This is a log of things that happened in the GMR game Pacal's Stupid Hat, along with my thoughts and plans as they developed. It is a little bit stream-of-consciousness - every time something significant happened or I had a thought, I added a paragraph, like some sort of blog. At times it might seem schizophrenic, but I've tried to keep the narrative readable.

This particular game was also chat-heavy. For brevity's sake I've not included entire chat logs, but I have included some of the more interesting and telling messages and summarised conversations where more appropriate.

Some text appears as links which have alt-text, this is so that readers can see at a glance the various attributes of Civs, wonders, units etc. Not everything though, because doing that was tedious as fuck.

(KKKlean Energy)



Fart Laffer

(Jedi Knight Luigi)


I find myself in a brutally hilly area, squeezed between mountains and sea. At least nobody will be waltzing an army into my face any time soon. To my north is England and east of England is Mongolia - flat terrain lies between the two, but it's just murderous hills between them and Babylon. If things kick off, I'm guessing I'll be the spectator.

That said, I'm already eyeing up a spot for what might be seen as aggressive expansion. Between the three of us is an area that looks promising for a second city - the Grand Mesa lies nearby and the whole region is surrounded by a ring of mountains (figure 1). There isn't much else in the way of resources - just an Ivory and some Bananas - but it's a defensible position with some jungle in the south which will help supercharge my science. If I can shit out a settler fast enough, maybe I can grab it and stick units in the choke points for defense. In pursuit of this effort, I'm tracing a line down Liberty for the free settler.

I've researched directly to Writing for the free Great Scientist (from Babylon's Unique Ability), and planted an academy (which more than doubles my science). I'm now making a run for the Great Library, and while I don't think I particularly need it, my UA makes it more useful to me than to anyone else.

Figure 1. Mountains as far as the eye can see. My settler is ready but I'm hiding it from Fart's snooping warrior.


I like to snoop on people's policies in the early game - it's a huge insight into people's intentions. The Global Politics screen reports that Fano, like myself, is working on Liberty. Fart Laffer has gone for Honor, which is always an interesting pick to see. Platystemon has no policies at all, which either means he's gone for two openers (Tradition then Liberty is not a bad one) or he hasn't bothered building a monument (his stunted border expansion is suggestive of this). I'm glad neither have gone for Liberty, lest it lead to a settler race for the turf I want.

First blood

Fart Laffer has stolen a settler from Fano, which was sent out without an escort. For shame. After some enquiries I learned that the settler was headed into the mountains near me, so I guess its demise is a welcome development. This could be an opportunity to forge a friendship with Fano and isolate Fart Laffer who I deem to be most likely to turn into a runaway, what with him picking Honor and, y'know, being Mongolia.


Fart has been called out on his two Honor policies but the attention quickly turned to me and my horrendous tech lead. Currently I'm running at 21 science (the others are generating 7 at best). Platystemon is within trade route range and determines that I'm 5 techs ahead (I have only 11 techs). I'm feeling pretty good about being surrounded by mountains right now. I finally have a settler on the move but I'm reconsidering where to plant it - somewhere more defensible might be better given the recent murmurings. My candidate location (formerly set aside for my third city) currently has a barbarian camp in the way (figure 1). No matter, I'll build the National College while my settler patiently waits.


Earlier smug musings about me being merely the spectator to any emerging conflict have given way to not-so-smug panic. mustardeleven has confirmed my fears:

Quite why he decided to reveal this information is unclear, but it's good to know. At the same time, Platystemon has planted his second city near the Grand Mesa (figure 2), which puts him in spitting distance. But this could actually turn out to be a welcome development. There is now potential for 4 trade routes between Babylon and England, 6 once my second city is up, and my huge tech lead will ensure plenty of science is leaked to Platystemon. My hope is that he will find this state of affairs preferable to war, and that he will, at the very least, remain neutral.

His response was not particularly telling:

But the mention of Mongolia was an opportunity to emphasise that particular threat:

Second cities

Son of a bitch. My attempt at clearing out the barbarian camp to make way for my settler fails by a single hitpoint. Now Fart's warrior can walk in, take the prize, and worst of all, stand in the way and generally be an annoying obstacle. Fart has also planted his second city (figure 2), and its location gets me thinking more about the inevitable Keshik menace. Had I positioned my city at the location of the barbarian camp, or even on the hill south-west of it (my initial backup option), Fart would have had an easy time grinding it down with Keshiks through the mountain pass and sending a Horseman in for the take. Even the Great Wall wouldn't hold him off. But if I plant the city directly west of the camp, Keshiking it will not nearly be so easy. I lose the mountain, but I keep two Bananas and a Wheat (the other Wheat, and the Wine, will surely be claimed by Fart). So perhaps this short-term setback has prevented me from making a long-term mistake.

