Realms Beyond PBEM4: The English Armada

Picking up from the last section, Singaboy's Germany had overrun the island continent controlled by Japper, eliminating the Norwegian civilization entirely from the game. The decisive aspect of the campaign had taken place in the first ten turns, followed by a long mop-up period afterwards in which the remaining Norwegian cities were slowly captured one at a time. The war finally came to a close on Turn 114 with Germany now controlling roughly double the total land of anyone else in the world. With the removal of the occupation penalty in the Norwegian cities, Singaboy's scientific and cultural output was now beginning to rise to match the size of the lands flying the German banner. However, success in Multiplayer games inevitably breeds jealousy, and the other players in this public diplomacy game were already planning to strike back at the German juggernaut.

The key date that was floating around in the discussions between players was Turn 120. That was when a non-aggression deal would run out that had been negotiated between Singaboy and TheArchduke, and all of the major players were laying preparations for that important turn. TheArchduke was at the forefront of these plans to attack Germany:

TheArchduke: WAAAAR!!! A three way DP [Defensive Pact] with Woden and Oledavy is the way to go, till turn 120. Then we are gonna attack Singaboy. I doubt I can conquer more then 1-2 cities, but I need to strike when my navy is still strong. His production will soon overwhelm me down the road. A quick 2nd batch of quadriremes, soon to be frigates. As long as Woden wakes up (unlikely seeing his NAP [Non-Aggression Pact] and Milpower) and Oledavy does not loose his nerve, I am confident I can at least put a brake on Singaboy. Time to plan fleet movements after the initial engagements.

4 frigates, 4 caravels (2 with naval promotion), 1 frigate fleet are upgraded. 3 quadriremes stand ready for an upgrade if I can scrounge together money. Loan requests are enroute to Oledavy and Woden. I fear it will be not enough, although the battle results of a frigate fleet, double Gadmiraled are scary. But Germany can easily produce military at a rate that is scary. Was so in PBEM #2, will be so here. At least I am not alone.

TheArchduke was using one of the most important strategies in Civ6, and one that I had also put to good effect in PBEM1: building up a large treasury and then mass upgrading units. England had trained a whole bunch of galleys and quadriremes, then used the huge income provided by the Royal Dockyards to upgrade them into caravels and frigates. This is the way to convert financial power into military power, and it allows players to amass a striking force much faster than what would be possible through normal production alone. TheArchduke's gold income fell all the way from 90/turn down to 41/turn after making those upgrades - maintaining military units isn't cheap. However, now he had the naval force that he had lacked during the earlier German war against Norway, plus two Great Admirals to increase the strength and movement of every English ship. Singaboy's cities were located directly to the south and in easy range of the formidable English fleet.

Lining up one ally was easy. Oledavy's Japan had already been opposed to Germany since the time of the initial invasion of Norway. The major diplomatic breakthrough in the turns leading up to Turn 120 was getting Woden's Brazil to join together with England and Japan in a united front against Singaboy. Woden had been sitting on the fence without taking sides for a long time (and irritating all of the other players in the process), before finally making up his mind with this post:

Woden: Here is the current situation: I have a DP and NAP with England until T130, so if Germany attacks England, I will be forced to attack (or at least declare war). I have a NAP with Germany until T130 and will remain neutral if England attacks until it runs out. Japan and England will now have a NAP and DP, starting on T120. TheArchduke has been bitching that I need to start building troops to help him out if Germany attacks, fair enough but I am only 100 MP [military power] behind him and am planning on a massive military build up (mostly 6 to 8 chariots) push over the next 10 turns so I can finish Stirrups and go for Banking. Now, I think I have 3 options:

1. Tell Germany to buzz off and help England and Japan stop his push. Germany is in a good position to win right now and with the Vikings almost out, he will become a monster. The only problem with this is that I am the farthest away from Germany lands. Japan can take the old Viking lands and England can take either his core or the Viking's island. My best shot will be to harass his core, where he will be able to pump out units left and right.

2. Side with Germany and go after Japan. I really want to do this as payback for PBEM2. I think I can hit him on his back side and take his core. If he is build the Venetian Arsenal, might be nice to have but this leaves Germany to push to a win and makes enemies with my closest neighbors and England is fairly close to me.

3. Remain neutral for the time being. I am sure this will piss everybody off but they will be fight among themselves and will let the winner(s) in a much better shape and may come after me before I can get to my sweet spot.

Now you may be thinking the choice is obvious, take out the leader. Why would I even consider letting someone get into winning position. Well, I have 10 civic until I finish Nationalism and two of them are near completion. Why is Nationalism so important? That is when I can build Minas Geeraes and I am hoping nobody has looked into Brazil closely or understands how OP [overpowered] they are. Frigates are 55/45 ranged/melee strength; Privateers are 50/40 strength, Ironclads are 60 strength. Minas Geeraes are 80/70 strength (90/80 with corps, available at Nationalism) plus have a range of 3 and don't get a reduction from walls. In addition, it is an industrial unit and gets the Press Gangs bonus. Is a 20 to 35 strength difference enough to 1 shot a unit? IDK. But definitely a 2 shot kill. I figure if I have 6 Minus Geeraes and 2 Corps Minus Geeraes, I can go on a rampage. I will bring my Great General powered knights along to take cities. They should do well with Minus Geeras support. I should hit my sweet spot in about 50 turns, then we will see where this game goes and my chances of winning. I want to stay in the shadows as much as possible and have others fight among themselves while I slowly build to my goal.

