Heroic defending notwithstanding, we remained in pretty bad shape even after clearing our land of units. Better than before - enormously better! - but still far from a good position. We paused to assess the damage from the carnage that had already taken place:Sullla:
Since Speaker is posting on the military side of things, here's a look at our cities:
I'll point out again the importance of the grassland farms we built at Antietam and Fredericksburg, allowing both cities to reach +6 food/turn to regrow back quickly after their (many) emergency whippings during the war. Hereditary Rule was a lifesaver here, allowing us to stack our military units inside those heavily-whipped cities and keep them growing upwards. Poor Chancellorsville would have been unhappy at size 2 without HR garrison happiness! You can imagine how long it would have taken us to rebuild if we had been working under those constraints. Finally, it goes without saying that Slavery civic saved our bacon. We whipped our cities 23 times during the dozen turns of the invasion, pulling some 700-800 total shields in the process. (Remember, some of those whips were for two population.) This is why it's so difficult to invade other human players in online games: the AI won't do this. But people will!
The tables had certainly changed quite a bit in less than 24 hours of real-world time. We found this email in our team inbox from Whosit:Whosit to Killer Angels:
To the Honorable Speaker and Sullla,
Now suddenly the war wasn't worth fighting, eh? Funny how our opponents changed their tune once we cleared our territory of units. The line about economy was particularly rich, as teams like Jowy and Dantski had crippled themselves not just by whipping out all those phalanxes/axes, but by walking them around in our territory for a dozen turns. (Dantski had 15+ units in our territory for the whole stretch until he signed peace; just think of the unit support costs he had been paying!) We sent back a quick message saying that we'd discuss the peace offer, and decide what to do.
The next few days were marred by limited Internet connectivity for both of us; Speaker was out traveling for work, and my home was getting pounded by wintry weather which knocked out the power multiple times. Still, on the occasions we were able to discuss the current situation, Speaker and I increasingly saw no real reason to sign the offered peace treaty:Sullla and Speaker:
What do you think, Speaker? Now I'm not even sure that peace is in our best interests. This could be a very strong window of opportunity to hit Jowy and cripple him before he gets access to cats and horse archers himself. On the other hand, we certainly could use some time to rebuild. But if we give them 20 turns of peace, what's to say that we won't get attacked again by 4 teams as soon as that NAP runs out?
In the meantime, we continued the rebuilding process:
Since our cities were not in danger here, and our workers were re-connecting important strategic resources, we went ahead and revolted to Judaism. It was very good timing, since our workers could continue their labors during the turn of Anarchy, then our cities get the benefits of improved tile yields. We had actually been in Organized Religion civic for some time, partnering it with our swap to Hereditary Rule, and now it would finally start helping our cities. The horse archer on the yellow square is a Medic II unit healing other units on three different tiles. Love those Medics! The white circled tile has our two Great General axes and our catapults, ready to move to any threatened front quickly. Now that we had Construction tech, we could move over rivers at no penalty, making tactics a bit simpler.
Finally some good news diplomatically: Broker and plako of Korea, the team that had been smashed by Whosit's Praetorians earlier, decided to throw in their lot with our team. We were essentially the outcast pariahs, the targets of the strong alliance formed by Kathlete (Ottomans), Jowy (Greece), Nakor (Holy Rome), and Whosit (Rome). This group called itself the Coalition of the Willing (CoW), but only in their own emails back and forth; Speaker and I didn't even know about that name until after the game ended. Korea sought our advice on what to do diplomatically:Broker to Killer Angels:
Greetings Speaker and Sulla
Our advice was for Korea to declare a neutral "Switzerland" role, and state that they were not taking sides in the current conflict. The other teams likely had bigger fish to fry (namely, our India!) than worrying about little Korea. Broker and plako were a weak civ without much going for them at this point, but they were the only ones who actually seemed interested in working with us. Dantski was an ally of convenience - not a friend. We did not trust him much at all. With Korea, however, we had the beginnings of an actual friendship based on mutual interest. At least we could count on one team not to attack us.
