Home  ✧   Albums  ✧   Part 8: The Magic Eight Ball of History

Part 8: The Magic Eight Ball of History

Narrated by Sigmapolis

Starting Turn: 131

September 8, 2015

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    This is /u/sigmapolis bring you Part “Great Eight” of the Battle Royale! I have probably been the largest Lurker on /r/civ and /r/civbattleroyale for at least a few months now (and I have enough groove, subterranean spines down my back to prove it), and TPang was nice enough to let me walk you through the transition of our fictional world from Antiquity, through the Dark Ages, and into Medieval Times. I have been playing Civilization games since II, skipped III, played some IV, and really got back into it with V, so I hope I will be able to do a good job here. I was a history major at school, so I completely nerd-out over this kind of stuff. Here we go to it! We might have some special appearances by the Magic Eight Ball of History in here—a magical, mystical device that gives good advice for disposal and bad advice for implementation. It is the Cassandra of pool-top billiard games and stops in for Part Great Eight. Love, ~Sigmapolis 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

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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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    Now for a a graphic showing the Top 10 Rankings from the end of the last instalment, meticulously compiled by a group of experts! You can find expert analysis of all 61 Civilizations as of Part 7 right here: https://redd.it/3jxgl5

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    The calm before the continuation of the storm on the Asia minor front, where Sparta has secured for itself a nice dowry of Constantinople, Adrianople, Ohrid, and Trebizond to bring it way up in the number of cities list for a Europe and Mediterranean power.

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    Rome grabs Furchal, though the Portuguese fleet sailing throughout the Med threatens to have it back in their safe, colonial bosom as soon as possible. Meantime, red and green tangle—the War on Christmas in the Middle East is about to begin.

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    Persia crosses its gulf to make an assault on the Arabs. This is an interesting strategic decision for Darius, though, to be fair, he lacked other options. The shelf life on the Immortal was ending, Timur and the Afghans presented very difficult targets to the north and the east, and Sri Lanka and its Negombo output not enough of a prize to justify their war and expense. Gaza seems ripe for the taking (only 2 archers and 18 shields would have a hard time against the 15-20 units in the whole of the Persian army), but Baghdad’s position on the war and luxury resources has to look… well, luxurious.

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    The Indian subcontinent is the new South America in this update, so drink it in while you can here. To be fair, not much is going on here save just population growth and some tech. Colombo is not one of the largest cities in the world, however, and Sri Lanka only really has one way to go to expand—and into a powerful enemy, and a powerful enemy after that in Afghanistan that might try to snipe their gains. Strangely, there is a good city spot to the west that nobody has seemed to want to claim yet. Sea resources abound.

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    Opening stages of these series of wars. If you thought the Anatolia hot potato game was intense, just wait until Africa gets in on the new craze.

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    Southeastern Africa is peaceful now. Strangely, unlike the first iteration of this Battle Royale, the Boers and the Zulu are playing nice with each other. They even seem to be keeping up the “3 for me, 1 for you” deal they have on the mainland in their settlement of Madagascar.

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    Opening stages of the war, where the Huns and Timurids look to do a classic envelopment maneuver on their drab, boring, neutral, gray neighbor to the north. Attila floods the Ural passes to the north with his rapid cavalry maneuvers while Timur marches his infantry up from the south.

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    You know, the Cham really do have a nice color set. I would have thought Purple-and-Purple would have looked awful, but it comes off kind of nice. Their water fountain emblem is probably my favorite in the entire game. I wonder if human players could bring themselves back into this game by declaring on distant but powerful, wealthy enemies and using the money to buy themselves back into contention.

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    War breaks out in North America, but it is relatively minor in nature as the Sioux (no borders) and Iceland (only via the sea) decide to pick on Lincoln. He threatens to tell if they do not knock it off. Canada would have to be the enforcer here, given that their huge carpet of bows could basically wreck America and have a straight shot at the heart of the Union (if they choose to use it).

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    The Union is going to be a tasty target for whoever decides to strike first—the Buccaneers have some sea assets to move, Texas is proving an impossibly competent AI so far, and Canada has a few lumber mills’ worth of bows ready to go. Philadelphia, Washington, and Albany (talk about a major city list for the United States around 1850) are going to be juicy targets for whoever decides to swing their hammer towards the stars ‘n’ stripes.

