Our opening session saw six players attempting to take control on the Meer Sea. This is the first time in several years we will have every playable slot filled with a human opponent. We all expected turns to be longer as more players means more time per round. Moreover, we learned during the preliminaries that there were several mapping errors which had to be accounted for prior to game start. We also opted to allow for a wider selection of starting spots to facilitate better competitive play in the subsequent rounds.
The game map attached to this post shows the course of events as they played out. Note that due to a mapping imperfections, the true size of the continents is slightly wider. This will cause some distortions in the visuals but are a reflection of how events played out on the game map. Here are the starting locations for the first game:
Nordmeer was the first power to make it off their home base, sweeping through the city rich Duyna River Basin and down the Finster Wald. Despite winning some significant victories on the western side of the continent, their expansion was completely checked by Heristo at the Battle of Khzark da Grun. A failed amphibious landing saw a fighter force based in an airbase near Grokz wipe out two thirds of the transport fleet, leaving the landing force to fight a losing battle of attrition. The war effectively reduced the area to ruins which would eliminate all sides from using this area in future battles to come. The record book would give victory to Heristo who ended up occupying the area once Nordmeer was forced west.
In the west, Niefsa decided to expand to the east rather than build an expensive naval fleet. They met significant roadblocks trying to cross the Zwergen Mountains. Eventually, their expansion to the south yielded results, as most of Heristo’s forces were in the east for the Battle of Khzark da Grun. Their push towards the southern coast was eventually checked to to the ill-fated decision to focus only on land units. With no way to cross the seas, the forces were eventually pushed back into Gunberu.
To further complicate matters, a Nordmeer’s expeditionary force made an infantry slog through Rotguhrd, capturing it and forcing all ground forces to be diverted north. The situation was Niefsa as completely defensive by the time the first half was complete.
On the Eastern Isles, Xi’jing formed a land invasion, quickly conquering all of the northern half of the continent uncontested. However, this took the entire first half of the game to accomplish. At the same time, Aufgehenden took the entire southern half uncontested. This left both nations with rich territory and the promise of a future battle to come.
While the war raged on the western continent, the lone and forgotten Taylo became the sole naval power. It quietly built a vast empire across the various islands. However, this build up would come at a tremendous cost in resources as its expansion was limited by the vast amount of ocean it had to cross.
At the end of the first half, it was clear that Xi’jing had played the best and was in the strongest offensive position. It was just a matter of which way they would go next. However, unknown to Xi’jing the large invasion force was heading it’s way just outside the capital.
The action started with the Battle of Baachan between the two dominant powers of the eastern continent, Xi’jing and Aufgehenden. At the start it seemed that Xi’jing had the upper hand before abruptly withdrawing all of its reinforcements, including its air force. Aufgehenden was left in control of the passage south, ensuring it’s continued existence and full control of the central part of the continent..
The reason for the withdrawal was due to a new front being opened. The capitol of Xi’jing was being invaded by Taylo from the sea and the entire Xi’jing air force had been sent south. By the time it returned, any hope of victory was lost. The capital was now controlled by Taylo and the massive invasion force was rolling south down the coast. Xi’jing, now re-located to Sumashim and opted instead to use it’s newly secured territory to invade east.
In the meantime, Nordmeer had been checked on all fronts and was now in a defensive war. It’s push through the Zwergen Mountains was finally halted at the Roth River. It maintained control of Rotguhrd for the remainder of the game but could do no more. A front was being formed on defensive terrain in Solstwald and Haljof, but the lack of a strong navy meant reinforcements were forced to slog through unfriendly terrain.
The situation for Niefsa was equally bad. it lost the mountain battery forts to the north and its offense was fully checked at the sea to the south. It had no more reinforcements to spare and was already low on efficiency. That is when a Xi’jing invasion force was detected near Drieland and there was no way to counter it. Instead, the remaining green forces retreated south to build a new defensive position, but it was clear they had been eliminated from contention.
Aufgehenden would be the next to receive bad news. Despite its land victories to the north, and the slow deterioration of the Xi’jing position, Taylo invaded the home islands with surprising success. This was a crippling loss to the yellow forces as their cities to the south depending on a convoy line from this island and were now forced to divert their attention south. To make matters worse, their counter invasion fleet was destroyed at Adersin by a smaller Taylo force. This mean any attempt to remove Taylo from the game were dashed.
Heristo was the last force capable of countering Taylo’s navy. After repelling a landing attempt in the heart of their territory, Heristo conducted an island hopping campaign. By this point, Taylo’s air force was able to detect and repel an attempt to invade their more lucrative islands. After 100 turns of a stalemate between Heristo and Taylo, a cease fire was called the game ended.
In game one, victory was awarded to Taylo. It was unquestionable that the Taylo fleet was the unquestioned winner. The fleet left Taylo in control of three capitols and was able to clearly defend its own islands. It was only a matter of time before Nordmeer and Heristo capitols fell as well.
The losers in this game were pretty much everyone who fought the war of attrition on the western continent. Every city that started with an efficiency value over 150 was under 30 by the time the game concluded. The players all agreed that this was the main factor that caused Heristo to lose the game, despite the superior performance of his land invasion.
This concludes game one. We learned a few lessons from this. First, there are some imperfections in the official map and the actual game map which causes some of the representations to look strange or inconsistent. Second, we know for a fact we will not get four tournament games in. This play through took two days, and it still had a lot more life to it if we had continued. Lastly, the importance of naval power cannot be underestimated.