Realms Beyond Pitboss #2: Dark and Daring Days
Chamberlain the Woodsman II warrior, our original starting warrior no less, had managed to spot the military buildup of Greek and Ottoman units within Jowy's territory. We knew that this would mean war with these two powers at the very least, and likely Dantski as well, given his own growing army of units and recent chilly diplomacy. We paused first to assess the situation:
As you can see, we have 6 archers, 2 chariots, 5 axes, and 7 spears on hand at present. We will have 5 horse archers completing in the next three turns. Will it be enough to hold off the other teams? A lot depends on exactly how and where they choose to make their move. If Jowy's slow-movers and athlete's fast-movers all combine into one giant stack, it will be tougher to hold whatever city they choose to attack, but we'll have a lot more time to react and mass defenders accordingly. If they split up their stacks and come after us in two different locations, it opens up the possibility for us to defeat them piecemeal. I'm not sure which would be better for us; it's a darn good thing Speaker emphasized those spears though! We have a pair of spears present in any of the border cities that athlete can potentially hit.
Diplomatically, there are two goals we want to achieve:
1) Get athlete out of this war ASAP.
2) Get Nakor into this war against Dantski ASAP.
There's no real point in talking to Jowy or Dantski. They've staked their future in this game on this attack, and if either of them lose, it's game over for them. There's nothing we could possibly say to either of them to stop them from attacking at this stage, and I don't want to come off as a moralizing blowhard by condemning their actions or asking for peace, etc. There will be plenty of time for taunting them if we manage to defeat their attacks. And if we can't... then they were right all along, eh? Might doesn't make right in real life, but it does in the context of Civ4 Multiplayer.
I don't want to say anything to Nakor just yet. Let's give him at least until tomorrow to respond to our last message before bombarding him with new proposals. We don't want to look too desperate after all. I do want to lean on him a little bit if we get any kind of positive response, telling Nakor that we REALLY need him to attack and tie down some of Dantski's forces for us, and we'll handsomely reward them later if they aid us now.
We could tell that athlete and kalin were sending their leftover horse archers from the Byzantine campaign to try and harass us as much as possible. That did make sense from a metagaming perspective, as we were one of their chief rivals to win the game, although it sucked for us to be the subjects of an opportunistic strike. Of course they had the Incans to worry about on the other side... oh no, wait, they didn't because the Incan civ was going through continuous player turnover and lacked strong leadership at the helm. Argh, so much for that thought. We'd just have to deal with whatever Ottoman units came our way.
We had little faith that either Jowy or Dantski would give up this effort; they were clearly planning an all-in gamble to destroy their neighbor. They had both been building axes/phalanxes practically non-stop for the past dozen turns. Once you decide on that course of action, you're more or less committed. But Nakor of Holy Rome, Dantski's other neighbor to the south... well, we had enjoyed some friendly exchanges with his team, and we were working up to the point of possible joint military action against Dantski. Take this message, for example, from a few days earlier:
Nakor to Killer Angels:
Thanks for the information regarding city placement.
I think the reason that Dantski settled north is that we did the same...
Interesting, but possibly problematic to hear that Dantski has closed his borders and is refusing an NAP.
Guess we both know what that means...
Are you ready for a war? We do hope so.
As you must have noticed, we are building a little army in Krondor. Just in case something of this might happen.
Though we expected an attack against us a lot more then one against you.
We're willing to aid you if it comes to a war, but we must tell you beforehand that we do have a NAP with Dantski.
Once we cancel it, we have agreed on a 10 turn period in which we won't declare, so that makes it 10 turns at the least before we can come to your aid.
And his skirmishers are pretty strong, so taking the war towards him could be problematic.
Unless you guys have Construction already...
Well, I'm very interested to hear your opinions regarding this situation.
Nakor of HRE
That all sounded well and good to us, especially the promise of military aid! Obviously we would absorb the initial flow of Dantski units, and then Nakor would enter the war 10 turns later after their Non-Aggression Pact wore off, and take part in the division of spoils afterwards. Good deal for them, and some military assistance for us. This was our main focus diplomatically, along with convincing athlete and kalin that it wasn't in their best interests to fight a lengthy war against us. After all, we could definitely win against just Jowy and Dantski.
At least we knew what we were up against:
(Expect 8 phalanxes, 3 chariots, and the spear to attack.)
athlete + kalin
6 horse archers
(Expect 4 horse archers + 2 chariots to be the attackers; these guys have to have left at least a couple of units behind for defense.)
(Expect a mixed stack of something like 4 axes, 2 spears, 2 chariots, and 2 skirmishers to come after us.)
There are just *SO* many units ranged against us now; this 3 vs 1 thing really sucks. If you couldn't guess that already. Jowy and Dantski have been loading up on axes like crazy over the past ten turns. I actually think we have a good chance to stop even the combined Jowy + athlete assault, but if Dantski brings his axes in from the other side too... man, it's going to be awful difficult.
Our best hope is that all of these opponents screw up the timing and/or pick the wrong places to attack. I'm still not even sure if we want them to combine their stacks of not; hitting us in one spot would create a monster stack, yes, but it might also make it easier to defend. If they split up piecemeal, that would stretch our defenses... at the same time though, we might have an easier time taking down a series of small stacks.
At this point, all we can do is watch and react. Thank god for that athlete NAP lasting until Turn 100! Another three turns will get us those horse archers, and that might save our collective behinds. Wish us luck, one way or another this is going to be memorable!
Jowy kicked things off by declaring war and killing poor Chamberlain:
Farewell, noble spirit! Chamberlain went down in history as an undying hero of the Indian nation. Not only surviving as the starting warrior for so long, and exploring a great portion of the map, but also sniffing out a dire attack before it could hit us unaware. We will not forget your service...
This was followed by an unfortunate rancorous debate between our team and Jowy over how the Pitboss timer was to be split between our teams. Jowy argued that he should have the second half of the turn timer (the last twelve hours) because we had moved our warrior and he had responded by killing it. We argued back in turn that we still had many units unmoved, including all of our military units, and that it was unfair to us to force those units to remain in place just because Jowy had declared war on our team. I have to admit that this great pretty heated, and insults were being flung back and forth by each side:
Jowy to Killer Angels:
Our time has come. For 300 years we've prepared.
We grew stronger while you rested in your cradle of power,
believing your people were safe and protected.
