Realms Beyond Pitboss #2: Turning the Tide

Heroic defending notwithstanding, we remained in pretty bad shape even after clearing our land of units. Better than before - enormously better! - but still far from a good position. We paused to assess the damage from the carnage that had already taken place:


Since Speaker is posting on the military side of things, here's a look at our cities:

Gettysburg damage: minimal (!)

Yeah, I'm as surprised as you are. Somehow our capital came through the storm relatively unscathed. We lost four grassland hill mines (one of which has already been replaced), three immature cottages, and one village pillaged down into a cottage, the one two tiles north of the city on the river. That last cottage was the only real loss, everything else will be fixed within a half-dozen turns.

Of course we have a 30-turn whipping penalty here, and you have to remember that we lost out ten turns of not growing and researching, but still. There was a massive army that basically walked in a complete circle around Gettysburg, and the capital not only surived, but maintained its most important tiles. Why Dantski never pillaged the cows, wheat, or the other mature villages is just a mystery...

Antietam damage: moderate

We took a little bit more damage at Antietam, losing two immature cottages and seeing the copper tile pillaged last turn. The big loss here wasn't tiles, however, but the fact that we had to whip 4 times. Antietam doesn't have quite as much food surplus as some of our other cities, so we're having to run max food here to let it regrow for a while. The good news is that we can keep running +6 food/turn, adding the copper mine next turn and cottages with each additional growth, and get back to size 8 in less than ten turns. All things considered, that's pretty awesome.

Chancellorsville damage: moderate

This city lost nearly all of its best tiles at some point, seeing the horses, furs, and two cottages get pillaged. We also had to whip the city a staggering five times in the past 12 turns! All of that amounted to a lot of damage. Nevertheless, Chancellorsville has a lot of really strong tiles, and with that +7 food/turn surplus, it will be back to size 8-9 in a real hurry. We reconnected the horses this turn, we'll have the furs back online in two more turns, and then we can think about possibly replacing those riverside cottages.

The main losses here were the cottage one tile east of Chancellorsville (which had grown to a hamlet) and the fact that we had to chop the forest on the deer tile. That's a permanent -1 shield/turn for the rest of the game... Still, what else could we have done? Our medium-term plan is to get a settler out of here to replace the razed Shiloh location, once we deal with Whosit's stack (or see it retreat, heh).

Fredericksburg damage: moderate

We were lucky that Fred never really took much pillaging, and all of its tiles came through intact. The problem here is that the city never had all that much food surplus (not when working the gold resource anyway) and we whipped most of that away during our five whips here. Fred just needs some time to regrow and grab more population again. Speaker had the great suggestion to drop the gold tile for the moment (since we're not researching right now, and there's no crucial tech on the horizon) which allows us to reach +6 food/turn surplus. The basic plan is to regrow to size 6 or 7, grabbing additional grassland river cottages with each pop point, and then go back to the gold tile again right around when we start research for real once more.

Hampton Roads damage: severe

The fate of Hampton Roads is tied to its fish resource, which was pillaged by the Kathlete galley wandering around. We can't do much with this city until it gets reconnected. Unfortunately, we have to build a galley first to defend the fish, or else it will just get pillaged again. So the build queue here has to be galley, then work boat...

Hampton therefore took the most damage from this attack, and will spend a long time recovering. However, it's a minor miracle that we were able to hold onto this exposed city at all. Considering all that happened, I think we're pretty happy with this result.

The one real loss was Shiloh... We'll rebuild it soon enough though! That's a great location (Globe Theatre city!) and the fish resource is still connected, for instant +5 food/turn when it gets rebuilt.

In the Demographics, against all odds we have preserved a narrow lead on Food, and that's going to grow significantly in the next few turns as our cities start growing like weeds. The tradeoff is that our Production has been decimated, as every city works max food/commerce, but we can live with that. GNP is a surprising third, and that while running 0% research. I checked to see what the number would look like at break-even research (40% right now), and our GNP would go up to like 90 at that rate, so we're almost even with the leader still. As we regrow onto many many grassland river cottages (and hell, we're not even working our gold or fur resources right now!) we'll reclaim that research lead in no time. Just you wait and see.

