Thanks to all who have written so far. I always enjoy reading EOG statements. I've almost never seen a game where every single player writes one, and I highly doubt we get that here. But I'm hopeful that there are several more to come. I particularly enjoyed reading Dave's, because in a game like this, and because of who Dave is, there's bounce to be interesting insights. I was one of the (many, I think) players who tried to fill him in on my thinking/strategy when I remembered to.

I usually like to try and do these things chronologically, because I think it's easier to follow that way. But as a colonial power, my game was so spread out. So I'll try my best to keep things somewhat organized and intelligible.

So I've played NWO a few times before, but never a big power. My general strategy at the start was to make peace in Europe and focus on my colonies for my main expansion. Rob D and I talked a lot right from the start, all the way up until I attacked him. We made a solid peace which was pretty key for both of our early expansions. We also agreed to avoid supporting one another openly on the board, though we probably didn't fool anybody who was paying close attention for very long. I also made an early peace with both Germany and Italy, and was feeling very secure in Europe, though that wouldn't last long at all.

In South America, I think I made friends with Mike pretty quickly. We kept up what I felt was a very good rapport for the entirety of the game. Dag, on the other hand, rubbed me the wrong way immediately. This was before the whole fake email fiasco. I still of course have no proof, I just suspected, and still do, that he was behind it. Anyways, he wrote an email very early on to both me and Russ, attempting to get us to ally together. It was a short, one or two sentence email. Russ and I had of course already talked some privately. When neither of us responded to the three-way, Dag got really mad/offended. That, combined with my very positive relationship with Mike, made it pretty easy to pick Venezuela as a first target. Also, Brazil seemed like he was going to have his hands completely full, as it seemed obvious to me that Randy and Rob were tight early on.

In West Africa, I was trying to play Mali and Nigeria against each other and delay as long as I could to pick a side, because I couldn't decide which one I liked. I felt like the board seemed to suit an alliance with Mali better, although he was definitely the poorer communicator. When it came time to choose, I made a mistake and chose Mali and he was uncooperative and then NMRed. Then I ended up having to go back to Nigeria, hat in hand, and he did reluctantly accept me.

I felt like East Africa was going to be an important region for me, and it was. With wings in both Djibouti and Reunion, I was confident I could have a strong presence. I think Dave actually made a mistake, and meant to take my Reunion colony away. But he didn't realize until after the game started, so it stayed. I made peace with Sendric initially, because I know him to be a strong player, and also because there were rumors of all the smaller African countries banding together to kick us out. I've played a small African nation twice before, and this plan was discussed in depth early on both times. Neither time did it succeed or last very long. I definitely harbored ideas of booting Sendric out and being the king of East Africa myself, because I figured the rest of his holdings were far enough away that he wouldn't be able to do anything about it. But because of the anti-colonial murmurings, I held off. And by that time, it was sort of too late. And I'm glad I did, because we ended up having a good relationship all game long.

Then I had a Pacific fleet. I could have gone either west towards Australia or east towards South America. While Ecuador tried to convince me to go west, I decided in the end to take Galapagos, simply because I could, and because he had an army and couldn't stop me. I figured I could build a fleet in the first winter and go west in the second year, which is what I did.

In the first year, Marcel of Zimbabwe approached me (as I remember it) with a plan to attack South Africa together. That, along with attacking Dag with Mike, were my two first attack campaigns. Both ended up going fairly well. I got a bit of a lucky break with the original Kenya dropping out and going into CD, although this situation would eventually become more complicated. The replacement, Jon, was a good player, I think. He came into a really tough position. I had a wing in his capital and there wasn't much he could do. I decided to give him his capital back, because I felt it would gain me a vassal of sorts. At this point, Sendric and I began a long conversation about what to do about Kenya/Zimbabwe. The best thing we could come up with, for a while, was for one of us to become close to one of the two smaller guys, and we would play them off each other and eventually take both of them out. It took a little bit longer for Marcel and I to finish off South Africa than I thought it would, which played a small part in the strategy here.

