Shadow game

Usually, I'm very dove-ish with demands or friendly asks. I value diplomacy points highly.
Getting techs to trade is much easier than making friends...

What stops me from handing out techs completely like popcorn is if the tech makes my target stronger, or if it would jepordize some goal of mine (winning lib, getting a wonder etc) OR if it upsets someone else.
Here, Bella seems to be a lost cause... She will likely be a isolated (or almost isolated) hindu.

I think I would have traded maths for IW with charly as soon as math was discovered (was that impossible)?
Then tried to get alpha for math+IW with Bella.

As it is now, I would tell Bella to take a hike, and then try to get IW from her.

*Edit* Gifting math to Charly to hopefully get up to pleased could be an option. *Edit*
Thanks Krikav.

So it sounds like my logic not to gift Isabella maths stands

Charlie only got alpha previous turn and IW now so should still be able to trade him IW and *might* still manage your suggested alpha trade with Isabella next turn - given getting Charlie on side is quite important perhaps I'll go for your other suggestion of trading maths for IW with Isabella and gifting Charlie maths. I would like to be able to beg from Charlie before I DOW Pacal. I didn't see value in trading maths to Charlie last turn for religious techs/AH/masonry but maybe that was a mistake?

Oh, you mentioned Pacal's units a while back - he has had axemen ever since I could see inside his borders. I haven't seen him with any chariots.
Getting masonry might be a good idea since it could make the construction attack a pair of turns faster. The other stuff I wouldn't care too much about. I'm generally very careful about taking WFYABTA limit hits.
That Pacal have had metal long means he likely have more metal units, which add a tiny bit to the difficulty, easier to swarm over archers than axes, but it doesn't change much strategywise really.
Is there any value in trading for AH to get to HBR quicker and possibly get a chariot to go in with the first stack to counter axes, get vision or become a medic? And then get elephants earlier too. Definitely less helpful than masonry allowing you to build catapults earlier but worth thinking about perhaps
Update to T89.

Quite a busy turn set.

Refuse Isabella's demand for maths but then she starts plotting that turn and won't trade IW - I assume she's plotting on me. Try a cheeky beg from Zara to prevent her getting to me as closed borders already with Hannibal but fails.

Spoiler Zara beg :

Spoiler Surprise bonus on T80. :

Spoiler I'm beginning to worry about border tensions with Zara as he settles the island :

I messed up with the intended trading - forgot to gift Charlie maths and on T87 Pacal is the last to alpha and now everybody has maths :(

Spoiler T87 tech trades :

But T88 I get a lifetime of luck all rolled into one and Isabella DOW's Hannibal. I think I messed up here as probably should have opened borders with Isabella who is only worst enemy of Hannibal whom I don't really care about now he is at war and will be my next target.

Spoiler Salvation :

Spoiler Even more good fortune :

I convert to Buddhism ASAP but now Isabella won't open borders hence why I think I messed up slightly earlier.

Spoiler Sadly I have spare resources to burn but nobody to trade them with :

Spoiler Inching towards construction :

I have 10 axemen and 1 spearman. I think I've got the balance between tech and production wrong. GS has just popped in Bibracate - I almost wonder about doing what I have never done and settling him in the capital as might just get me to construction quicker which is key now - alternative is use him to bulb (?)philosophy in due course which is probably better as getting back in the trading game is likely to be key after my earlyish war.

I've overbuilt workers as they've run out of things to do and are building roads for speeding up the pre-chopped forests.

I might be able to get some good value out of construction if I'm really lucky - nobody has it yet...

Edit: Sorry @Mr_Trotsky - I only saw your message after I'd posted - I did wonder about AH in trade as additional to your points horses tile would be better than some of the tiles I'm working - I didn't get anything out of maths in the end and this was probably an error


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When you refuse a demand they start to plot immediatly if they are out for revenge. So I guess her plot was the turn after...? Or was the fist already in effect?

