Realms Beyond Pitboss #2: Economic Bailout

Here was the situation in the immediate postwar period:


"City 1" is where we will replace Sparta, one tile south because of the Athens borders. It sucks to move off the coast (and we could use more naval bases!) but that spot still has triple food bonuses (sheep, rice, deer) along with multiple hill tiles and oodles of grassland river tiles. Will make for a powerful hybrid city along the Sparta or Chancellorsville model. The plan is to whip the settler under production at Chancellorsville (which we started last turn - yes, we're always planning ahead!) and do some worker road-building which will allow us to replant the city on Turn 124. And we'll do it right at the start of the turn too, so unless Jowy has a settler ready to go next turn (and I don't see how that's possible, since Athens isn't even large enough to whip a settler, and Corinth is too far away) we're a lock to land that site. Pretty cool, eh?

Let's look at the new cities:

Argos I see as our new barracks city in the east. With the stone + iron and few river tiles, I don't see the need to go commerce here. Instead, let's farm the few river tiles we do have (and spread irrigation to more grassland tiles post-Civil Service) and emphasize shields here. I have the city set to a stables, but that's basically a placeholder. What we really want is a Forge, which we'll chop out when Metal Casting finishes researching. (Thanks for leaving us those forests, Jowy!) We can very easily get to 16 shields/turn here, which becomes 20/turn with a forge in place... very strong production at this stage of the game. Get a stables here too and we're cranking out 2.5 turn horse archers. Powerful stuff. (Alternately, let's get Judaism in here and build some 2t missionaries. That would really help some of our other cities develop.)

Other points of interest: because the city was gifted and not captured, Argos retained all of its buildings, including the monument!!! No need to get culture in here, it'll pop on its own in 10 turns. Very nice. Not as good: maintenance costs are 10gpt! The Toroidal map is going to force our hand and send us to Code of Laws next after Metal Casting. We're going to need those courthouses up and running. The good news is that forge + Organized Religion followed by courthouses, markets, etc. is actually a pretty good economic development path!

Thebes is a more interesting project. Now this is not a good city, but we can make it productive with some elbow grease. (I have 4 of our 7 workers assigned here, because it needs serious attention. And yes, we'll need more workers soon too! After we finish this crop of settlers though.) I thought it over, and I see Thebes turning into a commerce city. It just isn't strong enough to serve as a military producer; on the other hand, the sole redeeming quality of this location is its oodles of grassland river tiles. So the best plan I can see is to farm some of grassland tiles, get up to +4 or better +5 food/turn, and then cottage everything else in sight. I know it doesn't look like it, but this will actually be a backline city once Sparta's replacement is founded, so it will be relatively safe to build cottages.

Jowy managed this city awfully... He mostly worked unimproved grassland forests. Ugh! That's really, really bad. And I know this was a frontline city, but he could have done some farming and mining to the north/east. Anyway, the first thing we have to do is get some farms down to increase the food per turn. I couldn't do that this turn, but what I could do was replace one of Chancellorsville's cottages and assign it to Thebes (since Chance has enough improved tiles right now) to get rid of one of those horrid grassland forests. On the next two turns, I plan to add farms on the two "F" tiles, which will get the city up to +4 food/turn. Next, the workers will chop the jungle on the sugar tile, then cottage it to create a 3/0/1 tile, as good as a grassland river farm, so it can work that tile until we research Calendar down the road. That would get the city to something like this:

Center tile 2/1/1
Sugar tile 3/0/1
Grassland farm 3/0/1
Grassland farm 3/0/1
Total: +5 food per turn

Then start chopping the forests (to complete the library, very nice) and just add cottages as it grows. With that granary already in place, this city won't totally suck, and will grow decently. Give us 10 turns, and we'll turn this into a solid productive city.

And the overall Demographic view:

Our economy is going to be down for the immediate future, so expect the GNP number not to be super-impressive. But now it's a "good" low GNP, caused by expansion and maintenance costs rather than losing cities and whipping constantly. Note that our army is still kinda large... We won't have to add much there, and can concentrate on our infrastructure push. We'll actually go down, when we gift those borrowed units from Dantski back.

I'm more concerned with the Food and Production graphs. We were starting to fall behind badly there, stuck at 5 cities while our rivals raced out to 7 and 8. That spelled a slow death if we didn't do something! But now we're back on the right track, with 7 cities now and plans to expand as far as 10 in the next dozen or so turns. We should retake the food lead in due course, and that will pull along our economy with it.

