I got into reading about the Civ II "endless war" again and I really missed Civ IV after reading it which led me to remember that I had an unfinished HRE game from months ago that I picked back up. In it I was friends with the Americans, Mali, Inca, and Dutch, while the Byzantines and Zulu were my perennial enemies. The game also contained the Mayans (vassals of the Zulu), the Persians, the Vikings (who we had an on and off again friendship/hateship) and Carthage which was consigned to the frozen north and in the unfortunate position of being at the mercy of both the Dutch and Vikings. Anyways, I didn't win because I never registered that the Dutch had a very large tech lead (and apparently I had turned off tech trading, but was nicely in 2nd place). As the game was about to end, the three greatest powers became the following: -The Dutch, who had vassalized the Mayans and the Zulu after we beat the crap out of them during a war together. It had long been my ambition to relieve some of the cultural pressure on Prague and I was able to grab a city or two to help with that. -Myself -The Byzantines, who had vassalized Lincoln (to my sadness). A turn before the Dutch spaceship reached Alpha Centauri, Justinian decided it would be a great time to invade me, so even though the game was over the next turn I felt like I had to see that war to its conclusion. Justinian invaded with a surprise attack at the poorly defended and new city of Besancon (that was my own fault), and in hindsight I should have seen his attack coming since he was always back on his bs every 50 turns or so. I was able stop his invasion to counterattack around the city of Nodwengu (a former Zulu city), to the east of Besancon and retake the city fairly quickly and that front became me repelling smaller stacks than the first for awhile. The other fronts of the war included fighting on the terra-version of South America (I really liked terra maps in IV) where I lost the city of Burgundian in that surprise attack as well, and a large island to the east of my homeland with 4 of the 5 cities belonging to the Americans (my city Strassburg divided both American halves and was the most developed and culturally dominant city on the island even though it was only an exclave originally) . The colonies in South America weren't exactly well defended either but luckily it was the only one to fall. I was able to draft in a military and send the Byzantines packing. Fighting the Americans who were technologically ill-equipped for Justinian's aggression against me I was able to bomb the crap out of the Americans and stomp them with superior tech. Made me sad because Lincoln had been a buddy, but I needed to secure Strassburg. While this is going on (and of course there was some naval action spattered throughout in the southern islands and around the big island where a major front was raging) the Byzantine assault eventually peters out and we're confined to mostly scattered naval engagements and colonial skirmishes. But then, the unthinkable happens: Willem van Oranje, who has also declared war on and subjugated Carthage, subjugated the Inca, and conquered cities from the Vikings (who by this time had signed up willingly for Vassalage with me), has decided to break our treaties and friendships and surprise attacked at Besancon, which is on the border of his empire anyways. He sent a MASSIVE stack with technologically superior troops - a fully outfitted late game army as I'm trying to research robotics for Mech Infantry, and I don't have any aluminum either so I can't build a lot of late game units. I was stomped on the Western Front and scrambled to throw together an effective defense to slow his advance. I was able to slow him enough and delay him (especially thanks to slowness since he couldn't use my rails) with whatever I could bring to bear that I was able to get Mech Infantry to actually join the battle on my side. The Mayans and Zulu to my North and Northwest gave me trouble, but not much EFFECTIVE trouble and I was able to push them both back more, grabbing about four more cities. I also lost a tiny island outpost that was undefended (no big deal, it had a single tile of workable land in the ocean) to the Inca. Eventually, I take enough land from the Mayans that I break their vassalage with the Dutch and they peace out. The Zulu front became fairly quiet so I focused on the Dutch. They had moved east and taken Nodwengu, passed by Khangela, and went across my desert ithsmus with a fort to where Basel was, taking that instead. Delaying actions became more effective as their stacks split or were thinning, but they REALLY like paratroopers and dropped a massive stack at the Viking city to the north of it and easily took it over (along with Jelling, Birka, Nidaros, Tonsberg, Odense, and Haithabu). Their blitz was insane, but the war went on for awhile so eventually they were willing to sign for peace. In addition to my treasury and a per turn tribute, they wanted Basel which I had reconquered twice. I refused and offered Khangela instead, as it was on the other side