[Saga of the Nine] After-Action Reports

9-player variant set in an alt-history Arctic Circle, with lots of Norse mythology thrown in for good measure. Created by NoPunIn10Did and Aeschines. GM'd by NoPunIn10Did.

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[Saga of the Nine] After-Action Reports

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 07 Nov 2019, 18:33

Saga of the Nine: After-Action Reports

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Supply Centers History
Hosted on imgur: 210 BCE (Cycle 11) Supply Centers History

After-Action Reports

Thanks to everyone for participating in this first playtest! This variant was a labor of love for myself and Aeschines, and I was very happy that we were both able to participate in this PbF / Discord game as GM and player, respectively.

This thread will be the home for players' After-Action Reports. I will also transcribe relevant sections of the public Discord channels where some of such discussion is ongoing.

Here are the final rankings again for reference.
Code: Select all
Rank  Power      SCs  Elimin.  Player
                               
 1st  Dokkalfar   14           Civility
 2nd  Ljosalfar    9           Aeschines
 3/4  Vanir        5           Friendly Sword
 3/4  Zwergar      5           Commander Tomalak
 5/6  Aesir           248 BCE  Nanooktheeskimo
 5/6  Ymir            248 BCE  Bagle
 7th  Madr            286 BCE  WakaKafkaFlame
 8th  Surtr           324 BCE  GhostEcho
 9th  Jotnar          362 BCE  Groo


My Own Musings
I don't think the variant needs drastic changes at this stage. There are a few things I would like to tweak.

  1. Vassals should be worth 1 DP, not 2 DP
    • This will make DP totals easier to calculate: one for your capital, one for each Heir.
    • By the time Vassals start showing up in the game, there are far fewer units to spend DP on, so the higher-and-higher totals were showing diminishing returns for the players who achieved them.
  2. Automatic Building of Heirs
    • During any Winter phase in which it's legal to build an Heir, your power will build an Heir.
    • While there is some hypothetical strategic value in delaying an Heir build, this will be a convenience for players and GMs.
    • I may leave the option for a player to deliberately waive their Heir build, but unlike normal unit builds, that option will be the default.
  3. Reduce the DP bonus for Thrall Owners
    • A Thrall in this past game treated any DP expenditures made by its owner as worth triple the points spent.
    • Option 1: reduce that to double the DP spent.
    • Option 2: if the owner spends at least 1 DP on the Thrall that turn, their allocation is treated as having a flat +2 DP bonus (similar to a mechanic in 1936).
  4. Swap the positions of Belobog & Alfheim
    • This is the only faction-balance related change I'd like to make.
    • I want the Ljosalfar capital city to have a coastline.
    • Only Vanir will have an inland capital.
    • I'm not doing this because I think the Ljosalfar faction is greatly overpowered; they weren't the board-topper here in any case.
    • It's more a realization of just how entrenched and inaccessible the Ljosalfar can hypothetically be with regard to avoiding Early Elimination.


Player List
  • A ᚨ - Aesir (Navy Blue): Nanooktheeskimo
  • D ᛞ - Dokkalfar (Purple): Civility
  • J ᛃ - Jotnar (Cyan): Groo
  • L ᛚ - Ljosalfar (Yellow): Aeschines
  • M ᛗ - Madr (Brown): WakaKafkaFlame
  • S ᛊ - Surtr (Red-Orange): GhostEcho
  • V ᚹ - Vanir (Green): Friendly Sword
  • Y ᛇ - Ymir (Ice Blue): Bagle
  • Z ᛉ - Zwergar (Slate): CommanderTomalak
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Re: [Saga of the Nine] After-Action Reports

Postby Groo » 08 Nov 2019, 16:27

Marking.
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Re: [Saga of the Nine] After-Action Reports

Postby Aeschines » 11 Nov 2019, 15:50

Thank you NoPun for running such a fun game! I think it does a great job of having a balanced, yet dynamic layout so really anything could happen.

Before I get into my AAR, I wanted to throw in my 2 cents on the questions you have. I think swapping the Ljo home centers seems like a good change. Belobog is isolated enough that Ljo will still benefit from being a corner power without the impregnability of the current set up.

