After two false starts, Game One of the 2021 Empire Deluxe Tournament Championship is completed. Two players are effectively tied for first place going into Game Two after a surprising and incredibly risky surgical strike caused our players to declare a cease fire. Round Two will start later today as our players complete some quality-of-life improvements to the virtual setup of the game.
As is tradition, we are using the Tournament Scoring rules which are available in the strategy guide. Any set matches declared by a player will be shown in Black in the summary provided and any player-specific information will be shown in the color they chose during the initial setup.
Game One Preliminaries
We had two false starts (players are out of position or not loading correctly) before we ultimately began Round One. There are three contestants for this year’s championship title. The draft of positions is as follows:
|Ocean of the Great Stream, North
Order of Events Battle Map
Below is the battle map showing the order of major events. Stars indicate main locations and capitols. Lines indicate movement of major forces. Explosions indicate a major set match battle or a decisive victory with color representing the winner. Two parallel bars represents an inconclusive engagement, or an incomplete set match at end of game.
Moderator’s Game Summary
The game started with all players agreeing to add a victory condition for capturing all nine regions. Completing this would cause all other players to lose any accumulated points to incentivize players to make an attempt to achieve the condition. This is expected to only impact the last game of the tournament as a way for losing players to stay in the competition, addressing a problem that was raised after last year’s tournament.
Holak decided to occupy Dafne and implemented an ALS Strategy. However, the city is locked behind mountains which slowed expansion and let to a disappointing start with only 6 cities captured by the end of the early game. From pre-game test runs, it was noted that Dafne is almost impregnable once fully occupied, leading to a sense of security given the most likely threat would be coming from the north.
Dyn chose to start on the main continent with Arabel. He employed a Hail Mary Strategy which saw him expand quickly. By the end of the early game, he had already reached the Arah Forest and was expanding rapidly into Manterra, Ygdramar, and Espheria. Arabel’s early game score was 5 times higher than any other player and occupied three times as many cities as Dafne.
Mara started in Itzi and employed an ASL Strategy. Unfortunately, Itzi was in last place once first contact was made and early game scores were tallied. The slow start was due to a position away from major city centers which required long transportation networks. However, Mara was largely dismissed as a threat by the other two players as a result of the slow start and was allowed to expand uncontested. The one positive outcome was the expansion into Bekent as well as the capture of every island in the Itzi Archipelago.
The mid game saw heavy conflicts in the northern side of the continent between Dafne and Arabel. Despite this, Dafne was able to make uncontested landings at Dreggon, Drakkan, and Blanding. Once complete, they shifted their fleet of submarines to the east to scout the coast for signs of Arabel’s expansion in the area. They would go as far as the High Coast before making contact with Arabel in late game. First contact between the two would be at the Battle of Sharon where Dafne would easily overwhelm the defenders. This caused Arabel to cease the expansion into the Great Steppe and reinforce at the Mainland Pond.
In the meantime, Itzi quietly snuck into the Itzi Jungle which was left untouched by Arabel since it was focusing on the city rich areas to the north. Itzi had also fully conquered Bekent and was moving south to become the first player to circumnavigate the world. They completed the conquest of every island in the White Sea, including Mircea and Ora. Up to this point, Itzi was content to avoid conflict with either nation.
While Dafne and Itzi advanced, Arabel found itself quickly on the defensive. The Infantry Slogging which had led to a huge early game lead was now a hindrance. Due to supply drain, units were being produced at a slower pace than other players. The Battle of Sharon saw an entire division wiped out when Dafne brought in overwhelming air power which could not be countered by Arabel. Moreover, it looked like Dafne would also beat him to the Great Steppe and make landings in Pristina before the area was fully secured. Arabel decided he would have to go on the offensive quickly. Every port city from Aicaterin to the High Coast began construction of an enormous battle fleet that he intended to use to blockade Dafne and cut off the mainland. He would take this land war to the seas.
There were eight major battles in the late game. Dafne was using a Fighter Screen Strategy with it’s overwhelming air superiority in Espheria. This is a well-known counter to Infantry Slogging and was absolutely devastating against Arabel as a result. One of the shining examples is the Killian Raids which cleared the entire Killian and Abran Mountain Ranges of Arabel forces, even ones on the opposite side where Dafne had no land presence. The raids only ended when an agreement was reached that no further units would be produced by Arabel in any city within the Pristina region. This meant that any units that would participate in battles in Pristina would have to be brought in from the south. In other words, Arabel could not claim any set matches in the area. Dafne now had the initiative in Pristina, landed at Olmor, and advanced just beyond Elna before the front line solidified.