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    Tibet likes Vietnam’s green, but thinks it really should be for textual colors rather than backgrounds. Shanghai, a huge bonus to Vietnam to take undamaged through diplomacy in Part 7, begins taking considerable damage from the Tibetan archers and chariots.

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    Damage level… rising… Vietnam could do some great things if it can consolidate its empire. Nhang Hong, for instance, is in a great location and could grow to be a powerful workhorse of a city, but it is only pop 8 with few improved tiles. If they can get on this, the Viet hype train should be chugging

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    Remember how Mao had a pair of cities in the middle of nowhere Siberia? I did not either. Sure, they are great for sending people out to “count trees” for the good of the cultural revolution, but Mongolia has way more interest in them than Beijing as a 2:1 makeup for Old Sarai.

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    Stalin packs on the cities by settling to the Arctic Ocean. Sure, they are not going to have quite the benefit somebody like the Inuit would have from something like this, but it will launch him up the number of cities list at the end of Part 8. “His” city of Stalingrad really is a lovely place to visit, if you can make it through the forest full of ravenous Russian Yetis and the, you know, negative 50 billion degree weather along the way. Stalin finds this balmy and models his speedo and mustache in this weather every December. Those not found clapping are instantly shot.

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    Take a good look at the size of these armies now. This is going to be quite the war of attrition going forward, having looked through the whole list earlier.

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    Saladin and Hannibal call it off, realizing they are all bros and no need to fight over Olympia. Not like there was much going on there in the middle of the Libyan desert after the two of them chewed on it like two dogs fighting over a steak for a while. The Boers jump into the fray with a DOW on Ethiopia, hoping to clean up their “local territory” by conquring Bahir Dar. One Ethiopian trireme bravely suicides itself into Krugersdorp. Screaming KRUGESDORK IS MORE LIKE IT while in the process.

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    The Khanate of Sibir had managed to carve itself a nice empire in Central Asia (not unlike the one it had in reality and, hey, Chimgi-Tura is in a realistic location), but they seem unable to deal with two threats at the same time. They are holding their southern flank well against the Red-and-Grey menace, though Surgut is slipping into the yellow against the Huns’ horse-warriors. I have to say, though, seeing cities like “Mosul” and “Beaumont” somewhere around the Ural Mountains is funny. Texas is probably the hottest, most humid thing ever. I cannot quite say the same thing about western Siberia. Meanwhile, peace is breaking out all over the place in the Mediterranean theater. Armenia and Sparta call it “enough,” likely keeping the gateway to the Black Sea in Spartan hands, and the Asia Minor “city hot potato” ends as Saladin and Leonidas agree that true alpha men do not fight each other—they find somebody weak and vulnerable to pick on, probably somewhere else in Europe or the Middle East for them. Remember those Chinese outpost cities in Siberia. Yeah. Looks like Genghis Khan is just going to help himself to those.

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    This is the situation in Asia Minor after the end of the wars. Saladin, aggressive for a while now, calls off the dogs from Jerusalem just as the city was beginning to weaken. I can see why, however. Sparta recovered nicely from apparent exhaustion (fighting Rome, Germany, Israel, Byzantium, Armenia, and the Ayyubid Empire at nearly the same time for a while) to secure its gains in the heart of former Byzantium. Cyprus is a nice little pickup towards a future Mediterranean war. I am sure the Gold-and-White will turn towards an African campaign against Carthage or their new wars to the south.

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    PERSIA! Out of nowhere! Snipes Baghdad from the Arabs! I would say this is a War of Christmas with the color schemes, and Persia’s Red-and-Gold really is the best in the game, but I think we all know what this is—who is the best Caliphate! Ayyubid: “Why are we the best? Because we have the most Y’s, of course! Yyyyyy! We have Suez Canal city and Mt. Sinai for awesome faith!” Abbasid: “We are best! We have all city names that people actually recognize!” …until, of course, the Persian Immortals show up. This is pretty historically accurate, though, given the Abbasid’s swept the Caliphate away from the Umayyad with a power base in Persia. This kind of power play is just what Darius and crew need to come back into contention. Four-city/tradition/turtle until artillery works fine in single player, but somebody like Yakutsk, Vietnam, Australia, or the Inuit is going to snowball before then. Israel’s army still is not good, but it is not abjectly awful anymore, and key outposts like Gaza and Jericho seem safe for the moment.

