20 October 2008

Game II: Summary

The second game featured the Americans, the Anishnaabak, and the Aboriginals.

  • The Aboriginals fell short of a culture win by about a dozen turns, largely because of tactical errors early in the game. For the most part, they kept to themselves, although the force of their culture was a constant issue for their neighbors, especially the Zulus and the Americans, who both lived across a small strait of water to the West.

  • The Americans were led by idiots for several thousand years, settling cities with massive production power but, you know, no food. A late game comeback wiped out their Zulu neighbors to the South, but only moved them from mouth breathing troglodytes to middle of the pack.

  • The Anishnaabak were the potential victors of the game, but they got lost in a search for revenge against the Japanese. After repelling an early Japanese attack, the Anishnaabak spent two thousand years preparing for and planning a naval invasion of Japan, which, while highly successful, also allowed the Aniyonega to cruise to the victory of their choice: not only did they win by culture, but they also were leading in the race to build a spaceship.

Game I: Summary

This all started with a game featuring the Khoi San, the Germans, and the Dutch. The Khoi San were the victors, landing a colony on Alpha Centuri in the first part of the twentieth century.

  • The Dutch were my first attempt at a cultural victory, and they would have had a shot if I had, you know, read the rules correctly and figured out that on Marathon, it takes significantly more culture than on Normal speed. In any case, the Dutch appropriated about four cities in the course of the game due to their ever expanding artistic sphere of influence, most of them from their Cuban neighbors to the South. They also had some brilliant encounters with barbarians, with only a desperate last stand from a group of archers preventing Amsterdam from falling to the wandering hordes.

  • The Germans were swamped by jungle for much of the game, and were kept afloat only by a plethora of gems. They ran for about 1,000 years on virtually no economy at all, but were aiming directly for factories and panzers, and, once they were in hand, proceeded to exact serious revenge upon the Maori and Holy Romans to their East. It wasn't pretty, but it also was too late to be terribly effective.

  • The stars of the game were the Khoi San, who started out as the true light of the civilized world, spurred by the grandeur of the Pyramids to greater and greater heights of knowledge and culture, marred only by occasional conflicts with the Zimbabweans and Aztecs to their West. But then ... something changed, something horrible slipped, and the nobility of the early years moved into an arrogance and cruelty that was sad to behold. This came out most directly in a war with the Yemeni, who shared their Eastern border. Far advanced technologically, the Khoi San pillaged Yemeni lands for hundreds of years, forcing them into their cities and destroying all of the improvements in the outlying lands. It was pure cruelty for cruelty's sake, the equivalence of a bored thirteen year old torturing a small lizard, refusing to kill it outright. When the Khoi San finally launched a spaceship to Alpha Centuri, the rest of the world could only sigh, "good riddance."

This was a very engaging game: the Khoi San were the clear early heroes, and the idea of Khoi San world domination remains quite appealing. However, it was also a game that demonstrated how narrative threads can emerge: the noble empire took offense at a wayward declaration of war, and over the course of a few hundred years, began to, instead of being the light of the world, turn into its dark overlord.