The next available ships to everybody are Battleships (at Steel) and subs (at Electricity) and they don't even match their power. Infantry and Calvary, and Field Cannons aren't even strong enough. Brazil probably has the most OP unit on this type of map. I figure I have a good 20 to 30 turns to wipe out who I want before they can field a unit close to their strength. I am not to worried about a bigger civilization with more units when I can 1 or 2 hit kill units, just more experience. Part of me was thinking just to attack everybody's capital on the same turn and end the game quickly but I don't know if that is possible or if I could have the units to do it. I would be dead quickly if it didn't work.

My plan, as of today, is to join England and Japan in war aganist Germany to slow everybody down but once I get Minas Geeraes who knows where I will go. I am think about taking out the strongest power but we will see. Interesting times ahead. I will wait until after T120 to let Germany know that I have no interest in his offer of an alliance. I just think he will become too powerful if he is left to ingest another civilization. Looks like it will be England, Japan and Brazil versus Germany and Spain in the first world war. Although I think I have made my decision, I do want to sleep on it. Sometimes I think I want to go one way and then inspiration hits me and go in the other direction. Although that might happen, I think I could benefit from either side.

As the scoreboard in the picture above indicates, Woden was clearly in the #4 position in a five player game, a difficult spot to inhabit. The plan was to team up with England and Japan for the moment while teching towards the unique Brazilian battleship, the Minas Geraes, and use that ship to leap past the other players once it became available. This was a decent strategy for a trailing civ to adopt, although it would often cause tensions with TheArchduke and oledavy. Especially oledavy, since Woden often seemed to be going out of his way to needle Japan diplomatically even when it wasn't necessary. Woden's overall civ was trailing the other leading players in virtually all categories, with his earlier science lead completely evaporated by now due to having fewer cities and less developed infrastructure. Brazil was pledged to aid in the upcoming war effort, but how that aid would manifest itself was very much up in the air.

Oledavy had his own plan: work with TheArchduke against Sinagboy while constructing the Venetian Arsenal in the city of Europa:

oledavy: My focus right now is on generating as much money as I can and upgrading my four quadriemes I have running around, my stop gap force. With Mercenaries, it's only a 125 gold upgrade, very affordable, but I'm running low on gold due to loans to Archduke, and buying a stone tile to harvest for the Venetian Arsenal. This turn I upgraded my last warrior to a sword on Saturn to help in the defense. The rest of my money from here on out is going to Frigate upgrades. I think most of the rest of my policies are pretty self-explanatory. Merchant Confederation is worth a cool 12 gold/turn to me. Natural Philosophy is worth 13 science/turn. Meritocracy is worth 10 culture/turn.

I'm going to use my existing armies and navies (2 Caravels, 4 Swords, 4 Quadriemes) to defend my holdings over the next 10 turns, upgrading into frigates as I go. The landlocked city of Callisto is building traders to take advantage of the new 2 trade routes, the new cities of Eros and Enceladus are building monuments. Ganymede, Io, Ceres, and Titan are all pre-building caravels and frigates (some of the frigates auto-upgraded from pre-built quadriemes). I sank chops into Titan and Ceres this turn to help them get set up. They won't complete them until after Venetian Arsenal completes though. So, here's the timeline for navy coming out:

t132: 6 Frigates
t133: 4 Caravels

2 More Frigates to follow soon after, along with more units to come.

The Venetian Arsenal is the best wonder in the game on a water-heavy map like this one. It causes every new ship built by a civilization to produce two ships instead of one. Why the designers even put this wonder into the game is beyond me; it seems almost intended to be abused by the player, or perhaps the game's creators didn't bother to spend much time testing the game on non-Pangaea maps. In any case, oledavy was the one chasing after the wonder and no one else would contest his control of Venetian Arsenal. When it eventually completed, Japan would have the ability to crank out a huge fleet of ships in short order. For the moment though, the wonder still required several dozen more turns to finish.

Singaboy was unable to enjoy the fruits of his conquests in former Norway. He was well aware of the coalition growing against his empire, and felt depressed about the situation in his thread:

Singaboy: Things look good, one might think, but thanks to the diplomacy we have in this game, I am more or less screwed. Well, I can blame myself for agreeing on such setting. Honestly, I did not know, this diplomacy would enable cheese such as troop movement details, trade details such as shifting of resources and more. Call me stupid for entering such a game. It is clear with such setting, that the leader of the game would be target #1, but with this sort of diplomacy, it's much easier for the rest to chase and hunt me down.

I am in no position to win this game against naval attacks from three sides. The only chance I would have is to raze Archduke's cities with naval attacks and do the same to three of them robbing them off their cities. There is no way I could conquer and hold cities with the occupation penalties. I am not sure, how on earth I am supposed to gain an upper hand against Archduke's navy with 2 and soon 3 Great Admirals. oledavy might build the Venetian Arsenal (great that both Archduke and oledavy so openly talk about it so none of them wastes shields, that's even more cheese).My only chance would be to kill vital navy in the initial attack as long as Archduke as no upgraded navy. I need to check where his research stands now.

My intel that I have been conducting every turn near Archduke's closest city tells me he too has frigates now and with his GA, they are scary stuff. I don't think I can match them at all, maybe in big numbers which I do not possess. My only hope here is to slowly wear him out and outproduce him with my German Hansa power. However, with Woden and oledavy joining in, there is not much I can do to stop all of them for now. So, the game slips into a dangerous lull, where I am half-resigned to my fate. That's quite a change from 10 turns ago, where I still harbored the hope of an even fight with Woden on my side. Jester is obviously a non entity, sadly.

The last player in the game was Jester, who had stopped updating his spoiler thread and seemed to have mostly checked out of the competition by this point. He had signed a Declaration of Friendship with Singaboy, however, and seemed to content to take Germany's side in the budding world war in the hopes of getting revenge on Japan for the earlier city razing. On paper, this would therefore be a struggle of empires #1 and #5 against the #2, #3, and #4 empires in the game. In practice though, the conflict would be significantly less neat and tidy.

