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  1. It's a bit of legwork, but I think I could do...

    Quote Originally Posted by LanMisa (#352)
    Something that would interest me is the total current value of your team and other teams, especially Real. Or to see how much they spent on their team if that is possible without too much of a hassle.

    The total current value would be cool to see how much everyone improved and how much better they became under your management.
    It's a bit of legwork, but I think I could do that.
  2. Season 10, Part III: How They Got Here It's...

    Season 10, Part III: How They Got Here


    It's been some time since I last posted a graphic of my team's starting XI + subs, but I figured that, instead of doing that, I'd do something a bit different here. This is kind of encroaching into "state of the world post" territory (which I plan on doing after this season, as I did after Season 5), but it's different enough where I think it's instructive. This will specifically highlight exactly how much we've progressed over the years in terms of player acquisition.

    Before we start, though, some business: Juan Carlos Alonso got sacked from Valencia a second time a few weeks ago. I wasn't looking for it, so I wasn't able to grab a screenshot. But it happened, he didn't quite last a full 365 days, and he's looking for a job yet again. Apparently his new tactic of offering me faint praise wasn't enough to reverse his karma.





    Gee, thanks Juan Carlos. The two-time defending Champions League winners Cartagena are likely to qualify for the Champions League? You're so kind. Enjoy your latest golden parachute, you fraud.

    ---

    Anyway. It is now January 1st, 2027. Here's where we stand. Asterisked players indicate my starting XI, all other things being equal, though I do a good bit of rotation, particularly in midfield.


    Goalkeepers

    Robert* (GK) - acquired Summer 2024 for €18 million

    Michael Joham (GK) - acquired January 2026 for €4 million


    Defenders

    Juan Manuel Arias* (DR) - acquired Summer 2024 for €3.3 million

    Giuseppe Botta (DR) - acquired Summer 2026 for €45 million

    Grégory Rousseau* (DC) - acquired Summer 2020 for €1.5 million

    Domingo Marín (DC) - acquired Summer 2022 for €20 million

    Ricardo López* (DC) - youth team product, debuted Fall 2026

    Francis Kamdem (DC) - acquired Summer 2024 for €450k

    Dirk-Jan Bruinier* (DL) - acquired Summer 2023 for €25.5 million

    Benito Zeno (DL, DC, DR) - acquired Summer 2021 for €575k


    Midfielders

    Sergio Fernández* (DM, originally DC) - acquired Summer 2023 (loan), permanently signed Summer 2024 on a free

    Kyllian Dupuis (DM/MF) - acquired Summer 2020 for €425k

    Francisco Javier Martínez (DM/MF) - acquired Summer 2020 for €400k

    Ángel Fraile* (MF) - acquired Summer 2021 for €8.5 million

    Ulisses Gaspar (MF) - acquired January 2026 for €41 million

    Carlos Castaño (MF) - youth team product, debuted Fall 2020

    Dirk Pauwels* (MF) - acquired January 2024 for €15.5 million


    Wingers

    Léandre Diarra* (RW) - acquired Summer 2023 for €7 million

    Pablo (RW) - youth team product, debuted Spring 2023

    Damián Fernández Morales* (LW/ST) - acquired Summer 2026 for €99 million

    João Antônio (LW) - acquired Summer 2025 on a free


    Strikers

    Jesús Gutiérrez (ST) - acquired Summer 2017 (loan), permanently signed Summer 2020 for €1.6 million

    Borracha* (ST) - acquired Summer 2021 for €13 million

    ---

    All told, my entire preferred starting XI cost me a combined €191.3 million, over half of which came from Morales alone. The bench cost €113.45 million, the great majority of which was tied up in two players (Botta and Gaspar) that I've acquired over the past 365 days. Ignoring the outlier of Morales, while it seems like my starting lineup is more of my older core of players who've been with Cartagena for a while, this is selling my expensive bench short.

    For the most part, the reason why we've finally started winning on all fronts over the past season or two has been depth. Going deep in the league, cup, and Champions League requires you to play a match every three or four days, and that's just not something that a player (save for a goalkeeper or a true ironman) can do for the entire season. Eventually, people need to rest. And if you get a tricky run of fixtures, like that time when we played Real Madrid three times in four matches a couple of seasons back, a lack of depth can really bite you in the ass.