of the ithsmus and harder to defend, which Willem accepted. With that, the first Holy Roman-Dutch War was ended. By this point I was seething, Willem was a menace to the world at large, a megalomaniac hellbent on further domination and he had to be stopped. Who cares that he already won? I needed my REVENGE. Now, I didn't have Aluminum, but I could build gunships and Mech Infantry and an important new weapon - Guided Missiles (Important note: Nukes were banned as soon as they could be and I didn't contest it, so those are out of play). Oh boy I forgot how much I loved these things. My airforce was largely ineffective without aluminum, despite my brave fighters and bombers doing their best, but Guided Missiles don't get blocked. So as I prepared my massive war stack of about 100 units, I also built 64 guided missiles and stacked these all at the isthmus. After about 20 turns or so, my stack was ready and Willem was preoccupied by invading my old enemies: the Byzantines (and they weren't doing well). Oh the irony - I was about to join a war on the same side as the Byzantines, and Lincoln conveniently pleaded with me for help. You bet, old buddy! Now, Willem still had a decent force in Khangela, but it was no match for a stack of missiles followed by gunships and Mechs, supported with whatever else I could cobble together (tanks, artillery, etc.). Now it was Willem's turn to be blindsided and I blitzed all the way east back to Besancon, liberated the Viking city to my direct north. Against the Zulu I took New York as a prize. Unfortunately I couldn't get much farther without aluminum, so we signed a peace deal. I returned Besancon as the price for a ceasefire and ended the second Holy Roman-Dutch War. I now prepared carefully so I could obtain Aluminum. You see, the Zulu had claimed an island I wanted with horses many years ago and it turned out that it had Aluminum as well. In addition to my other preparations I prepared a massive stack of Paratroopers. Knowing I wouldn't have the airforce to bomb the island into submission I built a stack of destroyers supported by missile cruisers AND on an uninhabited island culturally controlled by my city Genoa I built a fort where I stacked GUIDED MISSILES. So not only did I make ANOTHER stack of guided missiles for my western offensive, but the Zulu were going to get one. And they were also going to get one in the North during the planned Philadelphia-Washington-Boston offensive (in that order). And FURTHERMORE, I made ANOTHER missile stack and an army of Mech Infantry on my southern peninsula where the Persian city of Goth (one I missed conquering and didn't notice) sat. Finally, I built up my army in the new world to try and conquer some colonies from the Persians and/or Byzantines (whatever would work, I just wanted to land grab against these posers) As the war trumpets blared, I did a lot all at once. You see the Dutch decided to continue their reign of terror after another 20 turns and invade Mali, my friend, and they were falling faster than the Byzantines. Another great and rich nation falling to the horrid Willem, and he had to be stopped. My pride swelled as my even LARGER invasion forces mobilized. First, the invasion of the island of Eziqwaqweni. This...wasn't as glorious as I planned because First, Paratroopers need a turn after landing to attack. Second, the island of Leiden nearby had Jet Fighters so the casualty rate for the Paratroopers was incredibly high. I landed enough to take the City (about eight units) but that was about an 80% casualty rate due to the jets intercepting the jump. Oh well, most of them came from cities where they took a turn to produce. The city was taken the next turn but I would need to wait for resistance to end before I controlled the aluminum tile. I bombed Ergili in the new world and took that on that turn, and also swooped in on Goth after about a dozen and a half missiles eradicated the defenses and shredded the defenders so my mechs could essentially stroll in without any casualties. Philadelphia suffered a massive missile strike as I advanced with mechs. Dyrrachion in the New World suffered my bombardment as a column of Holy Roman soldiers strolled up and began a fairly quick siege. The Byzantines could slow me but didn't have the tech to stop me. I advanced once again on Besancon which quickly fell, and I pushed towards Bulawayo. Another stack pushed into former Viking territory and reclaimed Nidaros. I managed to reclaim that, Birka, Odense, Jelling, and Haithabu for the Vikings in my Northern offensive. Once Bulawayo fell, I split my stack with the larger going West to Ulundi and the south to a peninsula with Ondini. Both fell within a few turns after missiles and artillery showered the cities. Even better, Aluminum came online and I got to upgrade and build the most advanced units by this point, so my stacks just became stronger. I also grabbed Jute and Zohak from the Persians and Dyrrachion in the New World, and my offensive in the Northeast against the Zulu saw Philadelphia, Washington (the Zulu capital) and Boston