We added four more cities to our burgeoning empire in the aftermath of the Greek war. Here was the new situation on our eastern border:
Out of Jowy's 8 cities, we captured 4, Kathlete was gifted 2, we razed 1, and there remains one last offshore city on the northwest island [which we would raze]. Everybody renamed Jowy's cities too with their respective naming themes, so Greece has practically disappeared from the record books. We took a total of eight Greek cities between our two wars:
The renaming of cities meant that Greece had practically disappeared from the landscape. The new cities of Atlanta, Spotsylvania, Chikamauga, and The Wilderness were all good locations, each with food bonuses and many grassland tiles. Atlanta, the former Greek capital, was probably the weakest one, actually! We had plans for all of these locations, but before we could carry them out, diplomacy intervened and came to the forefront again.
First of all, Kathlete of Ottomans wanted a new extension of our Non-Aggression Pact, which was due to run out on Turn 170. We thought that it would take us about a dozen turns to conquer Jowy, and we would then have the option of pushing on into Ottoman territory afterwards if we so desired. Instead, Jowy's rapid capitulation meant that we were still stuck with guaranteed peace for another five turns after Greece had been destroyed - something we were not expecting! We actually didn't want to fight a war with the Ottomans at this point, as we were expanding in size from 10 to 15 cities at one stroke. Another round of pausing to grow before expanding again seemed wise. There's no point in fighting a war only to conquer cities that you can't afford economically.
However, slaze of Inca remained at war with both Ottomans and Rome, and he wanted us to intervene on his side very badly:slaze to Killer Angels:
Basically, my economy got wrecked by their dogpile. For awhile I was -9gold/turn at 0% science, then -6, -2, +1, +3, and now I'm prolly up to like +10 and will stay out of the red (some of this has to do with foreign routes taken away with war but i will soon -2 turns- map out a route to your west coast). But I was so far behind to begin with that this shatters my chance of ever being able to compete with the likes of you. But my main concern is Athlete. If he cruises along like he's been doing (he hasn't whipped a dime since this whole thing started) then pretty soon, he'll get to Jannisaries (he's a ways off, I know, but unfettered, will get there) and I'll be stuck at all the troops that are vulnerable to jannisaries. i want you to attack him. I need you to attack him. You don't necessarily have to finish him off, but slow him down some. The reason he want the NAP is because he's so weak back there. I'll send a follow up message after i play but i can see a handfull of cities back there and they're all 1 archer each. His whole army is passively sitting 2 tiles in from our border, defensively waiting for me to invade (which i don't yet want to do).
Speaker's response: "waaaaaaaaaaaaah". There was no doubt that slaze was telling the truth about the vulnerability of the Ottoman cities; we could see for ourselves how Kathlete was almost baiting us into attacking him:
However, there were two problems here. First of all, we could not attack Kathlete until Turn 170 due to our previous Non-Aggression Pact, and Speaker and I were not willing to break our word on that agreement. Secondly, just because there were no defenses in those cities now was no guarantee that things would remain in the same state. Kathlete had Feudalism tech, and so he could whip out defensive longbows in the same manner that slaze had done. Yes, we could certainly take a city or two, but only at high losses, and we weren't really prepared to conquer even more cities at this point, having just absorbed the Greek spoils. In other words, it was very much in slaze's interest for us to attack the Ottomans, but we didn't see ourselves benefitting from it. Thus, we sent out this message to Inca explaining matters as we saw them:Killer Angels to Inca:
Dear slaze of IKZ,
Those were our honest thoughts on the matter, and we were trying to offer advice to slaze which would also be in his best interest. Some of the lurkers criticized us here and argued that our actions were too self-serving, but I just don't think that was the case. It's stupid in this game to attack entrenched longbows until you have knights or better units; that's just a fundamental truth to this game. It was not in the interests of either our India or slaze's Inca to try and conquer the Ottomans right now. Kathlete had way too much land and too many cities to make that an easy campaign, plus we would both destroy our economies in the process. slaze was losing money at 0% research, so he of all people definitely could not take on more territory himself! The best plan was to stop for now, let slaze crush Whosit in conjunction with Korea, and then come back later to partition the Ottoman domains. We were willing to offer a straight 50/50 split of territory with slaze, even though Indian units would assuredly be doing most of the fighting in any future attack.
