I’ve resisted commenting on FA 45, but I’ll dive in here as someone on the DS team. Gives the flavor of one 3-way FA game.
We DS did indeed start with the entire south, excluding North and South Mordor, which shocked us. Never seen a setup like this. Our other allies were in N/S Mirkwood, Lorien and Rhudaur. They were surrounded by FP and took a serious pounding as it was very hard for us to get troops up to help them in time. In fact, in the early game the FP had us absolutely beat. They did a great job blitzing our northern allies. If the neutrals had split 3 & 2 we still would have lost. I think this was one of the thoughts that prompted the Neuts to stay neutral. And as Dave has mentioned, they were pretty set up to attack the FP.
So, we struck a 10 turn truce with the Neuts. In that time we focused on our character game and trying to keep our allies in the north alive. Instead of “doing nothing” what we did was kill off the FP agent force in S Mordor and strip all its agent artifacts. This was tough because he also had 2 hidden popcens we had to find and dig out. Then we did the same to the Rhun agent force while building up our own artifact game which was badly lagging.
By the time the truce ended we extended it because the FP were still the strongest allegiance. That was probably a mistake. It’s hard in a 3-way game to know where the balance of power lies and adjust accordingly. It’s also hard to stop fighting someone once you start. Both the DS and Neuts overshot by extending the truce in my opinion.
By this point our Rhudaur nation had been eliminated, but we’d kept our Mirkwood and Lorien allies alive (shipping 40k gold per turn!), bottled up Rhun, and fought hard in Rhovanion though we fell short at 3612. We changed tactics recruited up massive HC armies before the truce ended and our northern allies collapsed. Multiple of us started recruiting 1000HC per turn. We also came to really dominate the agent game by then which was a complete turn about. We’d researched the entire artifact list and held 16 out of the 26 agent/stealth artifacts in the game. With seven or eight 160 point scouts and extremely detailed tracking, we were killing with impunity. In fact we assassinated the entire North Mordor Weakness squad in one turn. Turn 26 we nailed 13 characters.
When the truce did end SK blitzed S Mirkwood and took him out. Our northern guys were ready to throw in the towel by then anyway having played 20 turns as punching bags. I can’t blame them. They fought a good fight. By then we’d fought our way north with 20k HC which we marched up to 3612. At that point we just took the FP popcen and burned the bridges instead of marching across to take out the FP. Why? Because it was a 3-way game and we felt the Neuts were the bigger threat by then. So we changed course and came at SK instead. My guess is that’s when the Neuts figured they were in trouble and decided to go for the Strategic Site victory. It was a rational move. Probably the only way to win at that point, but maybe if the Neuts had allied with the FP they could have stuck it to us. Not sure. As I said, it’s hard to change gears in a war.
Regardless, we were about to run riot across Gondor with our 20k HC when the Neuts transferred some popcens around, swiped Minas Ithil from us with emmys and won the game. Honestly we should have seen it coming. It was a cheap win, but legal, and entirely rational given the circumstances. I don’t have any hard feelings. We laughed at ourselves for not preventing it.
One thing I have noticed from a number 3-way games though is they often involve some kind of temporary alliance or non-aggression pact that often ends in acrimony. It’s actually very hard in my experience to avoid misunderstandings and hard feelings from these kind of relationships.
So, I think the 3-way games are best for Gunboat where it’s so much harder to even start that kind of agreement. Otherwise, in my opinion it’s best to just fight it out, win or lose.
Also, I think the above commentator is right - 3 allegiances of 8 players each, w/o kingdoms is better than 9 vs 9 vs 7 neuts. I played that once in Ernie’s 3-way FA Gunboat and the neutral team was underpowered. One reason is the FA Gunboat games go long, and that puts more emphasis on the character war so being 42 character slots short is a major deficit.