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    This war thing is getting out of hand. Seriously. I filled up two pages of notebook paper drawing Old World and New World maps with red and green ink to show civilizations warring with each other versus those declaring peace. Looks like the scramble for Africa is now on! I kind of have to wonder what Kongo is doing here, though. They managed to keep Ethiopia, the regional superpower, on their side for their war of conquest to the northwest (and nice capture of Atebubu), but most of their army is to the north, engaged keeping their conquest. The Ashanti present an inviting target (caught in the middle of wars with Carthage, Mali, Ethiopia, AND the Kongo), and their army of archers and weak UUs make them rather squishing. The Boers are spread through their large empire, but, hey, at least they have composite bows. I always tell my playing partners on CiV that an army of 4-5 well-managed composite bows can keep you safe through at least the early industrial era… right guys? Right? *everybody declares war on me* It is funny trying to track the general Eurasian war going on here. You can build a daisy chain of declarations from the Boers, to the Kongo, Ashanti, Mali, the Ayyubids, (formerly) Sparta, Germany, Finland (did that war ever end?), the Huns, Sibir, (formerly) Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Tibet (recently), and then over to the Mughals. Otto von Bismarck would have a hard time figuring this diplomatic situation out.

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    Hey, Paul Kruger, what did Leonidas’ sculpted, oiled, perfected abs ever do to you? Two wars going on here: Vietnam and Tibet then China and Mongolia. The Vietnamese had an absolute coup last time in taking Shanghai without having to halve its population in the process. China started this series high in the rankings, buttressed only by its hammer score, which had to plummet without Shanghai. That going 100% into the Viet column was going to be huge for them going forward. However, the Trung Sisters’ AI is not handling this one well. Perhaps the evil, awful O-word (“overextended”) has become the case? They have a large empire to defend; most of their units spread throughout it, and faced only an utterly incompetent foe in Mao last time around. That hype train is going to derail into Farmer Jone’s pigsty fast if they cannot keep Shanghai. Korea is in an interesting strategic position to me. I figure a human player might be able to make something out of it. They have decent cities (Seoul is up to 19 pop), good sea access to run cargo ships, a lot of mountains to make invasions difficult, and their long-term bonuses to science and awesome. They could turtle, go tall science, and unleash the wrath of the bombers on East Asia at some point in the future. The fact nobody seems to be noticing them in this AI match is working out nicely to their advantage, as well, towards some sort of long-range plan like that.

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    Aha, now the Magic Eight Ball of History is rolling. Nzinga shakes it, “Shall I capture and keep Atebubu?” “Don’t count it it.” Osei Tutu II does the same thing, “Probably not your day.” That poor little city is going to be a flaming garbage dumpster before this is all over. Somewhere in that black ball of concentrate evil, its malevolent spirit begins to smile, all going to plan, yes, all going to plan… Oh yes, America. Well, North America. Canada’s army is insane right now—all those composite bowmen have to go somewhere, right? I would be pissed at Lincoln for stealing the Maritimes with something called a “St. Louis.” Nothing about the Bay of Fundy is going to inspire Nelly into Country Grammar or Nellyville unless he really had something to say about tides that rise and fall more than 50’ per day in some areas. North America is completely peaceful at this moment. The only active wars are, best I can tell, the “stare at each other and do nothing” Brazil-Argentina v. the Inca war in the New World, for that matter. On the other hand, this looks like a powder keg. Canada *should* crush America. They have a straight shot into Washington and their sizeable cities with very little competition. However, I think Medicine Hat and Sherbrooke are going to have a little “icing problem” pretty soon, from the look of it. Canada has good ranged units and a decent navy, but Iceland looks to start heating things up.

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    The Portuguese scouts signed up to explore the world on the high seas. This stuck in the desert stuff is BULLSHIT. Neither side seems to have the upper hand in the Battle of Atebubu. The Ashanti, however, manage to take Gao—yes, the otherwise Songhai capital, now a city of Mali’s here. For an AI, it is actually a rather competent set of strategic decisions in dealing with a two-front war and economizing on troops to hold in the East while advancing in the West. Mali might have the last laugh with its navy streaming towards Kumasi, however.

