Realms Beyond Pitboss #2: Growing Tensions

First of all, a quick refresher on where the different teams were located around the edge of the central Donut:

Mortius of course having been the first player eliminated from the game, when a warrior walked into his undefended capital. The Byzantium team of regoarrarr and sunrise also seemed to be running afoul of difficulties, and would at the very least be reduced to an also-run status in upcoming years. That didn't stop them from trying to negotiate a way out of their predicament though:

regoarrarr to Killer Angels:


Don't worry about it - we knew it was a longshot [sending them a spearman]. I'm sure that you have lots of MP needs what with ALL YOUR CITIES!!!

We have sent some feelers out to Jowy, as well as IKZ - still waiting on a response (though we just sent Jowy's this morning). If you could send anything to Jowy encouraging him to work with us (we have offered land / other concessions in exchange for a few turns of metal), that would be great. Anything to convince him that working with us / propping us up is in his best interests. That is, if you think that it IS in his best interests. I'm sure it's in OUR best interests

Also, have you seen any iron near our lands (we do not yet have IW and are not sure if you do or not)


We thought this was a pretty reasonable request. It wasn't possible for us to send any metals to Byzantium, because we didn't have a sea route defogged for trading purposes, nor did we have Sailing tech. However, Jowy was right next door, and he almost certainly would be able to send assistance over to their team. We thought it was a no-brainer from a metagaming perspective: send Byzantium 10 turns of copper/iron, let them whip out some spears to clear out the Ottoman chariots, and then have a very weak Byzantine neighbor as opposed to a runaway Ottoman neighbor. Beyond that, the longer the Byzantine/Ottoman war lasted, the better off we would all be, right?

We made a sales pitch on this subject to Jowy:

Killer Angels to Jowy:

Dear Jowy,

We're been in touch with regoarrarr and sunrise's team recently, and they said that they desperately need a source of copper to produce some spears for defense against athlete and kalin's attacking chariots. We think it's probably in both of our interests to prop up sunrise's team, because otherwise athlete and kalin will become monstrously strong. A stalemate in that war would be great for us both!

Now our team cannot send any resources over to regoarrarr because we don't have a clear sea passage defogged yet, but your team is located much closer, and it might be possible to do so. Obviously we don't want to tell you what to do, however we will echo regoarrarr and suggest that it might benefit all of us if you had a copper or iron resource to send them.

As proof of our sincerity, we'd like to offer an extention of our Non-Aggression Pact for another 25 turns, to be extended from Turn 75 to Turn 100. It's really benefitted us both thus far, and Speaker and I hope that you feel the same way. If you would send a metal resource to regoarrarr's team for a little bit, we'd be willing to let you borrow one of ours for a short time to help compensate. (Of course, we also still need a trade connection between our teams as well!)

The Killer Angels

It was our belief that we could ally any fears of Jowy by offering to extend our Non-Aggression Pact and send him our own source of metal to replace the one he would be sending to Byzantium. Jowy did not respond to this message, and further canceled our Open Borders agreement, which was puzzling behavior to say the least. We had had nothing but friendly relations thus far for the whole game, and Speaker and I were actively trying to court Jowy's Greece as a friend because Dantski wasn't saying much of anything to us diplomatically. We wanted to have one stable border to the north, so that we could then look into doing some conquering to the south at Dantski's expense during the medieval period.

Eventually, I happened to catch Jowy online in-game, which brought up the following points:


* Jowy is worried about sunrise and regoarrarr. He turned down Open Borders because he thought we might be able to send them copper. I reassured him that we couldn't do this even if we wanted to, because we lacked the trade route connection.

* I pushed Jowy on the commerce aspect of Open Borders, and he agreed to sign the agreement. We opened up the trade window and signed the deal! This is very good, because Chamberlain is about to move into Greek territory in like 2 turns.

* Jowy told me that he really doesn't want us to support sunrise, because "they are very good players" and "I don't trust them" (said several times). He wants them eliminated from the game.

* I countered by pointing out that their team was crippled, and keeping them in the game benefitted both of our teams. Jowy doesn't really seem to understand what's going on over there; he admitted that he doesn't have a "C & D" department and doesn't follow the Demographics very closely. [Good to know for the future!] Jowy said that he doesn't mind if athlete wins the war, because "at least they are far away". I pointed out that they won't be far away for much longer if they crush sunrise!

