Home  ✧   Albums  ✧   Part 7: The Royale Battle!

Part 7: The Royale Battle!

Narrated by Eurogama

Starting Turn: 112

September 03, 2015

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    Welcome back to the /r/Civ 60+ Civ Battle Royale Mk. II | Part 6! Today we're having veteran narrator /u/eurogama do the narrations. Don’t forget to ignore work and family obligations by indulging in all the hype and amazing fan-produced content easily found on the MEGATHREAD: https://redd.it/3iv859 Eurogama's note: \"I go by eurogama on reddit; in real life, I am an editor for a major English-language daily. Of course, us editors need to cut loose when not on duty, so please no grammar nitpicking! My tastes run to the serious analysis / wargaming side; I have written longer gaming-based historical fiction elsewhere (Europa Universalis represent) but I'd prefer to leave most of that to the fan community. Since it's been a few days, If you want the quickest possible recap of where we are, I recommend the War Room series: http://imgur.com/a/F0VzZ#12 ... you might also want to cruise through the power rankings if you haven't. And without further ado...\"

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    Take a moment to soak in this lovely map made by SylonL showing the state of the world as it was at the end of the last installment. Don't forget to open the full resolution image!

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    A beautiful representation of the world in polandball format by /u/EmeraldRange! Remember to check out /r/civbattleroyale for stuff like this on a daily basis!

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    Whatever you want to call it, Constantinople is going down, down, down, don't mess around. A real nice city for Leonidas -- possibly better than his own capital, in all honesty. With Byzantine archers all uselessly embarked and thereby in the Danger Zone, Leonidas may well have designs beyond Constantinople as well. From the north, Polish traders ply the wastes of Carpathia, will they return news of the Byzantine feeding frenzy in time to give Kasimir the notion of extending his southerly holdings? And in the east, Armenia's army does not look capable of meaningful intervention -- yet. They have only just declared war, though, so it remains to be seen how many forces are going to shuflle back towards Asia Minor. Tiridates has historically beligerent rivals on many sides. You have got to hand it to Sparta; their uiniques always had them primed for early conquest; even after whiffing against Rome and Poland, Leonidas finally blundered into the right patsy and is pressing it all the way home.

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    Briefly revealed by careful detective work for those in the know (r/soylentbuffalo shoutout!) in installment 6, here we have a look at two Blackfoot cities in the Aleutian chain. I'm the biggest Blackfoot guy around, and even I am not going to feel obliged to memorize the names of these two, for now. So neither should you! Rather than antagonize his Inuit allies-of-convenience, Lord Crowfoot has opted for distance and fishing assets, the better to feed a burgeoning population. With Crowfoot's propensity for defense, these cities will be well fortified. Unfortunately, their utility as naval batteries is undermined by the fact that they don't truly lie athwart the Inuit path out of the Bering and down the Alaskan coast. And as one Inuit settler looks to be headed for the island that would have served that purpose very well indeed, another up in the Arctic could either lock down the rest of Alaska's lame hinterlands or make straight for Siberia.

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    And like that, Constantinople goes; at six-pop on the fall, it is tied with the Blackfoot's capture of Mdekwankantonwan for biggest city to change hands. (At least, to my recollection. Baltimore was a fiver.) But Sparta's go-go push on Constantinople has its drawbacks: Saladin's navy immediately plucks Nicomedia from the Leonidas, who ruled it for the blink of an eye. Wait, whats that? It was from 2460BC to 2370BC? Yes, generations of men are born and die in the time it takes for some boats to sail across the Mare Nostrum. The city has of course been laid low by all the sacking and whatnot, but Nicomedia is actually a rather useful little spot for Saladin, giving him space to build up a sorely-needed naval carpet in the next peacetime. You wouldn't put money down on Sparta's navy taking it back any time soon, either. Tactical Aside: Sparta's little-discussed UB, Syssitia Hall, may give their troops the edge on offense, but the AI may not know how to compensate for the drawback of walls not providing any defensive bonus. Second-order speculative historical fiction interlude: 800BC: A Spartan caravel meets a Blackfoot caravel in the South Atlantic and notes are traded. Spartan captain, prideful: \"We have heard tales that your warriors are unmatched in skill ... save ours, of course.\" Blackfoot captain, guardedly: \"Likewise.\" Spartan: \"How do your men grow so skilled in battle?\" Blackfoot, after pondering whether to respond: \"As youth, they run amongst the great herds of buffalo until they become wise in the ways of massed 1UPT warfare.\" Spartan: (gulp) \"That's amazing!\" Blackfoot: \"And how do you train your young so?\" Spartan: \"Well, in the time we save by not building city defenses, they learn the arts of war.\" Blackfoot: \"No wonder you only have four cities left.\"

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    And again, we see Leonidas not exactly succeeding at keeping all his balls in the air. (keep those balls in the air!) Olympia's defense will arrive too late to save the city from Saladin's admittedly unsophisticated but numerically superior army. Worth noting: thus far Leonidas has gotten 13 or so free \"infantry units\" (read: hoplite carpet) for pop. growth in his capital. Now a healthy pop-18, Sparta isn't going to continue growing at that rate. Of note: Cairo, at 16 and getting at least some religion income, is pretty swank. Oh, and if Jerusalem falls, what happens when Ayyubid have two holy cities, anyhow?

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    Two turns ago, Saladin bribed Osei Tutu II, king of the Ashanti, into his war against Carthage. Because when you've decided to war on three fronts, you want allies! That's just good doctrine. Well here we see Ashanti not exactly stirring themselves into trans-Saharan action. Ejura (held by Ashanti) is the only city in play here, and the real question is: will Hannibal prioritize capturing it, or defending against Saladin? Saladin seems like the bigger threat, but Carthage has grudges with Ashanti, for sure. Also, re: the Ashanti... don't get too excited about that carpet of their UU, the Drumroll Warrior. They're just under-strength spearmen. I'd rather have an army of Doof Warriors. Then you'd hear some drumming. In the wings: Mali looks almost comically irrelevant; the most interesting thing happening on this slide frankly is the declaration of friendship between Ethiopia and Kongo. For what it's worth, Kongo's leader appears far more deceptive than Haile. Sooner or later we'll find out who's zooming who.