As far as the reception of the message, slaze told us:slaze to Killer Angels:
Fair enough. I'll dance the border dance with Athlete for now. Just whatever you do, don't set up a NAP with him while him and I are at war.
And we affirmed that we would not be extending our NAP with the Ottomans, so that Kathlete would have to defend the western border and we could intervene as necessary to help out Inca. That appeared to be the end of the whole matter. Or so we thought...
With marble sent over from slaze, and the completion of Literature research, we were able to work on the Heroic Epic:
ONE TURN, BABY!!! Speaker set up a pair of forest chops to complete perfectly on the same turn we landed the tech and the marble resource. Very slick. We would soon add the Forbidden Palace in St. Albans as well (despite knowing the non-optimal combination of Heroic Epic and Forbidden Palace in one city, which T-Hawk scolded us about), since the new Greek cities were all rather atrocious in terms of maintenance costs. Elsewhere, the marble from Inca allowed us to get to work on the National Epic in Spartansburg, which would become our Great Person farm. Although Spartansburg had a lot less production, it would still be able to complete the National Epic in about ten turns, which would be good enough. In terms of research, we were heading through Aesthetics, Literature, Drama, and Music. These were important techs for us: Literature for the two Epics (Whosit having already built the Great Library earlier), Drama for theatres and the Globe Theatre, and Music for the free Great Artist and Notre Dame wonder. These were largely inexpensive techs, and they definitely offered enough benefits to make them worthwhile.
Then the diplomatic bombshell: athlete accidentally posted a message in the General thread for the game, rather than his own spoiler thread. It was quickly deleted by the moderators, but not before Speaker had a chance to read it. And the information there was quite a doozy:athlete's accidental post:
So I ignored my intuition and convinced myself that India wasn't going to take Greece out (I was thinking this around T148 or so). Along with the Inca getting Feudalism, Rome and my attack on the Inca was particularly foolish. Especially mine. I completely failed to make any progress, when I should have atleast taken 2 cities.
Wow, what a mistake! Our reaction:Sullla:
Well, well, well. I definitely enjoy that first paragraph, cataloging the litany of mistakes made by the Ottomans over the past dozen turns. Indeed, it wasn't exactly the greatest series of events from Kathlete's perspective. And the second paragraph gives us insight into what they are thinking with regards to our team, neat.|
But it's that third paragraph that of course has the most useful stuff. Seems like slaze is trying to maneuver on both sides of the current alliance structure, eh? I see three different possibilities here:
- slaze is playing us, and actually working with Kathlete.
- slaze is playing Kathlete, and actually working with us.
- slaze is playing both sides against each other, and will do whatever favors him the most.
#3 seems like the real story to me. Can't really blame him too much for it either, although it's definitely irritating to us after the emails asking for help he sent our way. Even if slaze would turn on us, he couldn't do too much - at least not immediately. Given enough time, it could be a problem.
In the meantime, Speaker had the clever idea to send out a group email to our alliance with a cut-and-paste of the accidental message:
"Dear plako and Broker of Korea, Dantski of Romali, and slaze of IKZ,
Hey, you may have seen that Kathlete accidentally posted in the email thread today. Speaker saw the message before it was deleted, and we are forwarding it to all of you:
slaze, care to explain what's going on to the rest of us?
The Killer Angels"
It will be "interesting" to see how slaze responds to that. He'll probably want to strangle Kathlete even more!
Despite the fact that we thought we were cool with slaze, he decided to do a complete reversal and change over to the Ottoman side. We were "surprised" to put it lightly, given that slaze had just told us he was never going to make peace with them and fight to the end of the game. Never mind placing your trust in a team who literally just sneak-attacked mere turns earlier. When we sent our email out to Korea, Inca, and Romali to ask what was going on, we expected some kind of a denial from slaze. Instead, we received a violent denunciation of our team. Speaker commented up the same passage with his thoughts:slaze to Killer Angels:
The Zimmerman note didn't make it either. You didn't tell me about the NAP. [We mentioned T170 several times. I'm not sure if we ever explicitly said we had a NAP with Kathlete until then?]