Figure 2. Everybody is whipping their second city out.

Keshik panics

Further discussion with Platystemon reveals that he is well aware of the threat of Keshiks, so I doubt my comments told him anything he didn't already know. He has made it pretty clear that Fart Laffer must be dealt with (though he does not hold high hopes for his survival). I think I can set aside my paranoia now - I'm confident that he at least will work with me to oppose Fart Laffer, and that I don't need to worry about the English coming for me for my science. But it seems the Mongol Problem could come about long before Keshiks are running around. Platystemon has deduced the techs that he possesses, and one of them is Bronze Working - a clear sign (to me at least) that early warmongering is on the cards. I suspect Fano will be the first target here, and I've sent a warning in the hope that Fano can put up a fight. The fall of any capital city to the Mongols would be the ruin of the world.

(A complete lie of course, I have it on no authority whatsoever. I also lied about gifting units - but my hope was that this would lend credibility to my belief that Fano was an imminent target.)

But Fano is sceptical, and thinks I'm the real target here.

I follow this up with a lengthy explanation of how Fart is the far more serious threat, even desperately ratting out on Carthage's intention to twist the knife (mustardeleven had, apparently, contacted Fart to try and get in on divvying up Fano's empire between them), but it goes unanswered.


Fart is definitely beating the drums of war. He has began building the Statue of Zeus, but has currently paused it to build two chariot archers (a fact betrayed by his Horse count). The extra units are putting a dent in his economy though - 6 Gold lost every turn with only 36 in the bank. That will, hopefully, put a dampener on his ambitions. Meanwhile, Platystemon and I have been developing some strategies to undermine him. A top priority is keeping Carthage's supply of horses out of Mongol hands (horses are a very rare commodity in this world, apparently - of the three known sources, Carthage has one and both of the other two are within Mongolia's sphere of influence). Another priority is preventing Mongolia from getting the Terracotta Army, and in that pursuit I have begun building it myself. I can't really afford the extra units, but nor can I afford Mongolia to get them either. My plan is to put some hammers into it, and then sit on it until Fart makes a run for it - at which point I'll finish it off.

The Mystery of the Carthaginian Silk

Yet another priority is keeping luxuries out of supply. mustardeleven has finally researched Writing and offered me a mutual exchange of embassies. Since I had no idea where he is, I gladly accepted (figure 3). But then I noticed something. At his capital I can see two improved Silk resources, yet only one is available to trade. Platystemon confirms that he's not getting it, and doubts that Fano can afford it. So it's probably being traded for one of Fart's three Incenses (which would make sense, as Mongolia only has two available for trade, but I had assumed he had not improved the third since I last saw it).

Figure 3. The world at 680BC.

In an effort to buy up the market I offered to sweeten the deal with some gold when his existing deal with Mongolia comes up for renewal. Curiously, the offer is more than well-received:

On my turn, the trade offer was waiting for me, even though it was Carthage's last Silk.

mustardeleven's position on Mongolia is still something of an enigma. We know he planned to help him carve up the Shoshone, and that Fart's total silence on the issue unnerved him. We know he's aware that Mongolia is a threat, but not as serious a threat as we consider it (understandable, given his isolation). And his trading decision vis-a-vis his remaining Silk suggests he might be ending his suspected trade with Mongolia - unless he's about to get a third Silk. But the bigger question is - is mustardeleven wary enough to keep a hold of his horses?

Mongolia's Achilles' heel

As Platystemon and I share more and more information about our mutual neighbour and our plans to combat him, our pact is further strengthened. And as a caravan is spotted crawling out of the Mongol capital Horse Throne, a plan to kick the Mongol economy while it's down starts to form.

Playstemon likes the plan.

At this point I reveal something I've had in the back of my mind for some time now, and which fits nicely into the overall plan of choking off the Mongol gold supply.

Platystemon is unsure I can get the votes, but I'm feeling confident.