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    Three turns after flipping back to Hitler, Koln (Cologne) is still part of der Tausendjahriges Reich. Hey, Adolf, you really did make it to a thousand years! Meanwhile, poor four-city Germany is set to instantly double that total... if only they could find some Lebensraum. Down in the bunker, Hitler curses the fool who made Europe so overcrowded. France doesn't exactly have the look of a steamrolling invading force here, though. I think Adolf is going to hang on a while; he had been my tip for first out. Now you would have to like the Bee-Zees for first casualty. I also want to note: accidentally or not, the Jerrys have their city defense doctrine pretty good here; array archers behind cities to shoot incoming forces; there's even a great general who might help if he got just a liiiiiitle bit closer to the front. And on the eastern front, Poland appears to be getting a little too frisky with the catapults; we'll soon find out what wave comes next. Oh hai, its Sweden! Not much to see, except a Baltic Sea not clogged with units on every square. I'd wave goodbye to open seas if I were a Swede / Finn / Pole.

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    Now Josef Stalin didn't skip the Lebesnraum class at dictator school; that's how you settle three cities. Three gloriously awful, irrelevant cities... unless there is some pressing future need to prevent navies from transiting from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Eurasian arctic? What's that you say, Yakutia is the biggest threat in the game? Hmm. Someday the Allies may be shipping Stalin surplus military hardware to outfit the dour defendes of Krasnodar and Gorkiy. In other news: Ethiopia has friends in the far east. And in other, ghostlier news: Portugal has denounced Saladin. Now that's a potential conflict I could get behind; Portugal might be the best-suited country to boss around the waves of the Mediterranean. Life must be unspeakable awful in Krasnodar and Vladivostok, so let's not gawk.

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    Well, well, well. One explanation for some of the Sioux sloppiness in their war with, well, everybody: they were cranking out Petra in Wahpekute! And got it! A sucker-punch for Arabia, Ayyubids, and the other civs that could have put it to better (frankly, much better) use... but hay! BRmkI veterans will remember Sitting Bull as one of the first to carpet the world with archaeologists so maybe he's just lining up Petra for that big culture bonus? Beeline for Archaeology, yes please! Anyhow... we digress. You are all interested in whether Benito has on his fighting trousers this time around. The answer is: are you fucking joking? The swarm around Veracruz could pluck that Petra right quick and instead they are ... what? I can't say. Meanwhile a totally insufficient force has been sent toward Sissiton. Substantially complicating matters in favor of Sisseton's defense is the enclave of Texian land inside Sioux territory. Well, in favor of Sisseton's defense until it's Texas invading. Patience! Sam Houston has a lot of strength to rebuild. Now, Compound archers vs. regular archers is a pretty decisive advantage in this era, and Mexico's on the right side of the divide... but Mexico is... I'd make that shrug emoji but it's easier to just type words, dripping with sweet, sweet scorn. Up north: yeah, Blackfoot is not losing Mdewakantonwan. (btw for music and/or steampunk (and/or Rap Battle) fans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iRTB-FTMdk for Fighting Trousers, the pinnacle of the chap-hop movement. ITS A THING, OKAY?)

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    Up in the frozen wastes of Ellesmere, Baffin and other nameless islands beyond Hudson Bay, the wily majesty of Sitting Bull's plan becomes evident: found disposable cities to lose and thereby make wars go away! (it's particularly funny that the city Ekhuenick is probably going to settle for is named YANKTON AI. Has the crisis situation driven Sitting Bull's AI into self-awareness?) Canada, meanwhile, is probably going to fall for the same gambit in Oohenupa, while other more bountiful cities could be had in Sioux's darkest hour. A future of Canada/Inuit entanglements await.

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    Vietnam is just looking laughably better than her neighbors. Seven or eight swordsmen around Saigon, just awaiting orders. Jose Rizal has a nice navy but he'd better hope his little colony is not on the chopping block. Could the Trung Sister go Vigan? Probably not, they are straight up carnivores, as Mao can attest. Meanwhile, Japan has a case of warrior-itis that needs fixing.

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    Hitler's still got Cologne, but i think the city's refined air suits the French more. Spearmen are in position for the kill. Meanwhile, Poland has accomplished little with the warrior/horseman/catapult zerg. A little look in on the Nordsee and Baltic as well here; If you're wondering who has the most impressive military in the vicinity, it might just be Norway, who i reckon could be eyeing up a bite of Hamburger if Poland bleeds off a little more of Hitler's strength. Meanwhile, Ireland has the beginnings of a navy going, and Elizabeth has her archer carpet, as expected.

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    The Trung Sisters clearly don't fear retaliation from Champa; their forces are heading north en masse for a bit of Chinese Take-Out. Clearly second-fiddle, but Burma has some things going for her; cities at 17, 12, 9, 9 and 8; a religion, a wonder (the Colossus is visible in this frame) and most importantly, a lot of mountains between her and the Trungs. A peace with Tibet is basically a formality. Burma may be in good shape to crank out a belated military here and make a move. (Indonesia the most likely target.) ... in general, Burma really needs a decent navy, stat. I like this empire though. Underrated. Soft neighbors to grow fat upon.

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    Skipping ahead two turns, Inuit found Qausuittuq in the Aleutians, effectively cutting off Blackfoot's two island colonies until open borders or deep-sea travel; i don't see any evidence of open borders between the anti-Sioux allies. Too soon? The generally-demilitarized nature of this area bodes well for peace between the two. Meanwhile, A Mexican scout noses around in habitable, claimable space in the Inuit hinterland. What could go wrong?

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    South America exists! At least, the part where Morgan has a size-three colony in the Venezuelan highlands. For an island-based civilization, you would say the Buccaneers are going against ARRRRRRchetype. Well, that's my joke. Though they are not quite in the frame, the absence of Inca here speaks volumes as to their AWOLism; how were they not here already? Meanwhile, Parana is growing nicely and will make a tasty plum for the Buccaneers or, possibly, Pedro. Even if Eva Peron isn't quite the patsy this game she was in BRmk1, surely holding Parana is beyond her. Strategy aside: Some thoughts on Morgan's game: The Bucs are one of the more interesting elements of the BR, as they could have gone any direction. Basically I think they've hit every note right, save for leaving open the possibility of someone plonking down a final colony in their Caribbean backyard. Their foothold in Florida is in the backyard of the sick man of the Americas -- uh, America -- and their beating of Maya to the Panamanian spot makes Nassau virtually impregnible, while Petit Goave also is too defensible for America to crack. This leaves them focusing on naval dominance (check) and colonizing in South America. Now Morgan just needs more food, more pop, more science. Oh, and take Parana!

