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Hostile Takeovers

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Well, I knew this was coming eventually, ever since I picked Hatty's religion instead of his. I go begging for help, but my buddies in the faith Hatty and Qin can't be convinced to join me in the war, Qin even rejecting an offer of two techs. Rome is the lone sucker friend who does let me flip him a pair of outdated techs to get the war declaration.

And here's one big problem: Saladin's got Camel Archers and I've got next to nothing to counter that. I've missed getting both Engineering for pikemen and Guilds for knights conquistadors, and there's nobody willing to trade either to me. And I can't spend money on research now myself as I need to upgrade a bunch of longbowmen.

Well, I whip several spears, and *then* realized I coulda shoulda gone to Theocracy before doing that. Well, better late than never. Going to Vassalage also isn't worthwhile, as it'd cost me like 30/turn in lost Bureaucracy commerce.

Much skirmishing, some pillaging, and lots of unit trades ensue. Turns out that it's not all that hard (at least for a human player) to resist invasion even with a slight tech deficit. My best counter to his knights was only spearmen, fighting at approximately strength 8 vs 10, but that was good enough that one spearman would usually knock the knight down to 4 or so strength, and a horse archer could clean up after that. Trading 50-shield units one-for-one against 90-shield units works for me.

Saladin never put together any stack remotely capable of threatening one of my cities (likely thanks to dividing his forces between me and Rome), so it was just a matter of containing the unit and pillage losses. And in the north, I assemble a stack of three catapults, three macemen, and random horse archers and spears to go after that blight in the northern desert. It's got +100% city defense when I get there (castle), but the cats bombard it down to 0 and then suicide. There's two longbowmen and a pike in the city, but the cats have softened it enough that three City Raider macemen take it without further losses.

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The $64,000 question is whether to keep it, but I think I've gotta keep those resources and prevent anyone else from ever moving in on this turf. Turns out the city comes with a forge and a courthouse for me. Nice.

Anyway, it's crossroads time. Am I going for a peaceful or military win? Both paths present problems, chiefly among which the fact that somehow I've found myself five techs behind again. Space looks somewhat dicey, with Mansa and Qin both wielding GNPs of half again mine, Hatty's fully double, and me essentially locked out of the trading loop. Military, however, looks equally problematic, since I'm not going to reach cavalry before they get riflemen.

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After considering the options for a day or so, I decide to stay true to the spirit of the scenario by playing economically. I've always been a builder at heart. However, I can research Guilds myself and build enough Conquistadors to take one core city from Saladin.

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One neat detail: the gold indicator in the top left is adjusted to reflect your civ's new income situation if you're going to keep this city, so you know how much it's going to cost before you decide whether to raze it. In this case, the city would only cost me 7 gold/turn and would pay back more than that PDQ, so I kept it. It came with Sugar and Marble, both nice additions.

And now it's certainly time to sign peace, with Saladin ceding me his world map and 150 gold. I revolted back to Organized Religion, with universities now going up everywhere.

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