Additionally, I'd vote for a x2 system for Thralls. I think that taking over someone else's thrall via DP should be expensive and should probably require more than one person working together. x2 seems like it would do that effectively. I worry that as a smaller power (with less DP) on a +2 system wouldn't be able to control their own thrall against a larger power (with more DP).
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Re: [Saga of the Nine] After-Action Reports

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 11 Nov 2019, 16:33

Aeschines wrote:Thank you NoPun for running such a fun game! I think it does a great job of having a balanced, yet dynamic layout so really anything could happen.

Before I get into my AAR, I wanted to throw in my 2 cents on the questions you have. I think swapping the Ljo home centers seems like a good change. Belobog is isolated enough that Ljo will still benefit from being a corner power without the impregnability of the current set up.

Additionally, I'd vote for a x2 system for Thralls. I think that taking over someone else's thrall via DP should be expensive and should probably require more than one person working together. x2 seems like it would do that effectively. I worry that as a smaller power (with less DP) on a +2 system wouldn't be able to control their own thrall against a larger power (with more DP).


What do you think about swapping Jotunheim and Thrymheimr? I'm a bit worried that the Jotnar capital is overly exposed.
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Re: [Saga of the Nine] After-Action Reports

Postby Aeschines » 11 Nov 2019, 16:49

AAR: Ljolsalfar

Early Game:
Big Picture Plan-
I realized from the very beginning of the game that the most critical thing for Ljo was going to be to break out of my corner. With a limited fleet-building capacity, I knew I needed to put down a new fleet every turn or I would fall behind in the naval-arms-race (since I couldn't make it up with two fleet builds later on. Given that I had such a narrow outlet to push through, it was clear to me that Aesir (Nanook/Blue) or Madr (Waka/Brown) was going to have to be an early opponent of mine. Dokk (Civility/Purple) was also a possible danger if he pushed Asia-ward of Permyak. Jotnar (Groo/Dark Blue) seemed like an excellent partner.

Actualizing my Plan-
To my surprise/delight, Dokk approached me early to discuss eating Jotnar and Jotnar wanted to push out against Dokk. I also got in touch with Aesir who started working to organize a grand edge-board coalition to combat a nascent central triple between Madr/Dokk/Ymir (Bagle/Light Blue). With Aesir leading the charge, I was happy to go with the flow and join with Jotnar and Aesir to push out against Dokk and Madr. However, Dokk's offer to me (to fight Jotnar) allowed me to make some early gains against Jotnar without having to commit more than one unit (my extra army). That was the best of both worlds. I was able to seize an extra SC in the first year, injure-without-killing-Jotnar and leave the Surtr (GhostEcho/Red)/Dokk/Jot part of the board in disarray. My hope was then to partner with Aesir to take down Madr.

The Twist-
Towards the end of the early game, however, things shifted. I found that I was working very well with Dokk and we were getting on very well. At the same time, Aesir's coalition (in part because of the collapse of Jotnar) was falling apart. It was becoming clear that even with my help, Aesir was going to get slammed by Madr and Aesir (Nook) was becoming less and less willing to fight Madr. Without starting with the intention, I found myself in a tight alliance with Dokk and gearing up for a war with Aesir (and eliminating Jotnar entirely).

Mid Game
The New Order-
At the end of the early game/beginning of the mid game, I made a "ride or die" commitment to Dokk (aka I will be your ally for the rest of the game, unless I can stab for a solo). We were working very well together, despite the time difference, and worked to help run our side of the board. It was particularly interesting/great that we could build a vassal to use jointly and allow us to create a battleline across three fronts, only two of which we really had easy access to builds in. That experience really solidified for me how well-designed the vassal rules are. There was always the threat of betrayal but also a whole new type of cooperation.

Setbacks & The Waka Wall-
The growth of the elven alliance (Dokk - Dark Elves & Ljo - Light Elves) eventually ran into trouble. With Zwe (Operations/Black) as a wild card the Ymir & Madr alliance was able to force us to a full-halt. And then, with Aesir flipping to Madr's side, I found myself slowly backsliding. I did everything I could to flip Aesir but we ran into the first-actor problem. Aesir was at the mercy of either me or Madr and was unwilling to hand me the reigns without me taking an affirmative step. But I couldn't take an affirmative step without risking the Aesir/Madr's getting an opening the would have blown up my whole line.

