Realms Beyond Pitboss #2: The Accidental Post

We added four more cities to our burgeoning empire in the aftermath of the Greek war. Here was the new situation on our eastern border:


Out of Jowy's 8 cities, we captured 4, Kathlete was gifted 2, we razed 1, and there remains one last offshore city on the northwest island [which we would raze]. Everybody renamed Jowy's cities too with their respective naming themes, so Greece has practically disappeared from the record books. We took a total of eight Greek cities between our two wars:

Fort Henry (Thebes #1)
St. Albans (Argos #1)
Atlanta (Athens)
Spotslyvania (Corinth)
The Wilderness (Thebes #2)
Chikamauga (Kassite)

Argos #2 was razed, of course...

Jowy whipped down all his cities that he couldn't defend out of spite - thanks a lot, dude! Well, they'll grow back soon enough. I was thinking about it earlier, and I realized that despite all the warring with our team, Jowy barely fought us at all. The early fighting consisted of Jowy's phalanxes walking around in circles pillaging, never trying to capture our cities. We had to attack Jowy, not vice versa. Then the attack with horse archers had extremely little combat either - we razed Sparta and threatened Athens, but Jowy never initiated combat that time either. Then this final war was mostly Jowy gifting away cities and units; outside of the bizarre suicide attack, essentially no combat took place. We lost a total of 1 horse archer to take 8 Greek cities! Yeah, I'm not quite sure how that happened either.

The renaming of cities meant that Greece had practically disappeared from the landscape. The new cities of Atlanta, Spotsylvania, Chikamauga, and The Wilderness were all good locations, each with food bonuses and many grassland tiles. Atlanta, the former Greek capital, was probably the weakest one, actually! We had plans for all of these locations, but before we could carry them out, diplomacy intervened and came to the forefront again.

First of all, Kathlete of Ottomans wanted a new extension of our Non-Aggression Pact, which was due to run out on Turn 170. We thought that it would take us about a dozen turns to conquer Jowy, and we would then have the option of pushing on into Ottoman territory afterwards if we so desired. Instead, Jowy's rapid capitulation meant that we were still stuck with guaranteed peace for another five turns after Greece had been destroyed - something we were not expecting! We actually didn't want to fight a war with the Ottomans at this point, as we were expanding in size from 10 to 15 cities at one stroke. Another round of pausing to grow before expanding again seemed wise. There's no point in fighting a war only to conquer cities that you can't afford economically.

However, slaze of Inca remained at war with both Ottomans and Rome, and he wanted us to intervene on his side very badly:

slaze to Killer Angels:

Basically, my economy got wrecked by their dogpile. For awhile I was -9gold/turn at 0% science, then -6, -2, +1, +3, and now I'm prolly up to like +10 and will stay out of the red (some of this has to do with foreign routes taken away with war but i will soon -2 turns- map out a route to your west coast). But I was so far behind to begin with that this shatters my chance of ever being able to compete with the likes of you. But my main concern is Athlete. If he cruises along like he's been doing (he hasn't whipped a dime since this whole thing started) then pretty soon, he'll get to Jannisaries (he's a ways off, I know, but unfettered, will get there) and I'll be stuck at all the troops that are vulnerable to jannisaries. i want you to attack him. I need you to attack him. You don't necessarily have to finish him off, but slow him down some. The reason he want the NAP is because he's so weak back there. I'll send a follow up message after i play but i can see a handfull of cities back there and they're all 1 archer each. His whole army is passively sitting 2 tiles in from our border, defensively waiting for me to invade (which i don't yet want to do).

I know the safe way is to blow ahead in tech (your advantage and ability in that department is considerable) but this isn't playing out to be much of a tech game. So nakor has some economy, big whup if he gets lib. it's overrated. No one else (except athlete) is in any position to challenge you with your mature land advantage. So I'd advise you to push hard into him - he's wide open.

I have no intention of making peace with either of these two for the rest of the game. If you attack, i'll be more than willing to coordinate with you, if you want I'll throw my whole army at him - I'm poised to do so right now. I will admit that I would like to have some of my northern army fall off down south to whosit, he's got that HE city and I think I can get it, although I'm blind to what he's got it there. Whosit getting machinery soon but a longbow/HA army can deal with that fine.

I can give you marble, but would like action against athlete. Now is the opportunity, I think you should take it.

