Author: Gragg9
Published: 2019-10-07
LRS: Scotland’s performance this mark would only be a disappointment if anyone had ever expected them to amount to anything at all. Locked in the north of Great Britain, tundra and hills their only company, Edinburgh was never fated to become anything more than the first stepping stone in a foreigner’s rise to power. The only thing even remotely shocking about their death was their killer’s not being their southern neighbors, but instead their ones to the east. Yes, old Ragnar finally did Robert the Bruce in, proving once and for all that the Great Wall alone can’t help you when you refuse to stop digging your own grave. To be entirely fair, not all of this is Robert’s fault. His death could maybe have classified as more than a low-quality snuff flick if he’d gotten optics early enough to lay claim to those bland and uninteresting islands to his north, currently being fought over by the Vikings, the Manx, and the fake Romans. But he didn’t get it, and so the stage was set for a short life that felt seven times longer. The Great Wall gave Scotland a foothold onto life that they immediately abused, utterly refusing to die to either Illiam or Ragnar despite gifting away cities, letting old ones burn, and in general playing like they were perpetually blackout drunk. By the time Robert finally kicked the bucket, his only mourners were primarily there because they were sympathetic to a much better Scotland, one that, at present, doesn’t even exist. Given how much fewer the number of nations are in-game than in life, it’s rare for a civ to fail to meet the low bar of their pre-mod existence, but Scotland has, somehow, managed it. Then again, if any civ could fall flat to that extent, it’d probably be this one.
Msurdej: As I said in my narration, it's all but over for the Murri. Losing their coastal cities to New Zealand leaves them with only the city of Boobarran Ngummin and several units. Even IF Seddon doesn't go for the kill, that leaves Gambu in the middle of the subcontinent with three competent civs around him. His days are numbered no natter what he does, and with 0 ways of getting his settlers out of the continent (besides open borders), the Murri empire will most likely fall with this final city.
Lordie: I'm a big Canada fan. I want them to do well. They will not do well. This makes me sad. It was a quiet part for WLMK but honestly he needs the reprieve. It'd be an achievement for him to finish outside the bottom ten at this rate, and the fact that the battered, beleaguered Seljuqs rank above Canada is really telling. With absolutely disastrous stats and half the techs of the leaders (they have less techs than Scotland) it's all but impossible for a comeback for my boys in red.
LRS: Scientists theorize that there is a limit to the amount of citadel spam one can perform on a neighboring empire. Those of us in the sub would theorize that there isn’t, as if there is some sort of limit to the cruelties one can inflict upon another in peacetime, then the joint Apache-Iroquois venture to turn Poverty Point into an empire of two tiles surely would have reached it by this point. At this point, the sole reason that any of Poverty Point’s cities are even remotely habitable is a small portion of the empire to the north that has somehow been overlooked by any incoming Great Generals, with two effigy mounds, two farms, and a lumber mill representing the entirety of Poverty Point’s tile improvements. Two good citadels could thin the ranks to that of a single farm. There are no words apt enough to describe the disparity in power between Tahera and her neighbors. Maybe there were, once, when her empire’s length could be measured in miles rather than yards, when the taste of Canadian blood was still fresh in everyone’s mind, but now there is only the sense of slowly approaching death. Which, at this point, would be the greatest of mercies for the once-proud native civ.
LRS: To be fair, it is hard to mismanage your citizens when they’re in the care of another country. Maybe Alp has the right idea. Then again, I’ve heard good things about possessing your capital city, too, and it’s clear that the Seljuqs are failing hard on that front. Parthia’s finally broken through, and what little was left of the population in the city probably just let their invaders in without protest after the hell of living through such a long siege, and it’s hard to blame them. The Seljuq empire is shattered, now, the only proof that it ever even existed a Nishapur citadeled to Poverty Point levels by the legendarily lethargic India and a one-tile alcove nestled deep inside the jaws of the Marathan navy. And, frankly? That’s for the better. This region of the world is significantly more interesting without a static white curtain separating Parthia, India, and Palmyra, and the Seljuqs, in exchange for letting something interesting happen to them, get to live out their dream of not being expected to do anything, merely delivering on expectations instead of falling short of them. Always look on the bright side of life. There’s a silver lining to every cloud, after all, and for the exile of the Seljuqs it’s that things will get along just fine without them.
Gragg: Well that confirms it for me. Czechs will be the last European civ alive. They have invincible cities. If nothing else it was a good part for them in relation to the other ‘C civs. As far as I’m concerned, the Czechs are just trying to beat Canada and Canton. Czechia has the weakest neighbors of those three, though less stats than Canton. With Prussia and HRE weak and Ottomans peacing out, the Czechs will be fine for a few parts more. There’s even a slimmer of a chance that they could go on the offense for a couple turns with a well timed DOW and human-like competency.