* Jowy seemed to be wavering a little bit by the end of our conversation. I told him that we'll trade him our copper if he sends sunrise his iron, but that ultimately the decision was up to him and we would support him either way. As far as I can tell, Jowy seems really trusting of us, which is good news. The funny thing is, Jowy doesn't want to help sunrise because he says their team might become very powerful down the road, yet he's working arm-in-arm with us, and we're much, MUCH stronger than Byzantium.

While this wasn't entirely what we wanted, at least we were keeping the lines of communication open. Jowy's complete hostility towards the Byzantine team, and silence on the issue of renewing our NAP, remained puzzling to us however. We did gain visibility on the Greek capital with some Open Borders scouting:

Athens had just double-whipped a settler at this point, using its double food resources of clams and irrigated rice. That was a nice combo, although still inferior to our cows + irrigated wheat. Jowy had wisely constructed a cheap Expansive granary in his capital, allowing Athens to regrow quickly after double-whips. The one real missing factor was any cottages for economic power; the difference between our Academy + quadruple grassland river cottaged Gettysburg and his grassland forested Athens would become more and more noticeable over time.

Finally we did get word back from Jowy:

Jowy to Killer Angels:

Hello Sullla & Speaker,

There's still something I need to check in in-game before agreeing on the NAP, but it sounds pretty good Maybe we'll make some edits on it again before the final version. Anyways gotta check out in-game if some rumours are true, shouldn't take longer than a few turns. Though those turns might take a while if we are to have a christmas break from the game.

@Byzantines, well, I think I mentioned in the chat that I don't trust them, and that's the god's honest truth. Maybe playing this game emotionally isn't the right thing to do, but I don't want them to become strong again. I think you're underestimating Byzantine. They already seem to do very well even without our help.. If we help them they might even beat the Ottomans. Remember that they're both a bit behind in economy, not just Byzantine.

Feel free to ask if there's something I forgot to shed light on

Hey again Sullla & Speaker,

Sorry to bother you with an email bombardment. But I have to ask. Our chat gave me an understanding that the OB was for some extra commerce, not to scout the other's land. Yet I see Chamberlain next to my capital! What's up with that? :O

Speaker wasn't too pleased with this message:


Some rumors in game? Wtf does that mean?

Why in the hell are they so scared of Byzantine? They have 1 city and are all pillaged to hell, and have no strategic resources. How "well" could they be doing in the war? They can't kill anything. With metal, they could maybe clear the choke, but it would take an act of God for them to actually turn it around and beat up the Ottomans. Though I understand that they think it is in Greece's interests for Byzantine to get squished, then they can take Byzantine's land. What they don't understand is that they would benefit more from an extended Byzantine-Ottoman conflict, causing them to burn hammers into units and not into expansion/tech. I think they are being awfully shortsighted, by not encouraging this conflict to continue at length.

There was no doubting it at this point: Jowy's overall tone had shifted dramatically from just a week or so earlier. Suddenly he was viewing all of our messages with suspicion, infrequently responding to our emails and making accusatory comments when he did. We honestly had no idea what was going on here. Surely the whole issue with Byzantium couldn't have made that big of a difference, right? (It didn't; there was more going on behind the scenes, as we would find out later.) We had made no objection to Jowy's scouts moving around our borders earlier, nor discussed anything about not sending units through one another's territory, making Jowy's objections rather strange.

Our proposal back to him:

Killer Angels to Jowy:

It was good to hear back from you again. Let's first bring up the subject of our Non-Aggression Pact extention. I know that you said you would like some time to check on whether "some rumors are true" (what exactly does that mean?) before agreeing to anything, but we are getting extremely close to Turn 75. Speaker and I need to know whether you plan on extending our NAP as soon as possible.

If a further 25 turns (to Turn 100) is too many, we're willing to hear your counterproposals. But please give us an answer one way or another as soon as possible. If you don't answer us by the end of Turn 75, we'll have to assume hostile intent from your team. Speaker and I really don't want to do that - we've greatly appreciated our cooperation so far - but we have to have some kind of answer.

As far as the Byzantines are concerned, we don't really understand the concern with a team that has no resources and no improved tiles. Speaker's opinion is that it would take "an act of God" for them to turn it around and beat the Ottomans. Still, it's pretty silly that our friendship seems to be having a disagreement over something like this. We've already told you that we won't do anything to assist the Byzantines without your approval. What more can we do than that?!

