no choice but to be our pseudo-vassal. It was his only chance to survive. If Dantski had ever turned on us, we would have captured all his cities away, and we both knew it. Even at the end of the game, we never really trusted Dantski much at all. It was an alliance of convenience on both sides. That's a shame, but I doubt anyone in the game would have much affection or trust for a team that switched sides in such dramatic fashion earlier. Oh well. Thanks for your help in the war against Holy Rome, Dantski!
slaze (Inca): The early leadership of Inca was a revolving door mess, only solved when slaze took over on a permanent basis about 100 turns into the game. It's really a shame that slaze wasn't able to play from the start, as I think he would have done a much better job than the disappearing IKZ group. Inca really had a fantastic position in this game during the early going: the Ottomans were off fighting Byzantium and then India, Mortius of Zulu was eliminated on the other side, and Rome was busy with Korea. There was virtually no competition at all for land, and the Incan leadership could sit back and build in a perfectly non-threatening environment. For whatever reason, this potential was largely wasted until slaze took over, when he initiated a strong program of expansion. slaze did an amazing job of expanding, but he imitated Dantski in doing little diplomatically, and had much too small of an army. That made Inca a target, and helped cause the attack from Ottomans and Rome.
slaze's defending was inspiring, possibly even better than what Speaker and I did when we were invaded. Stopping the first invasion was impressive enough, but the second attack (with slaze's own gifted army!) was just insane. slaze managed to survive, but at the cost of destroying his economy and knocking him out of competition to win the game. That wasn't really his fault, as athlete and Whosit seemed determined to drag down slaze into defeat along with their own civs. At the end of the day, slaze was still standing and they were both eliminated, so I think it's pretty clear who was the superior player! I was disappointed about the planned betrayal of India, however I do understand the context in which it took place (although I still don't approve). Overall, I think slaze played a really strong game, especially having to inherit a team halfway through the game. Inca outsurvived all of its neighbors, and delivered a brutal beating to both Ottomans and Rome (despite being behind in technology). I wish there had been better relations with my team, but I guess our position as the favorite made it difficult. Congrats on a great game, slaze.
Broker and plako (Korea): The team that played possibly the best game of all in Pitboss #2. Seriously, I'm not at all sure that we would have been able to survive if our starting positions had been switched. Korea started only about seven tiles away from Aggressive Rome - an Aggressive Rome which had moved five tiles towards them, and one which had iron inside the capital's new radius. Korea had no easy access to copper or iron, meaning they couldn't even train axemen until they settled an offshore island city, by which point in time there were already Praetorians running around in bunches. Believe me, we did not envy this team their brutal starting position!
Korea was shellacked in their initial war against Rome, losing one of their cities without killing a single unit. However, to their credit they were able to negotiate a peace treaty with Whosit, and were not too proud to give up another core city in order to preserve their territorial existence. From that point, Korea took to the islands and made use of them far better than any other team in the game. Korea was reduced to just their capital on the mainland for much of the game, and yet they still managed to make themselves a major player. Building the Great Lighthouse was the key move that turned their game around - what a tremendous play! That got them back in business and kept them relevant in technology. They also did a magnificent job playing the diplomacy game, given that their territory was literally surrounded on all sides by potential enemies: Rome and Holy Rome their neighbors on land, Greece and the Ottomans directly south of their islands across the worldwrap. Broker and plako were able to link up with the other "outcasts" in this game (India and Romali) and form a useful partnership that saw all of our teams through to the end of the game. The conquest of Rome after returning to the mainland was just insane, no one possibly could have seen that coming at the start of the game. I can only tip my hat to Broker and plako for such a magnificent game - we were honored to have you as our allies!
Nakor and DMOC (Holy Rome): Our main competition at the end of the game, and our tech rivals for the last 100 turns. I thought that Holy Rome totally outplayed Dantski in the early game, getting a whole bunch of cities up near the Romali capital and squeezing Dantski badly for land. That's doubly impressive given the Imperialistic trait and skirmishers that Dantski was operating with in this game. Why Dantski decided to attack strong India rather than the weakly defended Holy Roman cities on his border remains a good question... When it came to attacking our team, I still don't believe it was in Holy Rome's best interest to do so. What exactly was this civ going to get out of that, anyway? Dantski and Jowy would have reaped all the rewards, and it's not like Holy Rome could have kept any cities way up there had the attack succeeded. Dantski was likely to be Holy Rome's chief rival in the future regardless, so making him stronger seems silly. I think Nakor and DMOC would have done better to ally with our India; between us, we would have partitioned Dantski, and then had a strong alliance going forward against the other powers. Well, it certainly would have been a different world had that happened!
