You are in Gold 5. You are level 70. You are an officer. You are ferocious. You check the league at the start of the week because you want to set expectations. You see you performed well relative to your opponents in the previous event. There are three teams with officers twice your level, but that is okay. You have bested their kind before and you will best them now.
You are not excited about the new rider and there is no rush to get him, so you commit all saved sigils to Avyx, unlocking the animated portrait of a gladiator with roses raining down upon him. You have the feeling this is going to become appropriate before the event is done.
You tell your teammates to hit whoever gives them the most points for the first four rounds. This is because coordination is hard, and because a third of them would forget to attack during the event without your reminder, and you do not want to ask the rest to make sacrifices until such are needed. (You are in Gold 5.) You are nice, and you want to win.
Your personal squad will spend energy cautiously throughout the round and keep its packs and fires in reserve until in the final hour, much like how Eastern Roman commanders held the Varangian Guard in reserve until the decisive moment of battle, whereupon the enemy was committed and the emperor’s finest annihilated them. You are in Gold 5.
ROUND I: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE
The battle starts with an uncoordinated bang. By sheer activity, your teammates are pulling into first. You consider your opposition.
Most teams are similar in level to yourselves. They have level 70s, maybe one level 100+. You chuckle. What do you do when an enemy has 15 times the attack power as you? You tell them to play for second; that’s not nearly enough.
Three leading teams seem concerning. Team Pacts has many higher-level players, but the more annoying thing is that 75% of them are inactive and cannot be attacked, while taking up space and rank in the roster. Still, their activity at this point is not impressive.
Team Steampunk consists of two chuckleheads, a 58 who only a few of your teammates can touch, and a 208 who no one can touch and who can hit everyone with his garnets, and who throws around super attacks like confetti. Typical sandbagging trolls.
Then there is KingPatriots: 3 100+s, a 90, an 80, some 70s and 60s. Founded in 2016, sitting in Gold 5, essentially locked behind a wall of invincibility because no league-appropriate base can shoot down even terribly flown golds, and their tower levels are high enough that sub-gold dragons can’t finish even their (pretty bad) bases. You make a note of these guys.
In the last fifteen minutes, you note that none of KingPatriots are online. They are the most egregiously overleveled team here. You lead your squad in taking them out at the knees, ensuring that they do not ascend and you will be moving out of sync with them for the next three rounds. You have divided your enemies. You are only outgunned, never outclassed. You are in Gold 5.
ROUND II: THE WOLVES WHO BECAME GLADIATORS
Your rise continues. At the end of the round you check standings. In the Pit, KingPatriots have a massive lead, 10k points above the nearest competitor. They are few in number but are spending energy in large amounts, beating down defenseless newbies. You will attempt to avenge them when the false kings hit the Coliseum. You are in Gold 5.
ROUND III: THE GLADIATORS WHO BECAME CHAMPIONS
You have held the top spot in the top bracket for two rounds now, The opposition is starting to realize that you scrappy underdogs are a threat. The Steampunk team spends the last hour super-attacking every member of your team. The energy cost must be tremendous. But some people believe in a cause, and sometimes the cause is trying to crush the enjoyment of promising new players. No other team will attack them, even the 58, because they’d rather play for higher individual points. Instead, you super-attack every other team with your squad to offset the losses. In the last 15 minutes, Steampunk waits, confident of their victory. In the last 5, your squad launches two supers on them, putting them in second. They attempt to counter but their attack lands after the end of the round.
You have bested one sandbagging team. There is at least one more you have not faced. You are in Gold 5.
ROUND IV: THE CHAMPIONS WHO DEFIED THE SANDBAGGERS
Your teammates handily gain a lead. In the closing hour, Steampunk begins attacking you again. They have swept in and taken the lead. You trade attacks, them retaliating as soon as they see you coming. They are likely quite taxed for energy and would prefer not to spend except reactively. As things stand, however, neither side is able to gain an advantage.
In the closing ten minutes, you launch multiple super attacks with inner fire on top members of other teams. Five minutes later, after waiting but seeing zero “defend teammate” banners incoming, Steampunk realizes what has happened. They begin a counterattack that will give them the lead. You have time for one more attack; you target the top member of another team with a superattack and maximum inner fires. You are hitting harder than they anticipated. You are hitting harder than they can match.