With regards to our warrior, we were trying to take a safe non-barbarian route to the west through your territory. I also don't recall any discussion of a "no scouting" clause with regards to Open Borders. (There are quite a few other teams who are moving through our territory right now, for example.) If you'd prefer to have such an agreement, and have Open Borders for trade routes only, we will exit your borders immediately and not return. Of course, then you'd have to agree to do the same with your units.



My paranoia sensor is now kicking into full gear. That phalanx is perfectly timed to enter our land on T75, "coincidentally" when our NAP ends. So I made an executive decision to change our build to an axe. Always leave yourself with an "out." This will slow down our next settler, but losing Chancellorsville would slow us down a bit more. I apologize if this was all for naught, but I really didn't want to see our strong position ruined by us being too reckless, when we've already established it. I'm also going to insist that we move those workers away from the front, and really not tempt him. Sorry, but I don't trust the paper our NAP is not written on, especially since we haven't discovered paper yet. One rain storm and the agreement we drew in the dirt with a stick will wash away...

I also changed Gettysburg to an axe, which finishes in one turn due to the chop, and swapping one tile from a cottage to a hill. Since his Phalanx has a promotion (he actually built barracks this early!), he will have roughly 58% odds against an axe in our un-cultured city.

So we'll have 2 axes, along with the Chariot which finishes in Antietam this turn, and the warrior.

Anyone want to guess if the "rumor" Jowy wanted to check on was that we had just 1 warrior for defense in Chancellorsville?

As it turned out, Jowy was not planning on attacking us on Turn 75, although Speaker's alarm was certainly justified given the diplomatic situation and movement of Greek units. Instead, Jowy was moving his phalanx forward as an advance guard for his next city plant, Thebes. We assumed that this city was going to grab rice + stone, in a fertile grassland river valley, but instead:

Thebes would be planted on the grassland hill tile indicated, a mere three tiles away from Chancellorsville, with no food bonuses, and surrounded on three sides by our cultural borders. It was a completely bizarre move to make, especially given the enormous tracts of fertile land to Jowy's east that Byzantium WASN'T settling, and remained unclaimed for the taking. This prompted Speaker to type up one of the best posts of the entire game:


A photo montage for you guys:

Here is Greece's land. They have 3 cities.

They have 4 (!) 5-food tiles within close proximity to their land, which are not being worked.

They build a settler, which should (in theory) improve their output by 25%. Settlers are very expensive early in the game. You do not want to waste them. They need to add production and research, or, at the least, provide you with happiness or strategic resources you did not yet have.

Notice that our 4th city, Fredericksburg, provided us with Gold, allowing our happiness cap to be raised, and with two foods, including the Sheep in the first ring, quickly can grow and contribute either military or technology (or both with slavery), as we please.

Now consider Greece's fourth city, Thebes.

In my group of MP-players, this sort of city is known affectionately as a "Cool Game" plant, which is defined by:
1) Lack of defenders
2) Forward direction with a complete lack of roads
3) Poor city location where the first priority is to grab land
4) Trickle of defenders to the city

Not only does it not have any food in its first ring, it's only resource overall is a jungle-covered Sugar, which they can't hope to connect for quite a long time. This city will not contribute any sort of manufacturing or technology, and since it is so prone due to its forward location, will require extra military units to defend it, so it will actually cost more than its worth, since Greece will need to prioritize military builds in its other cities, at the expense of libraries, granaries, and more workers and settlers. Also, it will cost 8 worker turns to road to the city, which could be 2 cottages or 2 2/3 forest chops instead.

Now consider the context of the game:
1) Greece's neighbor to their East (Byzantium) is totally crippled, and expects to die soon. There is tons of great land between them to be claimed.
2) Greece's neighbor to the South (us) has played in a non-aggressive fashion, has 25% more cities and much greater development and GNP, and actually has more power. India is the king of development the early game. You don't want to fight with India.
3) Greece has excellent unworked food resources in close proximity to their land, and many forests still to chop inside their land, but must use their workers to road to the front now.

A war is absolutely not in Greece's best interests.
Greece has excellent land in close proximity which it is not working.
Greece has wasted 100 hammers by building a useless city which it must build extra defenders to protect. What they should have done is plant directly East of the Deer resource, giving them a 5f 1h tile immediately and bringing in the Rice and Stone at 20% borders, with several forests to chop to speed development, and in such a location that it requires just one or two defenders to protect. This would allow them to build more workers out of Sparta and Athens, instead of Archers and Phalanx, and maybe help them catch up to us a bit.

