FA 45 Neutral Victory

Captain Aaahz the Great stood at attention before his small honor detachment of soldiers guarding the grand plaza of City of Annuminas, Capital of the North Kingdom. The sweat dripped down Aaahz’s brow as he grimaced watching a rather large woman in colorful robes with golden eyes in pyramids depicted all over her robe struggle up the creaking steps onto the platform before the plaza where Commander Durnik the Smith, his second, nervously waited. Commander Durnik held his breathe with each step that that the big boned woman took as she climbed the steps to join him on the platform. He silently prayed to the gods that his orders for last minute physical reinforcements would keep the stairs from breaking.

As the colorful clad emissary from the mysterious Illuminati nation took her last step to stand before Commander Durnik, Captain Aaahz breathed a sigh of relief as he nodded to the musicians off to the side of the platform to prepare to fire up the Royal North Kingdom Orchestra. Commander Durnik pulled out a great golden key emblazoned with the seal of the City of Annuminas and held it forth…

Much further to the south in the South Kingdom capital, night had set in and the oil lamps flickered and illuminated the city square of Minas Tirith. A golden-gilded carriage led by two white horses pulled into the square and stopped short of herald’s platform where a huge crowd had gathered in anticipation of news from the realms. Heralds had earlier in the day proclaimed that a realm changing announcement was coming.

Seeing that the package had arrived the South Kingdom commanding officer, General Borth, nodded to Captain Corwyn to have his men secure the square of Minas Tirith. The rumors had been rampant throughout the day with reports that Minas Ithil had been retaken; large Dark Servant armies pushing in on all fronts; additional Dark Servant naval forces had landed just west along the coast and were threatening the nation of the Efusians; and on top of all that, a Dread Fleet of Dread Pirates from Ultramar had sailed up the river towing covered barges which were now anchored in between Minas Tirith and Osgiliath on the far side of the river. The ruins of the mighty bridges that once connected Minas Tirith and Osgiliath still not been repaired since being destroyed to prevent vast hordes of Dark Servants from flooding into the South Kingdom heartland.

A group of finely dressed individuals exited the golden carriage and climbed the platform to stand before the nervous and eagerly awaiting citizens of Minas Tirith. Proclamator Ribeno, Curate Thomas, and Emissary Borth; three notable emissaries of the North Kingdom could be seen escorting two cloaked figures. As they all climbed to the platform above the city square and before the host of North Kingdom citizens, the citizens grew quiet as Proclamator Ribeno raised his hand and gestured to the two figures they had escorted. The two cloaked figures threw off their cloaks revealing the recognizable golden eye in a pyramid emblazoned upon their robes revealing them as Illuminati emissaries, Proclamators Sashette and Katia.

As an uncanny calmness settled upon the crowd assembled and party on the platform, a sign that the led emissary was waiting on appeared. As the signal pyres high upon the fortifications of Minas Tirith ignited, Proclamator Ribeno presented the seal of Minas Tirith to Proclamator Sashette thus turning over the control of the city to the Illuminati nation. Ribeno loudly proclaimed, “With this deed the Neutral Alliance is victorious!” The crowd erupted in shouts of joy and celebration.

Hearing a loud roar of celebration to the west across the waters of the mighty river towards Minas Tirith, the Dread Pirate Captain Vulkan of the Dread Ultramar fleet slapped Ms Cleo on her butt to get her off his lap. Sitting up in his chair, Captain Vulkan looked out and confirmed that this roar to the west was the signal he had been waiting for he grabbed his half full mug on his desk and took a long pull emptying the mug of all spiced rum before giving his order in a mighty shout, “Let fly the wizards cargo!”

Mages aboard the barges that had been towed upriver by the Dread Pirate fleet unveiled the barges and magically lite their cargos. Enumerable rockets of brilliant fireworks streaked skyward and exploded illuminating the skies with a vivid and glorious display above both mighty cities of Minas Tirith and Osgiliath. It became instantly apparent to all viewing this spectacle that indeed no expense had been spared to ensure that these fireworks would be spoken about for generations to come. As the fireworks continued, the Dread Pirate Vulkan now stood on the deck on his flagship of the Dread Ultramar fleet. He quickly surveilled his surroundings and spotted the first signal fire on the eastern shore beyond Osgiliath where Minas Ithil lay. Quickly turning to look westward he saw the watch fires over Minas Tirith illuminated. “Drink up boys!” was the last words heard from the Dread commander before the cheers resumed as more casks of rum were opened. The Dread Pirate once more disappeared below decks to finish his dessert….