Flipping Season-
I consider the end of the mid game when Madr got stabbed by Vanir (Friendly Sword/Green) and Ymir, after cajoling from Dokk. Madr's response was to reach out to me with a plan to throw a solo/conspire for a two-way draw. I was able to use that (and a few public rants from Madr) to finally convince Aesir to flip on Madr and he did. There was a turn here where Dokk was extremely exposed (focused on Zwe and Ymir), Aesir was turning to fight Madr, and Madr with (purportedly) throwing to me. I thought long and hard about making a stab to take a shot for a solo. Ultimately, my plan was foiled when Dokk decided to self-bounce in the capital of his vassal with Aesir. My plan had involved sending a unit from my vassal with Dokk to capture the capital of his vassal with Aesir, knocking him down 2 SCs, and giving me the advantage in terms of DP. With that angle of the stab prohibited (but Dokk, apparently none-the-wiser) I didn't think I could finish the job (and was worried Madr would flip on me again/I'd get squeezed out by an ALA.

End Game
The Collapse of the Elven Alliance-
A few turns later, with the players based shrunk down to just Zwe (now Commander Tomalak/Black), Vanir, Dokk, and Aesir. I decided that I needed to make my move if I ever was. Dokk had been able to use the vassal he had with Aesir to do a lot of the growing in the Greenland & North American zone. That meant that my vassal with Dokk was getting pushed further and further out of the zone where it could effectively stab (or defend from a stab). I felt bad killing Aesir, after my promises to keep him in the game, but with the goal of a solo all alliances/promises became subsidiary.

Synchronous Stabs-
When I made my move on Dokk, as it turned out, he made his move on me at the exact same moment. If I had not, he would have easily swept to the solo (so hooray for stabs!). Unfortunately for me, Dokk's position to stab was so much better than mine that I was quickly at 9 vs. his 14.

Last Gasp Alliance-
With really nothing else to do, Vanir, Zwe and I started cooperating to stop the solo. It wasn't much of an "alliance" in that we didn't talk much and didn't follow through on most of our promises to each other. But, mutual self interest carried us through enough to at least stop the Dokk solo.



Overall Impressions
This was a very fun game! I felt like I played well and (with one exception) I greatly enjoyed playing with everyone. Waka, as per usual, was able to get my goat multiple times. But I also really enjoyed our brief period of cooperation. I suppose now is when I should go on a diatribe about throwing/threats to throw being a stupid/annoying way to play the game but I think Waka and Bagle elimination are better ways of saying that than anything I could chortle about now.

I think the map was well-balanced and dynamic. Vassals, in particular, were great design choices (self-pat!), and I would love to play with these people again!

Civility - you were an excellent ally! I thought we really showed ourselves what a good alliance looks like (and where it's limits are!)
Waka - lolol, you never cease to increase my blood pressure beyond all reasonable levels, but I also learned that I really enjoy allying with you. I hope we get the chance to work together in a future game! Also, I feel like we got to become actual friends (outside of the game) and I love that.
Nook - sorry I killed you. I know you saw it coming but still. :-/ I'm sad your initial coalition didn't take off better, that could really have changed the whole game!
Groo - I wasn't lying when I said my plan was to work with you! But Dokk was just able to offer enough cash money to make it worthwhile to sell you out. I'm genuinely sorry about that!
FriendlySword - nice work bouncing back from a seemingly-impossible position! I was very impressed
Bagle - I hope you learned a lesson about not taking Waka's throwing threats to seriously!
Tomalak - we didn't actually cooperate that much this game but I'm happy to came in to replace a more....... difficult player. You're a good sort!
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Re: [Saga of the Nine] After-Action Reports

Postby Aeschines » 11 Nov 2019, 16:49

NoPunIn10Did wrote:
Aeschines wrote:Thank you NoPun for running such a fun game! I think it does a great job of having a balanced, yet dynamic layout so really anything could happen.

Before I get into my AAR, I wanted to throw in my 2 cents on the questions you have. I think swapping the Ljo home centers seems like a good change. Belobog is isolated enough that Ljo will still benefit from being a corner power without the impregnability of the current set up.