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    With his focus clearly on defending Shiasapa and Itazipcho from Canada and well aware of Mexico's track record of incompetence, Sitting Bull wrangles a pax bisonus out of Crowfoot, who in all honesty looks like he could do with a bit of rebuilding and consolidation at the moment. Yes, the Blackfoot tribe might have claim-jumped their first wonder down in Wahpekute, or pushed on to the capital, but taking the Sioux's #2 city is more than spoils enough for one war. Meanwhile, the Great Lakes look to have given Sioux enough of a natural border to hinder Canada's advance. Maintaining a real show of force along their shared border to prevent a tired-looking Texian (yes, Texian) military from getting any ideas, Sitting Bull is suddenly looking in no way knocked out. Blackfoot, meanwhile, already have a real nice core of compound archers to get on with War No. 2. While it would be foolish to count out more action against the Sioux, or a cold war precipitated by Inuit treachery, the smart money may be on a battle with Mexico. Crowfoot clearly has Pacific ambitions and Mexico's got the ports he needs.

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    Last seen some 15 turns ago (slide 6.26), Rome has gotten its act together, ever so slightly. The Portuguese have failed to defend their impetuous colonial settlement of Funchal, while Caesar has also colonized Sicily, giving him theoretical control over the Central Mediterranean. Somehow Rome has gone from pop-14 to pop-11 during this time, which I imagine must have come as Portuguese vessels deprived them of their fishing grounds? Well, it's all right now. Rome has the impregnable Alps to the north and seems to have sent Maria packing. That just leaves Leonidas as a going concern, but Cumae is *extremely* well defended and Sparta obviously has bigger fish to fry, for now. But, it must be said, there are not enough Roman people and not enough Roman armies to get much done. Naked ballista swarms are not good enough! Could Legions turn the tide? Meanwhile, France doesn't seem to have an agenda beyond trying to lay down a nice carpet. Yes, a few piddles in Munich's direction, but the lack of a Mediterranean port is Napoleon's Achilles heel; without one he can never hope to engage Rome or Portugal further.

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    The state of play in Asia Minor. With the Byzantines exiled, it is now contested between sleepy Armenia, and Sparta and the Ayyubids, maybe the two biggest warmongers in the game. (Sorry, Adolf!) Saladin's little fleet that could has moved right on to attempting to securint a foothold. Which, if Trebizoned and Varna had walls, you know, might be beyond the means of a couple dinky unescorted triremes. Meanwhile, badly, badly damaged Spartan hoplites attempt to smuggle themselves back home (or, lets be honest, who the hell knows where they are going, except maybe a watery grave) across the Aegean, unprotected. Oh, that's a golden opportunity there. Nope, Saladin's gotta naked trireme assault two targets at once. Ugh. And must be said that Armenia's military commitment to fighting Leonidas is more substantial than we first thought. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that a distracted Sparta is going to lose his Asia Minor holdings to the Yerevan throne? Finally, it can't help but be noticed that the CCCP has a couple catapults in the vicinity of Byzantine-held Crimea. Perhaps a bold plan by Vladimir Putin, a junior KGB officer with his eyes on the prize? Fiction interlude: Putin: First, we remove all colorings and markings from our catapults. Then we send them into Antioch to \"Keep the Peace\" at \"the invitation of locals.\" Stalin: Vere in this plan of yours, tovarisch, does it say that Antioch make-es the vodka? Putin: (boggles) Stalin, unsteadily: Ha, no, a joke! Joke, like bear! Please, go on. Putin: Then, a local legislature declares itself independent of Byzantium, and our units declare themselves as patriotic freedom fighters! Stalin: (face down, passed out drunk, one arm over a samovar) Putin, aloud: I knew i should have come to this meeting shirtless.

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    Hey now! Attila the Hun has had enough of these impostor hordes, he's declared in Sibir, whose main force is still well to the east and consolidating a hold on the recently-captured Mongol city of Old Sarai. Now Sibir has got to be the roomiest looking empire in the game -- a big positive for the future, but it could mean a long transit time back to the front. Except, well, Attila doesn't really seem to have... done much prep-work for this little war. And the Urals are a hell of a chokepoint for any Hunnic/Sibir fighting. No, it would seem the real instigator here is the little-seen Timurids. In the wings: Before we take a closer look at Timur, take a note of action from another media-starved empire, the Finns; their settler last seen wandering on Turn 113 has planted a city way up north. And, if my skill at calling up a map of Finland and reading bottom-halves-of-letters is everything I think it is, i believe that city is LAHTI. You heard it here first. Of note: this puts them behind Stalin's \"Line in the Snow\" and really what this Battle Royale needs is a Russo-Finnish War. Seriously, the real one is on any real afficianado's Top 5 Wars.

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    A close look at the Timurids. Now, you'd have to say they are not doing terrible for their crappy desert start. (seriously, not even desert hills...) Nobody's going to write home about any of their cities, but they have a nice safe mountain border with Afghanistan and Persia, and water to protect (most of) their cities from Armenia. Which of course just leaves the Hun. Haha. And Attila can take a bribe LIKE A BOSS, apparently, because that is surely what happened here. The Timurids saw the horse archer carpet piling up right up to the border, real whites-of-their-eyes stuff, and conceived of a plan. It's basically the old gambit from Looney Tunes -- \"Rabbit Fire\" in particular... hapless Timur held up one of those signs on a stick that said \"SIBIR SEASON\" with a right-facing arrow. And Attila, in true Elmer Fudd fashion, took the bait and popped off at Kuchum Khan. Boy did Timur dodge a bullet there, wonder what it cost him. Still, clever diplo-play is the key to beating the AI... maybe Timur has legs in this Royale. It would be pretty miraculous if they took a city off Sibir here but you never know.

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    Hawaii. You know, those cities are legit good, and they're eventually going to plonk down on a few more spots visible here in their backyard. Improved naval tech can't come soon enough for Kamehameha. And note: that great general points to them being on the Honor tree, as i can't recall them fighting a war to earn the points otherwise. (quite a few of these generals bumping around, wish we'd made a list as we went.) The economic muscle is here to crank out a real threat to, well, at least bother somebody or other. Mexico? Maori? Japan? How cool would a reverse Pearl Harbor be?

