Warming up exercise this Saturday morning: I decide to give a go at a quick Ancient Empire Lux, playing the Sumerian at King level, and choosing the hardest party called Umma (x5 score multiplier).
What’s the situation at the beginning of the game?
- Umma is the most central city, and thus probably the most vulnerable to attacks from all sides.
- Umma brings a bonus of 2 points, less than counterparts Lagash (4 points) and Ur (3 points) which already enjoy sizeable armies and controlled land surface.
- Vast expanses of terrain are owned by the remote mountain city of Susa (White color). They are easy preys and ways to win bonus cards, and they will be bitterly disputed by all players.
So what’s the best strategy here? My proposed short term plan is:
- Quick wins of land 360 degrees, although favouring the less armoured North, along the Zagros mountains
- Secure the northern-eastern lands thanks to the locking cities of Sipar and Lagash
- Lagash is definitely a priority target, with 4 points bonus (Sipar and Susa only have 1)
If I manage to do that, I’ll be in a good shape to then regroup and launch an assault to the rich Southlands. Of course, I need to be ready to change my plans based on the random level of aggressiveness of the various opponents.
At the end of Turn #2, I understand that my Western neighbours of Sippar and Kish are relatively peaceful, whereas RED from Ur and YELLOW from Lagash are ruled by imperialistic monarchs. I decide to launch and adventurous scavenger raid behind YELLOW in the Zagros mountains. After a couple of turns it pays off, and I seize the capital city of Susa, enraging YELLOW who counterattacks repeatedly over the next few turns.
By Turn #4, a counter-clockwise momentum has built and only my armies find themselves going in the opposite direction and clashing against YELLOW. This is too much attrition for him, and while I keep his troops busy on the frontline, RED cracks into Laggash, his armies marching in triumph in the key city of the Summerian Empire. A fratricide war of attrition begins in the far South, and I decide to hold ground while initiating a campaign in the North towards Sippar.
While the Western nations keep peacefully expanding, after GREEN failing to capture Ur, YELLOW goes into guerrilla wars in the wetlands along the Tigris. His troops reach my capital city of Umma and briefly occupy it. Fortunately, unexpected but timely reinforcement cards allow me to group a large contingent and launch a crucial counterattack to regain the heart of the kingdom on Turn #6.
My plans regarding Sippar have only been delayed, and even if my urban centres are still weakly defended, I decide to take a chance to seize the northern bottleneck city. While still containing recurring assults from YELLOW in the South, I march towards the ORANGE capital to conquer and make History.
Sippar falls like a fruit too mature, to my surprise, and I fail to anticipate the counter attack organised by ORANGE on turn 9, resulting in the fall once again of capital city Umma. Shame on me. My balance sheet could be better: Apart from disappearing GREEN, I’m the weakest nation, at war with 2 others (YELLOW and ORANGE) with limited revenue. In the South, a RED dragon is stirring, successful in his plan to lockup to sectors with 3 cities.
I do not manage to accrue troops fast enough to catchup with the loss I have on 3 different front lines. Time for a step back and an actualisation of the grand strategy. Determined to regain and never loose again Umma, I also opt for the consolidation of my position, leaving the other Parties to exhaust their wrath on each others. Umma taken back on turn #11, I then spend 3 consecutive turns simply spreading reinforcements and carrying out skirmish operations at my borders. At the end of turn #15, I have secured my 3 blue fortresses with armies of 12 firepower. But a red tide seems to come from the South, and I wonder if ORANGE and YELLOW will be sufficient air bags to absorb the shock.
The good surprise comes from YELLOW who launches a blitz offensive westward through Laggash, Ur and ending up in far away Kish, operation Sharp Sickle. RED is completely taken aback and can only launch a counter strike on Ur to cut the YELLOW snake in two parts. I have the sudden feeling opportunity rings again. My next target is still Laggash and I regroup in the south-east plains for another stab in the back of YELLOW.
The coup pays off, but war rages and reaches another level, with dozen of points gone into smoke at each clash. RED is busy freeing up the banks of the Euphrates, while I fight block by block in the streets of Laggash. Best news for today is that there will be no cooperation between YELLOW and RED, and I’m free to launch operation “clean-sweep” out of Susa to send un-supplied remnants of RED and YELLOW armies routing in the swamps. By turn 18, phase 1 of my initial plan is finally complete!
By early turn 19, YELLOW is a mere memory and a lame mention in school manuals for the free people of the South. But the RED tyranny in Ur still mobilises masses, and logically a strong contingent is sent to kick out the autocratic RED regime from the antique city. The northerners leave a peaceful life, behind the inexpugnable walls of the Tigris citadels (30 firepower each). BLUE as just become the new super-power. But Armageddon is in the making in the outskirts of Kish, where RED shows all his madness and lack of strategic acumen.
With Ur taken and RED’s inability to call the fortune cards before the gates of Kish, we see the collapse of a RED clay giant, his armies roaming aimlessly in the central plains, suffocating without re-supplies. Our next stop is Kish, which falls by turn #20, signing off the absolute end of the YELLOW empire. Treasures are accumulating in the King’s halls of Umma and Ur, and money flows to pay countless Blue armies now.
On the morning of turn 21, river birds stop singing and large mammals desert the central grasslands, as we launch operation Typhoon to pacify the area occupied and looted for years by the evil troops of ORANGE. This all happens overnight, leaving only rogue bands of RED to clean up in the far North.
The game is won in 2 more turns, for a total of 24, leading to a score of 12,570. Please let me know if you manage to significantly beat that, I’d be interested to know.