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Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - Printable Version

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Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - DuPont - 10-14-2013

Game 109 has ended with a victory by the Warlock (HeadHoncho).
Here is the perspective of the lowly TR position.
I don't have a lot to say about this game because I did really crappy at it. It started up right around the time my son was due to be born and thus, I didn't really do the necessary diplomacy. I contacted the AN and we agreed to a peaceful split of Torvale with him getting control and each taking one city. I had also talked to the EL about letting me have a few PCs in Oakendell in exchange for me leaving him alone, but it seems he'd been hit up by other people and didn't feel he could spare anymore. I may have made a few other contacts, but didn't really nail anything down – something I'd soon pay for.
Things went bad on turn 2 when the WI came and swooped Avalon right out from under me. I had not played the TR before – in hindsight, I should have never agreed to take that city as part of my share of the region. I also made several colossal blunders – for me the whole game was a comedy of errors. Let's list them.
I sent the 2TR wandering into Synisvania to bash around random Ranger PCs. Bad mistake, splitting my forces like that. I might have annoyed the RA some, but was never in a position to hold anything I took for more than a turn or two and tied up a valuable group.
I made a half-hearted attempt to invade Oakendell. I don't think I was more than an annoyance to Malabeth and I had no one in place when the GI invaded Torvale. The AN seemed to fold like a pup tent in a storm and I also have to fight off the UN.
I managed to poorly plan my group moves so badly that I missed getting reinforcements not just on turn 5, but also on turn 10! Since reinforcements are one of the strongest points of the TR kingdom, this was abysmally stupid of me.
There really wasn't anything particularly interesting about the second half of the game for me. Simply staying one step ahead of the GI so I always had a capital to go to – my influence got knocked down to 8 and I made no attempt to increase it, so my politicos were useless. The UN kept assassinating lower level leaders of mine. I did have my one strong group – that's what kept me in the game so to speak – I simply refuse to ever surrender a position no matter how bad things are. I did hope to keep the GI from claiming victory, but not sure if I really was a factor in that. The DW undoubtedly did much more damage to him than I did.
I did learn a lot of lessons from this game about how to use the TR (a position I had not played before) and how not to. I do plan on signing up as the TR again in the near future – it does seem to be quite a fun kingdom to play. I congratulate HH for his victory as the WA. I did make a NA pact with him at some point, mostly because I needed one less enemy. I would liked to have done better in this game but I was so quickly knocked down, I didn't feel like investing the time into diplomacy as I considered it would be better spent elsewhere. Good game all – especially to the GI and the UN for doing such a good job of dismembering my position!


RE: Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - HeadHoncho - 10-14-2013

I guess the third time was the charm, on the victory check. Smile It was still satisfying to win this one, but I must confess significant sheepishness at my two earlier failed attempts. I thought my math was good the first time, and I felt utterly confident it was good the second time, but obviously it wasn't! The issue was census in Synisvania, and I'm not sure what I could have missed... I can only surmise that there was some significant population boosting somewhere, or that I just somehow missed a town or something. Anyway, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, so I will shut up and start from the beginning.

As a preliminary matter, I really like the WA position. Cheapest research costs of any Kingdom, not-too-terrible troops, slightly better emissaries and a priestess compared to the SO position, and early achievement of the teleport line of spells (with Teleport Brigade at P3), and this last bit would play into my strategy significantly on two levels, teleporting to unusual sightings, and my Avalon gambit (both will be described later on).

I also decided that I wanted to be friendly with as many Kingdoms as possible in this game, especially since my SVC didn't require any regions in order to win. So I adopted a general stance of being a cheerful mercenary, willing to work with anyone who wanted to pay me, and no offense and nothing personal if I ended up needing to oppose someone. Out of the gate, I tried to negotiate with just about everyone, which had an added urgency since I was in the middle of the board.

I developed a fantastic relationship with GI, and we agreed to split the region, with him getting Evanon and towns except for my capital, and me getting Zarathon and villages except for his village. Worked like a charm, and I was thrilled to be able to work with LT and have the GI as a "big brother" if I got into any trouble, although I didn't end up needing to play that card. My immediate goal was to develop a couple of groups with P3s in them so that I could teleport to unusual sightings.

As I thought about it, I also devised a secondary plan... raise my P2 to a P3 in my 2WA group on T1, along with some recons of possibly contested cities (especially Avalon). This plan ended up working like a charm, as one TR Duke appeared at Avalon, and no one else. So on T2, I enamored Torvale and teleported my 2WA group with a P3 and two WA brigades to Avalon, just as the TR Duke made it neutral, and I also sent my own Duke to Avalon. On T3, I 171'ed the city, 310'ed with my Warded Duke, and then kept Avalon for the rest of the game. This was a big boost to me in terms of my morale, and also in terms of my gold production through the rest of the game.