During the second winter, I played my first big gamble. I believed Germany and Italy when they said they had no plans to attack me. I had warnings from several players, notably Rob G in Turkey, and even Randy, the latter of which I had not talked to much up to that point. There was so much opportunity for me to expand my colonies and I wanted to use as few builds in Europe as possible. This was also sort of part of the pact Rob D and I had made, to not build much in Europe. I had been telling both Germany and Italy the truth about how I felt about Europe and my colonies, that I wasn't going to focus on Europe and was happy to let them run amok there. Anyways, this gamble did not pay off, at least in the short-term, because I was wrong and they moved in on me in the spring. I always suspected that Rob D put them up to this, or at least had some hand in it. But I'm not certain of this at all.

In the fall, Trevor stabbed me by slipping into Djibouti. This was what started a rocky relationship between us. For what it's worth, my main problem with the whole issue was that Trevor never would admit that he had stabbed me. It was an issue of semantics, sure, but during our constant back and forth, I felt it was almost as if he had forgotten Djibouti was mine to start with and not neutral.

Also, the Australian fleets had begun to come west towards my Reunion/Madagascar colony. He was also an annoyingly uncommunicative player. Around this time, I began talking to Zac about taking Australia out. The plan was for him and I and Rob to take him out altogether. I was chomping at the bit, though Zac needed time. I pestered him about this for a few years. Then, Australia quit and went into CD when he finally was ready to go.

In Europe, I was working very hard to salvage my situation with Germany and Italy. Germany had left his eastern border wide open, and there were Serbian armies in good position to strike. I promised the Serbian nuke tech if he would attack. It took a lot of convincing, but I was able to win him over. I felt sort of bad when he got swarmed afterwards, because he helped me out big time, but I think he had it coming.

In South America, Mike and I guessed wrong in a guessing game of sorts with Dag, and I ended up having to disband my fleet in the Galapagos area. This was the beginning of the end for my South American colony. I was grateful to Mike for allowing me to keep my two centers there for the duration of the game, even with 0 units.

In the fourth year, the nukes started to fly. Rob surprised a lot of people I think, definitely surprised me, by hitting Canada big time. I think it was a good move. The North Atlantic was completely his after that. Somewhere in here I think I realized that someone was eventually going to have to attack him. I could see the Rob/Randy/Zac triumvirate forming, and while I was very hesitant to be the one to stick my nose out and initiate the big battle, the bullseye on Rob's back got larger and larger every year. And I was growing too, but I was always going to be a step behind him. So I was going to get left out in the end. In this same vein, I think my struggle against Germany and Italy in Europe was actually a blessing in disguise. I was allowed to grow very quietly for the first half of the game, because Rob took all the attention. I must say that I don't think Rob handled the spotlight all that well. This was my first time playing with Rob, I believe, and I do think he's a really strong player. We wrote to one another a LOT. And he was very thorough, and clearly thought about his moves and strategy and diplomacy. But I also think this was Rob's first NWO game, right? NWO is usually a marathon, not a sprint. What matters is how many votes you have once voting season starts. That's basically it. Sure it's good to have votes and influence throughout, and SCs to be able to fund nukes, etc. etc. etc. But Rob peaked too early. And yes, part of it was his fault. I began to notice him getting greedy, and being too much of a bully, even with me. It was veiled, but I felt he was always figuring out a way to get one over on me, get one extra vote, or whatever the case may be. So I truly believe he had it coming.

In 2018, I had stemmed the tide with Germany and Italy. They missed their opportunity, and were getting no further into my territory, although they took a center or two off me. Eventually I was able to convince them both to pull off, because of what was going on in the east.

This is also around the time when Sendric and I began to formulate our big plan to stab Rob. Rob had been after me for a while to coordinate nuke strikes with him. We had decided on the Middle East trio (Egypt/Israel/Turkey) as our target. Sendric and I were also a bit worried about that group. So our plan was to join Rob in nuking them one round. Then the next year, we would make plans to give them another salvo, but hit Rob instead. Kill two birds with one stone.

The strikes came in the fall. Israel was kind of the sacrificial lamb. He did have a bunch of credits, and could potentially have been the one to bankroll nuclear plans by Egypt and Turkey. But frankly, I had a good relationship with Turkey and wasn't all that worried. Rob, and Zac too, seemed more worried about Israel. So I figured that'd be a good target, and would get Rob to really believe I was on his side for good, to set up what was coming the following year.

