Some context: This was a hybrid multiplayer/AI game. I was Byzantium, two other human players were controlling the Huns and Ethiopia, and a Deity AI controlled Persia. Map Type: Tiny Pangea, all settings default. Prologue: Early game - Byzantium PoV Byzantium had just appeared, and was faced with the predicament of deciding what the destiny of their great empire would be. Although they hadn’t had time to explore yet, the great powers told them there were three other civilizations who could possibly rival them. Two of which that were destined to be lead to greatness by their excellent leaders, while one which was destined to achieve greatness under incompetant ruling due to a phenomenon referred to as “AI Cheats”. Faith was important to the byzantine empire, and they had hopes to win the hearts of the people of the world early through their impressive religious fervor. But to do this, Theodora knew she had to eliminate “AI Cheats” from the world, and Theodora knew she would need to settle a lot of cities to increase her religious influence on the world. Theodora focused her empire on the ideals of expansion and controlling large swathes of land, rather than having a small number of large cities. However, it turned out that her path to expansion was quickly blocked by Persia, the nation that benefited from this strange supernatural power. Worse yet, Persia had a settler that was moving into one of the few expansion spots that Byzantium needed to achieve her goal. But… it was undefended. Theodora made a choice, and declared war on the treacherous nation of Persia to prevent them from claiming any more of Byzantium’s rightful land. The “AI cheats” made such a conflict difficult, but Theodra knew Darius of Persia would make only the most incompetant decisions, and she took advantage of this. She focused all priorities on building a big enough army consisting of chariot archers, spearmen, and catapults, and attacked Persia’s third city. The invasion was a success, and eventually all three of Persia’s great cities fell into the Byzantine empire’s hands. Byzantium had won, but at great cost. The economy of Byzantium was left in ruins due to the war machine and aggressive expansion, and it wouldn’t recover for over a millennium. The lack of funding slowed down the empires scientific progress, and worse yet, Byzantium realized her religion was not strong enough. No, the Ethiopian empire’s cultural identity was too strong for Byzantium to influence. Ethiopia was too strong. They were building nearly every great wonder, were more wealthy, and had superior culture and faith to everyone else in the world. But, Byzantine had their advantages. They had the most land and despite what it seemed like, they rivaled Byzatine in most important demographics. Still, it seemed like the advantages of their compact empire would give Ethiopia the edge in the end. Theadora realized that she needed to “Take Care” of Ethiopia. But, of course, Ethiopia would expect this. Their lands were far apart, it would be eras before either had the technology to damage the other, but both empires knew of the inevitable ending. The ultimate conflict. Wide against Tall, Tradition against Liberty… Byzantium against Ethiopia. 600 Years Later - Ethiopia PoV Ethiopia was preparing for war. This great yet compact power had just four cities that happened to also be the four largest in the world. The lone coastal city of Big Yellow Joint, the massive population center and largest city in the world, Aztec Tomb, the industrial, scientific, and cultural capital of the world that is Mr. Manager, and the ugly stepchild albeit 20 pop border city that is Who’s Ann. Now who is Ethiopia going to war with? Well there are only two options, the currently irrelevant Huns and the Byzantine empire. The Byzantine empire composed seven cities, three of which were former possessions of the now defunct Persia. Byzantium and Ethiopia were neck in neck having demographics that are practically identical but their lands are separated by 10 tiles of desert and forest bordered by a huge mountain range which comprises a no man's land. Both nations have similar ideas and doesn’t take long for both nations to fill this land with huge numbers of artillery. The residents of Who’s Ann soon spotted Byzantine artillery and messages were relayed and the troops were brought up to the front. The two armies soon became so large that the postponement of hostilities son became ridiculous and the two sides agreed that the next turn would mark the start of the fighting. However as soon as the opening volleys were fired Ethiopia realized it had made a mistake, there Unique and powerful unit Mehal sefari was not able to stand up to artillery and need to be moved back and upgraded to great war infantry. This facilitated a full frontal retreat of the Ethopian Army back to the safe defensive positions around Who’s Ann. However, ethiopia's harassing contingent of cavalry had great success ravaging the lands of