This didn't exactly endear me with the TR player, however, and would result in some tension for a while. But before I get into that, I should talk about general negotiations with the other Kingdoms. LT as the GI player had made arrangements to work together loosely with both the new EL player, and also the WI player, which surprised me a bit since GI and WI are natural enemies, and also because GI already had a wizard ally in the form of me! That said, I had resolved to let LT lead out on this, and wanted to defer to his preferences, so we went with it.

The alliance itself wasn't exactly a high-interaction, high-coordination one, it was more of a "let's try to work together generally and stay out of each others' way" type of thing, and on that score, it worked extremely well. Each of us did great, with WA/WI/GI sweeping the top three spots, and we would also help each other out here and there with information or the occasional spell. But by having some security with our backs, we were each able to push forward our own agendas and plans. Loric as WI was especially kind to me, as we shared information that helped me achieve my ESO.

The greatest amount of coordination that we all had was in the early-game, where we all basically said, "Hey, let's try to take out Torvale since it's between all of us," and then LT romped all over AN/TR while EL/WI appeared to hang back initially, and I got unceremoniously spanked by well-timed AN denigrates and 310s. So I notified my allies that I would be withdrawing from Torvale and making a separate peace with AN/TR, which was not opposed, and so after negotiating that peace with AN/TR, I decided to look elsewhere for expansion.

In the process, I ceded my own rights in Torvale to UN, who I really liked as a player, and enjoyed working with tremendously. That relationship had developed over the course of the early game, although it experienced some tension when the DW/RD alliance (along with help from DE) invaded Runnimede, which UN had originally split with GN. The GN player ended up being unable to cope with the coordinated DW/RD invasion after DE also intervened, and seeing the writing on the wall, I joined with DW/RD and DE in urging UN to become neutral in the fight so that he wouldn't get taken down along with GN.

I had by this point developed excellent relations with DW/RD and with DE, as we had done quite a bit of artifact coordination. Really loved working with each of them, DW was an INCREDIBLE role-player, and RD was cool and fun and helpful as well as an excellent role-player, and DE and I had a good rapport going, with me offering as much advice to him as a new player that I could.

This is where my role as WA came in super-handy, as I was able to offer my services in retrieving inconveniently placed unusual sightings, and I did that for DW with the Axe of Farin, and later with the DE and the Sword of Alvinitar, and again with DW and the Key of the Gem and the Gem of the Planes. This earned my leaders promotions, garnered significant gold for me (always key for a wizard Kingdom), and more importantly, gained me several great relationships with loyal Kingdoms, and also the occasional artifact for myself.

On a parallel track, I had enjoyed an extensive e-mail discussion with the RA player (172 messages in the e-mail chain and counting), who was new and who I liked right away. I did everything I could to give him helpful advice, and also pointed out my move on Avalon which hurt his TR natural enemy, so the two of us got along famously. In turn, he helped me early on with some gold, which was awesome, and we had a lot of coordination and discussion with each other on hitting his TR natural enemy, and later on, hitting my SO natural enemy.

So to summarize, at this point, I had alliances or excellent relationships with:

DE/DW/EL/GI/RA/RD/UN/WI

I had made peace with:

AN/TR

So that left BL/DA/GN/SO.

I had pretty much told GN that I would be working loosely with DW/RD and DE as an occasional spell mercenary, and allowed him the opportunity to match, but he wasn't able to do it, so we had a low-intensity, "nothing personal" conflict, but given that I wasn't in Runnimede and he was being attacked by three Kingdoms and reduced to just a couple of pop centers, we didn't have much to do with one another.

SO was my natural enemy, and so of course I did my best to fight him.

And that left BL/DA. I have the utmost respect for Kevin Dusi (DA) as a player -- with whom I was working in my first game back, game 108, which he ended up winning -- so I knew that I really didn't want to fight with him. We started with a NAP, and then expanded it to plan a hit on BL. This was nothing personal against Jumbie, it just ended up geopolitically that he was an available target, and was starting to have frayed relations with DE who I was on great terms with, and he and I also were unable to come to terms on a NAP. So I proposed it to Kevin and we jumped right into it.

The invasion worked like a charm, although Kevin and I then got into a minor dustup over the status of Vanasheen. Long story short, we appeared to have a misunderstanding about when it would transfer over to me, but at the end of the day we worked it out. I ultimately offered Kevin the choice of either me taking it on T11 as originally agreed, or instead he could keep it until he got control of the region at which time I could take it, and in the interim he would just set up a standing order starting on T11 to send me Vanasheen's gold production. To my minor surprise, he chose the former, and so we transferred it over, shook hands, and agreed to maintain a non-aggression pact with a two-full-turn notice of termination, which we both honored.