We had a couple of lurker suggestions to bury the hatchet with Holy Rome and try to ally with them. Ha! Not going to happen. They made an enemy for life when they backstabbed us. Our top goal for the game, probably even before winning, was to bring about the elimination of all of the teams that attacked us. "Choosing Unwisely" and all that.
Hey, what's that Ottoman archer doing way over there, off the west coast of Gettysburg? It turned out that Ottoman and Incan territory wasn't that far away to our west, past the Toroidal worldwrap. Our poor naval presence, due to moving the capital inland on the first turn of the game, had limited our scouting of the outer islands. That was a problem we would have to remedy someday, however there was little we could do at the moment. Hampton Roads remained our only coastal city.
Taking further stock of the situation:Sullla:
So after updating some of my stats, here's what the current city count looks like:
We looked great in military power - no one was going to be conquering India any time soon! And in the Demographics, we were still running pretty strong in the major categories. Nevertheless, that city count number was very troubling. Despite our explosive start, the war had dragged us back down into the middle of the pack. The other teams were beginning to pull away from us in expansion, and all the best tactical maneuvering in the world wasn't going to save us if we had 10 cities and Whosit + Kathlete invaded us with 25 cities each. We had to do something to break out of our current position...
Whosit was meanwhile doing something with his Praetorians, capturing the barb city of Kassite and then gifting it to Jowy:
The location of Kassite was a bit unfortunate, essentially giving Jowy another city on our border for free. Then Whosit gifted his stack of 8 Praetorians to Jowy for free! Wow, that was an awfully nice gesture from Whosit. In one stroke it made Jowy's military respectable again. We would have to be careful moving forward; it was a shame we weren't able to destroy those Praetorians before they reloaded onto the Roman boats.
Jowy also built the Great Wall in his city of Sparta at this point in time, Turn 114. Huh? While he was fighting a hot war with our team?!? That was probably not a good decision...
We negotiated a deal with Dantski for some of his axes and a skirmisher. He would let us borrow the units for a dozen or so turns, and in return we would gift him the units back along with a catapult (we had Construction and he did not). This was very helpful for us, but kind of a strange play for Dantski. I'm not sure why he was so willing to give us units here; the obvious play for Dantski after switching sides was to attack Holy Rome, while his military was much stronger (see the Power chart above) and Whosit's Praetorians were off gallivanting around the north. By gifting us these units, Dantski essentially gave up on his military window to attack. Since Dantski's economy was so poor, he needed to use his one advantage - a large army of axes - to gain some kind of benefit. For whatever reason though, Dantski would sit around not doing much of anything over the following turns.
That didn't stop Speaker from trying some misdirection to confuse the other teams. When Nakor was online at the same time, Speaker typed one word in the Chat to All box: "Krondor." That was the name of Holy Rome's second city, and when Nakor asked what that meant, Speaker replied with "Oops." We shortly received this amusing email:Nakor to Killer Angels:
Of course, we had absolutely no intention of attacking Krondor! It was a long way away from our southern border, and even if we could take the city, we'd have to gift it to Dantski. Not a war we were interested in fighting! However, this little subterfuge was pretty successful in directing Holy Rome's attention towards defending their own cities. We know now from reading their spoiler thread that Nakor and DMOC were indeed constantly worried about the possiblility of an Indian/Romali invasion of their northern border. It wasn't something that Speaker and I had any interest in doing; we were looking more to our north instead. For us, the mythical "Operation Krondor" was quite a hoot!
