Hey, look! It’s part 4 of the Civ 5 diary! When we left off, mighty Japan had eliminated the Babylonians and had turned its attention back to the homeland where the Americans were staking out increasing amounts of turf. The goal was to refresh military strength, drive them out and very likely pursue Washington back to his American homeland. Ahh, the best laid plans.
Before I begin, though, a couple quick housekeeping notes. Last week I said I found the Happiness numbers for AI empires to be suspect (some were highly inflated and none were flirting with below zero penalties). A couple of good folks in the comments pointed out I had no idea what I was talking about (but, you know, nicer than that), noting that building up extremely high empire happiness (30+) is eminently doable for human and AI alike. The moral? I’m bad at this. This is why I’m a Prince level player. Take any “insight” I offer with a suitably sized grain of salt. Next, after popular demand, I’ve made the screenshots after the break clickable to bring up higher rez versions. I’ve also moved the past entries index up before the break just so it’s more visible. The other bit is to note that with Deus Ex sitting on my hard drive, the chances for disruption in finishing up this series increase. I absolutely will keep it going, but if I miss next week or turn the next entry into a 50 turn summary, don’t be surprised. A lot will depend on how much time I end up waging war, which slows down progress in the game just a tad. And now, on with the show…
1866 AD, Turn 303:
Just as we were starting to shift military resources and focus back to our mainland in anticipation of war with Washington, Montezuma, the treacherous cur, has declared war on us. On me! His hetero lifemate! I will tear his eyeballs from their very sockets! I will flay every finger and toe down to his feeble bones. Children will weep when they see what I’ve done to this flea-bitten mongrel. I will refuse no other ally. Make any concession. This slight can only be repaid in blood! We were rated as Friendly up to this point. Multiple trade deals, etc. On the other hand, we had outdated units in all our cities, and only one unit per city. The advantage was certainly there for him, but goddam what a douchebag.
For this opening salvo, a force of rifles gathers outside his city of Tlacopan, nearest to Babylon. Another, smaller, force is already near the gates of Sippar (taking advantage of the encroached border there; had I not taken Sippar, I wonder if he’d still attempt this gambit). We are caught unaware and ill-prepared, with valiant but behind the times units in nearly every city. Fortunately, our treasury offers instant aid in the form of unit upgrades. Our policy of Professional Armies has made it much cheaper (33%) to upgrade our melee units to rifles. He’ll certainly bleed us, but the cursed fool has no idea what awaits him.
Fortunately rifles were already in place in Sippar, though the unit of cannon we held there was exposed. We used city bombardment to weaken the nearby Aztec rifles and then decimated them to all but the last man with our own, at the same time moving our cannon safely within Sippar’s walls where I immediately ordered them upgraded to Artillery units. I don’t think Monty has any of those. I hope he likes them. I’ll probably lose my rifle unit to the cavalry, but it can’t be helped. I needed those cannon upgraded and I could hardly leave them outside the city walls. I had thought I could garrison one unit and put the other there too, but despite lack of a garrisoned units, the game wouldn’t let me put the cannon and rifles in the city. I ran into this issue over and over again throughout this set of turns where a city that has a unit specifically garrisoned in it, won’t accept another unit on the tile. Weird. Bug?
In the meantime I have dispatched rifles from our mainland, but it will take time for them to reinforce Babylon and I leave myself open to reprisals from Washington.
On the foreign policy front, only Genghis Kahn and Napoleon treat with me with anything resembling a friendly demeanor anymore. I’m officially ally hunting. Sadly, they have nothing to offer me beyond their worthless moral support. Gandhi, Washington, and Bismark cannot be troubled for so much as an open borders agreement or trade of luxury goods. You’d think it was something I said. Aside from Washington, none of these guys has reason to have issue with me. There were denunciations for eliminating the Babylonians, but come on now. I’ve read the AI loves you so long as you’re not winning the game and then they all turn on a dime when you are. As my demographics improve, good relations have not just been tougher, but nigh impossible. Regardless, despite some fun leader tough-talk, if Monty has any clue what he’s doing I’m going to lose at least two cities – Babylon and Sippar.