Militarily, we were an unassailable fortress at this point in time, with a military rating almost double that of the next-closest power. Unfortunately, all those units were costing us a pretty penny, and the jump from five out to eight cities all at once put a noticeable strain in our finances. The pictures illustrated this quite well, with our Indian civ losing 44 gold/turn at 50% science. In order to get to the break-even rate, we had to drop all the way down to 20% science! Obviously we needed more economic techs and infrastructure, and we needed them fast.

Overview picture showing the replacement city for Sparta:

We planted Spartansburg two tiles south of the old city's ruins for defensive purposes. While this meant giving up a coastal location and the iron resource, we couldn't go around sticking a city right on the border with Greece, in a spot where it could be attacked easily. Spartansburg still contained triple food bonuses (irrigated rice + grassland sheep + grassland deer) for a staggering +11 food surplus in total. It looked as though we had found our Philosophical Great Person city!

We also now had stone on hand, thanks to the aquisition of Argos (rechristened St. Albans) in the peace treaty. This allowed us to build Moai Statues at a reasonable pace in Hampton Roads, and begin work on an aqueduct at St. Albans itself. Yep, you know what that meant...

Hanging Gardens Plan:

T122 0/30 food, 0/100 aqueduct, 0/10 culture

T123 4/30 food, 8/100 aqueduct, 1/10 culture

T124 8/30 food, 16/100 aqueduct, 2/10 culture

T125 12/30 food, 24/100 aqueduct, 3/10 culture

T126 16/30 food, 32/100 aqueduct, 4/10 culture

T127 20/30 food, 40/100 aqueduct, 5/10 culture

T128 24/30 food, 48/100 aqueduct, 6/10 culture

T129 28/30 food, 56/100 aqueduct, 7/10 culture [spread religion]
whip 28/26 food, 131/100 aqueduct

T130 137/100 aqueduct = 74/300 Hanging Gardens, 9/10 culture
chop NE, chop NW [67 shields each]

T131 208/300 Hanging Gardens, 11/10 culture [borders expand]
chop E-E, NE-E [67 shields each]

T132 Hanging Gardens 342/300, overflow into forge

We had the Fast Workers and forest chops available, along with stone. This allowed us to knock out the wonder from start to finish in ten turns, making use of a double-whip and four forest chops. The plan was set; now all we could do was wait and see if anyone out there in the fog would beat us to it.

Hanging Gardens or not, our economy was in some serious doldrums at this point. On Turn 124, we were making a mere 11 gold/turn at 0% science! Those Toroidal maintenance costs were killing us. The problem wasn't our research capacity, as we could make 200 beakers/turn at 100% science. Rather, we were simply suffering from very high costs as a result of our military expansion. Ideally, we would have increased in size gradually, rather than making this abrupt leap from five to eight cities. Once we reached the next tier of economic techs (Currency, Code of Laws, and Calendar) we would be alright - but in the meantime, we were hurting pretty badly. We had just enough gold left over from city captures to limp to Metal Casting, and after that? Not entirely sure how we were going to get to the next tech in reasonable fashion.

Could we do something about this diplomatically? If we could somehow get our hands on roughly 250 gold, it would cover the cost of two turns at 100% research, allowing us to knock 500 beakers out of the 590 needed to discover Currency. We decided to take a shot and see if Korea would be able to float us a loan or exchange of cash. They already had Currency tech, and were actually doing OK in overall research by virtue of building the Great Lighthouse. (All of their cities were coastal, scattered across two islands, and thus pulling in the Great Lighthouse trade route benefits.)

Killer Angels to Korea:

Dear Broker and plako,

Thanks for letting us know a little more about some of your upcoming tech plans. It helps us understand what you guys are thinking about, and what sort of things to emphasize. We are finishing up Metal Casting (it's about 80% researched) at the moment, and need to backtrack for the economic techs of Currency and Code of Laws after that. As you can imagine, we have an excess of military technology at the moment!

We actually wanted to come asking for some economic assistance from your team. Because the end of the war with Jowy left us with three new cities simultaneously, we're hurting right now on maintenance costs. Our research capacity is quite high - we can do just shy of 200 beakers/turn at 100% research - but we also have very high costs from supporting a large army. Currency is the key economic gateway tech; once we get there, we can add a trade route in every city, construct markets, and even build Wealth in cities if need be. We need to get to Currency ASAP to get our economy humming along smoothly again.