Additionally, I'd vote for a x2 system for Thralls. I think that taking over someone else's thrall via DP should be expensive and should probably require more than one person working together. x2 seems like it would do that effectively. I worry that as a smaller power (with less DP) on a +2 system wouldn't be able to control their own thrall against a larger power (with more DP).


What do you think about swapping Jotunheim and Thrymheimr? I'm a bit worried that the Jotnar capital is overly exposed.


I think that's a good swap. A combined effort will still kill them, but it won't be quite as deadly.
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Re: [Saga of the Nine] After-Action Reports

Postby VGhost » 12 Nov 2019, 00:09

I don't have a whole lot to say about this one. I don't have any idea how to play the position I drew. I started the game planning to take Lakkigar and work out from there, but had a disagreement with Jotnar, who wanted to thrall that and Eire. and DMZ the sea. I didn't want to attack Jotnar but that basically locked me in... and worse than Jotnar (who was, after all, under attack) possession turned out to be that Dokk snuck a thrall in when Jotnar ended up ignoring Laki. In retrospect prioritizing Eire was probably a bad idea, but I didn't get much out of Zwergar in early comms and wanted to avoid a "back door" attack.

The rest of the game was just trying to squirm my way out of a too-tight hole. I failed.

EDIT: I don't want this to come off negative about the map or NoPun or the other players. It just sucked as a game for me and it's been a couple months since I was eliminated so most of what I remember is negative. But I wouldn't mind trying again! See you all on the next board... or the one after that. :)
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Re: [Saga of the Nine] After-Action Reports

Postby Groo » 21 Nov 2019, 13:40

So, I promised to leave an AAR for this gem of a game. Even though I got kicked in the gut, punched in the face and dragged all over the floor, I kinda enjoyed it. :o

It's an amazing map, a true eye candy and really well-balanced. Couldn't really tell much about Thrall and Vassal DP mechanics in the later stages of the game - well because I haven't experienced it - but I think it worked pretty well in the early game.

I was playing Jotnar (Skyblue one at 6 o'clock), the Giants, on the European home soil.

PRE-GAME
I opted for Jotnar initially as my second choice because my first plan was to quickly attack Ljo (Yellow, 4 o'clock) and then wait to see what to do next. My first choice was Vanir (Green one, at 11) because it seems to be the only power who can get to 3 or even 4 dots without much contest, but then I decided to swap these two, knowing that others will probably see how op Vanir is. I wasn't wrong, Vanir was highly contested pick
https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/595425059556819004/597954910381932544/01.400.00.bids.png
.

SPRING YEAR ONE
Goals for this round:
-> Thrall Laki to create a DMZ with Surtr (which would, in all fairness probably be used as a ramp to attack Surtr (Red, at 7) in the future.)
-> Capture Glae
-> Befriend someone, make alliances, create some sort of strategy

My first mistake was not sticking to my - attack Ljo in year one plan - for one simple reason, It was Aeschines. Who would have attacked that beautiful creature right away? I also KNEW he wouldn't trick me, at least not right off the bat, I mean we're teammates in another game, and we're gentlemen.... OH HOW WRONG WAS I!! :D Bad, bad amdin!

In this period Civility (Dokk, Purple) and I exchanged a gazillion of messages (that IS the exact number!)
I never EVER EVER EVER talked so much with anyone in a diplomacy game. He was friendly, a bit over the top, and REALLY immersed in this game. Cool dude to chat with and make plans. We made a secret pact, a triple alliance with Nanook's Asgard (Blue, 2 o'clock).
The strategy was 1)take neutrals and thralls in year one. 2)year 2 attack Ljo 3)Start the push from East to West, something like a jugger. Civility expressed some concerns about being in the middle while the two of us pushed in the mid game, but I told him we'll use thralls and vassals to compensate so everyone feels safe and he agreed to it.

Civility and I coordinated our first moves. He agreed to spare me DP for Laki. He said he wanted to attack Gjall first and I agreed to spare some DP in the fall. At that point, I trusted him COMPLETELY. I remember saying to myself: "this dude talked SO MUCH with me, he's SO involved in our alliance, he simply can't be pulling my leg. And if he is going to stab me, well I'll be damned, but let him be, he deserves it just for the effort".

So, I decided to trust Civility. I couldn't have been more wrong, of course, but more about that later.