Considering all this context and all these factors, I don't feel bad saying that the planting of Thebes might be the biggest example of pure I have ever seen in a Civ4 multiplayer game, and I have played approximately 600 games. They are ruining their game right here, for no good purpose.

Sorry Jowy and Yazclick when you later read this, but this is where your game ended.

While in the process of settling Thebes, Jowy sent us this message:

Jowy to Killer Angels:

Hey Sullla,

I heard rumours that you might be settling towards me! I had to check that out myself. Found out it's true. Not sure what to make of that. Combining that with you sneakily scouting my lands worries me of your intentions. Had you found my cities empty, maybe you would have seized the opportunity to take me out? :/

But I'll sign a NAP with you. Let's say 10 turns for now. And no settling towards eachother during that time (except that border city of mine which is already in place). I doubt you'll break a formal pact even if what I fear is true! Though I really hope that's just my paranoia kicking in Having one untrusted warhungering team as my neighbour, although crippled, is just enough for me. Hopefully you aren't or won't become another!

Sorry for keeping it short, still got some packing to do! Anyway I might get to do some diplomacy while away, but definately can't play my turns. So feel free contact me. Merry Christmas
~ Jowy

The "check that out myself" was a reference to the city of Chancellorsville, which Jowy had apparently missed earlier. Speaker's reaction was much the same as mine, "Is this guy out of his mind? We plant 4 tiles from our capital, 7 tiles from his nearest city, and he considers that to be an aggressive plant? We have done nothing but try to be friendly with Greece, offering them our metal if they would trade theirs to Byzantine, offering non-aggression pacts, not running a settler way up in their face." We quite honestly didn't feel that we had reacted aggressively towards Jowy at all; none of our cities had pushed out their borders more than three or four tiles from the previous city, and we had made repeated offers of NAPs, resource deals, and Open Borders treaties. Why so much paranoia over one unit moving through Greek territory (?) It was all a mystery to us. Needless to say, we were not on board either with Jowy's provision to award himself a new border city while prohibiting us from settling further north.

Early war was emphatically not what we wanted right now, but it was increasingly becoming clear that we could not trust either neighbor. Our NAP with Dantski would run out on Turn 90, and he wasn't saying much of anything diplomatically. Jowy was acting more and more paranoid towards our team, interpreting even our friendly messages as a facade for secretive and nefarious goals against his empire. Once someone gets in that mindset, it becomes very difficult to change it short of conflict. Things just seemed to be going worse and worse for us diplomatically.

Fortunately, I was able to catch Jowy in-game once again after seeing him online on CivStats. We were able to chat (in all honesty, I was confronting Jowy and demanding some kind of response!) and work out some of our mutual grievances. Jowy was upset because he said that all of our cities had gone north towards him and not south towards Dantski. While that was somewhat true, our cities had mostly gone east more than anything and none of them particularly far from our capital; Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg were pretty clearly cities that were closer to us than anyone else. I explained that we didn't plant cities south because that area was all jungle and Calendar resources (true) but I don't think Jowy really believed me. He also accused us of stalling on responding to his latest email, which I still maintain was nonsense, as it hadn't even been 24 hours yet and Jowy had received tons of messages from us without responding at all. Too convenient an excuse, methinks.

However, we did manage to work out a compromise solution and patch things up:

Killer Angels to Jowy:

Dear Jowy,

I'm very glad that we were able to chat in-game and work out some of the disagreements that have come up. As useful as email can be, it doesn't always convey how each side feels.

First of all, we'd like to accept the 20 turn Non-Aggression Pact laid out in your last email, to extend until Turn 95. As we discussed in-game today, Speaker and I have decided to settle the fish/silks location for our next city. In return, we will promise not to settle the location east of Thebes; you are welcome to take your time moving there, we won't try to take that land.

Furthermore, we will do you one better: as part of the new NAP, we can promise that our next two cities will go south towards Dantski. I'm not sure that you believed me when I said that the land down there has jungle and Calendar resources, but it's the truth! We needed additional techs to go there, and we'll be moving in that direction tech-wise in the near future.