Now since you guys just finished researching Currency, we'd like to know if you could help us out with some temporary cash. We need right around 250 gold to drive our research through to completion on Currency. We don't expect you to give that to us (although it would really be nice, haha!) but we would like to "buy" some gold from you to get us past this bottleneck spot. We'd be open to any of the following:

- Return payment at a later date, with some interest (say 300 gold later for 250 gold now)
- Return payment in gold per turn (10gpt for 30 turns maybe?)
- Trading resources in exchange for gold; we'd be happy to send your our stone, iron, horses, etc. for a while
- Selling units for gold; we have horse archers, for example, since your team probably doesn't have much interest in researching HBR [Horseback Riding] tech

If something attracts your interest, please let us know! We're happy to discuss things with you guys and make whatever arragements benefit your team. You can really, really help us out in this matter, and we'd greatly appreciate it.

Humbly requesting a bank loan,
The Killer Angels

As it turned out, Broker and plako were looking for a little more military security, and they were interested in trading for a pair of horse archers. They could not train their own horse archers, lacking both the tech and their own source of horses (which had been taken by Whosit). We settled upon a deal to trade two double-promoted (5 XP) horse archers to Korea in return for 160 gold. They were even kind enough to advance us the money before receiving the units, which would take a few turns to get there by galley. Very nice friends, our brothers in Korea!

Around this time, we happened to spot a Holy Roman chariot moving around and exploring the central island. That was bad news for us; we certainly didn't want rival teams setting up shop across the inner sea from Fredericksburg. Sadly, the razing of Shiloh had set us very far back in this area. We still didn't have a replacement city on the inner sea, and no means to build ships over there or ferry units to the center island. Nor could we replace Shiloh as yet until our finances improved. Nothing we could do at the moment, other than try to develop our financial power more quickly.

Speaking of Holy Rome, they were keen to patch things up with us now that the war was over. All of our former enemies were being really friendly at the moment - perhaps because we still had that monster army! - but Holy Rome even more so than the others. I think they may have been hoping to get us to turn on Dantski and ally with them. This message was key in starting up a new exchange:

Nakor to Killer Angels:

Hi Sullla and Speaker,

That war is over, the axe burried.
You've ignored our last messages, but that was before the war ended.

Is there a way we can leave this behind us and focus on a good future together?
Or should we start sharpening our knives and expect you to join Dantski in an attack on us after t150?

We do believe that Dantski will attack us since he is ignoring all our messages.

Hope to hear your thoughts on this situation.

Nakor of HRE

Now we had no intention of turning on Dantski. Ally of convenience or not, he had helped save our bacon earlier, and that meant a lot to us. We also had no desire to team up with Holy Rome, the same team which had lied and manipulated us during the whole 5 vs 1 debacle. Nevertheless, Nakor and DMOC had just discovered Currency tech, and they also had a small stockpile of gold sitting around. We decided to take a shot at getting some money from Holy Rome as well, threatening them somewhat and playing upon their feelings of guilt for attacking us earlier:

Killer Angles to Holy Rome:

Dear Nakor and DMOC of Holy Rome,

Yes, we did ignore the previous message, but I'm sure you'll understand that we were a little occupied at that time.

Let's see, focus on the future together... well, a lot of that depends on what your team does going forward. We can see that you have a very strong research economy, and not the greatest military in the world. Given our past history, honestly, why shouldn't we join Dantski in an attack on your team after our treaty-enforced peace is up? Heck, we don't even have to wait that long: what's to stop us from gifting most of our army to Dantski and letting him tear you a new one? We'd pay less in unit maintenance, we'd see an ally get stronger, and the tech leader would be slowed dramatically.

Of course you could give us your word that you want to clear the waters and move forward together, but there are still some hurt feelings over here about what happened. So let me offer you guys a deal: we'd like some repayment for what happened earlier. Call it war reparations, call it a bribe, whatever - but we'd like a gift of, say, 100 gold. Your team seems pretty flush with cash right now, I don't think that would be a serious issue for you. In return, we promise that we will *NOT* do a massive gifting of units to Dantski, and we will wipe clean the slate of past actions to start over again diplomatically.

That might sound like we're being jerks about this, and we sort of are, but then again your team was pretty unfriendly to us earlier as well. I don't think it's terribly unreasonable to expect some kind of compensation.

The Killer Angels

We were essentially asking for a bribe, in return for a promise not to do something that we weren't planning on doing anything (helping Dantski attack Holy Rome). I really didn't think that this was going to work - much to my surprise, it did!

Nakor to Killer Angels:

Dear Speaker and Sullla of India,

It's great to know that you are willing to start over on a clean diplomatic slate. I (DMOC) was initially reluctant to send you those emails earlier saying that we wouldn't attack you (or something along those lines) because that was our old plan all along, and I should have tried to stop our team from sending those emails. Naturally, I didn't put in as much effort as I should have, which is entirely my fault.