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    I know this is not the first pikeman that we have seen, but I think it is the first one in an actual combat situation (or, at least, near one). Seems to be a slow changing of the eras in Africa. Whoever arrives with the higher firepower crossbows might have a window to make some nice gains. The Boers look to shore up their flank and consolidate their empire by taking Bahir Dar. By the way, does anybody else think half of the Ethiopian cities have names from Tolkien somewhere? I could have sworn I saw a Gondor in there. I hope they have some badass dragons and flame beasts, too. Sure, Boers, going well now, but you have to make sure that Ethiopian tidal wave does not end up on your beach party.

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    The Maori are sort of… there. I would say that fleet is scary, but then I compare it to the Australian one “just down the road” and remember the Icelandic one on the other side of the globe and kind of chuckle. Their cities sound decidedly less Middle Earth than “Harar,” “Axum,” and “Adigrat,” though. I figure these island nations are going to start bickering with each other at some point, but the situation on the continent is going to be far more crucial. I think Sparta took this passage to heart about being a total asshole but just sort of owning it… “And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover, To entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain And hate the idle pleasures of these days.” William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act 1 Scene 1

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    “Why do the Mongols have a region of their empire on the island of New Guinea?” Oh, yeah, that’s right. Oops. My bad people. For some reason, I always imagined the Kimberly would be pink. Not a lot of pink civs. It worked for the Pink Ranger. The Philippines have never received much discussion here, so I thought to give them a little shout… José Rizal shakes the Magic Eight Ball of History… “Hola pelota, how are you doing this morning?” “Definitely *not* craving some Indonesia nutmeg. Hate that stuff. What’s your question?” “I was thinking about, you know, building up a decent navy and land army and exploiting the fact that, while I am relatively weak, I’m surrounded by absolute basket cases like Indonesia and the Cham, and maybe unifying those 2-3 empires would create something respectable. Good idea?” “I don’t think so.” This game is a little more fun when you imagine the AI’s diplomatic advisors as random and malevolent.

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    I think the War of Asia Minor is going to have several further chapters. Sparta is at war with Germany but has little angle to attack Munich or Berlin. There are a lot of powerful civilizations in this area—the USSR has regained its competence, making a run at Gavar, Poland is making a renewed push on the Germans, Sparta has replaced its hoplite numbers and greatly added to its empire, and, hey, even the Romans are spamming ballistae. All those white, six-pointed stars emanating from Jerusalem and heading northwest… all the way to Lodz and Ravenna… what’s next?

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    So far, our game has had four major points of military contention with multiple combatants, huge armies, and cities changing hands: 1.\tAsia Minor/Anatolia 2.\tWhat we would call southern China, and the denizens of our world now call northern Vietnam 3.\tEast Africa 4.\tThe Great Plains of North America Yes, the Sioux lost Mdewakantonwan, but they have stabilized their military situation and rebuilt. They have already deployed a considerable number of pikes to the front, too, to outdo the Blackfoot (Blackfeet?) swords and Texan spears. These are many powerful civilizations through here, too, though. I mean, come on, look at Canada. None of the bowmen can even walk around without saying “sohhry” from bumping into each other constantly. The Sioux have the worst position, though, already down a city, stuck in the middle with you, and now piling up multiple wonders in Hunkpapa to make the prize even sweeter.

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    AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE! OI! OI! OI! The Kimberly and Australians are an interesting juxtaposition of each other. Australia has the superior land army, but they are hoarding it to the east to protect their core cities when no substantial threat exists. The Oceanic Mongols have a relatively meager land army but an awesome fleet, even more than the sizeable Australia one. In theory, the Kimberly could pack their army around Junjuwa, force Australia to split around Uluru, and slowly wear them out in a battle of attrition in the center of the continent. Their fleet, now with range, could defend coastal cities and go on the offensive as needed. So hyped/exaggerated/pumped/publicized for this declaration of war, when it comes.

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    Evidently this conversation just took place in Hanoi with their Magic Eight Ball of History: “Should we declare war on China?” “No, finish up with Tibet and defend Shanghai first.” “Should we concentrate our troops on the front?” “Yes, it is not like the purple civs below you are going to do anything.” “What about Korea? WE ARE BEST KOREA!” “No you’re… not? What the…? Ugh.” I mean, what is the point of having it if you are not going to listen to it? China looks screwed. Guangzhou should fall to Korea quickly; their offensive towards Tabriz is only going to leave their one (1!) good city vulnerable with the capital in Beijing. I am seriously worried about Shanghai, though. How can Vietnam lose such a windfall like that?