Continuing further along the mountain range, signal pyres were spotted erupting westward across the mountain spine of the South Kingdom and Efusian lands. These signal pyres burned brightly and turned northward over Hornburg and Angrenost, the former gates of the North Kingdom of the pass towards the realm of the Illuminati. Rapidly moving northward up the mountain span the fires continued to Moria and turned westward across the plains where a bright beacon could be seen burning over Weathertop. Bringing us back to where this evening started, the final signal pyre could be seen burning above the ramparts of the former North Kingdom city of Annuminas.

As the last fires lite across the realms, magical messages allowed for all seven banners over their respective ramparts to simultaneously be unfurled revealing the Golden Eye in a Pyramid of the Illuminati.

Back in the city square of Annuminas, the renowned Royal North Kingdom Orchestra started to play upon seeing the Illuminati banner unfurled upon the ramparts. Upon hearing the first notes, the colorfully attired Madam Fatlady started singing. The Fatlady belted out an earth-shaking basso profundo rendition of Ride of the Valkyries. Commander Durnik quickly passed the key to the city to the singing moomoo and exited the stage heading for the nearest bar. The crowded plaza went wild with celebration and applause.

The great 45th Fourth Age War has ended with a first ever Neutral Alliance claiming victory! All hail the mighty nations which started and finished this epic fight which last 29 turns; North Kingdom, South Kingdom, Efusians, Ultramar, and the Illuminati. The Neutral Alliance eliminated three FP nations and one DS nation in their epic struggles before the strategic alignment of seven critical population sites were rallied under the Illuminati banner of the Golden Eye in a Pyramid.


And there was much rejoicing!

Congrats, I suppose. Of course all the necessary pop centers started under the control of the Neutral alliance, so…it’s a bit less impressive than the DS or FP getting a strategic victory.

Nice post though, well written and engaging!

Wow, I had no idea that neutrals were allowed to get a strategic victory, but I see that the rulebook doesn’t prohibit it. I think it should though, and I hope after this game they will add that restriction. As someone pointed out, they start with a huge percentage of the key popcenters.

Ernie - even though we started with them all, it is turn 29… there has been a a lot of turns for FP/DS to take them. And we had to retake 3124 to get the victory. Which we did.

I agree with Jeremy that the rules should be changed. I think the rule should be that a neutral alliance can’t win Strategic Pop Center Victory until turn 25. That gives a lot of turns for the DS & FP to upset the applecart.

I’d be curious to know what others think here? I’ll likely post in our mailing and do a poll. Options welcome


What do you think - should a team of neutral nations be allowed to get a strategic victory?

Let us know by taking part in our poll!

  • Yes
  • No

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oh, one more thing Ernie - we, the Neutrals, killed 3 FP nations and 1 DS nation.
Somehow a 2nd DS nation died. I think it belonged to the player whose nation we killed?
So, the neutrals didn’t just declare neutral and flip pop centers to one of our nations on turn 11. We played hard, 5 of us and we took out multiple other nations.

Now, all that said, the DS were about to whomp all over everyone. They had cav armies with like 6k cav that were running amok. So it was getting non-pretty really quick. That’s what pushed us to decide to go for the strategic victory. We asked Clint and he said it was legal, so we thought - what the heck! Let’s try for it. It was by no means a sure thing. It would have been super duper easy for the DS or FP to prevent. I think we benefited from them thinking we couldn’t win that way - despite there being no rule to the contrary.

Now it seems we will be the last neutral alliance to be able to do this. Which brings me to a question - if a neutral alliance can’t win with strategic pop center victory (and I think they should be allowed to do so - if 5v10v10 after turn 25, and if 7v9v9 after turn 35), then there is almost no way for a neutral alliance to win is there? hmmm? so what you guys are saying is that the only point of neutrals is to add some diplomacy to the early game and hopefully the neutrals will split in a way that doesn’t unbalance the game.

