It was the damndest thing. Me and TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC had been together since the beginning. Both firstborn B.C. we were barely kneehighs when contact was first made, and our Lords awoken in all their Glory. Inspired, we both joined the command. Guess some of Pa rubbed off on me, because they chose me to be a Cave Captain. TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC though… first they enlisted him in the scouts. Then all this business started about the stones whispering and statues moving. I consider myself a man of the faith, but I don’t know what to make about this alleged Divine Boon the Ancients have been bestowed with. And then they took TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC into the Temple. Now they’re saying he’s the destined prophet? These are strange times indeed.
My starting position isn’t terrible, but it doesn’t qualify as great either. I am connected to 4 provinces, but one of them is underwater so won’t benefit from fort connection. I am surrounded by lands rich in resource, but without good income. A “good” starting position is connected to 4 land provinces, one of which has 70+ income and the rest which have ~40 average income and resources. If I had known I would be so resource rich I might’ve chosen another point of Sloth, but in my tests on this map it just wasn’t worth the risk of a poor starting position. However, it is possible to have only 2 land connections (and one of those could be blocked by a throne!) so don’t think I’m complaining as it could be much worse. Note my starting gem income: + 3E,1D,1F.
I want to expand to the surface as quickly as possible, otherwise I might get holed into my cave and forced to invade to break sunlight. If either of my cave provinces had high income I might detour to them first, but no luck so instead I move my starting commander, Albert, to where the sun actually does shine. I garrison my starting force and instruct Albert to poke his head out quickly and tell me what he sees (i.e. retreat immediately). I don’t want to blindly attack anywhere with my relatively weak starting army, I’ll save those gambits for when my giants get mustered. Otherwise I send my scout, TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC, to the holy temple to study the good word of Pocahantas’s Phylactery. Traditionally you would Prophetize your starting commander, but I can recruit H3 commanders from my cap for large blessings and early Smites. Instead I want to send my Scout to preach the good word to my neighbors. This will ensure that any nasty cold won’t get too far, and when my golems are mobilized I will have the HP bonus on hand.
Once I establish a land presence, I will make sure to reinforce my caves and then move into the water. I am privileged to be the only nation with readily amphibious units, effectively guaranteeing me water supremacy. The map is small enough for 11 players that I assume land wars will begin almost instantly. While everyone else is at war I can expand into the unclaimed water provinces and grow my nation without risk or war and defeat.
The Ship Wreckers! I cannot afford to let anyone else get them. For one the leader is a sacred Priest with decent stats. She can be a powerful mini-thug for me this early on with my double major bless. Additionally the whole company is amphibious. If anyone recruits her they might get an early foothold in the water before me and ruin my whole plan! I recruit my cheapest researcher, an Earth Reader, an Ancient One and 2 Stone Hurlers. You will never see me recruit Stone Hurlers except for turns 1-2 when I am desperate for gold. They are Ancient Ones without a helmet, shield or spear. However they come equipped with 5 specially balanced throwing boulders (superior to the 2 normal boulders Ancient Ones typically equip). Once out of ammo they wade in with both fists. They count for almost double the siege value of Ancient Ones, albeit they’re still pretty terrible given what my bless is geared for (melee combat on units that have shields, helmets, and a half decent chance of landing a blow). The remainder of my funds go to tempt Y’gologna.
Success! Y’gologna joins my forces and immediately heads East. Allegedly a weak tribe of bat people reside there, waiting to be converted to the song that won’t leave your head that is Pocahontas’s Phylactery’s Preaching Paeans. Albert and his bud TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC head North with 1 Ancient One and 2 Stone Hurtlers taking point in attack formation.
I have seen the fissure in my faith and it has been corrected. With mine own body and mine own blade I have not only fought besides the Divine Ancients Ones, I have seen this Divine Boon first hand. A warrior of the Ursaux Tribe cleaved one of the Ancient One’s ankles clean off! With a shrug the Blessed One leaned over and pushed it right back on! The flesh mended before thine’s very own eyes. Weapons turn away from their skin and they are tireless in their eradication of the heathens. Indeed, I was blessed that day with a boon of mine own!
We have seen the surface light once more! The prophecies were right! TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC is of the most elevated of positions now! And I am his right-hand man, sworn to bring our justice to this world in the name of Pocahontas’s Phylactery.
-Albert, First Captain of the Caves, The Brand of Light, Early Summer of 20 A.C.
My expanding forces are doing excellently. Arnold and Y’gologna both converge on Cloaco Maxima and a strong party of large cavemen who reside there. These subjects will conclude my forced conversion of the cave people. From here I will expand to where the sun falls. This makes Cloaco Maxima especially important because it has a hole to the surface. The area above my capital is mostly mountainous and rugged terrain. I have all the resources a sleeping Disney character’s phylactery could want, but I am hurting for dat gold. Not to sound ungrateful, I am aware my expansion has been going very well. Having a lot of low income terrain is certainly better then only having a couple low income provinces.
Something to note in my battle tactics is how I positioned Y’gologna, surrounded by her units. Both the province last turn and this had the Zotz, flying bat people who dabble in blood and death magics. By keeping them grouped around her I ensure the annoying fliers don’t surround and kill her (which would admittedly be unlikely vs weak bats). I am keeping them clumped for the next battle against the cavemen too. My Ancient Ones are joining the battle, I intend to make the Cave people close the gap between us and pepper them with boulders all the while.
If you remember we average 9 land provinces a player until Thrones or the water provinces have to start being taken (less world war occurs). Right now I have 7 provinces on turn 4. Granted they aren’t very good ones, but hopefully that means they contain lots of magic sites. This also means next turn I will likely be hitting, or even exceeding, that threshold of 9. Yet I still haven’t seen my neighbors. Either they are expanding slow, or there is a chance we both might dive for the same province this turn and strike first blood. Here goes nothing!