To tell the truth, there's been a lot of sabre-rattling over in our thread about our recent disagreements, but I think that with this new NAP + settling agreement we can get back to the earlier spirit of cooperation that existed between our teams.

The Killer Angels

And Jowy would accept this proposal shortly thereafter. Crisis averted, and thank goodness! While I have no doubt we could have fought, and defeated Jowy if it came to it, an Ancient Age war at this stage of the game was very far from our best interests. Much better to research Monarchy and Hereditary Rule than Horseback Riding right now.

We had even gotten Jowy's approval to settle the excellent fish location on the northern coast, in exchange for his own border plant at Thebes:

This would further seal off Thebes from the rest of Greece, and give us our first coastal city. A very strong one too, with double food bonus (it could steal the deer from Chancellorsville if need be) and a number of hills for production. We figured this would make for a great Moai city, if we could ever get our hands on some stone. Maybe Jowy would settle the stone location and trade it to us, if we could still remain on friendly terms. White Dot became Hampton Roads on Turn 78:

We had our capital maxed out in size at the moment, and soon to grow another size larger once the gold mine was connected at Fredericksburg. We were working no fewer than eight cottages by this point in time, all of them Financial + river grassland, and that was responsible for the enormous GNP lead that our civ had developed. We also had nearly a 50% edge in Food over the next-closest team, and an edge in Land Area to boot. No one else had five cities as yet, although several teams did have four. (Of course, there was a gigantic difference between, say, four cities of Jowy and four cities of ours.) Our military was no joke either, with 3 axes + 2 chariots + 1 spearman. Speaker was starting to build up some defenses, and we were no sitting duck. If Jowy or Dantski did try to attack, we'd be more than ready for them. Even if they both attacked us together, we'd probably be able to hold out.

Inside Gettysburg:

With the gold connected, we were now growing up to size 7; the sign indicates that the first non-river grassland cottage was already nearing completion. In terms of technology, we were researching through Polytheism, Masonry, and Monotheism on our way to Monarchy. Obviously we wanted to get into Hereditary Rule civic (which would let us grow the capital to size 10+ with garrison units), and since the world had been slow in general to grab religions, we thought it was worth the extra beakers to try and pick up Judaism along the way. Organized Religion civic would be useful to have too, since we were pretty busy doing the infrastructure kick.

There was a pause here for a few days, as the Incan players had disappeared and had to be replaced. I'm still a bit miffed that IamJohn, Kodii, and Zeviz signed up for the game and dropped out barely two months after it started. Ah well, I suppose new issues do come up with time. Eventually we would get dsplaisted to step in for the missing Incan team and resume doing... well, whatever it was they were doing! Inca was the furthest team away from us, and we didn't see much of them.

After the break, regoarrarr contacted us with the news that their demise was imminent:

regoarrarr to Killer Angels:

Don't worry about it - the Ottomans showed up with a stack of 5 HAs (in addition to their 4 chariots) after we played our half of T81, so once the game gets going again, we will likely gift you our warrior, since we are likely to die on T82.

See you around!

Well we died. We killed 3 HAs (including one flawlessly!) but lost the rest and numbers carried the day - catch you on hte flip side!

We were sorry to see them go, and not just because I knew all three players as teammates from the Apolyton Demogame. With Byzantium gone, there was a gaping power vaccuum over in the east, which would allow Greece and the Ottomans to grow much larger in size. Deservedly so for the Ottomans, as they had eliminated the Byzantines, but Jowy could potentially grab the spoils of war without commiting anything. It made his behavior towards us all the more puzzling; wouldn't you want peace with your closest neighbor, so that you could settler spam and grab all that opened up land on the other side?

We did get one benefit from Byzantium's destruction: they gifted us Spiros the Woodsman II warrior. Yay Spiros!

Elsewhere in the world, there were major dealings afoot:

Uh oh! Whosit's Aggressive Rome was surely going to war with his Praetorians in their moment of glory. The relationship between Korea and Rome had been extremely strained for the whole game thus far; LiPing moved the initial Roman settler five tiles towards Korea, scrunching them into an extremely tight starting area. Then Mortius was eliminated on the other side of Rome, leaving LiPing/Whosit with no neighbor to worry about on their other flank. Korea and Rome were essentially locked into a back-and-forth duel, with a long-running Non-Aggression Pact at one point, but I think both sides knew that that wasn't going to last forever. Whosit was finally making his move (one that he should have made even earlier, in all honesty) and was gunning for Korea's head.