You were trusted to lead your empire,
but you were deceived as your confidence has blinded you,
you assumed no force could challenge you
and now, finally, we have returned.
You were deceived.
And now your empire shall fall.
We will see you in the battlefield!
~ Commander Jowy
That's quite a bit of bravado for a guy who had to bring in 2 other teams to help him attack the big bad bully who proposed non-aggression pacts and offered to send over a free missionary. If he came at us solo, he'd get absolutely slaughtered.
Actually things were a lot more personal and nasty that this (on both sides, I'm not claiming we weren't equally guilty here) but I'm only going to post the clever taunts, not the rude ones. Due to the inability of our teams to agree on a decision regarding the turn timer, eventually we were forced to appoint Krill - who was not playing in the game - as a neutral arbitrator to settle disputes. Krill wrote up a lengthy set of rules for the game, and decided in this case that he was ruling in our favor, awarding us the second half of the turn and Jowy the first half of the turn. Naturally, the teams allied with Jowy would also have the first half of the turn timer. However, those teams would also have the right to whip cities whenever they wished, including when it was not "their turn." This would later lead to some of the teams (in particular Jowy and athlete) refusing to end their turns, so that they could always wait and see what we did, then adjust their cities accordingly. Their reasoning was that they could only play at set times each day, which necessitating manipulating the timer to play within those windows. The whole issue with the timer irritated me and infuriated Speaker, leading to more bad blood down the road. But as yet, at least, we had not reached that point.
Larger strategic picture at the start of the war:
Where exactly would they choose to attack? We were strong in the center, at our core triangle of Gettysburg/Antietam/Chancellorsville, but weaker on the outside edges. Fortunately we had walls in Hampton Roads, and would shortly have walls up in Fredericksburg too, however they remained weak spots. Especially Fredericksburg, due to the river crossing movement penalty. At least we could cover Hampton and Chancellorsville with a lot of the same units, parking them halfway between the two on our road network (which, fortunately, was very strong).
When Jowy moved the next turn, he headed towards Chancellorsville:
Nine phalanxes and two chariots, moving in a direct beeline for our Holy City. We were not too terribly impressed: "The stack is 8 phalanxes, 2 chariots, and 1 spear. I was like, is that it? No, seriously, is that it? *THIS* is the big, bad stack we were supposed to be so worried about?!?!" The only real danger here was the unknown factor posed by the Ottoman chariots and horse archers; they were still waiting on the NAP we had until Turn 100 to start the war. The mobility of the horse units made them dangerous, if athlete and kalin could get them in position to fork a couple of our cities. They would be our first target going forward.
Here is a look at the battleground, with a quick explanation about defending in multiplayer.
From his position on the forest hill, Greece can see into Chancellorsville. Our "defenses" are 1 Axe, 1 Horse Archer, 1 Spearman, and 1 Archer.
"This is going to be easy," Greece thinks.
Next turn, the defenses will look completely different, with the following units in range to defend:
5 Horse Archers
1 Chariot (currently in Gettysburg, can move up if needed)
The absolute best thing Greece could do, as far as we are concerned, is move onto the red circle. The 2 Horse Archers that complete in Gettysburg and Antietam next turn can either reach the city center, or attack the red dot, but will not have enough movement to reach the tile above the red dot.
The question you are probably wondering is: why bother with the subterfuge? Why not pile everything into Chancellorsville and try and dissuade Greece from attacking?
In this particular case, it is to our advantage if he moves directly toward Chancellorsville, so we want it to appear weak.
Kathlete's Horse Archers can only reach the forest hill next turn, so if Greece moves off the hill, we will have at least 1 turn to attack them without cover.
We will have the following odds on attack with our Horse Archers:
Combat 1 Spear: 24.1
Unpromoted Spear: 26.8
Combat 1 Phalanx: 73
Unpromoted Phalanx: 77.7
(the odds would be much better if we had enough time to build Stables, and add the "Shock" promotion)
If he moves onto flat ground, and assuming we don't get unlucky, we should lose 1 HA attacking the Spear, and then kill 3 or 4 Phalanx. That is half of his army, and leaves him with no prayer of killing the city!
The defense is much easier if we can separate the two stacks. If they timed it properly and stacked the HA on top of the Phalanx, we would not be able to attack. When defending against 2 players, 50/50 is not good enough.
However, if Greece dilly dallies and waits for the Ottoman army to catch up, we'll have time to build more units, so that's alright with us too!
We were hoping that Jowy would move right in and allow us to kill off some of his phalanxes at good odds (75-80%). Instead, he chose to hang back and wait a turn for the Ottoman units to enter the war. They all piled in at the start of Turn 100:
And the Ottoman units on the northern forest tile west of Thebes:
Meanwhile, Dantski finally entered the war too. (Why didn't he do so earlier? Waste of two turns on his part.)
Let's do the tally of their total forces:
4 horse archers
That's a total of 36 units and 188k of "Power" rating ranged against us. We're actually #1 in the game in Soldier count now (having passed Whosit this turn), so we're no slouches, but we don't have anywhere near that kind of military force. Not to mention, we're being attack from multiple directions at once!
Is this the end?!?!
Not so fast, my friends! While this is bad, very bad, I actually see some posibilities here. Let me go through and list some of our advantages:
* We have interior lines of reinforcement. In particular, we can shift units from the Chancellorsville front to the Gettysburg front very quickly. This has already been critical in shifting units from Hampton to Chancellorsville, and it will likely be so again.
* We know from our Soldier count Power tracking that our opponents have sent the house at us. Remember how I predicted that Jowy had 10 phalanxes last turn? He's sent ALL of them at us. Ditto for Dantski; this is their home run shot, and anywhere not under attack (like, say Fredericksburg) can be left completely unguarded to defend where we *ARE* being attacked.
* On that note, Dantski has cleaned out the defenses of Kumbi Saleh to attack us. His border cities should be almost completely empty! If we can persuade Nakor to attack now, it could definitely turn the tide in our favor.
* Here's the second-most important point: all of Dantski units are slow-movers. (Well the chariots aren't, but they'll definitely be sticking with their companions.) That gives us three full turns to stand up defenses in Gettysburg, plus we can potentially upgrade the warrior inside to an axe; our capital is (thank god) a 40% defenses city, on a hill. That means archers get 50% innate city defense bonus + 25% innate hill bonus + 25% hill bonus + 40% cultural bonus + fortification bonus + any promotions we can stack on them. If we can get about 8 physical bodies in there, the capital's not going to fall.