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    China looks screwed. Guangzhou should fall to Korea quickly; their offensive towards Tabriz is only going to leave their one (1!) good city vulnerable with the capital in Beijing. I am seriously worried about Shanghai, though. How can Vietnam lose such a windfall like that?

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    We have a Gavar down! We have a Gavar down! Leningrad (and the USSR as a whole) is back from the grave with an astute snipe of Gavar. This gives them access to the sea, maybe to build up a Black Sea fleet someday to force the Hellespont and break out into the wider world. Attila’s distraction to the east is helping them here, with a huge push on City A and City B of the Sibir Khanate. Hard to see from this angle, but there is not much for an immediate Gray-and-White on the front lines versus the rows of horse archer and battering ram cannon fodder that Attila intends to send into the fray. The rows of Timurid swords (seriously, there is the real legionnaires for you) backed up by some rather angry-looking composite bowmen does not spell good tidings for the people of Qashliq. Being “stuck” between relatively weak contenders like Byzantium and with the strong ones around them (the Huns, the Polish) distracted by wars to the far east and into Central Europe is helping the Soviet cause, as well. You never count Stalin’s mustache out.

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    Surgut! We have a Surgut down! Attila takes his second city of the game and, of course, proceeds to torch it. He has a settler nearby to replace it, however. Shame, too, a nice city on the edge of a river, where the transition into a medieval economy was just boosting food production and population for the surrounding area. Chimgi-Tura and Qashliq actually defended well, though the Sibir have way too many warriors in their army for me to really be comfortable for them. We do remember that sword and composite bowmen death carpet coming right for them, right? They have a rather juicy empire back there, too, with those first two cities and Tobolsk, lots of forests for chopping and production, and a lot of food potential with the irrigated rivers all through eastern Siberia. Elsewhere in Eurasia, Portugal and Rome finally call it quits.

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    As my father used to say, “Afghanistan is dug into those mountains tighter than an Alabama tick at feeding time for the chickens.” Tibet and Afghanistan are going to be rather difficult to dislodge from those mountains. The huge Afghan cities (take a look at Isfahhan, larger than many of the capitals out there) are pumping science and culture for later advantage. Their settle on the Indus River is going to pay some huge dividends in the long-term if they can hold it. The Mughals are in a similar, flatter position with large cities on rivers but without the UA defensive bonuses. This map reminds me of something Jeff Lynne said back in the day… “She cried to the southern wind About a love that was sure to end Every dream in her heart was gone Headin’ for a showdown.”

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    Stalin sits in front of the politburo, a black sphere located in the center of the table. Only Stalin stands, but all eyes are on the black mass, its shimmering exterior foreboding the infinite mysteries and wisdom deep inside of it. Stalin then holds it, and speaks. “Comrades! We have restored the Workers’ Union to glory! We have manufactured an army from nothing, an army mostly of, indeed, workers!” He looks to the globe, shaking it gently in request of its divination. “We have conquered and secured Gavar from the Armenians! What should we do next?” Stalin shakes the ball, looking towards its answer, in considering the lands aside his fingertips and not yet below his stride. I would think Yervantashat is going to be too constrained to easily take for the USSR, and prizes like Tigranocerta require a Red Navy that does not yet exist. However, if Stalin wanted to backstab Attila and drive on Morelia and Attila’s Court, here would be the chance to do it.

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    Oh, wow. Nine declarations of war in one turn? Ladies and gentlemen, the Great War of 2100BC has begun. Most of these are not going to matter too much, though. Looks like everybody hates Saladin. I do not know how Portugal brings a fleet up and around the British Isles before coming down to the (mostly landlocked) German Empire. Looks like Hitler’s days are number, and now the various European and Scandinavian powers are going to take turns trying to carve up his few remaining cities from the premises. Nice job with the moral support there, the Maori, too. The more interesting one is gang-up on the Philippines by the Vietnamese and Australia. I keep thinking Vietnam needs to consolidate its empire and continue to pick off lucrative cities from weaker neighbors, you know, like they played the first seven parts, but now they are going full troll and just declaring war on everybody. Australia has yet to fight a war I believe, so they have considerably more latitude to maneuver. I did not realize how small of capitals and cities the Arabs and Ethiopia had. That archer-heavy army has to be slipping a little behind, too.