But that's for another day. At the moment, I notice that since mustardeleven is willing to trade two of his horses to England, maybe I can buy up the other two and keep them off the market. I might not even use them, though having a couple of Knights would certainly be handy.

The Mongol war begins

Platystemon has done the deed, and Fart is not a happy bunny. He is silent, but the troops are on the move, and MI6 has come under assault from his Chariot Archers and Khan. Platystemon appears to be holding him off for now, and Fart's economy is still struggling to support his army. My hope is that this attack will go nowhere while dragging Fart's economy under - every setback he suffers now will only help reduce the effectiveness of the imminent Keshik scourge.

I sent my spearman up with the intention of picking off any weakened horse with a surprise stabbing, but as soon as it appeared on the battlefield Fart declared war on me and took pre-emptive shots at it. I guess there's no point pretending to be surprised, especially as I sent my scout to take refuge in England after the incident (figure 4). But after murdering my spearman he injured my scout and I was forced to ditch it - I gifted it to Platystemon so that he could at least retreat it to safety. A shame, as I was hoping to use that scout to find a city-state trade route to pillage.

Figure 4. A fart wafts towards England.

I'm now left with no units in the north and not a whole lot of ways to help Platystemon. However, mustardeleven is willing to sell his remaining horses and we agree on a modest price. Since I'll be first to Chivalry I'll be in a good position to get Knights out on the field before anyone else. The only thing holding me back is my terrible domestic situation.

Problems at home

I've found myself dead last for population, growth, production and economy. The only things I have going for me at this stage are my hilarious tech lead and relative isolation from military threats. In an attempt to dig myself out of this hole I've built a Workshop and will soon be caravanning hammers between my two cities. Growth is not my priority at the moment since my science is already super-charged, so production is top of the agenda. First up will be a Stable in my capital to help with Knight-building, then an Ironworks if I can get another Workshop up in Banana Split.

My tech lead has given me the pick of the world's wonders, and I especially have my eye on the Oracle and the Colossus. But since nobody else appears to be going for them yet, I can at least wait until I have some more hammers to wave around.

Carthage eyes the southern peninsula

When it comes to chatting with mustardeleven, I've been deliberately ambiguous about my relationship with England, even going so far as to feign total ignorance about the fate of his other two horses when I made an offer for the remaining two. Why? Mostly just to keep my options open, but more specifically because I have a minor concern that were he to learn of our strong alliance, he would see the scales tipped against Mongolia (decidedly not the case) and be more inclined to side with Fart to keep the balance of power. Given that his horses are crucial to the resistance, this would be a devastating turn of events.

Nothing can be allowed threaten the supply of horses. The horse must flow. Platystemon needs to be seen as on his own against the Mongol menace.

The "England? England who?" ruse seems to be working, as mustardeleven has a plan that might upset him, involving the city of Cape Town which Platystemon had settled on the peninsular to my south (figure 4, map). Initially I had not been too happy about that, but after Playstemon showed me a map, I saw that there was fuck-all luxuries for me down there and lost interest in keeping it aside for myself, so I told Platystemon he could have it.

But first mustardeleven checks, just to make sure I won't give a shit:

I give only the merest hint that things might not be all that peachy between us:

And then comes the offer:

I say "offer", but really there's nothing for me on the table here. It looks like he wants me to be the distraction while he expands his empire. But even if he did make a solid offer of assistance, such a move on my part would be unthinkable at this stage. I fob him off by saying I rely too much on the trade.

mustardeleven then enquires about the war in the north. It's an opportunity to frame the situation in such a way as to make his horse agreement with Platystemon seem favourable to him beyond the price being paid, though really there's no deception here, just a desperate bid to convince mustardeleven of the reality of the situation:

There was no reply, which is a little concerning. But since mustardeleven wants something (land in the south) and Platystemon wants something (horses), maybe there's an opportunity here to ensure a friendlier relationship. I passed the info onto Platystemon:

Turns out what he wants most is gold:

So I primed mustardeleven to open a negotiation:

If a deal is reached and Playstemon gets much-needed gold out of it, then I can focus a little less on stopping the fall of England and a little more on the long overdue rise of Babylon.