fall as well. The Zulu were only left with San Francisco on the original home continent, and though the Persians briefly contested and retook Boston from me, it ended up in my hands by the War's end. Willem and I peaced out without other terms - he had enough by this point. Even better, Mali had asked for my protection since they got crushed in the Old World and became my vassal AND the Persians broke free from the Dutch, ending the third Holy Roman-Dutch War. Of course, I was riding high off of this. I vowed to be the savior of the world from William's aggression. I had a stack in Ulundi from which to start another offensive with missiles, I started preparing stacks in the Viking cities I had reconquered and others, and also decided to start one in Koumbi Saleh to help the Malians push into their former territory. Only this time...I let my hubris get ahead of me. Willem pulled all of his forces together and as the ceasefire ended he declared war right back. I simply did not have the time to get together what I needed. Once again, Birka, Haithabu, and Jelling fell on the first turn easily. My stack in Ulundi was threatened by what was an INSANE stack size. I tried to pull back towards my core territory to link up with other forces. I was spread too thin. My elite army got caught in Bulawayo. I gave up Ulundi and Ondini without much resistance to attempt to save my elite stack. It was impossible. The fall of Ulundi would reset the cultural borders massively. I couldn't use the rails to get out the next turn. I was trapped. I watched in horror as my stack was whittled to nothing. They took a LOT of Dutch troops with them, but in the end I lost Bulawayo with what were probably tens of thousands of lives. That was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced in Civ IV. Scrambling, I pulled back from the Viking territory toward my own lands. The Dutch had large (not as massive) stacks that would likely wipe out what I had in those cities and I HAD to retreat if I had any chance at fighting off the massive stack that I had already done a lot of damage to. The troops in Besancon couldn't escape. I cobbled everything I had left around Nodwengu, the ugliest site of the war. As their massive stack strolled in, I had pulled in every soldier, airplane, and missile I could and rained absolute hell on that stack. I also attacked it with everything I could, destroying close to half, and retreated back into Nodwengu. The Dutch would need another turn to get next to the city, so they needed two turns to attack. Nidaros, Odense, Uppsala, Bjorgvin, and Lodose fell quickly, leaving the Vikings with all of two cities on their home continent. I was unable to contest Birka for very long. The Dutch would now have to choose - commit to their Nodwengu offensive with their still significant stack and bring reinforcements, or retreat. They chose the former. And this worked in my favor. I lost a LOT of bombers and Jets and Artillery so I could mop up that stack. But in the end, I won. The land around the city burned and was teeming with Dutch and Holy Roman dead, but we won. The Dutch stacks kept coming, but they were smaller. More troops arrived from my core or through airlifts. We beat them back with the same tactics. Eventually there were multiple stacks on different tiles across the area all fighting one another and I took whatever advantage I had to beat them back. I was able to halt their offensive and smash them. I countered to the north and retook Uppsala and Nidaros. We contested Tonsberg, but had to fall back. I mopped up the Byzantine and Incan colonies nearby mine in bloody fighting since the Byzantines finally had modern tech. The rest of the war was smaller skirmishes around Nodwengu, naval activity outside my core, and larger but now significantly smaller battles in reconquered Viking lands. In the end, Willem accepted peace after my counterattack (stubbornly refusing for what felt like the longest time) and took 1000 gold from me for it. With that, the fourth Holy Roman-Dutch war was at an end. I was incredibly thankful Cyrus didn't attack as that would have complicated matters, instead he opted to remain neutral (along with his new Mayan vassal). My stack in Mali miraculously prevented the fall of Koumbi Saleh, but about 85% of the troops stationed there died defending it. The Dutch simply never committed the forces and the Inca army just wasn't as strong even though it was fairly large. With that result, I closed my game. I'm unsure if I will continue my own possible endless conflict, but it made for an awesome, blood racing story and series of wars that really Civ IV was able to best capture. I've had my memories in each of the Civs with the different wars, and I like/love every entry, but Civ IV just captures the tension and magic of repeated global conflict that I just don't think any other Civ game has come close to matching even more than a decade later. I hope you liked my story - let me know if you think I should end my pain or continue fighting the good fight (which would be a long and challenging road).