So, what was the real star of the show? Hereditary Rule civic. Note that we're carrying a penalty of three or four unhappy faces in every city. Without being in HR civic, our cities would be paralyzed with unhappiness, crippled and unable to work any tiles. Thanks to the magic of garrison soldiers, we're barely feeling any effects at all from massive whippings. Hereditary Rule literally saved the game for us - it's extremely powerful when used properly. We literally would have died if we had not gone to Monarchy tech when we did.

I'll point out again the importance of the grassland farms we built at Antietam and Fredericksburg, allowing both cities to reach +6 food/turn to regrow back quickly after their (many) emergency whippings during the war. Hereditary Rule was a lifesaver here, allowing us to stack our military units inside those heavily-whipped cities and keep them growing upwards. Poor Chancellorsville would have been unhappy at size 2 without HR garrison happiness! You can imagine how long it would have taken us to rebuild if we had been working under those constraints. Finally, it goes without saying that Slavery civic saved our bacon. We whipped our cities 23 times during the dozen turns of the invasion, pulling some 700-800 total shields in the process. (Remember, some of those whips were for two population.) This is why it's so difficult to invade other human players in online games: the AI won't do this. But people will!

The tables had certainly changed quite a bit in less than 24 hours of real-world time. We found this email in our team inbox from Whosit:

Whosit to Killer Angels:

To the Honorable Speaker and Sullla,

While this may seem odd considering the message I sent you just the other day, I come asking for peace between the Killer Angels, myself, and the other civilizations with which you are at war.

Securing Romali's exit from the war was a masterful stroke, but the rest of us remain united. While we are willing to continue the fight to drag you down, a decisive victory may now be elusive, so we believe that it would be in the interest of all parties to agree to peace. True, you would be able to hold the rest of us off for quite some time, but surely it will not do your economy any good. Therefore, we propose that you make peace with all belligerent civilizations. As part of the agreement, we will all sign a 20 turn NAP with you, so that neither you nor any of our allies need fear another strike.

Prolonging this conflict will help none of us, so we hope that you will respond with due haste.

Sincerely yours,
The Galactic Empire, the Greek Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the Rebel Alliance

Now suddenly the war wasn't worth fighting, eh? Funny how our opponents changed their tune once we cleared our territory of units. The line about economy was particularly rich, as teams like Jowy and Dantski had crippled themselves not just by whipping out all those phalanxes/axes, but by walking them around in our territory for a dozen turns. (Dantski had 15+ units in our territory for the whole stretch until he signed peace; just think of the unit support costs he had been paying!) We sent back a quick message saying that we'd discuss the peace offer, and decide what to do.

The next few days were marred by limited Internet connectivity for both of us; Speaker was out traveling for work, and my home was getting pounded by wintry weather which knocked out the power multiple times. Still, on the occasions we were able to discuss the current situation, Speaker and I increasingly saw no real reason to sign the offered peace treaty:

Sullla and Speaker:

What do you think, Speaker? Now I'm not even sure that peace is in our best interests. This could be a very strong window of opportunity to hit Jowy and cripple him before he gets access to cats and horse archers himself. On the other hand, we certainly could use some time to rebuild. But if we give them 20 turns of peace, what's to say that we won't get attacked again by 4 teams as soon as that NAP runs out?

* * * * *

The timing of their proposal strikes me as a little fishy, being exactly the same length of our NAP with Dantski. Is it possible that they decided to try and save their units (Praets + Mali's stacks) for Round 2? Am I just being paranoid? If we could get together 10 catapults and 15-20 Horse Archers, to go along with our current army, I would feel pretty strongly about our ability to defend against pretty much anything they could send at us.

Right now, we are in 0 danger. We have at least 20 turns of peace with Dantski, so that front is secure, and more than enough units to annihilate those Praets, and Jowy, Kathlete, and Nakor have no power. Both Hampton Roads and Chancellorsville should have plenty of units to defend them. Is there any reason for us to rush to peace? Obviously it won't last. I sincerely doubt they can hit us with anything we can't handle in under 20 turns anyways.

So...what are the compelling pros for taking peace with all of them? I'm not really seeing any. I'd much rather have some sort of tiered peace, where we get 15 turns with Jowy, 20 with Kathlete and Nakor, and 25 with Whosit, or something like that, so they can't time their attack to hit us, unless they wait for all the NAPs to run out.

