First, and foremost, a big congratulations to Dave, Rob and Zac for their well-deserved victory and a hearty thanks to the bestest-GM-ever!, Tom.

I had no intentions of playing this game. I was resolute. It was not going to happen. Spring is my most difficult time of year and I never have enough time for life, let alone dip, let alone dip of NWO magnitude. Messages and requests were politely declined or ignored. In the final moments I capitulated, with the request for an easy-out E power. “Your wish is my command,” said Genie Sendric and I was rewarded with Congo. With Dave and Rob as immediate neighbors.

In the last iteration of the game I made a middling run as Egypt that eventually saw Africa torn apart by the colonials. I never really threw a lot of support behind the Pan-African coalition that simmered early on, for I felt 1)more Middle Eastern than African and 2)friendly colonials were my ticket to growth. I could not see that pattern leading to success in this game we were entering into. Instead, the three African nations hatched an early alliance that obviously held to the end. We decided to put our backs together and work outward. We would coordinate when needed and communicate enough to keep each other informed of our own plans and our general interactions across the globe. We even formulated an early plan to make the world tremble at the strength of the African navies.

With strong confidence our allegiance, it was time to look out. My early grabs were for native Congolese and neighboring SCs, but I needed to work a few things out. SAfrica, Nigeria, and Mali were all working around my periphery, Brazil needed to know I had ambitions on setting up a defensive line in the Atlantic and France, China and the US all had their colonial interests at heart. I even used some of my past alliance cache to get nuke tech early. I simply asked Russia for it. He and I had worked well in the past and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask. I never pushed it and never offered to sweeten the pot with BBs, etc.

I pushed north and out to sea. Dave and I criss-crossed in the Sub-Sahara and Rob started to move into SAmerica. I engaged against Nigeria with Mali and France and attempted to sort out the mess of the transfer of power in Brazil. I continued moving north and west, while also shifting resources west across the Atlantic (ostensibly to help Rob take out Argentina.) At one point I travelled out of the country, and my destination lost internet access for the better part of a week. I had neglected to send preliminary build orders and was saddled with two African-based armies. I had to shift my approach to make up for this, but it probably worked out for the best. As things progressed I took advantage of the stab on Italy and kept working towards the Tunisian centers. I also had committed to keeping France as part of the game, knowing that my support bought his loyalty and his votes.
It was around this time, even with my successes and growth, that I knew that I was the dullest bulb in the African alliance. Dave and Rob’s emails were always mind-bogglingly detailed with in-depth analysis, projections and machinations. It was obvious that they were both better informed and working much harder than me. I skipped along, playing well (but not my best,) and they were putting pieces together. I contributed what I could and grew where I could. I had the luxury of less conflicted regions of the map, so I tried to maintain a sort of team-moral-compass and made it clear that I was working for team victory. As we looked towards the end game, we cemented a plan/goal for at least 2 Africans in the winning coalition.

Where were we (and I) to get votes? I jumped into the Brazilian BBQ, knowing that I would control the vote once Samy was eliminated. We saw Turkey’s Mediterranean and Mid-East votes as potential targets and I saw Rome as a goal. Zac stabbed France and suddenly he was reduced to 1 vote from 4. I was told that these would still be votes for the team. As the game progressed I walked a fine line with Cuba. He was establishing a solid foothold along the African coast and was in the vicinity of several of my voting SCs. He was also not thrilled with my dealings with the attack on Turkey. Finally, he felt that Rome was part of his manifest destiny.

In the end, my two teammates took their shares of the prize. I had committed very early on to float the 3-Africa coalition, knowing full well it had low likelihood of passing. I had high hopes for the eventual winner. I am also a bit flummoxed by the third nomination by our group, as it had such a low chance of passing.

A few other comments:
Hidden Units- I didn’t have any and they didn’t affect my play or results in any way. Maybe next time?
Nukes- I have always been wary of them, and this is the first game where I have actually used them to any degree. I feel they have too much power and not enough negative repercussions. I was able to start banking, building and extending range because of my coalition’s stability.
The Big Guys- Tom’s analysis of the power of Africa and the ignoring of such by everyone is at least partially true. I didn’t have to coordinate with the US or China very much and neither put much effort into me. A lot of people ignored me, which was fine.
Honorable mentions- Kudos to Mexico and Canada for their successes. Pakistan showed a lot of spunk and Germany showed a traditional resilience. I also loved that Saudi Arabia took over much or Australia (exchanging one desert for another?)

My own play- I’ve tried to use this EOG to explain my approach. Dave and Rob deserved the win, as did Zac. That said, I think I pulled off a pretty good show. I ended as the fifth largest (by SCs) and second largest (by votes.) I put in a good bit of work, but not as much as the winners.