Age 3 ended with me holding a slim 6 point lead over The Wife. She had managed to erode my commanding age 1 lead to nearly nothing. It looked like the momentum was firmly in her favor.
As the only empire in age 4, The Wife's Arabs wasted no time in entering the Renaissance. The Free State Mayans, fearing that I would launch a desperate attack to regain my capital, adopted Democracy to dissuade me. It was for naught though, as the Mayans and The Wife's Germans, who had been soundly thumped by Syracuse, were both discarded.
Unable to leave the Americas in The Wife's sole control, I launched the Incas so as to have some presence. The Wife started the Hausa, who spawned directly adjacent to my Benin's capital. The Guptas, fearful of my Sinhalese, took Pandya through treachery, driving them back to their island capital. One of the most surprising plays of the game came next. The Wife cast a pestilence on my newly revitalized Syracusans and it did minimal damage. Undeterred, she played a plague on the same, and drew an absurd run of low cards, completely trashing my empire. After the loss of their navy to pirates and storms, I decided that the Polynesians had nothing left to offer and discarded them.
By this time, The Wife's Han had grown to a massive size, controlling most of China and settling outposts in Japan and Polynesia. I started the Manchus with their tactician leader Murhaci to use as a bludgeon against Han power. Meanwhile, in Africa the newly formed Hausa attacked and captured the Benin capital without much of a fight. Several empires fell, The Wife discarded the Pirate State and the stagnant Magyars, while I dropped the sickly Syracusans. The Arabs, who had been trading like mad, entered age 5, bringing a quick end to the age. My lead had vanished, and The Wife now led by 7 points of glory.
The world at the end of age 4:
With Europe now empty, I started the Russians hoping to capitalize. The Wife started Portugal, with their leader Henry, to stymie my efforts. In Asia, my Manchus began their campaign against the Han by sinking their ship in the Yellow Sea and taking Hopeh. I afflicted the Han with a currency crisis to destroy their carefully amassed wealth, and received glorious pity to help me trim The Wife's lead. The Manchus invented printing, while the Arabs discovered a copper mine. The Benin, thoroughly trashed by Hausa, were discarded. The tiny Sinhalese experienced an enlightenment and finally reached age 4.
I next started the Melanesians in order to put pressure on the Han's island holdings. In India, the Guptas kept pace with the Sinhalese by trading their way into age 4 as well. The Manchus continued their assault on the Han, taking the fertile Shantung by force. In the Americas, my glorious Incas were afflicted by concentrated land ownership, while an attempted uprising was blown back on The Wife's Arabs. The Arabs were wealthy enough to repair the disorder, so little was lost. Fearing the still present Mayan Free State, the Incas penned a peace treaty with them. The Hausa, having accomplished the destruction of Benin, were discarded as Portgual established a colonial empire in Africa, then found themselves in age 5.
Things started getting crowded in Europe when The Wife brought out the English, led by the wise Newton. The Melanesians threw their entire army against a lone Han swordsman in New Guinea only to suffer a truly embarassing loss. I thought I had finally found a way to dismantle the Han by hitting them with empire fragments, only to have it fail. Tiny Sinhala, which was the constant subject of The Wife's wrath, was consumed by religious strife while an earthquake threw the entire Incan empire into disorder.
By this time, my Russians had occupied most of eastern Europe only to have a significant portion of their army defect to The Wife's new Ukrainians. I decided to raise the stakes in Europe still further by starting the French and bringing out Napoleon. The French fleet immediately set out to sink the Portuguese fleet in the Cape Verde Basin only to suffer a humiliating defeat. The Manchus pressed further into Han territory, taking Kiangsi and Honan. Portugal founded Christianity, while the Arabs founded Islam.
Realising the glory potential of a Christian Portugal, I spawned the Pirate State in Andalusia to confront them. The French discovered a timely gold mine to fund their further military adventures. A revolution in Portugal cost them their Christianity and knocked them back into age 4! Voltaire was born in France, while terrible fires threw the Russian empire into disorder. The Manchus lost their capital to pestilence, and the crippled Melanesians were discarded. The Wife discarded both the Mayan Free State and Portuguese. The Manchus and the Pirates found their way into age 5.
As if Europe wasn't already too crowded, The Wife started the Hapsburgs, led by the artist Mozart. I brought the Scots back to confront English power in Britain. The Guptas finally moved against Sinhala, sinking their lone ship and assaulting Sinhala itself. The attack on Sinhala failed. The Pirate fleet was eager to kill something and attacked the English, only to be destroyed themselves. The Manchus took Szechwan, but still the Han would not fall. The unlucky Scots were destroyed by disaster a second time when a volcano erupted in Scotland. An uprising on the Han failed again, they simply would not go away! Russia and Sinhala made it into age 5.
Needing still more pressure on the Han, I started the Vietnamese. The Manchus took Tibet, and Ukraine expanded into Hungary. The Han negotiated a peace treaty with the Manchus, much to my dismay. France lost their carefully saved money in a currency crisis, while the Sinhalese were hit with religious strife yet again! An assassination attempt on Napoleon was foiled, and the Han-Manchu peace treaty was lost to chaos. The Han founded Confucianism to deter my attack. With no remaining useful purpose, I discarded the Pirates.
The relatively empty Africa saw the rise of Mali under my control. The Han finally struck back, reclaiming Szechwan from the Manchus but failing to take Tibet. Vietnam began their invasion of the Han, taking Yunnan and adopting Confucianism to avoid the disorder. Very inconveniently, an earthquake then hit Yunnan, destroying the nearby Vietnamese capital. The Arabs, who until this point were expanding without opposition through the Middle East and Africa, were afflicted by urban riots. Sinhala was finally discarded, as the Malinese and Guptas reached age 5. The advanced Arabs ended the session by moving into age 6. At this point, The Wife's lead had grown to 57 points of glory, largely on the backs of the seemingly indestructable Han.
The world at the end of age 5:
With only two ages left to eliminate my glory deficit, things were not looking good. What terrors would the next session bring?