Balancing teching/production/GPeople is always super hard. Always too much of one or the other.
Saving the GSci to bulb philo sounds wise, thats a great way to catch up.
If you really want to burn him right away, I think an academy in Tolosa might be better? Gems+3 dyes and perhaps a few more cottages must be better than just settlement.
Plus, the 4 culture could help you control the gems!

I think I would trade away construction right away, starting with currency from mansa, might need 40-60g in that trade to get it.
Only Bella has ivory it seems... How many does she have?
I think ivory is a strategic resource... but I'm not sure, could be luxery only. Bella trades away strategic at pleased and happy at cautious.
You can even give Pacal construction, him building catapults is likely no problem, but him building elephants is... so try to figure out if thats a risk at all.

WIll be a fun chopfest for catapults shortly then!
One turn into catapults in each city, then whip them.. then fill up with chops as required to hopefully get one catapult per city per turn.

Do you have some preliminary path through Pacals empire? Split the stack or no?
I would have sworn blind that Isabella only started plotting when I refused but logically I must have missed her red fist as she made her demand.

I think saving for bulb with GS sounds best - improving dye will take a while although keeping that gems tile would be nice.

I wish I'd followed the suggestion about trading for AH as might have been in a position to trade for HBR too. I'm going to be short on gold when I get to construction, is it too much of a risk to accumulate some gold for a few turns before trading in case a bit of gold will get me currency, potentially could then trade construction for AH and currency for HBR if I got lucky…

How would I know how much ivory Isabella has? AI normally won’t trade resources with me if I already have it?

Preliminary attack vector is hop on the wine tile and take his 3 best cities north of that. Route to his interior lies through his southern city so don’t divide stack then. Might be worth splitting for capital and second city as after that he's toast. The former barbarian city can wait - I'm not looking for border tension with Hannibal…
An elepult rush without elephants?

Spoiler Construction is in and only one person who wants it in trade :

Spoiler No dice - Hannibal won't offer me anything - if he wasn't worst enemy of Charlie I'd gift him it :

Spoiler State of the nation :

So this is it. I have a stack of 15 axemen and 1 spear. Chopping and whipping out some catapults - 2 per city in the next 3-4 turns doesn't seem too unrealistic - I guess whipping the gems away (after the grassland mine) in Tolosa at this point is a sacrifice worth making for the short term boost of getting to war ASAP. There's about 5-6 units in most of Pacal's cities so I think I'll have to go one city at a time. Chichen Itza, then the capital, then the big city to the west of the capital hopefully. If I get that far, I would then double back for Minoan and aim to peace out. Don't think I'll be bombarding with catapults - the interior cities have walls and Chichen Itza with 20% cultural defence just needs taking down ASAP. I note Pacal is about to get HBR - he doesn't have elephants resource currently - hopefully it stays that way...

Currently it would cost be 81 gold to tech to AH at 100% research - I might be able to get part way there and beg it off Charlie for peace treaty before my DOW. Elephants seem a long way away especially now I've changed my scientists to mines in the capital.

I'm going to pause for at least 24 hours here as I think it's a fairly crucial juncture and don't want to repeat yesterday's mistake of playing on before all advice recieved.


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No HBR in near term is kind abit annoying, but 15 axes is a really respectable number! Maybe you started to build abit too early, holding back research...
Losing out on trades was also unfortunate, having gallics instead of axes would have been nice too.
But as it it now, catapults will swarm out.
I don't think I would whip away gems just yet. They will be important to providing commerce once you start getting conquest and possible pillage gold.

If cities lack walls, then bombardment might very well be worth it, depends on how many you have and when..
We don't want 15 eager axes to stand stagnant for multiple turns though! With so many units, risking a few of them (thereby gaining highly promoted veterans while also losing a few) is a good trade if it can save a few catapults.