In the meantime, we continued the rebuilding process:

Since our cities were not in danger here, and our workers were re-connecting important strategic resources, we went ahead and revolted to Judaism. It was very good timing, since our workers could continue their labors during the turn of Anarchy, then our cities get the benefits of improved tile yields. We had actually been in Organized Religion civic for some time, partnering it with our swap to Hereditary Rule, and now it would finally start helping our cities. The horse archer on the yellow square is a Medic II unit healing other units on three different tiles. Love those Medics! The white circled tile has our two Great General axes and our catapults, ready to move to any threatened front quickly. Now that we had Construction tech, we could move over rivers at no penalty, making tactics a bit simpler.

Finally some good news diplomatically: Broker and plako of Korea, the team that had been smashed by Whosit's Praetorians earlier, decided to throw in their lot with our team. We were essentially the outcast pariahs, the targets of the strong alliance formed by Kathlete (Ottomans), Jowy (Greece), Nakor (Holy Rome), and Whosit (Rome). This group called itself the Coalition of the Willing (CoW), but only in their own emails back and forth; Speaker and I didn't even know about that name until after the game ended. Korea sought our advice on what to do diplomatically:

Broker to Killer Angels:

Greetings Speaker and Sulla

I was talking to Plako and we felt I should send a note clarifying our position. English isn't his native language and sometimes messages can be misinterpreted.

Currently we have been approached by Whosit and Nakor I believe to join in their alliance against you. Mainly by closing borders with you and hampering your research ability. Also they have asked that we provide token troop support. We believe that this is just an act of desperation on their part and that our long term interest and survivability lie with nations other than those aligned with Whosit.

We did however request the cities Whosit took as a starting point of the negotiation Compelte with his expected response of Hell No.

We have 3 options facing us and would like to hear your input as to the viability of each.

1) Join the alliance against you and hope that they don't turn on us in the future which they most probably will. This would be simply to ensure short term survival in hopes of gaining an ally later in the game.
2) Play both sides against the middle. Basically act like we are helping them (possibly close borders with you) but with no intention of actually joining them and possibly gaining some benefits from them while not hampering your civ too greatly. Then in the future joining forces with you at a later date publicly.
3) Telling them to "get bent" and just assist you as well as we can now. This could of course accelerate their aggression towards us and lead to our untimely demise.

Now I generally don't lay my cards on the table like this but this is a unique situation. We have been hamstrung and need to recover. We also understand our ability to win this game ended when the Praets entered our borders. We would however like to ensure that those who were aggressors to us also fail to win the game. We feel our best long term prospects for an enjoyable game lie with a close relationship with your civilization. However we have some geographic challenges to contend with and would need support and assistance to survive long enough to help you.

Please respond as we are getting pressure from the people allied against you to join them.

Our advice was for Korea to declare a neutral "Switzerland" role, and state that they were not taking sides in the current conflict. The other teams likely had bigger fish to fry (namely, our India!) than worrying about little Korea. Broker and plako were a weak civ without much going for them at this point, but they were the only ones who actually seemed interested in working with us. Dantski was an ally of convenience - not a friend. We did not trust him much at all. With Korea, however, we had the beginnings of an actual friendship based on mutual interest. At least we could count on one team not to attack us.

We had a couple of lurker suggestions to bury the hatchet with Holy Rome and try to ally with them. Ha! Not going to happen. They made an enemy for life when they backstabbed us. Our top goal for the game, probably even before winning, was to bring about the elimination of all of the teams that attacked us. "Choosing Unwisely" and all that.

Hey, what's that Ottoman archer doing way over there, off the west coast of Gettysburg? It turned out that Ottoman and Incan territory wasn't that far away to our west, past the Toroidal worldwrap. Our poor naval presence, due to moving the capital inland on the first turn of the game, had limited our scouting of the outer islands. That was a problem we would have to remedy someday, however there was little we could do at the moment. Hampton Roads remained our only coastal city.

Taking further stock of the situation:


So after updating some of my stats, here's what the current city count looks like:

Kathlete: 7
slaze: 7
Whosit: 6
Nakor: 6
Speaker and Sullla: 5
Dantski: 5
Jowy: 5
Broker: 4

It should be pretty clear that these numbers are against us longterm... Sure, our cities are really well-run and can support larger populations due to Hereditary Rule. However, unless we get some more cities up and running, we'll eventually fall to the superior production of the other teams. In Civ, you always need to be expanding. Expand or die.