Cloudberg: Someone please put Saif bin Sultan out of his misery already. Please. I beg you. Look at him suffer! He'd be better off as part of a larger empire that can defend the land from attackers and ensure enough food for the local population. In the meantime, I want to remind everyone that back in part 2 or 3, jmangelo once said, "Oman is top 10 and you can't convince me otherwise."
Shaggy: No change in Canton this week. They aren’t actively being invaded by Qin yet, but once reinforcements get sent south there won’t be much that the outdated Pirate units will be able to do. They also haven’t improved at all with not much space to settle, sluggish science, poor production, and missing military. Alliteration aside (sorry), Canton will need to start pecking at the scraps of its larger neighbors if it wants to expand at all, but defense needs to be a priority in the short run.
Gragg: I chuckled when I opened this image of Golden Horde on the most recent turn. This is an amazingly bad spot for the Goths favorite punching bag. Parthia has shown competence in siege against the Seljuqs, Palmyra has best in continents stats, and the Goths have an amazing track record in demolishing the Horde. Sarai Berke is the next city in the cross-hairs and is the Horde’s biggest city. The only thing keeping the Horde out of the 50’s is that they still have 4 cities which inherently gives them more time. They also have a few well placed mountains protecting their southern city and modern units. Honestly though Czechs have a better chance of a comeback than the horde from this position. The chances of either of those are a hair away from 0 but that’s how bad this position is. I try to offer some hope for every civ I write about but... whew.
Thy: In the dark, in the quiet corner of the American continent, sits a sad and miserable civilization, one whose misery all have come to disregard because Poverty Point nearby suffers exponentially more. And can we be blamed? After all, what did the Aztecs ever do? At least PP captured Montreal before their downfall, while all Montezuma can be proud of is distracting Venezuela a bit. Truly shameful, and with the Mayans' failure from Mk.2 still in our minds, one can't help but wonder which civ is getting the honor next time. Maybe the Zapotecs will get to embarrass themselves? Or even the Olmecs? I can hardly wait!
LRS: For a brief moment, there was a chance Mehmed would actually amount to something interesting. Minoa’s death at his hands was more a matter of coincidence than one of intent, admittedly, but it had still meant something to others, judging by the massive coalition called upon him on his next aggressive action by every single neighbor who hadn’t had more important things to do involving cross-ocean wars with stupidly hard-to-take African empires. Then, that wasn’t likely on any Turkish minds – Ostrava was the real focus, Mehmed’s own personal white whale now more accessible than ever. Naturally, he peaced out without it, because locking oneself in an eternal cycle of torment, despair, and regret was in vogue that summer. With Prussia and Venice discovering just how impermissible the geography in the Balkans can get, and Zenobia busy scrolling through her texts instead of watching and occasionally brutally murdering the children she was assigned to babysit, Mehmed’s sad, pitiful, and utterly hilarious quest to annex Ostrava is really the only reason to keep an eye on the accursed canal, and thus, with the Czech war a non-issue, the Turks seem fated to return to their thousand year slumber, safely hidden away from any relevant happenings in the world at large.
Msurdej: Despite a part where the Nenets take a city from a top 10 civ, the Nenets move down a rank this week. And for that reason, you need look no further than the stats. Vauli finds himself in the bottom 10 of overall stats, thanks in large part to his small production base and an abysmal tech that beats only Canada and Oman (and is tied with Czechia). Will all that going against him, The Nenets fortune will ultimately turn when a competent civ like the Goths truly move in for the kill.
Homusubi: What is there to say about the Kuikuro at this point, other than that anyone with a heart is on their side in this never-ending war (ok Techno, you have an excuse, but nobody else does)? Once again, Kuhikugu and Heulugihiti end the part with full health, and the advance of the Guay looks limited to yet more ineffective ranged units sitting at the edge of the Inferno Verde, blocked from going any further. Kuikuro have never been the easiest civ to place in the overall rankings, being very unlikely both to win and to die in the next five turns, and so we seem to have collectively decided to keep them somewhere in the mid-forties until told otherwise, only affected this part by them being leapfrogged by one civ with an eventful part and thus dropping one. That’s it, really.
Gragg: It’s pretty common that when a weak civ does nothing their neighbors surpass them in strength. Haiti’s neighbors grabbed a rocket and blazed past them in power. Venezuela and Iroquois are vastly superior to Haiti now. Gone are the days where they could get cheeky and nab a city off of them. Their continued existence relies on Venezuela especially not dowing or at least being incompetent when they do. Haiti still has some targets in the undefended colonies of Kuikuro and Uruguay though. Not that they’re free cities but it is something.
Techno: A quiet part has boosted the Yup'ik ranking by one slot. After all, in these low ranks, no action is far better than action. While the Yup'ik core is isolated, the Haida still pose a serious threat to their well-being, and the Yup'ik simply do not possess the infrastructure to properly defend their land. The best that the Yup'ik can hope for is that nobody else wants a chunk of their arctic wastes, but as both the Haida and Metis have shown, the AI will greedily occupy even these frozen lands.