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    Benito calls off the attack on Sissiton in favor of focusing on wonder-iffic Wahpekute. And, what do you know, he's making inroads... catapults and archers in the right place. Defense is only scrub warriors at this point but pikemen are arriving on the scene. It looks unlikely but... probably not unthinkable? Here again we see the tissue-thin military of Texas ... They have a ways to go before their batteries are recharged. In the wings: Sparta draws another denounce, one that kinda sorta matters. (not militarily, but Haile is sort of a bellwether AI. If he's pissed at you and its not about contested borders, everyone else is, too.) Oh god is it going to be fun seeing Sparta's no-walls cities get carved up some day.

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    Snipe alert! Snipe alert! Last seen five turns ago ready to fall to Saladin, Olympia is suddenly in Carthaginian hands! Well, Sparta didn't really *need* that African colony, even if it is close to his capital. Love a good three-corner war! ONE CITY, THREE ARMIES. Saladin has more lucrative, more righteous causes to prosecute than gunning down Carthaginian Sniper... maybe Hannibal keeps Olympia? It feels right. Either that, or endless flipping. Trebizond is almost fallen to Trireme Force, but seems likelier to flip back than not, as no reinforcements are on the way. Saladin's ground troops look well engaged with the Israeli menace; from the tiny sliver of green bar on the pop-18 Jerusalem, you know they are getting somewhere, but not close. Oh, i got ahead of myself. When you play the Game of Battle Royale recaps, you feast on scraps or die. Except sometimes its just there in the next slide...

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    Trebizond falls; dog-tired Spartan Hoplites look at one another and think \"We Who Are About to Die, Salute You.\" If i were a Spartan hoplite, i'd be saluting Leonidas with the big middle finger, in response to Leonidas's declaration of war on poor King David. Like, that is so not going to happen. What, you needed to piss off Armenia more? Yeah, Leonidas took one look at Trebizond and Nicomedia falling and just went full Hitler, with a classic \"blame the jews\" moment. I smell a barracks mutiny. And here's a decent look at Jerusalem, where King David has frankly not a very strong military, but probably enough to hold off Saladin's beseiging crew. Saladin will hope to keep Bethlehem in a peace deal after his attack on J-ru is spent. If only great prophets could fight. Seriously, Israel must have one of those \"capital generates faith\" beliefs with Judaism, even the AI bonuses don't generate that many GPs this fast. In the wings: Spare an eye for Persia, where Pasardgadae has totally eclipsed Persepolis, the capital. I'm pretty sure Darius could have Gaza now if he wants it. What else has he got to do? A helpful reminder: the Persia UU you see is yet another spearman variant (fast-healing, like, Wolverine fast) but not long for relevancy as armies tech up.

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    In an attempt to reinvent himself as a solid bro, Leonidas makes peace with Byzantium; all it cost poor Alexios was Ohrid, handed over without much of a fight. (at least, we didn't *see* it fall.) Meanwhile, Armenia's triremes bear down on Constantinople, while her ground forces join in the assault on Varnia. The Fine Print: Finally, news from North America: the Inuit finally take their scrawny target. Seriously, Inuit fans. Lord Crowfoot took a pop-15 city a buffalo's bellow from Hunkpapa, menaced the capital itself, and signed a peace deal in the time it took you lot to flip the very end of Sitting Bull's dopey Arctic psuedopod. And the Blackfoot are supposed to be worried about you?

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    Mercy, Trung Sisters style: it's a peace with China, and all it cost Chairman Mao is Shanghai, which we never saw under any real threat and indeed, it's a \"where's the beef\" situation, unless Trung's longswordsmen are getting an early jump on the whole \"invisibility\" deal the Viet Cong have, they never even moved north to capture. No, its just \"take a city\" day in the mighty PRC. I guess Mongolia's feint toward the capital brought out the fainting couches in the Forbidden City. Genghis looks much more likely to land Guangzhou but, well, at least Shanghai is off the table, for now. So, uh, Job Well Done, Trung Sisters. Freebie Shanghai is proof of the power of the bitch-slap school of warfare. (no offense, ladies; bitch-slap has an ungendered connotation here.) Grand Theater style, this is an unbelievably big development, a -13 population flip and the absolute end of China as a contender in the game. Sitting on the south bank of a river with no cover for invaders from the north, Shanghai is an ideal northern frontier for Vietnam in any war with Mongolia or *cough cough* somebody else. Any bets on the first nation brave enough to DOW the Trungs? (my guess: Yakutia.)

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    Kimberley ding dongs with the Hagia Sofia, their second wonder and, let me tell you, the free temple and prophet is not going to do them a lot of good until Shinto or one of the Southeast Asian religions arrives. Uhhhhh, i might have gone a different direction there. Still, the first Medieval wonder! And also, still, look at those cities. 17 / 14 / 17 up the coast, perhaps one of the most densely inhabited stretches on the map. Which, I call foul, TPang, I'm just an Americano and I've never been there, but isn't that some of the most inhospitable land on God's Earth? Unless you're part of a global iron ore concern... From across the Timor Sea, Indonesia can only look on and wonder where all the food is coming from.

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    The Hudson Bay theater, where the aforementioned Sioux City Sacrifice is playing out; Yanktonai, gone, Oohenupa gone, but what's this, we'll just found another, says Sitting Bull. Now those Inuit longswords look awful ready to capture Sichangu as well ... Meanwhile, is Canada content with the Arctic twin cities, aka future Inuit targets? The Fine Print: Ethiopia ropes in more pen pals. Haile would be the most awkward friend at parties.

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    The western Med, where Maria has streamed back to retake Funchal, and a glut of naval units promises to strangle any attempt whatsover for Rome and Sparta and Carthage to go do some naval exploring. Which is good: we're running out of jokes for Leonidas' proclivity for war declaration. Morocco looks about the same as before; probably third tier at best, but not going to roll over when a war with Portugal comes. It's a pity Portugal beat him to Leiria, though -- ridiculously, naval squares are a valuable resource as the AI likes to carpet them up with ships -- the only way it can get anything done once a naval war comes.