Once we find some way to deal with Whosit's naval stuff, we're planning on refounding Shiloh, which remains a really strong location. After that, we'd love to get some offshore cities; that location with the copper and clams to the west of Gettysburg would be great. This little respite of peace should allow us to get back into growth mode. (So why not accept the peace offer from Whosit then? Well, we'd also like the flexibility to attack if circumstances change, or the other teams really screw up again! Plus, we'd like to be able to go to Dantski's aid if he gets dogpiled.)

Here's the current Power bar graph, for fun:

Whosit and Dantski are the only dangerous ones here. Jowy will take a while to recover from the massive losses he took. (Plus now all of our surviving units are double-promoted, making the next war easier.) Nakor and Kathlete just aren't that scary...

We looked great in military power - no one was going to be conquering India any time soon! And in the Demographics, we were still running pretty strong in the major categories. Nevertheless, that city count number was very troubling. Despite our explosive start, the war had dragged us back down into the middle of the pack. The other teams were beginning to pull away from us in expansion, and all the best tactical maneuvering in the world wasn't going to save us if we had 10 cities and Whosit + Kathlete invaded us with 25 cities each. We had to do something to break out of our current position...

Whosit was meanwhile doing something with his Praetorians, capturing the barb city of Kassite and then gifting it to Jowy:

The location of Kassite was a bit unfortunate, essentially giving Jowy another city on our border for free. Then Whosit gifted his stack of 8 Praetorians to Jowy for free! Wow, that was an awfully nice gesture from Whosit. In one stroke it made Jowy's military respectable again. We would have to be careful moving forward; it was a shame we weren't able to destroy those Praetorians before they reloaded onto the Roman boats.

Jowy also built the Great Wall in his city of Sparta at this point in time, Turn 114. Huh? While he was fighting a hot war with our team?!? That was probably not a good decision...

We negotiated a deal with Dantski for some of his axes and a skirmisher. He would let us borrow the units for a dozen or so turns, and in return we would gift him the units back along with a catapult (we had Construction and he did not). This was very helpful for us, but kind of a strange play for Dantski. I'm not sure why he was so willing to give us units here; the obvious play for Dantski after switching sides was to attack Holy Rome, while his military was much stronger (see the Power chart above) and Whosit's Praetorians were off gallivanting around the north. By gifting us these units, Dantski essentially gave up on his military window to attack. Since Dantski's economy was so poor, he needed to use his one advantage - a large army of axes - to gain some kind of benefit. For whatever reason though, Dantski would sit around not doing much of anything over the following turns.

That didn't stop Speaker from trying some misdirection to confuse the other teams. When Nakor was online at the same time, Speaker typed one word in the Chat to All box: "Krondor." That was the name of Holy Rome's second city, and when Nakor asked what that meant, Speaker replied with "Oops." We shortly received this amusing email:

Nakor to Killer Angels:

Titled "Krondor?"

Dear Sullla and Speaker,

We, of the Holy Roman Empire, are glad that you're taking your time regarding our "cease fire" request.
Such things need to be thought through thorougly.
So this message won't concern that thought process.

Let's talk about our common neighbour, if you are so inclined.

We must applaus you on the deal you made with Dantski.
I don't know exactly what you promised him, but it must have bene quite a big sweet!
Could that sweet be "Krondor"? We had word from a little bird that that city was mentioned...

Of course we both know that Dantski will have problems in the middle and late game to keep up in research with all those financial civs.
The best way he can cope with that is by getting more cities.
And since he has made peace with you, we seem like the most likely target.
Krondor indeed is a gem of a city. We streched quite far to get it as our second city and we knew Dantski wouldn't like it a lot.
But what can we do about it... it was the only copper resource in reach for us...
Anyway, should Dantski declare war on us, he may leave his northern cities a bit under-guarded.
Your freshly trained troops could get some experience there, should such a situation occure.
Feel free to take any advantage you want if that happens.

Well, I hope I gave you some food for thought.

Kind regards,
Nakor of HRE

Of course, we had absolutely no intention of attacking Krondor! It was a long way away from our southern border, and even if we could take the city, we'd have to gift it to Dantski. Not a war we were interested in fighting! However, this little subterfuge was pretty successful in directing Holy Rome's attention towards defending their own cities. We know now from reading their spoiler thread that Nakor and DMOC were indeed constantly worried about the possiblility of an Indian/Romali invasion of their northern border. It wasn't something that Speaker and I had any interest in doing; we were looking more to our north instead. For us, the mythical "Operation Krondor" was quite a hoot!