I have my doubts as to whether the deception is really that necessary, but time will tell. For all I know, it's Playstemon and mustardeleven with the alliance and I'm the schmuck, being pulled in for a pincer backstab. After all, mustardeleven has been public about my tech lead and I wouldn't be surprised if everyone was still chatting about it. Or maybe Platystemon is playing us both. Oh god, the paranoia. I need to stop overthinking this.


Things are improving pretty quickly on the domestic front. Just one Workshop and one caravan managed to put me top of the Hammers List, and I have my eyes set on an Ironworks as soon as my second Workshop is up. Economy is doing well too - I've built the Colossus and sent the new trade ship to Cape Town, with a Market and Mint planned. The only thing lagging behind is growth, but as previously noted I don't think that matters right now (and if anything, being at the bottom of those will draw attention away from being at the top of everything else). If I can get the Circus Maximus up, I'll settle the shit dirt mound lying off the coast of my capital, if only so that I can shunt food and hammers back to the capital via a trade route.

I've also developed a long-term plan. Once I've founded the World Congress and while everyone is throwing a shitfit over the resolutions, I'm going to tech to Education, build Universities, and ride that sweet sweet jungle science all the way to Navigation. If I can get a decent navy on the seas before anyone else, I'll be in a very good position indeed. At that stage, it doesn't matter if MI6 falls, as I can just go in and liberate it with ships, leaving a mostly smouldering ruin of little use to anyone. England will be crippled and Mongolia neutered.

Another possibility is sailing over to Carthage and putting the world's best economy to bed. He's been sitting over there on his pseudo-island for the whole game with his free harbour UA and complete lack of need for an army, raking in the gold and topping it up by flogging horses to the equine-deprived. And now he's started spamming wonders, with the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in a city I can't see and the Hanging Gardens in his capital. There's a good chance however that he'll be going for a navy himself, and my diversion to Printing Press could lead to a photo finish for Navigation. What's more, he'll know immediately when I get it. If he calls me on it, I can try saying that it's a pre-emptive measure against England's Ships o' the Line. That's about the best I've got.

Just one problem with the plan: fuck-all iron (figure 5). It's almost as rare as horses. Fano has a deposit of one (1) iron, as do two city-states. There are only two deposits of 4 iron that I can see - one squarely between Shoshone and Mongolia (and not in reach of any of their cities) and one in England. If Platystemon is still busy with other things and not ready to build a navy, I may be able to obtain iron from him.

Figure 5. A dearth of iron. Also shown: the only horses outside of Carthage.

Fart suppression techniques

The effort against Mongolia is starting to take many dimensions. Platystemon has revealed a plan to settle a frontier city right in Fart's face, securing those 4 horses that lie just west of Horse Throne (figure 5). I'm skeptical he can hold the city, let alone the horses, but from what he's been telling me, his army of Composite Bowmen have been chasing down Fart's Chariot Archers across the plains, so maybe he has the worth after all.

(Interestingly, he edited out of this message a proposal to gift me Longbowmen in exchange for Knights - seems he'd rather not, which is a shame, but if he's open to the idea then maybe I can insist).

Fart's economy has improved significantly in the past few turns, and he can now field a much larger army. That could be trouble, especially if he manages to secure more horses. Fortunately, I've attained knighting technology and am churning out a Knight at this very moment. They could be essential in keeping that frontier city, if it happens, on the right side of the battle lines.

But a plan to pillage Fart's existing horses is also starting to look a little more plausible than it used to, and I'm currently debating sending my Knight-in-waiting on an epic quest around the south of the continent to give those horses a right good and proper pillaging.

On the topic of Mongolia I finally managed to tease some information out of Fano. I had suspected that relations might have cooled to point of opening up trade, maybe as an attempt by Fano to placate Fart and keep him going after England. But Fano seems willing to join the fight as soon as he's able, and may even be willing to carry out Operation Stable Door himself.

Still, I'd rather get a Knight over there to keep up the harassment.

I'm also dusting off my half-built Terracotta Army, which may now actually turn out to be actively useful now that Knights and Longbowmen are making an appearance. A free copy of each is far too tempting to pass up, and it presents an opportunity to get a Longbowman for myself. Platystemon and I have been concocting a plan to make the most of it.


