I recently played another 3 player game involving Ryan & Tom (my friends in the game demo video available at www.viktorygame.com).
As the game started, I expanded outwards, winning a couple of minor battles against both Ryan & Tom and becoming the dominant player. Ryan & Tom quickly allied against me, and they beat back my attacks, reducing me from the strongest to weakest player in a couple of turns. I was down to only four cities, the weakest I was to become in the entire game (I'll go ahead and offer a spoiler - I go on to win!).
Tom had taken the most cities from me and was easily the dominant player now. With Ryan now concentrating on holding off Tom, I was able to take back lost territory from both Tom & Ryan, and the game attained a rough parity among all three players for the only time during the game.
I had an inland sea that I controlled on my left front, due to a forest city on its coast that provided me with a frigate. The inland sea was connected to the outside water perimeter and I was able to constantly threaten and attack Ryan's capital by the sea passage as it was within range.
A couple of losses put Tom on the defensive, but Ryan had to hold back troops from his offensive against Tom in order to defend his own capital from my amphibious attacks. Because of the capitol's ease in reinforcement, I was never able to get sufficient forces to ever stand a good chance of taking it. With Ryan and I in a constant back and forth around his capital, Tom was able to launch successful offenses of his own, taking key grassland cities in the interior (which support powerful cavalry units). The cities were strategically located and were regional focal points. Two of them were on Ryan's front with Tom (one within cavalry range of his capital), and one was on my front with Tom (within cavalry range of my capital). The worst part was that Tom was able to defend them well and neither Ryan nor I could launch much of a counterattack.
At this point I thought the game was lost. Tom's strength (measured by counting the # of cities) was equal to Ryan and I combined. While this had happened before in the game (where one player equaled the other two players combined), it had never happened such that the dominant player was also in a somewhat unassailable position and was thus usually quickly toppled. For the first time I offered a prediction that Tom would go on to win. I didn't see the Forces of Good (what I had dubbed the alliance Ryan and I had hastily formed) standing a chance. As an aside, my armies are always "The Forces of Good" - it's a psychological ploy to weaken the resolve of my enemies, although it never quite works as planned
My doomsday prediction was not to be though. What few troops I had that could make the attack (1 cavalry and 2 infantry) were ordered into an immediate counterattack. Against all odds, well more like a 12.5% possible outcome, I "hit" with all 3 dice rolls! Even better, Tom missed with all but one of his. After one more round of battle (in which I was similarly lucky), the unthinkable had happened - Tom's power center had been shattered and the grassland city was back under my control.
On Ryan's turn he courageously attacked both of Tom's other grassland cities, and while not taking them, he destroyed most of the defending units. With his frontline armies virtually annihilated, Tom was unable to follow up his previously successful turn with more attacks and was forced into a defensive posture as he rushed more units back to the front for defense.
Though I wasn't able to take another of Tom's cities on my next turn, I was likewise able to reinforce with enough units that I would be unlikely to again lose that key grassland city.
Meanwhile, Ryan took back one of his own cities and our alliance was in full scale war against Tom. There was little progress on the front between Tom and I, as we each only had one city that closely bordered with the other (my grassland city and his mountain city) and they were always too well defended to be taken. Most of the action occurred on the front between Tom and Ryan as Ryan was able to brilliantly capture one of Tom's exposed coastal cities with an amphibious assault and the front kept moving back and forth with Ryan gradually gaining the upper hand.
At this point I realized that my frigate was virtually useless to me on the inland sea (as it could only be used effectively against Ryan, and we were currently allied). I had a tough decision to make. Should I leave the frigate where it was, in which case I could still use it to make bombard attacks inland against Tom's cities and units, and it would also be in position should the alliance between Ryan and I ever sour, such that I would be able to use it to threaten his capital again?
