We setup our game for the usual time. Loghound, who had faced a trying week, was uncertain if and when he might be able to get on with us, but since the AI will keep the game going in the absence of individuals, we kicked off at our usual time.
Potshot, Mattman, and I were all online and in the Google hangout. Potshot started up the game and sent invites out for us to join. I hopped right in the game and clicked the “ready” check box. An odd aside, the ready control never works the first time I click it. It selects and unselects on the first click, but then works correctly thereafter. No idea why. But while I was doing that, Mattman was having some issues.
He was trying out Civ V on a laptop… an older pre-Lenovo logo, IBM ThinkPad laptop… in hopes of being able to join in on games while he is traveling for the next couple of sessions.
I remember my old ThinkPad T42 quite fondly. It was one of the nicer laptops I have been issued over the years. I miss having a 4:3 aspect ratio screen, as I tend to work on things that lend themselves well to lots of vertical space, but do not benefit much from a wider screen. But considering the IBM logo disappeared from the ThinkPad line at some point in 2007, and that Civilization games are traditionally tough on the generation of processors current when they ship (Civ V can bring my quad-core i7 to its knees when it feels like it), this seemed like it might be an exercise in the purest form of optimism.
While Mattman struggled to get Civ V loaded, Potshot and I started off the nights game, picking up at turn 301.
I started off the evening with one simple goal. I was going to break my isolation and come into contact with all of the other civs in the game. That would open up trade and diplomatic possibilities as well as filling out the “unmet player” spots on the scoreboard. There were still six civs with whom I had yet to come into contact according to the scoreboard at the end of last week’s round.
My hope was, with research leading to the compass, which would give me the caravel unit, the first ship that doesn’t need to stick to a coast line, that I would be able to sail out and find everybody else. Scouts were not working out, as I had them mostly deployed to keep the barbarians at bay. And the few I let go explore inevitably ran into more barbarians.
More after the cut.
Potshot and I carried on while Mattman fiddled.
Somewhere after turn 320 Mattman finally got into the game, having abandoned his ancient ThinkPad for his desktop setup, and started working with what the AI had left him.
The AI definitely has its own views on how an empire should be run. It is very quick to blow through any cash reserves and makes some unit selections that can seem… sub-optimal.
Just as we were talking about that, the first lockup of the night came. When the game client of one of the players locks up, everybody else gets tossed into the loading screen.
Well, everybody except the person whose client locked up. Then we sit there until the person with the black screen terminates his client… or it terminates itself… after which those who remain reload into the game again. The first to go was Potshot. He was the host, which I gather taxes your local client even more than the processor hungry game normally does, so the game then flagged me as the host while he relaunched Civ V again and got an invite back to the game.
At about that time Loghound also showed up and got an invite into the game as well, so we were all in and playing again.
While that was going on, I had built my first caravel in Hamsterdam and had set it sailing westward in search of other civs. I started asking Mattman and Loghound where they were on the map, but the game always puts your civ right in the center, so they were not able to help very much on the east/west axis. The game map scales as you explore more of the world, and as it turned out, they hadn’t gone very far. I had explore pole to pole with scouts at that point, so my map was scaled full out, but they couldn’t even help me with northern/southern hemisphere notions. So they started describing their position in terms of landmarks and other civilizations and city states that I had not yet run into. Not immediately helpful, but should I run into one of them, I would then at least be able to get my bearings.
So my caravel kept zig-zagging eastward through the fog, slowly clearing a path through the sea, looking for some sign of the other civs. Eventually I hit land and followed a coast until I met the city state M’banza Kongo. Try saying that off-the-cuff past 10pm on a Friday night. Sure, it is easy in the cold light of day, but I was all, “Em-bonanza-coca-cola” or some such.
But that happened to be a location they knew. I was given a few vaguely general directional hints as where to head, but shortly sailed into view of Mattman’s capital, Peking.
That lit him up on the scoreboard. Plus there was a Russian ship there that gave me contact with them, along with another unpronounceable city state. And then there were the Assyrians, who were in possession of one of Mattman’s cities. The Assyrians were clearly going to be a problem in the long term. They were currently keeping Mattman and his Chinese empire down, getting on his case the moment he tried to do anything. My military advisor warned me about them.
And that was relative to my own military, which while not mighty, was still considerably bigger than Mattman’s.
From there I sailed north and ran into Loghound, which completed my goal for the evening. I now had diplomatic relations with all of the other civilizations.