You are named champion of the coliseum. An old man holds a crown of laurels over your head and repeats, “memento mori." You chuckle and forgive him his ignorance. You are not mortal. You are in Gold 5.
ROUND V: LUPERCAL
You wake up with 70 minutes left in the event. One league-appropriate team, GiveUsLiberty, has a 5000 point lead. You and your squad are the only ones awake. The enemy team seems to have one man and his alt attacking constantly. You wait a bit, watching the standings, letting him expend energy. With 50 minutes to go, you open fire. Chained super attacks bombard their highest levels. He tries to defend and he tries in vain. He counterattacks to offset your climb, but he has already hit the highest value targets he can reach. You load on the superattacks with inner fire so that you outpace him. Your Dutch friend comes online and joins the fray. People should know when they’re conquered, you think. But then, would you?
You win. You have beaten a good team by a small margin. You like these guys. They are low-level, like you—slightly lower, actually—but they fight like devils. They fight like you. You have no desire to crush them. Little folk should not squabble among themselves when there are giants stomping through the land. You would like them to have second. You would like to help them take it, if you can. You invite the leader and officers to a chat to propose a nonaggression pact for the first 5 hours of each round. They do not respond. They are in Gold 5.
ROUND VI: ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
The Patriots arrive and are awake. Each of their 100+s is using multiple hundreds of energy. You face an 8000 point deficit. You attempt to overcome this in the last hour of the round but they hit back, harder. They have more resources than you and you cannot defend against them or attack their high-levels, because that is how the game is balanced, but it has no such restrictions against letting them compete against you. They want to beat you up so that they can feel powerful. You tell your team to stand down and conserve fire.
You are demoted. You are in Gold 5.
ROUND VII: THEY MERELY ADOPTED GOLD 5
“I hate them,” your girlfriend says. “They’re making me sad.”
They’re making her sad.
. . .
You are Tinsir, Commander of the Armies of the Wolves, loyal champion of the true leader. Officer of a sandbagged team, vanquisher of whole teams of sandbaggers, and you will have your vengeance in this round or the next.
ROUND VIII: ULTIMA RATIO REGUM
You reflect on who you are and what you hope to accomplish here. You continue playing that speech on loop for the next half hour, in case you forget. You do not forget.
The leader of the Liberty team finally writes you back, agreeing that your proposal makes sense. You feel you can trust him because this deal is obviously to his benefit. An alliance between #1 and #3 has better upside for #3 than #1, although your position is more tenuous than most. A 5-hour pact is agreed upon. You message your team telling them about the pact, say “don’t attack Liberty” multiple times in chat, and update the team plan. You hope this is enough to keep them from attacking Team Liberty!
One of your teammates attacks Team Liberty. You join the attack. You tell them to stop immediately. You then follow up in team chat. Again. You message the other team’s leader and update the group chat on what happened, assuring them it won’t happen again. No one responds. No one is online. You are in Gold 5.
Time passes. You are climbing steadily along with Liberty, both at 254k, and the Patriots are in a large hole. Things are looking good.
Then you notice one attack from the Liberty dude who was attacking you three rounds ago. Probably an innocent mistake. You message the leader and note the attack, saying no harm done, figuring this guy didn’t get the memo, much like your guy. You check standings. Liberty now has an 8000 point lead over you, because that was a random mega attack in the middle of the round. You are in Gold 5.
You message the leader again. He is still not online. (He is in Gold 5.) You wait a bit, but there is no response. You note that an alliance is not very useful if your ally is doing crippling amounts of damage to you. You have to make a call. You tell your team that the attack was probably a mistake, but the ram has touched the wall, and now you are left with very few choices. You note an incongruity in that their name is not GiveUsDeath, and yet that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
Despite fighting among yourselves, you both climb. In the last 90 minutes, you and Liberty are both around 258k. Then the Patriots strike back.
Constant super-attacks begin firing from their big three, raking you and Liberty. They rapidly climb out of their half-dug hole and take the lead. They focus you hardest because you are first in victory points. You see this and you wait. You know they are stronger and have more resources; the only way this will work is if they continue to divide energy on Liberty for some time before they realize you’re contesting their position. They are at 261k vs. your 249k, with 50 minutes remaining.