I'm starting to wonder if I'm arming England a little too much. Could Knights gut Fart's current pre-Keshik army, and pave the way for English Longbowmen to bombard Horse Throne and open it up to capture? Perhaps, if Platystemon gets Knights well in advance. He's already planted his frontier city and is sitting right on Fart's doorstep. But by Platystemon's reports, Fart is a handful of turns from Chivalry, and now has the gold reserves to upgrade his Horse Archers. Assuming Fart really is on the cusp of Chivalry, it'll take some staggering incompetence on his part to lose Horse Throne. At the very least, Keshiks will hold the English back with ease.

While my current plan is to support England as much as possible, a stalemate is the ideal outcome. I will need to be careful to ensure I don't tip the balance of power too much in England's favour - or let him be overrun by the Mongol horde.

If Platystemon is confident about making major gains, he certainly isn't showing it, although bombarding Horse Throne does feature in his plan:

Then again, maybe he's deliberately underselling his chances. He is requesting Knight support as soon as possible. If he can bombard Horse Throne enough, he can swoop in with a Knight for the take, before Keshiks even make an appearance, and seal Mongolia's fate. The more I dwell on the situation, the more precarious it seems to be. It could swing either way and it could swing fast. I don't think a stalemate is possible here, no matter how much I try to influence it. Either Platystemon goes in early and takes Horse Throne, or Fart gets Keshiks and pushes all the way to MI6.

The former is preferable - if only slightly. Mongolia would make a worrying neighbour. My cities are well positioned but not immune to Keshiks, and he'll be out to get me for supporting England. The most I could do is rely on the World Congress to work against him. On the other hand, England has a near-monopoly on Iron, with which he can dominate the seas when he eventually techs Navigation and unlocks Ships of the Line. Without a strong Mongolia present to keep him focussed inland, he would be free to pursue naval supremacy. That's not a situation I'll be comfortable with, and there's precious little I can do to mitigate it. The World Congress can't ban Iron.

As these doubts ferment in my mind, Fart requests white peace with me. This comes shortly after I publicly brought up my murdered Spearman from about 600 years ago. Maybe he has decided that I'm just holding a very long grudge and am not in fact in cahoots with Platystemon. From his perspective, there's not much to gain from a white peace - I'm not posing a military threat to him directly (except for the pillaging plot, but he doesn't know about that). The very most he can gain is a opened trade route to Banana Split.

This is an opportunity. If I can get information about the conflict from his perspective, I can take a more informed approach to arming England.

I don't want to outright reject the offer, as that may spoil the opportunity and may add support to any idea that I might be in a secret alliance with England. But I don't want to simply accept either, as this would lock me out of the pillaging plot and I would have some explaining to do to Platystemon (not entirely true - in theory I could donate my Knight to Fano when it reaches the east, allowing him to pillage the horses himself - but that's very much a theory, and I would still have to convince Platystemon there was a good reason for making peace).

Instead I need to sit on it. The murdered Spearman from the ancient past provides the answer - I demand reparations. Fart will likely decline, since he needs the gold and peace offers little for him anyway. But then I'll make a new offer: peace, in exchange for information about England's military. This will come moments before I complete the Terracotta Army (which will rightly be seen as a very suspicious development) and may give a strong impression that I'm considering an attack on Fart's mortal enemy. If Fart feels he's about to get help, he may be more inclined to dispel (truthful) information about the war - and that will help me decide if I really am giving England a bit too much help.

That's the plan anyway, let's see how it pans out.

A good start - he dropped information right off the bat. Pity it's not good news - he seems resigned to defeat. I try and prod him for more.

But just as I ask that:

I urgently tried to glean more information from Fart, but he wasn't very forthcoming:

But the reports are true. Fart's horses are all in use. Platystemon's army is now in tactical retreat. The change in Fart's gold reserves suggests Chariot Archers have been upgraded. In some ways this makes my decision easier - it's time to put my full support behind England. He's not taking Horse Throne now.

As for the horse supply, there is a crisis. mustardeleven, ever the opportunist, wasted no time in setting up shop. He started flogging his wares in the public chat the very moment Fart attained Chivalry:

This has forced both of us to reconsider letting our horse deals expire. I've made an offer to continue the current deal (2 horses for 3GPT) and I'm showing interest in the other two just in case England ends up not buying them. But I expect to get gouged whether it's for the two or for all four. I may have to let go of a luxury if it comes to that.

But wait.