Cloudberg: Ivan the Terrible falls back into the 40's after last week's all-time high of 39. This time it's because they're being invaded, again, only now the invader is actually somewhat competent. Which is a surprise given that it's the Sami. Nevertheless, Eadni has already captured Toropets and is burning it to the ground, and more of Ivan's northern cities might soon follow. And, funnily enough, these cities are so bad that Eadni's decision to raze them is probably the right call.
Gragg: For living in the bloodiest part of the world the Tonga have managed to remain fairly peaceful. I fully expect that to change as more civs gain the ability to move their armies across the ocean. Tonga’s greatest threats aren’t in Oceania or even Asia. They lie to the East. Nazca, Venezuela, etc. The friendly islanders do have a fairly decent carpet though which includes musketmen. With New Zealand going beastmode it’s unlikely that Tonga will ever make significant conquest but they aren’t getting conquered anytime soon either.
Homusubi: Oh my, look who’s proven me wrong. Sulu, at one point, looked like the epitome of a civ which never tried, cowering behind their islands as an excuse for not doing what had to be done. Then came the settling spree, and the wars, and the… well, silly peace deals, but then came this. Yes, the civ which we ranked forty-sixth last part is winning a war against the civ which we ranked second at the same time. Granted, some of that is probably due to the defensive advantage given to them by the Straits of Malacca, but at the same time… wow, Jamalul Kiram is scrappy now, and I love him for it. Sorry for doubting you. You’re probably still going to crumble soonish, but if you do, at least you’ll die trying.
Lordie: Things haven't been smooth this part for Piye and Nubia. The Beta Israel DoW is troublesome, especially as the renewed pillage-a-thon that it's started means that we may see a return of our Chadly friends Alpha Israel with their nutty production. On the other hand, Nubia have a decent army that isn't only ranged units now, so it might be a good time to see them hold their own. With Libya dying though, there's really nowhere left for them to move except for Benin really, and even that's a task and a half. Nubia are very firmly a low-mid-table civ right now, and I really don't see this changing anytime soon.
Lordie: So, um, Nepal exist. Apart from failing to do anything in the Seljuk destruction, they've been immensely boring. As we discussed in our discussion, Nepal are more interesting than India solely by virtue of the underdog status they have, which isn't even really a good thing in terms of the game. They say that to have good things you must also have bad ones, so in exchange for the wonders we got in this run, we must have had to pay the price of Nepal not being good.
Gragg: I don’t know about y’all, but I’m still amazed at how quickly Selk’nam has fallen the past few episodes without even being touched. I’m still not entirely sure what happened to make the eldritch horror’s stats fall like they did. One way or another they’ve not past their window of opportunity. They’ve pushed Nazca all they could and now needed to somehow wage war successfully against Uruguay. At this point even a coalition won’t give them the chance they need. If you want a glimmer of hope there’s always naval invasions. Selk’nam is only an episode or two from being able to send their forces towards Tonga or Africa. Though at this point I’m not sure they could win those wars either.
Gragg: It’s not a comeback yet but Ndono’s stat increase reminds me of Nazca’s a few parts ago before they overtook Selk’nam’s. Combine that with Zimbabwe stagnating and Songhai getting knocked down a peg and you get a +4 rank increase. Their science (not total tech) has particularly impressed us, as they are currently 7th best science on the entire cylinder. They’re also sending settlers to various one tile islands across the Atlantic. While this was a good episode for them they’re current position is still mediocre at best. We’ve been lukewarm about Zimbabwe lately but in reality they are still easily one of the scarier civs on the cylinder. Songhai is very much a threat as well. Which leave only one expansion opportunity in Benin if they do manage to get a modernized carpet. If you’re a Ndongo fan this is your time to get hyped for the comeback. (‘cause it’s this could very easily be the high point)
Aaron: Two things happened this episode. Boudicca became the first Empress of the HRE, and the HRE declared war on Boudicca's sworn enemy: the Vikings who pillaged, murdered and burnt her brethren in Scotland and more specifically St. Andrews (which was built on the exact tile Boudicca came from IRL). Though this is certainly very fitting from a lore perspective, one cannot help but think this is a terrible strategic decision. Indeed, their Icelandic colony (Nuremberg) has been captured, their Svalbard colony (Wittenberg) and 2 Greenland colonies (Ulm and Strassburg) have been cut off and will probably be burnt to the ground as soon as the Vikings discover them, and their core Danish city of Frankfurt is being flipped. All in all not a good outlook. Perhaps the HRE were counting on their high naval tech to bail to them out? If so they were horribly mistaken, because 1) the Vikings in the process of equalizing the tech difference at this very moment. 2) You need lots of coastal cities to actually build the high tech ships. The HRE have 2 main ones plus 4 I already mentioned as cities they will likely lose. 2 cities building ships is not enough when the Vikings have 16. The Vikings are relentless and will stop at nothing to get what they want; unless something else comes along to distract the Vikings, the HRE will likely be dealing with waves upon waves of crazed musketmen crashing into their shores for hundreds of years. Even if they can fend them off, it will completely sap their strength, prevent them from making any progress, and give their other neighbors (Moors and Prussia) time which they can use to grow stronger. [link to higher quality version of the image: ]
Aaron: Usually being attacked by a neighbor with twice your tech, production and military would be a problem. Not so for Korea, who have captured 1 Haidan city and got another to half health. However, this good luck is unlikely to last: Haida's fleet has arrived just outside Korean waters and are about to commence the assault. Korea's best hope is for a quick peace deal before it does too much damage. Otherwise they could be in for a world of hurt akin to the result of Murri vs Australia. Further to the North, Korea's Siberian colony has been burnt down by the Evenks and their other city is about to follow it. They weren't great cities but for a civ as small as Korea every city counts so their loss will still hurt.
