All good things must come to an end… and even the dentist will eventually decide he has gotten the last bit of plaque from your gum line with that iron hook and cease his infernal gouging and scraping… and so it was with our game of Civilization V, entering into its 14th week of play. As I mentioned last time, a number of victory conditions were beginning to hove into view and become distinct possibilities.
Things picked up as they had left off the previous week. Mattman, Potshot, and I were online and in the game, ready for turn 751 to commence. We were expecting Loghound as well, but as the appointed hour rolled around he wasn’t online, so we pressed on.
I managed to hold on to Babylon for the first turn, thwarting Nebuchadnezzar’s feeble counter-attack, and went on to take Akkad, the next city in line.
Potshot managed to roll over another Babylonian city to the north at the same time, so it was starting to look like the end of their empire. After the mountainous terrain past their former capital was an open plain, the perfect venue for my combined arms assault. It looked like Nebuchadnezzar would be joining Harun al-Rashid of Arabia as a leader without any cities left to lead.
Arabia was still nominally in the game, as we had not tracked down his final units. Choosing the option that kept empires alive so long as they still had units was such a mistake.
Meanwhile, Mattman and his Chinese empire were buying influence with city states again. With the world leader election about 10 turns off, one of the victory conditions I mentioned, his ambition was transparent. So I decided to liven things up with a little ploy of my own.
More after the cut as we work towards the end of the game.
How to mess with Mattman?
At turn 753 I opened up diplomatic negotiations with Ashurbanipal of Assyria, Mattman’s neighbor. Ashur, as I shall call him, didn’t like me. He hated war mongers, and I was the biggest of the bunch. I had very little cultural influence over him. We did not share a religion. We were barely close enough to have a trade route. I managed to get one going between a captured Aztec city and his capital, the only destination within reach, just to get something going with him. And we even followed differing political ideologies.
Basically, Ashur was a tough nut to crack from where I sat.
But he did have a fondness for gold and a happiness problem in his own realms. So I asked him what he would take to get him to declare war on Mattman. To my surprise, there was a deal that could be struck. He wanted all sorts of resources, both luxury and strategic, as well as a little bit of gold and open borders for the next 45 turns. But all in all it wasn’t much of a burden. So I agreed to what he was offering and he declared war.
This turn of events seemed to unnerve Mattman more than I expected. Of course, he did not know that I had bribed Ashur, just that his neighbor had suddenly declared war on him.
Potshot was also dragged into the fray. He and Mattman had signed a mutual defense pact, and with the declaration of war by Assyria, Potshot’s Brazilian empire automatically declared war in support of Mattman.
It was on, though I wasn’t sure what “it” was yet.
Turn 754 started with me eying the next possible Babylonian city to take when Mattman suddenly started bribing out my allies from underneath me. My pals Lhasa and Zurich and Singapore and Vilnius all announced they were now allied with China. I told him that if he kept that up it was going to come to blows. However, he was already ahead of me in that department. Even as I was opening up my diplomatic panel to look into buying back the allegiance of a couple of those city states, Mattman’s plan went into action. He declared war on both of us.
His plan was simple but effective.
He had grabbed the allegiance of enough city states to give himself 48 votes in the election for World Leader, now just 8 years away. By declaring war on us, he locked in all of those alliances because when you are at war with an empire you cannot make a separate peace with allied city states. No negotiation is possible until you have made peace with the empire in question.
Later he said that he had started planning this about midway through the last round when he figured that he probably could not beat me to a science victory. As the demographics at the end of week 13 showed, I was still out in front in discoveries even if I had not gone straight for those related to space and the science victory. So he started to amass gold, planning to wait until the turn before the election to bribe as many city states as possible and then declare war on everybody when it was far too late for us to do anything about it.
But Assyria’s declaration of was unexpected. Mattman had whittled down his military to the bare bones in order to save up for his victory plan and there was a real threat that Ashur, had he been a human player, could roll over the Chinese empire and upset Mattman’s scheme.