The biggest surprise in the move on BL was that I was actually able to work with BL after-the-fact. For whatever reason, he appeared to harbor greater animosity toward DW than me. So after making sure DW wouldn't be offended, I was able to negotiate for BL's High Council seat, and also have him agree not to trouble me and DA in region 10. After that, we got along great, and I really appreciated Jumbie's honor and honesty.

By this point, I had substantial in Amberland and Southern Sands (probably wouldn't have had the latter without Vanasheen), and I was looking to move on my natural enemy, the SO. So I coordinated with RA to start going after SO in earnest. SO had already taken some pop centers in region 9 from both RA and me, so I moved in with emissaries and an invisible group, catching his main SO group with his P6 outside of a town. With Summon Death and a pre-weakened Chaos, I wiped out his group and his P6 and pair of P2s with it. Along with the political flips, I was at Significant and would be close to Substantial. So I needed Substantial in one more region.

That region ended up being Arcania. My NAP with DE had expired, and although I felt badly about it as we had worked well together up to this point, since I was clear of my formal agreements, I made a move on some Arcania towns. As I did so, I was extremely apologetic to DE, explaining that it was only to achieve my Secret Victory Condition, and then asking if there was any way I could make it up to him. He continued to be super-cool, was appreciative of all of the advice I had given him up to that point, and was already fully engaged in a battle with DA/WI and couldn't dedicate any forces to another front, and so that potential issue was successfully navigated.

As I alluded to above, my real miscalculation was on Synisvania. I had planned to take a town in region 9 via 171, but was also using up to two Destroy Village spells on a SO village, all of which would put me over-the-top on census, I was convinced. Well, the Destroy Village spells worked, but first the defenses were high enough to require both of them (this was an uncertain thing), and second I rolled poorly and took regional reaction hits on both of the spells, so my 171 with a P4 and five brigades ended up failing in what had suddenly become a Suspicious region (net 25% chance).

I had stayed put on that town, just in case of a flub like this, so my second victory check involved me taking that town militarily, along with more 600 and 610 orders to increase census. So I took the town but somehow the census was STILL too low. I'd be really curious what my percentage was at that point, I'm thinking it had to be 34% or more!

But I had planned for that contingency by moving to the SO capital on the same turn, so this last turn, I took that as well, which vaulted me over the top. There were some nervous moments, since the first failed check had put people on notice, so it's conceivable that one or more Kingdoms could have moved against me on the turn of the second victory check, and then brought me below Substantial in one or more regions on the third victory check, but the good relationships I'd formed in this game continued to hold, and people were super-cool about it. With no real opposition elsewhere, I took the SO capital and finally succeeded on my victory check.

Anyway, it was a very fun game for me, and I think I enjoyed the early-mid game teleport-to-Unusual-Sighting part as much or more than the final victory, but I'm glad to have been able to do it without seeming to offend or upset anyone. Even the SO totally understood my sucker punch, and we had a really nice exchange after it happened. One final note... I think "Substantial in 4" is WAY easier as a SVC than "Control in 3," or even "Control in 2 + Substantial in 1," simply because you can stay on good terms with much of the board. This is just a continuing observation in my effort to suggest some rebalancing of SVCs as we move forward into Third Cycle (or possibly even before then).

Here are my nominations for the various awards:

Iron-Willed: Keeope (GN), who hung with it the ENTIRE game, even with zero points, after being dismantled by DW/RD and DE
Chancellor: The Deliverer (DA), who continued to offer me super-helpful expert advice, and I'm sure he did the same with others as well
Infamous: Telrandir (DW), who was extremely memorable both in his role-playing and his end-of-game city-taking crusade against perceived "ancient enemies"

And if you're still reading this e-novella, many thanks to you, and also to all of my fellow players in this game! Smile


RE: Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - Mokkaron - 10-14-2013

My game went a bit more like this:

1) Ally with GN, reach out to a lot of other folks.
2) Make friends with RD and WA to see if future cooperation is possible.
3) Try to diplomatically intervene in RD/GN conflict.
4) I get all my agents and emissaries fitted with the latest covert blaze orange gear and squeaky clown shoes for their upcoming assignments.
5) Part with RD. Support GN. Learn more about game forum posting.
6) Get spanked by RD/DE emissarial barrage. NAP with RD to avoid complete destruction of my capital and recoup with some shiny, new Torvale PCs with WA/GI's blessing.
7) Read a few emails from the DW and try to convince myself that I am not playing against an ACTUAL DWARF!.
8) Spend next few turns playing cat-and-mouse with TR in Torvale forests.
9) Watch my agents and emissaries get repeatedly captured nearly every time a PC falls from an opposing military. Not all escape from their prison cells to avoid execution.
10) Finally pluck a Ring of Invisibility from the wild and gather DE intel with the intent on avenging my pointy-hatted allies.
11) TR are still giving me grief. Send random agents out to harass their groups since my military consists of cosplayers with foam swords.
12) Amidst the fighting in Arcania, start stealing stuff. Stole the Altar of the Old Gods!
13) Realize the Altar of the Old Gods is kinda lame and doesn't help me, but it looks nice in my den, so I keep it.
14) Watch in amazement as my Agent-14 fails to kidnap an ambassador twice and my [equivalent to an] Agent-18 fails to steal anything else on the account of too many moving targets and squeaky clown shoes.
15) Take stock in the mistakes I've made, laugh at the comedy of errors and uber-poor agent rolls, and look forward to taking what I have learned into the next match.

Thanks to Keeope, HeadHoncho, Lord Moontree, and Telandir for the fun exchanges. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in future games.

-Mok


RE: Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - Jumbie - 10-14-2013

The Story of Khan Toedu of the Black Dragons in Game 109


1-A peacemaker among warriors.


Having learned much in my previous life as ruler of the RA in game 103, I came to the world of 109 with a strong diplomatic effort as soon as I got into the air. I intended for me, the SO and RA (2 rookies, biogeek and ArchangelKS) to live in peace and build our forces. I talked to them about my previous experiences and they seemed to accept my notions that they were better off sharing Synisvania. (They both mentioned that they had indeed been planning to fight each other over the place.)

I also made peace with the DE (Rusher) which in my mind secured my northern frontier and I felt safe. Based on a controversy in a very early game where Kalrex complained about people joining NAPs but giving secret aid to his enemies, I made sure to specify with the DE what actions were not permissible, e.g. no giving money to my enemies etc.


2-User error.


One major snag I hit early on was sending a blank order sheet. Cipher was nice enough to let me know, being the attentive mod that he is, but I was traveling so I couldn't fix it. This delayed me taking the Sands by a turn and it proved critical, since I unwisely took a wait-and-see attitude to alliance building and was going to stick to non-aggression pacts until I had my own region and could judge they lay of the land.


3-I snoozed. I loozed.

The Deliverer (DA) contacted me at the start of the game looking for allies. We hadn't worked together in my previous game, but we seemed to enjoy talking so it was a good fit. I instantly saw how easy it would be for us to split Synisvania, but it felt like a rude thing to do to the newbie RA and SO, so I declined and told him I'd check with him again in a few turns to see if an alliance was desirable.

A fatal mistake, because I automatically became a target for the Deliverer.


4-The High Council seat is a chair with no cushions.


Based on my experiences last game, I understood a seat on the council was useless without the means to STAY on the council and I didn't value a council seat much at all. Being also a finance-weak kingdom, I doubly intended to not buy a seat.

BUT, having an HC seat was in my victory conditions and then the DE and GN got seats. I had a NAP with the DE, and Telrandir (DW) had declared alliance with my blood enemies the RD (Moontree/j2klbs). So my reasoning was that the DW was my enemy and that made the GN my friend, so I figured I had two friends on the HC as it was.

So I paid a lot of cash for an HC seat, sacrificing the chance to advance a couple of wizards. I never got my magic back on track and in fact I never saw a single level-2.


5-The DW and RD ride into town on pale horses.


The GN (Keeope) was willing to join up with me.

My negotiations with the DE to become full allies broke down however, since he had already joined the DW/RD alliance to attack the GN/UN and take Runnimede. (My missed turn and failing to arrange alliances early had cost me)

Even at this point, I wasn't sure there'd be war. I mean, just because the RD was my natural enemy didn't mean we couldn't get along, right? So, I contacted the DW and RD to see if I could get a NAP going and maybe the DE and I could still control the council with the DW instead of GN.

The RD said they could have peace with me, but their ESO required them to take one of my villages. I didn't feel too put out by that, until I realized, this probably meant totally destroying the thing. It all seemed too ominous so I decided not to accept. We still were not at war, however.

I need to mention just how perfect the DW/RD situation was for them. Apparently the DW had secured his home region, the Talking Mountains, and sent almost all his military through to Runnimede using a portal. With his money and the RD's military AND an alliance with the DE they had quickly reduced UN/GN resistance to near nothing as I later found out.

The genius of this was that their enemies could not counter-attack their economic base or capitals since those were far away in the Talking Mountains.


6-My options fall to zero.


In the mean time the SO and RA had many communication difficulties. They could not agree on how to split their region, and sharing info on PCs. etc. I got a feeling the RA was angling to backstab the SO and wasn't committed to the peace I'd tried to broker. I tried hard to get them to act together, but failed and they ultimately ended up declaring war on each other. Given how this was going, I abandoned the idea of becoming allies with either of them.