I think you guys should all reconsider your votes to disallow neutral strategic victories. I don’t think you’ve thought it through carefully.


I don’t really play fourth age anymore, but I am agreeing with Dave on this one.

I’m not a fan of neutrals in a game and requiring the diplomacy to recruit them. I might be biased as I am getting my arse handed to me in a 1650 game where we did a poor job of recruiting the neutrals, but I like the idea that neutrals can win and don’t have to switch sides.


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Hey Dave,

Your victory was certainly legal. And I applaud your victory, at least you tried to rule the world through conquest first. But I feel a strategic victory by the side which starts the game with those pop centers in hand is just lame. Just my opinion. But if it is as you say not available until late in the game, sure. Plenty of time for the opposition to try to hold enough of the pop centers to prevent it.

But the player base is biased against Neutral victories anyways, all too often I have seen DS and FP declare a truce of some sort in order to punish the Neutrals for their audacity in even trying. And I also miss the original days of cross-allegiance alliances, which 4th Age was designed to allow, but which both MEGames and the majority of players don’t like. With FP and DS sides pretty much sharing their turns with their teammates from turn 1 so they can start planning right away, most 4th Age games just become Good vs Evil and anything that goes against that dynamic is frowned upon. So in addition to being outnumbered, despite the extra strength of the Kingdoms early on, I’ve personally found every attempt at a Neutral team victory to be both frustrating and disappointing.

Whatever. There are multiple reasons why I may not come back to playing ME-PBM anyways.

One of them is MEGames making it legal to start with harbors or ports without actual access to open water or a major river hexside or endpoint. If you tried to build such a harbor during the game, the program would not allow it, the order to build a harbor REQUIRES access to water that ships can actually use. This offends me - in particular because in at least one 4th Age game long ago, before the current setup rules, MEGames wouldn’t allow me to put a port at the hex off the endpoint of a major river - ie exactly the kind of location Esgaroth enjoys in 1650. Now it’s fine to start with a harbor in the deserts of Khand, just to get the free points? Bull.

I’m also sad that they still haven’t fixed the disconnect between what the troop description is in your turn vs how they are reported in battles. And one of my last games had the stealth SNA and got multiple non-stealth character bonuses before finally getting some mediocre stealth. And various other things that may have been casualties of the sporting over from the old defunct hardware to the new. And the more time I have spent away from the game, the less I miss it.

So feel free to toss my opinions in the trash.

the Stealth SNA is bugged in my opinion. I collected data on it and sent it to Clint, but he basically said my data was me being unlucky and that was that. However, when lots of Uncover Secrets always reveal that my nation had Challenge Bonus SNA instead of Stealth Bonus SNA, methinks my point that there is/was a bug was correct. ah well.

I’m also sad that they still haven’t fixed the disconnect between what the troop description is in your turn vs how they are reported in battles. And one of my last games had the stealth SNA and got multiple non-stealth character bonuses before finally getting some mediocre stealth.

I wasn’t aware of the disparity between the description. but it’s certainly not a game changer and we’ve certainly fixed that where I was aware of it (plus thousands of other things).

Harbours/Ports - I don’t get why that’s a big issue either, players seem to think it’s breaking the game. One point, the game world is thousands of years old. Realistically even the mountains/terrain has changed. But it’s a fantasy world, suspending disbelief. Cities develop from nothing in a matter of weeks, Characters that have lived for thousands of years get killed from leagues away with nothing they can do about it, armies disband, nations go bankrupt.

So it’s a simulation, not a real-life game, for each person it’s a different level of “reality” I suspect.

Stealth is definitely working the way it is supposed to. We’ve run many simulations and I can confirm it’s correct. I get quite a few old hats raise it from time to time. I’ve tested it in games and found that the proportion is about right. In the above comment “proof” isn’t that I’m afraid. At worst in this message it’s pointing to the wrong description so if that’s the case and you see it again I can hunt it down. Similarly it’s sometimes a case that players who have a lot of stealthy characters (way beyond the norm) won’t complain that the code is “bugged” due to them getting too much stealth. (Famous example with camping here I can give you if you’d like!)

What you’re not aware of I suspect is all the old (Mac) code that wasn’t working the way it was designed to. We’ve actually corrected that (so around 4 encounters in FAS are active that were not before for example).