Shiloh's a lot more exposed, but we can shift defenders down from Fred to cover. We should get a border expansion there for 20% bonus before the attack arrives, and let's face it, 2 axes + spear + chariot + skirmisher isn't all that terrifying. There's a decent chance to hold.
* Now, the #1 thing going in our favor: Jowy has made a critical error this turn! He should have moved up his phalanx stack next to Chancellorsville. Instead, they remained camping on that forested hill, I guess to wait for support from Kathlete's horse archers. That gives us an extra turn to whip defenders, chop forests, shuffle units around, and so on. Not moving in to attack this turn may end up costing them dearly.
That said, I'm still pretty freaked out about *TEN* phalanxes plus ten supporting mounted units. We might be screwed there regardless... Kinda tough to stop a full 20+ units! But hey, we'll do our best, including whipping Chancellorsville into the ground if need be.
In terms of preparing our defenses, Speaker and I hashed out plans to whip and chop out a veritable storm of defenders to meet this incoming threat. With a whip and overflow at Gettysburg, we could get three archers completed on three consecutive turns, enough warm bodies in place to meet Dantski's approaching axes. Similar math applied at our other cities, leading to this summary post by Speaker:
That mini-stack near Shiloh is actually 1 tile out of the picture.
In the North, we have an Axe, Spear, and 2 Archers playing zone defense between Hampton Roads (which is 100% empty, but can't be hit next turn) and Chancellorsville.
In the East we have three spears playing zone defense. They can cover any of three cities, though the rivers will slow their movement by a turn. Once we get Construction, that will be a powerful tile to hold, since we can defend all three cities from there.
It's kind of hard to see so zoomed out, but we complete the following units next turn:
Fredericksburg: Horse Archer
Gettysburg will train another Archer each of the following 2 turns.
Antietam will train an Axe or Spear the following turn.
Chancellorsville will train a Horse Archer the following turn.
Shiloh and Hampton Roads will train an Archer, each, the following turn.
The effects of whipping:
Go power graph, go! We had done all we could for the moment. Now it was time to watch and wait for the enemy moves. Dantski split up his stack in the south, presumably to pillage two different tiles, and that would have been a disastrous tactical mistake if we had had the units to exploit it. (Do not split up your stacks in this game unless you have a REALLY good reason for doing so!) Unfortunately we didn't have the units available, because we were dealing with this mess in the north:
Unlike Dantski's movement, which introduced a couple of new threats, Jowy and Kathlete have gone and done... the most bone-headed thing possible!
I admit that last night it took me some time to fall asleep, thinking over all the different ways that Jowy and Kathlete could feint at the Chancellorsville/Hampton combo. Done correctly, they could pin some of our single-movers in one of the two cities while then moving on the other with their two-movers before we had time to react. At the very least, they could have forced us to make some difficult strategic choices.
But no, they just moved everything forward one tile into a big uberstack. No thought or originality required! What's really funny is that they even goofed up this simple movement... The big stack should be one tile further north, on the tile NE of Chancellorsville. That poses at least some threat to Hampton Roads, and furthermore it would allow all of their units to get into the fight. By moving to the tile they did choose, 1 of Jowy's 10 phalanxes is now uselessly locked out of the battle, stuck a tile behind where it can't do any fighting. In a fight where every unit might be needed, that's complete and utter weediness.
To be fair, they don't have the visibility we do. Jowy and Kathlete have NEVER had visiblity on our mini-stack located on the deer tile (although they should have guessed that the units moved out of Hampton went somewhere!) All they can see are the 3 axes, 3 spears, and 5 horse archers located inside the city. They probably think that this is a slam-dunk victory for them going forward. (Kathlete even emailed us and said they were impressed by what we had in Chancellorsville. Ha!) But in reality, we have 2 archers, 2 spears, 2 axes, and 1 chariot that will all appear in the city at the start of next turn!
Oh, I dearly hope that they'll try to attack Chancellorsville!
Where was this stack intending to go? Based on what we found out later, it apparently was heading for our horses resource, intending to either attack Chancellorsville if it was lightly defended or at the very least cut off our supply of horse archers. And to be fair to the other teams playing against us, they didn't have the line-of-sight that we enjoyed everywhere in our territory. Nevertheless, the fact that we didn't have to defend both Chancellorsville and Hampton Roads made our job immensely simpler. It's usually a good idea to put Mounted units in a position where they can at least potentially hit more than one city. When they sit in a big stack like this, they lose their whole advantage over melee units.
Our response was to take those Ottoman horse archers out of the fight:
As Sullla mentioned, we got a bit unlucky at the end of our defensive attack, which cost us two units at 73 and 68% battle odds.
After we lost the second battle, Sullla said that maybe we pushed our luck too far, but I disagreed. That's a results-based analysis. Always analyze the process, not the results! We're not going to get much better than 70-75% odds, so we need to take those battles when we have them. The fact that we lost doesn't make it the wrong play. It just means we made the right play, but got unlucky.
And I have to say, this was one of my best bits of combat analysis. I wish I had the time to do this in a live multiplayer game! My simulations showed me that the first horse archer had a 24% chance to win outright and an 18% (I think that number is about right) chance to withdraw. That's a 42% chance to damage or kill the spear and keep the unit! In every sim I ran, the HA would at least damage the spear enough to keep it out of the battle.
After that, the Horse Archers would defend against any Horse Archer, Chariot, Axe, and Archer. The Phalanxes would defend against Spears and Warriors. The beauty of the plan was that by landing just 1 "hit," a Chariot or Archer would wound the Horse Archers enough so that they would still defend against our Horse Archers. As long as they had more than 5.0 health, that would be the case. 1 hit from an Archer would bring the HA to 5.2 health. So in many of my simulations, the 4 unpromoted chariots and archers would would the HA just enough so that they would still defend against our Horse Archers, but we'd have greater than 70% odds to win! I liked those odds.
Funnily enough, our first Chariot came 1 hit away from killing the 2-star Horse Archer outright. So we didn't get a chance to finish him off, but he won't gain a promotion, and he's out of the fight with just a tiny bit of health left. The second chariot did "too much" damage as well, dropping the Horse Archer down to 4.2 health. The first Archer did his job like the third bear's porridge--"just right," landing exactly 1 hit, and knocking the Horse Archer down to 5.2 health. This gave us a tasty 70.6 odds later, and we won, taking it out. The final archer also did "too much" damage, dropping his opponent down to 3.5 health.