We would send off another email to slaze asking if he was interested in repairing relations, but nope, that was that. He had made up his mind and decided to throw in his lot with the Ottomans. We stopped sending Inca the group emails between India, Korea, and Romali. Kathlete and slaze signed peace in-game and stopped their grueling war of attrition against one another. Confusingly, however, slaze remained at war with Rome, and continued to press on Whosit's domains in the south. Evidently the alliance structure was still a little murky over in that part of the world, with Ottomans and Inca working together, and Ottomans and Rome allied, but Inca and Rome still at war!
slaze's logic did make a certain kind of sense, from the perspective of "India is winning the game and no one should be working together with them." Nevertheless, I still believe it was a curious decision to make at this point in the game. Kathlete's Ottomans had been consistently hostile to Inca ever since the early removal of the Byzantines, and slaze was more or less putting himself in the hands of his former enemy. As for athlete, he had a bit of a murky reputation from the Byzantine war and a previous Play By E-Mail game, where athlete broke an NAP to declare war on Dreylin. His units also pressed up against the limits of our current NAP by pillaging tiles around our new cities:
You know, that really could be interpreted as a hostile action... Speaker and I were nearly on the verge of declaring war over this, but cooler heads fortunately prevailed. With slaze now firmly in the enemy camp, we saw no reason anymore to remain on bad terms with the Ottomans, and could simply do whatever was best for us. We chatted up athlete and agreed to a long Non-Aggression Pact extention!Killer Angels to Ottomans:
Dear Rebel Alliance,|
Apologies for making use of your accidental post, but the information was directly involved with our team, and quite important. I daresay that if we had accidentally emailed you our attack plans against Jowy, you probably would have taken some kind of action too!
Ironically, this sort of benefits you in a way, because if slaze wants to turn and stab us in the back, we have no real motive for going after you. The whole goal there was to help slaze in his war - if he wants to be our enemy, then you become the enemy of our enemy, and you know what they say about that. Perhaps we can agree on some kind of Non-Aggression Pact after all. (We were only really refusing to sign one because slaze asked us to.)
If you are still interested in an NAP, like you said in your last email, we're open to offers. But as a sign of good faith we have to ask you to stop pillaging around our new cities, which is damaging our relations. Thanks. Hope to hear back from you soon.
* * * * *
We'd like to accept your provisional Non-Aggression Pact for Turn 180 (inclusive) while discussing longer term plans. As part of that deal, we'll request again that your units refrain from pillaging around our future cities. Our general preference in the past has been for 20 or 30 turn NAP agreements, so hopefully we can discuss something in the Turn 190 or Turn 200 range.
The Killer Angels
For the moment, we agreed on a temporary Non-Aggression Pact for another ten turns, with the understanding of working out a longer agreement down the road. This granted us border security in the east, and allowed us to tech upwards to superior units; we were anticipating coming back to attack the Ottomans later with drafted muskets and cuirassiers. Since we were teching faster than Kathlete, we would almost certainly have a military edge later on. Meanwhile, Kathlete gained protection for his own border cities in the west, which were much more vulnerable than our own holdings, and a renewed opportunity to go back on the offensive again. But it would be a little longer before we found out who would be their next target...
Finally, we could now turn to the subject of developing our new cities:
Ahh, lots of new territory to enjoy! Love watching those light purple Indian borders do their Zerg creep across the map. With no icky Greek culture to worry about, St. Albans can expand its borders to their fullest. Hey, remember when Fort Henry and Chancellorsville were the front lines? We've come a long way since then!|
Three Greek cities came out of resistance this turn, so let's look at them in more detail:
Chikamauga is the planned Globe Theatre city, which was the only captured one to arrive with a courthouse in place. (Already saving us nearly 6 gpt.) Unfortunately two of its three food bonuses are located in the second ring, and the city will need a border expansion to start working the fish and rice tiles. We're building a theatre to take advantage of that, and a pair of workers are going to time a forest chop on that theatre for the same turn that Judaism is spread with a missionary. The worker plan looks like:
T166 sugar plantation (3t left)
T167 forest chop (1t left)
T168 Judaism, forest chop (done), sugar plantation (2t left)
T169 sugar plantation (done)
Once we get our food tiles up and running, we can whip to our heart's content, because the Globe Theatre city doesn't matter if it gets unhappy. Hopefully those buildings can get us up to 100 culture and third-ring borders fairly quickly, for help in defending against a possible Ottoman attack.
