Game One kicks off with our players selecting safe choices. Malaz, Quon Tali, and Cawn are three important locations within the books, with the eponymous Malaz Empire being based on the island of the same name. Only Keiren picks an isolated power, which is the island nation of Walk. However, as one might expect, the world of Empire Deluxe is likely to have a far different outcome to the written work.
Game One Preliminaries
Game One had an issue with map starts but otherwise kicked off on schedule.
Order of Events
The battle map below shows the order of events. Lines represent location of major advances. Stars represent Set Matches (i.e. major engagements where points are scored) with the color representing the eventual winner. Dotted lines represent the locations of stale front-lines or post-war borders based on terms agreed to by players.:
Malaz starts the game with an expansion over the nearby islands of Kartool and Napan before making their landfall at Unta. This areas quickly become fortified as it was expected that Cawn would be expanding into this area early into the game. The strategy was to cut off Cawn’s expansion into the Colonnus Sea region, allowing for a long fight that would ultimately convince the opposition to head in other directions.
While Cawn did expand east, the strategy was to use the swamplands of Thades as a natural barrier and focus on consolidating the coastline of the Bay of Nap from a suspected amphibious assault. Instead, with Malaz landing further to the north, a fortified area was made near Gast with the intention of consolidating the front line and focusing on expansion to the west.
The desire to expand west was due to Quon Tali solidifying their position in the Lake Seti region, and expanding both north and south. This caused Cawn to engage them early in the game, making this one of the shortest early games of any tournament on record. While no direct fighting would take place, recon flights from both belligerents meant that a confrontation was inevitable. This led Cawn to make a non-aggression agreement with Malaz to focus on the greater Quon Tali threat.
To the north, Walk quietly consolidated its position on the northern frontier. This area of the map is sparsely populated, meaning the early game was concluded further south before any major expansion took place in the north.
The mid game started with a full scale assault in the Assault of Nom Purge. This attack was beaten back by Quon Tali forces who maintained control off the river. The stalemate allowed for minimal movement of the front line, with the Battle of Lake Seti ultimately working to Quon Tali’s advantage, but was so costly that Cawn’s forces were able to deplete the defenders in the area sufficiently to prevent any major loss of territory.
The push into Lake Seti left much of the frontier forced depleted and the expansion to the south slowed. However, by this point Quon Tali had captured much of the Dal Hon Plains and the Forest Horn. Ultimately, they abandoned their Siege of Seti as part of a cease fire that saw both sides re-group and prepare for a future offensive.
At this point Walk had captured the entirety of the northern islands and was making its first advance into Falar. So far, it’s forces had met minimal resistance and a sizeable arsenal of first strike weapons was being built on the Strike Islands due to its relatively isolated position.
The mid-game ended with a peace agreement between Quon Tali and Cawn. Both sides desperately wanted to remove their forces from the border area of Seti. Cawn was now faced with potential encirclement after Malaz forces landed at Laeth, preventing any further expansion outside the Bay of Nap. This situation was made even worse once it was discovered that Napan Island was also in Malaz hands, which allowed an opposing force to be within air strike distance of their capital region.
Quon Tali’s forward elements had also encountered exploratory elements of Walk’s forces in the north and suspected they would soon have to deal with a fresh enemy. Moreover, they were creating a secret supply line through the Fenn Forest in their own attempt to encircle Cawn and force a battle on two fronts. As this line stretched, the forces required to keep it moving increased.
The late game started with the Amphibious Assault on Napan Isle. This did not go well for Cawn’s forces who were forced back to their boats. Moreover, because this amounted to a break of the non-aggression pact, Malaz began an all-out assault at the Battle of Gast and Bloor. Malaz forces would advance all the way to Nure before they were ultimately stopped, and a counter attack from Cawn was stopped at the Battle of Larent Plains. The line had stagnated and defeat for Cawn looked to be just a matter of time.
However, two fortuitous events occurred that allowed Cawn to re-gain their strength. The Quon Tali attempts to encircle Cawn instead met the Malaz attempts to do the same. In the south, the Battle of Dal Hon Plains stopped the Malaz advance against Cawn, forcing them to redirect all of their forces against Quon Tali instead. Moreover the Battle of the Cleade in the north was a pitched battle in the forest between the two neighbors, the result of both side committing increasingly more forces to a skirmish until it became a major engagement.
The battle in the south would end with Quon Tali retreating, but cost nearly all of Malaz’s offensive capability. The battle in the north would end up inconclusive but considered a tactical win for Quon Tali since it forced Malaz to commit all of its offensive forces to stop a potential defeat.
To make matters worse for Malaz, the Battle of Kan, which was a counter attack by Cawn, ended in the surrender of the city. This opened the door for a campaign down the coastline, effectively capturing all of Malaz’s southern frontier and isolating it’s forces that were now stuck engaged in the Dal Hon Plains.
Quon Tali did not fair much better. The biggest blow came at the hands of Walk which launched an offensive at Falar. After crushing Quon Tali forces in the sub-continent, they marched through the Ice Fields and overtook the supply lines along the Great Fenn Range. In effect, the Quon Tali forces engaging the Malaz forces at Voron were trapped.
The game was called at this point. Walk announced that he had accumulated enough points to technically win the game on points and had an arsenal of heavy weapons which would have made it difficult to eliminate him. Part of that arsenal was used to win the battles at the Ice Fields with minimal losses. Moreover, both Quon Tali and Malaz were in difficult positions where multiple set matches would be required to re-position their front lines. Cawn was poised to make an attack at Seti, once the Malaz and Quon Tali threats took care of themselves. A quick assessment of the situation indicated that Quon Tali was likely to have fallen.
As a result, this game was awarded to Hazel after Keiren agreed to to back down, instead seeking consideration for the next match.