I contacted the DA to see if his alliance offer was still good and he said he wasn't in the market for allies any more. I took that to mean he was about to attack me. It became clear I had to attack him.

But then the RD entered my airspace. I sent my troops and emissaries towards Runnimede hoping that along with the GN and UN, I could alarm him enough that he'd pull back and I could then focus on defending against the DA or even invading him.

The DE was at war with the GN however, reducing how much stress the RD was feeling and the DW sent his large Army Group towards the Southern Sands too. (He had used stalling tactics in his negotiations so I was not surprised that he attacked.)

Knowing that defending my towns against the RD/DW military was a sure slow death since I could not promptly reach their homelands to reduce their money flow and disrupt them in any other critical way, and knowing that the DA was about to stomp me, I realized my game was essentially over at turn 5/6 or so.


7-When all else fails, get dramatic.


The DW is a role-player. You should see the messages he sent me about reclaiming his forefathers' halls and the importance of his beard's honor etc. Fun stuff. It inspired me, so when he positioned his forces to attack, I sent him a very extravagant threat of retaliation. Here's the text:

Quote:Dwarf,

Let me tell you a story:

Before this life as a dragon lord, I lived as a boy in the human world. Once, at a holiday called Christmas, a firecracker exploded near me and singed half the hair on my head.

The smell of that burnt hair is, in a word, awful, like a cloud of decay and pain.

I think of that smell and then I think of all those dwarven boys back home in the Talking Mountains, struggling to grow their first proud beards. That's a lot of burning hair and flesh once my dragon flights arrive at your towns. The blood, slippery on the floor as it flows into the chasms of your halls will be sickening. The crunch of those thick Dwarven bones with each massive dragon bite will be sickening.

But the smell of those burning beards, oh great king, that will be beyond sickening, as the smoke clings to the walls of your haunted caves for a lifetime, just as it will cling to the insides of your skull for an eternity. And you will not die, oh highness. No. I will spare you, so that you can live forever knowing you brought down the dragons' wrath on your youth and lost any chance your people had at glory.

But, I can already hear you protest, "Why is he talking about our mountains? The fight is in the south. I have cleverly used my portal to bring the fight far from home."

Yes. You were clever. TOO clever. Because I recognize defeat before the war has even started. You and the Red are too strong for me to fight against. I would just grind up my proud army in the sands without gain while you lose nothing of importance, indolently gathering riches in the north to pay your mercenaries.

So I have lost.

But I will not lose without a smile on my face. My first orders this month shall be for everyone to fly north while we are still strong: Soldiers, wizards, diplomats... recruiting along the way. You may be able to take the Sands in 4 turns if you're lucky. I will be at your doorstep by then. Right now, I have enough military strength to take any city I want. In 4 turns I will have much more.

I will entreat your enemies for the food I need to last just long enough to see all your sturdy little towns burn to cinders. I will tell all those greedy little emperors who live near you what I intend so that after I have exhausted myself weakening you, they will swoop in and savage what remains the way a hyena tears at the guts of a wounded gazelle, until your legs stop twitching.

My people have no future if you attack us, great king. But neither do yours.

Promise me that you will not attack, and keep that promise, and I will not unleash an entire race on your homeland. Tell me before the end of the month. Otherwise, we fly.

Whatever happens is of your doing now.

-The Lord of Dragons.

He didn't reply though, so I assumed his 'radio silence' to mean war.


8-Don't dilly-dally when there's work to do.

I had only a faint hope that the threat would work, but after he attacked I full well intended to see it through. I did indeed have a large military of Wyverns that I'd been building. They had just entered Runnimede to support the GN.

This is where I made another major mistake, however. Having decided that the DW/RD war and impending DA invasion was indeed the end of me, I was committed to a suicide glory run against the Talking Mountains. But there were a few RD towns in Runnimede sitting right there! I felt that I could hit them with the military and emissaries I had in the area and THEN fly north with a bigger economic base and the mobility of the BL troops would ensure I didn't lose too much time.

In actuality, the delay created a huge missed opportunity, since it gave the DW time to build up his capital's defenses and when I eventually got there, I was JUST short of the force level needed to successfully siege him. It could have changed so much in the game if I'd not wasted those 3 turns in Runnimede. I had to content myself with attacking towns and villages in the Mountains.

But here again, the delay hurt me, because I had lost the Sands by then to the DA (as predicted) with contributions from the WA, RD and DW. I was trying to fight without food and gold for upkeep and constantly lost military strength due to morale and attrition hits. The military soon reached the point where it could no longer even take a town.