Now, getting back to that northern border... well, we had a plan there. There was a fine collection of catapults and axes ready to go and greet Jowy:
We posted this image in our spoiler thread and teased players by asking them where they expected the units to go. (Some of the lurkers misinterpreted this and thought we were asking for advice on where to move. Ummm, no, not the case - we already knew what our plan was going to be, and wanted to make the thread more interesting to read. I was surprised that some people criticized us for this, and for hiding our plans for two days so that we could do a big dramatic reveal.) When the stage lights came on, this was the attack plan against Jowy in full:Sullla:
Alright, so we can finally pull back the curtain and reveal some of what Speaker and I have been planning. To start, we have to go back to the offered peace treaty from the Kathlete alliance that we received about two weeks ago. Speaker and I spent some time thinking this over, and ultimately we decided it wasn't in our interest to accept. Yes, 20 turns of peace would have been nice, but how would that benefit us if those four teams simply came back and attacked again as soon as the grace period was up? We're confident in our abilities, but winning against 4 vs 1 odds is asking a lot. Ultimately we decided that we had to continue this war - while we had a relative military advantage - and do our best to cripple one of the teams opposing us. Obviously Jowy was the main target there...
This really was the perfect time to strike Jowy, since we had a relative military advantage (catapults and horse archers) that wouldn't last forever. Our next tech push was going to have to be economic in nature. Thus attack *NOW*, while we had the superior units in quality and quantity! I do regret having to do the cheese "move in one one minute left on the timer" thing, but otherwise Jowy could have whipped out extra military units in his cities. The rules for the game pretty much mandated this sort of behavior. The one big fear that we had surrounded the location of those gifted Praetorians. Where were they, and how would Jowy respond? Speaker summarized the result with this picture:
While also admonishing, "Don't do a Google image search for Pants Down!" OK, as for what actually took place:Sullla:
That's the only way I can summarize this turn. Just... wow. Settle in for a good read, folks, because this could be one of the biggest turns of the game.
We had a lot of decisions to make at the start of this turn. We got our units into pretty good position (we did a lot of smart 2-pop whips, to answer the question of where these units came from), but just building units is only half of the equation. One reason why I like Civ so much is that there's a place for both grand strategy and also small-unit tactics. This turn was a textbook example of how the smallest details of unit movement can sometimes make all the difference in the world.
Here's what we saw at the start of this turn:
Jowy added a phalanx and a catapult to Sparta's defenses this turn. Phalanx was fine, but a catapult? Huh? Like, did he pay attention to the fact that we were attacking with horse archers? That unit should have been placed elsewhere, as it was only going to die uselessly in Sparta. Not a good decision, 50 shields thrown away meaninglessly.
In the south, Jowy moved the three units on the hill next to Thebes into the city itself, and moved all the units in the city... somewhere into the fog. We guessed that they had moved NE-NE, to be in between Thebes and Argos, but we couldn't know for certain. Plus, we didn't know where those gifted Praetorians were located either.
What we needed was more information. Moving blindly into the fog is one of the dumbest things possible when playing against humans. (This is why MP games should be set with spies OFF, as in this game, because it's way too easy to defend when you have invisible units that can run around in enemy territory. But I digress.) Before doing anything else this turn, therefore, we sent out a spear to die by moving north onto the hill tile, which gave us line of sight on... well, pretty much everything!
Bingo, those former Thebes units were right where we thought they would be. (Note that having moved, they lost all fortify bonus that they had previously.) More importantly, we also found the gifted Praetorian stack, on the yellow tile just north of Jowy's stack. This gave us three critical pieces of info:
- That stack could reach Sparta next turn. Therefore, we couldn't possibly capture the city and had to raze it.
- That stack could *NOT* reach Athens in timely fashion. If we could take down Sparta, the path forward would be totally clear.
- Argos had a single archer on defense. Whoops!
Now we had the info needed to play the rest of the turn. Raze Sparta and move the slow-movers up next to Argos. If Jowy's forces had been positioned differently, we would have played the turn differently. This was pretty much the textbook example of why scouting matters!
Next up was the battle of Sparta:
- Horse archer beats phalanx (76%)
- Horse archer beats phalanx (68%)
- Horse archer beats archer (~80%)
- Horse archer beats catapult (99%)
No losses, raze the city, and pillage 108 gold. How's that for payback?!?