With TheArchduke's fleet making obvious preparations to attack Germany from the north, the logical move would have been recalling most of the German army from the Norwegian continent to prepare for a defense. Instead, Singaboy decided to attack the city state of Toronto:

Using his experienced veteran army, Singaboy had little difficulty capturing the city state on Turn 119. However that wasn't really the issue; the question was why so much of the German military was off fighting a city state instead of preparing for TheArchduke's fleet. At the very least, the Great General and the crossbows could have assisted in the home defense against incoming ships. From Toronto, those same units then embarked and launched an assault against oledavy's newest Japanese cities:

Oledavy responded by rushing reinforcements to this narrow island, which he had named "Saturn" and where he was calling the cities after Saturn's moons. Caravels, frigates, and swords backed by the Defender of the Faith bonus were able to hold the line. Singaboy decided not to commit his forces in full and retreated back to Toronto without engaging in battle. Oledavy was quite pleased by this turn of events and continued to bide his time:

Oledavy: There are a lot of interesting ways I could play the geopolitical situation right now. But, with Enceladus no longer under any threat, I'm sitting pretty. I think for right now I won't respond to Singaboy, but won't make any offensive moves at him. He can take that however he wants to. I'm not strong enough to go on the offensive right now anyway. But, accepting his peace deal would be the quickest way for me to lose all my hard won allies - for a partner who is still a major threat to win and who will backstab me at the first opportunity. No, for right now, my course of action is to play it cool and continue biding my time for the Venetian Arsenal to complete.

Nine turns out. It will finish on t130. I mined another grassland hill, combined with the extra amenities, to get it down to that this turn. I also upgraded the Quadrieme into a Frigate in Enceladus.

Meanwhile, the main show had kicked off on the northern German coast. TheArchduke played before Singaboy in turn order, so this was where Germany had placed its units on the all-important interturn between Turn 119 and Turn 120:

Singaboy is a very good tactical player in Civilization games dating back to his Civ3 days as ThERat, and for the life of me, I'll never understand what he was doing here. He could see that TheArchduke's fleet was gathered just north of Zitronenhain, and yet he divided his naval forces and left them in plain view of his opponent. Three caravels were just sitting in the water off to the west, practically beginning to be attacked and defeated in detail. Another two caravels and a frigate were off to the east of Zitronenhain, in the open water, in full view of the enemy, basically hanging around waiting to die. The Germany fleet absolutely needed to be concentrated together here in one group, and since they had numerical disadvantage, they needed to be back far enough to ensure that they couldn't be hit with a devastating first strike. Let TheArchduke come forward and try to attack a city, and then counter-attack with German ships getting in all the initial attacks. Singaboy couldn't win straight-up against the English fleet, not at numerical disadvantage and with Great Admirals on the other side, but he could have inflicted larger casualties and slowed down the invasion, granting more time for additional ships to complete and for some of his army to return from ex-Norway. Germany had the production advantage, and now that TheArchduke had invested his treasury into this fleet, it would take a while for England to build more ships. This was a serious misplay from an normally excellent tactical mind.

Needless to say, Singaboy left himself wide open and TheArchduke didn't miss the opportunity:

TheArchduke: After forcing Singaboy to defend both coasts, I carefully move my fleet alltogether east to Zitronenstadt. Threats are Frigates > Caravels > City walls > Crossbowmen, so I prioritise accordingly.

Zitronenstadt should fall next turn and I should be able to catch his wounded frigate. His 3 caravels are free to either run against my city walls north or file 1 by 1 to the slaughter.

TheArchduke sunk two caravels and crippled the remaining German frigate, concentrating all of his naval power in the east while ignoring the three German caravels in the west. Zitronenhain lost its city walls leaving it unable to shoot back at invaders. The city itself fell the next turn:

And since Kiel had no city walls, TheArchduke was able to sweep in and take that city as well. A huge chunk of the German homeland had been swallowed up just like that in the span of two turns. Furthermore, TheArchduke's naval force had barely been scratched thus far in the war. There didn't appear to be much of anything that would stop him from continuing the conquest and overrunning the rest of the German home continent. Everyone in the game was shocked at this reversal, Singaboy's Germany suddenly collapsing under this naval invasion from the north. Singaboy himself was despondent in his spoiler thread:

Singaboy: I feel I owe it to the lurkers here, but this is a good example how to lose interest in a game within 10 turns. It started with oledavy's rubbish about me being so superior and Woden being completely ignorant of the looming danger for himself. I realized too late what a nightmare Great Admirals are combined with frigates. It's all my own mistake to indulge in a land war against Japper. I should have hit Archduke instead, which is easily said in hindsight. Well, the game is over for me in a competitive sense. There is simply mo way to stem this tide with three running against me, the supposed leader of the game.

Think, I exaggerated? No way! Zitronenhain will be gone next turn and Archduke's navy hasn't even been scratched at all. My two caravels simply evaporated. He will move on to Kiel and once that city falls, all the nice district adjecancies are gone. The rest is a matter of time. I had thought that city walls would pose some resistance but naval power is completely out of whack in this game. Not only can the navy roam around freely without the ridiculous movement penalties we have to deal with in civ 6. Frigates are like cavalry with a battering ram in tow. Have they actually tested this before? I am too green here and get punished badly and deservedly. In fact, a naval game is completely imbalanced as you can really defend against it. In PBEM2, I could use the city walls and cam defense to have some zonal defense, but here, city walls are meaningless.