Your rank is crumbling, your forces outmatched. Situation excellent, you shall attack.
You are able to close 4k of the gap with empowered super attacks before the Patriots notice what’s happening and start focusing you exclusively. You continue to attack but you are pushing against each other, and you are barely able to gain ground. There are 25 minutes to go, the gap is still 5k, and you have climbed 100 points in the past 5 minutes. You know no fear, but you can calculate rates.
If they win this round, they’ll be in first place, and you will be demoted and unable to contest championship next round. If that happens, you lose your momentum, your lead, and likely your hope of victory.
Your options are gone. You summon your squires and explain the situation. You would not ask this sacrifice of him. You do not need to; the first volunteers. “What we do in this round echoes in the next,” you say.
“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori,” he answers.
“What’s that mean?” your second squire asks.
“‘It is sweet and noble to die for one’s country,’” he says, “But it could be mistranslated as ‘It is sweet and noble for the patriots to die.’ I’m bad at Latin.”
With 16 minutes left in the round, your squire arrives before a mid-level enemy castle, towers in cinders behind him. He holds on high his blazing coin and hurls it into the dragon’s den. He delivers a 8000-point swing, landing in the last minute before mega attacks are disabled. It is the last argument for these kings. The Patriots are undone, knocked off first and slated for demotion.
Now they come in waves. Now you push them back. But you are taking fire from all teams, not just the Patriots. The two-man troll team is circling your ranks, vultures that they are; no one is hitting them back. Everyone wants to crush the upstarts who dared take first. You launch a few more super-attacks to hold your position, empowered with inner fire. Your girlfriend strikes too, separately because you have little time and she is the only other teammate online. You are in Gold 5.
You are knocked down to third. You see that Liberty is second place, with Patriots in fourth. Second place stays in the Coliseum. Third is demoted. You attack Liberty’s leader for 1000 points. He says “fckkkkkkkk this” in the chat you opened, as though this were against the terms of your agreement, or as though said terms had been honored, or perhaps just as outcry against the general inequity of the universe. He is in Gold 5. You refrain from pointing out that if your teams had not had to waste 8000 points attacking each other, neither of you would be in this predicament. You refrain from saying anything at all, because you are besieged on all fronts and have no time to waste.
In your second to last attack, a teammate with 0 event points contributed to date joins your attack, taking up a slot that you were planning to use for inner fire support. (He also couldn’t contribute against the target, but, of lesser significance.) The base value of your target is 138 points.
You stay in the Coliseum but lose the championship to the troll team who waited out the event. You lose by 108 points.
You are displeased. You are in Gold 5.
ROUND IX: THE EYE OF THE STORM
After the rain of superattacks, agreements and inadvertent betrayals, strikes and counterstrikes, heroic low levels with hearts full of fire, and finally the banishment of your two nearest foes, you look down on the Coliseum from atop a 10k point lead. It is very quiet now.
You explain to the teammate who sabotaged you last round how to attack in events. You avoid inquiring if, when the camera froze and focused on a giant glowing building that rose from the sea and shook the screen, they just shrugged their shoulders and figured it probably was a trap, one that they should avoid tapping on it at all costs. You explain how to attack in the pits. You emphasize that you want to help them do well. You express yourself in this manner because you are nice, and you want to win.
Your entire squad buys energy and stockpile it for the next round, when you will face the Patriots.
The round ends. The enemy comes.
ROUND X: ANOTHER VICTORY LIKE THIS AND THEY ARE DONE FOR
The Patriots return and lead by 12000 points when you wake up, again hitting you and Liberty. Again you hold your fire. Again, when the time is right, you strike back with supers. The gap narrows to 8000 points, then stalls as they begin turning all attacks on you. They are learning–slowly–how to beat people with a twentieth of their strength and half their resources. You consider their energy costs. You consider that this is round 10 of 17. You have seen their bases, you have reflected on their name and how much sense it makes, you have read their team description, and you have some guesses about how easy it will be for you to trick them. Rubies are spent, gold chests are bought or opened.