1878 AD, Turn 309:
With his first attack wave lying in ashes, Montezuma has come looking for peace. His terms? That I give him nearly 600 gold, 22 more per turn, furs, dyes, iron, horses and access to our borders. How about the fillings from my teeth? His foolish pride will be his undoing. Does he not know what the name Oda Nobunaga stands for? Did he miss the memo we delivered to Nebuchadnezzar? I sent his emissary back with a politely worded letter of declination stuffed between the teeth of his severed head. Seriously. This guy’s first wave accomplished absolutely nothing and he’s offering terms as if I were losing? Delusional much?
Evidently my considerate words of warning were not heeded as his second wave approaches Sippar and Babylon. Had he combined his forces from the outset we might have been overrun. Now three new units of reinforcement rifleman are reaching the coast as I write this. We’ve repositioned our artillery outside Dur-Kurigalzu where they can fire on units attacking both fronts. Monty will know no victory here. This, I swear in the name of my ancestors! Really, he still ought to be able to take Sippar, but it probably won’t happen.
1890 AD, Turn 315:
Evidently our rejection of Monty’s generous offer was not taken in the spirit with which it was dispatched, as he delivered a massive force swarming around both sides of the isthmus southwest of Babylon. We lost three units of riflemen in the fighting thanks to an overagressive counterassault, but that was nothing compared to Monty’s losses. Regiment after regiment of rifles and cannon fell to our mighty military, bathing our empire in glory and honor as they defend our rightfully conquered lands.
Back home we’ve completed our first frigate, which now speeds its way across the ocean to improve out ability to bombard Aztec units from off the coastline. Also of note, Monty embarked a cannon literally right next one of my caravels. I didn’t sink it, but it took a lot more damage than it would have had it remained on land.
With his attack forces broken and smashed I now face the choice of whether to seek a peace accord or gather our forces to move into Aztec territory. The risk of aggressive invasion is great in the short term. I have an army to rebuild and Washington creates still more problems on the homefront, having established a third city, St. Louis, in our lands. His borders now threaten to sever the connection between Tokyo and Satsuma. I’m not sure which of them disgusts me more.
1898 AD, Turn 319:
Monty continues to offer the most ridiculous peace terms one can imagine. Perhaps he thinks me so desperate for a reprieve that I will counter with a lesser offer that he’ll be all too eager to accept? If so, he’ll be disappointed. The parade of Aztec military unit incursions into our borders has ceased. He has nothing left to throw at us. I still have have enough units, however, to cause him concern. Akkad is in my sights and it will fall!
On the homefront, I am ready to move on the American cities on our continent. Let Washington deal with that.
1904 AD, Turn 324:
Akkad has fallen. Washington’s fledgling cities of St. Louis and Portland lie smoking ruins, littered with the bones of innocent and guilty alike. Such is the price of crossing Japan. Our pound of flesh extracted, I met with Montezuma to discuss peace. He started the conversation saying it was time for the war to end, yet when I offered him Japan’s mercy he refused. Douchebag. The AI personalities in this game still need work. If he doesn’t want peace that’s fine. But don’t start the conversation off by saying, “Hey, let’s make peace,” and then find no terms acceptable for it, even those that favor him.
I could see why he desires furthered hostilities, though, as a new army of cannon, riflemen, cavalry, and a new type of solider, infantry, moved on Akkad. The surprise is on Montezuma, however. We threw back the initial cavalry rush and decimated their rifles and infantry. Our own researchers, too, have unlocked the secrets of Replaceable Parts (and infantry with it). Our treasury restored, it’s been only a small task to upgrade our rifles to infantry. With them in place and two artillery units racking Aztec forces, they will be hard-pressed to take Akkad back from my grasp. At home I prepare my forces to move on Houston. The time of filthy American citizens desecrating my turf is nearing its end.