Now the one minor issue here: Buddhism. This is the only city of ours with any religion other than Judaism. In one sense that's good, as we can build more temples/monasteries if we spread it. But it also opens us up to the slight chance of an Apostolic Palace cheese loss. Very small chance - but we can't ignore it completely. I used to think people were ridiculous when they complained that you can't remove a religion from a city. Not anymore. The AP game mechanics are so, so dumb... I would happily suffer some kind of penalty to remove Buddhism from this city, and eliminate any chance of a cheese religious defeat.
The Wilderness has great commerce potential due to the grassland river tiles to the west, and makes a very strong defensive location because of the hill location and peaks to the east. Unfortunately, its three food bonus tiles (sheep, irrigated rice, sugar) are all located in the second ring, and the city can't work any of them immediately! Now we did the best we could here by funneling an (Organized Religion) forest chop into the city on its very first turn of existance, getting 42 shields right away. Along with working the grassland hill mine, that gets us a theatre in 3 turns, and along with the religion present in the city, we'll expand borders in a total of 5 turns. Not great, but not too terribly shabby either.
We do not want to whip here, because the city is only size 2 and it will grow much faster working sheep + rice once borders expand. Plus we need to fill up the granary's food box before whipping becomes effective. That goes for all of the new Greek cities!
Spotslyvania has another great mixture of grassland river tiles, food bonuses, and the addition of some production bonuses too. Iron plus horses made this Jowy's strategic nexus, although they are more important to us purely for their tile yields. Spotslyvania is fortunate to have sheep + horses in the first ring, which allows us to work both tiles immediately. (We have to wait for the iron, sadly.) I'm still going to bring two workers up here next to chop that last grassland forest, and get the theatre done quickly, because the real danger here is from the neighboring Ottoman Cloud City (former Knossus). Against a Creative civ, we need to expand borders quickly and get some defenses up. City walls here are practically a necessity.
Other odds and ends:
- Kathlete did not pillage our clams with their traveling trireme in neutral territory, yay! They could have been real jerks about that.
- Spartansburg is up to 10 shields/turn base, 25/turn with all the multipliers on National Epic. It will finish the wonder in 8 turns, assuming slaze doesn't cut off our marble prematurely. [He didn't.]
- Courthouses complete next turn in Hampton Roads and Fort Henry, allowing us to start the Forbidden Palace in St. Albans. Not coincidentally, St. Albans will finish its missionary and overflow a lot of shields into the FP next turn. Should take about 7 turns to finish, and then we go back to cranking out more knights.
The post-Jowy Demographics show us doing quite well; the GNP leader looks to be Nakor (slight chance of being plako) running 100% on deficit towards another tech. If we are that close at 50%, albeit at a deficit ourselves, we're in good shape. Food and Production speak for themselves, and they are even more impressive considering that our new cities contribute basically nothing there yet. Give us 20 turns to get them up and running, and then...
In foreign news, Kathlete finished Civil Service this turn and revolted to Bureaucracy. He got there pretty fast, but mind you, that's due to the fact that Jowy gifted him over 300 gold, which Kathlete burned through at 100% deficit rate. It'll take him a little while to research anything else. plako also finished researching... Horseback Riding! They weren't kidding about going for knights.
Leaving out the cheap Ancient techs that everyone has, here's an overview of the tech situation as we know it:
India 12 Classical techs, 4 Medieval techs
Nakor 9 Classical techs, 5 Medieval techs
plako 9 Classical techs, 3 Medieval techs
Kathlete 9 Classical techs, 2 Medieval techs
Dantski 9 Classical techs, 1 Medieval tech
Whosit 8 Classical techs, 1 Medieval tech
slaze 4 Classical techs, 1 Medieval tech
That's a pretty good ranking of everyone's tech standing. Yes, Whosit and slaze have both fallen behind Dantski. Yes, that's also a sign that they are both in some serious trouble right now!