Korea had no sources of copper in their immediate territory. (They did have iron, but lacked Iron Working tech.) Korea had to settle on an offshore island to secure copper, and that meant a lengthy delay... a suicidal delay, in all likelihood. Whosit's Praetorians attacked the border city of P'yongyang:

And killed all six defenders without losing a single unit!!! Wow. Unlucky result for poor Broker and plako of Korea (although I did interpret the battle results perfectly just from Demographics numbers - go me!) Korea was not a major power, already last in score even before the attack began, and it appeared as though they would soon follow Byzantium in making a quick exit from this game. Whosit had 7-8 Aggressive Praetorians in his main stack, and there just wasn't a whole lot that Korea could do about that. With these early eliminations concentrated on the other side of the Donut, a couple of the other teams - Ottomans, Incas, and Rome in particular - were going to have the potential to grow into massive superpowers down the road. It was all worrying for our own Indian team, still cramped with neighbors on all sides.

Our metagaming take on the situation at this point:


Here's our crude sketch of the world. (Note: need to explore that center area ASAP. There's a good bet that some important resources - maybe ivory? - are in there. Our next city will be on the inner coast and can work on it.) Mortius and sunrise/regoarrarr have been eliminated, thus the red bars through the names.

Whosit therefore has tons of land to expand into on his back side, in the vacated Mortius area. He even mentioned this to me in our brief in-game chat, saying that there were a lot of barbs running around over there. Instead of settling that land, Whosit has decided to attack Broker... Whether or not this is a good move largely depends on how much resistance Broker puts up. If Whosit can win a quick elimination victory, then yes, it probably was a nice move. (That would give Whosit a gigantic portion of the map to expand into!) But if Broker can hold out for any significant length of time, then this will go over as a foolish move.

I guess if you take Aggressive Rome, the idea is to go attack someone. Still, I dunno about this one. Why not take the golden opportunity to expand into uncontested land to the northeast? Grow twice as big as Broker, then smash him later on when you have a 2:1 production edge. Even if Whosit takes all of Broker's cities, he'll only equal the number of cities Speaker and I will have from peaceful expansion - and he'll be way behind in infrastructure. Of course, he'd then be safe from neighbors, while we would still be in a possibly dangerous position...

Anyway, at this point the clear favorites in the game are athete/kalin, Whosit, and my own team. The former two teams have very strong armies and lots of land to expand into. Our team has the Demographics edge at the moment, but a less secure strategic position. If IKZ can ever get a permanent replacement player, they could do very well too. As for the other teams:

- Broker will be crippled even if he survives this attack. When Aggressive Rome rushes you in the Ancient age, you're pretty screwed.

- Jowy's got the land, but he hasn't shown that he knows how to use it.

- Dantski is squeezed worse than anyone else in the game and his research is terrible. (I estimate we're researching 3x his speed.) He's probably going to make a desperation attack, lose, and then be out of it.

- Nakor is in the best shape out of these teams. If he can get something out of the Broker/Whosit war (maybe partition Broker's territory?) he might do well. Right now, his research rate is pretty sad from expanding out to five cities without the same infrastructure base we have.

We'll see what happens!

Our Monotheism research ripened and matured, granting us the blessings of Yahweh:

Excellent stuff, especially since we were just passing through the religion part of the tree en route to Monarchy! Chancellorsville became the Holy City, which hilariously put even more cultural pressure on Thebes. So much for controlling any tiles to the south or west of the junk city. Monarchy was due in about 8t, after passing through Priesthood for the pre-requisite bonus research.

Not too much happened over the following turns. More peaceful building and growing. We learned from Broker of Korea that this was a Toroidal map, which we had not known before; that meant that we actually weren't too far away from some of the teams on the "other" side of the world! Needed more scouting information on that outer sea. It also explained why the maintenance costs were so high on this map - Flat maps have the lowest maintenance, and Toroidal the highest, due to how the extra worldwraps decrease maximum distances. We also agreed on an NAP with Nakor's Holy Rome to last until Turn 105, not that they seemed likely to attack or anything. We already had a similar deal in place with athlete and kalin lasting until Turn 100, mostly to remove the temptation of worker steals by either side.