Gragg: Things are starting to look up for many civs in Africa. Beta Israel is back at war and gaining production. Nubia has updated its carpet and could swing above their weight class. Zimbabwe is starting to recarpet. Songhai’s empire is starting to remilitarize in the South. Ndongo is great science and is settling islands. Madagascar and the Moors are gaining some power. Then there’s Benin. Benin’s stats are getting less and less impressive and their military is puzzlingly absent. They do have up-to-date military units but not nearly enough to do anything. My best guess is they’ve wasted their production time and population building the settler swarm they have (6 in this image, at least 3 more off camera). If there are razed cities nearby maybe Benin can put down another city at least. Otherwise their strategy needs to be to prioritize military and growth over settlers. Then maybe they can profit from a good collation.
Shaggy: OK, so we may have oversold Madagascar a bit. They did basically nothing in their war with Beta Israel and then made peace despite having 50% more military than Chadsrael. Madagascar have yet to wage a war of any significance and their time and targets are running out. They definitely aren’t the worst island civ (they’re still alive, aren’t they?), but their status as even a mid-tier island civ is slowly waning. Please do something with your tech, Ranavalona…
Lordie: A quiet part for India, as Indira wasn't mentioned whatsoever this week. She is in a bit of a box at the moment though, as any expansion either requires pushing through one of Parthia, Maratha, Kazakhs or Khamugs, or going after Nepal. The latter option is of course the tastier, however once done, what can India do from there? They still have to push into a far larger civ. It's not to say they're out of the running though, but I wouldn't put any money on them right now, let's say.
Gragg: This was a sneaky good part for Yellow China. They didn’t directly do anything but they still have a potent military and decent stats. Plus everyone around them is at war with each other. If they declare war on any of their neighbors it will be a great opportunistic war. Ok, preferably not the Khamugs yet but anyone else. Direct 1v1 wars against any of their neighbors would just turn into a meat grinder but they could actually take a few cities against Qin (purple china) especially, and one or two off Shikoku or Korea. This is the kind of opportunity that mid tier civs salivate over.
Shaggy: The Evenks are military geniuses who have mastered the art of lulling their opponents into a false sense of security. They have taken Taejon by baiting Korea into ramming their army into Mutoray, then upgrading to knights and rolling over the remaining Korean Arctic Special Forces in the area save a few ships that won’t be able to retake the city. I fully expect the Evenks to be able to completely remove Korea from his snowy domain as Bombogor continues his march to the Bering Strait. No change in ranks this week; the PR's continue to disagree on the significance of the Evenks accomplishments.
Shaggy: I’ve been a fan of the Manx since Part 0. They’ve been my underdog pick since the start and they’ve exceeded so many expectations in the first dozen or so parts. Then they started slipping. They’ve lost their North American colonies, they’ve borked invasions of the Moors, and they seem to have lost some of the edge that made them look like a rare competitor from the British Isles. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Manx as an underdog, but they will need to really focus on solidifying their core and enhancing their navy if they want to survive their encroaching neighbors and newfound transatlantic opponents. Maybe this is the needed dip to get Dhone his underdog hunger back, maybe its a sign of worse times to come, but however you want to cut it the Manx drop 3 ranks this week and I’m getting nervous.
LRS: Let slip the dogs of war! With the moral support of the Qin, Apache, and Korea, and the probably-still-largely-moral backing of the Taungoo, Papua has gone kangaroo hunting, to… mixed results. Australia’s no Sulu, a house of cards primed to fall over at any moment. Their earlier brawl with New Zealand and the artist formerly known as the Murri preserved the majority of their navy, for whom the extent of their recent combat engagements have been clowning the Sulu in slam poetry. Bunbury fell in the initial surge, sure, but it was swiftly resettled, and so far has been the only casualty of the war. Still, the time’s never been more ripe for a push, and it seems Rajapapua has picked up on that: Maimbung’s finally about to finish burning, and with taverns and with them the promise of salvation from their happiness malaise swiftly approaching, the presently half-hearted assault by land on Brisbane could well have interesting results. Of course, that one assault may be all that front of the war has in it, as Alice Springs is otherwise nearly entirely void of land units, and Australia’s digestion of the Murri lands could make them stronger than ever once their full military might returns. Whether Papua becomes a third Oceanic power or merely another also-ran consigned to the dustbin of history could hinge entirely on how the next part goes. Oh, and on how highly Seddon thinks of them. At this point, Seddon could do just about anything and probably still net two cities and a crippled rival out of it.