We'd certainly be willing to gift you 100 gold in exchange for you not doing a massive gifting of units to Dantski (of course, that depends on what you mean by massive gifting - any clarification would be nice =] ). We've just finished a technology and are at 0% research at the moment, so we'll get the cash in no time. You are right that we are strong in research but weak in military - which is something we're definitely going to rectify in the following 25 turns.

Once we make a cash repayment, I think we should make some further steps to patch up our relationships. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this? Resource deals? Extended NAPs? An exchange of units (such as your fast workers for settlers)? We'll gladly consider whatever action you suggest to us.

DMOC (Yes it's been a while since I wrote something) of the HRE team

Thus in a series of one turn, our gold reserves went from 23g (start of turn) + 100g (Nakor) + 130g (Broker) + 26g (0% research this turn) = 279g. Currency, here we come! (Also, notice how Holy Rome switched from Nakor to DMOC in their diplomacy with us? Not a coincidence, haha.)

Where were those Greek Praetorians heading? They disappeared into the fog from our point of view, however soon we would find out from the Demographics that Jowy had gifted them over to Kathlete's Ottomans. Kind of hard to disguise a giant Power spike/fall when that many units are gifted! We weren't sure where these units were going or what they would be used for...

Meanwhile, Jowy was replacing some of his lost cities with new ones, confusingly cities with the same names as the ones he had lost! Thus you see Thebes #2 above, and there would be an Argos #2 as well. Confusing. This Thebes at least had a much better location than the previous one, and probably this would have been a better location for Jowy's fourth city earlier. There was still a lot of unclaimed territory in what was supposed to be Byzantine space, which Greece and the Ottomans were slowly filling it. Jowy theoretically could still be a player in this game by claiming that land, and in fact Kathlete would gift Greece two settlers to help them expand again. Jowy's problem was his economy, not space to expand, as he lacked economic techs and had slowed his early development by whipping out lots of phalanxes. Greece would be a long time in recovering, with the No Tech Trading rules.

Diplomatically, our overriding goal was preventing a recurrence of the great war coalition which had formed against India earlier. The best means of achieving that was staggering our Non-Aggression Pacts with the other teams so that they would run out at different points in time. Yes, we had an NAP to Turn 150 with a whole mess of teams, but what if they all attacked again at the same time on said turn? Over a lengthy series of diplomatic exchanges, we renegotiated our NAPs to set up a system of varying lengths: still the default Turn 150 with Whosit, until Turn 160 with Jowy, until Turn 170 with Kathlete, and until Turn 175 with Dantski. Thus arrayed, the other teams could not hit us all at once. We did not sign an NAP extention with Holy Rome for now, to keep the other teams guessing about our intentions next.

The Hanging Gardens continued to develop nicely, according to the plan we had drawn up. Note how nearly all of the production (84 out of 90 shields) is coming from either aqueduct whip overflow or forest chopping. Then you stack the +125% production multiplier from stone and Organized Religion, for a grand total of 202 shields of production. If you're ever wondering how the "pro players" can complete wonders so fast, it's through little tricks like this.

Project completed on schedule:

Well done! We planned to produce a forge in St. Albans next, and then run an Engineer specialist which along with the wonder would produce a Great Engineer for us. Helped to be Philosophical there. We later found out that we had narrowly beaten an Ottoman attempt at the same wonder, by virtue of us having captured a stone resource and Jowy no longer being able to send the same resource to Kathlete. Oh, and check out that Currency research too. The economic bailout of 260g from Korea (160g) and Holy Rome (100g) had been successful. If there's one thing you should *NEVER* do in a No Tech Trading game, it's feed extra gold to a team with high research capability held back by high maintenance costs. We now had the key bottleneck economic tech (which has always been Currency) and were back in business as a research power.

Stone also allowed us to complete Moai Statues in Hampton Roads, turning an already good city into a monster of a naval base. We planned to grow the city for a while and pick up more of those sweet 2/1/3 coastal tiles, then go back to working the hill tiles. With forge and Organized Religion, this city could get up to 20 base shields, 30 total shields without trouble. That meant we could begin the first stirrings of some naval power...

We were getting our first real look at that offshore island now that we had a galley in the water, and there was some excellent land over there. Definitely worth settling, once we had the means to defend it. We planned to rebuild the Shiloh location first for city #9, and then look into taking some of these locations. The marble resource was especially tempting, as we lacked any access to it.

Demographics update from Turn 133:


We are dominant in the Demographics, and unfortunately the score is starting to reflect this. (Again, it's better not to be out in front in score, but we can't do anything to stop it, argh.) The one interesting thing is that Kathlete has the Production lead, so they are pumping a lot of shields right now. Wonder what they are doing (?) It's likely either a military buildup (to attack slaze?) or they recently discovered Metal Casting and are doing a forge rush like we are. Too bad we lack visibility on any of their cities!