1919 AD, Turn 339:
Montezuma and I have found our way to peace at last and we are, once again the bestest of besties. Seriously, we go from 20+ turns of war to Friendly relations with favorable trade deals. If I didn’t need the luxury trade so much I’d be annoyed at the illogic of it. But my happiness rating is in the tank and my gold per turn went from a comfortable plus to a significant negative (-13). I need the peace deal. I will redistribute our forces on the continent to garrison our cities once more and await his future treachery. Thank god. I need those cities garrisoned in order to get my happiness back to 0+.
With peace declared and trade routes open once again, our dwindling treasury has seen a large infusion (from that -13 to +48, just like that).
With two of his three cities on our continent destroyed, Washington came begging for peace, but we refused. Houston needed to fall first. It was a drawn out siege as the city’s mountain protection made it a difficult assault, one that was not helped by Georgie’s piddling stream of reinforcements. In the end, though, it fell, just like all the rest. With the whole of our continent under our own control once again, I have granted Washington his peace. May he use it more wisely this time than he did the last.
We’ve also adopted a policy of Autocracy. This social system decreased our military maintenance costs, a good thing as the cost of building new railroads to speed travel across our empire has been great.
1924AD, Turn 344:
Well, he’s done it again. Barely waiting for the peace treaty he signed to expire, Montezuma has re-defined the word treachery. This time the move was blatantly telegraphed, however. He had forces building up on our border for a handful of turns now: cavalry, riflemen, infantry, and even artillery. I instructed our generals to do their level best to move excess forces over to the continent (infantry and artillery), but we could not get it done in time. Three units each of artillery and infantry are in the middle of the ocean with Aztec caravels prowling. We’ll have to do our best to use our two frigates and a caravel to protect them all the way to the coast, but this will be tricky. It’s frustrating that you can’t really protect embarked units with naval units. With a bombard range of two, caravels and frigates can just shoot over your naval ships.
Complicating matters is the loss of vital luxury trade with Montezuma that sent our happiness plummeting to record depths. I had to rush produce a courthouse in Akkad to get the number low enough to not effect empire production and military success (your combat troops get a penalty if happiness is -10 or worse). Worse, he’s cut off trade from Borsippa, though that will not hold for long as our navy is more than capable of turning back one lousy caravel and a half sunk frigate. The last time Montezuma showed his true colors, he paid for it by losing Akkad. This time I will not stop short of Tlacopan. This is getting beyond annoying. The friendly posture turns immediately to war, back to friendly, and now to war again. He has civs that are actually enemies, wouldn’t it behoove him to attack them? Oh. Right. Civ 5 AI can’t manage a naval invasion so he sticks with the guy next door against all laws of logic. My units are fully updated this time and all cities are garrisoned with roads allowing them to speed to the front.
1933 AD, Turn 353:
After a long and bloody battle, Montezuma and I have agreed to yet another peace treaty. There are no illusions here. This is a respite. I have plenty of artillery with which to pound away at Tlacopan until it falls, but I’ve lost too many infantry to support invading the city. We will use this time to heal battered forces and produce new units. We have discovered the secrets of oil. With it, and our research into Combustion, we’ll be able to upgrade our navy. The conflict itself was glorious in its scope. Monty charged with countless artillery and infantry and it was only my superior cunning and the valiant bravery of our soldiers that threw them back with no loss of territory. I’ll say this for the AI. It used to just feed units your way one after another. Now it at least tries to overwhelm you with numbers. They’ll also focus on eliminating targets instead of whittling down multiple units. While I’ve lost no ground to the AI, I’ve lost a bunch of units. Monty still seems able to keep a steady stream of fresh troops coming up to the front, but year by year that front has moved closer to his own ground. When next we meet on the field of battle he’ll know what it is to anger the dragon. Totally not meant to invoke Viserys from Game of Thrones.
1947 AD, Turn 367:
Monty had the nerve to request open borders. Rejected. Are you kidding me? What am I? Charlie Brown with the football?