But oh wait, it gets much better than that! Speaker had the idea to move the horse archer who killed that last catapult in Sparta another tile north, onto the iron hill tile. What we saw next was absolultely stunning:
Jowy moved two archers OUT OF ATHENS!!!!! WTF was he smoking here?!? These units couldn't reach Sparta in time to matter, and by next turn the city could have been relieved by the (vastly larger) stack of Praetorians to the south. So these archers were just sort of chilling around in the middle of nowhere, giving up their fortify bonus to achieve nothing of note. And with the disappearing of Sparta's cultural borders, we were able to not only see these archers, but MOVE UP AND KILL both archers! That's right, these archers lost their 25% fortify bonus and their 40% cultural bonus and their 50% natural city defense bonus to be killed by horse archers at 99% odds on flat ground... leaving Athens completely vulnerable to attack. We've got all 8 surviving Mounted units ready to hit his capital next turn. Unless there's some miracle army out there, Jowy's capital is toast.
Speaker's reaction over the chat client was "omfg" when he saw the archers, and that's probably the best way to sum it all up. Jowy threw away his capital due to stupid unit micro!!!
So here's the current situation, after rolling over the new turn:
Athens has 1 archer inside, which just completed this turn. I don't really see how Jowy can get much more in there. Argos has 1 archer and 1 catapult (snicker). We have 6 cats, 13 axes, and 2 spears next to it. Even if Jowy moves all of his units into Argos, he's going to take savage losses in there. What he should have done was whipped CITY WALLS, not a catapult, for a massive defensive bonus. Another dumb move. It doesn't really matter if he moves his big stacks into Argos or not:
- If he does, we have a decisive battle and kill off nearly all of his Praetorians/Phalanxes.
- If not, we raze Argos, which is probably his best city now that Sparta is gone.
Tough choice for Jowy. So we offered him an "out" diplomatically:
We are prepared to sign a peace treaty with you and the other three teams in your alliance (Athlete/kalin, Nakor, and Whosit). Our terms are:
- You gift us the cities of Thebes and Argos.
- All of our teams agree to a Non-Aggression Pact, which will last until Turn 150 (~28 turns).
We realize that these are harsh terms, but you will still be able to remain in the game and rebuild. (Look at the progress Broker and plako have made recently.) If you refuse, we're more than happy to fight on and raze more of your cities.
On a side note, we're also sick to death of working within the clock rules, and would sure like to get things back to normal...
The Killer Angels"
Once again, we see ourselves as benefitting either way here. If Jowy agrees to peace, cool beans: we get 2 free cities, and can go back to pushing growth in safety for the next ~25 turns. If not, well, he can kiss his two cities goodbye and we'll go right ahead razing Greek cities until the bitter end. I mean, if we get Athens and Argos, he's down to Corinth (a good city), Thebes (haha), and Kassite (a size 1 barb city). And Jowy's economy was atrocious already, so he'll be approaching "STRIKE" range if he loses two more cities. I think he's pretty screwed regardless now.
Jowy's mistakes here were mostly tactical in nature. He had enough units to defend against us, but they were simply caught out of position. By moving the big axemen + catapult stack over in the east, we forced the bulk of his army to move over in the same direction, opening up a gap that our Mounted units poured through. Once the border city of Sparta was down, the route to Athens was completely open. This is yet another reason why Mounted units are so dangerous - their speed makes all the difference! (We had the further benefit of protecting our eight horse archers with two Morale Great General axes, each with two moves as well. Nasty stuff, since your axes can keep up with the horse archers and defend them against spears.) Jowy did not have much experience with Multiplayer games, so it was understandable that he was caught out of position here.
Jowy did indeed accept our peace offer, which was a great relief to us. Certainly, we could have fought on and done quite well, but the peace terms we offered were even better for India:
Sorry if you were wanting more bloodshed, but I really do believe this was the best move for us to make. Let's go through the full rationale here.