the Byzantine capital “Your” (part of a trio called ‘Your’ ‘Goose’ is ‘Cooked’). Byzantium attempted to advance but was pushed back by the entrenched artillery, unable to push forward but not wanting to waste the army Theodora directed the Army to attack the nearby City State of Tyre which happened to be an Ethopian Ally. This conquest was quickly carried out and both armies settled into their positions before declaring peace after both realized the futility of any advance. This lead to several comments begrudging the monotony of ‘late’ game combat. The next two dozen or so turns passed uneventfully except for a couple major points. The first of these being that there was not a single drop of Oil in the entire Byzantien empire while Ethiopia had several sources of it. The second being a major gaff on the part of the Ethopian diplomats. Up to this point Ethiopia had more than half of the votes of the world congress having the world religion, Forbidden Palace and the most city state allies, so naturally they would pass their Ideology, Freedom, as the world Ideology over the opposition of both other Order Nations. However, in an unforgivable blunder or malicious act of Treason the Ethiopian delegate proposed and passed World Ideology Order which pushed Ethiopia into unhappiness and gave the other two nations 2 votes each tipping the balance of the global scale out of Ethiopia's favor. While Ethiopia lost this diplomatic edge they still had many others. Most importantly they held a slight technological advantage and massive stores up money that lead to them being able to upgrade their artillery force into rocket artillery. This new Army of a half dozen rocket artillery, three infantry, and three bombers would produce the only decisive victory in this long game. In two turns the Ethopian troops rushed forward along the new roads and completely demolished the defending Byzantine forces which were mostly comprised of now outdated artillery with not enough supporting infantry and because of their lack of oil no airforce. Having routed the Byzantine forces this seemingly unstoppable army quickly liberated Tyre and moved towards the first Byantine city of It’s (Part of a trio called ‘It’s’, ‘Raining’, and ‘Men’). The defense of It’s quickly crumbled beneath the barrage of rocket artillery and after a couple turns a brave infantry ran in and quickly captured the city. However, cities are weak and a few new units of Byzantine rocket artillery coupled with normal artillery quickly flipped it back. It would flip once more before it flopped and the Ethopians move in again quickly reclaiming it and reducing it to a single population which they would soon raze. It was in that moment of seaming invincibility that the bomb stuck. The sound of the nuke reverberated across the plains the last infantry of the advancing army was killed and the rocket artillery were greatly reduced in health. Unable to take the city the Ethopians began a retreat, but the fallout greatly slowed their movement and many of the rocket artillery were cut down as they attempted to move back. Back in the mainland a paratrooper was rushed into production as a melee unit was desperately needed and the great cities switched their focus from infrastructure to attempting to rebuild the army that was supposed to have been invincible. As the first Byzantine troops attempted to advance they were brutally cut down by bombers and so the counter attack was stopped. The attempt at world domination foiled, the Ethopian cities shifted their focus towards escape from this planet and the building of the factories that would create their great spaceship parts. After a period of intense prayer the people of Ethiopia were blessed with 3 great scientists which they used to shoot ahead gaining the technology for the spaceship parts that they would need to launch to win. What followed were the last turns of peace Ethopian lands would ever know. A spaceship part was bought and then launched, and a couple Xcoms were built. The Ethopian leaders were inexperienced with the mechanics of Xcoms and sent them to do battle and hopefully capture the nearest city of It’s. This foray was quickly defeated and the surviving Xcom went home to await the coming storm. They did not have to wait long. A few short turns later Who’s Ann was struck by an Atom bomb. With the bomber fleet destroyed and with Who’s Ann weakened the Byzantine Xcoms dropped in, Ethiopia stuck back quickly and this invasion force was soon defeated. In retaliation the Ethopians bought a nuclear missile off the black market loaded it onto their submarines and sent it off to nuke one of the large Byzantine cities. While reducing Goose in size this missile was mostly wasted as damage to a single city in a wide empire is not really damage at all. Pleased with their retaliation the Ethopians went back to skirmishing with Byzantine rocket artillery and building Xcoms and spaceship parts. As two more Atom Bombs struck Who’s Ann and Blitz