The GNP stat deserves a little more explanation. According to what you see above, we are rated as "Average" in this category, which isn't bad at all when running break-even research. (Keep in mind that our GNP goes to 210+ if we go to 100% research.) But it's actually a little better than that, because our 30% research is being compared against the 100% research of other teams. Kathlete, Nakor, plako, etc. all appear to be running major deficit research at the moment. That boosts their GNP number and makes them look better than their true sustainable rate. Plus, anyone researching techs we already have get a small bonus to the GNP as well. Overall, we're doing well here, better than I expected to be honest. And we still don't have any markets or courthouses yet!!!

We look good in other economic indicators too. Our 8 cities equal or better every other team in the game, with the one exception of slaze's 10 cities (and of course we'll have city #9 planted next turn). Given that we fought a huge war, and even had a city razed, I think that compares pretty well. (Look at the other teams that lost cities: Mortius and regoarrarr are dead, and plako is way behind.) But the civics comparison is further instructive, because we have a major edge there. Let me summarize:

Teams with Hereditary Rule: us, Nakor, Dantski, plako
Teams with Organized Religion: us, slaze

And that's it! Everyone else is running the default civics plus Slavery. Half the teams in the game either skipped Monarchy tech or didn't adopt HR, which explains our population edge despite massive whipping and serious unhappiness. We are also one of only 2 teams getting value from OR, which is a major omission for teams like Kathlete and Nakor who have their own self-founded religion. 7 out of 8 cities have Judaism present, soon to be 8 out of 9, so we are getting a major bonus there. And later on, we'll switch over to Theocracy civic for double-promoted units popping out of every city. It all adds up to a major difference!

The fact that so many other teams weren't taking advantage of civics like Hereditary Rule and Organized Religion was a major weakness in their gameplay. We heavily stressed the combination of forges and Organized Religion in our core cities, granting them a 50% production bonus when building city improvements. These bonuses do apply to whips as well, and you can imagine that getting 45 shields per population point instead of 30 made a big difference. A marketplace cost 5 population normally, but only 3 population with the forge + OR combination! Like everything else, this was part of the Civilization snowball. Get the infrastructure up faster, so you can found more cities, so that you can build more units, so that you can go kick some behind...

We replaced Shiloh on the same tile, since it was a strong city location. It also felt good from a morale standpoint to have this city back within the fold. Too bad we were set back by some 40 turns here by the war...

We were actually suffering through a serious happiness crunch during these turns, as we raced towards Calendar tech to connect our plantation resources:


I've highlighted the happiness indicator; notice how we have 0 or 1 happy surplus in all of our original core cities. We're maintaining this slim margin through large military garrisons in each city - check out the picture of Chancellorsville above [omitted here], where *SEVEN* units are necessary to keep the city pacified. All of the core cities are still carrying 2-4 unhappy faces from our earlier whipping. So you see, even though we're not fighting anyone right now, our large military is absolutely critical from an economic perspective just to keep the cities from suffering unhappy faces.

The downside is that we would be in truly bad shape if we had to fight anyone right now, because so much of our military is tied up on Hereditary Rule military police duty. There's a reason why we asked for that long NAP in our peace treaty deal, we knew this was going to happen! Fortunately, forges + markets + three Calendar happiness resources will solve this problem and allow us to get our units back into the field again... just in time should we need to go to war around Turn 150. Pretty nicely timed, eh?

Speaking of Calendar resources, I fiddled with the sliders and the bonus beakers and saw that one other team has already discovered the tech (we are getting a 1.03 bonus multiplier on beakers). I guessed that that would be Kathlete, and indeed their diplo screen shows silks already connected. That wasn't there two turns ago, so they only just discovered Calendar tech. So we're slightly behind Kathlete here, but only by a couple of turns, and of course we have other techs that Kathlete lacks. It's unquestionable that they're building up to attack someone, as Kathlete continues running high shields and slowly creeping up in military power. My guess would be slaze, since they signed that extended NAP with us. Could also be plako or Dantski, I guess.

Oh, one last bit of good news on Calendar: despite the screens showing 4 turns to discovery, we can almost certainly get the tech in 3 turns by running 30%, 30%, 40% science. Seems like it would probably be worth it to do so, get our plantations started a turn earlier.