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    England is doing a nice turtle job with its large navy and cities, but I have to imagine they end up the cream in the Oreo amid France and Ireland. If Napoleon’s AI here is anything like the AI in the vanilla version of him, I am sure he is searching around the proverbial diplomatic room with a look on his face as if he is trying to lock on to an ass to kick. Those pasty English with their tea and crumpets could go for some baguettes, no? We have not heard much from Ireland lately, though this snip gives me some hope for the Emerald Isle. They have a sizeable force for their part of the world, good, tall cities, and many cargo ships turning through the Irish Sea. If they move at the right time with France, Portugal, and Norway, we could have a United Kingdom with a capital in Dublin instead of London this time around.

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    Sparta has a small window on Germany, but maybe not enough to make a strong push on Munich. The Spartans seem to think it is time to “hold the line,” massing troops around Tegea. That long border with Poland, made longer out around the Black Sea, has to be a point of contention soon. The continuous citadel Cumae to Tegea is just… wow. Silly AI. This was Rome and Sparta just expending Great Generals back and forth, right?

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    Hitler stands outside Berlin, in his lederhosen though no shirt, waving two heavy broadswords in the sky, challenging all comers. The Polish cover in fear, the Norwegians return to their boats and head back to Trondheim. “COMST AT MIE BROZ!” he screams at their retreat. Well, maybe not that dramatic, but German is holding its own, at least at the moment. They probably still have declarations of war on Finland and Sparta and other distant enemies, but the lack of a Western Front with Napoleon on the sidelines is greatly helping their cause. Poland is coming for them, though, with composite bows setting up to do damage to Berlin and bring the Third Reich to an end after only two-thousand years.

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    Australia is making short work of its first city conquest. The Filipino fleet is nowhere in the defense of Pangasinan. The Australian (in the continental sense, both civilizations) domination of the East Indies and what we call the Solomon Islands and the like is maybe not a huge deal for them (their core cities are, again, on the continent), but it is troublesome for the Maori, Hawaiians, Indonesia, and Philippines. You could even through Champa in there, too. I held out hope one of the island nations could colonize fast enough to build up a critical mass but, as we all know from island maps, hammers are at a premium in water-dominated regions, and a city like Ardyaloon is going to be great for needed production.

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    CAPITAL SNIPE HYPE! Kumasi is in the red from a combined Mali-Morocco fleet banging on its doors. The wars are heading south fast for the Ashanti. Gao flips back to Mali, Atebubu keeps feeling Kongo pressure (though they seem to be out of units around there), and Kwilu and Dire Dawa seem safe enough with significant forces in the area. Seems Mr. Tutu bit off a bit more than he could chew with these series of wars. Not it just comes down to who has the right turn in sequence to grab the damaged city next turn.

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    The Boers puppet Bair Dar into their empire and the Arabs make peace with Israel without any significant gains (no Jericho, no Gaza). The Boer army is not the absolute largest out there, but its high proportion of “evolved” units like all those composite bowmen and an increasing proportion of pikes make it perform better than the Ethiopian carpet of doom (which seems not to manifest itself much in this part) or the Zulu army below. Remember, however, if the Zulu are going to bust out, it is going to be in the Medieval Era. There are some phat Boer cities with nice pop potential to their north and, unlike their other rivals in Africa, they only have one flank—onward, forward, envelope that you buffalo, and make sure the loins come along for the ride.

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    To the west, the Boer’s general staff is running an enviable multi-front war in weakening Mpinda down to the red. With only a catapult for defense and pikes and swords hammering on the walls, this city is probably “going orange” soon. This leaves an open highway with little flanks left for the Boers to approach the capital in M’Banza-Kongo, much as they seized it in the Mk. 1 game. Most of Kongo’s forces are stuck in the back-and-forth battle with Ashanti to the nort. It is rather impressive how Petersburg has almost more population than does the Kongo capital (with ocean food tiles, nonetheless).

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    Looks like a year of peace, where the heat finally leaves Berlin (as the Polish peace out, swearing to return later) and the Sibir only have to contest with the Huns on their western border. Australia looks beautiful, as always, with they-might-as-well-be-the-Mongols and Green-and-Gold Aussies holding down the whole of the continent. Junjuwa is turning into a rather nice city with its high defense, natural wonder, copper mines, and oases and farms for food. I just wanted to have an excuse to type the word “oases” in here somewhere. The Australian navy is on the move north towards the Filipinos.