Now we're getting somewhere. The suggestion to drop a war on England clearly indicates that he sees me a neutral neighbour. I can turn this to my advantage. I drop a carefully-worded reply to stoke the fire of this budding relationship:

Then I literally sprint to Platystemon:

This could be the best outcome of all. It retains the balance of power, but Fart will still have the upper hand for a long time to come. If I can keep them both paranoid about each other, by feeding them hints of plots, I can have them mutually waste their resources on an on-going arms race. That'll keep Platystemon from setting his sights on the seas. Peace will even cut the demand for mustardeleven's horses. But most importantly of all, amicable relations with both will keep my options open.

Sadly my attempt at engineering a peace is up against Platystemon's scepticism:

But at least I'm bringing Fart further on board:

Even if peace between can't be obtained, I might be able to develop a useful relationship with Fart. But I'll have to tread very carefully if I wish to do so. A recently-hatched plot to pillage the Wine outside Broodmare's Den will of course have to be called off, or somehow delegated to Fano and his nearby Pathfinder. Ditto with the horse-pillaging quest when my Knight reaches the east. If I want to keep Fart as a potential ally, then I no longer have the option of taking an overt role in this war (and I'm now glad I haven't already done so). I might still be able to get away with the embargo though, as I explain to Platystemon:

It's a shame I had to reveal Platystemon's Iron advantage, but doing so does take off the pressure for him to tech to Navigation in light of his paranoia about mustardeleven. And if I get to Navigation first (an outcome which looks likely), I'm sure Platystemon will have no problem equipping me with the Iron to launch a fleet.

At least he's open to me making peace with Fart though. That will win me some brownie points with Fart, since he could apparently do with the trade opening up:

But this will make it very difficult to defend an embargo on city-states. I'm going to have to blag that one real hard. That said, it'll come around about the same time that the Knight on his quest (under England's banner) will be approaching his destination. If I need to win back some credibility, I could warn him of the plot... but for now, I've put Printing Press on hold and am teching to Education and then to Navigation.

So, to recap: Platystemon thinks I'm gaining Fart's trust just so that I can help Platystemon. Meanwhile, Fart thinks I have Platystemon's trust and am now using it to help Fart. In reality I just want them to bloody each other, over there in the north where I don't have to look at the blood.

I had better not make a mistake or it will all unravel.

The pendulum tries to swing

Oh no.

My money's on the Keshiks too, but I have more than money at stake. Horse Throne can't fall.

I'm sure this'll just funnel more gold into mustardeleven's pockets, but it has to be done. The next turn, Fart has the horses. Platystemon is not pleased in the slightest. Interestingly, he's noticed Fart's gold income barely changing, and wonders if he got the horses for free. Then it's confirmed - mustardeleven is squarely in Fart's corner:

Now Platystemon has as good a reason as he ever needs to see mustardeleven go down. Getting his help - his supply of Iron - for a naval offensive will not be the challenge I thought it might. After selling the plan as a specific horse-deprival plan (when in reality I just want to cripple mustardeleven's development and secure some more territory for myself), Platystemon confirms that he will be able to supply the Iron. It's all coming together nicely.

The Mongols get a new government

Unfortunately, Fart Laffer has had to leave the game. llamadeus has joined in his place. What does this mean for the war? Well, if Platystemon's reports are anything to go by, Mongolia has not benefitted from the new leadership:

Meanwhile, a Carthigian elephant has turned up.

Figure 6. The Siege of Horse Throne. Is the elephant a mere observer, or reinforcements? (Not that it will be of much help...)

Even if Carthage puts full support behind Mongolia, I doubt much can be done in the face of all those Longbowmen. England is moving from strength to strength. With Mongolia put down, Platystemon will be free to tech to Navigation and get Ships of the Line out on the seas. That's bad news for all of us.

I've been wringing my hands wondering whether or not I should express my concerns to mustardeleven and establish a secret alliance with him. On the one hand, I'll almost certainly need his help to defeat any English navy, but on the other hand, I'm incredibly paranoid about him revealing my messages to Platystemon, laying bare my backstab for all to see. If that were to happen, Platystemon and I would at the very least quickly end up in an arms race, which would get ugly pretty quickly, all while mustardeleven sits pretty on the other side of the world (as he has been doing all game). If I were mustardeleven, I'd certainly be tempted to do that.

But then, this:

Evidently, mustardeleven is exasperated, effectively denouncing us all as useless dribbers refusing to do intervene and save Mongolia.