So our 4 HA attacks were at 70.6, 73, 73, and 73% odds, so I guess statistically, we should have lost 1 of them. But it still sucks to lose with such good odds! And then losing the Combat 1 Axe to the unpromoted Phalanx was just a kick in the nuts. I hate it when the game rewards people for poor play, and whipping all those units without a barracks was definitely poor play by Greece, but the game doesn't punish him for it, and instead, he'll gain a promotion for winning a battle with poor odds.
If the dice roll had gone our way, we'd be sitting pretty with our "toes in the water, asses in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in our hand..."
As we are now, we are down 2 units which would have both gotten shock promotions next turn, but I think we'll be just fine.
Here's the now current situation:
They have 5 healthy Phalanx, 5 healthy chariots, 2 damaged Horse Archers, and a bunch of crippled units.
We have 4 Axes, 4 Spears, 1 Archer, and 3 crippled Horse Archers (who all receive promotions). Hampton Roads is now pretty safe from all the mounted units in our land. If they try and move to the forest deer, we have 1 spear with maximum fortify. We could then hit those mounted units with 3 units out of Chancellorsville, if necessary. And we have an Archer finishing in Hampton this turn. I think it's pretty safe, for the time being. If Greece sends in a fresh chariot from Sparta, we can move a Horse Archer or two up there, if needed. Same deal if they move to the horse, toward Gettysburg. We'll slaughter them with our spears, and have plenty of workers in the area to make a path.
Here's the most dangerous place the mounted units can move. I've made a pretty good defense plan over there:
The three most dangerous tiles Greece (4 Chariots), and Ottomans (3 wounded HA, 2 wounded Chariots) can move their mounted stack are the dots I've highlighted in red, blue, and pink. Pink is the most dangerous, being a "fork" tile, where they could hit both Fredericksburg and Antietam. For that reason, I have protected it with 2 spears. They would have to attack across the river to do so, which would probably cost them at least 3 or 4 units. Blue is less dangerous, because it only has one possible avenue to attack Antietam, by moving S-SW. And we could then block the S tile next turn with the two spears. The red dot is not nearly as dangerous either because we could hit those units out of Chancellorsville with our spears in there. You can't see it in the screenshot, but we have another spear halfway between Antietam and Shiloh (to the southeast), which could cover the more-important Antietam in the event of that mounted movement. Otherwise it is free to defend Shiloh. Antietam will also finish a HA on the turn it could be attacked, and the HA E of the city can move in to cover it, as can any number of mounted units from Chancellorsville, and an Archer we have stationed between Gettysburg and Antietam. So I think it's pretty safe. Fredericksburg is actually building a spear, which it can slave next turn, if needed. If they somehow managed to slug their way through the spears on Pink Dot, they would have attack Fredericksburg across the river, so it would be safe with a Spear, Archer, and Horse Archer.
This was a critical turn in the war; although we lost a lot of units, and essentially traded with the attacking forces, we removed any real threat posed by their Mounted units. The horse archers that were left alive were crippled, and would need to heal before doing much of anything. Now we could focus on Jowy's phalanxes and Dantski's axes, both of which were powerful but slow-moving.
On the following turn, the Greek/Ottoman stack continued moving southwest towards our horses, while Dantski moved north closer towards Gettysburg. However, the real news from the turn was:
Gee, I wonder what's going on here? Note that Nakor also moved in the first half of the turn, to line up with the timing rules currently in effect. So apparently a 3 vs 1 ISN'T ENOUGH. No, we need to have a 4 vs 1, including EVERY MEMBER of the RBPB3 team. Uh huh.
I'm sorry, but that is f*cking bullshit. Not mincing words or being polite here, that - is - bullshit. This is not like the RBPB1 alliance against an Incan team that had double the cities of anyone else, and a long history of aggression against other teams. No, this is a gangbang based purely upon the reputations of the players involved, and with friends from other games pooling their resources together. Don't even try to tell me that the RBPB3 teammates aren't carrying over their alliance into this game. Grade "A" bullshit.
Even worse, the teams are making no effort to win the game just for the sake of trying to take us down. I don't fault teams for doing what's in their best interests to win, and Dantski and Jowy have legit reasons for teaming up against us. But Nakor?!? Kathlete?!?! They're not making any effort to build up their own civs, just gangbanging the "rockstar" team for fun. And yes, that really pisses me off. There's an implicit agreement in a game like this that everyone will do what's best for their team, and try to achieve victory. I view Kathlete and Nakor's actions as an egregious violation of the spirit of this game.
Imagine if Dreylin, Ruff, athlete, and mostly_harmless all declared war on sooooo in the RB PBEM game just because he had the best reputation, and athlete + mh were sending soldiers to the other side of the world, for no gain to themselves, just to strike down someone who had a strong reputation. That's basically what we have here...
I don't even know where to go from here. I honestly have no desire to keep playing this game right now. I just want to post a giant "F*CK YOU" in the public forum and wash my hands of the whole thing.
As it turns out, Holy Rome had been stringing us along and lying to us for quite some time, posing as our friend so that they could leak information to the other teams. They were also in on this attack against us, joining with athlete and Jowy and Dantski to make the whole war a 4 vs 1 proposition. Needless to say, I was pretty angry about the whole thing. Could you tell? We took a lot of criticism from the readers and lurkers here, for being unprofessional and angry about the whole situation - which of course was true. Nevertheless, we were getting sucker-punched by one of our few allies, and now fully half the teams in the game were invading us. (Only eight teams left: four of our seven opponents were attacking. Madness!) It didn't help either that Jowy, athlete, kalin, and Nakor were all playing on the same team together in another Pitboss game... and their teams cooperating very closely in this one too. Thus when well-meaning lurkers would write messages like, "You are too good at the game." "They have to attack you to try and win." "This is in their best interests." Well, it felt like we were being kicked while we were down:
Some of you guys are maddening with the the sanctimonious commentary about how we are misjudging the other teams. We only have access to our own views from the game. We haven't been reading the other teams' threads like you have. Put yourself in our shoes for a moment. How would it look to you if you were being attacked 4v1 (50% of all the players in the game, by the way) by 4 players who also "happen" to be all playing on the same team in another Pitboss game? How would you feel if you put hours and hours and hours and hours into the game, with a major goal of helping teach the community, and this happened to you, where it really felt like meta-gaming, being targeted purely because of your names, not because of your actions in game. It's only turn 100....Score matters so unbelievably little at this point that it's not even funny. Slaving stacks of unpromoted axes and spears to go attack someone 25 tiles away from you is pure lunacy in an Epic game if you are actually playing to win. This is not the AI where you can play kingmaker and still hope to catch up while they butcher the late game, and eke out a space race or UN victory. Clearly Nakor would benefit much more by attacking Dantski than by attacking us. Is he actually going to keep our cities, if he managed to take them? The maintenance would be absurd, and Dantski would be between him and his new cities. How could he hope to defend them?