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    Timur, the last great conqueror of the east, the sacker of a thousand cities, the Attila’s Attila, looked forth at his campaign against the Sibir. Ah, yes, soon their second city will fall. The road will lay bare on the path to their capital. Soon it will be his, part of his all-consuming flame. Then he shook his eight ball. “Magic eight ball of history! Shall I take Chimgi-Tura and ride on with my hordes to the gates of Qashliq?!” “No. Don’t plan on it.” “What?” “You heard me.” Timur plans to have his snarky eight ball thrown into the bottom of the Aral Sea, where archeologists can find it on the drained surface of the lake millennia later. It will make a nice piece in the “Museum of Medieval World Warfare” in a Hermitage someday. However, before he curses himself, Timur declares peace with Qashliq. Somewhere in his keep, the little black ball snickers to himself. Attila will have his first pick of the Sibir cities or, more likely, will settle his own over their ashes as he burns his way into Siberia.

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    We have peace in our time again in Europe. There are several potential fuses, however: Sparta masses against Poland, Byzantium eyes the old heartland of its empire, France has a carpet of doom ready to go, and a squirrel could just from mast-to-mast and pike-to-pike in Scandinavia from the Baltic to the North Sea and never touch the ground. No trees—all cut down to make more ships and long lances. The, for once, quiet theater will move again soon.

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    Magic eight ball says, “Somebody declare war up here already. I WANT BLOOD ON THE ICE!” Most reviewers long held that Norway had an upper-hand on Sweden with its larger military, better cities, and superior position, but I am not so sure anymore. Sweden has a massive navy (which, albeit, will not do them much good in the one-hex throat leading out to the North Sea, where their numbers matter for nothing). They land forces are semi-respectable. Norway’s are proportionally sizeable. There are going to be a lot of quick promotions for the archery units in Sigtuna and along the Polish coast shooting at triremes if it is ever a Swedish-Poland Northern War again, though.

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    A Filipino spearman decides to scare the hell out of some Australian tourists in Geelong by strapping shark fins to their back and swimming up the beach. Not only do the beachgoers flee in panic, the city defenders take off running and run into enough things to do a sliver of damage to the walls. A rare appearance for Indonesia and the Champa, who do not seem to be doing much of anything. The Kimberly could probably wreck them in short order with their fleet, particularly with the ranged firepower there to weaken before the multitudes of triremes go in for the kill.

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    Pangasinan learns that “this is a knife!” as the Australians move into town. The Australian fleet had enough of an easy time with that outpost it could move onto something a little more sizeable, like the exposed Quezon, right after that conquest. It looks like Brazil and Inca kissed and made up. The New World is one of peace, order, and happiness amongst nations. A little too quiet, if you ask me, says one of the eight balls in the corner having a powwow with his eight ball friends.

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    We have another capital down as Ashanti loses its centerpiece city to Morocco. They might have some trouble holding it, though, as a coastal capital is easy to snipe with ships but just as easy to take back with their still sizeable army. On the downside, however, taking it and retaking it reduces its population by 75%. In the main cultural and scientific city in most empires, this is essentially crippling to our Olive-and-Gold team above. The Huns make peace in their war. Unclear from the image above if they took another city or not.

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    Finally, a good look at this mystical land called South America, and my oh my, we do have a pressure cooker here. It seems the three-way war between the Inca, Argentina, and Brazil is mostly off. Formosa, Machu, and Fortaleza all proved good defensive position for the combatants, though Fortaleza here appeared to almost fall before Pedro’s deft diplomatic maneuvering (and impressive beard) brought things back to even again. Chile will be a factor at some point, probably on land from the look of it here, with Argentina’s military so far forward against the Brazilians and Inca and the Inca having a fleet of their own delay to at least any movement up the coast in a War of the Pacific 2: War Harder.

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    Where in the world would Lincoln want to go with that settler? Do not tell me he is going to try to conquer some things and resettle like Attila. We may have spoken too soon on North America, where some initial skirmishes break out between the Canadians, Americans, and Iceland that may well end in a three-way conflict of some sort. Looks like that poor scout in the upper-right of northern Quebec will not be with us for much longer.