No screenshots as it's pretty demotivating when you know there is only one way to go in the game which is either an also ran or out completely. Nothing to do with sour grapes. But, as said before, me core Island will be history in around 3-5 turns. Archduke is most likely sailing around the Island until he finds Zuckerstadt which will be equally overpowered. A city with a defense of 50 is simply no match against an armada that will have plenty of strength 70 frigates. (remember he can shoot at Zuckerstadt from the northern shore too with his distance 2 frigate shots). He can one shot kill my crossbows at will and since the Island is narrow, there is really no place that is safe for any of my units. There is a tiny stretch between Aachen and Weinberg. I guess after taking Zuckerstadt and Salz am Meer, he will find that Aachen and Weinberg can't be assaulted by sea easily. I have parked each a crossbow in Aachen and Weinberg and am building knights now (in two turns I will get the production bonus for knights). I can teleport my Great General any time to Aachen to either defend or mount an offensive against Kiel or Salz am Meer. As long as Archduke has no land forces there, this is still an option.

I have sent my navy along the southern coast of Norway to support my defense there against oledavy. There is no points to field a few caravels and a lone frigate against Archduke as he has superior movement (stacks with two GA to 7) and superior force and can simply kill any fleet of my size. At Toronto, I read the situation correctly, that oledavy is amassing units there and retreated my horsemen and crossbow back to Norway. I will have to fight a land war there. Toronto and former Jotunheim are most vulnerable as they are coastal. I might use my sneaker navy of 3 caravels and 1 frigate to attack opportunistically.

Make no mistake about it, this was a very bad position for Singaboy. He didn't have the naval forces needed to stop TheArchduke, and those Great Admirals made the English ships a nightmare to confront. However, this wasn't as impossible of a position as his posts suggested, and we would see later in the game that it was possible, albeit difficult, to made a stand under similar circumstances. Singaboy was simply off his game here, with a good chunk of his forces off attacking oledavy for unclear reasons, and half his fleet left exposed in the waters to be destroyed on the first turn of the war. While this situation was almost certainly unwinnable, I maintain that Germany could have put up more of a fight with better tactics.

While this was taking place, Woden and oledavy were working together to destroy a long-shot Spanish invasion of the Jerusalem city state:

oledavy: CFCJesterfool didn't listen to my advice, and exactly what I said would happen transpired. Woden sped the process along dramatically with the arrival of his caravel, which tore through the embarked Spanish units like a hot knife through butter. I never even got counter-attacked, as I could just sit on ocean tiles and bombard him with impunity (still getting +5 strength for firing onto a coastal tile). His initial strike force was at least:

1 Horse
1 Heavy Chariot
1 Catapult (Still alive above)
1 Galley
1 Battering Ram

I suspect he had an additional Horse and Galley that Woden also sank, but he has not said anything to that effect. This force couldn't have even taken Jerusalem, much less invaded the Belt - even without Woden's help. His army was stopped by 3 Quadriemes and 1 Caravel. He has a wounded galley near Jerusalem I couldn't chase down. I'm waiting for him to bring it into range of one of my quadriemes. I killed a scout he had poking around Europa. His GM is still embarked and wandering the seas. I think his entire force is otherwise dead though. That which we didn't sink was forced to go ashore on that island southwest of Spain and got killed by the abundant barbs on the island.

I'll just say I haven't been impressed at all with CFCJesterfool's play this game, his attack was madness even without the the possibility of Woden intervening. He apparently didn't think anyone else had a stake in Jerusalem. He's still at 4 cities 120 turns in for crying out loud. He did found a religion, but he didn't take the +2 gold for every city following your religion belief, which could have really screwed me up (I'm planning on taking it in a bit to help rectify gold generation issues). Both he and Japper007 made some very strange and sub-optimal choices for their religious beliefs.

I have no idea either what the plan was behind this Spanish attack. It seemed doomed to failure from the start.

Back in the main theatre of the world war, TheArchduke's navy had swung around counterclockwise and prepared to attack the western coast of Germany. First TheArchduke went after Salz am Meer:

TheArchduke: Our southern caravel acts as a spotter and see 2 frigates and turns back. Even Great Admiral supported it is at risk of being sunk, but I much rather run over Singaboys industrial powerhouses quickly (+10 production in Salz am Meer before I take it, wow....) It looks like his capital is actually inland, which is terrible bad news. I might have to consider negotiating for the ceding of some cities (yay CIV VI peace and occupation rules), which I doubt Singaboy will go for. We might need to do something about our amenties soon. Especially if Oledavy does not conquer Norway off Singaboy, I can't do everything by myself. I might have been better off just razing everything...

Aachen can be bombarded by sea. So I need units and can easily take it after bombing it down. Question is can I conquer all of Norway against Singaboy's army. I seriously doubt it. I am considering offering a grand bargain peace. All of Norway and Toronto and I return his whole island to him.

The one fatal flaw for TheArchduke was the fact that his entire military in this area was naval-based. There were no land units coming along for the attack; the two English swords had appeared out of thin air due to the English unique ability that spawns a melee unit when a city on another continent is captured. This had a surprisingly decisive effect upon the future course of the PBEM4 game. Singaboy was in little position to fight back, and TheArchduke almost certainly could have taken the remainder of the German cities if he had continued pushing onwards. Instead, TheArchduke proposed a peace treaty to Singaboy: they would sign peace and all of the cities on the German mainland would be returned... in exchange for the cessation of all the German cities on the Norwegian continent.

This was an interesting offer. On the one hand, it was a lifeline for Singaboy to get out of a disastrous war that he was losing badly. TheArchduke would gain a massive amount of territory at a stroke, albeit territory that had been heavily fought over and which had almost nothing in the way of districts or other infrastructure. That made the offered deal seem like a clear win for Germany, regaining enormously productive home cities in exchange for underdeveloped territories on another continent. On the other hand, peace treaties only last for 10 turns in Civ6, and there was little guarantee that TheArchduke wouldn't simply return to attack Germany again when the treaty expired and complete his conquest of Singaboy. If TheArchduke could control his own continent, the Norwegian continent, plus the German continent, that would be the effective end of the game for everyone else.