Attempting to outflank the Dafne advance in Pristina, Arabel advanced into the Brut Mountains only to learn that Itzi had built a series of outposts in the area without anyone noticing. The lightly fortified areas were nestled in the peaks which resulted in brutal one on one clashes against heavily defensible positions. The engagement would be known as the Brut Mountains Offensive and resulted in a pyrrhic Arabel victory. By the time the battle was over, and Itzi removed from the mountain rage, Arabel learned that the damage was nothing more than an inconvenience to Itzi. The islands to the east were heavily fortified by Itzi naval forces, making any attempt to reinforce Pristina by sea a futile maneuver. As a result, Arabel conceded, and a general retreat of its remaining forces moved into the Brut Mountains.
To make matters worse, the fleet meant for the Brut Mountains was stationed at the High Coast. An advanced submarine force from Dafne located this fleet and started the High Coast Engagement. The fleet, made up of mostly transports and destroyers, was able to escape with most of its ships still floating, but it meant further setbacks in the war to the north. However, Dafne was unable to capitalize on the victory as half its forces sustained damage and a general withdrawal was ordered just after the engagement ended. Ironically, the retreat caused Arabel to encounter an advanced Itzi invasion force of equal size. Not realizing that the ships were damaged from the recent engagement, Itzi negotiated for a safe withdrawal while Arabel was happy to keep the ships out of its harbor.
Following victories in the Northeast, Dafne pressed into Espheria. The Battle at the Plains of the Founders was a complete defeat for Arabel before its reserve force arrived in Shavertown and forced a stalemate. Unknown at the time, this was the kingmaker battle for Dafne. While it effectively controlled three regions (Dafne, Espheria, and Prestina) the air force took incredible losses during this push to the well placed and well armed anti-aircraft defenders from Mainland Pond. The losses were a staggering 10 to 1 for Dafne. While ultimately a small number when compared against the enormous size of the Dafne Air Force, it was a significant note for post-game analysis.
With the focus on the war to north, the final two battles occurred in a previously touched region of the world. The first was an incredible decisive victory on the seas at the Battle of Alaxia Straight. A fleet of battleships, cruisers, and 4 carriers were grouping together near Alaxia in preparation to head north following the defeat at High Coast Engagement. An Itzi recon force from Eru Zoto found the force at the same moment when the Itzi Transport Fleet from Bekent encountered Arabel’s retreating High Coast Fleet to the north. The shock of this discovery, and believing they were gathering to invade the Itzi Archipelago, caused Itzi to send its light naval forces stationed in Yha-Tefi-Yuan on a suicide mission to cause as much damage as it could. The resulting battle was incredibly one sided, completely destroying 12 of Arabel’s transports at the cost of only one Itzi destroyer. The decimation went unreported until the final review, as Itzi believed it had lost the engagement and didn’t want to report its vulnerability to Arabel.
The final battle was the Battle of Western Itzi. Believing the game lost, a single Itzi armored unit was sent out of the Black Jungle to perform a last ditch surgical attack on Arabel. In a surprising move of recon prowess, once the set match was declared, it evaded 12 Arabel search units and defeated an infantry unit before ultimately locating the capital city and seizing the Arabel Emperor. The unprecedented raid ended the threat of Arabel who had not foreseen an attack on its back door. At this moment, Itzi and Dafne called a cease fire and the game was over.
The final score would see Mara and Holak in a virtual tie, with Mara technically winning the game by fractions of a point. As a result, both Mara and Holak will go into Game Two with a 1 point advantage over Dyn who finished third. In review, we all agree that Mara’s raid that ended the game was an incredibly risky one. In fact, the raid would have actually cost him the game if not for Holak’s air losses at Shavertown. In most tournament games, you only want to call a cease fire if you have a safe point lead or are unable to influence the results further. Nevertheless, Game One goes to Mara after an incredible finish that saw the complete destruction of Dyn’s naval forces and taking advantage of an unprotected flank. Holak deserves equal credit though for expertly holding off a superior foe. By the end of the game, Holak completely erased Dyn’s early point lead and was still systematically controlling the world. Inversely, Dyn has set the benchmark for best early game start on this map and will likely have a similar performance in Game Two.