Now, getting back to that northern border... well, we had a plan there. There was a fine collection of catapults and axes ready to go and greet Jowy:

We posted this image in our spoiler thread and teased players by asking them where they expected the units to go. (Some of the lurkers misinterpreted this and thought we were asking for advice on where to move. Ummm, no, not the case - we already knew what our plan was going to be, and wanted to make the thread more interesting to read. I was surprised that some people criticized us for this, and for hiding our plans for two days so that we could do a big dramatic reveal.) When the stage lights came on, this was the attack plan against Jowy in full:


Alright, so we can finally pull back the curtain and reveal some of what Speaker and I have been planning. To start, we have to go back to the offered peace treaty from the Kathlete alliance that we received about two weeks ago. Speaker and I spent some time thinking this over, and ultimately we decided it wasn't in our interest to accept. Yes, 20 turns of peace would have been nice, but how would that benefit us if those four teams simply came back and attacked again as soon as the grace period was up? We're confident in our abilities, but winning against 4 vs 1 odds is asking a lot. Ultimately we decided that we had to continue this war - while we had a relative military advantage - and do our best to cripple one of the teams opposing us. Obviously Jowy was the main target there...

We had some notion of going after Thebes. However, a city on a hill with walls would be a difficult nut to crack, and even if we took the location, Thebes wasn't really worth having. It has no food bonuses, after all! We had no intention of getting sucked into a Verdun style battle, with massive losses on both sides. I'm sure that's what Jowy expected us to do, attack him right where his defenses were strongest. Instead, we decided to do an end-around maneuver through the Ardennes a la 1940.

You saw our big stack of catapults and axes last turn. What you didn't see was our stack of Mounted units, which we had very carefully hidden out of sight. That meant that when we moved at the tail end of this past turn, it came as a complete surprise to Jowy:

6 horse archers and our 2 Mobility Great General axes moved along the arrowed path (with workers roading), only to find... 1 phalanx and 1 archer on defense in Sparta. Ooops. That could be constitued a tactical mistake on Jowy's part. We were able to catch him with his pants down here because we had never shown any units here in the west (always keeping them very carefully hidden) and because our other stack drew attention to the east. And because we played the turn in total cheese fashion, moving the units up with 1 minute left on the timer, Jowy had no opportunity to whip defenders. Unless he's got a big stack within 2 tiles of Sparta, that city looks to be toast.

We also moved up our large stack too:

Kudos to our Fast Workers for building an instant road on that forest tile! I wonder if Jowy considered that move (?) It's not something that anyone other than India can do. Our slow-movers can now move up next to Argos on this current turn, meaning that if Jowy runs off to go protect Sparta, he's going to lose another one of his core cities. Either way he's in some pretty deep doodoo.

Jowy's only saving grace is that he was gifted those 8 Praetorians from Whosit (without that, he would have virtually no chance). He does also have Construction tech, so we can expect to see some catapults. For those reasons, we'd be willing to make peace with Jowy in exchange for a city or two, rather than push this fight to the bitter finish. I'm really curious to see how he's going to respond. Jowy didn't whip any units last turn, which was very puzzling. I guess he was confident in his defenses (?) We'll find out soon enough.

Apologies for not posting more recently, but secrecy was a huge part of this whole plan. The big stack of slow movers is really a giant decoy - the horse archers are the true threat!

This really was the perfect time to strike Jowy, since we had a relative military advantage (catapults and horse archers) that wouldn't last forever. Our next tech push was going to have to be economic in nature. Thus attack *NOW*, while we had the superior units in quality and quantity! I do regret having to do the cheese "move in one one minute left on the timer" thing, but otherwise Jowy could have whipped out extra military units in his cities. The rules for the game pretty much mandated this sort of behavior. The one big fear that we had surrounded the location of those gifted Praetorians. Where were they, and how would Jowy respond? Speaker summarized the result with this picture:

While also admonishing, "Don't do a Google image search for Pants Down!" OK, as for what actually took place:


That's the only way I can summarize this turn. Just... wow. Settle in for a good read, folks, because this could be one of the biggest turns of the game.

We had a lot of decisions to make at the start of this turn. We got our units into pretty good position (we did a lot of smart 2-pop whips, to answer the question of where these units came from), but just building units is only half of the equation. One reason why I like Civ so much is that there's a place for both grand strategy and also small-unit tactics. This turn was a textbook example of how the smallest details of unit movement can sometimes make all the difference in the world.