About the way that the diplomacy went down with my team before attacking... Look, there's always some give and take with diplomacy. No one is going to be 100% truthful all the time. It's natural to write things like, "I'm not sure we have the units to assist you militarily" when of course you do, and simply don't want to get involved. Everyone should expect some degree of untruthfulness. However, there's lying and then there's LYING. What Holy Rome did with our team was enter into a long-running, calculated series of exchanges where Nakor posed as our ally and friend, while secretly planning to attack us. All the while, they were stealing information from our team and feeding it to our enemies who were in the process of attacking. Not only that, they made agreements with our team that were false and had no intention of keeping, such as telling us that they were initiating an NAP cool-down with Dantski and planned to attack in ten turns. As I said after reading athlete's thread, I don't want to get too preachy here, but this whole sequence was a slimy, *LOW* blow to my team. I'm sure that both Nakor and DMOC are great people in real life, but... I think it was pretty distasteful. We certainly never trusted Holy Rome at any point in time throughout the remainder of this game.
The lategame double Mausoleum Golden Age was extremely well executed, and helped boost Holy Rome into a position of power as the team with the best chance of challenging India. However, it's also inescapably true that the other reason for Holy Rome's lategame success was the cheese gifts that the team received from Whosit and athlete as they were on their way out of the game. Getting multiple cities and thousands of gold for free made a mockery of fair play. All those gifts artifically buffed up Holy Rome into a position that they did not fairly earn - especially given how Holy Rome sat back and did nothing to save Whosit from destruction. Once those gifts stopped and Nakor/DMOC had to play on their own, fairly, they collapsed very quickly against our determined attack. I don't want to call out Holy Rome too much on this, I just think that this could have, should have been handled better. Thanks for putting up a spirited defense at the end of the game. Holy Rome had a ton of units, and didn't spare the draft and whip, they just couldn't keep up with our Production edge and naval power. A good campaign on both sides.
1) Speaker and Sullla
2) Nakor and DMOC
3) Broker and plako
6) athlete and kalin
9) Team Byzantium
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Well, I've said just about all that I can about this game. Unlike most other ones, this was a public game, played out in front of the whole Realms Beyond community, and with plenty of divergent opinions about the action taking place. I'd like to wrap up by providing some of the most interesting comments from those reading and lurking the game. You don't need to take my word for it: go ahead and read what others thought about this particular game! As you will see, some people liked our Indian team, and others, uh, weren't too pleased with Speaker and me. This is gonna be fun.The Fifteen Most Anti-India Posts in the Lurker Thread (in no particular order)
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Well, that was certainly eye-opening! Here were some other perspectives on the game that were a bit less hostile to our team:sunrise089: I am surprised sometimes by the lurker community on issues like this. To me, it seems like some people really just want a certain narrative to play out. So Byzantium was a villain because we settled too aggressively (and I admit, we did) so decisions that punish Byzantium are ok. Likewise Sullla and Speaker are teching too fast so they also deserve to die. I think since the Ottomans are being clever in their grand alliance plans and they're the "good guys" then their plans do get something of a pass.
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As you saw from reading the comments, the two major complaints about India were criticisms of how we conducted diplomacy, and how we addressed other teams in our spoiler thread. I'll cover each of them separately.
On diplomacy, our goal in the early game was to stay peaceful for the first 50 turns to develop in peace, and then try to find a solid ally that we could stick with for the rest of the game. We were successful in our initial goal, signing Non-Aggression Pacts with Jowy and Dantski and then using that to expand outwards rapidly. We were criticized for running a light military here, but in fact we were merely doing the same thing as every other team, and were never ranked lower than average on the Demographics in military strength. The problem that we ran into was the next step, trying to secure an ally for the longterm. We initially wanted Dantski, but his lukewarm and erratic responses caused us to go for Jowy instead. Unfortunately for us, Jowy was already in contact with the Ottomans and had made up his mind at an early date to try an attack on us rather than partner up. Reading through Jowy's spoiler thread, all of our friendly entreaties were met with suspicion and paranoia. Jowy was seeing attacks that simply didn't exist, and thus there was literally nothing we could do to change his mindset. Dantski was also committed to war, leaving us effectively screwed. Combined with athlete's work behind the scenes rallying other teams against us, we didn't have much of a chance.
Part of the issue with the Lurker thread was the fact that their omniscient knowledge of the game often caused unfair criticisms to be directed against the players. For example, people were arguing that we should be doing more to break up the Coalition of the Willing diplomatically, when we had no idea that such a thing even existed! Of course we ended up being attacked by five different civilizations together, which obviously means that our diplomacy wasn't good enough. I have no doubt that I could have played the early stages of the game better, and should have done some things differently. Too many of the messages came off sounding artifical and overly composed to the other teams, something I'll try to use if I do one of these games again. A mixture of poor wording and some bad circumstances (Byzantium's collapse really hurt us) combined to make for a diplomatic disaster.