So I've taken the gamble.

He seems to be on board:

So I outline my plan:

He is delighted with the plan, and has suggested bringing Fano on board. But he's hiding something. Platystemon has been contacted by mustardeleven, and has shared with me this image of the message sent to him:

Platystemon is understandably not impressed.

mustardeleven, despite continuing to send me messages after this, has made no mention of this proposal whatsoever. If he's serious about a secret alliance I would expect some degree of transparency (I am fully aware of the irony in that) regarding relations with Fano and Platystemon, but he's playing games behind my back.

It's too late for me to turn around now though. mustardeleven knows where my allegiances lie (or at least, where they lie at the moment) and he has it within his power to destroy my carefully curated not-so-secret psuedo-alliance with England.

Diplomatic flailing

mustardeleven is trying to stir up shit over in the east, and it's really not helping. I'm not sure what he was attempting to achieve by trying to reach a deal with Platystemon over Fano's territory, but it has backfired spectacularly. Fano has apparently approached Platystemon to reveal that he had been contacted by mustardeleven as well. This isn't surprising, as mustardeleven did in fact tell me that he was going to reach out to Fano for assistance in the near future. But what is surprising is that he fucked it up:

The Shoshone might have been a useful ally, but it seems mustardeleven's antics have pushed Fano far away from any idea of a coalition involving Carthage. That's not helpful at all, especially as the Shoshone have a single piece of iron. We might need that iron.

As if that wasn't careless enough, I then learned that this had happened:

No details of the screenshot in question are given, but it may be the one that Platystemon shared with me (Figure 6). If so, then I shared it with mustardeleven (a mistake, in retrospect), he shared it with Fano (perhaps an attempt to show England's strength), and Fano blabbed to Platystemon. The screenshot has done a full circle. In which case, I'm extremely lucky that Platystemon also shared it with Nicolae Carpathia (who is not even in the game), else he would know for sure that it was me, and that would certainly bring down our alliance in a smorgasbord of paranoia and suspicion.

I'm also lucky that Platystemon has straight-up assumed that it was Nicolae Carpathia who passed on the screenshot. Had he confronted him instead, Platystemon might have deduced in the ensuing conversation that it was really me. That fact that he's not doing so (and instead presenting the apparent snitch as a conduit for disinformation) is a superb stroke of luck.

Assuming, that is, he's not playing me. Perhaps Platystemon already knows. Perhaps he's testing me, seeing if I will own up and expain the leak or double-down and feign surprise at "Nicolae Carpathia's" backstab. I have done the latter. Platystemon is silent. I am concerned.

Either way, I now know that mustardeleven is a loose cannon. I need to reel him in, and find out what he's been telling Fano. If he's told him that I have proposed a secret alliance to oppose England - entirely plausible - then that secret is surely out now (though I might be able to play it off as more wild shit-stirring lies on mustardeleven's part). If he hasn't, then I need to make sure he shuts his big mouth. Loose lips sink ships, and we'll need a lot of bloody ships.

So it's confirmed. Rather than let Platystemon dwell on whether it was Nicolae Carpathia or me, I've gone for damage control with a mea culpa pulled directly out of my ass:

Crisis averted?


Despite recent events Platystemon seems to still have faith in me. He's even willing to forgo naval research, apparently, for the sake of my supposed assault on Carthage - quite the leap of faith indeed:

If this leaves him vulnerable on the seas then mustardeleven and I will be in a good position to neuter his progress.

Meanwhile, I took a quick detour on the tech tree to pick up Printing Press before anyone else did, giving me control of the Council of Dicks and opening up the Rennaissance just in time for me to complete the Oracle and immediately open Rationalism. Now it's time for everyone to go around spying on everyone else. Of course, being the tech leader, I have to protect my own technologies. But first my spy took a little trip to MI6 just long enough to grab a screenshot of the city before scurrying home to fend off any wouldbe theives.

Figure 6. MI6.

From this I don't learn much, other than confirmation that he has Education and also that he's experiencing sickeningly strong growth. Just look at all that food. His production, though, is reassuringly stunted.

It's possible that Platystemon and/or mustardeleven will try their luck and attempt a tech theft from me (despite my secret alliances with both of them), but I tried to dissuade them by telling them I'm keeping my spy home for protection. With that I was hoping they'd go and spy on each other. And I was further hoping I could pursuade each of them to tell me what the other is doing. Why, it'll be like I have three spies!