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    Ding dong! The Inuit steamroller bound for Sichangu turns into a pumpkin as Sitting Bull signs a truce with Ekeuhnik. Peace Pipe indeed; only one side is laying pipe here, and it's Sitting Bull. Well, you can't let it be said that the Inuit lost a lot of men in the war. I think they just didn't know where to go; there are plenty of compounds and swordsmen sitting around. But they didn't exactly set the sky alight with their territorial gains of: Yanktonai, and thats it. One interesting thing about the Inuit in this game: the naval carpet we've come to expect is nowhere to be seen. Too soon? We'll see what happens when they war with Canada or Iceland or Japan, i suppose. The Fine Print: And take note of Olympus falling to the Ayyubids because...

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    Carthago takes it right back. That one Spartan citizen is going to get whiplash. But there's far more interesting things afoot in the corner of this slide: Armenia has taken Varna, on the south coast of Asia Minor. That might count as a snipe from the Ayyubids, but really, Armenia's got more than enough force to back it up. Sparta has recaptured Trebizond, its weary hoplite force plots a last stand against the Armenian scourge there. Meanwhile, Armenia's little, little navy might be about to catch Constantinople with its pants down! In the Wings: Jerusalem looks safe. Roman-held Funchal does *not*.

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    Sparta looks to dig in, rebuilding Constantinople's defenses as best they can while spurning the \"walls are for defense\" technology that others in the game have long since mastered. Here we have a better look at the army of Tiridates III, vanilla as can be, but probably more than Leonidas can handle right now. In the wings: The Byzantines have enough of a military around Adrianople that they might well retake Ohrid someday if Leonidas isn't defending with troops. Obviously we're on a ten-turn clock and technically they are still at war with Saladin, but ...

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    Slide 32: (Turn 120) Ladies and Gentlemen, the lost land of South America. Admit it, most of you thought the earlier Bucs-centric frame was all you'd get. Now, if this glimpse is indicative, we haven't been missing any real drama; no cities in danger anywhere. Inca has more than enough compound bows to defend Machu, it would seem. I'll try to break it down a bit more: Pedro seems to like to cluster his units -- all the spearmen in one place, all the bows in another, etc. There's a joke about miscegenation to be had there, but it would be uncouth. Argentina and Brazil have a nice, long border -- it's going to be epic if they ever fight. And Chile... poor Chile. They probably have a naval swarm all ready for ... well who knows. Ready to feast on the weakened Inca or Argentina, except that seems like its not going to happen, this continent has a very Oceania / Eurasia / Eastasia feel to it right now. Needed a fifth entrant.

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    Oh, snap! Or is it snipe? Constantinople falls to Tiridates' naval raiders. Something tells me there are some fifth columnists in there. I wouldn't get too comfortable, Constantinoplans. (-oplites? -oplitans? -opligasques?) Sparta seems to have achieved critical hoplite mass once again. Meanwhile in the eastern Med, Saladin's fleet seems ascendant, likely ensuring that Nicomedia will, at least, remain Ayyubid. Also in this slide, Kimberley gets its third wonder, the Great Mosque of Djenne. Which -- again -- *there is no religion here*. sigh. Australia must be loving this expenditure. An interlude, in which Jandamarra tries to deflect blame. Brothers, in my dream, I traveled across the fathomless oceans and discovered a thing called religion. I saw how this trivial little man, \"Benito\" was his name, did well by his people, by building a great Stone Circle, which became the focus of a mighty chorus of voices, united in belief. And so I had you build this structure, you know the one. We call it Hagia Sofia. Beautiful though it is, it did not lead us to \"religion.\" So I had you build this other structure, we call it \"The Great Mosque.\" But it too has not led us to \"religion.\" Now, I say that ours is the superior way and we shall war on any men of belief who set foot on these shores!

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    Four turns in, a look at the Atilla & Timur (best bros, they were in the same frat, even) vs. Kuchum Khan. The spearmen and heavy tree cover both point to this being a stalemate, at best, for the attackers. Atilla does not seem to be channeling his entire horse archer carpet into the attack, either. Hmm. Timur, for his part, has not set foot in Sibir territory, it seems. How very ... lame. Come about, oh say 1300 A.D., someone will be driving a car with the vanity plate UR TIMID in an attempt to provoke him to action. Nah, actually, Timur's doing great, if you subscribe to my theory of how this Wabbit Season War started, at least. In the wings: A Finnish settler, a looong way from home. At least he's got an escort. Also: Finland itself!

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    A pop in on Korea, where Sejong inches closer to unlocking his final, literal turtle form. Korea no longer looks like such easy pickings for Japan, which might have success plucking Kaesong... but Seoul looks far too big a pill to swallow. Meanwhile, Yakutia has staked out a pretty convincing \"you shall not pass\" line across the top of Korea / Mongolia. It remains to be seen if Japan settles up the Siberian coast before Blackfoot or Inuit get there, but we see no evidence of a new Japanese settler here. In the Fine Print, we see word of two cities in Asia Minor flipping again. All that's missing is a spinning newspaper.

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    And back to Asia Minor; as promised, Sparta retakes Constantinople while the Ayyubids take Trebizond, and, it must be noted, gets Jerusalem down into yellow. Say what you will about Judaism vs. Islam, Cairo is certainly top dog when it comes to holy cities. In Sparta's far northwestern frontier, some troops get experience at Cumae's expense. Those men could really be used elsewhere, Leonidas! But, it looks like Constantinople has a few turns' grace before flipping again, at least.

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    In a bid for relevancy of any sort, Arabia lays siege to Jericho. The desert location offers a lovely look at the Walls of Jericho, which King David will be relying on here. It's hard to see how this is good news for Israel, even if it's been a bit of a slow-motion offensive from Arabia. Note, at left, the totally deserted Ayyubid interior. Ethiopia's passivity is one of the great mysteries of the game. Saving it for Der Boer?

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    Slide 38, Turn 121 If a conflict touches off between Australia and Kimberley (doesn't it have to?) it may be over tensions in Papua and the northern territories rather than the sandy expanse that is the interior of the continent. I'm not saying there won't be fighting there, mind you, just that the war goals of both parties may revolve around nothingburger towns like Cairns. (Hey, it might be a lovely place come 2015AD.)

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    Jumping ahead two turns, an interloper has appeared in the North Atlantic, which was expected to be a joust between Iceland and Canada for space. Well, poor hemmed-in America has plonked down St. Louis on Nova Scotia. This, it is fair to say, might not have been a wise move, given the blanket of red composite bowmen and catapults Canada has assembled. America is re-arming somewhat and has the Appalachians to fall back upon for defense, though, and Canada has as yet not shown interest in picking on the Yank. But it could get messy.