A little side note here: I also agreed to help Randy convoy over to Africa this same turn. It was kind of funny timing, in hindsight. He had asked me if I would help. He had played an amazingly quietly strong game up to that point, and I didn't really want to help him gain any more than he was already going to. And I knew Sendric wouldn't be happy about someone else on the continent. I think I made my decision partly on Randy's reputation, in a way. I've played with Randy many times over the years, and we've often had very good relationships, although he usually ends up getting the best of me somehow (and it looks like he did again!). Although we didn't talk all that much for the first half of this game or so, I knew he was going to be around the winner's circle in one way or another. And I wanted to be around there too. So I figured that doing Randy a favor would help me in the long run. I wonder now if I made the right decision here or not. On the one hand, I probably played a major part in helping Randy to his finishing as the game's vote leader with 12. Maybe I would have been in a better position to win myself if I had not done this. That said, I'm still not sure how close I was to getting nuked by Zac/Randy a few years after this convoy, and who knows if the convoy played any part in my getting spared, or if they were just bluffing the whole time with those nuke threats. More on that later.

So me and Sendric's plan had been set. We were keeping it very secret, and hoping that after we struck, others would jump on board, because at this point Rob was very strong and we figured everyone was just waiting for someone to make the first move. I was actually, I think, a bit untruthful with Sendric here. I was assuring him I'd tell nobody, though I did have plans to let a few people know beforehand, because I wanted to take that risk. Our interests, and intent, were totally in line, though.

At this point of the game, I think I trusted Mike more than anybody else. So I wanted to let him know the big move was coming, and I did. I was honestly a bit surprised when he decided not to move with me, though I guess I understand why.

I also had a good relationship with Fred. But I wasn't sure I could trust him as much as Mike. So my plan was to drop a subtle hint to Fred at the last minute. Something like "if I were you, I might send those nukes at the UK. Or at least hold them, if you don't believe me. Trust me, you'll be glad you did."

Then of course, as we got closer to the deadline, it turned out that Sendric had been talking to Fred already! So those two were making plans to get Fred in on the big stab. I decided to stay out of it so as not to complicate things. I was kind of a one-track mind at this point, I was worried about retaliation and I wanted Rob to get hit as hard as possible. So I didn't even write to Fred at all until after the turn.

As far as Randy and Zac were concerned, I knew they were close to Rob. I was very confident that they would see the writing on the wall after we hit Rob, and that they would join in as well, and Rob would have been basically eliminated. This I misjudged. I totally did not expect them to remain as loyal as they did. I saw why later, because Rob's votes were essentially theirs. And of course they won, so it's hard to argue with their decisions. But I do still think that the three of us could have taken a stranglehold on this game and won it, had they been willing to let Rob's votes get divided up between the three of us. It probably would have taken longer than the win they got, but I think we would have succeeded.

So, in spring 2020, we hit. And we hit hard. From here on is where the game got really interesting, for me. Both Randy and Zac claimed to be floored by the big move (and I think they really were surprised). They both said similar things, that they were sorry to see Rob get hit, but they realized there wasn't much they could do about it. In the fall, they both "joined in" by making one-center stabs. Maybe I was riding too high and should have seen these were fake. Or maybe they just did a good job of convincing me, who knows.

After hitting Rob, I saw the possibility of him giving all his credits to someone for a mercenary revenge attack. He wrote me and offered to give me them, actually. He said that he believed Sendric was really behind it (not really true, but I was more than happy to let him say that), and that he would give me the credits if I held off and attacked Sendric instead. Given what happened, I'm not sure this was a genuine offer or not. Those credits may have been going to Zac and Randy no matter what. At the time, though, I thought it was a genuine offer, and treated it as such. I considered it very carefully. I turned it down for a couple reasons. First, I was still worried about too quickly becoming the next guy with a big bullseye on my back. After the big stab we had just made, I wasn't sure taking in 7 credits from another player was the smartest thing to do. Also, I think I might have gotten a little soft. I had been lying to Rob for a while, ever since before we hit Israel together, and I had had enough of it. I felt bad about what I really wanted to do, which was accept his credits and then continue to attack him.