Speaker's response: "waaaaaaaaaaaaah". There was no doubt that slaze was telling the truth about the vulnerability of the Ottoman cities; we could see for ourselves how Kathlete was almost baiting us into attacking him:

However, there were two problems here. First of all, we could not attack Kathlete until Turn 170 due to our previous Non-Aggression Pact, and Speaker and I were not willing to break our word on that agreement. Secondly, just because there were no defenses in those cities now was no guarantee that things would remain in the same state. Kathlete had Feudalism tech, and so he could whip out defensive longbows in the same manner that slaze had done. Yes, we could certainly take a city or two, but only at high losses, and we weren't really prepared to conquer even more cities at this point, having just absorbed the Greek spoils. In other words, it was very much in slaze's interest for us to attack the Ottomans, but we didn't see ourselves benefitting from it. Thus, we sent out this message to Inca explaining matters as we saw them:

Killer Angels to Inca:

Dear slaze of IKZ,

We absolutely want Kathlete dead, and with Jowy about to exit the game the Ottomans have become our #1 target. I want to emphasize that, since they've consistently been hostile to us and will represent a huge security threat for both our teams in the upcoming turns. The problem is that our civ has been set up to fight a short and relatively easy war against Jowy, not a long and grueling struggle against Kathlete. Right now it would be very difficult just protecting the captured Greek cities, which are close to Kathlete's territory and have no cultural borders or anything yet. They're still in resistance, so they can't even build units or city walls.

Furthermore, even if we were able to capture Ottoman cities, we wouldn't be able to keep them because they would be too expensive in terms of maintenance. I'm sure you've seen, the cities are really costly on this Toroidal map. And as you know from your war, it's vastly easier to defend than attack in these games, especially in this era where longbows are so dominant. All that Kathlete has to do is slave longbows and city walls in any threatened city, and he can slow the advance of our units to a crawl.

We think that attacking with EITHER of our armies right now would be a losing move. You said in your email that he's just waiting for you to move in and counterattack. The better course of action is to fix our economies and then come back soon to finish the job. We could set things up so that our team would invade initially, draw the defenses, and then your team attacks the weaker backline forces. By attacking a little later on, we could each KEEP the Ottoman cities we capture, partition the territory down the middle, and not have to raze most of them because of costs.

Right now, we aren't going to sign anything with Kathlete so that we can attack if we see a good target of opportunity. Only if you sign peace would we look into making some kind of NAP deal. I dunno if this would be a good idea, but you could potentially sign peace with Kathlete and use that safety to make gains against Whosit. It sounds like Rome is really falling apart right now - plako just razed a critical core city this morning. That sounds preferable to charging into massed longbow defenders to me.

Those are our thoughts right now. Please do stay in close touch!
The Killer Angels

Those were our honest thoughts on the matter, and we were trying to offer advice to slaze which would also be in his best interest. Some of the lurkers criticized us here and argued that our actions were too self-serving, but I just don't think that was the case. It's stupid in this game to attack entrenched longbows until you have knights or better units; that's just a fundamental truth to this game. It was not in the interests of either our India or slaze's Inca to try and conquer the Ottomans right now. Kathlete had way too much land and too many cities to make that an easy campaign, plus we would both destroy our economies in the process. slaze was losing money at 0% research, so he of all people definitely could not take on more territory himself! The best plan was to stop for now, let slaze crush Whosit in conjunction with Korea, and then come back later to partition the Ottoman domains. We were willing to offer a straight 50/50 split of territory with slaze, even though Indian units would assuredly be doing most of the fighting in any future attack.

As far as the reception of the message, slaze told us:

slaze to Killer Angels:

Fair enough. I'll dance the border dance with Athlete for now. Just whatever you do, don't set up a NAP with him while him and I are at war.

I'll send marble

And we affirmed that we would not be extending our NAP with the Ottomans, so that Kathlete would have to defend the western border and we could intervene as necessary to help out Inca. That appeared to be the end of the whole matter. Or so we thought...

With marble sent over from slaze, and the completion of Literature research, we were able to work on the Heroic Epic:

ONE TURN, BABY!!! Speaker set up a pair of forest chops to complete perfectly on the same turn we landed the tech and the marble resource. Very slick. We would soon add the Forbidden Palace in St. Albans as well (despite knowing the non-optimal combination of Heroic Epic and Forbidden Palace in one city, which T-Hawk scolded us about), since the new Greek cities were all rather atrocious in terms of maintenance costs. Elsewhere, the marble from Inca allowed us to get to work on the National Epic in Spartansburg, which would become our Great Person farm. Although Spartansburg had a lot less production, it would still be able to complete the National Epic in about ten turns, which would be good enough. In terms of research, we were heading through Aesthetics, Literature, Drama, and Music. These were important techs for us: Literature for the two Epics (Whosit having already built the Great Library earlier), Drama for theatres and the Globe Theatre, and Music for the free Great Artist and Notre Dame wonder. These were largely inexpensive techs, and they definitely offered enough benefits to make them worthwhile.

Then the diplomatic bombshell: athlete accidentally posted a message in the General thread for the game, rather than his own spoiler thread. It was quickly deleted by the moderators, but not before Speaker had a chance to read it. And the information there was quite a doozy:

athlete's accidental post:

So I ignored my intuition and convinced myself that India wasn't going to take Greece out (I was thinking this around T148 or so). Along with the Inca getting Feudalism, Rome and my attack on the Inca was particularly foolish. Especially mine. I completely failed to make any progress, when I should have atleast taken 2 cities.