Ultimately, Singaboy did accept the offered deal, which had to wait until Turn 130 to be signed due to Civ6 mechanics. (Once war is declared, the two sides cannot talk or sign peace for 10 turns.) Afterwards Singaboy began to rebuild what was left of Germany, reduced back to the original starting continent:

Singaboy: Honestly, I am not sure what to do. Once I would become powerful again, England or Japan could just smash me with their navy. Maybe simply stay under the radar to get to U-Boats to have some chance. However, my science and culture will be horrible anyway. I will post pictures again once I get my towns back. Currently , I am merely shipping back my units from Norway. I have finished a settler in my capital which will settle the Island in the west which I wanted to claim some time ago. Weingberg is producing another settle to move east to settle more space on my own land. I think that's the way to go, expand my own Island and get production up. I can only hope for a nice showdown of Archduke and oledavy. Maybe get an alliance with Woden, but he always seems so self absorbed.

Oh, I finally got the cities back that I had lost only to lose them again to Archduke's navy if he desires to do so. On this map, no city is safe from frigates and battleships. He just got a ton of free swordsmen for each city I gave him. I am just playing this for the sake of it. If anyone can pull something off against Archduke, I will be impressed. He should go after oledavy and not me, but I will be just an appetizer for him.

TheArchduke was quite rightly pleased with this course of events, and looked to be in the process of consolidating his future victory:

TheArchduke: Well, things are looking up. My science rate takes a nice boost, culture as well from the hopelessly underdeveloped norwegian cities. The main question now is. Kill Singaboy in 10 turns, or attack Oledavy whose science rate and Arsenal is probably the last obstacle in this game. Woden neatly took the alliance, eliminating him from any consideration thus far. I doubt Minas Geras can swing this game when I have eaten Singaboy. But pop is pop.

Note the repeated mentions of Woden by both Singaboy and TheArchduke. The Brazilian player had earlier signed an alliance with oledavy's Japan, and oledavy had been under the assumption that Woden would now work together with his civ to stop TheArchduke in the same fashion that they had been cooperating against Germany earlier. Of course that cooperation had been more theoretical than anything that manifested in reality; neither Japan nor Brazil sent any units to attack Germany in the most recent conflict, though oledavy's Japan had fought off a German attack against one of his cities. One of the things that alliances grant is visibility of the other player's territory, and Woden observed that there were no land units on the Japanese home island. With Brazil and Japan located close to one another, he mentioned that this might be a potential avenue of attack for Brazil later in the game when the Minas Geraes battleships arrived.

Then this decisive offer arrived from TheArchduke on Turn 132:

Woden: England wants an alliance. I can help and feel a little deja vu here. Last time I rejected a friendship from a major power in order to be on the wrong side of a war, my civilization quickly vanished. I have to give it to TheArchduke, props here for putting me in this situation. I don't know if he thought about this angle but it puts me in a pickle. On one hand, I could reject his offer and become his next target. If I accept, it is going to piss oledavy off to no end and I am pretty sure he will say this is the reason he loses if he loses. What to do, what to do? England is going to start pulling ahead and needs to be stopped or slowed down at least. I am fairly close to his core and would make a nice target. I don't think Japan would be much help if England did attack. For reasons more strategic then past performance. He will have a big front with England in the east and I could see him using the oppotunity to attack the Viking cities, not come defend me. Japan would probably gain the most from a war between TheArchduke and me.

After about 10 minutes of think about it, I decide to accept his offer. Better to survive a little longer and piss oledavy off then sign my own death warrant. I don't feel good about this decision (screwing oledavy) but I am not playing to help him win. I am playing to see if I can win. There are a few good things to come from this. I now know most of the map and the time my alliances end, I should have or be close to Nationalism. I think I can use this time to expand a little. I will need to if I am going to keep up. I will have to reassess my current strategy. The best option now might be to kick out 3 or 4 settlers before working on ant Wonders. I will need to think about that. Well, at least there should be some good posts to read in the near future. I wonder how long it will take oledavy to notice that I have an alliance with TheArchduke. I expect a nasty post in the diplo thread soon.

This decision never made a lot of sense to me. With TheArchduke now the clear leader in the game, the plan for Brazil was to... sign an alliance with TheArchduke to make it easier for him to win? While Woden was correct that he was under no obligation to help oledavy win, I'm not sure how entering into an alliance with TheArchduke particularly helped him in this situation. At the very least, signing nothing at all would force TheArchduke to remain on his toes due to the uncertainty about whether or not Brazil would join in an attack. Honestly, this seemed to be more about leftover feelings from the PBEM2 game, where Woden continued to blame oledavy (rather unfairly in my opinion) for not doing more to stop Alhambram's victory.

Woden was certainly right about one thing though: there were angry diplo posts forthcoming from oledavy.

oledavy: Woden allied with Archduke.

Why This Was A Bad Move

Oh Woden.... I guess I shouldn't be surprised, Woden is playing the exact same game he played in PBEM2, only instead of an intangible "build until I am strong enough" objective, he's playing for Minas Geraeses. Here is the wager he has made: "I bet Archduke won't kill Dave and put himself in an unassailable position before I reach Nationalism and upgrade frigates." I would bet he will have nationalism sometime in 20-30 turns. He may even be sidestepping grabbing a tier II government to make it happen. I'll check in game to try and evaluate when he actually gets there, but suffice it to say, I imagine his Alliances with me and Archduke get him there, or almost.

