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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.\"