Now, Greece is gone and India is on my very weak border, refusing to renew our NAP. Now if I represent some reasonable strength, I don't think they'll attack, they'll just be content I've whipped my cities. But I'm also at war with the Inca. Or am I !!!

I had a long chat with Slaze last night and we're going to try and take India back down a notch. We'll remain at war in game and but not march against each other. This free's up my units to defend my western border (and his to attack Rome ). Then he'll supposedly help me to attack India a bit later. There are definitely some details to be cleared up but if I was to stand any chance I needed my current army available to clear India out of my lands, or atleast keep them at bay.

I'll try and post some more later (answer any questions as needed) but that's the basics of it for now.


Wow, what a mistake! Our reaction:

Well, well, well. I definitely enjoy that first paragraph, cataloging the litany of mistakes made by the Ottomans over the past dozen turns. Indeed, it wasn't exactly the greatest series of events from Kathlete's perspective. And the second paragraph gives us insight into what they are thinking with regards to our team, neat.

But it's that third paragraph that of course has the most useful stuff. Seems like slaze is trying to maneuver on both sides of the current alliance structure, eh? I see three different possibilities here:

- slaze is playing us, and actually working with Kathlete.
- slaze is playing Kathlete, and actually working with us.
- slaze is playing both sides against each other, and will do whatever favors him the most.

#3 seems like the real story to me. Can't really blame him too much for it either, although it's definitely irritating to us after the emails asking for help he sent our way. Even if slaze would turn on us, he couldn't do too much - at least not immediately. Given enough time, it could be a problem.

In the meantime, Speaker had the clever idea to send out a group email to our alliance with a cut-and-paste of the accidental message:

"Dear plako and Broker of Korea, Dantski of Romali, and slaze of IKZ,

Hey, you may have seen that Kathlete accidentally posted in the email thread today. Speaker saw the message before it was deleted, and we are forwarding it to all of you:

[paste text]

slaze, care to explain what's going on to the rest of us?

The Killer Angels"

It will be "interesting" to see how slaze responds to that. He'll probably want to strangle Kathlete even more!

Despite the fact that we thought we were cool with slaze, he decided to do a complete reversal and change over to the Ottoman side. We were "surprised" to put it lightly, given that slaze had just told us he was never going to make peace with them and fight to the end of the game. Never mind placing your trust in a team who literally just sneak-attacked mere turns earlier. When we sent our email out to Korea, Inca, and Romali to ask what was going on, we expected some kind of a denial from slaze. Instead, we received a violent denunciation of our team. Speaker commented up the same passage with his thoughts:

slaze to Killer Angels:

The Zimmerman note didn't make it either. You didn't tell me about the NAP. [We mentioned T170 several times. I'm not sure if we ever explicitly said we had a NAP with Kathlete until then?]

It was turn 163 or so, and your telling me to put on the brakes. I get only about a half day, but I get this in my head rolling, and I'm thinking up some ideas. Although later that day I finally became aware of your NAP, and now I gotta wait around 7 turns, in this wrecked economy? [Is it our fault he planted 13 cities with no units and then had to slave himself into oblivion to protect them? He told us he was in EXPANSION MODE]

While india's over there, putting in seven more turns on me? I knew then that was always gonna be something. If it was misinformation or tying yourself up in these arrangements, [Tying ourselves up? We gave ourselves a 10-turn window to attack Jowy without Kathlete's interference. Did we know Greece would fold in 3 turns? We signed this NAP a month ago, the *only* agreement we have going, and must I remind IKZ that they were the ones who signed an original NAP with KAthlete that included a ridiculous 25 turn cooldown period? Talk about tying themselves up.]

I knew you were more into your own interests than mine (understandible but not my favorite arrangment). i thought you'd keep going with athlete, I thought that was the whole purpose of the thing. Jowy's land makes you a runaway if your going to stop and reconsolidate. [Well, we did earn the land. It's not like we got it free. We were strong enough to take it. We shouldn't feel bad about that.]

No way I can compete with that, your getting like 20-25 modern age turns ahead of me with how we add up now. I needed you to fight athlete, and you failed me. [He needed us to fight Athlete so we could help him catch up? That makes no sense. Why is that our responsibility?]

You lead me to believe things would be otherwise from a jowy-snatching war. So it's my responsibility to keep you from being a run-away civ. I could keep going but I best wanna sum it up like this: It's like oyzar said: I play to win. [You made that very clear that you didn't give a damn about anything but yourself when you refused to open borders with us during our 1v5 gangbang, and wrote in all caps that you weren't going to do jack shit because you were in EXPANSION MODE. We have at least forced Kathlete to be concerned with protecting a huge western border, have him expecting us to declare war on him on T170, which is the earliest our units could be ready to attack anyways, having made their way over from Greece.]