    A couple of seasons ago, if Fraile needed a breather, I'd have to put in Kyllian Dupuis or Gorka Arrese in his designated midfield spot. Both are fine players, and Dupuis has been a hero for us at times, but neither are the players I'd want starting with an important game on the line. Ulisses Gaspar, on the other hand, while expensive, can slot into Fraile's spot without issue and it's really only due to Fraile's position as vice captain as well as his clutch abilities that he's the nominal starter over Gaspar anyway.

    Gaspar and Botta's time will come. They'll join the core. Overall, considering what we've won and our direct competition, our roster is still quite inexpensive. While I now have the luxury of not having to bargain hunt (we can drop another €100 million in transfers this January if we wanted to without much of an issue), I think Cartagena has just proven to the world over the past couple of seasons that you don't need to shell out the equivalent of a small country's GDP every year if you want to consider yourself among the elite.

    ---

    In trophy news, we've retained the Club World Cup by defeating Club América (Mexico) and Jiangsu Suning (China).



    Our semifinal match, against América, was by far the more difficult one. It required extra time and a João Antônio goal to take them down, 2-1. The additional 30 minutes meant that my players were blown and I'd have to fully rotate the lineup out (not to mention Gaspar and Pablo sustaining injuries), but my superior depth prevailed in the final.

    Beyond that, we dispatched Feyenoord in our last Champions League group game to qualify for the knockout stage, though we didn't finish first in the group as Arsenal crushed Fiorentina in the other game. Our punishment for this comes in the form of Bayern Munich, the German titans, in the Round of 16. The two of us have been semi-regular foes in the Champions League and it should be a fairly even matchup - unless I decide to break out the checkbook.

    In La Liga, we've stumbled a bit and Real Madrid have surged, meaning that, once again, the league stands to be a tight two-team race for the second half of the season. Wouldn't have it any other way.



    Borracha leads the league in goals. Morales has the fourth highest average player rating in Spain. We've had a smattering of injuries, more total than any year I've been in charge, but none of them have been truly catastrophic (hooray depth!). At the same time, I keep waiting for the hammer to drop.
  3. Completed The G10 mafia chat is already publicly viewable...

    The G10 mafia chat is already publicly viewable (check the modbot "end of game" post for a link). Here's the Discord link to mafia chat, where certain - but not all - things were discussed:

    https://discord.gg/weK6VEk
  4. Completed Day 8 Flavor There were only four of them left...

    Day 8 Flavor


    There were only four of them left at the convention, four alive to try to escape the nightmare. One of them was mafia and would have to die to save the three others. There was talk of no lynching, but game mechanics went away in the face of if they did that, one of them would LITERALLY die. Not just be removed from the game - actually, physically die. Which changed the calculus of things somewhat.

    (Plus, that and the fact that one of them was widely considered to be mechanically cleared.)


    Three of them were talking and trying to figure out the last mafia. Our hero was the fourth.

    He had been staring at a wall all day without saying a word, his eyes occasionally flicking to the numerous heads located on the table. His right eye began to twitch, at first infrequently, and then progressing to constantly as the day passed. There was no movement aside from about three hours in when he wordlessly took his shirt off.

    Everybody stared at him. He said nothing. Talk resumed.

    Hours passed. The other three players pretty much exhausted discussion. Finally, they couldn't take it anymore. They turned to our shirtless hero and begged that he give his take.

    It took minutes for our hero to snap out of his insane haze, but finally the rusty gears in his brain turned enough for him to acknowledge everyone else's presence and take note of the situation.

    "My take?" he said, the words feeling unfamiliar on his mouth. "My take? I think this is it. That's my take. This is all there is. We're all already dead. This is hell, my friends. If you stray too far from this hotel, you just loop around and find yourself on the other side. This is the center point, this game and this hotel, and if we ever actually FINISH this game we just get reranded. This is our ETERNITY."

    "...right, but who do you think is mafia?"

    "GOD IS MAFIA. HE IS DEAD AND HE IS MAFIA. AND WE KILLED HIM AND THIS IS OUR TORMENT."

    People started to back away, but our hero was now truly in hysterics. Over a week of failed escape attempts, plus the rigors of the game, had simply been too much for him to handle.

    "THE GARDEN IS FULL OF WEEDS," he proclaimed. "THERE IS NOTHING BUT CLOCKS NOW. DAY IN AND DAY OUT, ETERNALLY COUNTING DOWN, NEVER PROVIDING REST OR RESPITE, NOT NOW, NOT EVER, NOT EVEN AFTER THE END OF DAYS. EACH INSTANT IS TEN THOUSAND YEARS AND EACH EPOCH IS THE BLINK OF AN EYE. WE ARE ALL THAT IS ETERNAL NOW BUT WE HAVE NO POWER."

