"I caught a cleat on the starting block coach...." Emperor level, I'm the Mayans , it's 470 BC. I didn't get a real good expansion as soon as I'd like since my first two cities were heavy on flood plains and light on shields. My third city became my settler factory and I have 8 nice cities now, but I'm rushing to settle some fairly attractive open territory on the peninsula to my North and Southwest. "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right..." Egypt and Germany have me hemmed in on the South and Southast and although I'm not extremely weak militarily, I have no Iron. I do have Ivory but I'm several turns away from Mathematics and the ToZ and I don't have anything to trade for it right now. The Vikings are to my North. Unfortunately they're closer to the only nearby source of Iron and may well get it before me. I really don't want a bunch of Berserkers parked on my borders but may not be able to help it. Starting in the middle of a continent like this isn't my favorite place to begin a game because it's easy to get squeezed between a couple of early powerhouses. In this case all 3 of my neighbors are certainly larger than I am and I don't really like the idea of picking an early war with any of them. It's pretty likely I could find my Javelins going against Swordsmen or Berserkers. Those guys attack wearing smelly old bearskins, for crying out loud. Normally at this point in the game, I'm ready to wage at least a spoiling war against a neighbor to "liberate" a couple of cities, but that slow start put me off schedule. "Cleo sees a 'Welcome' mat where none exists..." Starting this turn, several (6) War Chariots have begun infiltrating my Southeastern borders. They're not in one stack and they're not coming directly at any of my cities. I have an embassy with Cleo, but no ROP. Biff (nickname for my military advisor) tells me I'm "about average" compared to the Egyptians and Vikings and "weak compared to" the Germans. I'm pretty sure that weakness is due to Bismarck's ability to build a few swordsmen, not due to a huge numerical advantage. I've been working with Biff on providing a little better military intelligence but no results so far. "What to do, what to do?" Although Egypt's agression level is mid-range, I have been sneak attacked by them before. But this doesn't really look like an attack against me. The chariots aren't all headed toward one of my cities and it appears they're actually moving through my territory to get to Scandanavia. It's gut-check time. Do I tell Cleo to get her asp out of Mayan territory? Or do I trust my instinct that she's really just passing through on the way to have a word or two with Ragnar? I've decided there's very little chance the Egyptians are going to attack me. " Almost no chance? " Now in the situation I've described there's no guarantee that Egypt will declare war if I toss them out - or that they won't. If it was Germany the odds would be a lot higher due to their higher agression level. But any civ with several offensive units in my territory is a potential threat to decide to fight instead of leaving. As I said, the Egyptian chariots aren't in a stack. They could have gone straight to one of my unexpanded size 2 cities on the border and attacked in one turn. But they didn't. I have an embassy with Egypt and Cleo's attitude is polite - about as good as it's likely to be at this point in the game. Add to that the fact that I have Bismarck sitting nearby with a very agressive attitude, swordsmen, and a long history of getting into a fight whenever there's one available. I really don't want to get dogpiled right now and this has the makings of one. If I'm right, the only real downside is that I'm going to have some foreign troops blocking a couple of my roads. A nuisance, but one I think I can live with. "Pucker factor..." Yeah, that's right. I'm considering letting the Egyptians stain the sacred Mayan soil. I've decided that Cleo's forces probably aren't going to attack me, but are on their way to kick some Viking butt. "But, wilbill", you say. "Egyptian troops would NEVER trample through MY territory without paying the price. I can't stand the thought of foreign devils crossing MY nation while I stand idly by and allow it. Better death than dishonor" Okay, fine. If that's the way you really feel. But let me describe what happened before you write me off as a wimpy builder who thinks a Diplolmatic victory is the ultimate Civ 3 experience. "Imagine that. I was right..." Yep, sure enough. 5 turns later, those chariots are in Scandanavia attacking the first size 1 city they encounter. Of course there are more Egyptian units moving through my territory on their way North by now. And, wonder of wonders, Germany joins Egypt in an MA against Scandanavia. Looks like I had my opponents figured corrrectly. "Lazy, but not passive..." During the next 15 turns or so, the combined German/Egyptian forces razed 3 Viking cities near my border. I'd even helped Cleo out by signing an ROP (Gasp!). But I'd been busy, too. I had two cities cranking out settlers so that I could expand to the Northeast as I'd planned (claiming that iron deposit) and plant Mayan cities on the rubble of those late, unlamented Scandanavian towns. By that point it appeared that the best nearby terrain for me to move into was in the same spot as a couple of German cities. Hmmm. A couple of turns earlier, the first Berserkers had shown up succesfully counterattacking some German units. Looks like Ragnar found another source of iron. The Egyptians had taken moderate losses and were only making token attacks into Scandanavia by this time. So, I decided it was time to go to Ragnar's assistance. "Military Alliance? No way..." My empire was growing and thriving as a result of the 3-way war among my neighbors. I'd added 7 cities, kicked up my research spending, improved my military and city infrastructures. I'd finished the Statue of Zeuss so I easily could have started sending Ancient Cavalry against Germany and taken those cities I coveted. But why? What worked once oughta work twice, right? So I offered Ragnar a ROP - which he quickly accepted on the same turn the ROP with Egypt ended. With the ability to use my roads, his army made quick time into Germany, stopping to pick off several German units strung out on their way North. And I had a closeup view of this action since it took place in the middle of my territory. 10 or 12 turns later I planted Mayan cities on the remains of two former German settlements. When the 20 turn ROP with the Vikings was up, I let it go. The delay in getting attackers into Germany allowed the Germans to build up defenses. After a couple of feeble attacks the Vikings gave up. A few turns later Egypt signed a peace treaty with Ragnar and a couple of turns after that, Germany and Scandanavia were at peace. "You may feel a slight sting, that's pride..." So yeah, I let 3 civs' troops run all over my territory for about 30 turns. Even gritted my teeth when they fought pitched battles there. During that time, I gained 9 cities, 5 of which I'd have had to fight for if I hadn't let my neighbors do the fighting for me. Do I feel like a wimp? Let me quote Marsellis Wallace (one of the greats of post-modern philosophy) "Pride only hurts, it never helps." Epilogue... I've used this ploy several times with great success. I've also shot myself in the foot with it a couple of times. Before you try it, I recommend that you learn all you can about AI behavior. If those original War Chariots had been in one stack coming straight at one my cities, I would have immediately started moving defenders and building Javelins. If I'd seen Egyptian workers moving away from my borders same thing. If they'd been German Swordsmen, I'd have been very hesitant to trust them at all - and I never even thought about giving the Germans the upper hand with an ROP. But if you know your enemies, have an adequate defensive military, and don't get too caught up in macho posturing, it's possible under the right circumstances to let the AI's do your fighting for you.