If Sullla wants to tilt a bit, in his own thread, let him!
We have gone through all our old emails and proposals, and decided that we have played this game about as unaggressively as possible, while at the same time keeping enough military to be not considered a weakling or pushover. My guess is the four of them want to try and secure their whole half of the donut? But where does that get them? Only 1 team can win, not 4.
So whatever happened, whatever the other teams perceived, however we got here, please spare us the "you don't know what they are thinking" or "you don't understand their reasoning" comments. Of course we don't, and won't until the game is over and we can read their threads, if we ever do.
And my final take on the matter (which I still agree with, even after reading the other team threads):
For the record, I don't really blame Jowy or Dantski for declaring war on our team. While I do think it would have served Jowy better to make some kind of deal with our team and then concentrate on settling his - vast - empty lands to the east (instead of whipping out unpromoted phalanxes and ramming them against our cities!), the 2 vs 1 combination with Dantski makes a lot of sense. Attack from both sides, partition a local rival, and grow in strength while dismantling another team. Fine. I get that. Speaker and I had based our long-term planning around surviving a 2 vs 1, and as you can see, we could have handled that pretty easily.
Kathlete is a lot more problematic. They also have a large expanse of open land to expand into, and we don't pose any immediate threat to their team. Sure, you could argue that Speaker and I pose a long-term threat to win the game... but Whosit has as good of a strategic position as we do, and I don't see Ottoman horse archers racing around the world to confront him. The only real logic I can see is that this attack was "easy" for them; that is, they had leftover horse units with no immediate purpose, and they expected us to crumble with ease while suffering few or no losses. Now if they insist on continuing to attack, after their horses have been killed, then we'll know for sure that they aren't being "opportunistic", they're just buddying up with their RBPB3 pals.
Nakor joining the alliance makes no sense on any level. Speaker's already touched on that above, and I don't want to belabor the point, but Nakor has nothing to gain and a lot to lose from targeting us. He has no chance to win the game unless his situation changes drastically, and pairing up with Dantski isn't going to achieve that! Combine that with lying to us, and likely feeding info to the other alliance members, and you've got a pretty slimy guy. Nakor gets the weasel award for this game. Possibly the idiot one too.
Also, I won't apologize for the comments made earlier. I told Speaker this earlier: if you almost never swear, when you do feel angry it's a lot more convincing. Apparently, I created quite a stir in the lurker community today! Well it's not the first time that's happened; somewhere in the depths of the Apolyton forum I had a similar post for our team game there, when we were being embargoed by Templars/Imperio while PAL ran away with the game. When I write online, I always let the readers know how I'm feeling. Always. Yes, I was angry today. I'm still angry. Honestly, I don't ever want to engage in an online MP game with any of these other teams ever again. Especially Nakor/DMOC, if they're really planning on attacking (which is like 99% certainty at this point).
I'm sure these teams have their reasons for their actions. That doesn't mean I have to agree with them though. The Templars had their "reasons" for attacking in the Apolyton game, and I still haven't forgiven or forgotten them for attacking. 1 vs 1 is one thing; a 4 vs 1 is downright personal. You can't expect Speaker or I to feel good about that.
The goal of these games as I see them is that you try to win by building up your own civilization. That comes first; you don't play to tear down the other teams, outside of perhaps a lategame situation where one team is clearly pulling away and looking likely to win. Slaving all those unpromoted axes out of Greek and Romali cities was pure madness in a game with no tech trading. Settling unclaimed land would have been a lot more advantageous than attacking our team. Of course, you can believe whatever you choose to believe on this. But it was tough having to deal with so much criticism in our own thread, especially when every good play that we made would only serve as fodder for those who thought attacking us was justified. ("Well if you can hold out 3 vs 1, then obviously they were right to bring 4 teams!" Blargh to that circular logic!) Very tough at times...
Getting back to the action, our desperate plight forced us to take a pair of 50/50 battles, which thank goodness we did win:
Sullla and Speaker:
Speaker managed to pull off a minor miracle this turn. I'll let him give you the details, but basically we attacked and won at 50/50 odds to take out Kathlete's top horse archer, sacrificed an archer to cripple their second top horse archer, then won a second battle at about 55% odds to eliminate Jowy's top phalanx. Those victories gave us enough XP to create a Great General in Chancellorsville, who attached to an axe for a Combat II/Shock/2-move unit, which then killed another phalanx at 87%.
- Kathlete's horse archers are GONE. There's two of them left, both in the extremely damaged range, ~1.0 out of 6 health. Just the chariots to go.
- Jowy's Shock phalanxes were both killed. He has 5 healthy, unpromoted phalanxes remaining.
With healing, promotions, and units to be completed next turn, we should be able to cripple or completely kill the Kathlete/Jowy stack next turn! I certainly wasn't anticipating that...
Now the bad news:
- Nakor gives us another 6 units to deal with.
- Our horses will be pillaged next turn, and there's nothing we can do about it. (We should be able to reconnect them soon though.)
- Jowy likely has more units coming towards Hampton Roads soon. He's building some roads near the border with his workers.
- Gettysburg is under siege; it should be fine for the immediate future (Dantski's stack will get owned if he's foolish enough to attack there), but our cottages there are somewhat vulnerable.
- Shiloh is doomed. We can't save it, so we pulled back our forces to live and fight another day. Ironically, this actually frees up some units for use elsewhere, strengthening us in the short term.
Overall though, it was a really good turn for us, killing 3 units and only losing 1. Speaker has been nothing short of amazing at commanding our military, so please give him due credit!
* * * * *
As Sullla already mentioned, I took two 50/50s. It was pretty much our only shot. We needed to do some damage to that stack, and had to get a little lucky to do so. You can't stay holed up in your cities forever, and we can't let them pillage (and keep pillaged) our horse, if we want to have any chance to survive. So I rolled the dice, and sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good.