The DE turned against me because of my Runnimede attacks too. His reasoning was that since I was attacking the RD and he and the RD were fighting the GN, then me attacking the RD was aiding his enemies and contravened our NAP. At first I thought that he was simply using a flimsy excuse to justify joining the DW/RD attack on the Sands. But a few e-mails later he seemed to indicate that he genuinely felt that I should not retaliate against the RD, even though the RD chose to attack me. I was extremely disappointed at this since we had taken the time to lay out specific actions in our NAP to avoid this kind of dispute. Indeed, the final wording of the agreement had been his and I'd kept to the word and I think the spirit of the agreement..


9-Guerrilla war is fun.


Not much else happened of consequence. I assassinated some of the DW people in their capital and held a town and a village in the Mountains while eliminating the DW homeland defense forces. (I let him spend cash recruiting extra victims before swooping in and wiping them out). I gave out information on DW forces/towns to everyone to try and incite them into attacking the DW. I got both the SO and RA to buy into that, but too late to accomplish anything.

It was fun to role-play that underdog/resistance-fighter position though, like being the devil in Milton's 'Paradise Lost', working to shake the throne of heaven.

I'd like to think that I provided enough of a threat/distraction that I prevented the DW from pursuing his goals and cost him a podium finish. I know the RD diverted an entire Army Group to chasing me for several turns so that probably made them pay a big opportunity cost in gains they could have made elsewhere.

On another occasion, the DW spent 10000g failing to denigrate me when he could have done more good with that money, and the order slot, elsewhere.

I'd like to think that I was also the reason the DW retreated from the Southern Sands, since he pulled his army group out of there as soon as I showed up at his old capital.


10-Climbing this learning curve is tiring me out.


In the end though, I have nothing left except hard-won knowledge. The main lessons I took from this game:

1) Securing peace with ALL your immediate neighbors, as I did, doesn't protect you from the people further away. (Maybe with the new limitations on the number of kingdoms and on the range of emissaries, kingdoms beyond the horizon won't be such a big threat. Not sure if that's a good thing.)

2) There's little need to wait until you secure your region to start building your alliances. Why I thought I had to do it that way, I cannot imagine.

3) Even if you publicly swear vengeance and declare your battle plan, it's still not too late to preserve some advantage by immediately attacking and not giving your enemy the opportunity to prepare.

4) The High Council really takes a deft touch and it's a waste of money for anyone to buy a seat without a coherent plan. (I learned this lesson my first game, but it bears repeating since I compounded the issue this game by not being sure of my alliances before acting on the plan)

5) The mobility of the BL military is fun. The lack of bite in combat is not. I attempted to take a town with a tactic of 1 when I had a 5-to-1 advantage in strength and lost. I used only the 3 tactic from then on for taking towns. But after that I felt like even in victory I lost too many troops and I kept getting lowered morale after victories seemingly because of the casualties.

BL magic is weak. The level-1 spell list lacks Ward, Diplomacy and Valor.

BL Diplomats are fine. Their agents seemed effective too, but two of mine got caught on missions where the chance of capture should have been very low (less than 5%) with no counter-espionage about. Maybe it was the clown shoes from the Underworld surplus equipment store? (They both died due to a team member stumbling after all...)

I'll close with Nominations:

Infamous: It's got to be Telrandir for the Dwarf roleplay.

Iron-Willed: DuPont stayed in to fight from a losing position even with babycare duties. I'd say that's a lot of dedication to the game.


RE: Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - Rusher - 10-15-2013

I took the Demon Princes, without really knowing what that meant, and dove into my first Alamaze game. Looking to previous past DE players, that were not in 109, I received some excellent advice from Lord Diamond and Yellowbeard. Thank you both!

In brief, I spoke with several of my neighbors and felt that I was not at immediate risk of being invaded, so I focused on gaining control of Arcania. Getting on the High Council was another top priority.
My first turn was a horrible mockery of competent order placing.

Early on DW and RD offered to have me join their fight against the Gnome and it seemed to be a no risk (to me) proposition. NAPs (of varying degrees) were made with the BL, RA and WA. The DW, RD and DE were not planning to fight during our shared conflict in Runnimede. I was hoping to get out of Runnimede quickly and expand elsewhere. But the Black Dragon entered the Runnimede conflict and the fight bogged down.

[A note on the BL Agreement.
Without debating the issue, you know I feel you clearly broke the agreement first. You have called me out on it. So be it. I'm sorry if you feel I betrayed you.]

The DA, DW and WA swarmed into Southern Sands while the BL was in Runnimede. Since my agreements with the BL, DW, RD and WA was still in effect, that left one obvious target to go after in the Southern Sands. It also looked to me like the DA was going to be aiming for Arcania at some point in the near future anyway.