I also got in touch with Ljosalfar and we agreed on a pretty sensible split of the neutrals - he will support me with his DP from Uda to Gla, I will not play Uda-Utg to block him (like my initial plan was, before I knew who would play Ljo)- basically, a win-win deal for both. So, I knew Aeschines, he's agood communicator, we made a decent deal, it seemed logical -> I could trust him, right? Guess again haha! I went through with our part of the deal - unfortunately, he didn't!

Knowing I have 2 good friends in my book (BWHAHAHA, the joke's on me) I reached to Surtr with a bit more aggressive approach.
I told him I plan to thrall Laki and that it should be in both of our interests to thrall Laki (me) and Eirie (him). I thought it's a sensible split, and a flexible starting position for both of us. He wasn't happy with it, AT ALL. He wanted Laki for himself - that's when I knew he doesn't really want to be my friend. So, what I did -> I decided to tell him my exact thrall moves - "look mate, I'll be putting 2DP on Laki, bounce me if you wish, but you'll take us both down"! The idea was that Surtr spends his 2DP for nothing, getting beat by our (me and Civility) 3DP combined.

Surtr didn't flinch. He didn't talk much at all and I had a feeling that he is going to be my first enemy, although that's not really what I wished. I immediately reached out to Zwergar as well, trying to ensure an alliance vs Surtr. I promised him Erie and Mus if he attacks Surtr. He was generally OK with it, but didn't give any promises. Still, my hopes were up.

So, I thought I have a pretty decent start. I have put a lot of time and energy into the first moves and I heard some reassuring things.
Imagine my surprise when I saw THIS:
MAP, FIRST MOVES
Image


FALL, YEAR ONE
Aeschines openly told me he stabbed me. "No shit, Sherlock"! Still it was nice of him to at least apologize for it.
Civility on the other hand SWORE he put a DP on Laki, and told me that Surtr probably had someone helping him, trying to do to me what I tried to do to him (the 3DP vs 2 DP). I wasn't 100% sure about it, and the trick with these DP is you don't see how many points were spent. Aeschines told me something about Surtr-Dokk-Ljo chat and he indicated Civility(Dokk) probably tricked me.

I started to doubt Civility even more, of course, but I continued to play like he's my best friend. I was good at it. I knew he'll trust the next batch of my moves I feed him. I needed to do that because my Capital and my heir were surrounded by 2 enemy units and one neutral that can be easily influenced. This could be a GG for me, in the first round, after I spend A TON of time (probably second to Civility) on this game already. How Frustrating!

I had to go for some serious intelligence hunt. Civility and Surtr were both near me, but were also both near a neutral in Gjal. I found out that Bagle and Civility are working together (Civ helped Bagle into one neutral, now it was Bagle's time to help Civ into Gjal. I also knew Surtr wants Gjal and that Bagle promised it to him (Civility and Bagle were playing Surtr as well), so I made another deal with Civility that I'll push to Mimi with my F Thr to cut any support. What I did instead was of course, I supported myself to hold - > hoping that - if Civility was the one lying to me that he will be exposed, by both me and Surtr. If he's not lying, well - he will be in Gjal and not near me anymore and I won't be dead.

I also lied to Civlity that I'll thrall Erie, knowing that IF Civility and Surtr are working together, then Surtr is going to block it, if not, well he is going to thrall Laki. In both cases, no Thrall for me. Fortunately, I also was found out Civility won't go for a thrall on Permyak so I decided to surprise him there and take it for myself. I did tell Aeschines about it and he was all for it. That gave me hope I will break the Ljo-Surtr-Dokk triple.

FALL 01 TURN:

Fall turn was my sweet revenge. Civility went for a greedy 4 dots start and got bounced everywhere. Surtr got bounced as well and he was pissed at Bagle. Only Ljo managed to sneak in Glae, because Aekin cut my support.
We all thralled. Civility was the one taking Laki, the one with the most strategic importance though.

YEAR 2 - SPRING
My new strategy was to do anything to survive. I wanted Dokk to go after Surtr, Ljo after Dokk and so on, while simultaneously "befriending" everyone. I told Civility that if I had to choose between 3 people who stabbed and attacked me - i'll throw to Aeschines who "I like the most" and who was the fairest to me. After a couple of million messages exchanged between Civility and I, he agreed (OR SO I THOUGHT) to attack Surtr. We made a really decent plan of attack, that would probably have worked if Dokk really wanted to go for it. I wasn't 100% convinced he will. In the spring I supported him to Mimi, with a plan to make him take Gjal while I push myself to Mimi in the Fall, preparing to take Rag next year, while Dokk outmaneuvers Surtr by playing Gjal-Ginnungagap (sea) and Mimi-Gjal.