I also did a new overall city count:

slaze: 10 cities
Speaker/Sullla: 9 cities
Kathlete: 9 cities
Whosit: 9 cities
Nakor: 9 cities
Dantski: 7 cities
Broker/plako: 7 cities
Jowy: 6 cities

Thus we're basically equal with our main competitors, which is where we'd like to be. (Well we'd like to be ahead, but this is pretty good all things considered!) Remember how we were in a situation during that war where we only had 5 cities, and our rivals were racing out to 7 or 8 cities. That was a very, very dangerous situation for us, because even though we were winning on the battlefield we were starting to fall too far behind to be competitive. Now that we have parity, we're confident that we can out-build and out-fight these other teams. So long as we face no more than a 2 vs 1, we should be fine.

Have I mentioned enough about how awesome Hereditary Rule civic was for us in this game? Also, check out the city builds. Emphasizing forges there just a wee bit.

At about this time, slaze of Inca suddenly contacted us. We had heard virtually nothing from him ever since he took over, so what was the issue now?

slaze to Killer Angels:

It would have been nice if you gave some response to my last message.

AK [athlete and kalin] cancelled our nap effective turn 130. By conditions of the nap, no hostilities until turn 155. Anyone else is of course free to declare at anytime and I expect whosit declared/willdeclareshortly when i log in. I'd appreciate any help you can give, I'm gonna need all I can get for this dogpile.

The Ottomans were planning on canceling their 25-turn Non-Aggression Pact cooldown, which meant that they would be attacking Inca on Turn 155. slaze expected that Whosit would join in as well, putting him into a 2 vs 1 situation against Ottomans and Rome. He wanted some kind of military assistance from us in this pending war. We were not terribly enthusiastic, to say the least. When we had been facing the large attack earlier, slaze had done absolutely nothing to help us, not even willing to go so far as to Open Borders with our team. We had received the infamous EXPANSION IS KEY email (in all caps!), and indeed Inca had taken advantage of the attack on our team to race out to a full 11 cities. But slaze had virtually no defenders whatsoever, and was by far the lowest-ranked team in the game in military strength. We honestly felt that he was only getting what he deserved, for expanding so quickly without the means to protect what he had. As Speaker said:


How not to win over an ally...

First he tells us in all caps that he is in expansion mode and will not be helping us. Then he comes begging for "any help you can give, I'm gonna need all I can get for this dogpile." For what dogpile? And how can we really help him? He's on the other side of the world. Then three days later, there is no fear of a dogpile and he expects attacks from others. Then he makes some ridiculous comment about us not returning emails. Sorry, we neglected to return one email to you and took two days to respond to Korea, neither of which were remotely important. Sigh. The diplomacy part of this game is completely uninteresting to me. I would much prefer to just play the game. I really don't care if Inca get wiped out to be honest. They can sit there and build as many cities as they want with no military, and then come begging for our help, and then get pissed when we don't run halfway around the world at their request. Whatever.

We would deal more with slaze in a little bit, since he still had many turns left to go before he expected to be attacked. (Wish we would have had a 25-turn warning before teams came after us!) Here was our current situation at the time:

The discovery of Calendar tech allowed us to connect our silks and sugars, easing that happiness crunch mentioned earlier. Next up would be Code of Laws (courthouses!), due at a very reasonable 5 turns of break-even research. We increasingly relied on break-even research instead of oscillating back and forth between 0% and 100% science, as we had been doing before. I realized that the giant spikes upward on the GNP bar graph had freaked out many of the other teams in the game, leading them to work against us and contributing to the attack. By holding steady at 40% or 50% research, we would continue teching at the same rate but it would be less obvious how well we were doing. This was a useful metagaming tip that we hadn't considered before. I actually think it worked pretty well.

We had to pause our research for a couple of turns, because Korea asked for some extra gold to rush to Feudalism faster. As our one true friend, we were happy to oblige. Broker and plako reimursed us the gold we gave them right away; good allies indeed.

Spartansburg, rocking the +11 food surplus and growing like a weed. Pretty impressive for a city founded a mere 15 turns earlier! We would continue whipping infrastructure here for now, developing the city at a very rapid pace.