I was gonna write you my first "lie" email tonight, and this is the stuff I come home to see. It's too bad, cause I was gonna put one hell of a surprise on you. [Backstabbing is disgusting. But you seem to be quite proud of it. Within a day of demanding that we come over and attack Kathlete for you, you are plotting with him against us. I'm sure a grueling war between us and Kathlete would be extremely beneficial to you. Well a NAP with Kathlete until T200 would be extremely beneficial to us, but we turned that down multiple times.]

We would send off another email to slaze asking if he was interested in repairing relations, but nope, that was that. He had made up his mind and decided to throw in his lot with the Ottomans. We stopped sending Inca the group emails between India, Korea, and Romali. Kathlete and slaze signed peace in-game and stopped their grueling war of attrition against one another. Confusingly, however, slaze remained at war with Rome, and continued to press on Whosit's domains in the south. Evidently the alliance structure was still a little murky over in that part of the world, with Ottomans and Inca working together, and Ottomans and Rome allied, but Inca and Rome still at war!

slaze's logic did make a certain kind of sense, from the perspective of "India is winning the game and no one should be working together with them." Nevertheless, I still believe it was a curious decision to make at this point in the game. Kathlete's Ottomans had been consistently hostile to Inca ever since the early removal of the Byzantines, and slaze was more or less putting himself in the hands of his former enemy. As for athlete, he had a bit of a murky reputation from the Byzantine war and a previous Play By E-Mail game, where athlete broke an NAP to declare war on Dreylin. His units also pressed up against the limits of our current NAP by pillaging tiles around our new cities:

You know, that really could be interpreted as a hostile action... Speaker and I were nearly on the verge of declaring war over this, but cooler heads fortunately prevailed. With slaze now firmly in the enemy camp, we saw no reason anymore to remain on bad terms with the Ottomans, and could simply do whatever was best for us. We chatted up athlete and agreed to a long Non-Aggression Pact extention!

Killer Angels to Ottomans:
Dear Rebel Alliance,

Apologies for making use of your accidental post, but the information was directly involved with our team, and quite important. I daresay that if we had accidentally emailed you our attack plans against Jowy, you probably would have taken some kind of action too!

Ironically, this sort of benefits you in a way, because if slaze wants to turn and stab us in the back, we have no real motive for going after you. The whole goal there was to help slaze in his war - if he wants to be our enemy, then you become the enemy of our enemy, and you know what they say about that. Perhaps we can agree on some kind of Non-Aggression Pact after all. (We were only really refusing to sign one because slaze asked us to.)

If you are still interested in an NAP, like you said in your last email, we're open to offers. But as a sign of good faith we have to ask you to stop pillaging around our new cities, which is damaging our relations. Thanks. Hope to hear back from you soon.

* * * * *

We'd like to accept your provisional Non-Aggression Pact for Turn 180 (inclusive) while discussing longer term plans. As part of that deal, we'll request again that your units refrain from pillaging around our future cities. Our general preference in the past has been for 20 or 30 turn NAP agreements, so hopefully we can discuss something in the Turn 190 or Turn 200 range.

The Killer Angels

For the moment, we agreed on a temporary Non-Aggression Pact for another ten turns, with the understanding of working out a longer agreement down the road. This granted us border security in the east, and allowed us to tech upwards to superior units; we were anticipating coming back to attack the Ottomans later with drafted muskets and cuirassiers. Since we were teching faster than Kathlete, we would almost certainly have a military edge later on. Meanwhile, Kathlete gained protection for his own border cities in the west, which were much more vulnerable than our own holdings, and a renewed opportunity to go back on the offensive again. But it would be a little longer before we found out who would be their next target...

Finally, we could now turn to the subject of developing our new cities:

Ahh, lots of new territory to enjoy! Love watching those light purple Indian borders do their Zerg creep across the map. With no icky Greek culture to worry about, St. Albans can expand its borders to their fullest. Hey, remember when Fort Henry and Chancellorsville were the front lines? We've come a long way since then!

Three Greek cities came out of resistance this turn, so let's look at them in more detail:

Chikamauga is the planned Globe Theatre city, which was the only captured one to arrive with a courthouse in place. (Already saving us nearly 6 gpt.) Unfortunately two of its three food bonuses are located in the second ring, and the city will need a border expansion to start working the fish and rice tiles. We're building a theatre to take advantage of that, and a pair of workers are going to time a forest chop on that theatre for the same turn that Judaism is spread with a missionary. The worker plan looks like:

T166 sugar plantation (3t left)
T167 forest chop (1t left)
T168 Judaism, forest chop (done), sugar plantation (2t left)
T169 sugar plantation (done)

Once we get our food tiles up and running, we can whip to our heart's content, because the Globe Theatre city doesn't matter if it gets unhappy. Hopefully those buildings can get us up to 100 culture and third-ring borders fairly quickly, for help in defending against a possible Ottoman attack.