The turn after I began attacking the DA in Southern Sands, 3 Witchlord and 2 Darkelf groups moved into Arcania. Ugh. But I figured they were going to be doing that anyway so my first strike didn't hurt.

Things spiraled out of control quickly as the WA moved into Arcania as our NAP expired followed by the UN. I managed to kill a few wizards and steal an artifact but my EM's, wizards and agents were dropping like flies along with an artifact (Bad UN! Bad!). I missed two opportunities to have my Skeleton horde crush the main WI group. Well done on the Dispels Loric!

Hopefully the bad karma from ganging up on the Gnome was paid back!

It was a fun first game and I hopefully will be able to avoid the horrible order placing issues I had this game. Thanks to allies and foes alike for the advice and friendly chats.


RE: Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - Telrandir - 10-15-2013

Crimson skies were a constant reminder of the change that had taken root in the Talking Mountains. Even the clouds burned. The Hall of Kings would never be the same.

Hammerdor stepped back from the vista and addressed the large dragon crowding the assembly.

"You said we would prevail. That the Gnomes, the Giants, even the Trolls - there time would finally be at an end. And yet they live…"

"Some of them do," it said. "Few gnomes remain, however, and your halls grow fat with coin. You would do well to remember that, Dwarf, and lose this loathsome ennui."

It was difficult to gauge Razorclaw's motives. The Ancient Wyrm had changed following the final days of The Great Conflict. No longer did it fill the King's hall with grand visions of what could be, as it had in the years precipitating war.

It had grown scornful. Caustic.

Unreliable.

"What word, then, of the Warlock?" Hammerdor said. "Has he fulfilled his accord? We may have declared him Emperor, but rule does not come without a price."

The King regarded the other beings assembled around him. He felt each of their minds tug at his beard, bound by blood-oath and magic to the stones woven in his pact-braid there. An unlikely alliance, certainly, but a strong one nonetheless. Had the Black Flight not come to the mountains…

"The Warlock will do as he promised" Orthil said. "His are a lawful people. They pursue otherworldly affairs and prefer peaceful prosperity to disruptive conflict. Thus, the great kingdoms will be restored, and this Emperor will enforce the hard-won expansion of our borders."

The Dark Elf lay supine on one of the drinking tables regarding the moons and stars as he spoke. He had a way of soothing those around him, his words carrying an unnatural paucity. Surely, he spoke true.

But truth would not bring Hammerdor his dead sons.

Azrael rose from the high chair next to the Ruby throne. The demon's bright eyes shifted thoughtfully across the assembly. They held ancient knowledge - the promise of power to those it befriended. Orthil, of course, remained seemingly oblivious.

"Three sons is little price to pay for the glory you have brought your people, mighty King..." it said. "Three sons, three enemies - and through their sacrifice, victories secured. You know as well as any that power always comes with a price."

The deceptively large creature seemed to shrink into itself, sinewy limbs drawing inward to become short and thick. The red sky masked the gross effect of its skin seeming to absorb itself, adjusting to the change in stature. Its eyes stared through the proud dwarf, now on their level, and it continued.

"Think proudly on their valor - your legacy is secured."

Hammerdor gazed at the creature and heard whispers directly in his mind...

…"And your fourth son, Hammerdor, shall not be forgotten. You have absolved ancient grudges against Gnome, Giant, and Troll; won revenge, in plundering their halls and stealing back plundere dwarven artifacts. Look to the death of your fourth son as a sign to mark this new age, as what manner of Dwarf would you be if you did not hold SOME grudge. Think of the Black Wyrms, then, and your youngest, whose blood stained this very stone when the Black Wing attacked.

Our Warlock Emperor may beckon a new age of peace... for now. But you and I, we know what was lost; what was spilled. We shall be at your side when you're ready to raise the banners of war anew...
"

---------------

Thanks to all for helping me have such an enjoyable introduction to Alamaze. I particularly enjoyed the rich opportunities to role play and interact directly with some of you, and together fashion a narrative as the game took its course. I may write of it in the days to come.

It tickled me that my Dwarven King had a 'skeleton' that he was scared of dark places. SCARED of the DARK!?! I imagined such a character to be VERY vulnerable to being subverted through this fear. He might easily be led to seek expansion abroad instead of tunneling deeper into the very mountains that should have been his home.

Thus, when the Red Dragon and I began role-playing, I thought it natural that the King of the Red - such an ancient, potent being - recognize this character flaw in the Dwarf and use it to encourage the path we took (against the Gnomes). I imagined contact with each of the other darker cultures expanded on this path, in which Hammerdor learned to apply more ruthless strategy in his grand charade. This came to a head shortly before the end of the game, whereupon clarity found him surrounded by tyrants and the forces of darkness. Hammerdor steeled himself and prepared to find redemption in depth, hurling his forces against his most ancient, traditional enemies (the Giants and Trolls).