Homusubi: The perennial hot kartoffel of the power rankings, Prussia rises by three this part despite having officially lost a war. Whilst the Ur-Grandma has indeed cemented her control over the land formerly occupied by Stettin by plonking another unpronounceable city down, Fritz may well have expected worse, and the resulting truce has neutralized the only one of his many fronts in which he would be at a disadvantage if war broke out. I’d give it a few turns, but after that, Prussia should really be considering another declaration of war, perhaps on the suddenly-empty lands of Muscovy, or on the woefully low-tech exclaves of the Czechs. Even the HRE looks beatable right now. Just… don’t go north. Whatever you do, Fritz, don’t go north. That’s why you’re in the mid-twenties and aren’t mentioned in the same breath as Palmyra.
LRS: Chavez slips in the rankings this week, because…? It’s a bit difficult to tell at first glance, really: Venezuela had no mentions this part, and what little we did see of them seemed to indicate that we were looking at a civ in the same place it’s always been. Then again, that might be exactly the problem. Venezuela is the undisputed ruler of the Caribbean, a land of languishing nations caught in varying states of disarray, and, should push come to shove, could probably eliminate Haiti with ease and take chunks out of the Aztecs and Poverty Point with little issue. There should be little reason to doubt Chavez’s capabilities. But, and here’s the thing, we’ve seen this before. Remember when the Mediterranean had three more civs? Venice seemed a potential reaper at the time, perfectly situated to knock out any of the minor rump states that littered the region with an all-powerful navy. But Enrico Dandolo decided to kick back, bide his time, and wait, and he was rewarded with seeing two more powerful nations smell blood and begin playing in the kiddie pool. Where the doge had the Moors and Songhai, Chavez almost certainly will have the Iroquois and Uruguay. So, really, there’s nothing worse Chavez can do right now than stall for time. The more he waits, the further he falls behind those just one degree of separation away, and the more likely it is that any chance he has at some free, easily attainable land is snuffed out.
Homusubi: I gave Parthia a really out-there ranking this week, and having thought about it further, have come to the conclusion that the reason I did that was because Parthia just does weird things to my head. What even is it, anyway? Middle Eastern? South Asian? Central Asian? Nobody knows! Likewise, you’d probably favour them over any of their neighbors in a straight fight (with the exception of Palmyra), but only marginally in each case, and largely due to each neighbor having a slightly more incompetent military record than the Parthian one. Anyway, their capture of the Seljuq capital has bumped them up three places in the rankings, and left them with one dormant war and no regular ones. Perhaps another strike north? It worked last time, and the Kazakhs, remember, are losing a war to the literal Nenets.
Gragg: Well that was totally expectedly unexpected. Venice has the most total movement of any civ in the power rankings and they haven’t really done much. Enrico likes to play with our hopes though. They’ve had such high potential so many times but never can capitalize. They still have that potential so the drama kings of Europe might not be done toying with us yet. A pass has opened up for Venice to get some navy through to the Turks. So far they aren’t using it but with Prussia now applying pressure to the north Venice could in theory do something. They’ve now surpassed HRE’s carpet on land so who knows if something will happen there.
Cloudberg: There's no movement for Gudit this week, but this stagnation comes in the face of growing dissent: a fair number of us think she ought to be lower. Production is great, but unless it's coupled with aggression and vulnerable neighbors, it won't mean anything. And Gudit is running out of vulnerable neighbors. Nubia suddenly doesn't look so squishy, now that Piye has an almost full carpet of crossbowmen. Benin is hard to reach. And Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe. So where is Beta Israel supposed to focus that productive energy? I think once more people realize that this question doesn't have an answer, Gudit is going to fall back into the 30s where she probably belongs.
Msurdej: I forgot if the Nazca were mentioned this part. And I was the one who wrote the part! After a quick search, the only place they were mentioned is when they declared a basically pointless war against the Aztecs. That's just how much the Nazca have going on. And when you're neighboring a high tier civ like Uruguay, nothing is not what you want to be doing.
