Populous 1 & 2
As far as I am concerned, Avenging Angels gives good 3 player games. The playing field is a triangular island of variable altitude, with a mysterious head in the valley in the middle. In the corners of the island, the three players are sitting relatively safe on their hills, literally staring at each other at dangerously close range. In the paragraph Taking Positions I will shine a light on the political aspects this situation brings and give some helpful hints of dealing with this precarious situation, in that way that you can increase your chances of survival. I cannot give one single successful strategy for this map, as (like we say in my country) 'there are many roads that lead to Rome'. Pretending to be complete in describing the roads would be foolish and misleading towards the reader, and especially the newbie reader. But I can try to outline elements that a player will often encounter in this map.
Start: As stated before, the map in this level is a triangular island with a valley in the middle. In this valley, there is a small hill with a Head on it. This Head, which is close to never successfully worshipped by any of the players gives Teleport, which you could use to quickly relocate your Shaman to a distant island with a Totem. This totem makes, if successfully worshipped, an AoD appear in all of the CoR's. The idea behind it lies somewhere between the thought that it tickles both enemies and the thought that both enemies, after being decimated by the Angels' wrath, will throw themselves at your feet, begging for mercy. More likely is the scenario that will occur as I describe in the Taking Positions paragraph. The lands that are more or less assigned to you are far from perfect and difficult to use efficiently. Most of the land is easy defendable though. As soon as the game starts, make your Shaman run for the valley and convert as many wildies as possible before your opponents do so. And believe me, they will!
Building the village: As in all maps it is extremely important that you have at least a miniscule form of protection soon after the game starts. My advice in this is to immediately build about three towers on the valley side of your land. One as high as possible for maximum range and two just on the edge to demotivate a potentially rushing opponent, or instantly kill accidentally disoriented wandering priests. Of course these towers are going to be filled with the highly motivated fire warriors that have just been trained in your brand new fire warrior Hut. After this, it is time to relatively sit back and relax. That is to say, that you immediately start using all the land to build as many huts as possible. And once again: not on the trees and don't forget to build the other training huts, and if possible don't build them next to each other because then they would be quite vulnerable to sudden earthquakes.
Taking positions/Political aspects: This is probably the most important part of the strategy. In three player maps a lot of politics comes round the corner. Oh, I could write a book about this, but I have to limit myself to some sensible core comments on this topic. Generally, three player maps are extremely balanced compared to 2 or 4 player maps. That is because if one player is stronger, and it becomes known, the other two will concentrate on the stronger rather than on their weaker opponent. The result is increased survival chances for them, instead of heading towards a certain death if they let the stronger live. For example, send six braves to worship the Head, and count the number of opponents that would wipe your men off the Hill if they got a chance. Most likely to be TWO. This effect is also seen in the battles. When two of the contestants attack each other and one is clearly being crushed, it is not unthinkable that the third will come to restore the balance by casting preferably a volcano on the stronger opponents village. Some people start moaning about the apparent 'double teaming' that is happening. I would advice such people not to play 3 player maps again as they clearly don't grasp the concept. 3 player doesn't mean 1v1 first and 1v1 between the last two. This also implies that successfully worshipping the Totem is more likely to spell Doom for you and your village rather than to bring you any closer to the so desired victory. This thin balance can account for extremely long but fun games.
Hints for Winning/Political Aspects: Let's divide my hints over the four different possible circumstances. As the great Sun-Tsu already taught us: '(if you) know your enemy like yourself, victory is assured'. It is important that you estimate your opponents skills precisely. Having done that, there are (roughly) four different political situations one can be in.
1. When both opponents are stronger than you. This is definitely going to be a very difficult situation to win. There is a chance though, if you manage to stay low-profile and the stronger start attacking each other. If you manage to build your village and grow stronger, you might get a chance when the dust settles. Better don't wait too long then, for a stronger opponent needs little time to recover from the battle and will then turn his hungry eyes on your village. Another option is to try to lure one of the stronger opponents into an alliance with you, preferably without the third party knowing. However, chances that you will survive this alliance are rather limited, as the readers of Macchiavelli's 'Il Principe' already know. But you can also consider accepting the idea that you will lose and use the time you have to learn and test new ideas or strategies.
2. When one opponent is stronger and one is weaker than you. This is an equally dangerous situation. It is rather likely now that the stronger opponent will turn his attention to you, as you are his greatest threat. If you somehow can win from this stronger opponent, then the weaker one is not likely be a problem too (unless he studied this guide carefully, and finds a way to sneakily attack you when you least expect it) There are multiple roads to victory here. One of them is to lure the weaker one into a deadly alliance (first your mutual opponent's death, then surely his) Another option is if the stronger miscalculates and attacks the weaker instead of you, in which case follow the strategy as described under 1.
3. When both opponents are weaker than you you are in a comfortable position. At least, you think you are. That is true, unless both other players see you as the strongest and decide to team up sneakily (strats 1 and 2) So the tip here is, don't show off too much. The credo is 'Act Weak, Be Strong'. Try to weaken the opponents one by one using brutal force for one, and the 'cheeseslicer-method' for the other (as long as both are alive, be 'helpful and nice' to at least one, don't betray him unless it is by 'accident'). Conclusion - victory is assured as long as you succeed in preventing the rise of an anti-YOU alliance. In love, war and populous, everything is allowed, threatening and bribing included. Not allowed is quitting of course, but you knew that!
4. When all players are equal. This is the scenario that demands the most of all the players political skills, as all of the previous strategies are possible, in every possible (changing) combination. Especially if the game is heavily restricted, this could last and last. I cannot advise anything more than I already stated under 1-3. This is really the moment to open your magical box, utilize all your political skills and GAME AWAY!
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