So, I am properly scared of Minas Geraeses, but I don't think it's going to work well for him. Simply because I am so close to subs. About the time he deploys a fleet of them, I'll have subs to counter. Moreover, since Archduke is now all but guaranteed 1,000 science from Darwin, I have a pretty good idea what he's going to be beelining. Brazil's UU [unique unit] trashes ironclads, frigates, etc, but subs are going to be its downfall. It will be close, but I seriously doubt he can assemble an unstoppable fleet of his UU before both Archduke and I have sub fleets. This all assumes that his bet is correct, which while I am optimistic about my odds, I am not sure about them. He is guaranteeing himself peace on the hope I don't die, then betting his UU can win the game for him.

I've already establishing that I think the premise is faulty and the payoff is iffy. Now for the last part. The whole point of our alliance, as I understood it, was to try and counterbalance Archduke. If Archduke was facing armed and dangerous foes on both sides, he would be unlikely to attack either one of us. Moreover, he was significantly more likely to attack me, as I'm the one with the fleet. Probably nothing bad would happen if he ignored Woden and attacked me, but if he attacks Woden and ignores me, I'm going to go raze his capital and sail to Woden's aid. So, with this in mind, he traded a marginal chance that he would be attacked, for absolute security, but at the cost of alienating his only ally, risking the game's outcome on his bet, and based on the idea that Minas Geraeses can win this thing for him. He has talked himself one last time into his PBEM 2 fallacy: "I can build my way out of this situation, if only I have 30 more turns." Only this time, Alhambram's cossacks are waiting on the other side. Anyway, I'm miffed because I thought Woden and I had the makings of a genuine partnership this game, but at the end, turns out he's willing to sell me out for a grape. Shame on me for being fooled.

What I'm Going to Do

I am upgrading the likelihood that Archduke makes an all out naval push to kill me and try to win the game from decently likely to very likely.

Right now, I am in the process of working my way through the cities in Spain. I will continue doing this, but always with an eye towards being able to withdraw and rally my fleet before Archduke arrives. I have 10 turns left, so as long as I avoid committing too hard, I should be fine. I'm irritated that I can't fling the entirety of my fleet south of Spain to take his capital and wrap up this war quickly, but c'est la vie. I'm going to adapt and stay flexible based on what Archduke does. At the very least, I can snap up De Soto and Hong Kong. My only real concern on this front is that Archduke or Woden use our enforced peace to screw with my attempts to take them/try to take them from under my nose.

Gold my biggest concern right now. In the coming turns I am going to become dependent on trade routes to Woden just to fund my massive fleet, and I'll need a lot more gold on top of that to do ironclad and submarine upgrades. Since he has an alliance with Archduke, Archduke can now see my trade routes and possible go raid them. I need to be cognizant of this and possibly detail fleet elements to protect my vital trade routes. I will additionally be looking for ways to generate more gold domestically. Libson's suzerain bonus just got a lot more juicy.

I consider my agreements with Woden effectively abrogated at this point, and am planning to take Jerusalem. Woden has no fleet to do anything about it, and I have no interest in working with him anymore. I will additionally examine the possibility of taking Libson, but that will depend much on what Archduke is doing. There is no more meaningful diplomacy to be done this game, and I doubt I will be using the diplo thread again. Jester is dying on the table. Singaboy is all but out of the game. Woden has shown his true colors, leaving Archduke my worthy adversary for victory. There are no more friends, no more allies to be had.

Strong words certainly, but I tended to agree with oledavy. Woden really was falling into the same trap as he did in the PBEM2 game, operating under the assumption that if he only had 25 more turns to build up his civ, then Brazil would be strong enough to make a decisive and winning move. This is a common error for newer players in these Multiplayer games: you have to consider not only where your civ will be in 25 turns, but where everyone else will be in 25 turns. And even though Minas Geraeses would be a powerful weapon indeed, they weren't going to be enough to accomplish much if TheArchduke had control over half the land in the game. This new alliance had to have been particularly frustrating given that oledavy had just signed his own alliance with Woden five turns earlier. Some of the lurkers were critical of oledavy's theatrics, but I've been in the same position in these games and it's easy to overreact. Letting off some steam in your own spoiler thread is understandable.

Fortunately for oledavy, he did complete the Venetian Arsenal on schedule:

Oledavy had timed a whole bunch of ship builds to finish the turn after the Venetian Arsenal so that they would all be doubled in number, and Japan's navy would be formidable indeed with this production advantage going forward. Interestingly enough, while TheArchduke's England was now the score and territorial leader, Japan still remained the science leader. Oledavy was hoping that he could reach submarines on a determined beeline to Electricity tech, and then upgrade some of his frigates into those deadly Modern era ships. TheArchduke managed to swipe away Charles Darwin, a Great Scientist, to get a burst of research towards Steam Power tech and the ironclads contained there. This was the main reason why TheArchduke was able to keep pace in the critical naval tech race. Note that oledavy also mentioned above the importance of gold to maintain huge fleets of ships and upgrade older ships into newer ones. This was a crucially important aspect of the gameplay here as the technological eras continued to advance. Civ6 does a better job of simulating the financial aspects of war better than any previous game in the series. More advanced units are very, very expensive and civs that can't afford them will be defeated by those who can. All of the players would soon be scrambling for every penny that they could find.

Oledavy was still at war with Jester, and beginning the process of attacking the Spanish continent:

De Soto was the first city to fall, with a Japanese missionary tagging along with the invasion force to spread religion (and Defender of the Faith) inside. The Spanish campaign would be an extended affair, due to a combination of a number of inland cities that were difficult for oledavy to attack, and the need for Japan to hold units back in defense against TheArchduke. Nonetheless, Jester was in serious trouble and Japan was slowly gaining more territory (under the occupation penalty) in the south.