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    Well well well, here's what Attila's b-teamers were doing: waiting for Armenia to leave the door open for a little romper stomper. The first horse archers cross the border and it's pillage-as-you-go. You really ought save it for the heals, Atty. Well, nobody said the AI was smart at this sort of thing. It must be said, Tiridates has not left himself *totally* defenseless here, and its a pretty narrow bottleneck -- 3 wide -- Attila is looking to squeeze through here. If he begins embarking in the Caspian, it's a bloodbath. So lets hope for that, yes? Anyhow, I am bullish on Tiridates' chances of surviving this. But it's patently good news for Sparta...

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    Sparta, who have re-flipped Trebizond and seem to be defending Constantinople adequately. It looks like a take-back of Varna is there for the asking, if they want it, as Tiridates has either had everyone die or is marching back to confront the Hun already. Saladin looks to have lost Trebizond for good; Now it's not all roses for Leonidas yet: if you look on the left hand side of the screen, you'll see an interesting development: Messene about to go into the yellow.

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    That's because Augustus Caesar has his navy unopposed, has his legions online, has his ballistae online, and is ready to REVENGE! on Leonidas. Cumae, ever the redoubt, is being held down 300-style by a single legion, chilling as a horde of Spartans dash themselves on the rock. Troops are wet in the Adriatic and the Med. This is a serious development for Leonidas, who let this problem fester. Augustus still might take a white peace: you can see he's still fighting Portugal (combat damage at left.)

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    What has all the sound and fury wrought for Saladin? Well... Bethlehem, Nicomedia and Olympia. All are valuable prizes in peacetime, though you might consider Bethlehem a liability in risking conflict with Arabia. Despite his attacking force being down to nothing, still no reinforce in sight save for a fresh catapult, Jerusalem *is* in the red. The unfancied Carthaginian desert outpost of Hippo Regius -- a potential future city of industry -- seems more likely to fall to Saladin.

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    And here's A.N.Other shocker. Mao's not the only person who can give away cities for nothing; Saladin's actually running the show in Adrianople! How Byzantium contrived to give it away, we can only guess, but it might actually serve to stoke future enmity between Saladin and Leonidas, not that they needed help in that department. So: Alexikos is down to two cities, but, hey, zero enemies! (for now.) In the wings: Meanwhile, one gets the feeling that Tiridates is going to survive the hun attack and lose Vardia back to the Spartans. And in Poland vs. Germany, they don't even seem to be able to kill each other fast enough to deplete the carpets. And how is Saladin going to hold on to Adrianople? At pop-nine, it is quite the prize for Sparta, if Leonidas can multitask.

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    And how is Saladin going to hold on to Olympia? Seriously, can all the Battle Royale Mark I veterans give a round of applause to Carthage, who are so persistant, so determined in the face of bad odds, as to make every other civ, -- and i do mean every other civ -- look like they are playing a different game? Carthage repeatedly does the impossible, with not much more than two sticks to rub together. Note: they took Ejura off the Ashanti, and are now fighting south of it. Also visible: Rome has puppeted Funchal; Maria has portuguese warriors landing on city-less Sardinia in an attempt to dislodge the ballista Augustus has shrewdly placed there. And Saladin's going to have to work a lot harder to get Hippo Regius on the right side of the ledger.

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    Ah, Russia vs. Armenia, it's been too long! In truth, this will probably be one to savor. Stalin has about the same amount of front to attack along as the Huns, who have gotten nowhere against team Tiridates. But he's got some catapults in the mix. Meanwhile, Armenia plots a naval relief convoy, one which Russia has no way to contest, lacking the port to sally forth into the Black Sea. Byzantium dodges another bullet, he may yet not be the first out!

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    Predictably, Sibir has not given an inch against the Hun. Wabbit Season is working out well for Timur! No sooner do Attila's archers make it through the Ural passes than they are chopped to bits. A dishonorable death for a horse archer, that. For me, Attila's very second-rate in this game, again. With plenty of conflict back east, Sibir peaces out with Mongolia. This is bad news for China, who don't need it. Consider this real possibility: the first confirmed civ kill going to Korea.

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    We were overdue a pointless / counterproductive war declaration from Leonidas, so here it is: Hitler. Obviously going nowhere, but this is a good chance to check in on the Germans and Poles; attritional, certainly going worse for the Nazis but not that much worse. The real news here is twofold: France has Cologne (upper left hand corner, if you can't smell it from where you sit) and Yakutia becomes the first to audibly enter the medieval era.

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    Down in sub-Saharan Africa for a look-in, and you can see for yourself the latest provocations that the Boer are totally willing to overlook, rather than display the bone-crushing early-game form they showed off in BRmk1: a Zulu settler yoinks the last lick of Madagascar *and* an island even further afield (Comoros? Mauritius? Reunion?) Then, there's the Ethiopian city, five and growing, of Bahr Dar. Lightly defended and isolated, it is surely here on Petr Kruger's good graces alone... though the retribution further north would be a sight to behold. Boer's army has a sufficient number of swordsmen to start getting things done, if only the AI would take the plunge. And a very minor note in the corner, the Kongolese city of Kabasa, pop-14 and handsomely-defended, is an example of this underrated civ's ability to go tall and tech up.

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    In Central Africa, a motley force of Carthiginians holds Ejura, that rather worthless Ashanti burb, in a show of defiance / retribution for the loss of their distant colony many, many moons ago. More bonkers gameplay from the Hannibal AI. The existence of two undefended Kongolese cities in the middle of the Sahara is an affront to mapmakers everywhere. Hannibal, go!

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    Okay, la femmes Trung get a lot of hype around these parts, but surely they cannot navigate the Himalayan maze and take a city off Tibet? And surely, surely not the capital of Lhasa, as a swordsman is attempting to do... Chamdo and Xigaze seem attainable, if not exactly desirable. The Sisters have nowhere near the manpower in the vicinity to take them, or so you'd think ... not that such concerns have stopped them before. But this feels a bit like a placeholder / training day war for them. Time will tell.