Thanks to the Hanging Gardens, St. Albans quickly reached 100 culture and pushed out its borders, further revealing Greek cities to the east:


We are getting 8 culture/turn here: 1 from monument, 1 from Judaism, and 6 from Hanging Gardens. I've drawn in the current borders of each city, with purple for St. Albans, blue for Thebes, yellow for the hidden Argos, and red for the hidden Kassite. Each tile in the game stores up culture points, which determines which civ gets to control each tile. These numbers are hidden in-game (I've always thought they shouldn't be!) but can be seen with the debug software tools. All you get to see are the culture percentages, which can be misleading. The rules for these culture points have a lot of intricacies, but to simplify somewhat:

Culture Points in your outermost ring = city culture/turn
Add 20 culture points/turn for each ring you move inward

Thus for a city with three rings (100+ culture) like St. Albans, we are getting 8 culture points/turn in the outer ring, 28 culture points/turn in the next ring, and 48 culture points/turn in the initial 9-tile radius. Among Jowy's cities, Kassite is the only one that has expanded borders so far - probably with a monument - so Kassite is getting 1 culture point/turn in the outer ring, and 21 culture points/turn in the center ring. The other two cities aren't producing any culture points yet, since they don't appear to have any culture at all. This is why it's so difficult to flip enemy cities, because you need to have massive amounts of culture to get into those inner rings of the opposing city!

Anyway, in our current situation, we should gain control of all the white Xs tiles soon. The 8 culture/turn St. Albans is getting even in that outer ring should be enough to swamp what Jowy's cities are currently producing. However, we will lose control of the three tiles in yellow as soon as Argos expands borders, because then the inner ring will be getting 21 culture points/turn to the 8/turn from Argos. But we should have permanent control of the white X in red, as it's in the outermost ring of Kassite too. Hope that all makes sense!

If we were to attack here, the way I'd do it would be:

- Assemble on the sheep tile (no Jowy visibility)
- Road the jungle tile to the SE with Fast Workers on turn of attack
- Move SE-E. Now Argos is screwed and can be hit next turn.
- Kill Argos, move S. Now Kassite is equally screwed.

I'd probably raze Argos and keep Kassite and Thebes. Three tiles east would be good for an Argos replacement. But this is all getting a little speculative for the moment...

Diplomatically, Dantski had twice considered attacking Holy Rome, but by this point he had waited so long that Nakor had discovered Feudalism and had longbows for defense. We thought that was a silly move on his part, as now his large army of Ancient Age axemen was obsolete and Dantski had gotten essentially nothing out of them. Putting off an attack until later doesn't make sense when the other side is researching faster than you are... Dantski now planned to go ahead and sign an NAP with Holy Rome, meaning there was little chance of a war breaking out to our south. A shame, that.

After some false starts back and forth, we were finally able to get some cooperation going with slaze of Inca. Despite the fear of war hanging over his head, that didn't stop slaze from continuing to expand, now out to 13 cities in total:

How was he planning on defending all these if attacked (?) Anyway:

Killer Angels to slaze:

Thanks again for sending such a long explanatory email yesterday. I apologize if our team has come across as aloof or standoffish in the past; due to the revolving-door previous leadership of Inca, we never really had much contact from your team and didn't get a sense that there was much interest in cooperation. That last message really did a lot to change the mood over here, and we're prepared to be much more open now. Since you put some trust in us, we'll put some of ours in you.

We agree that it makes logical sense for our team, yours, and plako's to be working together in this game. We all share common enemies, and you are completely correct that the Kathlete/Jowy/Nakor/Whosit alliance seems unbreakable. If you could read our spoiler thread, you'd see a lot of complaning over that exact fact! They do indeed gift units back and forth like it's nothing, and I don't believe for one second that sharing a team in the Pitboss #3 game doesn't affect their diplomacy in this game. So indeed we need to hang together or we will all hang separately. We won't talk any more about the various mis-communications between our teams early on.

Our best guess is that Kathlete and Whosit are planning to attack you when that cooldown NAP runs out. Reason being, Kathlete has been asking us for an extended NAP, and we've gotten the same request from Jowy and Nakor. Jowy and Nakor both want us locked into peace until Turn 200 or later! Furthermore, plako also got the same request, with Whosit wanting an NAP with him until Turn 200. And Nakor also wants a long NAP with Dantski too. It doesn't take a genius to see where all of these teams are going to go if they lock my team, plako, and Dantski into longterm NAPs. Of course we're not that stupid as to agree to such a simple plan...

Both you and plako suggested to us indepedently that we renew our conflict on the Jowy front to tie up Jowy and Kathlete. Well, we can pass on some good news that we have been thinking along the same lines! We have an NAP with Jowy that lasts until Turn 160, during which time we plan to tech Civil Service and Machinery to build some maces. We think that if we attack at the end of that NAP with maces, horse archers, and catapults Jowy would have a very difficult time, and would start losing cities. Then Kathlete would inevitably jump in to save their buddy, or at the very least they would have to start holding back a lot of units on his western border. If we could combine that with a plako attack on Whosit, and a Dantski war against Nakor, you'd be able to avoid getting dogpiled, which we don't want to see any more than you do. I like the chances of our alliance in a 4 vs 4 game!