Now the one minor issue here: Buddhism. This is the only city of ours with any religion other than Judaism. In one sense that's good, as we can build more temples/monasteries if we spread it. But it also opens us up to the slight chance of an Apostolic Palace cheese loss. Very small chance - but we can't ignore it completely. I used to think people were ridiculous when they complained that you can't remove a religion from a city. Not anymore. The AP game mechanics are so, so dumb... I would happily suffer some kind of penalty to remove Buddhism from this city, and eliminate any chance of a cheese religious defeat.

The Wilderness has great commerce potential due to the grassland river tiles to the west, and makes a very strong defensive location because of the hill location and peaks to the east. Unfortunately, its three food bonus tiles (sheep, irrigated rice, sugar) are all located in the second ring, and the city can't work any of them immediately! Now we did the best we could here by funneling an (Organized Religion) forest chop into the city on its very first turn of existance, getting 42 shields right away. Along with working the grassland hill mine, that gets us a theatre in 3 turns, and along with the religion present in the city, we'll expand borders in a total of 5 turns. Not great, but not too terribly shabby either.

We do not want to whip here, because the city is only size 2 and it will grow much faster working sheep + rice once borders expand. Plus we need to fill up the granary's food box before whipping becomes effective. That goes for all of the new Greek cities!

Spotslyvania has another great mixture of grassland river tiles, food bonuses, and the addition of some production bonuses too. Iron plus horses made this Jowy's strategic nexus, although they are more important to us purely for their tile yields. Spotslyvania is fortunate to have sheep + horses in the first ring, which allows us to work both tiles immediately. (We have to wait for the iron, sadly.) I'm still going to bring two workers up here next to chop that last grassland forest, and get the theatre done quickly, because the real danger here is from the neighboring Ottoman Cloud City (former Knossus). Against a Creative civ, we need to expand borders quickly and get some defenses up. City walls here are practically a necessity.

Other odds and ends:

- Kathlete did not pillage our clams with their traveling trireme in neutral territory, yay! They could have been real jerks about that.

- Spartansburg is up to 10 shields/turn base, 25/turn with all the multipliers on National Epic. It will finish the wonder in 8 turns, assuming slaze doesn't cut off our marble prematurely. [He didn't.]

- Courthouses complete next turn in Hampton Roads and Fort Henry, allowing us to start the Forbidden Palace in St. Albans. Not coincidentally, St. Albans will finish its missionary and overflow a lot of shields into the FP next turn. Should take about 7 turns to finish, and then we go back to cranking out more knights.

The post-Jowy Demographics show us doing quite well; the GNP leader looks to be Nakor (slight chance of being plako) running 100% on deficit towards another tech. If we are that close at 50%, albeit at a deficit ourselves, we're in good shape. Food and Production speak for themselves, and they are even more impressive considering that our new cities contribute basically nothing there yet. Give us 20 turns to get them up and running, and then...

In foreign news, Kathlete finished Civil Service this turn and revolted to Bureaucracy. He got there pretty fast, but mind you, that's due to the fact that Jowy gifted him over 300 gold, which Kathlete burned through at 100% deficit rate. It'll take him a little while to research anything else. plako also finished researching... Horseback Riding! They weren't kidding about going for knights.

Leaving out the cheap Ancient techs that everyone has, here's an overview of the tech situation as we know it:

India 12 Classical techs, 4 Medieval techs
Nakor 9 Classical techs, 5 Medieval techs
plako 9 Classical techs, 3 Medieval techs
Kathlete 9 Classical techs, 2 Medieval techs
Dantski 9 Classical techs, 1 Medieval tech
Whosit 8 Classical techs, 1 Medieval tech
slaze 4 Classical techs, 1 Medieval tech

That's a pretty good ranking of everyone's tech standing. Yes, Whosit and slaze have both fallen behind Dantski. Yes, that's also a sign that they are both in some serious trouble right now!

The Demographics continued to reflect our strong position, one perhaps moving towards a dominant position. We were emphasizing the national wonders heavily here, between National Epic and Forbidden Palace, something that the other teams probably didn't do enough with. We remained the tech leader, running more or less evenly with Holy Rome, and with all of the other teams noticeably behind. The 300 gold that Jowy gifted over to Kathlete more or less gave the Ottomans a free Civil Service tech, which was very cheesy... Nothing we could do about it though.

We did get the Great Artist from discovering Music first, which was held for potential use in a later Golden Age. Not much interest in dropping a culture bomb anywhere right now.

Broker and plako sent us a request for several knights, to help out in their war against Whosit. We went back and forth, ultimately agreeing on sending them three knights and a horse archer. These were state-of-the-art military units at the time, as we were the only power in the world that possessed the technology to build knights. While I won't say that we were overjoyed to be sending away some of our best units, we felt obligated to assist our one true friend in the game. And of course Korea was helping us by damaging Whosit, as plako mentioned in his emails. Not a bad deal.