OK, here's the updated tactical situation
Say a little prayer for the people of Shiloh, who will be overrun by the filthy Mali next turn. Hopefully they will keep it, not raze it, and we can recapture it at some point.
We were forced to spend some of our surplus gold (80) to upgrade a Warrior to an Axe in Gettysburg, and then turned research back on, with Construction due in 6 turns at a manageable rate. We have 5 Archers and 2 Axes in a 40% hilled city, so it should be pretty safe. It would take an awful lot of axes to take that down. Dantski doesn't have enough unless he gets really lucky. I doubt he'll even try and expect him to sit tight or pillage a bit.
Our horse will definitely be pillaged next turn, so I made sure that Antietam would finish its Horse Archer this turn. We also made a tough decision and decided to chop the forest on our Deer, to get enough hammers to get a Horse Archer out of Chancellorsville as well. While it sucks to lose the hammer for the rest of the game, that won't be many lost hammers if we can't stop this attack. And if we manage to survive, well, it's only 1 hammer per turn, so no big deal.
So next turn is shaping up to be quite the bloodbath. We have 2 fresh Horse Archers completing, as well as 1 who will be completely healed, and a 4th who will be mostly healed. We also have the Horse Archer on the plains tile who has 4.7 health, and is due a promotion next turn. If they choose to attack it, they will be attacking 5 vs 4.7, which is about 55% odds or so, I think. If not, we will be able to promote it, and will have 5.35 with combat 1.
The enemy has the 4.0 strength Shock Phalanx, 4 healthy unpromoted Phalanx, 5 Chariots, and a couple grievously wounded units.
We have plenty of workers in range to re-road, assuming they move to the horse.
I can't hardly wait until tomorrow.
We could not defend Shiloh, and instead of capturing the city, Dantski decided to raze it to the ground! That was unfortunate, as he would have had to garrison the city if he kept it, and we might have a chance of taking it back again. It also raised the question of just what benefit Dantski was supposed to get out of this war, when he burned down the first city that he did manage to take! Anyway, here was the tactical map after our enemies moved for Turn 103:
They split off a few units from the Greek/Ottoman stack to pillage our horses, and otherwise moved onto the plains hill tile. That was too bad because it would confer some extra defensive bonus on the units - good thing we had already deforested our core! Still, we weren't going to get an opportunity much better than this, so we attacked with our healed units: "Speaker sent in our C1 horse archers versus the unpromoted Greek phalanxes, at 66% odds. Unfortunately, we lost two such battles in a row, and barely damaged the phalanx at all in one of them. Then we sent in our third horse archer, who also lost at 70% odds - *VERY* bad combat results. Thankfully we did win the next two horse archer fights at ~75% odds each, but the net result was that we lost three unreplaceable horse archers when most simming attempts had us losing only a single unit. From there, naturally our spears cleaned up against the various injured and horse units:"
In the end, we lost 3 horse archers to kill 4 phalanxes, 2 horse archers, 4 chariots, and 1 spear. That's an 11:3 ratio, but it was still a somewhat disappointing round of combat because we really should have lost only 1 unit, or at most 2. And if we had had better luck with our horse archers, we could have killed the Jowy ministack and isolated Dantski chariot as well, for an even better kill ratio...
On the positive side, the Jowy/Kathlete main stack is simply GONE. Dead dead dead, with 1 phalanx and two chariots left. We killed 18 out of their 21 starting units, losing no cities (to Jowy/Kathlete anyway!) in the process.
On the negative side, now we must rest and heal up, because Dantski still has 14 units invading, along with 6 more from Nakor. Man, these guys must really hate us....
Hopefully we'll get Construction in 5 turns, although that will depend somewhat on pillaging.
We were indeed unlucky here, losing more units than we expected to lose. It was especially bad because we wouldn't be able to replace lost horse archers until we connected our horses again, argh. Nevertheless, we had won the critical 50/50 battles earlier, so I guess we couldn't complain too much. The Jowy and Kathlete armies were virtually destroyed in this battle, leaving just Dantski (and Nakor's mini-stack) to worry about. Things were looking up in that regard.
I continued to send out diplo messages to the other teams, trying to break up the alliance that had formed against us. Speaker thought these messages were a waste of time, and indeed they had little effect. I tried to convince Dantski and Nakor to turn on one another, to no effect. We did have a new and finally permanent player for Inca though, with slaze taking over the reigns. Perhaps we could get Inca to help out, especially with Kathlete sending the bulk of the Ottoman military over to attack us. We asked slaze for his thoughts, and got this response:
slaze to Killer Angels:
Yes, Hello, we meant to get back to you but with issues and such we haven't been able to until now.
Look, this is how I see it: my neighbors are AK [athlete and kalin] and Whosit. AK border is pretty well filled out and decided. In fact we have and inheirited NAP, not to be cancelled within 25 turns of declaring. Whosit border is wide open (dead mortius) and so this still puts me in expansion phase. RIGHT NOW, EXPANSION IS KEY SO I WANT TO DO AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE TO AROUSE MY NEIGHBORS. i've been told not to open borders with you directly by AK. But of course, deep down i want to stab them both. We are interested in cooperating with you (if you can last - and expect you will) but for the short term we can do nothing of the sort. Give us time and we may be willing to shift alliances more publicly (OB, etc). If we can trade resources that will only solidify our relation ship further (we will have excess of spice, sugar and fur) although this doesn't seem the most likely map for that. We have been rather rudely refused OB by Jowy. Plako offered us OB this turn and seems pleasant to work with. Whosit we have acted humbly towards but is likely a source of conflict for us.
Yeah, not much there. slaze was clearly going to focus on EXPANSION and leave us to our own devices. He wouldn't even sign Open Borders with our team! Thanks a lot, dude... As for the current combatants, Speaker insisted that Nakor would never sign peace with us because he had a secret deal with Whosit to attack us. I thought this was absurd Multiplayer paranoia, but it *WAS* a good question of why Nakor would send him army off to fight us, quite a long way away, when Aggressive Rome was practically on his doorstep with a large army and no more war with Korea going on. Hmmmm. Anyway, we had enough problems to worry about without jumping at shadows that likely weren't even there. But Speaker did send one warrior off to scout our coastline, just in case there were any more shenanigans afoot.