Gragg: This slide image has a lot to unpack so let’s talk about it for a minute. First off let’s take note of the settlers. There’s 2 spots available in this screenshot as far as I can tell and it looks like Shikoku and Purple China (Qin) are both interested in claiming it. The Shikoku settler will likely go the the one-tile island to the South-West but may also try to resettle on the mainland. Purple China has 2 settlers on the front line, likely headed for the newly cleared area South of Ba’arin. One of those settlers will probably be captured. Otherwise Shikoku actually has a comparable military to the Qin on the mainland though is far behind in other stats. If Purple China continues to squander its production though Shikoku could still make some gains in this war. Off camera the weakening of Korea bodes well for while Taungoo and Haida, specifically Haida, settling Hawaii is concerning for those colonies. If this weren’t enough interesting things about Shikoku in one episode, they also have a settler headed towards Oceania’s newly cleared real estate.
Thy: "Next one, please!" That is the phrase the Australians are using, I imagine. With a good half a dozen episodes of nearly continuous relevant wars, you'd think that they're starting to hurt a bit already. But no, apparently fighting all your neighbors sort-of simultaneously isn't enough to drag down the Australian devil. No matter how much you kick them, they stand back up, ready to take another kick, or a punch, or both! ...Ah fuck, I'm starting to like them. Please just die quickly so I don't get attached. I mean look at those stats! And look at those upsets and surprises, and they're still fighting bravely, and with spite even, as evidenced by Bunbury. And that's pretty likeable. Unfortunately.
Gragg: These are the Vikings we know and love. They’ve claimed the North end of the British Isles and turn their attention towards Germany. The end of the Sami/Prussia war means that the border between the Vikings and their greatest enemy remains somewhat limited. A bonus is that the Sami are still occupied in the East. This gives the Vikings some time to focus on the HRE and spend some time bulking up their military. It’s hard to imagine a better episode for the Vikings (realistically). The way forwards for the Vikings is pretty clear at this point. Hope to take a city or few off the Vikings, rebuild military, then DOW any number of people, preferably someone with a lot of coastal cities. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we even see Vikings in IRL Canada soon. Sami is still a very real threat though, and one the Vikings can’t directly confront. So let’s hope they continue to improve their stats while Sami continue to stagnate.
Gragg: This was pretty much a best case scenario episode for the Apache. They immediately peaced out of a losing war with the Iroquois who are known to be stubborn when ending wars (Or maybe it was Canada and they liked the beating). They’re already getting to work repairing their carpet and bullying the other neighbors. Poor PP. Even still the balance of power has definitely tipped away from the Apache. The Moors had an amazing part as well leaving the Apache to fight an uphill battle. Opportunities are still plentiful though so a ‘comeback’ is possible. After all, those Metis cities still look rather enticing...
Cloudberg: New Zealand manages to rise a little bit more this part, edging closer to the top 15. Some people expected New Zealand to drop this part, believing our high ranking of them last week to be an overreaction, but the counter movement hasn't appeared. This part, Seddon captured the enormous city of Meanjin and secured the Murri capital, giving him control over the east coast of Australia and all but eliminating the Murri. Furthermore, New Zealand's military might has continued to grow, now sporting almost three times as many troops as Australia, and the sixth most in the world overall. In my opinion, this makes New Zealand the undisputed number one civ in Oceania. The question is, can they capitalize on it and break out of a region that's normally doomed to second place?
Shaggy: South China is heating up, but Ying Zheng may have left the oven on in Macao as the city has burnt to the ground. Yes, Qin are having similar happiness issues as many other expanding civs at the moment and they are currently sitting at -4. This bodes poorly for their potential to hold either of Canton’s mainland cities that Qin are currently eyeing as I fully expect them to burn whatever they capture until they can appease the populace. The uphill battle the Qin face in the rankings is a result of many civs making stronger cases for becoming regional powerhouses. That being said, Qin have the effective science to get the edge on its opponents once they decide to build more units. Come on Ying Zhen, the Knights Who Say Nu want more friends.
Aaron: As predicted, Haida lose Tlell to Korea, and Skedans is also at half health. However, the war is far from lost for Haida, as their renaissance era fleet is about to crash into Gongju. They do not yet have enlightenment era frigates (which would completely obliterate Korea's entire medieval navy, as we've already seen a few times how powerful frigates are) but galleons are still a significant upgrade over carracks. Haida are statistically twice as powerful as Korea, so really all they need to do is get their fleet across the Pacific and, from the looks of things, that's exactly what they're doing thankfully. (also they shouldn't make any dumb peace deals but no one can predict when those will happen). I would have preferred it if they had got their fleet into position BEFORE declaring war as that would have avoided the lost cities but at least now is better than never. Their main rivals in their position as a North Pacific power are Shikoku and in that regard they're doing quite well. They have almost double Shikoku's cities and, although Shikoku have a significant tech lead, it is not insurmountable. Taking a large portion of Korea should be the goal here, as not only does it give Haida more naval bases, but it will prevent Shikoku from grabbing them further down the line.