Sadly it wasn't quite the success I was hoping for, but Platystemon did share what he found out in Carthage:

Ugh. With mustardeleven so far behind I'm not sure he'll be much help when the time comes for the England backstab. He's not even beelining for ships:

A discovery most wondrous

Figure 7. I dub thee Ironland.

I was wondering where the rest of the fucking iron was. 4 in Wellington, and 4 on the island proper.

It was to be my secret for but a few turns. England was on the cusp of breaking through to the Renaissance; I knew Platystemon would find the island himself soon enough, and not telling him about something so significant as the location of new iron would raise a suspicious eyebrow. But I waited nonetheless, just a few turns until after Platy had followed through on a pledge to trade all his iron to me. Now I can build frigates and attempt to secure the island and its iron for myself.

This island just might completely change the course of play. No longer will I have to rely on myself and mustardeleven swarming England with privateers. If I can secure the inland iron with a new city (my settler is already purchased and about to set out from the capital), I'll have a reasonably safe supply. Platystemon will no doubt claim Wellington's supply, via alliance most probably (given that he does not yet have frigate technology and that I'm slurping up all his iron besides) but it should be fairly straight-forward to cut off that access - either by pillaging or by conquest. Hopefully I can achieve that with six or seven frigates inside of the 25-turn iron deal.

The backstab begins

Shit. I don't know when this happened, but I've only just noticed it:

Figure 8. England landgrabs some more iron.

A few turns later, after swinging by with a Caravel (turns out he was teching naval after all), he dumped a load of gold on Wellington to ally with it. That gives him 8 iron, not including the 4 he'll get back when our trade deal ends. mustardeleven reports that he's building galleasses out of his capital. No doubt he's power-teching to Navigation this very moment, and a bunch of Ships of the Line will be roaming around in no time. Right now the only thing working in my favour is my production, but Cape Town probably makes up the difference between our capitals.

My hand has been forced. I need to take down Wellington while I can.

But with only this much force at my disposal it's going to take some luck (though another ship is about to join them and a Caravel will be on standby to grab the city).

Figure 9. A long shot. A very long shot.

England declares

Platystemon declared war the very next turn, as I suspected he might. In the next few turns he teched Navigation and two iron disappeared from his trade screen... so that's two Ships of the Line on their way already. There's precious little hope of grabbing Wellington now, despite the fact that I'm doing better in that effort than I was expecting to. I only wish I could have attacked Wellington earlier - but despite full naval production I simply wasn't in a position to do so.

There are no signs of English forces on the border yet, to my surprise, except for a couple of units moving in to pillage my Cotton and Silver. Bastard.

It's looking grim. On the plus side, I'm teching direct for Dynamite and should have it very soon, allowing me to repel any land troops with Artillery when they do come a-knocking. My capital, fortunately, is pretty well snuggled into that bay and is all but invulnerable to a naval assault. At least I have that. It's something.

Naval defeat

My ships are gone. It took a while for Platy's fleet to show up, but presumably he was biding his time - putting as many ships as possible into his fleet before sailing over, while letting Wellington take potshots at my own fleet and leave him with nothing more taxing than a clean up job. Well, I've been cleaned up good and proper. And now he's running all over my territory with Knights, pillaging the shit out of my beautiful empire and binning my trade routes too.

He also sent in some ranged troops initially, in what seemed to be a full-fledged attack, but they couldn't take the heat once my be-walled city starting slapping them down. They ran back out, and I'm calling that a victory. Meanwhile, I have Dynamite and am preparing to upgrade Cannons as soon as they're built, having begged mustardeleven for every drop of gold he can spare.

Figure 10. One of those Knights is the Knight I gifted him :$


Figure 11. England gets artillery.

After popping out some Artillery I managed to take out those blasted Knights, but Dynamite was to be only a handful of turns away for England anyway. There was a moment of quiet while we both rushed out Artillery, and then Platystemon made a push. Needless to say, I didn't last long. Banana Split fell, though not after Carthage fell first to the might of Platystemon's navy.

Figure 12. The fall of Banana Split. Also pictured in the mini-map: England annexing Carthage's capital.


Figure 13. :negative:

There goes Bablyon, and Fano won't be around for much longer either.

Figure 14. The final capital poised to fall.