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    Folks, we may be running out of time to get our \"Downfall\" parodies in; the phone rings in Hitler's bunker with the news that Hamburg, previously the Reich's safest city, is under attack from vengeful Norwegians. Hitler is in dire shape: there aren't nearly enough troops left to guard Berlin from Poland, particularly with a vast force in the Baltic attemtping to land through Prussia. The Baltic is probably the most hilariously congested spot in a game full of them, by the way. It feels like Haakon is going to have to commit more troops than this to get Hamburg, but it certainly is within his power to do so. this is feeling like a carve-up, France gets Munich, the norwegians get Hamburg, Poland gets Berlin, and Sweden gets Null Points for sitting on her hands. Some lines from my \"Downfall\" parody of Hitler's performance in this Battle Royale: \"I want everyone who has never declared war just for the hell of it, to leave the room now.\" \"Norway was supposed to join the Master Race!\" \"You were meant to settle Hamburg on the canal spot!\" \"But, gentlemen, if you believe I'm going to leave Berlin, you're seriously mistaken... I'd rather blow my brains out.\"* (*unchanged from the original.)

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    Time for another history, here of Happy Times. Tops and its not even close: Mirwais Hotak, who must be getting it all from a more diverse luxury base than anyone else; there's no other explanation for the outlier. Yakuts crack another top-three, yawn. And look, Indonesia is elite at something! I've never found this the most illuminating list when it pops up. Hardly brings a smile to my face. And I'm a fan of Pliny, both Elder and Younger. In the greyed-out background, the Indonesia / Filipino color-coordination confusion.

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    Kongo bribes Ethiopia into a war on Ashanti. At least, it looks like Kongo is the more 'rough and ready' of the two. Ashanti has a turtler's chance of holding out though with a carpet of down-tech units. No composite bows is a bad, bad sign. It may be minimally useful, but Ashanti does have a Naval advantage. Atebubu, with a defense of only 14 and on the wrong side of a river, is in the most danger. And though we won't see a slide of it today, the Mughals and Tibet are at war -- we're not holding our breath for excitement there.

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    Disposition of Selassie's forces. Unless there's an open borders between the two allies in play (no evidence to support the hypothesis), Ethiopia will be hard-pressed to capture Mampong, as arriving units will mostly be dead upon impact until the Ashanti drumroll is worn out. The big winner in this situtaion may be Ayyubid, whose southern border is almost comically undefended against Ethiopian aggression. (and they are religion foes AND the city would connect Ethiopian lands.)

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    As Spartan chariots and hoplites bear down on Adrianople, a Pax Adriaticum is signed; you'd have to say Caesar made his point, but with such a tiny population, it's hard to see how he comes back from so far behind. Well there *is* a city that might suit, one which Rome has a history of, shall we say, salting away. Carthage. Not far away either. But, just spitballing. Probably nothing but grinding against Portuguese triremes for the foreseeable future, for Augustus.

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    Oh, Osei. It looks like you've been invited to a carve-up! Mansa Musa declares war on Ashanti, and refreshingly it looks like he wasn't actually planning on it ... his forces are not exactly amassed at the border. The delay in arrival might actually help his cause if Ashanti transitions some units to the Eastern Front, as well. Surely Musa can get a city out of this? Not to be outdone, the Carthaginian dogs of war are out of their cages in Ejira, descending on konongo in a flash... surely Warriors are not going to get the job done here though? So all in all, a bad week at the old rockpile for Ashanti.

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    Portugal retakes Funchal. Again. Rome v. Portugal is one of those AI deathmatches that won't die and leaves both sides sooo much worse off. Meanwhile, we can see that England is going with the ever-savvy \"horsemen and scouts\" defense for York, in the face of a carpet of Napoleonic spearmen. LOVE IT.

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    And there goes Mexico, peacing out with the Sioux without ever getting so much as a boot dirty. His formidable-in-theory army is now arrayed against, well, it must be said, Blackfoot. And that Mexican settler behind the lines -- he's been camped there for years, and it *is* a viable spot -- maybe he's ready to provide Crowfoot with a Casus Belli. What else can we glean from this, big picture wise? Mexico's navy is a joke. Blackfoot, on the other hand, is taking the naval game very seriously indeed. Not much use against Sitting Bull, mind you. The Sioux look more than ready to defend their still-substantial holdings. The Texian military winds up *looking* under-strength compared to its reputation. It's not really all that scrawny, but the cities are so wide that it just winds up looking open. Texas still has problems, but size and space is not one of them. Crowfoot has some military buildup to attend to.

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    Iceland's shield of outposts across northern Newfoundland and Labrador are now being actively scouted by Canadian recon triremes. Old Lester might, upon seeing the scrawny Icelandic settlements here, be surprised to learn that there are swordsmen hiding out -- really -- in the wastes of Greenland. It is going to be an interesting fight when it breaks out.

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    And the first galeasses i've spotted belong to Kimberley, who is certainly taking Naval defense seriously. In fact, you'd say her military has a bit of an edge on Australia, who seem to have expended a lot of effort colonizing off Australia proper... gotta be prepared when the Day of Exile comes, eh? Aussie workers are escorted across the treeless Nullarbor Plain en route to Sunshine Coast -- taking nothing to chance as as Aboriginals could cut off the land route at any time.

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    The other side of Australia, where we can see that Henry Parkes is taking the Trireme Game just as seriously as Kimberley. You know, if Kimberley and Australia both decided to launch naval invasions simultaneously, and both went either clockwise or counter-clockwise, the fleets would just circle the continent endlessly, never catching one another. Maybe start a vortex that would send the whole continent down to the drink, Atlantis-style.

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    Hawaii's handsome pop-6 speck looks on in dismay as Australia goes on a rapid-fire Oceanic colonizing binge. Pluppets, one and all. The Maori are ... well, they are playing the game..

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    Back to the Asia Minor theater, where Tiridates has done a bit of a wheel-around and is once again menacing Constantinople, which Leonidas has clearly decided can take care of its own business in favor of securing a helpless Adrianople. It's a good call by the Armenian leader -- the Hun and the Soviet are both paper tigers when trying to squeeze into a narrow gap. Adrianople, interestingly, has adopted Islam. Have fun while it lasts, imams.

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    Iceland is seriously not going to stop trying to make Greenland into a verdant home. Lost in the mists of fog and icepack, Akureyri might have just vaulted into contention as the game's dumbest burg, surely the worst place to live? Oh how much better off would these people be under Inuit rule? Lots. Meanwhile, up in the northwest, Sioux sets up yet another fall-guy city.