At that point I was negotiationg heavily with everyone except Vanir and Midgard. I tried to make Zwergar attack Surtr but with no luck. I still don't know why he played so passive. I also tried to make Aesir attack Ljo, but I knew there's little chance of that. Especially because Aesir was most afraid of the "inner circle alliance".

So this is the spring:
Image


It seemes that the talk of the inner circle alliance wan't in vain. It was quasi confirmed by spring 02 moves. I decided then to make myself useful to Aesir and Ljo by inflitrating the inner circle, being a spy for them. I mean, I already "worked together" with Civility and Bagle vs Surtr so only Waka to go, at least that was my logic. That didn't really work. I got "in", I fed some info here and there, but nothing substantial. It's not that I was a bad double agent, it's more that Waka was paranoid (for a good reason) so I never became a full-fledged member of that circle. It might also be that Civility wanted to stab me again, so they didn't bother to tell me anything :D

Zwergar left me completely to dry by building that bloody army. He was playing too passive IMHO, this whole game, while he had the tempo and opportunity to even top the board.
So - my new reality was - working with bagle and Civility vs Surtr + working with Ljo and Aesir vs Waka and the inner circle.
I thought I was safe so I didn't support myself to hold again. I went for Mimi, trying to get the build that was promised to me by Civility.
I, again trusted Civility not to take my dot, but not because I trusted him as much as I trusted Aeschines (Ljo) that he won't support Civility vs me. I mean why would he???

In the FALL MOVE, I found out - he would!
Image


Why - well, I don't know. Why, Aeschines? Did you really plan that I'll go kamikaze on Dokk and not you? I mean, I did flip a coin... :D
AnyWHO...I retreated to Aekin, towards Dokk, destroyed my F in the city, with intention to cripple Dokk. In the meantime Madr and Ljo breached Aesir's defenses. It's worth to mention Aeschines seemed like he hated Waka's guts. Waka contacted me when he saw me near Dokk's dots and I was ready to help him or Aesir or anyone really to take Dokk's dots. My thrall in Permyak helped Aesir and in the fall, I was supposed to go to his capital. However, somehow along the way that all fell apart and I simply died, while Ljo and Dokk continued working together. That's all I know... :D

I was sure that Aeschines will stab dokk and win, later in the game, but he didn't do that for some reason. I guess the reason is he hated Waka's guts + Civility worked his magic on him as well. I don't know, but I think he slipped the victory to Civility. All props to Civility though, he ran the map from day one, spending much more time and energy on negotiations than any other player, forming various triple aliances, breaking them in the right time and so on and so on.

All in all a fun game, strong board. I learned something from my defeat and I'll only get stronger.
Cheers all!
Last edited by Groo on 21 Nov 2019, 13:49, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: [Saga of the Nine] After-Action Reports

Postby Aeschines » 26 Nov 2019, 00:14

That AAR was great to read, Groo!

An absolutely, my sincere apologies for helping to get you killed. It wasn't my intention when I started the game but it wound up being too tempting in terms of early growth.

The question you raised at the end (why did I help Civility take your home SC) is a good one and I think deserves an answer. By that point of the game, I'd realized that Civility was going to be a long-term ally. I decided that though I liked working with you you were already crippled and thus, probably not an effective long-term ally (I fully admit to participating in the crippling!). I don't think I was rocksolid with Civility by that point, but I knew I was going to be working with him for a long while. So helping him to your SC was a a small sacrifice (since I wouldn't be able to partner with you long term anyway) with big advantages (for my relationship with Civility).

I do regret stabbing not stabbing Civility earlier. But I also did not want to reward what I see as relatively low-brow diplomacy by Waka and Bagle. So I stuck to my guns largely to prove that I could & would. I did get veeeeeeery close to that line (as I described in my AAR) but I couldn't quite pull the trigger.

Civility comms certainly earned him the top board! That I can say with confidence!
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