So if we have 4 catapults for the first city, bombarding with 3 and then doing collateral with a fourth and then just swarming in with axes might be good. Check the odds and make judgements about that.
I always find it hard to avoid building units too early when I don’t have alpha or IW (or iron). You’ve got all these hammers and you don’t really have anything to put them into other than units - which you will need eventually - and it’s awkward to just leave nearly complete units in the queue because there’s only one type of useful unit too build. Having IW or AH (if you have horses somewhere) would have helped you avoid finishing units but the trades didn’t pan out. I might have considered the odd archer or spear to avoid finishing units but it’s not great, particularly as Pacal doesn’t seem to have horses so they’re clearly suboptimal units. I imagine the unit cost has been unpleasant though.
I’m never really sure how AI unit movement works but I wonder if sticking a couple of units on the forested hill SE of Minoan would cause Pacal to move units there from other cities. They could then potentially be picked off in the open and would at least be kept away from defending anything useful. It’ll probably cause him to whip units in Minoan but not sure how much of a problem that would be.
Thanks you both for the advice.

Yeah, my failure to get anything out of maths has been a disaster - IW was just unfortunate as never on offer (just that tease at the start of the turn when Isabella demanded maths and then refused to trade IW after I rejected her demand) but AH should have been done - a lesson for next time. Agree AH would have helped avoid my economic collapse with queing a few more units - unit cost is 15:gold:/turn and rising - it's been frustrating watching construction get ever further away from me! I'm so :commerce: poor, I would have struggled to even afford archery for some archers :eek2:

Getting the library earlier would have been better in retrospect too. As for starting units less early, I ran out of other useful things to build but suppose I could have stalled on a library in Vienne even if it didn't get completed and a granary in Tolosa even if it wasn't strictly needed - always hurts to just burn :hammers:.

I also don't know how it would affect Pacal's movements but I like the idea of sticking a couple of axes on the forested hill SE of Minoan - I'll need to hold some of my stack back somewhere in that region or he'll take Vienne/Tolosa and that seems like a strong defensive tile and I'd rather we didn't fight in my territory.
2 turn update.

Spoiler Zara offers sailing :

Sailing has no utility at this point and I would rather not add to WFYABTA so I reject this but the most salient point in this screenshot is the red fist next to Charlie and the fact he is no longer pleased with me.

Spoiler Cancel trades with Pacal? :

I am beginning to wonder if Pacal remains the target and if not, he's the only AI who is reliably my friend currently so I refuse the demand - would have been nice to have had a peace treaty with Mansa. I've sent my great scientist to scout for Charlie's stack - it's not in Prague or Augsburg which are lightly defended but it could be in the stone city. I really need to know if I'm Charlie's target before I DOW anyone as war on 2 fronts would likely be GG. The problem is even if Pacal or I aren't his target, whoever he goes for I think he'll need to transit through mine or Pacal's territory so it's going to look like he's stacking in a dangerous place. It's a big problem not being at war as by T100 I'd be ready to go with 4 catapults in place to attack Chichen Itcha and more on the way and the unit cost continues to accumulate and the risk of longbows is becoming very high. I need Charlie to DOW anyone ASAP.

If I'm Charlie's target I should be able to defend myself but it's probably a loss at that point as already behind and unlikely to gain anything out of a war. If he attacks someone else however, I foresee some opportunities - would be great if Pacal was his target and we could have a shared war friendship. If somebody else, I think I might be better nearly completing them and begging AH and archery off Zara and Pacal and backstabbing Charlie whilst his units are far away - Prague's a nice city and I could use Augsburg both of which are on flatland - would need a couple of spears for this.

Spoiler Looking for Charlie's stack :


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I would go in anyway. With that army and the initial progress you are bound to get, it should be easy to peace out with Pacal and have your units teleported home again if Charly decides your faith isn't pure enough!
Charly has catapults now, so he will spend 24 turns bombarding your capital if you whip out some walls.

Axeman in build queue in Vienne? You don't need more axes! :D
Agreed that it’s time to roll the dice. Waiting around to see what Charlemagne is up to seems more likely to result in a loss than getting backstabbed by him which can be managed to a certain degree. Both Pacal and Charlie are candidates for early feudalism so I’d want to get cracking.

I think there’s also a reasonable chance of him going back up to pleased through shared faith soon allowing a beg even if you are about to get -1 for declaring on his friend. Never 100% sure how it works but I think there’s a hidden modifier which means you get a bonus if both you and the AI are bottom half score wise. He could drop back any turn if he whips population or Zara gets a tech.