Speaking of Korea, they were continuing their slow buildup of military power and gradually wearing down Rome. Combined with slaze's ongoing offensive coming down from the north, Whosit was in growing danger:

The war with Korea forced Whosit to keep a large garrison inside Nar Shaddaa, the original city of Pyong'yang captured in their first war so long ago. There were two other city ruins nearby to the southeast, former Roman cities already burned to the ground by Korean armies. Meanwhile, slaze had retaken Tiwanaku and was now pressuring on Bestine up in the northeast, forcing another large garrison over in that direction. Whosit was forced to build more and more military units, plunging his economy further into the toilet. Rome was still doing OK for the moment, but if the situation didn't change, Whosit would be in real trouble. If either border fortress (Nar Shaddaa or Bestine) were to fall, it would effectively seal the destruction of Rome.

Why wasn't Holy Rome doing anything to assist Whosit? When Holy Rome was brought into the war with Korea, they negotiated a secret agreement not attack one another at sea, something that Holy Rome never told Whosit. Nakor and DMOC's involvement in this war seemed to consist of sitting on the border and waving their swords menacingly, without lifting a finger to help Rome. Didn't they understand that having Korea replace Rome as a neighbor was a major threat in the longterm (?)

One humorous interlude between the other world doings. Speaker: "The poor fishermen who live in Hampton Roads have had a difficult life of subsistance. Their nets were torn up twice by Ottoman galleys, and now, they are being invaded by pirates!

On a serious note, that galley actually spawned *inside* our sentry net perimeter. Oops! It will be a bit of an annoyance, but we'll have the nets replaced, and the pirates hung from the neck until dead, pretty quickly." I have to say, that was certainly unexpected!

We then received a serious (and lengthy) email from athlete:

athlete to Killer Angels:

So you've seen I've accepted peace with Slaze and for atleast the next few turns will remain out of any potential conflicts. I can now take my civ in several directions and would like to pursue one with KA that I believe can be mutually beneficial.

Let me first acknowledge my (accidental) post in that there was a potential to attack you in the future. While the potential was there the idea was all Slaze's (I have proof of chats and e-mails) and obviously was never realized. However unless I can feel secure that we can work together going forward do not be surprised by a larger then normal garrison on my western border.

Slaze still believes that I am going to pursue an attack against you. Personally I don't wish to and I didn't wish to when Slaze brought up the proposition but it was my way out of facing a war on both fronts. Now that you're aware of basically what Slaze proposed I wish to (re-)attack Slaze. It's nothing personal against him, just how the Inca have dealt with the rebels in the past. However I can not do so if I can not secure my border with you. And clearly Slaze is not willing to be your friend.

We don't exactly have a long past of working together but why not start now? Neither of us has broken any deals with the other that I'm aware of. We can start with agreeing to an NAP. Ideally I would like something to about the T210 range and you've voiced your request to stay within the 190 - 200 range. Can we reach an agreement to get to T205?

I'd also like to discuss any potential settling you might do of the land between us. I'd prefer not to see another city placed more eastwardly then the ones you already have. If you do have plans for that though, can we please discuss it prior to your settling it? I don't believe it would be great for either of us to have a city directly on our borders. This was a major downfall of the Byzantine Empire and a large part of the aggravation the Incan's have caused me.

These dealings can also set the stage for even further dealings. Perhaps if/when (preferrably when) I rejoin the war against the Inca and one of us have paper you'd be able to offer some tactical advise? Perhaps open borders and/or resource trades? Any friendly workings we can have would obviously not only allow you to tech better (without threat) but devote any military strategies you might have more efficiently.

I know this may be a heap to take in and I'm sorry for overloading you in one go but the weekends just tends to be too busy for me to devote more time than I'd like without a teammate.

Eagerly awaiting your response,

The Rebel Alliance

Holy moley! The Ottomans wanted to extend peace with us and re-attack SLAZE, of all people?! Talk about a backstab, ouch! We didn't even have to think about it before agreeing to the Kathlete offer:


Well, it took us all of about 5 seconds to agree that Kathlete's proposed deal is awesome for us. Remember, we don't actually want to fight a war with anyone at present. (Even though we've sort of been bluffing the opposite to look strong.) We've got four new cities in former Greek territory, plus two island locations to be planted soon on the inner and outer rims, which are effectively taking us from 10 to 15/16 cities in size. Major increase in territory and economy. 25 to 30 turns to consolidate those gains and tech upwards would be just about perfect... and we'll be hitting cuirassiers right around that time, and can go kick some serious ass against a target of our choosing. Awesome.

My first thought was that Kathlete could be lying to us here, and has no intentions of fighting slaze. But if that's the case... so what? Do we even care? We aren't interested in pushing into Ottoman territory at the moment. That's, umm, why slaze got mad at us in the first place. If there's even a slight chance that Kathlete might go after slaze again, it's a deal we want to be taking. I have absolutely *NO* idea why Kathlete would want to do that, as he's not likely to have much more success than he did on the previous attempt, but whatever. Let's go for it and see what happens.