Please don't mention our plans about potentially going to war with Jowy. We're putting our trust in you, and secrecy will obviously help us a lot if we're to be successful in pressuring Jowy and Kathlete. The less said about the whole thing, the better!

The Killer Angels

We put ourselves in some risk by revealing our plans to slaze, but we had to trust someone in this game. Inca had no real reason to turn on us, as both of our civs were on the outside of the Ottoman/Greek/Rome/Holy Rome alliance which had been dominating the game thus far. Ever since we had defeated Jowy the first time, we had been commited to returning with superior tech down the road and finishing the job. There was no point in doing so until we had the economy to keep those cities though, and the units to break through his defenses. Our NAP extention to Turn 160 had been signed because we saw that it would take us that long to discover Civil Service and Machinery, and get maces onto the battlefield! Needless to say, the four "left out" teams were beginning to work together, and that would mean a lot of trouble for the self-proclaimed Coaliton of the Willing.

Further development at Gettysburg, which continued to be an amazing city. I took this screenshot to highlight the grassland farm we added here, to increase the food surplus up to +6 food/turn for faster growth. With such a large happy cap, we wanted to get this city up to size 17 or size 18 as quickly as possible, to work the maximum number of grassland cottages. Farming grassland tiles and then replacing them with cottages later is a great way to boost growth of key cities. Gettysburg would shortly be in Bureaucracy civic, making it that much more valuable to us. We noticed that our capital was always 2-3 sizes larger than any other capital in the game, which reflected our careful management.

This picture shows how close Korea was to the northern borders of Greece - they were right across from one another by the Toroidal worldwrap! The Ottomans were also nearby; we were finally starting to get a sense for how precarious the position of Broker and plako had been all game. They were surrounded by Holy Rome to the west, Rome to the east, and Greece/Ottomans to the south. Dangerous, dangerous position for them. We also now knew the location of all of the Greek cities, making it possible to do further military planning. Knossus seemed like a strong city, and would be a nice border location against the Ottomans if we could take it.

Finally, here was city #10 for us, Bull Run. This location was in the middle of a big patch of spices, and as such it would grow slowly until we could get plantations on all of those resources. Only +3 food/turn to start. However, with each additional spice tile we would increase the food surplus, up to +6 food/turn with all four of them, and with a full nine forests to chop, this city would develop quickly. Bull Run and Shiloh would serve as our border fortresses in the south, with significant garrisons present. We still didn't have much trust in Dantski, NAP or not. He had crammed in Tadmekka for a coastal city on the inner sea, and that was an eyesore for us.

Because it was a nice round number, a lot of Non-Aggression Pacts all over the world were about to run out on Turn 150. We kept the other teams guessing about what we were going to do, sending these inconclusive messages to Nakor and Jowy (both of whom wanted NAP extentions):

Killer Angels to Holy Rome:

I'm sure you know that our preference is for peace with the other teams in this game. However, sometimes you have to honor your commitments with allies, and that can pull you into conflicts you would rather not be fighting. I think your own team was in a situation like this with us earlier in the game. Right now, I'm afraid that we can't sign an NAP with your team, as we need to keep our options open and avoid tying our hands. But hopefully at some point in the future, our teams won't find ourselves on opposing sides, and we'll be able to work together.

Killer Angels to Jowy:

Well, we're not exactly sure what's going to happen when Turn 150 arrives. A lot is going to depend on what some of our allies do, and what some of your allies do as well. How things ultimately shake out is anyone's guess. We also think that Turn 155 is going to be a busy year, since that's when the cooldown period expires between athlete/kalin and slaze. This could be the quiet before the storm around the globe!

That's why we signed the NAP extention with you until Turn 160, so that each of us would have some security on our border in the upcoming turns. Speaker and I just can't extent it further at the present, until we see exactly what happens with the whole alliance structure in the next 5-10 turns. I hope you understand that we don't want to tie our hands for the next 30 or 40 turns, not knowing what will take place.

Hopefully, we'll both be in a position soon where we can extend our peace agreement and focus on other fronts.

Sneaky, sneaky diplomacy! I especially liked the line I wrote about "sometimes you have to honor your commitments with allies", which certainly implied that we were about to attack Holy Rome along with Dantski. A total farce! But it seemed to be effective, as the other teams genuinely didn't appear to know what we were going to do. In the next few turns, we were expecting conflicts to break out involving our own India, Greece, Ottomans, Rome, Inca, Korea, and possibly even Romali against Holy Rome. After some 30 turns of peaceful development, the world was about to turn bloody once again.