Dantski foolishly split up his stack again, I guess for pillaging reasons, although I have no idea why he was taking down our mines instead of our vulnerable grassland cottages. (Check out all of the unmolested tiles west of Gettysburg.) However, we weren't able to capitalize on it because we had made our own micro error, our units stuck on the tile southeast of Chancellorsville and with no way to road the red dot tile. Even Fast Workers can't move twice and road a hill tile. It was a silly mistake on our part, and meant more turns having to wait and heal. Once we had Construction, we could slave out a round of catapults and destroy that wandering Dantski stack with minimal losses. Just had to hold out until then.
Dantski eventually did get smart and promote some of his units to Combat I, which meant that we couldn't get odds better than 50/50 against them, and that wasn't worth taking given how outnumbered we were. This was a really frustraing and not-fun time for our team; I know I was dreading playing the turn each day, and I think Speaker felt the same way. The game just felt... unfair, for lack of a better word. Why were we being forced to play this quasi-Always War game? Why was everyone ignoring the massive expansion potential of Rome, Inca, and Ottomans? Yes, I know, I know: "Your GNP is very high, you are good players, we must attack you." Small consolation for us, whether it was true or not. We were holding out for the moment, but the longterm picture looked pretty bleak. There was nothing in the world we could do if everyone else continued building and expanding while we were locked into this neverending war. These were dark and daring days for India.
Updated Tactical Situation - T106
This turn wasn't too bad for us. Dantski used 1 chariot to pillage our village to a hamlet, and I killed it with a spear, so we can even work it this turn. We are now very close to getting another general (56/60). He moved the rest of his units onto the hill between Gettysburg and Chancellorsville (for some reason). This allows us to re-establish the road between Gettysburg and Antietam, and create a zone defense to cover all three cities. They have just 3 chariots left in their stack, so each of our stacks is safe enough from being hit. They have 0 chance to take either of those three cities. Well that's not totally true. I took a minute risk by leaving just 3 Archers defending Gettysburg, which could be attacked by 3 Chariots next turn. But they are all 25% fortified, with a 40% hilled city, so they defend at 7.2 I think? I think we can safely take that risk. I have left just 1 spear in Antietam, with 2 Axes under it. Nakor could hit with 2 chariots, but it's a 40% city and a Combat II Spear with 10% fortify, so it should be able to kill both units. If not, we'll probably lose an Axe, but not the city, since we physically have more units than they can attack with.
We are totally safe in Antietam. Nakor and Dantski have promoted all their units to Combat 1, which means attacking the city with any sort of decent odds (40% + hill) is impossible. Perhaps their plan is to pillage our copper? That would be disastrous, seeing as our horse is also pillaged. Or would it? They can't actually pillage it for 2 turns, which is why I am going to slave the axes in production next turn and put the overflow into catapults. After we build 2 catapults per city, we should be able to clear out our land and reconnect our horse and copper.
In the east, it will be awfully dicey if Whosit is actually coming for us in the next few turns. I'm sending Spiros down the coast to see if he can give us any advance warning. 6 Praets I could probably stop. 8 would be tough. 10 would be impossible. Hopefully there are 0. But I doubt it. If we have 5 more turns, I think we'll be alright.
We will have a two turn warning, however, if he's coming. Obviously if he went along the inside coast, we'd see him before he could land, but if he hugs the center coast, he'll have to stop on the red tile to get in range of the most dangerous landing spot, directly SE of Fredericksburg, and I've shown the range that Spiros can see in pink and blue. What I wouldn't give for a sentry chariot right about now.
I don't know, as I make this image, I think that maybe I'm just raiding windmills. Is Whosit really so crazy as to send 3/4 of his army halfway around the globe just to slow us down? Maybe I'm just being a crazy paranoid MP player. But in any event, I'm not going to take any chances, as long as I don't endanger Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. I also continue to watch when he plays, which has been at the end of the past few turns. He actually played after us this turn.
The next move from the Dantski/Nakor force was to go after our copper, just as Speaker predicted:
Speaker pointed out that the enemy stack should have moved northwest instead of north, onto the tile next to Chancellorsville. That would still allow them to move towards the copper, while pinning a large garrison force in Antietam and opening up more possible moves from their chariots. We were on the verge of producing another Great General, with which we would have a good chance to kill off that stack. Situation under control.
And then everything changed:
Whosit has sent 4 Galleys, which must mean 8 Praetorians, so my fears have proven correct. Here are the reasons I suspected him of sending them:
1) Complete lack of diplomatic contact
2) Only saw a couple Praetorians in his land, having explored most of his cities, and his only contested border.
3) Logical sense. This is his chance to truly cripple us.
4) Presence of a coastal on the inland sea.
5) Only logical explanation about why Nakor is involved--fear of Whosit's reprisal if he doesn't attack us.
Just like their original attack on Chancellorsville, the timing within a couple turn window, is putrid for us. 2 more turns and we'd have cleared out 1 or both of the stacks in our land, and would be able to shift all our troops over there to defend. 4 more turns and we'd even have spare catapults to whack those Praets when they disembarck.
The good news is that Nakor has left a Chariot exposed, and as long as we can kill 1 more unit, we will get a Great General. With 2 General Axes behind 50% walls, I feel pretty confident we can defend Fredericksburg, as long as we don't lose some wacky battles. I am crossing my fingers that those are just shock Praetorians, and not Shock + City Raider or City Raider I and II.
I have little fear of Chancellorsville falling to Dantski's little stack there, and we'll have plenty of troops to defend Antietam as well.
Immense kudos to Speaker for sniffing this one out. There's no chance I would have done so on my own, let me tell you! But there was indeed good evidence that Whosit was planning something, between the diplomatic situation (with Rome and Holy Rome) and the lack of units that our exploring warrior in Roman territory wasn't finding. We knew Whosit had a large military, due to the Demographics, and if it wasn't in his cities it had to be somewhere else. Once we found a Roman city on the inner sea's coast, Speaker guessed that there were units coming for us on galleys. And he turned out to be right.
Thus, we were now about to be engaged in a full FIVE versus one situation, hard to believe with only seven total opponents in the game. With Korea crippled and Inca going through major player turnover (dsplaisted about to be replaced by yet another leader), essentially every credible team in the game was gunning for us at once. What a tough situation.
