It’s that time of the year again (Christmas) where we take on the yearly Empire Deluxe tournament. For those unaware, this is a tradition started 10 years ago by a few of us in IT that were scheduled to work between the holidays with no access to an outside network. To pass time, we played a game that didn’t require setting off alarms, and the annual Empire Tournament was born.
The years of us taking the holiday break to sit in a bunker watching servers are gone, but the tournament remains. This year it’s the four-player map of Adallia which I posted back on EDIBLE earlier this year. In week one, we completed three games, the shortest of which required 596 turns to complete. Yes, we take our Empire Deluxe seriously.
Round One – Belloria Wins
The first game saw the Haart Federation bow out after the strongest opening performance yet. They fell victim to the ever present threat of an infantry slog through their territory and made several mistakes at the various chokepoints scattered on the map. Notably, they sent armor to the Temple of the God Dragon which is closed to all but infantry. They were flanked by Belloria while fighting Norsomm forces in Trant. Belloria closed off the Beljedian Mountians in one of the most impressive infantry slogs I’ve ever seen. Norsomm then made the same mistake of counter attacking through the Temple of the God Dragon with Armor thinking it was a route into Belloria. This cost them the victory, as Belloria closed it behind them, captured the Laer Nes ports and made a transport dash through the surprisingly navy-free seas of Mar Loth and Zerraniskin.
Throughout all of this, Lobradia was absent most of the game. Apparently engulfed in an island hopping campaign, it never became relevant until only Belloria remained. They would resign without a real impact to the game once it was clear the continents were united under Bellorian rule and a long drawn out war would not end in Lobradia’s favor.
This was a learning experience for all of us. This map is dominated by strong island positions and the ever present danger of infantry slogs is a threat that has to be countered in most of the continental sub-divisions. However, my original belief that this would be a map only for infantry is turning out to be a bit overstated. We all agreed there were going to be stronger navies and tighter control of enemy infantry in future games.
Round Two – Demora Wins
Lobradia opened with the strongest opening move by taking Darsen, but under contest from Belloria. This led led to a series of naval battle with Belloria that lasted most most of the game. These engagements showed that whoever owned Darsen would maintain a strong naval presence throughout the game due to its strategic position and high qualify cities. Lobradia and Belloria would end up draining themselves in costly naval and air combat for hundreds of turns without a decisive result. When the war in the east was decided, they both ended up resigning within turns of each other. This is because neither of them gained a strong foothold and had no easy avenue of advance in other areas.
Belloria’s early advance east was completely stopped at the Beljedian Mountains when their infantry slog strategy failed against a power armor and air force waiting on the other side of the mountains.This led Belloria to declare a truce with Kalyah who both suffered encroachment on other fronts. The truce would last most of the game. Belloria sent it’s forces south in an attempt to take Darsen, and Kalyah sent troops south to Trant. Both moves turned out to be futile and costly.
Kalyah and Demora would fight a bitter battle at the Trant Straight. Neither side gained an edge and the warzone was a stalemate on all fronts. Kalyah capitalized on a key naval victory by Belloria near Laer This to launch an amphibious landing. A beachhead was created at the Cloudrest Spires, threatening to encircle the Demora units in Norsomm. But due to Demora’s strategy of circling clockwise around the Solas Sea, the area happened to be coated with a backlog of stuck Demoran Armored units and the beachhead forces were utterly annihilated. Demora responded with a naval counter-attack, capturing ports at the Obsidian Tower and Green City of Zerra, and eventually the Forge of Balah which cut off Kalyan troops at Trant. Kalyah had been outmaneuvered and surrendered just as troops approached it’s capitol in the north.
Lobradia and Belloria resigned shortly after, their depleted navies were unable to prevent Demora from gaining ground. In fact, Demora had already established a beachhead at the Green City of Zerra and were marching 10 – 15 new infantry per turn up Meora by this point in the game and it was only a matter of time.
Round Three – Rythia Wins
Lobradia opened with the same move, this time taking Darsen Isles without contest. Belloria attempted to take Kalyah, which worked well in round one but had some setbacks this time due to unlucky odds and proper countermeasures to the infantry slog. Another key reason for the failure to capture Kalyah was the decision to split forces to west in the opening turns instead of focusing on a full eastern move as Belloria had done int he past.
As a result of these setbacks, Belloria stopped it’s advance after capturing the Temple of the God Dragon. This was mainly due to threats in Maeora where Lobradia had succssfully landed troops before Belloria arrived int he area. This battlefront once again became a stalemate, with constant landing attempts by Lobradia and counter offensives by Bellora. The only interesting move was a Lobradian assault at Droh Aedor, which would see the city remain in their hands despite almost being constantly surrounded the rest of the game.
Rythia worked quickly to capture Trant and secured a beachhead at Droh Trant-Soutre using Laer Trant as a jumping point. Then, in an interesting move, Rythia decided to hold the position on these fronts despite being constantly surrounded. The defenses were comprised almost entirely of air units flown in from northern conquests. This presented a huge setback to Demora who expected to focus on knocking out Lobradia early and use the full power of the southern continent to overcome a stalemate at the Trant Straight like last game. The early beachheads meant Demoran forces were divided on two fronts.
Rythia used it’s early advantage to secure a second beachhead at Majud, and then finally one at Sol Aum. The decision was to build an Armor blockade to the west and leave the Cloudrest Spires unmolested. This decision meant the armor clustering there was unable to make an effective defense as it had in round two. Holding this position, Rythia struck north and captured Haart and Kalyah and chose to build a navy to capture every island it could on the northern side of the map. The end of the southern war came when two cruiser fleets (10+ each) met. The Rythian navy won a decisive naval victory at Laer Norsomm, eventually wiping out every capital ship in the Demoran fleet. A double encirclement followed, from Sol Aum and an amphibious assault at Laer Norsomm. The assault saw an impressive 100+ bomber fleet flying across the Trant Straight, obliterating the Demoran troops in Norsomm.
By this point, Lobradia was finally pushed out of Maeora by Bellorian troops. In their homeland of Lobradia, Demora had captured their capitol and all cities on the mainland. Theit last stronghold remained in Darsen. They made an alliance to remain neutral against Rythian naval units, effectively giving Rythia command of the seas. At this point, the players expected another 200 rounds (already over 600 turns in at this point) but a decisiv blow was dealth. Belloria was wiped out when Rythian forces operating from the islands in the north, and through clear seas in the south, flanked the continent. The strong naval presence at Darsen defeated a joint Bellorian Darsen fleet on their way to defeat the Rythian convoys coming from Norsomm, effectively securing the center of the map. Belloria resigned shortly after it’s capitol was destroyed.
Darsen, still in command of the southern half of the map, including mainland Lobradia, resigned after the player determined there is no clear path to victory. The forces in Darsen followed shortly after. The longest fought battle ended in Rythian victory.
Round Four – In Progress
Due to the holidays falling on a Tuesday this year, round four is likely to be the last round played. Already we are in turn 291. No player changed their start location this time. This proving to be one of the most challenging ones for me, despite two losses being directly attributed to me already. I’m pleased to see the infantry slog strategy has only worked once so far. Every other attempt has been repelled. But the dominance of air power is already showing its influence by all four players this time. And navies, especially capital ships, are showing up everywhere, presumably due to high efficiency rates of island cities.
We will see if this round is completed before the holidays close. Because, as of now, we do not have a winner. We have a three way tie.