Here's what we saw at the start of this turn:

Jowy added a phalanx and a catapult to Sparta's defenses this turn. Phalanx was fine, but a catapult? Huh? Like, did he pay attention to the fact that we were attacking with horse archers? That unit should have been placed elsewhere, as it was only going to die uselessly in Sparta. Not a good decision, 50 shields thrown away meaninglessly.

In the south, Jowy moved the three units on the hill next to Thebes into the city itself, and moved all the units in the city... somewhere into the fog. We guessed that they had moved NE-NE, to be in between Thebes and Argos, but we couldn't know for certain. Plus, we didn't know where those gifted Praetorians were located either.

What we needed was more information. Moving blindly into the fog is one of the dumbest things possible when playing against humans. (This is why MP games should be set with spies OFF, as in this game, because it's way too easy to defend when you have invisible units that can run around in enemy territory. But I digress.) Before doing anything else this turn, therefore, we sent out a spear to die by moving north onto the hill tile, which gave us line of sight on... well, pretty much everything!

Bingo, those former Thebes units were right where we thought they would be. (Note that having moved, they lost all fortify bonus that they had previously.) More importantly, we also found the gifted Praetorian stack, on the yellow tile just north of Jowy's stack. This gave us three critical pieces of info:

- That stack could reach Sparta next turn. Therefore, we couldn't possibly capture the city and had to raze it.
- That stack could *NOT* reach Athens in timely fashion. If we could take down Sparta, the path forward would be totally clear.
- Argos had a single archer on defense. Whoops!

Now we had the info needed to play the rest of the turn. Raze Sparta and move the slow-movers up next to Argos. If Jowy's forces had been positioned differently, we would have played the turn differently. This was pretty much the textbook example of why scouting matters!

Next up was the battle of Sparta:

- Horse archer beats phalanx (76%)
- Horse archer beats phalanx (68%)
- Horse archer beats archer (~80%)
- Horse archer beats catapult (99%)

No losses, raze the city, and pillage 108 gold. How's that for payback?!?

But oh wait, it gets much better than that! Speaker had the idea to move the horse archer who killed that last catapult in Sparta another tile north, onto the iron hill tile. What we saw next was absolultely stunning:

Jowy moved two archers OUT OF ATHENS!!!!! WTF was he smoking here?!? These units couldn't reach Sparta in time to matter, and by next turn the city could have been relieved by the (vastly larger) stack of Praetorians to the south. So these archers were just sort of chilling around in the middle of nowhere, giving up their fortify bonus to achieve nothing of note. And with the disappearing of Sparta's cultural borders, we were able to not only see these archers, but MOVE UP AND KILL both archers! That's right, these archers lost their 25% fortify bonus and their 40% cultural bonus and their 50% natural city defense bonus to be killed by horse archers at 99% odds on flat ground... leaving Athens completely vulnerable to attack. We've got all 8 surviving Mounted units ready to hit his capital next turn. Unless there's some miracle army out there, Jowy's capital is toast.

Speaker's reaction over the chat client was "omfg" when he saw the archers, and that's probably the best way to sum it all up. Jowy threw away his capital due to stupid unit micro!!!

So here's the current situation, after rolling over the new turn:

Athens has 1 archer inside, which just completed this turn. I don't really see how Jowy can get much more in there. Argos has 1 archer and 1 catapult (snicker). We have 6 cats, 13 axes, and 2 spears next to it. Even if Jowy moves all of his units into Argos, he's going to take savage losses in there. What he should have done was whipped CITY WALLS, not a catapult, for a massive defensive bonus. Another dumb move. It doesn't really matter if he moves his big stacks into Argos or not:

- If he does, we have a decisive battle and kill off nearly all of his Praetorians/Phalanxes.
- If not, we raze Argos, which is probably his best city now that Sparta is gone.

Tough choice for Jowy. So we offered him an "out" diplomatically:


We are prepared to sign a peace treaty with you and the other three teams in your alliance (Athlete/kalin, Nakor, and Whosit). Our terms are:

- You gift us the cities of Thebes and Argos.
- All of our teams agree to a Non-Aggression Pact, which will last until Turn 150 (~28 turns).

We realize that these are harsh terms, but you will still be able to remain in the game and rebuild. (Look at the progress Broker and plako have made recently.) If you refuse, we're more than happy to fight on and raze more of your cities.

