MP Quick Hits

This page is intended to be a place where I can do a short writeup of Multiplayer games without going through the time and energy of a full report. Some of these reports may have screenshots, others may just be a couple of sentences, but the idea is to give the readers an idea of what I'm up to in terms of MP activity. I'll save the reports for the big stuff, like the Clan Championship Cup tournaments.

January 14, 2006
Game: Medieval 3 vs. 3 Team Game
Map: Small Inland Sea
Settings: 2 city-elim, No Barbs, 150 turns
MP defaults: Quick, Medium* turn timer
(Fast timer was changed in 1.52 patch)

Quick report here: Fried, xma, and I played a Medieval team game against three players from the new TX group, Willburn, longhorn, and OneSong. We all went random on the civ choices; I got Washington, Fried got Cyrus, xma got Louis. It was a Medieval start on Inland Sea, in case I didn't mention that already. Willburn and longhorn came after Fried on a doubleteam about midway through the game, while xma and OneSong clashed at the bottom of the map. I was in the backlines of the Inland Sea, and basically went crazy with cottages and expansion. Washington's one of the best possible builder civs, after all. Only problem was, I didn't support Fried enough and we almost lost the game because I didn't provide enough military help. Well, Fried finally whipped me into getting some military units, and xma was able to move some musketeers up as well, so we managed to turn the tide without Fried losing any cities. Whew.

I had neglected my military almost completely, which is why we were in that situation. But once we turned back the attack, we were guaranteed to win. Why? Because my civ had gone insane on the commerce:

I've never seen anything like that before on the commerce graph. And here's the Demographics showing the same thing:

My capital had a gems resource and two gold resources, then I added about 4 more cottages - and I was Financial. Then I made sure to generate a Great Scientist and put an Academy in there too. We were knocking out Medieval and early Renaissance techs every 4-5 turns, which is crazy fast for MP. We out-teched the other team, and Fried grabbed one of longhorn's cities with cavalry. This was about 4 turns before the combined stack of 20+ cavs that xma and I had was about to descend on OneSong. The other team played a nice game, but Fried survived their best shot, and from there our economic dominance carried the win. Nice job everyone.

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January 16, 2006
Game: 3 vs. 3 Team Game
Map: Small Wheel
Settings: 2 city-elim
MP defaults: Quick, Medium turn timer

OK, ran another fun game tonight, this time with my Realms Beyond pals Speaker and ManiacMarshall. We wanted to do a 3 player team game, so we rounded up three random people from the MP lobby and set up a game. Small Wheel map, a good one for a team game. If you haven't played a Wheel map before, it looks like a wheel (duh) with a circle on the outside and spokes extending into the middle. You can thus attack and be attacked from at least two different directions at once. We ended up playing against Sixthtrump, bat51, and fortyone. They all chose civs, we all went Random. I ended up across from fortyone, which was great because he had been talking a lot of trash in the lobby while we set up the game. Nothing more fun that sticking it to those people.

I draw Victoria, Speaker draws... one of the Americans, I think FDR. Maniac has Hatshepsut and is in our back lines. It's me in the north, Maniac in the west, Speaker in the south; we're all on the west side of the Wheel. I've got a corn resource and clams at the start, plus two floodplains; tons and tons of commerce, but no hill tiles in range of London. So I elect to go the commerce route; first worker action is building a farm on the corn, then two cottages on the floodplains. Combined with Vicky's Financial trait, this ensures me the #1 GDP stat for the game. Got a library up farily early too. I run light on defense early on, but I've got scouts out to warn me of any incoming danger, so I'm not overly concerned. I had horses at the start, so I build one chariot who ran around in fortyone's lands and irritated him a bit. I don't think it did any real damage, but it slowed his workers a bit and kept him on the defensive, which bought me what I most needed: time. Second city went back of the front in order to grab copper. Third city went north to get me gold, fourth city went east (towards the front) and became my military production center. Meanwhile, Speaker chops for Stonehenge and Maniac builds us the Pyramids + Chichen Itza. bat51 overextends in the south and Speaker grabs one of his cities, excellent! Then Speaker goes on the offensive and, though he can't take one of bat51's core cities, he puts him on the defensive and does a lot of pillaging. Excellent work.