Both squires attack with megacoins with 20 and 18 minutes remaining. Since they bought energy last round, the cost remains cheap. You gain a 3000 point lead. The Patriots go mad, hammering the “buy energy” button without thought of cost. They do not know that you are not doing the same. They do not know they are playing into your hands.
Your lead is quickly removed with three enemies super attacking, and only one of you able to return superattacks at a time. You are falling. The enemy is in advance and think they can push you into demotion. They know what this would mean, and they dig deep into their energy reserves to do it.
In the last five minutes, you switch targets to the second place team, pushing against them for twice the impact. The Patriots keep throwing themselves at you, but they aren’t the ones you’re trying to beat.
The Patriots take first with an 8000 point lead. They’re welcome to it. They have certainly paid for it; the energy cost to counterattack after they’d already been hitting all round must have been immense. Their efforts to demote you have failed, which means that you stay in the Coliseum, having spent moderate resources and still fresh for the next round.
Do you use the same tactics that Quintus Fabius Maximus used against Hannibal’s army and its massive, unstoppable war elephants? Of course you do. You are in Gold 5.
ROUND XI: SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS
The enemy is not moving. They usually begin each round with a salvo to establish a lead, then stomp on any contenders at the end of the round. But not this round. This round, the guns of the Patriots are silent. You explain to your team that you have prepared them for a knockout and it is time to strike down the false kings; that while they may appear to be sitting out this round, they’ve scored tens of thousands of points in the last hour every round prior. Your teammates get online and start attacking random teams, because they don’t read messages. Or team chat. Or team plans. Or the team rankings. You join their attacks and tell them to target the Patriots. They ignore you. You are in Gold 5.
You reflect that War Dragons does not have mechanic like the Roman legions, whereby you could bludgeon to death a tenth of your teammates to improve remainder’s listening skills. You sometimes feel this is an oversight. In lieu of this, you keep joining their attacks, saying “why are you not attacking the patriots,” then quitting. This is less obnoxious than summary execution, but still pretty obnoxious. Imagine what terrible fate awaits your enemies, when you would mildly annoy several of your own teammates to achieve victory!
In team chat, you explain to them that you’re likely to lose if they don’t attack the Patriots. You offer to back them, for the 10th time. They finally start attacking the Patriots. You tell them to attack in the 70s or 80s, since you can solo any such base as a backer. They attack in the 40s because they do not yet believe in themselves, or perhaps in you. They will learn.
You tell them, again, to attack in the 70s or 80s. You are polite when you do this, because you are patient, and you want to win. They agree, and they clear the bases on their own, and it is not close. You are their champion, but you are also content to be their cheerleader. Or just the magic feather they take along with them that gives them the confidence to fly. Some of them ask if you can aim higher, and you make plans with them. You help some hit higher above their level than they’ve ever been before. Fist bump emojis are exchanged. “Strength and honor,” you tell them. They feel strong and honorable. It is good.
The Patriots come online to a 17k point gap. They send probing attacks at you and you hammer them back. Every inch of ground will be paid for in a gallon of energy. They know the score, so they attack other teams to climb up to second place, then sign off, apparently too depleted in in-game and possibly out-of-game energy to contest first. You have broken their spirit. Now to break their rank.
You super-attack them a few times to ensure that they are demoted. Where once they stood, you salt the earth. You do this because you belong at the top, and they belong in the ground. The ground of Gold 5.
ROUNDS XII-XVI: MASTER OF THE ARENA, MINDFUL OF THE ARENA
Roses rain from the balconies of the Coliseum and land in your avatar. The league system being what it is means that there will be days ahead when your best efforts are not enough to overcome the high levels in lower leagues. But not this day. This day, you have won.
You still keep hitting the Patriots to cast them down when they rise up. Patriots delenda est, you say. You do this because you want to show them what Gold 5 thinks of them. You are in Gold 5.
ROUND XVII: NOW WE ARE FREE
After a six-round reign as virtually uncontested champions, you cede first place to Liberty, because they are your uncoordinated brothers, and because you’ve already hit your achievement tiers.
But still in Gold 5.
You gain 14 rating points. This puts you over the boundary for the next subleague. You are no longer in Gold 5.
Tinsir, Invictus Restituor Aurum V