Naturally, in the [admittedly rushed] exposition above: I imagined this to end with the foundation of some new darkness, but one masked in a suitably stoic, dwarven way.

---------------

Some observations from the Hall:

1. Great community!

I really valued the level of engagement and mentorship I received from each of you. I regret that I didn't have opportunity to significantly communicate with some of the Northwestern powers - the GI, EL, AN, and TR players, as well as the RA. I took great pleasure, however, in the welcome received among those with whom I did communicate, and thank you all for the rewarding experience!

Jumbie - my apologies for not responding to your excellent declaration of war against my people. I shared it with my allies at the time and very much enjoyed your role-playing. I was taken aback - I did not know how to reconcile (in character) being 'on my heels' under such a significant, committed assault. Part of this was due to this being my first Alamaze game, I think - I didn't know what to expect!!!

2. Dwarves - Strengths and Weaknesses

I thought I'd share a new player's summary of my POV about Dwarven strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths:

- Tremendous early economy
- Very strong political advantages in starting emissaries
- Geopolitical positional strength
- Magic resistance. I didn't realize just how handy this is. 50% is quite significant!
- Great beards

Weaknesses:

- Wizards. It makes sense, but I think it is important to really let this set in, as the combination of this and their secondary primary weakness will impact the 'fun-factor' you might have in military interactions due to a highly-restricted mobility. I had a low success rate at leveling my wizards which - paired with the high cost Dwarves face, seemed to reinforce this weakness.
- Mobility. Wow, Dwarven armies are slow!
- Poor spell lists. No diplomacy at lvl 1.

3. New Player - one thing I would share with other new players...

... is the importance of pursuing victory conditions.

I didn't keep these in mind. Instead, I focused on enjoyable diplomacy and some tactics, striving to build a strong economy and 'sharp axes' [military strength]. This made for a very enjoyable journey, but I think I put myself out of the running in part because I didn't assert claims that would advance my faction's victory position. I didn't realize that this is a significant part of the game.

4. It is a small point of 'Dwarvish' pride, but around mid-game, I decided I wanted to make Zabzanka a suitably fortified home for trade and culture - a truly 'Dwarvish' place! That I committed to doing so proved a boon when the Black Dragons appeared in my midst - whew, that was a close affair! Thus, without access to magic to improve my city [poor success leveling wizards], my infrastructure projects [orders] helped raise Zabzanka to have 49,488 Defense and produce 34,200 gold. I realize others may have more impressive cities... but this accomplishment satisfied my inner-dwarf!!!

---------------

With regards to nominations, I would make the following:

Iron Willed: The GN, who went above and beyond to stick it out to the end after being roasted by the Demons, Red Dragons, and Dwarves. I salute you, sir! Honorable mention to the UN, his fellow cohort and also active to the end.

Chancellor: I would like to thank so many for helping me get started this game. Exceptional effort was made by quite a few, including Lord Moontree [RD], Head Honcho [WA], Loric [WI], and The Deliverer [DA]. I'd nominate each of them if possible, but I know it isn't - so I recognize them instead, and nominate The Deliverer Chancellor, as he helped me despite having no real stake in my success. Selfless teaching - thank you very much!

Infamous: Again, there are many that contributed to my great experience. Jumbie [BL] went above and beyond, though, crafting a rather shocking declaration of war, and following it up with a series of in-game messages delivered faithfully and in-character. I greatly appreciate such effort and detail - well played, sir!


So thanks again for the memorable game. Good luck in your next. And may your beards flourish and prosper!!!

All the best,

-John


RE: Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - Ry Vor - 10-15-2013

Outstanding, Telrandir! Thanks to all who have already posted on Game 109.

I need to get The Commands updated and then I will want to update Valhalla and include the first Commendations. Keep 'em coming, and more writing from Telrandir, please.


RE: Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - HeadHoncho - 10-15-2013

Bravo, John!


RE: Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - Hawk_ - 10-16-2013

(10-15-2013, 10:04 PM)HeadHoncho Wrote: Bravo, John!

Wow! Nice prose! I'm ready for the Alamaze novel.


RE: Game #109 - Tales From The Smoking Ruins - DuPont - 10-16-2013

(10-16-2013, 01:13 PM)Hawk_ Wrote:
(10-15-2013, 10:04 PM)HeadHoncho Wrote: Bravo, John!
Wow! Nice prose! I'm ready for the Alamaze novel.
Back in the early 2000's, I actually started working on one. I had some free time and didn't feel like 'world building' - just wanted to write a story. Didn't get too far as there were some flaws with my story idea, but I swear I'd love to write one sometime.