Sunday 22 September 2013

Getting Along With George - My Special Relationship in Civilization V

"The people of the United States of America welcome you. I trust you are a friend to liberty?"

Mr Washington greeted me with these words. They rang disarmingly true and I immediately liked him. We would get on rather well.

One day I noticed Americans settling close to my northern border. The city of Atlanta was soon founded and I wondered if Mr Washington was testing me. I let him build his city and we maintained good relations.

I let him build his city and we
maintained good relations.

With America to my North-West, Persia in the East and Rome creeping towards city-states Venice and Rio over the barren Northern lands, I was content to build my infrastructure and work the profitable fishing bays of London on the Southern coast with only York to the West, and Hastings and Canterbury founded on atolls across the bay. Soon I noticed Washington founding several other cities – New York, Boston, Philadelphia. Watching his army deployed at strategic points along my border (and inside, thanks to our treaty) made me nervous. Should his benevolence falter, I would be driven into the ocean and the British Empire, such as it was, would cease to be. I was troubled but outright war seemed costly and foolish.

So I looked across the ocean to the South. An island consisting of the city-states Singapore on the Northern coast and Warsaw to the South offered an excellent way to expand my empire without warring with the superpowers. I began assembling troops in the unoccupied middle ground of the island. I had learned the hard way the difficulty of besieging a city and I could not afford to fight on two fronts. So I hatched a plan to buy off Singapore with gifts of gold while I attacked Warsaw. They weren’t on the best of terms anyway.

Infantry, archers, horsemen and catapults in place, the bombardment commenced. It worked beautifully and soon Warsaw was burning, but mine. Singapore were over the moon and the British could finally lay claim to an empire. However, relations with Washington quickly soured. Trades were cancelled, treaties revoked. He withdrew his troops from my territories, which only increased their number along the border. Although relatively weak infantry troops, their presence was intimidating.

I had never once attacked him directly, our research agreement was still in place and after checking Singapore’s ally status, I was confident he would respect my nation-building. It was nothing more than he was doing with the Romans, founding Seattle on their doorstep, ruffling their legion helmet feathers. What’s a little annexing here or there between friends?

On the morning of the attack against Singapore I received the following communiqué:
"Your wanton aggression leaves me no choice. Prepare for war!"

I had no quarrel with George; I simply wanted a piece of the pie. His territory was increasing each turn, every new city supplying him with more, more, more. I prepared defensive troops in London, and once Singapore had fallen I returned to the mainland and destroyed his infantry along my border.

What’s a little annexing here
or there between friends?

But that wasn't enough. He had angered me. The initial twinge of doubt when he first founded Atlanta along my border centuries before coupled with my irritation made the decision to take the city from him, though churlish, natural. It would teach him a lesson.

Atlanta was taken and transformed into a defensive stronghold. He soon came crawling for peace and, satisfied the message had been understood, I accepted.

Centuries passed. Treaties were signed and signed again. He built walls. I built roads.

As Alexander and Ramkhamhaeng quarrelled over the New World, Caesar was busy expanding. He had taken Seattle and marched on Rio. If Rio fell, he would have clear sight of London. I had never trusted Caesar. Every word sounded calculated and inauthentic. I devised to defend Rio from the Romans and then take advantage of its weakened state by annexing it myself and setting up a defensive post similar to Atlanta. George would be thankful for an ally against the Romans, no?

I plied him with gifts and generous trade agreements just in case.
I vanquished the Romans.
I lay siege to Rio.
America declared war.

And that was it. Washington possessed numbers, but I had the technology. I sent tanks against him. His musketmen were obliterated. I chased his general down and watched him fall before taking Boston and Philly. An armada levelled New York. A brief respite from war was broken by simple geography when I couldn’t move troops to N.Y. without entering his territory. And so George lost Washington.

As I trundled towards Chicago, his last remaining coastal outpost, he visited me. "We must not let war define who we are," he said, "The time has come to make peace." Sorry George. I drove him off the map and his civilization was gone.
"The time has come to make peace."
Sorry George.
I drove him off the map and his civilization was gone.

I had tried to play 'nice', to be 'good'. I liberated Venice from the Romans, and they were grateful for a time, but while I was busy with the Persians in the East they got themselves conquered again. So I returned, defeated Caesar once more and annexed the city. They couldn't be trusted to defend themselves and I was forced to play colonialist. Caesar and Darius were capricious and impossible to get along with. God, if only Honest George were here!

In fact, he was. The tiny island of Los Angeles still existed in the middle of the ocean. For several years it went unnoticed until Washington popped up once more asking for peace. And I refused. Why? He would only end up causing problems and, as irrational and stunting as it is, there’s nothing like a good grudge.

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