Oledavy's frustration with Woden also caused him to break an agreed-upon deal regarding the Jerusalem city state. They had previously negotiated that Woden would pay oledavy 350 gold and in exchange Brazil would get control of the city state. However, oledavy decided to unilaterally cancel that agreement in a show of extreme bad faith:

oledavy: Alright, I have arrived at a decision. I'm going to take you through my evolving train of thought as the day has gone on, and play my turn in a couple hours when I get home. So, first off, let's get the obvious out of the way. Stealing Woden's money and taking Jerusalem would be an objectively shitty thing to do, I'm not sidestepping that. I don't play these games to be a nice guy though. Moreover, Woden started it. He will argue that allying with Archduke was not against the letter of our partnership. It certainly was against the spirit of it though, and has left the game in the balance and me in a rough situation. He even admitted that it screwed me over in the Diplo thread. So, insofar as two wrongs make a right, I would consider it a justified response from where I stand.

Regardless of what Archduke may bluster in the diplo thread. Here is the cold hard calculus I am facing. Archduke has double my pop, and nearly double my cities. He has easy next door conquests. We have tech parity at the moment, but his long-term position is significantly stronger than mine. Both our culture and science rates will continue to grow linearly, his faster than mine. But hidden, is the fact that his production and gold, arguably the two more critical stats at this point in the game, are also going to grow much faster linearly than mine. I have the Arsenal, a major boon and the reason I'm competitive. But he has +1 movement on all ships and a lock on two Great Admirals at a time for the rest of the game. My previous math estimate was wrong, as was predicated on him having to attack higher strength ironclads. realistically, he can two-shot my frigates with his GA buffed frigates, attacking as they are at a ~15 str. difference (factoring in DW [Divine Wind]). This means I need 3 ships for every 2 Archduke has. VA is not going to cut it forever unless I get more production.

I don't trust Woden at all. His newfound cooperativeness in the diplo thread in the aftermath of screwing me has not left me swayed. He will sell me out in a moment if he feels it improves his position, not that I would expect anything else from someone playing to win. But, I can't count on him, the raisins he is offering me right now do not mean he is suddenly going to work with me again when his alliance runs out. It's a tossup in my mind whether he decides to send his battleships against me or Archduke. I'm also frankly tired of Woden trying to play every side in every conflict. But, with all that context aside, this decision is not about revenge, justice, anger, or anything like that. It comes down to a simple calculus:

"Does stealing Woden's gold and taking Jerusalem give me a better chance to win the game."

Over and over again, his alliance with Archduke being only the latest example, Woden and I see the geopolitical situation in fundamentally different ways. It's the source of all my anger with him, his seeming insistence in acting in ways that I perceive as lessening his chance to win. In short, I can't expect Woden to do things I think make him more likely to win, and he's just as likely as not, in the event of a backstab, to do all three of these things and more. That gave me pause, but that's when I arrived at my final realization.

I can't count on Woden to act in ways that increase his chances to win even if I don't backstab him. He certainly jumped at the alliance with Archduke. What's stopping him from waiting out this alliance with me, and attacking me anyway if he has decided I am the bigger threat after consuming Spain? Am I to believe he has just now finally had a change of heart and sees the world the way I see it? So in effect, there is no choice in my eyes. Woden will continue to be Woden. He will play both sides, and act in ways that not just me, but Singaboy too, see as fundamentally against his own self-interest. The fact that he so perfectly articulated in the Diplo thread why he would not have been invaded had he chosen not to ally with Archduke, yet still uses it as a justification to have allied with him, just boggles my mind. He will never act in ways I can predict, because his read on the geopolitical situation is fundamentally different.

So, we're stealing the gold and taking the city.

This was a terrible breach of faith, and a sign of poor sportsmanship on oledavy's part. For that matter, I'm not even sure that it was worth the betrayal. It drove Woden firmly into TheArchduke's camp as a result:

Woden: Then I notice Japan moving ships into position to take Jerusalem! Really! There is no reason for him to have ships over this way if he is campaigning against Spain. I figure the best action would be to declare war this turn and pillage the Harbor for 50 gold and block him from being able to melee attack twice in case he can't take it this turn. I honestly don't understand this. Jerusalem is shitty island city with no luxury resources. In fact it will cost him 2 or 3 and lower happiness in other cities. Plus, now I am going to be hell bent on fighting him and side with England. I did give him information on England's positions but I can also give England Japan's position. This maybe for the best, as Japan will be much easier to attack then England. All his cities are on the coast and only a few have walls. Plus, his cities are spread out and will be difficult to defend all at once. The best option here will be for oledavy to focus on taking the old Viking cities and on England, figuring I am not much of a threat and too passive to put up much of a fight but I have 23 more turns to see his lands and plan an invasion. And like I said, his lands will be easy to take, most on the coast. Most of my core is inland; he needs an army to fight me and I already have one. We will see how this all turns out real soon.

Yep! Oledavy takes Jerusalem... I think he thinks he is in position to win. We will see about that. Didn't really take any other screenshots this turn, not much else going on. I am going to move my ships to follow Japan's ships to let England have vision on them. Additional, Japan and Germany are now friends and will soon be allies. Looks like we are going to start playing axis and allies now!

I think this whole incident indicates why the public diplomacy thread was a mistake. The back and forth led to serious bad blood between players that our community is normally able to avoid in Multiplayer games. Oledavy certainly looked bad here, and yet he likely was correct in his metagaming; Woden seemed determined to work against his Japanese civ at least in part due to animosity from the last PBEM game. In any case, oledavy was able to steal Woden's gold and also pick up a city for himself, which in pure realpolitik terms was a victory for Japan.