As it turned out, sailing west was perhaps not my best choice. Mattman and Loghound were almost directly east of my lands. Basically, going west caused me to have to travel about three quarters of the way around the globe to get to them. Still, there was an announcement has my caravel continued on, that I had managed to circumnavigate the world. I am not sure if that gained me anything, but there it was.
Loghound’s Celtic army was nothing to write home about either. My advisor put is thus:
And Loghound was more powerful than Mattman, so they were probably not going to be able to hold off the Assyrians forever. But that was a problem for many turns in the future. Potshot and I still had Spain on our front step.
We had both started slowly building up a force to go after Spain, which had been sending it missionaries south and west to spread their special blend of Iberian Confucianism. Sometimes the religious choices bring comedy on their own. We could not abide this foreign mysticism. So Potshot had a land force warming up while I had a navy and a small army of my own. Getting my army in place took a bit because I had to fight my way through raging barbarians. Around turn 355 we seemed to be in place and launched out offensive, declaring war on Spain.
My navy managed to sweep the Spanish fleet from the seas, but my army had more trouble and got chewed up at the frontier. Still, my military advisor was optimistic.
Potshot and I drove towards the Spanish capital of Madrid, where I was able to help subdue the Spanish menace. And pillage. I did pillage their lands a bit.
As we had agreed beforehand, Madrid went to Potshot when it fell… not that I had the forces to take it myself after the fights on the frontier. Cordoba, with its fine Corinthian leather seats, was to be my prize. Potshot was moving to help me take it, but I decided to see if I could get it through diplomacy. I offered peace to the Spanish in return for Cordoba. They refused. So it was time to get the troops lined up.
And then my client locked up at turn 371. Everybody went back to the loading screen and I restarted my client. The hosting duties returned to Potshot, which was awfully handy.
Two turns had passed by the time I got back in and the AI, which had been running things for me while I had been away, had apparently squandered several units in suicidal attacks around Barcelona and spent all my money to acquire city state allies. I was broke and no longer had enough forces in the field to assault Cordoba.
However, having the city states with me tilted the balance when it came to diplomacy. Spain reached out to me next turn, offering me Cordoba in return for a peace treaty. I made a separate peace with Spain, but Potshot looked poised to roll up Barcelona and Seville on his own. Removing Cordoba’s support for the Spanish cause could only hasten their eventual downfall.
I wonder how Potshot now holding the holy city for Confucianism is going to work out. Neither of us had founded a religion as yet, but now he owns the center of one. Does that make it his? We’ll have to look into that.
That put us to turn 375, where we decided to call it a night. The scoreboard still had the humans mostly towards the bottom of the list.
Spain had been clearly driven down the list. I am not sure how I bubbled up above the Arabs and the Russians, or how I stayed at the top of the humans. That score must be mostly population driven at this point in the game.
Demographically speaking, I was mid-pack on many things.
I am first in crop yield, which I gather means I am growing the fastest in population, and I was in second on the population front behind Assyria. That Assyria is so far behind Babylon in score but first in population seems to go against my assertion that the score is mostly population driven. What do the Babylonians have? They are tops in GNP and Happiness/Approval.
And the Aztecs under Montezuma had pulled out in front when it comes to total land held. (I do wish that the game would refer to the civilizations by their name and not the leader’s name. As often as I see it, I still don’t think “Morocco” whenever Ahmad al-Mansur comes up, so I have to go look it up.)
Finally, I have the map of the world, such that it is, from turn 375. It doesn’t get any bigger.
You can see my empire in orange at the middle and the explored path over the ocean westward that I took around the world to find Mattman and Loghound. Mattman is the lighter green to the east of me, while Loghound is the darker green to the north of Mattman. Potshot is the lime green empire to the northwest, which is about to take out the remains of Spain. And then there is a lot of unexplored world.
But now we have all found each other for the most part. I think Potshot still needs to sail east for a final diplomatic linkup. Now maybe we can work together to eliminate our collective foes. Assyria is at the top of the list, as it is holding Mattman under its thumb. And then there is Babylon at the top of the scoreboard.
Complicating that plan is the fact that Mattman will be traveling for the next couple of sessions, and the prospects of him being able to join in from the Starbucks WiFi in Tierra del Fuego on his Bush administration era ThinkPad laptop seems dubious at best. We shall see. Meanwhile, there is some pressure on me to get a web cam so I can join the silly apparel club on the Google hangout… and so the NSA can monitor me as well during game time. I might have to compromise and run the Google hangout on my work laptop, which is from this decade and has a built-in web cam.
And so we stand until next week.
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