By the time I finish settling my land with a full seven cities, we're got a substantial tech and points lead thanks to our nice research effort. Game is basically already over, but I decide to add the exclamation point by going into military buildup mode. I get a half dozen war elephants (for fortyone's keshiks), 5 cats for city defenses, and almost a dozen maces, the last ones promoted with City Raider II all over the place. fortyone comes after me just before I'm going to attack him, and I shred a fair amount of his units. When he sees my stack, he turns around in panic and retreats. I snapped a pic of my army as it began the advance:

That's not always going to be large enough to get the job done, but it certainly was sufficient against someone who hadn't reached maces yet. I roll the stack up to Beshbalik, and fortyone only has two cats left for defense? Heh. Not enough. My Medic unit heals the damage I do take from the cats while my own cats knock down the city's defenses in one turn. I suicide 2 cats to damage the defenders further, and also have one cat retreat successfully. With all the city defenses gone, and the defenders softened up by my siege units, I send in the maces. They ALL win, I kill like 10 units with no losses, and easily capture the city:

It really wasn't even hard. Now his civ is entirely smashed, and all I have to do is grab one more city to finish him off. And fortyone RUNS AWAY by quitting the game! Amazing. Isn't it always that way with the trolls? They talk all kinds of trash, and then when someone stands up to them, they cower and run away. Unbelievable. It's just sad that there are so many people like this in real life. Sixthrump and bat51 also ran away too without a word, but at least they were more polite in the staging area. So while the game didn't mean anything, it was fun to kick some random jerk's ass, and stomp on him hard. fortyone, the next time you start throwing insults around in the lobby, you'd better make sure you can back it up, ok?

And my civ at the end. Had a fun time, everyone on our team played a good game. We'll do this again for sure at some point.

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January 26, 2006
Game: 2 vs. 2 Team Game
Map: Small Pangaea
Settings: No Barbarians, 2 city-elim, 150 Turns
MP defaults: Quick, Medium turn timer

Another short game played with Speaker last night against some newcomers from the lobby. After taking Random civs as usual, I ended up with Cathy (Russia) while Speaker had Egypt. Our opponents were Aztecs and Rome (ouch!) but they were both new players who were still learning Civ4. The most notable thing about the night was the amazing capital that I drew. Look at this location:

I haven't seen anything like this since we fixed a particular seafood resource bug in testing. Five clams - FIVE CLAMS! Along with 5 hill tiles (4 of them plains hills) and a copper resource. That copper resource on the plains hill would produce a sick SIX shields when mined. Ouch! I build a worker out of the gate, then had him chop/mine the hills to produce three work boats. From there (since I was in the back lines and we had No Barbs on by request of the other team), I went with a settler spam strategy and quickly got up to 5 cities. With Moscow rocking the shields and commerce, we quickly opened up a huge points lead and ran down the tree to Construction, since Speaker had ivory. I built Stonehenge (for denial) and Oracle (taking Civil Service with it!) because the other players had ignored the wonders. Once in Bureaucracy, Moscow entered into ridiculous proportions. Speaker administered the coup de grace with cats and war elephants just as I was initiating a major military buildup. The other team conceded after Speaker razed down the Roman Holy City on his borders.

First, another picture of Moscow at the end of the game. Would you believe that one of the mines on the hills popped an IRON resource too just before the end!

Moscow is getting 20 shields/turn BASE at size 8. That's just crazy! I don't even have a lighthouse built, which would add an extra food to all those clams tiles. We had just gotten to maces from researching Machinery and I had just finished the Pyramids as well (had stone in another city). The game was... not close. Then a picture of the final Production graph:

I've seen a lot of runaway graphs before, but never one where production was so dominant for one player! Moscow in this game was just amazing. Finally, thanks to Oxboy and mzz4096 for the game. They are both still learning how to play Civ4, but they were extremely polite and gracious in defeat. If only everyone in the MP lobby could be the same.

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April 18, 2006
Game: Classical 4 vs. 4 Team Game
Map: Standard Team Battleground
Settings: No Barbarians, 2 city-elim, 120 Turns
MP defaults: Quick, Fast turn timer

I had a chance to play my first MP game on the 1.61 patch last night. Speaker asked me if I wanted to play a short game, which sounded good to me. Somehow that morphed into a 4 on 4 game in the lobby, after an eternity of waiting and playing with the settings. I have to say, the obsession of ladder players with their records and backing out of games that look tough is really quite irritating. I know many people like the ladder system, but I find the whole thing to be silly. Speaker grabbed Gogf in the lobby, then we needed a fourth and so Fried got pulled in as well. In short, we had a, umm, STRONG team. I figured as long as I didn't do anything stupid and get myself killed, we would most certainly win. I didn't know any of the other players, but I so rarely play on the ladder that shouldn't come as a surprise.

Speaker chose a Classical start, one of my favorites. Too bad that it's still a problematic start due to the whole settling ON horses issue. It's not quite as bad with forest chops being toned down though (old strategy was to settle on the horses and then chop chop chop out horse units before the other team could react). Horseback Riding has been moved back to the Classical era as a tech too, and that helps as well. No more keshik-chops out of the gate. Oh, and the turn timer has now been fixed in 1.61, yay! There was a bug that made it run one speed too fast in 1.52. I don't think most people even knew that there was a bug there, but I definitely felt it. Now I can play the "Fast" setting again with no problems.