The Demographics continued to reflect our strong position, one perhaps moving towards a dominant position. We were emphasizing the national wonders heavily here, between National Epic and Forbidden Palace, something that the other teams probably didn't do enough with. We remained the tech leader, running more or less evenly with Holy Rome, and with all of the other teams noticeably behind. The 300 gold that Jowy gifted over to Kathlete more or less gave the Ottomans a free Civil Service tech, which was very cheesy... Nothing we could do about it though.
We did get the Great Artist from discovering Music first, which was held for potential use in a later Golden Age. Not much interest in dropping a culture bomb anywhere right now.
Broker and plako sent us a request for several knights, to help out in their war against Whosit. We went back and forth, ultimately agreeing on sending them three knights and a horse archer. These were state-of-the-art military units at the time, as we were the only power in the world that possessed the technology to build knights. While I won't say that we were overjoyed to be sending away some of our best units, we felt obligated to assist our one true friend in the game. And of course Korea was helping us by damaging Whosit, as plako mentioned in his emails. Not a bad deal.
Speaking of Korea, they were continuing their slow buildup of military power and gradually wearing down Rome. Combined with slaze's ongoing offensive coming down from the north, Whosit was in growing danger:
The war with Korea forced Whosit to keep a large garrison inside Nar Shaddaa, the original city of Pyong'yang captured in their first war so long ago. There were two other city ruins nearby to the southeast, former Roman cities already burned to the ground by Korean armies. Meanwhile, slaze had retaken Tiwanaku and was now pressuring on Bestine up in the northeast, forcing another large garrison over in that direction. Whosit was forced to build more and more military units, plunging his economy further into the toilet. Rome was still doing OK for the moment, but if the situation didn't change, Whosit would be in real trouble. If either border fortress (Nar Shaddaa or Bestine) were to fall, it would effectively seal the destruction of Rome.
Why wasn't Holy Rome doing anything to assist Whosit? When Holy Rome was brought into the war with Korea, they negotiated a secret agreement not attack one another at sea, something that Holy Rome never told Whosit. Nakor and DMOC's involvement in this war seemed to consist of sitting on the border and waving their swords menacingly, without lifting a finger to help Rome. Didn't they understand that having Korea replace Rome as a neighbor was a major threat in the longterm (?)
One humorous interlude between the other world doings. Speaker: "The poor fishermen who live in Hampton Roads have had a difficult life of subsistance. Their nets were torn up twice by Ottoman galleys, and now, they are being invaded by pirates!
On a serious note, that galley actually spawned *inside* our sentry net perimeter. Oops! It will be a bit of an annoyance, but we'll have the nets replaced, and the pirates hung from the neck until dead, pretty quickly." I have to say, that was certainly unexpected!
We then received a serious (and lengthy) email from athlete:athlete to Killer Angels:
So you've seen I've accepted peace with Slaze and for atleast the next
few turns will remain out of any potential conflicts. I can now take
my civ in several directions and would like to pursue one with KA that
I believe can be mutually beneficial.
Holy moley! The Ottomans wanted to extend peace with us and re-attack SLAZE, of all people?! Talk about a backstab, ouch! We didn't even have to think about it before agreeing to the Kathlete offer:Sullla:
Well, it took us all of about 5 seconds to agree that Kathlete's proposed deal is awesome for us. Remember, we don't actually want to fight a war with anyone at present. (Even though we've sort of been bluffing the opposite to look strong.) We've got four new cities in former Greek territory, plus two island locations to be planted soon on the inner and outer rims, which are effectively taking us from 10 to 15/16 cities in size. Major increase in territory and economy. 25 to 30 turns to consolidate those gains and tech upwards would be just about perfect... and we'll be hitting cuirassiers right around that time, and can go kick some serious ass against a target of our choosing. Awesome.