It all but exhausted our ample treasury to do so, but we’ve fully upgraded our most outdated homeland units, some which still thought the bow and arrow was a neat idea. I hear tell that they like these fancy machine gun things. With the discovery of Combustion, we’ve also fully upgraded our caravels and frigates (four in all) to a new type of iron ship called the destroyer. Enjoy our new steel fish, Monty. In fact, with the peace treaty expired, perhaps sooner would be better than later to begin the next chapter of our blood feud. Renewed and reinvigorated soldiers amass on both sides of the border. Better to move first and have the advantage, for once.
You’ll note in the following screenshot my infantry are located behind my artillery north of Tlacopan. The idea here was to use the peace to have artillery positioned as close to the city as possible within my own borders. By declaring war ahead of Monty (I played out a couple of turns to see if he would declare, and he did), I can pound the one infantry that threatens them straight off, and then move my infantry units in ahead of the artillery to protect them from any ground-based counterattack.
1955 AD, Turn 375:
Montezuma has paid dearly for his continued aggression. In Aztecs v. Japan Round 3 it was we who played the opening gambit. On the offensive from the start, our armies marched into Aztec land, and conquered the cities of Tlacopan and Xochicalco. It was a flurry of destroyer and artillery bombardments, and infantry in the hills. That maxed out Honor policy tree is really paying off here. We lost a destroyer when Belgrade involved themselves in the conflict, as well as a pair of infantry units in the field. That all pales in comparison to Monty’s losses. Perhaps he’s learned his lesson this time.
Our costs are, unfortunately, not just measured in bodies in the field, we also paid dearly for the acquisitions with an empire unhappiness now at -12. No one will trade luxuries with us and the unhappiness from two puppeted cities is ridiculous. I elected to take the hit annexing Tlacopan. When the rioting quells I will buy the people off with a courthouse that will assuage the rage in that city, if nowhere else. At this point I’ve spent so much time at war and neglecting empire population growth, that it’s unlikely I have much hope of winning any other way than militarily and that’s pretty unlikely. I need peace and trade that I’m simply not getting and with all these acquisitions I can’t bring the happy the way I desperately need to. I’m really starting to resent the fact that every single AI views me as Guarded. Does it really go back to eliminating Babylon? Doesn’t seem like my demographics should cause this consistent a hit. There are still six other civs in the game. Surely one of them could manage to at least be neutral towards me.
1971 AD, Turn 391:
It seems poor Belgrade (city-state) has fallen to the Aztecs. Evidently Monty now desires more easily digested morsels. Belgrade had put out a call for aid that we would certainly answer except for their having sided with the Aztecs before. A shame. More troublesome is that Monty has turned his aggression towards Monaco. Perhaps he wants to replace the cities he has lost? He really should learn to be content with what he’s already got. I can’t very well let them both fall to Monty. No, we don’t like Monaco either, but one look at the positioning of these cities relative to our own makes clear Aztec advances here are a bridge too far. High ho, high ho, it’s off to war we go.
1980 AD, Turn 400:
It must be hard being Montezuma. You stab one ally in the back -twice, no less- and suddenly your well-crafted plans for world domination turn into poorly executed strategies that leave you trying desperately to just not embarrass yourself in the field. Tired of repeatedly losing ground to our military might, Monty’s gambit to capture the city-states of Belgrade and Monaco were dashed as once again the mighty forces of Japan showed them what true will is, doing so with honor and distinction. Monaco still stands proud and a newfound friend to the Japanese after we repelled Monty’s invading forces in short order. Not long after, Monty’s own city of Texcoco fell from a barrage of artillery, while a squadron of zeroes dropped from the sky to decimate Aztec artillery. Decimate is utter hyperbole here. Zeroes are good against other air units, but their ground strike capability is nothing to write home about.
After puppeting a conquered Texcoco we headed for captive Belgrade. They were never our biggest fans, but the site of our coastal destroyers pelting artillery from the coast and our soldiers moving in from the north was surely a welcome sight. After throwing the Aztecs out I considered puppeting the city into our own empire, but something tells me giving Belgrade back to its “rightful” owners would be that much more an insult to dear, dear Monty.