Is Charlie pleased with Pacal? If so, very likely that it’s you. Close borders generally seems to be more important than attitude in my experience.
Go, go, go...

Spoiler Charlie, pleased, beg AH :

I made this beg from Charlie the turn before DOW on Pacal thinking that his fist is likely red for me and it would be better to have 10T peace to get war with Pacal done then turn my troops around for Charlie.

Spoiler Zara beg on turn of DOW :

Spoiler Stack going in... :

Spoiler The taking of Chichen Itza :

I bombarded with 3 catapults and then attacked with 2 at less than 50% odds as odds for axemen were horrible. Of course then lost one axe at ~96% but happy to take a city on second turn of the war.

Bit of an error in Tolosa in that I moved both my axes out to threaten Minoan and then had to whip an emergency axe defender to save the city from Pacal's axe.

Spoiler End of war? :


Sent 4 axes and one catapult to Minoan and got a bit lucky. Less lucky in Lakamha where I thought I'd overdefended it with ~4 axes and almost got wiped out there including a CR3 axe :(.

I think I have little choice but to peace out now. I could get to his capital before longbows but with that elephant, one full health swordsman, one axeman with 4.2 health and a pretty beaten up axe next to Lakamha I'm likely to lose that city and Minoan is far from assured of remaining in my hands with an unpromoted axeman with 2.8 health vs the full health holkan at the bottom of the screenshot. He'll offer 10 gold for peace which will give me the chance to get my stack back in place to defend capital and Chichen Itza from Charlie who is still plotting very, very likely to DOW me in 3 turns when peace treaty expires.


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Nice initial progress! Thats good cities you got and Pacal have gotten cut back in size by that.
I would NOT sign peace treaty, but it does look like it's time for a sneaky ceasefire to redistribute troops and prepare for a new phase.
You should really scout Charly and see where he has his units. You have a huge standing army and need to keep it rolling, cant afford to wait for Charly to DoW you. If you are 100% sure, then you should just go for him instead.
But if you see his hand, and now what will be comming and when, you can just ignore him and make another run for Pacal.

Try to establish a solid front so you know where his units are comming from, and so you don't have to split the stack so much, try to conserve units.
Your soul is now in your army and not in your cities, so if things go really bad and Charly waltzes in and snags your capital, you can likely take it back and recover.

The conquest gold you have gotten should probably have been turned to HBR by now. Maybe ceasefire, pillage abit and run maximum science to reach HBR for elephants.
If you reach elephants and don't lose too much of your lovely catapults before that, you probably have all techs you need for quite some time.
If 100% science and running specialists and max commerce still takes too much time, you should whip some spears, charly has HAs.

You know who gave Pacal ivory, and what he gave for it? Might be able to cancel the deal somehow?
I don't think Pacal was getting ivory in trade; I think it was coming from Minoan - which he just lost. So his one elephant ought to be the only one he gets.
Ah! You are probably right about that @coanda.
And thats very good news, will keep Pacal soft for longer.

Neither Uxmal nor Mutal seem to be on hills either, so should be no problem. Just take it slow and steady,
I don't think Pacal was getting ivory in trade; I think it was coming from Minoan
Good point, I'm pretty sure you’re right and now I can stop raging at some random AI for trading it to him!

I would NOT sign peace treaty, but it does look like it's time for a sneaky ceasefire to redistribute troops and prepare for a new phase.
Will do - should definitely have figured this out myself.

You should really scout Charly and see where he has his units.
I had my scout in his territory and he has a reasonable amount of units but not clearly stacked on my border. The reason the scout isn’t currently in his territory is *ahem* I got confused thinking the GS was a general and was going to make him a medic :blush: - he can go back to Charlie now!

If you are 100% sure, then you should just go for him instead.
Hard to know. I don’t see a clear stack but surely if it was Pacal he'd have done it by now…? I'll ceasefire and go again against Pacal. Guess Charlie's plans will become clear in future!
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