Thus we agreed on an NAP until Turn 205 with the Ottomans, allowing them to go attack Inca once again. Let me get this straight: two of our biggest rivals are going to go and beat each other's brains out, while we sit back and tech upwards in peace? Uh, yes please! To say that this was a disastrous mistake in judgment on the part of athlete would not be an exaggeration. Speaker and I could not have been happier about the whole situation. As for slaze, well, we certainly felt that he would only be getting what he deserved. When you backstab others, expect to be backstabbed in turn.

Our focus was on the settling of our first island cities:

The top picture depicts our planned dotmap for the offshore island to the west, which we had reworked a number of times before settling on this one. The southern city would be an extremely strong one, Vicksburg having fish + crabs + copper + marble + double incense. We lacked the last two resources, although slaze had apparently forgotten he was supplying us with his marble and didn't cancel that earlier trade. We had multiple triremes in the water around the island, on sentry duty to detect any incoming ships. Somehow that one barb galley snuck through, by spawning INSIDE our perimeter of units - no fair!

There was also an Ottoman city right across the water to the south, uncomfortably close to Gettysburg. We had a Sentry (promotion) horse archer keep an eye on Alderaan, watching to make sure there was no army assembling across the sea. We had no intention of getting "Banana-ed" in this game! For Vicksburg itself, we started out using the Build Culture option, so that we could get the fish tile in the second ring into range as soon as possible. We would use the Build Culture option quite a lot in this game with new cities, another useful reason to go to Music tech. Normally you just want the free Great Artist!

On the central inner island, we planned to place cities on the red and yellow dots. Red was a pretty weak city due to lack of food, but necessary from a strategic position and to clam dyes. (We did not need silver, as we had popped it out of a mine at St. Albans earlier.) Yellow would be a much stronger city, and it would claim bananas for us as well. Too bad it would take ages to reclaim from under all that jungle! It was a shame that we lost Shiloh #1 earlier in the game, or we could have been over on this island much earlier. Instead, it was Holy Rome that would claim the largest portion of the central island. They had been there for a long time already at this point - we had to stop them before they could set up shop across from Fredericksburg!

With the discovery of Alphabet tech we could finally see definitively where all the other teams stood relative to us:


The extra techs cut off by the picture were edited into the left side, letting them all be seen in one go. Now the picture alone can be a bit overwhelming and not that useful, so here's a more useful display of the tech information and where everyone stands:

Techs up on us: Paper, Philosophy, Education
Techs missing we have: Aesthetics, Drama, Horseback Riding, Literature, Engineering, Guilds, Music

Nakor is our clear tech rival. We've know this for some time; the good news is that he is much weaker in non-tech terms, far behind in Food and Production. Nakor's also missing a lot of military techs (HBR, Guilds, etc.) and some useful culture stuff (no Drama = no Globe Theatre, no Literature = no Epics). He is currently researching Engineering tech, and will probably go for Liberalism after that. (If he tries for something else, Liberalism would be in danger!)

Techs up on us: none
Techs missing we have: Meditation, Monotheism, Aesthetics, Calendar, Drama, Literature, Engineering, Music

These guys are clearly the #3 research power, which is kinda shocking considering where they were 100 turns ago. They have gone the HBR/Guilds route and can now build knights themselves, although they are missing the top of tree Classical techs. I expect they'll probably go after Compass/Optics next to strengthen their naval power base. Building the Great Lighthouse was a game-saving move, kudos and well done!

Techs up on us: none
Techs missing we have: Aesthetics, Alphabet, Drama, Literature, Engineering, Guilds, Machinery, Music

Kathlete is the opposite of plako, strong in Food/Production but relatively weak in terms of research power. While they are strong in Classical techs, having most of the useful stuff there, Kathlete has made little progress in the Medieval era, just the two basic techs of Feudalism and Civil Service. They still can't build crossbows or maces or knights, which makes their army a lot less intimidating. Not sure why they think they'll do any better against slaze if they attack again... but Kathlete might just be lying to us there for all we know.

Waiting for a further technological edge and then crushing this team with cuirassiers (or cavs!) is pretty much the plan here.

Techs up on us: Compass
Techs missing we have: Meditation, Monotheism, Alphabet, Drama, Literature, Metal Casting, Engineering, Feudalism, Guilds, Machinery, Music

Yes, Dantski has actually slipped into the #5 tech spot, although that has more to do with the poor performance of the last two teams than any great effort on his part. Dantski has done a very solid job with the Classical techs... with the one glaring exception of skipping Metal Casting tech. He still doesn't have a single forge built yet - wow! [Speaker: "It's not like Mali has any reason to rush Metal Casting..." ] And the consequence of this is that Dantski has only a single Medieval tech (Civil Service) while lacking all the other critical stuff we've been researching of late. Still no longbows, no maces, no crossbows, no knights. You can see why Dantski wants an NAP with us, because we could crush his Ancient age army like a bug!