Fortunately, Whosit didn't know that we had already seen his boats moving across the inner sea. That gave us one turn to shift defenses; we killed a Romali chariot and produced a Great General, giving us one more high-experience axeman. See if you can spot the message in the above picture:
Got it? (Hint: check the names.) A little surprise for Whosit when he landed! Five axes in a city with 50% defenses might just be enough to hold out, depending on the Praetorian promotions and combat luck. As Speaker said, "It would actually be funny if 8 chariots hopped off the boat and owned our city full of axes, but something tells me that won't happen."
Then, Whosit made perhaps the biggest mistake of the entire game:
I feel pretty stupid for having to ask for this, but may we reload the turn? I made a completely n00b mistake: I was going to declare war, but forgot I still had OB [Open Borders] active with the other party, so instead of getting the pop-up (Does this mean war?!), my units moved into their territory. And now they are teleported somewhere else.
I'll live with this if I have to, but I seek clemency on the grounds that I just woke up. I don't think that anyone else has moved yet, so hopefully this wouldn't inconvenience anyone else. I'm going to finish my unit moves in the event that a reload is not granted, just because I won't be able to come back to this for about 8 hours.
As Whosit's post in the general forum indicated, he landed his units while still having Open Borders with our team. Then when Whosit declared war, his units were teleported OUTSIDE of our territory! Where did they end up?
As Speaker said at the time, "Wow, he *really* bungled this one!" Whosit had landed next to Fredericksburg, and when he declared war the units were teleported a full three tiles from the city. They were in the middle of nowhere, doing nothing of consequence, and it would take a couple more turns before they could be used to put pressure on any of our cities. Speaker and I were not inclined to grant a reload either, since this was a genuine tactical mistake on Whosit's part. Besides, he had been moving a warrior around in our territory using those same Open Borders and scouting out the location for his Praetorians to land. A reload to prevent the mistake would not be granted here. In the meantime, we had now finished Construction research (note the city builds) and would have the capacity to sweep our territory free of enemy units. For the enemy alliance facing us, this could not have gone much worse; they were counting on Whosit to come in and smash an undefended city. Not so much, as it turned out!
Oh ho, what's this?
Dantski to Killer Angels:
Are you guys available for a chat over the weekend? If so name a time before 6pm CST
Dantski wanted to talk to us - of all people, Dantski?!? Uh huh, looks like cracks were starting to appear in that enemy alliance! Well, given our atrocious diplomatic situation, we were more than willing to hear him out, with the following result: Dantski cut a peace deal with us! We agreed on a Non-Aggression Pact to stretch to Turn 130, along with some vague promises of future cooperation together. No firm commitment there, which was fine with us. Essentially, Dantski saw which way the wind was blowing and acted to save his army from destruction before it could be wiped out by catapults. A good move in the short run, no doubt, however I'm less certain it was the way to go longterm. Dantski was making some powerful enemies - the other four teams in the alliance weren't going to be happy about this! - and with his poor economy, he really needed to attack someone to grab more land. We assumed that all those axes would be gunning for Holy Rome in the near future, which was fine with us.
The diplomatic turnabout with Dantski meant that his units were teleported out of our land upon signing peace - dooming his former allies!
Well, this turn ended up working about 99.99% as well as we could have hoped.
First we signed peace with Dantski, which immediately teleported his units out of our land.
The units moved from the Red Dots to their current position, actually saving Dantski several turns of movement back toward his own land.
Then we attacked and killed Jowy and Kathlete's last remaining force (Ottoman Chariot and a wounded Greek Phalanx), but we lost a 90% battle, Combat 1 Axe vs the wounded unpromoted Phalanx (that's the .01% I referenced before). The RNG [random number generator] was not kind to us during this whole conflict!
Then we cleaned out Nakor's stack, which was left flapping in the breeze like a caber tosser sans underpants, by Dantski's magically-teleporting units. Nakor is going to be livid. He begrudgingly joined the attack to placate the rest, his small stack of units finally got up to us, moved twice, and then got wiped out. Kudos to Dantski for recognizing when his allies had failed, and getting out with his units in tact, and earning a strong ally (us). This very well may have saved his game.
After promotions we now have the 2 Great General Axes, 3 shock axes, 2 shock Horse Archers, a Medic II Horse Archer, and a whole bunch of other assorted Axes, Spears, and Archers. We also finish 3 Catapults next turn. Whosit's best move would be to put the Praetorians back on the boats and send them around to Kathlete. This alliance has crumbled, and shouldn't be able to threaten us again. But hopefully Whosit will continue his fool's errand, allow us to toss large rocks at his units, and get us most of the way to a 3rd general (we have 32/90 points at the moment).
Here's our land. Note that the only hostile units still in our land are Jowy's sentries on the forest hill outside of Chancellorsville. We won't be able to remove those anytime soon, but they don't threaten us. Our Horse has been re-pastured, our Copper will be re-mined next turn, and our Furs will be camped the turn after, and then we'll build a couple cottages, and get our economy back on track.
Thanks to all the lurkers for your support and encouragement during this trying time! Hopefully the future of this game will bring bigger and better things.
All of poor Nakor's units were slaughtered in the aftermath. Few Indians shedding teams over that though... At this point, the smartest thing Whosit could do was park up his Praetorians back onto the boats and sail away, which was indeed what he chose to do. They would have been destroyed by catapults + Shock axeman otherwise. This meant that our land was mercifully clear of enemy units for the first time in a dozen turns. Somehow, someway, we were still alive and standing. Speaker compiled this little table of the unit exchanges:
We had been invaded by a full 52 units (!!!) totaling 292k of Soldier points: 11 chariots, 10 phalanxes, 10 axes, 8 Praetorians, 6 spears, 4 horse archers, 2 warriors, and 1 skirmisher. We killed 30 of those units, with the total body count amounting to 10 chariots, 9 phalanxes, 4 horse archers, 3 spears, 2 axes, and 2 warriors. The military rating of just the units we killed (146k) was greater than any army in the world at the time the war began... Unbelievable, amazing stuff from Speaker. There was no possible way I could have pulled it off myself. All credit to him.
Nevertheless, we remained at war with four other powers, had lost a city, and taken a brutal military pounding. Dantski's reversal notwithstanding, our diplomatic situation remained isolated and dire. We had to do SOMETHING or else these four teams would just come back later for a second round. If they kept us locked in war while they continued to expand and tech upwards, our chances of winning the game were almost nil. This war was far from over, and far from won.