Aaron: This part, the Goths raze Bolghar and manage to recapture Berea, the latter being particularly amazing as the city was extremely well defended behind mountains. And thanks to it technically being their own city, they don't even raze it! Though with their low happiness they should really stop the war at this point. They have everything they want; the only thing that razing more cities would do is allow Parthia to sneak settlers in. The Gothic army has been significantly reduced by the war, but thankfully the only threat (Kazakhstan) decided to go after the Nenets instead of the Goth's unprotected rear. Gothic production is top-tier (8th cylinder wide) so they should be able to rebuild easily enough by the time Kazakhstan is done with the Nenets. Moving forwards, Muscovy is still extremely weak, and the Sami razing their cities is only making them weaker. The Goths should definitely aim to take a large portion of those cities before they all go up in smoke. I know that last time the Goths tried it was a dismal failure, but you can't fail every time.
Cloudberg: The Kazakhs drop back out of the top 10 for the first time since part 7, and it's obvious why. Just when we were hoping Ablai Khan might rest on his laurels and rebuild after the wildly successful invasion of the Evenks, he decided to use his depleted army to attack the Nenets, and it's looking like he'll lose two of the cities he just took from Bombogor. While there's a chance that the Nenets might give a city away in the peace treaty, this could still be a net loss. Is this what they call a pro gamer move?
Gragg: Yes, I know, Taungoo haven’t done much. Or anything really. But they’ve put themselves in a position where they can sit and do nothing for a few episodes and still be a top force on the cylinder. Their science is great and their library provides extra xp to their units, which now include their knight replacement UU. This war elephant gives golden age points among other things. Plus they have plenty of gold to upgrade their carpet as soon as they research the correct techs. While the terrain around them isn’t great, they’re powerful enough that they have a good chance of being able to overcome it. While it certainly doesn’t seem like it so far they are one of the most aggressive civs on the cylinder, but suffer from a slight aversion to water. Expect them to make an attempt to break out sometime soon(ish).
Thy: Thank the gods, there is peace in Northern Africa. After decades and decades of war, where the Moorish declaration of war on Songhai came in right after the Libyans and Algerians had lost their last holdings, there is finally a chance to recuperate, and at last, Songhai can rebuild from the chain of wars it had participated in. And certainly, the nobles and generals of this nation with much imperialist ambition are already looking around for the next possible target, and let me tell you, the neighborhood is surprisingly sturdy now. While Songhai was battling its neighbors to the north one after another, its neighbors to the east and south have bulked up. Nubia especially has taken great care in building an modern army, crossbows and all, and though Benin has not taken similar efforts, they remain sturdy by virtue of UI spam and tough terrain. Indeed, even as Nubia is fighting Beta Israel, one could reasonably ask: Can Songhai crack any of their current neighbors? And the answer is yes, eventually, after building a nice carpet and a good economy, after which Nubia especially should falter with ease. But does Askia have the patience to wait?
Gragg: Khamughs, Kahmugs, Khamuhgs...They certainly wield one of the biggest carpets on the cylinder right now. With the war against Korea, it looks like they’ll be able to put it to use. The first couple turns of the war haven’t been convincing as they send in one unit at at time, but there is still plenty of time for Khahmughs to decide to siege a city. Their weakness right now is their science. It’s far worse than others at the top of the rankings. It’s also one of the harder stats to improve. Taking Korean cities isn’t likely to help at all. Right now it only puts them at a small disadvantage by fielding comp bows and catapults instead or crossbows, muskets, and cannons. As the game goes on that disparity will increase until the Kahmhugs aren’t able to win wars through numbers alone.
Aaron: With a victory over Songhai in the bag, the Moors surge ahead into the top 10. Though partly due to a certain PR being away (hint: vote -Moors in the prediction contest when said PR returns), the Moors have also done extremely well for themselves. What was the first thing the Moors did upon peacing out with Songhai? They settled a bunch of cities on small islands, beelined frigates, got the tech within the part, and immediately started upgrading their navy. This move is pure genius: the Moors up till now were strong on land but weak at sea, and were therefore vulnerable to an attack by either by the Manx or by Venice's very scary navy of Great Galleases. But now the Moors have completed pivoted and decided that they will be strong at sea too. Those Great Galleases? Not really that scary anymore when you have frigates! It's true that Venice is only 2 techs away from frigates so could get them too if they beelined, but that isn't certain, and at any rate, getting the tech after your rival is nowhere near as threatening as getting it before. Meanwhile the Manx have not researched a single tech passed compass and are therefore completely wide open to a naval invasion - galleases get slaughtered by frigates. This by itself is great, but wait, there's more! For indeed, Abd-Ar-Rahman's new conquests are coming online and have boosted his production to third place in the entire cylinder! And he's using this production to build military. Though the Moors looked quite drained after the war with Songhai, this part they increased their military by a staggering 10k troops, overtaking the Sami as the pointiest stick in Europe! Superb play!