We'll get to the postwar rebuilding and the new Greek cities on the next page. First though, I want to address one of the biggest questions of the entire Pitboss game: why did the 5 vs 1 alliance fail? It was a good idea on paper, but the excecution failed to achieve its goal in practice, aside from burning down our smallest city and carrying out some minor pillaging. What went wrong? Here were the biggest factors:
* Failure to communicate properly. Speaker and I were able to jump on Teamspeak and hash out all of our unit moves together, with no loss of coordination. For the other side, they were forced to try and link up the movements of five different teams, with many of the individuals involved located in different time zones all over the world. I knew from the Apolyton Demogame just how difficult it had been to try and coordinate movements with Donovan Zoi of Banana. Attempting to work with four other teams at once must have been a nightmare. I believe that athlete was trying to be the one in overall command, but it had to have been pretty crazy. We saw firsthand how Dantski's units often seemed to be off doing their own thing, with little relation to the Greek/Ottoman force.
* Insufficient map knowledge. Because we were still in the early game, prior to the discovery of Paper tech, the teams allied against us could not exchange map information. They also weren't allowed to send each other screenshots for the same reason. That meant that their discussions had to be entirely text-based, with more room for confusion and misunderstandings. We had full sight visibility at all times, because we were defending within our own territory. Now compare that to the view of athlete:
Not quite so easy when it looks like this, right? The need for each side to describe what was going on to their allies made the attack that much more difficult to pull off.
* Timing of Non-Aggression Pacts. This was more accidental than anything else, but the other teams really bungled this one. We had an NAP with Dantski to Turn 90, with Jowy to Turn 95, with Kathlete to Turn 100, and with Nakor to Turn 105. Meanwhile, the long travel time for Whosit meant that he didn't arrive with his Praetorians until Turn 109. The result was that each team entered the war at different points in time, filing across the border in almost piecemeal fashion. For the first five turns of the war, we could concentrate almost exclusively on the Greek/Ottoman units. Dantski didn't declare war until Turn 100, and then it took him a further three turns to move into a threatening position. The war had been going on for seven turns already by the time Nakor entered with his small stack. And we were able to get the Dantski/Nakor units under control by the time that the Whosit Praetorian landing took place. Even without the mistaken declaration of war, we still would have likely held all our cities.
The mistiming of all these war declarations meant that we were never facing the full 50+ units at one time. It was more like 20 units, then five turns later another 20 units, then five turns later another 10 units. And we could handle that, if barely. Had all of the enemy units arrived at once, we would have been defeated, no doubt about it. This whole point goes back to the previous one, on the difficulty of communicating and coordinating actions!
* Timing on the Tech Tree. Finally, the Coalition of the Willing picked a bad time to attack on the tech tree itself. Certain periods lend themselves to offensive warfare: immediately after discovering Bronze Working/The Wheel (rush with axes or chariots before the other side has metals connected), right after discovering Construction (hit with cats + elephants ideally), attack when you have Guilds (knights) or Civil Service (maces) and when the other guy doesn't have longbows yet, etc. Conversely, there are also times that are especially bad for offensive warfare: right after the defender gets Feudalism/longbows and Nationalism/drafted muskets being two good examples. It's also a bad idea in general to attack right before the discovery of Construction, because the other side with have lots of axes/spears and 40-50% cultural defenses in cities while you still can't drop those defenses. All you can really do is pillage a bit and hope to find an undefended city. In other words, this was simply a bad era in which to attack. Granted, I'm not sure waiting would have been a good idea either (with India having Construction on the horizon), but attacking even earlier might have worked well.
* Dantski switching sides. Obviously this was the key breakthrough for us, and one which we didn't even do much to encourage. I guess it wasn't too surprising that someone would drop out of the alliance though; hard to make the case that so much fighting with little success was in the interests of all five members.
Finally, peace at last! Speaker could take a break for a while, and I could take charge of what I enjoy most: building up a powerful civilization.