Belgrade now stands as a firm ally of Japan, although at great cost to our military might. We lost a destroyer, multiple artillery, both our tank divisions, and several infantry units in the fighting. Fortunately, Montezuma is no better off and quickly accepted our offer of peace. I’m under no delusions that it will last, but it will be much easier to hold ground where we now stand. With Monaco and Belgrade at our flanks and firmly on team “Monty is the Suxorz” Monty will face a narrow front from which he would have to push if he were to take any ground from us at all. With a new general, Hamilcar Barca, in our midst, I intend to build a great fortress to stand between Xochicalco and Texcoco. With that in place we’ll have little trouble holding the front if Monty gets frisky again in ten turns. And, hey, if he does, it’s a short walk to Tlatelolco from there.
Elsewhere, with half the world hating his everloving Yankee Doodle Guts, Georgie suddenly feels much warmer towards wondrous Japan. We know he’s a tool. He knows he’s a tool. But if he’s willing to share some of his whaling industry with us, then, hey, that’s just Jim Dandy with me. You know what’s amazing? All this territory conquered from Monty, and we’ve not gained access to a single new luxury resource that I didn’t already have 100 turns ago. I’ve got dyes and ivory coming out my ears and everyone hates us so much, nobody will take it in exchange for stuff I actually need. Le sigh.
400 Turn Summary:
So, after 400 turns, here’s where the mighty Japanese empire stands:
In most respects I’m just treading water right now. I’ve made huge gains in land between conquering Babylon and eroding half the Aztec empire, but I haven’t been able to balance empire happiness through most of the last 100 turns so growth hasn’t come back around. I’ve lost ground in manufacturing goods (not really sure what that means in terms of the game, to be honest), and I’m almost certainly behind the curve in tech, based on the number of civs I’ve seen unlocking nuclear tech. This is not a game I’m ripe for winning. That said, if I could just manage enough peace time to get my cities producing and empire happiness balanced out, that picture could change in a hurry. I’m just not sure there’s time left in the game for that to happen.
As noted in the midst of the diary, the AI behavior here is irksome. I’ve not so much as set a boot on anyone’s soil other than Nebuchadnezzar and Montezuma, nor have I messed with a city-state since conquering Tyre in the first 200 turns. Yet, on a dime, virtually every Civ went to “Guarded” relations to me. If it’s the aftermath of removing Neb, I don’t like it. If Neb had allies, sure that should bother them, but not every civ on the globe. The goal is to win, after all. And Montezuma? If he wants to be so utterly deceitful, going from Friendly to War, back to Friendly and War again at the drop of a hat, it needs to be less plastic than it is here. Right now Monty get pushed back, asks for peace, sends units to the front for ten turns, and within three turns of a peace treaty expiring declares war again. It’s the same behavior over and over, which just isn’t very interesting.
I will say I think the mid-game military AI is improved. Yeah, Monty is getting crushed, but he’s at least causing me losses and preventing me from just sweeping in and taking everything from him in short order. I’m having to, from my perspective, earn it. If I played more conservative (and smarter), I could probably go without losing more than a unit or two, but the fact is, if you open the door for the AI to take a unit off the board, it’ll grab it. I’m good with that. Still, it needs more positional awareness. Embarking an artillery unit right next to a caravel, when war is declared already, is just crazy. To be fair, where Monty appeared reckless with his cannon, he did a good job of at least trying to establish spacing with his artillery. I couldn’t just move infantry from a safe distance and attack his artillery in one move. I consistently had to move up multiple units to approach artillery positions so that at least one of them would be healthy enough to both take them out and resist a counterattack. (There’s probably a smarter way to go about it than I did, but whatevs.)
For the next 100 turns I’m going to try, try, try to just hold my ground and get my empire producing buildings, but I have my doubts that Montezuma (let alone the other AIs) will allow that to happen. We’ll see how it goes.