I have no clue why he researched Compass recently. Metal Casting is actually cheaper than Compass, and forges would seem to be way more useful than harbors. Maybe he needs the health bonus (?) I still don't get it.

Techs up on us: none
Techs missing we have: Alphabet, Calendar, Horseback Riding, Monarchy, Civil Service, Engineering, Feudalism, Guilds, Music

Now we're really getting down into the dregs... Whosit has most of the Classical techs too, although unlike everyone else he has Aesthetics/Literature/Drama, thanks to his earlier run to the Great Library. Of course, the consequence is that Whosit lacks Monarchy tech, which is complete inexcusable for this late in the game. Remember, he was in a great position 100 turns earlier, with tons of land to expand into and complete military security. Poor Whosit, how did it all go so terribly wrong for you...

Whosit has one Medieval tech, Machinery, which he beelined to presumably to build crossbows. Of course crossbows fare poorly against knights, which plako will have now, so I see some hammer time if they continue the war.

Techs up on us: none
Techs missing we have: Meditation, Aesthetics, Alphabet, Calendar, Drama, Horseback Riding, Iron Working, Literature, Metal Casting, Civil Service, Engineering, Guilds, Machinery, Music

Wow, this dude is in some serious trouble! I think I overestimated slaze before based purely on his number of cities and strong Food count. He is a full era behind our team, if not more so. We have 14 techs he lacks, yeesh! slaze's only real asset is his Feudalism tech, and so long as the era of longbows goes on he'll be safe from destruction, but eventually teams will tech up into the Renaissance and then slaze will be doomed. The fact that he still lacks IRON WORKING - with tons of jungle tiles visibile in his territory - pretty much says it all.

We wanted to ally with slaze and help him out, but he threw that offer back in our face, just because we actually were going to play things smart and not crash our economy with overexpansion like he did. So - have fun with that, slaze! Sucks to be you!

Finally, after updating all this info in the Excel chart, I decided to get a numeric estimate of each team's total tech value. I took the number of techs each team had (already tallied in the table), and multiplied that by the average era value of each tech: 77 for Ancient age techs, 314 for Classical, 733 for Medieval, and 1528 for Renaissance. Thus our team's value would be 17 Ancient age techs (17 * 77) + 13 Classical (13 * 314) + 6 Medieval (6 * 733) = 9789. For all the teams:

Killer Angels: 9789
Nakor: 9328
plako: 6913
Kathlete: 5601
Dantski: 5028
Whosit: 4868
slaze: 3535

While these are just rough estimates, and overlook the fact that some techs in each era are way more expensive than others, it's a fun way to quantify where everyone's research stands. Since this ranking is based on beaker value of techs discovered, you can see that the teams at the bottom are falling REALLY far behind...

I enjoyed making up the "Tech Rating" for each team, even if it was an average value and not an exact count of beakers researched. We would keep an Excel chart updated with what techs each team had discovered each turn from here on out. Some of the teams were starting to fall very far behind now, and the disparities were only going to keep growing in this game without any kind of tech trading.

Whosit continued to experience more bad news in his wars against Inca and Korea. slaze pushed through Bestine and razed it to the ground, eliminating a large defending stack of Roman units while suffering heavy casualties in the process. Over in the west, the resurgent Koreans did the same and captured Nar Shaddaa in another bloody battle. Whosit had now lost both of his border cities and most of his army; mighty Rome had been reduced to just four remaining core cities. We lacked visibility on most of these locations, but we could track the progress of the fighting through the Demographics:

All of the combatants had taken a major beating at some point over the previous ten turns. Ottomans, Inca, Rome, and Korea were all building and losing units at a rapid race. We had fought our own war in this same period, but of course suffered essentially no losses at all against Jowy. This extensive fighting - with bloody battles on all sides - continued to be a godsend for our team. Long wars of attrition are not how you win at this game...

Unfortunately, we lost out on the Mausoleum to Holy Rome, and that was indeed a significant setback. We placed a high priority on this wonder, planning on landing a series of Great Person-fueled Golden Ages with our Philosophical trait. However, we had not had marble until relatively recently, while Holy Rome had possessed the resource from early on, and we had been engaged in fighting the war against Jowy. Our best production cities built maces and then knights, and could only swap over to the wonder after the war ended. Holy Rome beat us to the wonder, fair and square. In these Multiplayer games against human opponents, you can often do anything that you want, but you can't do everything that you want. We were juggling a number of different balls here, and this was one that hit the ground. Well played, Nakor and DMOC.

The falling of the Mausoleum meant that the next big race was going to be for Liberalism and the Taj Mahal. We were on the verge of a major wonder competition with Holy Rome, to see who would control those critical opportunities!