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    Iceland wants to keep settling. Sure, go for it, bro. Some lovely islands between the Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean have zero permanent human residencies. Heck, I see a great observatory city spot about five tiles north of Sherbrooke! That is where I would go! I can just imagine the snow/ice/cold one-liners back and forth between Canada and Iceland when the ice men cometh! WHAT KILLED THE DINOSAURS! THE ICE AGE!

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    Tutu has his capital back… well, what is left of it… not much of a capitol… the government moves to the local rec center for awhile. While Kumasi is back in their hands, the rest of the war continues to go poorly in eastern Africa. Gao stays in Mali’s hands, Yeji will soon be under the assault of their mighty swords, and the Kongo somehow keep managing to make incursions on their eastern flank.

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    Napoleon and Leonidas decide they are best bros and decide to high-five each other somewhere around Ravenna. Seeing that Caesar objects to this, the two declare war on him again. Rome, one of the best wide civilizations in the game, finds its tall strategy failing it again here. They even lost Funchal. Insult to injury there. Even if Rome is between a rock and a hard place, an unstoppable force and an immovable object, they sure are going to give the first unit to take the high passes over the Alps down into the Venetian plain near Ravenna a lot of ballista shots. Operation: PORCUPINE is a go!=

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    Somewhere in Asia, there is a land of mist. A land often spoken about over campfires, feasts, and amongst scholars and intellectuals traveling the land. Men and women slave over parchment and papyrus alike in the libraries to learn of its veracity. Some research a tech that will allow them to construct something called a “university” where learned peoples might gather and study this and other mysteries. They tell of a land, stretching from Asia to the Arctic, of huge cities, enlightenment, cultural and social progress, land next to river tiles that yields extra food, all surrounded by a great and powerful wall, stretching over infinite expanses of hills, mountains, taiga, and wasteland where no weary traveler may pass. They call it—Jokūskaĭ. The greatest scholars of all the lands debate if it could exist. How could such a utopia, such a kingdom like that of Prester John, this Shangri-Lai, exist without the great scholars of Sydney, Warsaw, Kabul, Pretoria, London, Buenos Aires, Port Royal, Austin, and so many other places not know solid proof of its existence? Meanwhile, as the debate rages on, this Atlantis of the trees slumbers, none leaving yet leaves its walls to tell its tales.

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    As Rick Perry tells us, everybody is moving to Texas! North America is crawling with people, as is Australia.

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    Good news: everybody is in the seven-figures now, so nobody has fewer than 999,999 friends of their nation out there! Whoo! Bad news: Zulu is out of last place, all the way up to 55, finally, though (both) version of Rome and the Chinese pretty much took a shovel to the face this part.

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    Australia has the same question I do: what happens when you settle more cities than is on your list. Is it like Civ3 where you have a “New” something? I always liked trying to go for New Athens and New Sparta when I played as the Greeks in that game. Africa and Asia seems to be favoring wide to the America’s tall.

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    Some well-regarded civilizations in here—Norway, for its large army, the Mughals for their population bonuses, England for their turbo-turtle setup, and Poland for their general Poland-ness. Getting into the medieval part of the game, however, even these crowd favorites have to start making a move ere they fall behind one of those “top of everything” civs, and there are definitely a few developing like that. You cannot wait until Hussars, Poland.

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    A reminder on the Australian UA… Boundless Plains to Share: Settlers found Puppeted cities that generate +1 Tourism. +1 Tourism for each outgoing Naval Trade Route. Cities that generate +2 Tourism or more expand Cultural Borders twice as fast. = more cities, more tourism pumping. And on the Burmese one, too… Yama Zatdaw: Receive (100 on Standard) Great Writer Points (GWP) when a city that Burma has never owned is conquered. Conquered cities provide +1 GWP in the Capital or the City which contains the Writer's Guild and produce +2 Culture. They must have some writers scribbling like crazy.

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    I should have noted earlier that Vietnam is slowly dividing into portions of Akatt-u, Shinto, and Buddhism. The Trung Sisters might have a hard time keeping such a polyglot empire together, or they might just rotate religion bonuses like crazy as the game proceeds.

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    Catholicism looks ready to dominate the New World before caravels make constant contact across the oceans a thing (the Icelanders, as they did IRL, already have linked the two sides of the world to each other). I do not know which one ended up with tithe (if any), given the AI always blesses the human player with that choice, but that would mean some serious buxx$$$ for Mexico if that was their choice. Thanks all! Coming up next is number nine.