On a side note, we're also sick to death of working within the clock rules, and would sure like to get things back to normal...

The Killer Angels"

Once again, we see ourselves as benefitting either way here. If Jowy agrees to peace, cool beans: we get 2 free cities, and can go back to pushing growth in safety for the next ~25 turns. If not, well, he can kiss his two cities goodbye and we'll go right ahead razing Greek cities until the bitter end. I mean, if we get Athens and Argos, he's down to Corinth (a good city), Thebes (haha), and Kassite (a size 1 barb city). And Jowy's economy was atrocious already, so he'll be approaching "STRIKE" range if he loses two more cities. I think he's pretty screwed regardless now.

Jowy's mistakes here were mostly tactical in nature. He had enough units to defend against us, but they were simply caught out of position. By moving the big axemen + catapult stack over in the east, we forced the bulk of his army to move over in the same direction, opening up a gap that our Mounted units poured through. Once the border city of Sparta was down, the route to Athens was completely open. This is yet another reason why Mounted units are so dangerous - their speed makes all the difference! (We had the further benefit of protecting our eight horse archers with two Morale Great General axes, each with two moves as well. Nasty stuff, since your axes can keep up with the horse archers and defend them against spears.) Jowy did not have much experience with Multiplayer games, so it was understandable that he was caught out of position here.

Jowy did indeed accept our peace offer, which was a great relief to us. Certainly, we could have fought on and done quite well, but the peace terms we offered were even better for India:


Sorry if you were wanting more bloodshed, but I really do believe this was the best move for us to make. Let's go through the full rationale here.

First of all, you have to keep the game settings in mind. This is a "No Tech Trading" game - and thank goodness it is, or else we would have died in the big dogpile earlier. Under these settings technology is king, even more so than in a normal game. If you fall behind in military tech, you're going to die, and that's all there is to it. Smaller and backwards teams will get crushed mercilessly in the long run. There's no riding on the coattails of others, like you saw in the Pitboss #1 game where certain teams contributed virtually nothing while staying fully caught up with new techs by their alliance mates. Everyone has to stand on their own feet in this game.

That's why Speaker and I were under no real compulsion to destroy Jowy here. Where's the rush? He lost half his cities (including what I would consider his best two, Sparta and Argos) and has the worst economy in the game. Remember, Jowy focused his research on military techs: he teched Math and Construction to the detriment of other stuff. That means no Monarchy, no Currency, no Code of Laws, no Calendar, and so on. It's going to take him absolutely ages to tech anything; if we wait 50 turns and fight again, we should have a major technological and production edge. It all snowballs in this game, remember.

Now if this had been a tech trading game, we absolutely would have pushed on and tried to eliminate Jowy now, before he could be gifted up to tech parity by his buddies. But that's just not needed for this game... because Jowy's not the main danger anymore. We wanted to neutralize him, and we did by taking out half his empire. The real danger is posed by Kathlete and Whosit and slaze, who have been building and teching merrily along for the last 25 turns while we were in a death struggle. Wasting our time and energy fighting with a third-rate backwater civ like Jowy's would not be a good play here. We've gotta tech and build up to keep pace with those other teams out in the fog!

I also got the sense from some of the posters that we were being nice or magnanimous to Jowy by making this peace offer. Ummm, not in the least, although if it came out seeming that way, we appreciate it. Look at what we gained by this conflict:

* We were gifted two free cities (and you'll see why that was important when I post the pictures in a second).
* We lost ZERO units on the attack. Not even one... and we gained some valuable extra XP too.
* We are going to poach that Sparta location for ourselves. Oh yes, you better believe it!

So that's three cities, two of them quality, taken with absolutely no losses to ourselves. What would be the point of fighting further? Yeah, we could probably kill Jowy's big stack, but only by losing all our cats. Why would we want to do that? Let's keep our units to live and fight another day, so our cities can build infrastructure now rather than more units.

You also have to remember, we pretty much cleaned house to make this attack. We left NOTHING behind; Fredericksburg had 1 archer and 1 skirmisher defending it. Now Jowy didn't know that, but I had a fear lurking in the back of my mind that Jowy would "sacrifice" himself and just try to do as much damage to our team as possible to help out his alliance mates. And he could have done some real damage with that stack, even if it was just forcing another round of emergency whipping. In diplomacy, you never want to force the other guy into an impossible situation. Always give them an "out" of some kind, so they can come away feeling at least somewhat good. We did that deliberately with Jowy, and I'm very happy with the outcome.