Xcoms swooped in immediately capturing the City the Ethopians were decidedly not pleased. Seeing that Who’s Ann was a 3 population wreck and not wanting to give Theodora a base from which to launch Nukes into the more important city of Mr. Manager and Aztec Tomb a nuclear missile was bought and launched at Who’s Ann wiping it completely off the Map along with the encroaching Byzantine troops. Strangely enough the people of Ethiopia were ecstatic with a happiness of 42 they had apparently seen the residents of Who’s Ann as burdens on society and were glad to be rid of them, and so life in the other cities carried on. While Mr. Manager worked towards the production of a SS booster the other cities built Xcom squads and a tank to fend off the invasion that they knew was coming. They were right, as waves of Byzantine Xcoms began to descend from the sky. While these units did not take any cities they accomplished one critical function: the pillaging of the Aluminum from which the spaceship was to be constructed. Racing to fix this aluminum deficit the cities began to produce recycling centers as more Xcoms rained in. The military situation was getting desperate until the culture came into play. Using the power of freedom Ethiopia recruited 6 foregin legionnaires and sent them into combat. Quickly realizing these weren’t very effective military units after two died in the first turn of combat they were stopped and then upgraded into deadly mechanized infantry. These deadly soldiers made short work of the invading Xcoms but ended up allowing Ethiopia to stop production of Xcoms reducing the mobility of the army. In the respite after Who’s Ann’s destruction another spaceship part was built and launched Soon a great danger appeared in the former no man's land; Byzantium founded a one population city. Surrounded by Xcom squads this city was not really a city but a nuclear base. Recognizing the danger the leaders of Ethiopia went to the black market and bought another nuclear missile. The two missiles stared each other down before being launched simultaneously one of them killing millions as it reduced Aztec Tomb from a 36 population city to 14 and killing hundreds of thousands of soldiers who had been nearby. The ethopian missile demolished the shack in the woods from which the nuke was launched but more importantly destroyed the Xcom kill squad that had been ready to pounce on the weakened Aztec Tomb. Knowing any invasion had been delayed the two remaining workable cities began to produce more spaceship parts and Xcom squads. Knowing that a nuke to the capital would be devastating, Xcom units were sent into no mans land to attempt to delay the creation of another missle base. This allowed for 2 more spaceship parts to be launched but these Xcoms were overrun and a new base was created. As the missile impacted into Mr. Manager the Ethopian government was pleased with the people saved by the bomb shelter they had built, they were less pleased when the Xcoms arrived. What followed was a furious battle in which the Ethopian troops who had been evacuated out of missile range range attempted to stop the flood of Xcoms that were arriving to take their capital, but for every Xcom they killed two more landed and they were throwing themselves at the crumbling walls of Mr. Manager. It was not long until it fell but the Byzantine Xcoms were greatly reduced in number. Knowing that they would have to take the city back next turn or risk Nuclear destruction on their last undamaged city Big Yellow joint that was building the last spaceship part needed to win and leave this planet, the Ethopian government once again turned to the black market. They could not buy nuclear weapons because they had lost their sources of Uranium after their former allies were caught on the edge of a nuclear blast aimed at Byzantian cities. So they turned to the next best thing: stealth bombers. However they were 90 gold short which they would make back next turn, but it could not wait. So they knew they had to sell something, and seeing how after the mass death the Ethopian people were in a state of Euphoria they decided to sell two Zoos (presumably leading to the hit movie ‘we bought a zoo’) the funds, raised they prepared the stealth bombers for the offensive against the city that used to be there’s. The following turn came and was a bloodbath and by the end of it Mr Manager was 4 population ruin, but by god the Ethopian troops cheard, it was our ruin! Now all they had to do was survive for 10 more turns and they could get off this godforsaken planet. Their people were dead; the world’s most populous empire was now the least populous, but they all wouldn't fit on the spaceship anyway so the work went on. The still sizable army prepared for the last stand and to defend their capital from the oncoming invasion, they backed out of the range of nuclear attack and waited. The turns ticked by until the booster was finished, 9, 8, 7, 6 and still no Byzantine Xcoms