But this betrayal did mean that the sides were being drawn for the next phase of worldwide conflict. Woden was now committed to TheArchduke's cause against oledavy, although Woden still harbored plans of striking out and making a move for himself when his Minas Geraeses appeared on the scene. Oledavy was also at war with Jester's Spain, the forgotten civ having fallen into virtual irrelevance by this point in time but still clinging to life. However, there was one thing that was genuinely new. A dramatic shift had taken place in the diplomacy between oledavy and Singaboy. Whereas earlier in the game it had been Japan organizing a coalition to stop Germany from taking over Norway, now Japan and Germany were increasingly thrust into a situation where they needed to work together. Singaboy needed help to survive a repeat attack from TheArchduke, while oledavy simply needed any allies at all. The next big date was going to be Turn 144, when TheArchduke's previous peace treaty signed with Singaboy on Turn 130 would expire. Singaboy was making preparations for the return of the English fleet:

Singaboy: It looks to me as if Archduke might prepare for the next strike. The four northern cities are not defensible for me with my few caravels and 2 frigates. However, I will found another city inland to the south, which is more difficult to take by sea. I might at least be able to pose some defense there, which he can't reach with his frigates. At the same time, I am trying to get oledavy to wake up to the threat in the diplo thread.

As stated in the previous post, I am now going to prepare to set up a city that Archduke can not take from the sea. I will need to prepare to defend the city as long as possible to deny him the full takeover of Germany as long as possible. There is nothing in for me to win, but it will be fun to see how long I can defend the city. In order to do that, I will need gunpowder and muskets to support this. The city will be founded, where the settler currently stands. This way, the only place from where the city can be bombarded is that one spot to the north. On top of that, units on land will be relatively safe from sea attacks. I can position units west of the city and they can't be reached by sea. Archduke would have to fight his way via Aachen and Weinberg. Weinberg can also be only bombarded by one tile SW of the city.

I will try and position my navy in such a way, that I can block his access from the south and maneuver my crossbows around to shoot at the frigates while my own ships try and delay his movement. I am going to try and chop out an encampment to the west of the rice to be able to counter his units coming from the direction of Weinberg. This is to delay his progress and allow oledavy to come and fight his navy in a battle that will hopefully decimate both of them so I can somehow take back some of my cities. Those are of course pipe dreams I guess.

In addition, another city is being build on the far side of the Island to the west, which would delay Archduke's taking out of Germany. I will go down in flames easily if oledavy doesn't keep his promise to come to my aid. Let's see whether he is just another Woden, who talks but never acts. oledavy didn't really help Japper as well and I am in fact not very hopeful, that he will commit his navy to help prevent my demise.

The critical question now became what oledavy would choose to do. TheArchduke was about to attack Singaboy as soon as Turn 144 arrived and the peace treaty ran out. Would Japan move its Venetian Arsenal-powered fleet to assist Germany, or would oledavy instead focus on conquering Spain? This was the subject of considerable debate in oledavy's spoiler thread. His dedicated lurker and teammate Chevalier Mal Fet ultimately provided the argument that spurred the final decision:

Chevalier Mal Fet: Right now, your biggest obstacle to winning the game is Archduke's fleet. Your primary objective, therefore, ought to be finding it and destroying it. With the English fleet gone, you can do anything you like. You can sail back and conquer Spain, or overrun it with fresh-built forces. You can conquer Norway. You could sail around Archduke's coasts and pillage as much as you can to knock him back. You can do any combination of these. But, it has to be done relatively quickly, because you'll need to redeploy to face Woden.

In other words, I think sailing and winning makes you objectively better off, not worse. You don't gain much materially, true, but your strategic options open up. Conquering Spain and marginal Norwegian cities means little when Archduke adds that powerful German core to his empire - especially since you've still got to confront that fleet. Confronting the fleet, on the other hand, enables the other two moves. It'll put you in firm control of the game, and with land roughly equal to any other player (or greater, if you can add both Spain and part of Norway), you'll be in no danger of being outteched. With the VA, there's no danger of being outbuilt. Singaboy, Woden, and Archduke would all have to put aside their differences, Archduke and Singaboy would have to rebuild, and then they'd all have to coordinate to stop you (Jester, sorry for leaving you as an afterthought in this when you read this thread, but as it stands now your empire is behind in tech, small, and underdeveloped - you're basically a speed bump. ). In other words, I think a victorious fleet engagement makes you the firm favorite to win the game.

Plus, there's this to consider: At some point in this game, you'll need to confront Archduke's fleet if you want to win. Do you want to do it with German support, with England tied up trying to support a land campaign, or do you want to do it alone? Can't wait for a tech advantage - Archduke's science matches yours and he's going to be at subs soon after you. Waiting also lets him coordinate with Woden. It also forces you to continue to be reactive - but breaking the back of the English puts you in the driver's seat for the first time since Germany sailed to Norway. You gotta go. I get that if you lose the decisive battle, that's it. Probably GG Archduke but maybe Woden will surprise us. But, well, if it weren't a gamble, there'd be no need to play. I think you've got no choice but to toss the dice here and see how they fall.

This was the correct analysis: winning the game was going to come down to which player could defeat the other player's main fleet. If oledavy could destroy the English armada, then the rest of the game from that point on would be a mop-up exercise. Similarly, if TheArchduke could find and decisively defeat the Japanese fleet, that would also put an end to this contest. Perhaps Woden would be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat somewhere, but that seemed unlikely. Under this logic, it was better to fight the English navy in German waters with local German support than to abandon Singaboy and try to take on TheArchduke (and probably Woden) alone. Oledavy agreed and decided that he would throw in his lot with Singaboy. The Japanese navy would steam east to confront the English fleet.

PBEM4 was therefore divided up into a 2 vs 2 scenario, with England and Brazil facing off against Japan and Germany (and Spain still kicking around in the background). A true Axis vs Allies scenario! The core battleground was going to fall in German territory once again, where seemingly the action had been concentrated throughout the entire game. A final great clash of fleets was just around the corner, with the overall game going as the prize to the winner.