Surprisingly, Whosit signed peace with Korea shortly thereafter:

Whosit gained another city in the peace treaty (Ryloth), but he left the Korean capital of Seoul untouched. We thought this was a strange move, since Whosit could have overrun the remaining Korean cities with ease, using that unbeatable army of Praetorians. While it was true that Korea did have the offshore island, why not finish them off now? Or at least take the time to capture Seoul first? Even though Korea had been crippled, they did remain in the game, and even secured a 75-turn NAP with Whosit in the peace deal. It looked like they would be hanging around for a while longer, if as a minor and humbled power.

Expansion still continued, as we planted city #6 (Shiloh) on the coast of the inner sea:

And of course our lumberjacking Fast Workers chopped a forest to complete a work boat on the first turn of its existence! Ah, don't you just love good micromanagement? That fish tile and its +5 food/turn would get Shiloh up and running quickly. We hoped to complete a galley here in the near future and get some units over to the center island for scouting purposes. We thought there might be some rare resources there, including possibly ivory. (Not true, as it turned out, but a decent enough guess. Dyes and bananas were exclusive to the center.) Finally, note the warrior on sentry patrol to the southwest. No Dantski units going to sneak up on us without seeing them ahead of time!

And we might well need that visibility, given this message from Dantski:

Dantski to Killer Angels:

Hi KA's

Unfortunately I must reject your NAP extension and close borders. While I am not planning to attack you when our NAP runs out, I suggest you not put units overlooking Djenne or woody 2 warriors close to Kumbi Saleh. If you do I feel I must remove them for my own security.

Part of this decision is based on how does a runaway India help me? If we stay at peace then I'll reconsider a NAP in 10 turns if you can provide good reasons for us to be strong friends this game.

Hope we can work together again soon.

Our NAP was set to run out on Turn 90, and Dantski was indicating that he was not renewing it. We'd been getting a bad vibe from Dantski for ages, and it seemed as though he was dead set on attacking us. Dantski even Closed Borders with our team, which did little to hide his intentions. Well good luck, my friend: we knew what units Dantski had, and we were not intimidated. If he were to come attack with his motley collection of axes, he was going to be in for a serious ass-whooping.

We figured Jowy would probably pile in as well, given the cold shoulder he was sending us, but fortunately we had an NAP with him until Turn 95, and a very strong defensive front in the north. Lots of cities with 40% cultural borders up there, and Jowy with no units more dangerous than phalanxes. This was the Power chart at the time:


More imporantly, the summary after working the numbers suggests:

2 scouts
2 warriors
4 archers
3 phalanxes
2 spears
2 chariots

4 warriors
3 skirmishers
1 axe
1 chariot
2 spears

Knowing not just a general "Power rating", but more or less exactly what units our neighbors were packing obviously was a huge help in terms of our overall planning. As long as these numbers were more or less correct, we thought we were in pretty good shape. Much harder to attack than defend in this game, after all.

Fortunately, despite our lack of NAPs with Jowy and Dantski, no war declarations arrived on either Turn 90 or Turn 95. Apparently, their civs were either waiting for something or weren't planning on attacking at all (?) In any case, by Turn 97 we were on the cusp of discovering Horseback Riding, with the intention of following it up with Construction:

Our cities were already set up to overflow into horse archers and then whip them to completion (nice work, Speaker!) Just a little bit longer until we had catapults, and then we'd be relatively safe against anything that these other teams could bring.

Just a little bit longer... Hello, what's this?



And just like that, Jowy and athlete's dirty little secret was up. There are 4 Ottoman horse archers and 1 Ottoman chariot hanging out in Jowy's territory. Gee, I wonder what they could be doing there, eh? That's not counting the Ottoman chariot that attacked the barb city and took damage in the process, or other units in the fog. (Still, those 6 units comprise about 2/3 of the Ottoman military, so there's can't be much more in Jowy's territory. athlete has to keep SOME of his units back in his own borders for defense.)

It looks like Speaker and I are about to face not a 2 vs 1, but a THREE vs ONE in the next few turns. All of you lurkers have probably been laughing your asses off in the spoiler threads, eh? Well, now we know that the attack is coming, plus we know what the unit mix is going to be (horse archers from athlete, phalanxes from Jowy), we'll do our best to put on a grand show for y'all!

The secret was out: athlete and kalin were planning to attack us along with Jowy. Indeed, Jowy would declare war against us as soon as he logged into the game.

Interesting times indeed! Someone had CHOSEN UNWISELY, but would it be India or Greece?!