So we were left with eight turns to knock Mattman down. Since neither Potshot nor I were anywhere close to China, that meant knocking three of his city state allies. In order to turn up the pressure, Potshot made peace with Assyria and bribed the Celts to declare war on Mattman as well, putting most of the world, and his two neighbors, in opposition to the Chinese. Mattman also brought Babylon in against him, lest they go after his city states diplomatically. Arabia, however, somehow stayed out of the fray.
The game then also changed modes.
For the first time in more than 600 turns, human controlled empires were at war which, due to our choice of settings back at the start, changed the game from simultaneous movement into a turn based affair.
This managed to drag out the duration of each turn, something which seemed like it would get stretched out even further when Loghound finally arrived in the hangout and started joining the game.
We brought him up to speed as the game paused for him to load in.
We told him of Mattman’s possession of 48 votes for the world leader election just seven turns away. Our plan was to conquer at least three of Mattman’s city state allies in the hope of knocking him below the threshold of being able to elect himself. Potshot and I had each picked one easy target. My forces were already on top of Lhasa, so that looked like a slam dunk.
Potshot meanwhile had troops within a couple turns march of Zurich, and I was in a position to provide support for that operation.
With Loghound on the scene, we assigned him Melbourne as a target, a city state nearly enclaved within his empire, close to a couple of his cities, and accessible overland through gentle terrain. Meanwhile, I identified a couple of other possible targets. It looked like we could bring down Mattman’s attempt.
This seemed to worry Mattman, who announced that his real goal was to just be sure that I did not win and that if he were thwarted in victory, he would throw his support to the Celts or Brazil, just so somebody other than I would win. I could get behind either plan, and certainly there was a joke to be had in a “Vote for Pedro” campaign. Not that I seemed to be in a position to win. I had the highest score, but score had been disallowed as a victory condition. And, as our plans for taking city states began to show, a bloodbath was in the offing between Potshot and I. Part of the reserve we were able to draw on included troops being quietly massed with an eye to driving at each others capital cities so as to help secure a domination victory. And I am sure others would have joined in on that fun.
The progress of our plan was, however, a bit choppy. Loghound, on his turn, decided that he didn’t want to go after Melbourne, but preferred to attack the island city state of Antwerp. While that was good for a Tom Shane joke or two, I had to point out that after spending nearly 30 turns trying to take Yaroslavl, which was even closer to his coast than Antwerp, and failing a couple of weeks back, my confidence in Celtic amphibious operations was at pretty low ebb. And then it happened that Antwerp had an anti-aircraft gun, further diminishing the odds of a successful Celtic assault.
But that turned out not to matter all that much. Loghound was working with a dubious internet connection as he was staying at… if I got the story correct… somebody’s grandmother’s house while his own house was being remodeled. This and his laptop and whatever were conspiring to drop him from the game regularly. After that happened a few times, he decided to call it a night.
Potshot and I would be depending on the AI as allies, which did not seem so bad at first. Assyria, which refused to negotiate peace with Mattman, seemed like it might pick up Loghound’s slack and looked close to taking one of the hostile city states. And then, as happens with the AI, it was distracted by something else, stopped its assault, and went off to pick daisies or build a giant navy or something. Meanwhile, nothing further was ever heard from the Celts. Antwerp and Melbourne both survived relatively unmolested.
So it was up to Potshot and I. But even then, things did not look hopeless. I rolled over Lhasa quickly enough.
Potshot had been able to crush Zurich a turn or two later.
I was also closing in on Singapore, which looked like it would close the gap.
And I had tossed a couple of those nukes I had been saving for Potshot onto Vilnius in hopes that a destroyer and some marines could take the city state.
Our plan looked like it might come together. It looked like we might be able to force a compromise victory for somebody other than Mattman. And then I checked the score.
China… Mattman… still had 48 votes even after we had taken two of his city state allies. How could this be? As I was pondering what had gone wrong with our plan, the answer sailed into view off the coast of Marrakech.
While I failed to mouse over it in that shot to show the allegiance of the caravel, it belonged to Lhasa. Lhasa which I had besieged. Lhasa which I had just conquered a couple turns before. How could this be?