Never force your enemy into a situation with no escape and no way out, because they'll fight like demons. (There's a reason why we say "remember the Alamo" in my country.) Hell, even the pathetic Templars put up an impressive fight when they had no way out. Believe me, we wanted to avoid that with Jowy!

We'll get to the postwar rebuilding and the new Greek cities on the next page. First though, I want to address one of the biggest questions of the entire Pitboss game: why did the 5 vs 1 alliance fail? It was a good idea on paper, but the excecution failed to achieve its goal in practice, aside from burning down our smallest city and carrying out some minor pillaging. What went wrong? Here were the biggest factors:

* Failure to communicate properly. Speaker and I were able to jump on Teamspeak and hash out all of our unit moves together, with no loss of coordination. For the other side, they were forced to try and link up the movements of five different teams, with many of the individuals involved located in different time zones all over the world. I knew from the Apolyton Demogame just how difficult it had been to try and coordinate movements with Donovan Zoi of Banana. Attempting to work with four other teams at once must have been a nightmare. I believe that athlete was trying to be the one in overall command, but it had to have been pretty crazy. We saw firsthand how Dantski's units often seemed to be off doing their own thing, with little relation to the Greek/Ottoman force.

* Insufficient map knowledge. Because we were still in the early game, prior to the discovery of Paper tech, the teams allied against us could not exchange map information. They also weren't allowed to send each other screenshots for the same reason. That meant that their discussions had to be entirely text-based, with more room for confusion and misunderstandings. We had full sight visibility at all times, because we were defending within our own territory. Now compare that to the view of athlete:

Not quite so easy when it looks like this, right? The need for each side to describe what was going on to their allies made the attack that much more difficult to pull off.

* Timing of Non-Aggression Pacts. This was more accidental than anything else, but the other teams really bungled this one. We had an NAP with Dantski to Turn 90, with Jowy to Turn 95, with Kathlete to Turn 100, and with Nakor to Turn 105. Meanwhile, the long travel time for Whosit meant that he didn't arrive with his Praetorians until Turn 109. The result was that each team entered the war at different points in time, filing across the border in almost piecemeal fashion. For the first five turns of the war, we could concentrate almost exclusively on the Greek/Ottoman units. Dantski didn't declare war until Turn 100, and then it took him a further three turns to move into a threatening position. The war had been going on for seven turns already by the time Nakor entered with his small stack. And we were able to get the Dantski/Nakor units under control by the time that the Whosit Praetorian landing took place. Even without the mistaken declaration of war, we still would have likely held all our cities.

The mistiming of all these war declarations meant that we were never facing the full 50+ units at one time. It was more like 20 units, then five turns later another 20 units, then five turns later another 10 units. And we could handle that, if barely. Had all of the enemy units arrived at once, we would have been defeated, no doubt about it. This whole point goes back to the previous one, on the difficulty of communicating and coordinating actions!

* Timing on the Tech Tree. Finally, the Coalition of the Willing picked a bad time to attack on the tech tree itself. Certain periods lend themselves to offensive warfare: immediately after discovering Bronze Working/The Wheel (rush with axes or chariots before the other side has metals connected), right after discovering Construction (hit with cats + elephants ideally), attack when you have Guilds (knights) or Civil Service (maces) and when the other guy doesn't have longbows yet, etc. Conversely, there are also times that are especially bad for offensive warfare: right after the defender gets Feudalism/longbows and Nationalism/drafted muskets being two good examples. It's also a bad idea in general to attack right before the discovery of Construction, because the other side with have lots of axes/spears and 40-50% cultural defenses in cities while you still can't drop those defenses. All you can really do is pillage a bit and hope to find an undefended city. In other words, this was simply a bad era in which to attack. Granted, I'm not sure waiting would have been a good idea either (with India having Construction on the horizon), but attacking even earlier might have worked well.

* Dantski switching sides. Obviously this was the key breakthrough for us, and one which we didn't even do much to encourage. I guess it wasn't too surprising that someone would drop out of the alliance though; hard to make the case that so much fighting with little success was in the interests of all five members.

Finally, peace at last! Speaker could take a break for a while, and I could take charge of what I enjoy most: building up a powerful civilization.