As far as this game - we were picking civs, so I decided I would go with the cheese option and take Rome. Speaker went with Gandhi for our wonders, Fried with Egypt for the potential cheese rush, and Gogf with Alex to defend against a horse rush from the other team. You can see the fabulous starting position I drew above. The only thing I lacked was iron, but Fried had iron at his start, and we swapped my copper for his iron early on, solving that problem. Speaker started out by building/chopping several workers (three, I think) and then deforesting everything in site to get us Stonehenge and the Pyramids. Since we went Iron Working/Mathematics, he was able to get full value on most of those chops too. Gogf was on the other side of the map from me, so I wasn't able to pay too much attention to what he was doing, but his phalanxes were across from ManyAz1's keshiks, so we got a nice draw there too. Fried was on point position for our team, and that made things easier for us as well.

alaric420 was located across from me, and he was playing as Russia/Peter, an odd choice for this start. I had an archer come my way early on, but with this being a Classical and not an Ancient start, that wasn't nearly as big of an issue. I connected my copper just as the archer got there (after already building a granary and barracks), and an axe cut it down without breaking a sweat. Scatch that threat. I then sent forward a couple of units as sentries, giving me plenty of warning of anything incoming, and built up my civ behind them. My own scout that I started with slipped back behind the other team's lines and saw that alaric420 had horses in his starting radius. That let me know to build spears, so when alaric420 came after me with a pair of horse archers a little down the road, I already had a pair of spears waiting, and they were easily cut down. Knowing what your opponent is going to do know is more than half the battle - if you can predict the other guy, you've usually already won.

Meanwhile - I don't want to criticize the other team too much, but there were some rather weedy decisions taking place. In any City Elimination game, the number one rule is to protect any cities you found. I've violated that rule myself at times, but rarely with good results. It was the same case here:

[CIP]Dignitas' city is doomed here. Leaving the city undefended is itself not so great, but the lack of a road network to the new city is perhaps worse. With a road between Delhi and Madras, a fast double-move could get a defender over there before the attack comes. Without it, Madras is doomed, and indeed it was razed on the following turn. Score one for our team. A little while later, Gogf found another undefended city in the west and razed it with one of his horse archers. ManyAz1 was thus also down a city.

Now their team had built the Oracle and taken Feudalism with it, quite a good move that made their defended cities largely impregnable for a while, at least until we could start producing some monster stacks. Fried was seeing some serious action for a little while from [CIP]Dignitas along with some help from alaric420; largely axes from the first and horses from the latter. I sent Fried my ivory, and those elephants along with his own axes didn't really have any trouble cleaning that up. The attacks did not come in large enough force to have any real chance of succeeding. Meanwhile, while the other team is attacking us, we're focusing on throwing more cities back behind our lines, increasing our score lead and adding more strength for down the road. I ended up with 5 cities, and I think everyone else had 4. I was a little slow building up my offensive stack, therefore, but the extra settlers definitely made me stronger.

So while Fried and I are building up to attack, he spots a new city from alaric defended only by a horse archer, and no more than 2 moves away from one of his spear sentries. Fried was so sure that this was bait that he didn't even more after it for a turn (of course, he also just forgot to double-move, hehe) but I think we mentally shrugged and figured it was worth it to go after the city anyway. A double-move later, the city was razed:

That was not the best strategy I've ever seen.

Anyway, we now had one city on all three of their frontline players. [CIP]Dignitas chose this moment to run away from the game (which is NOT kosher for ladder play) but we continued anyway with an AI. Fried and I were building up for the assault, and I presume that Speaker and Gogf were doing the same on their side of the map. (Then again, Speaker had built a ton of very helpful wonders, so he was probably lighter on units. Gogf was doing a nice job of defending the two of them.) BlitzKrieg, the player in their backlines, was ranked #1 on the Power graph, and so I can only presume he was building up a stack, but we never really saw much from him. Perhaps a sledge that never had the chance to be delivered?

alaric420 refounded another city on the same tile where Fried had burned down a city earlier. That may not have been the best decision... Fried decided to pay him a visit with this stack:

Rather nice if I do say so, but perhaps a bit heavy on cats. (I tend not to build quite so many cats as that, although it's almost impossible to have too many cats.) Even with all those units, alaric420's longbows on a hill actually held off the attack! That would have been a rotten turn of fate for our team - except that I was backing Fried up with my own smaller stack.

Game over.

It was a great deal of fun, although our team was so strong that the outcome wasn't ever really in doubt. I was just happy to keep up with the rest of our guys. The supreme highlight of this game was out-pointing Fried by exactly one point at the end of the game. 740 to 739, ha! A crushing win for me.