The next turn, spring 2021, was a really crazy turn. Sendric and I nuked Rob again. Rob passed his credits to Randy and Zac, who nuked the crap out of China. This I did not expect. When I looked at these results, I had an interesting emotional progression. First I was surprised. Then I was relieved, that it wasn't me that got hit. Then I slowly started to realize what was happening. Randy moved on me in West Africa, but most importantly, Zac and Randy moved into position to potentially take both of my votes in the Pacific.

Then came, from each of them, the emails I expected. They were long essays, but really they were thinly-veiled ultimatums. We want to win with you, they said. But you have to stop attacking Rob. His votes are ours. If you don't cooperate, you get nuked, they said.

I was pissed. I felt had. It didn't have all that much to do with my ally, China, getting hit. Although we had a great relationship and I wasn't likely to ever stab him, I also realized that winning with BBX was very unlikely. So I was trying to grow faster than him. Instead, it was that I felt I had made a great move to stab Rob the year before. Then they totally one-upped me. They stabbed me without really stabbing me, in a way. I must have had at least a couple sleepless nights that week. I really didn't know what to do. In the end, I decided to sort of half-ass it. I didn't pull off Rob at all, though I still continued to support Randy/Zac in places that I had previously agreed to. I made this decision for a few reasons.

One, I was more than a bit paranoid given that trio's history up to that point. I felt that Rob was definitely severely diminished, but I also felt that it wouldn't be a good idea to let him get up off the ground, not when I had him right where I wanted him. I was worried that Randy and Zac, who know had the clear upper hand on the board, wanted to win with Rob if they really had their druthers. I was worried that if I let Rob climb back into the game, they were going to try and win with him. And that I would not have been able to swallow, because in that scenario, I would have really given my game away, I would have let the guy who I just spent several weeks planning a big attack on back into the game and a win. It probably was not very likely at all that Rob could still win the game. But I didn't want to allow any sliver of hope.

Two, I didn't like the way I was being forced into the decision. Randy had a great line in an email to me during this turn: "It's like a shotgun wedding where Jennifer Aniston is the bride." Randy, I hope you don't mind me divulging that one, but it really made me laugh. And it was true. That was the situation. Maybe I would have been more likely to win had I complied fully. I know that both you guys told me, even several turns after, that I had made the wrong move there. Maybe that's true. But I also want to say that I've watched both of you play NWO to great success a bunch of times now. I have yet to win one of these games. I model a big part of my game after the way that both of you play. And I'm nearly 100% certain that neither one of you would have put up with the position you were trying to put me in. I felt like I was being pushed into the front of the race with a pistol in my back, and I didn't like it at all. I wanted to at least have some say, even if it had ruined my game in a blaze of nuclear glory.

Three, there was the possibility that I could maintain my friendship with Sendric. He still had a lot of votes. He was understandably upset and wanted to pass any coalition that didn't have Zac or Randy in it. The one we thought could win was France/Mexico/Turkey, and I did go for it pretty hard that first voting season. Had Sweden voted for it, I think it would have passed. Turned out of course that I almost screwed myself by voting for the China/Orang Laut/Aden Rev coalition because I thought it didn't have a chance in hell. That was a close one.

Anyways, after that sort of mischievous turn, I caught some serious verbal abuse from both Randy and Zac. I don't hold it against either of you, of course. Those were volatile times. My point had been made, I thought, and from then on, I really did want to win with both of you guys. That was by far my preferred coalition, and I also thought it was probably my best chance to win. I really wanted for us all three to commit to one another and just take on the world until we had enough votes to win. Alas, it didn't work out that way. And I'm not blaming you, there was a sort of undercurrent of slight distrust, I think, that probably stemmed from my hitting Rob initially, and all the things that came after that.

I was caught off guard by the final result. I really had expected to win that turn, and of course our coalition did pass. But not by nearly as much as the one with Sweden that won. My initial reaction was to feel bitter and betrayed, but that lasted probably less than 5 minutes. I can't help but feel like I came in a solid 4th place, which is tough, but what can you do. The reality is that I had only 10 votes as a B power and that's not enough to feel like I really missed one.

Congratulations to the winners, and of course thanks to Dave for a very, very good GMing run, as always. I look forward to seeing any of you on a board in the future.