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    And after a very roundabout courtship with the Ayyubid, Adrianoplitans find themselves in the loving, paternalistic embrace of Leonidas. First thing we do, lets tear down the walls! say the Spartans. You know, given Leonidas' propensity for not shoring up his gains, is it really so far-fetched to imagine Byzantium takes this back shortly? Well, yeah probably, he won't declare war. But still. The most interesting development here is that the city gives Leonidas a longer border with Casimir, one which an actual army could muster up and invade in either direction. I smell another war in their future. Also of note: the Nazi cities are -- all three of them -- are still doing their Nazi thing. Nary a scratch. Just a few more turns to survive then Hitler can have a \"zweitausendjahriges reich\" party in his bunker. There will be hats, and fists will pound tables in joy rather than anger.

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    Yakutia, in all its glory. Any bookies care to post a line on *Mongolia* being the first civ out? I would suspend betting if any serious sums started coming in from Yakut punters. There is still a scrap of Siberia left for Blackfoot, or Japan, or the Inuit. But any of them who get a look at this might say \"naaaaah.\" And most of those scouts up there are probably just thinking \"kill us already!\"

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    Joy in the Third Reich as France decides other matters are more interesting than pursuing a claim on Munich. This may well set off alarm bells in London, and, well, York. What is setting off alarm bells in Berlin, of course, is the \"peace\" von Ribbentrop has secured with King David of Israel. If this was the price of peace with France, Hitler did not want to pay it. He did naaaaht! You are tearing me apart, Lisa! Hitler's generals have done very well to limit the losses to just Cologne... Norway's raid on Hamburg still seems unserious at best, and Poland has proven ineffectual. May they fight a thousand years. Also note: Sweden looks to have run out of room to build units; War may be coming to Scandinavia sooner rather than later.

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    In a development no one expected, Tibet is laying siege to Shanghai, the defense of which is seemingly not on the Trung Sisters' to-do list. With few units in sight, Tibet might just have enough time to pull off a gigantic coup. Tibet's AI may have blown it badly at the settling game, but the act is together now; he seems to have split his armies in two, a presumably tidier contingent to meet whatever the Mughals are threatening. Whatever, Muggles! And Tibet's lightly-guarded hinterlands? Open to the Mongols, Sibir and Afghanistan, the latter of whom could really use some expansion in this direction -- scene of Mirwas Hotak's glories in the BRmkI.

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    The first truly nonsensical war: Kongo and Mali DOW Saladin. Right after they've begun a gang-up of Ashanti. Now, the Ayyubids have been, no doubt, naughty boys. And their military looks pretty spent. But you need a border in this game to get anywhere, and neither power has one. This is just getting the AI needlessly confused. Meanwhile, in Ashanti, Atebubu is under pressure, but the defenders look up to the task. Ethiopia is here in spirit only.

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    p>We end our journey through Match Day seven with a look in on the Sioux v. Canada conflict just in time for it to end... leaving North America entirely at peace. Canadian triremes had been interested in taking Hohe, a minty fresh Sioux city in the extreme north, when a great admiral named -- oh god, never mind, what's the point, like Canada has ever had one -- arrives on the scene and ravens home word that there is nothing of value. Happy to secure the closest Sioux city to his pre-war borders, Lester P. decides to call it a day -- perhaps with an eye toward the Skraeling menace from Iceland. Yankton hits pop-19, there are probably a handful of cities at 19 by turn 130 -- Tokyo and Kabul come to mind. And one that has probably cracked 20: Ottawa, which was at 19 nine turns back. I didn't see any other 19s in a cruise through. On to the stats!

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    Texas explodes from #7 in pop, last time around, straight to the top. Austin's a hell of a town, folks. Just behind is Canada, with the aforementioned supercity of Ottawa. Afghanistan, #1 last time around, have grown quite well but are now in third. Probably the largest surprises on the list are England (York is a massive, massive prize) and Hawaii at #10. Aloha means \"hello,\" \"goodbye,\" and \"have another kid,\" apparently. Burma appears to be peeking in at #13. It's just all about North America here.

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    Scraping the bottom: Rome and Byzantium, two victims of Spartan love. Everyone here is a usual suspect save for China and Mongolia, and the Inca, whose UA is all about food. Guys? And Mexico is a far, far cry from the swollen North American states.

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    Untested Yakutia are, predictably, tops; Afghanistan , Australia and Kimberley are also lurking up here; aside from that, its the North American hit parade, with Blackfoot, Sioux and Inuit separated by less than a thousand men total! Of course, bison fight for Blackfoot so their total gets an asterisk. Biggest surprise is Agentina at #9.

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    China is so shell-shocked it's not even funny. Me, *I* am shell-shocked to see the Ayyubids in 60th. Saladin is a spent force and will be for some time. It will be interesting if his big mouth and big pen (for signing declarations of war) get him in trouble. Sparta, too, are doing it all on fumes and twine. Maybe I'm just an old myopic racist who can never tell the Aztec and Maya apart, but it is, to me, a big surprise to see Pacal this low.

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    Its ocean-colony spammers all the way down the line until you get to Yakut at 6 and brazil at #8, which must be doing something right. Oh, a word for the Timurids at 11 cities. Unexpected!

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    The Mughals hit some early-game hype but its' been nowheresville since; of these, most are no-hopers, but a couple dedicated \"tall\" AIs have the size and chops to get active and win a war; Elizabeth (#11 in population) and Burma. Sorry, Poland, I can't plump for you here.

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    Judaism still leads, but not as sharply as before; Islam is still a backwater religion but the Ayyubids have done a good job of playing foil-the-leader. Tibet just pipping Mexico is an impressive feat, especially considering the distances and competition. Mighty Yakutia could wind up split between Shinto and Akatt-u...

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    Comments mostly in the prior page but just to reward you for getting to the end (and prove my dedication to the cause) i did wrest another piece of information here: the final Aleutian spot has been settled, i'll leave it to an Inuit expert to determine if its one of their 17 godforsaken cities or not. It would be Blackfoot's 11th, but some civs with 11 have been cut off the foot of the \"cities' leaders\" chart. Special awards to fans of Chile, the single most ghosted civ in the slides, as well as Sri Lanka the long-suffering Maori. Honorable mention goes to Champa, Maya, the Swedes and Finns, and, weirdly, Afghanistan. That won't last. Thanks for reading, thanks for creating so much original content! Feedback welcome and check out r/soylentbuffalo some time.