Aaron: Their ranking might not show it, but the Metis had a REALLY good part. While other civs were out battling each other, the Metis were conquering an enemy of a different nature: the snow. And they are winning. How does one go about defeating the snow? Well on the last turn of last part, the Metis discovered machinery which has allowed them to build a bunch of taverns which has caused their happiness to go positive. This in turn has led to MASSIVE population growth, an overall increase of 70 extra citizens which has caught them up with Uruguay. Those terrible 1-pop arctic cities that were weighing the Metis down? They're not 1-pop anymore! Though they are technically still weighing the Metis down (the limit where a Metis city goes from being a dead-weight to being useful is 6 pop) but far less than before. This massive population growth has in turn led to a massive increase in all stats across the board. Their production is now comfortably in second well above 3rd place Moors and is on trend to overtake Uruguay! (which won't actually happen because Uruguay are on the verge of discovering factories but the point still stands that this is a lot of production). The only stat that isn't top-tier is their science, because their small cities cannot afford libraries and universities. But even that is still good enough to get by on - for comparison it is on the same level as Palmyra or the Iroquois. And while they do have more buildings to build than any other civ, they have not neglected their military and assembled a large enough defensive force (11th in the world) to keep any of their neighbors from trying anything rash. North America beware.
Thy: Peace, peace in our time... Oh, nevermind, we're back to war, even though our happiness is still in the gutter. But at least the Muscovites should be an easier target, right? Right? Not that it matters, of course. Because of the happiness, you know. Any gains Beloved Grandma might make will be burnt down as a sacrifice to the gods. It's either all those people, or Grandma's cookies. For the Sami people, the choice is obvious. For their victims, this appears as zealotry and unprovoked animosity. There is no way such behavior is sustainable, but what do I know? Maybe Beloved Grandma can create an empire on fear. Maybe the Sami will burn down half of Muscovy to settle their own cities there instead. Or maybe the Goths will settle that land. At least Sami have their other stats in fairly good order, even if they are slipping a bit.
Gragg: Another quiet week for the giant of the Indian subcontinent. They made appearances in the ongoing Oceania drama (buncha divas over there), but otherwise they continue to build up. As of this episode their military is only 3k behind Uruguay’s. Except instead of the jungle fortress/nerdy Kuikuro to push through Maratha has the mountain dwelling Nepal and India. There the mountains to the North won’t be enough to stop Maratha if they really commit to a war, which we haven’t seen them do in quite some time. Their weak point right now is the number of cities they have. They expanded well considering their start location but at the end of the day, conquest is required to keep up with the likes of Metis or Zimbabwe. Despite their inaction so far expect Maratha to stay near the top of the rankings for quite some time.
Apparently Nyatsimba once more knows the 'We, as Zimbab rise back a few spots into the Top 5 again. Although they didn't really do anything this part (how often have we said that about most of the big civs though) they're still statistically omega-tier, they have immense lands, but the decision-making hasn't quite been there. It's almost a consensus that they could roll Ndongo without breaking a sweat but they need to get on with it sharpish, or else lose their African throne to the Songhai.
Gragg: Palmyra hits a new record high this episode. They’ve been in the top 10 since episode 6 and continue to slowly move towards the top spot. Unless Palmyra makes some sort of action, this rank may be hard to hold onto. Their stats are more well-rounded than many top civs but their science (not # of techs) is their weak point. It’s not terrible but definitely needs fixing if they want to continue to move up. Other than that we all want to see Palmyra make a move towards any of it’s weak neighbors. Parthia, Goths, Golden Horde, Ottomans, and Seljuqs are all at their weakest point in several episodes. If Palmyra declares on any of those and improves their science we may even see a new #2. Or they could stagnate and fall behind in science. We’ll see.
LRS: Hiawatha rises to second place in the rankings even with a foolish peace to a weakened Apache, but, rest assured, it wasn’t any moves he made that got him here. Much of the reason for the high Iroquois ranking instead comes from a mixture of pedigree and opportunity. North America has been wide open since Poverty Point first deceived us into thinking that they had a legitimate chance of becoming relevant, and the Iroquois of now are perhaps the civ most well-poised for domination of the continent so far this game, thanks to a recent conquering spree that has finally begun to produce returns in the Iroquois’ info addict scores. With the Métis asleep, the Apache licking their wounds, and the Haida confined to the coast, all of Hiawatha’s neighbors are out of the picture, leaving the confederation as the sole threatening force left in the continent. While there are major spanners that could be thrown into the works (the Métis waking up the most obvious of all), every civ this high up has them. Really, at this point, second isn’t a sign of respect so much as it is a sign that you’re the least untrustworthy used car dealer in the town.
Msurdej: Uruguay continues to lead in the stats, but in game, its quite a different picture. Lavalleja continues to struggle against the Kuikuro, and he's made no strikes against the Selk'nam or the Nazca. Is this due to the South American terrain, a slow start, or is this an endemic problem with this roll of Uruguay's AI? Probably one of the first two, but still, I can dream of a world where Uruguay doesn't win

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Images: 18, author: penguinofnight, published: 2018-05-27