I do wish that we had received a little more credit for our diplomacy after the early game, which I think was quite good. We forced a really advantageous peace treaty out of Jowy, getting three cities and effectively crippling him without losing a single military unit on the attack. We successfully convinced other teams to gift us gold to speed our teching to Currency, and get out of the economic doldrums we were in. We lined up a series of overlapping Non-Aggression Pact extentions with the other teams so that we could never be effectively dogpiled again in the same fashion. We refused to sign NAPs with Holy Rome to keep them guessing on our true intentions, totally fooling Jowy and allowing us to finish Greece with minimal effort. We parlayed athlete's mistaken diplomacy post into a long NAP, leading him to wreck his army against slaze and set up the Ottomans for an easy conquest after teching ahead to cuirassiers/cavalry. We effectively turned Dantski into a vassal state/buffer zone for our southern border, which worked perfectly when Holy Rome attacked in the lategame and we successfully counter-attacked to inflict devastating losses. Finally, we befriended Korea and created a mutually beneficial alliance that took our "outsider" teams to 1st and 3rd place finishes in the final standing. After that initial war, we *NEVER* fought more than one opponent at the time, and fought at a 2 vs 1 advantage against both Ottomans and Holy Rome. The other teams never again banded together against our runaway potential until it was much too late to stop India. I'd say that was some pretty good diplomacy!
On the subject of how we treated other teams, I think it's more a matter of perspective than anything else. As Shoot the Moon and regoarrarr said above, much of how you view something depends on your feelings about the individuals involved. The innumerable (and possibly deserved?) arrogant/infufferable comments we got about our thread had everything to do with that perspective. Remember, I was the Turnplayer for most of the Apolyton Demogame, and I wrote in exactly the same style about how stupid the Templar/Imperio teams were. None of the two dozen people on the RB team ever complained, and everyone as a group reacted in the same angry/emotional way towards the other teams. But in this game, removed from the context of actually playing the game and sitting instead on the sidelines, many of the same individuals thought my posts were unacceptable. I don't think that excuses everything that was posted, but I hope it puts it in context at least. (And of course, the other teams reacted equally poorly/emotionally to the game, such as regoarrarr's "Drop Dead!" message, Jowy's suicide ending, slaze's reaction to the second attack, and athlete's endgame cheesefest.)
I'm mostly regretful about the game's ending. I handled it poorly, Speaker handled it poorly, Krill handled it poorly - we all did. The biggest problem is that I was away during most of that period on vacation with very limited Internet access. There was an accusation that we deliberately ignored a rules violation lurker post and played on, but that's not really true: I didn't have Internet access for 2 days and had no clue what was going on until much later. (Check the thread, where I didn't post from June 28 to July 1, EXTREMELY unlike me!) That meant that Speaker was the one dealing with controversy, and, ummm, that didn't exactly calm things down. Speaker and Krill are a bit like oil and water. Hey, what can I say, we all got a little too invested. Including the lurkers! Let me give Jowy the final say on this:
Jowy: It's just a game!
That you've been playing every day for half a year.
And I'm not talking about 5 minutes a day.
You'd be pretty sucked in too!
This may sound silly, and hopefully not too egocentric, but this game gave me a newfound appreciation for individuals like professional athletes and politicians who have their lives play out in the public sphere. Everything that we did in this game was played out before an audience; every move microanalyzed, every decision second-guessed and commented upon. It's easy to play armchair quarterback, quite another thing when you're placed in that role and every mistake in judgment gets called on. It's not much fun when you're struggling in the game, and lurkers are piling on criticism on top of that. I will admit that I did take some schadenfreude from watching some of the lurkers try their own hand at other Pitboss/PBEM games and realize for themselves, "Holy crap this is really hard to do!" The next time I see a basketball player miss a free throw to win the game, I'm going to feel a lot more sympathy for them.
Overall though, the lurker community was great and really made this game what it turned out to be. There was this massive paranoia about leaking spoilers, especially in our thread, but I thought that everyone behaved themselves extremely well. I don't think that lurker comments ever really changed anything that Speaker and I were planning on doing (insert arrogant comments here). The insistence on creating some rigid "Code of Conduct" on what people could and couldn't post was a step in the wrong direction. If we're going to play out our games in public, then we might as well trust our readers to show intelligence and restraint. As a whole, the lurker community did exactly that, and did not spoil any of the game's major surprise events. Well done, folks.
Finally, I'd like to thank Speaker for all his help in this game. Speaker didn't get enough credit, since he posted far less than me, but he was integral to everything that we did. I could not have won this game without him. You're the best, dude.