had arrived, 4, 3, 2,... at 1 they started pouring in. The space that had been emptied for fear of nuclear attack was now filled with Xcoms far outnumbering the defending troops, but even now the Ethopian leaders laughed. “Take ‘Mr Manager’!” they said, “we only need to survive one more turn.” Theodora responded “oh you think we’re going to take it?” More chilling words had never been spoken as the Ethopian leadership realized their mistake. Dread sunk in the next turn when the spaceship part was finished but could not be launched unless it was from the capital. The capital now surrounded by Byzantine Xcoms. The Ethopian troops advanced in an attempt to open up a path for the booster, but they were outnumbered; for every Xcom they killed two more would drop in, and so the Ethopian troops pulled back to a defensive position around their last city while they searched for an answer to their predicament. After a couple turns of a stalemate, Byzantium could not capture the capital, if they did it would simply move to big yellow joint and Ethiopia could launch the last part and win, but Ethiopia could not break through. The answer to this predicament? Airports. After a further period of prayer great engineers appeared and built and airport in Big Yellow Joint. However, they needed an airport in the destination city as well, so again they prayed and a few turns later Mr. Manager also had an airport. Then they realized something that broke their hearts, you can’t airlift into the city. You can only airlift to the land around it, the land covered in Xcoms. The two open tiles were covered in fallout and so could not be utilized. Despair began to set in, could they really have gotten so close only to fall at the finish line, unable to launch their final spaceship part and doomed to servitude under the cruel Byzantian dictators? It certainly appears so, as more military units appear to take Aztec Tomb and put Big yellow joint at the mercy of a nuclear strike that would destroy their last spaceship part. Despair set in, in a last ditch attempt the few remaining units attempted to open a path to the capital, this failed like all the previous attempts and so fearing nuclear death they sent the spaceship part into the sea. Inspiration struck as soon as the spaceship part left the city and so operation blazing sun was born. A settler was bought and sent into the sea just turns before a nuke hit Big Yellow Joint. The settler, SS booster and Nuclear Submarine sailed north where they were met by one of the few remaining Xcom squads. The settler and the Xcom squad made their way to a one tile Ice island where they would wait for their signal while the SS booster waited in the sea with the submarine. This mission was top secret only a select few, including the Hunnic Ambasador knew about the mission. So the final steps of the plan were put in place the Ethopian leaders who had not left with the settler began to profess a desire to finish of the war and end their suffering, Theodora slowly complied. Knowing that the SS booster had left the city and wanting to avoid a backdoor route to the capital the capture of Big Yellow Joint was a slow process one awaited gleefully by the inhabitants of the arctic island. Soon the yellow joint was covered in Byzantine blue and the capital was next to fall. The arctic settler had to be careful if they settled too early the Byzantine satellites could spot them marking the failure of the mission but if they failed to settle before the capital fell then they would lose the game. So as the capital was assaulted and as its health was reduced the signal was sent, the arctic shack of Addis Ababa was settled. But this was no mere shack because as soon as Mr. Manager was captured Addis Ababa would be the capital meaning that the other five spaceship parts would magically teleport to it, and so the booster could be launched and victory could be achieved. So it was that as the Purple and blue of Byzantium was raised over the palace of Mr Manager for the last time a great rumble was heard to the north and as the monstrous spaceship carrying the last of the Ethopian people from this earth, the great armies of Byzantium were left dumbfounded in the nuclear wasteland that was now there home. The now enslaved Ethiopians looked to the sky not with jealousy, but with hope. Some day, they prayed, Ethiopia would return from space, and end the tyranny of that is Byzantine rule. TL;DR: Incredibly close late-game nuclear war with an interesting asymmetrical scenario. Ultimately ended in a 10+ turn stand off where one player had already launched 5 space ship part before anyone else had launched any, but another player blockaded their capital with XCOM Squads and prevented them from getting their last part to the capital. The player with the space ship parts snuck the last part onto a snow tile in the north, waited till the turn before they lost their capital, founded the city and launched the spaceship without me noticing it.