Revolt to Theocracy

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Intermezzo League Season 4 Post-Mortem

Elli Amir
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Season 4 of the Intermezzo League has come and gone, and the experience was both fun and instructive. First of all, shoutout and thanks to pajada, the organizer, who had to herd 90 players from across the globe over 18 houses and 180 games. He kept the league going splendidly.

I was in Wood 6, along with Manish05 (whom I meet in International Season 7), markosalaplaya, slig123, and Diogenes. Here are the final standings:

From gallery of IirionClaus


This image is only telling half the story, though. I finished my first three games 0-1-2, losing all of them to poor military management (slig123 was the winner in two of these). This put me squarely in last place with 2 League points. pajada has graciously encouraged me with an email saying “You are only 5 points behind 3rd place and there are still 3 games to play. Go go go!” I then made a comeback by winning all three games in the second half of the league, finishing in second place, safe from demotion. I’m pretty happy to have stolen one game off slig123, who ended up winning the house. The other slig123 game was won by Diogenes, who defeated slig123 by two Culture points and ended up one League point behind me. What a season!

As with the International Season 7 post-mortem, here are a few of my observations.

The rebalanced card set is highly strategic. The transition from original to New Story was phenomenal and Czech Games has done a great job optimizing the cards even further with the latest iteration of the card set. My favorite is the lower Military Actions on Napoleon which leaves him as a strong leader but not the pivot around which Age II often revolves. The buff to Bach has also helped, the fact that he always provides you with a Culture bonus makes him a stronger option than before. Setting these two anecdotes aside, the whole set just clicks to a degree that neither Base nor Mixed/Expansion can reach, combining the right amount of predictability and variability. This is reflected in the winning leaders mix: Just taking Age III as an example, games were won by Chaplin, Churchill x2, Einstein x2, and Gates; and I would have won a game with Sid Meier (against Churchill) if it weren’t for slig123’s brilliance with his Infiltrate timing. From a competitive standpoint, the balance between choices is sharp and elegant, and I find Rebalanced as the most fun and strategic way to play the game.

Military is actually pretty important in three players! In the post-mortem thread above, gardir commented that in his opinion, strength is more important in three players than four. That message came loud and clear with the first half of this season, where I lost all of my games to well-timed military pushes. I was about to lose one of my second half games as well but thankfully slig123 opted for a Bill Gates build instead of riding his military and I squeaked a win. With that said, I think military behaves differently according to player count. In four players, falling behind will grind you through a series of events and Aggression cards that will make climbing back difficult. On the other hand, three players (at least the games I played) are characterized by a close military race until one player pulls significantly ahead -- this game is an extreme example.

I’m happy to report that I’m learning. I mentioned in the past that two of my weaknesses, in my opinion, are population management and Culture point timing. I think I’ve done a good job with both of these in almost all of these games. For Culture, I never fell too far behind in any of the games, making sure to find a safe timing to get some combination of Genghis Khan, Taj Mahal, St. Pete’s, Eiffel Tower, and Dramas (with or without Bach). This guaranteed that I’m reaching Age III on a level playing field with the others, or even ahead in some of the games. With regards to Food and Population, I’m pretty excited that I managed to keep the flow of yellow tokens in five out of the six games, usually through Irrigation or Selective Breeding timing, and once by picking up a Vast Territory and a late Mechanized Agriculture transition. This improvement comes from a combination of playing the game, writing about it, and recording videos.

What’s next? Registration for the next International season will end tomorrow. The good news is that I’ve been behaving following my previous post on my misuse of the Through the Ages app, so I feel that I can rely on it without succumbing to unhealthy behavior. Setting that aside, I’m not sure I’ll feel comfortable playing the game in parallel to my travel, part of which is vacation; I can get either emotional or anxious when Through the Ages gets more intense! Therefore I decided to skip the next International and wait for the Intermezzo, which will start on January 26, comfortably after my travel is done.
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