Thus we agreed on an NAP until Turn 205 with the Ottomans, allowing them to go attack Inca once again. Let me get this straight: two of our biggest rivals are going to go and beat each other's brains out, while we sit back and tech upwards in peace? Uh, yes please! To say that this was a disastrous mistake in judgment on the part of athlete would not be an exaggeration. Speaker and I could not have been happier about the whole situation. As for slaze, well, we certainly felt that he would only be getting what he deserved. When you backstab others, expect to be backstabbed in turn.
Our focus was on the settling of our first island cities:
The top picture depicts our planned dotmap for the offshore island to the west, which we had reworked a number of times before settling on this one. The southern city would be an extremely strong one, Vicksburg having fish + crabs + copper + marble + double incense. We lacked the last two resources, although slaze had apparently forgotten he was supplying us with his marble and didn't cancel that earlier trade. We had multiple triremes in the water around the island, on sentry duty to detect any incoming ships. Somehow that one barb galley snuck through, by spawning INSIDE our perimeter of units - no fair!
There was also an Ottoman city right across the water to the south, uncomfortably close to Gettysburg. We had a Sentry (promotion) horse archer keep an eye on Alderaan, watching to make sure there was no army assembling across the sea. We had no intention of getting "Banana-ed" in this game! For Vicksburg itself, we started out using the Build Culture option, so that we could get the fish tile in the second ring into range as soon as possible. We would use the Build Culture option quite a lot in this game with new cities, another useful reason to go to Music tech. Normally you just want the free Great Artist!
On the central inner island, we planned to place cities on the red and yellow dots. Red was a pretty weak city due to lack of food, but necessary from a strategic position and to clam dyes. (We did not need silver, as we had popped it out of a mine at St. Albans earlier.) Yellow would be a much stronger city, and it would claim bananas for us as well. Too bad it would take ages to reclaim from under all that jungle! It was a shame that we lost Shiloh #1 earlier in the game, or we could have been over on this island much earlier. Instead, it was Holy Rome that would claim the largest portion of the central island. They had been there for a long time already at this point - we had to stop them before they could set up shop across from Fredericksburg!
With the discovery of Alphabet tech we could finally see definitively where all the other teams stood relative to us:
The extra techs cut off by the picture were edited into the left side, letting them all be seen in one go. Now the picture alone can be a bit overwhelming and not that useful, so here's a more useful display of the tech information and where everyone stands:
I enjoyed making up the "Tech Rating" for each team, even if it was an average value and not an exact count of beakers researched. We would keep an Excel chart updated with what techs each team had discovered each turn from here on out. Some of the teams were starting to fall very far behind now, and the disparities were only going to keep growing in this game without any kind of tech trading.
Whosit continued to experience more bad news in his wars against Inca and Korea. slaze pushed through Bestine and razed it to the ground, eliminating a large defending stack of Roman units while suffering heavy casualties in the process. Over in the west, the resurgent Koreans did the same and captured Nar Shaddaa in another bloody battle. Whosit had now lost both of his border cities and most of his army; mighty Rome had been reduced to just four remaining core cities. We lacked visibility on most of these locations, but we could track the progress of the fighting through the Demographics:
All of the combatants had taken a major beating at some point over the previous ten turns. Ottomans, Inca, Rome, and Korea were all building and losing units at a rapid race. We had fought our own war in this same period, but of course suffered essentially no losses at all against Jowy. This extensive fighting - with bloody battles on all sides - continued to be a godsend for our team. Long wars of attrition are not how you win at this game...
Unfortunately, we lost out on the Mausoleum to Holy Rome, and that was indeed a significant setback. We placed a high priority on this wonder, planning on landing a series of Great Person-fueled Golden Ages with our Philosophical trait. However, we had not had marble until relatively recently, while Holy Rome had possessed the resource from early on, and we had been engaged in fighting the war against Jowy. Our best production cities built maces and then knights, and could only swap over to the wonder after the war ended. Holy Rome beat us to the wonder, fair and square. In these Multiplayer games against human opponents, you can often do anything that you want, but you can't do everything that you want. We were juggling a number of different balls here, and this was one that hit the ground. Well played, Nakor and DMOC.
The falling of the Mausoleum meant that the next big race was going to be for Liberalism and the Taj Mahal. We were on the verge of a major wonder competition with Holy Rome, to see who would control those critical opportunities!