Alternatively, I could take two turns and move my frigate back around the outer water perimeter and over to the front with Tom. The downside would be that it would be in transit for two turns and I wouldn't get any utility out of it. The upside was that Tom had a coastal mountain city on a peninsula that he was able to leave completely unguarded as it was out of reach of my land armies. Meanwhile it was supplying him with an artillery and infantry that he could use elsewhere to attack.
I decided it was a worthwhile effort. Ryan and I were fairly successfully holding back Tom and I thought that Ryan and I would still be allied in a couple of turns, which gave me enough reason to move the frigate.
What was nice was that when my frigate did get into position on the front with Tom, it was adjacent to a group of units that were out of position in my backfield. So not only was my frigate now going to be useful, but it would allow me to immediately get a group of units into action (where otherwise it would have taken a couple of turns for them to move to the front and be useful).
Tom defended the coastal mountain city as best he could, but I still attacked - but was repulsed. The next turn I attacked again, and this time the city fell. With no other coastal cities nearby, my frigate's job was complete and I moved it back around to the inland sea near my front with Ryan.
Meanwhile Tom was allocating more and more units to the front with Ryan, where he was starting to have considerable success, as Ryan's cities began falling one by one.
With a massive army I attacked Tom's mountain city that had thwarted me for so long (it stood directly in front of my strategic grassland city). My army got driven back in a terrible defeat, but my armies were still well positioned for additional attacks. Once more, my armies were beaten back before the city gates, but on the third attack, the mountain city fell.
By now, Ryan was reduced down to just three cities, and the juggernaut that was Tom's land army on that front seemed unstoppable. I quickly reinforced with additional units along my opposing front with Ryan as I needed to make sure that if Ryan was completely crushed that he was defeated on my terms and that I would get some of the spoils of war.
Not surprisingly, Ryan didn't view my reinforcing actions as a positive development and he promptly rescinded the alliance (it had by now outworn its intent) and attacked me. At this point I wasn't worried about him as a real threat, but only concerned that he might kill enough of my units that I would be incapable of exerting any control over how Tom might finish Ryan off and gain the last few cities that Ryan had.
It was tense as I beat back Ryan's meager attacks and made sure that I preserved a core of strength that I could easily project against Tom once Tom attacked Ryan's last cities. On my main front with Tom, I was gathering strength for forward assaults and holding my own against the relatively weak attacks that Tom was throwing against me in the strategically important mountain city that I now controlled.
Tom failed in an important attack against Ryan's second to last city, and it was now my turn. I was primed to take Ryan's capital, which would have effectively knocked him out of the game.
I made him a deal. "If you'll attack Tom's nearest city, I won't take your capital."
With no better offers on the table (and the fact that his few units were nicely positioned to attack Tom's nearest city), he agreed.
Now that I had a little breathing room with Ryan, I was able to position all of my forces against Tom and prepare for a massive attack on my following turn. Simultaneously, I used a few small scale regular and bombard attacks to knock out all but one of Tom's cavalry and his frigate. Then on Ryan's turn, he managed to knock out the remaining cavalry (greatly reducing Tom's ability to project offensive power).
With Tom rendered temporarily impotent, I was then able to launch massive attacks, which captured Ryan's capital (our 1-turn deal had now expired) and a key city from Tom, making me easily the most dominant player with 10 cities to Tom's 5 and Ryan's 1. Aside from just strength size, I was much better positioned to make subsequent attacks and project power against their cities and my own cities were unassailable fortresses.
Tom took Ryan's last city, knocking him out of the game, but it was too late. I took that city immediately from Tom on my following turn, along with another important city, and outnumbered in size now 3 to 1, Tom conceded the game.
In the end, it was a very satisfactory VIKTORY! When playing against seasoned opponents with great skill, it's difficult to pull out a win. Sometimes it takes all your skill and an additional smidgen of luck to make it happen. Through opportunistic play, good use of positional strength, proper concentration of forces, careful diplomatic alliances, along with a bit of luck at the right times, I had managed a VIKTORY! Whew!