And then it struck me. It was that damn setting again. As I noted back in the first post for this campaign:
We also opted for Complete Kills, which means that to be totally eliminated from the game you have to lose all your cities AND all of your units. That was done as a “just in case” option, should anybody die early.
Complete kills. It apparently applies to city states as well as the main civilizations. That meant we had to track down and kill every unit for any city state we sought to take. And looking at the diplomacy screen, city states that we had taken… Lhasa, Malacca, Zuirich… were still on his list of allies. That rule had come back to haunt us… some of us… yet again.
I sat on this information for a turn, looking for a plan while letting Mattman sweat as unrest broke out in his own lands as he sold every last item he could in case peace should break out and it became a bidding war for city states again. However, nothing presented itself and by the time his turn rolled around again Mattman had noticed as well that his vote count remained where it had been. Victory was going to be his.
He, of course, had to continue to take his time with his turns and bent our ears with things like “maybe I should keep the game going” or “perhaps I will still vote for the Celts and give Loghound the win.” But when the vote came, he voted for himself.
Potshot and I threw our votes behind the Celts, giving Loghound 24 votes, but Mattman still had 48 which meant he alone controlled who won.
Potshot and I were presented with the “loser” screen.
I asked Mattman to take a screen shot of the victory screen for the post, which he did by taking a picture of his monitor with his phone. He is allegedly an engineer. Afterwards I told him how to take a screen shot with Steam using the F12 key. A couple of the actual screen shots in this post came from him.
Then, much to our collective disappointment, the end game statistics failed to kick in. We were able to see the demographics page, which still showed me in first place on all fronts.
But all the neat charts and graphs that the game usually shows… plus the end game display of the world progression on the map… were all blank. We did not get any of the fun bits like we did last time around… when Mattman also won. There was nothing there to distract us from Mattman’s detailed recap of how he had planned and executed his victory. And despite the fact that this final session only covered a dozen turns, thanks to Loghound’s connection issues, having to play in turn-based mode, and Mattman’s ongoing super villain monologue, the whole thing went past midnight like almost every previous round.
But the game was over. It went 762 turns, lasting until the year 2056. We started playing on Friday, May 2 of this year and played for 14 sessions, wrapping up on Friday, August 22, which represented somewhere around 40 hours of play time invested. We congratulated Mattman on his victory and called it a night.
After this epic contest, Civilization V is probably out of rotation for us for a while. Probably a good thing that idea for a wider Civ V game never panned out.
Back during the Steam Summer Sale we started looking for the “next” game to try. There were a few options, but Total War: Rome II was selected. (I guessed at that point that the Civ game would go until August.) Now we will have to figure out how to play it. I’ve been through the tutorial, but the multiplayer thing is a whole different area. We shall see.
And now for those wanting to relive the whole thing…
…here are the 12 previous posts covering the arc of our imperial struggles, which occasionally pitted us against each other, but mostly we spent time in conflict with the game itself.
- Weeks 1 & 2 – The Big Map – Turns 1 – 220
- Week 3 – Hands Across the Something – Turns 221 – 300
- Week 4 – The Siege of Madrid – Turns 301 – 375
- Week 5 – Embracing Spanish Confucianism – Turns 376 – 450
- Week 6 – The Slow March of Time – Turns 451 – 470
- Week 7 – Operation Torch and the Russian Front – Turns 471 – 520
- Week 8 – Autocracy and the Pursuit of Happiness – Turns 521 – 580
- Week 9 – Obama, Autocracy, and Expansion – Turns 581 – 617
- Week 10 – From the Halls of Montezuma – Turns 618 – 660
- Week 11 – We Have Met The Enemy, And It Is The Game Itself – Turns 661 – 686
- Week 12 – The Battle for Yaroslavl – Turns 687 – 716
- Week 13 – The Fall of Babylon – Turns 717 – 750
- Week 14 – The Glorious People’s Victory over Imperialist Aggression – Turns 751-762
The history of the conflict contains many, many words. (A little over 25,000 words, if WordPress.com’s word count in each post is to be believed, or about 1,800 for each time we played. So much for victors writing the history.)
Next time, Rome.