    "...ok, but... the game?"

    "THE GAME? THE GAME? THE GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME?" His voice grew higher and higher as he screeched out the final syllable, never once drawing breath or pausing at all, until there was a loud *pop* and our hero's body literally exploded all over the room in a sea of blood and guts. Everybody screamed to take cover, but it was too late.

    Our hero's skull hit one of the townies at a high speed, causing a head-on collision. He hit the ground hard, his head hitting a corner of the table, bright red blood spurting from it. He was dead before he hit the ground. The other townie had bone shards impale him in the chest and neck, simultaneously shredding his throat, heart, and lungs.

    The only player who survived intact (though his clothes were bloodied) was, improbably, the final remaining mafia: BATMAN.

    He looked puzzled, as if the shock of what had just happened had only partially set in. Unsure of the procedure, he sat back down in his chair, motionless, until sunset when the man in the waistcoat walked in to take in the scene.

    "Well, uh..." he said.

    "Yeah."

    "I guess we all learned a valuable lesson today."

    "Screw the lessons. I win, right?"

    "Fair and square," the man in the waistcoat said. "I'll be wiring your $10 million to you tonight."

    "$#@! yes!" BATMAN said, pumping his fist. "I'm gonna spend it all on therapy and hopefully it will be enough to make up for this past week. The one thing I took from this experience is probably the same valuable lesson you were about to say."

    The man in the waistcoat looked at him, questioningly. "And what would that be?"

    "Mafia was a mistake."



    END.
  5. Completed I'll have the final flavor up a bit later, but I...

    I'll have the final flavor up a bit later, but I just wanted to congratulate everybody on a well-played game and thank you all for playing. This was a fun one to watch.
  6. Completed And the last mafia is...

    And the last mafia is...
  7. Gonna take a bit longer than anticipated, my...

    Gonna take a bit longer than anticipated, my apologies. I've been super busy with other stuff the past few days.

    In the meantime, if you're looking for a promising start to a different kind of AAR, go check out LanMisa's Crusader Kings 2 campaign!
  8. Completed Night 7 Flavor Sun had set and our hero was...

    Night 7 Flavor

    Sun had set and our hero was ready for one last escape attempt.

    Driving had failed, twice. The Metro had failed. The bus system had failed. Hailing a taxi had failed. He had no phone power with which to summon an Uber or Lyft. The hotel had a courtesy shuttle, one of their few amenities, but he was long past the point of trusting it. There was one option remaining to him, probably the least convenient of all, but the most reliable.

    He would walk to the airport.


    “Ok,” our hero said to himself. “This is gonna be a long walk, probably about four hours. I mapped it out, which is hard as HELL to do on a paper map, but I did it. All I need to do is trust my own willpower here and eventually I’ll get to safety. Just keep picking ‘em up and putting ‘em down. I’m not reliant on anyone else to get there. Just me. It’s always been just me from the start, anyway. I’d rather have it this way.”

    And so he began his trek, leaving the hotel behind, hopefully forever.

    After twenty minutes, it started to rain.

    After another twenty, it started to pour.

    Shortly after that, it started to thunder.

    Shortly after THAT, it started to hail.


    The hail was large enough to actively hurt our hero every time it hit him, which was on average of every second or so. This was not a pain you grew numb to. This was a pain you just endured, and our hero trudged on, getting his boots wet, doubling back once to make sure he had turned at the correct intersection.

    But then he came to the trouble spot.


    There was no way around this road, not unless he wanted to nearly double his travel time in the hail. It was heavily-trafficked at all times of day and during all portions. Crossing this was going to require patience, good eyesight, and speed. But first, our hero would need an opening. So he waited for one.

    And waited.

    And waited.

    And waited.

    None came. None was coming. The darkness, the rain, the thunder and lightning, the hail, none of it put off the drivers of the Northern Virginia region. Whoever they were, wherever they were going, there were a lot of them and they *had* to get to their destination via that exact road. They were driving multi-ton metal boxes going 50 miles per hour and had right of way; our hero had none of these advantages.

    He desperately wanted to get to the airport, but he was not suicidal. He knew he’d have to use an opening, but the problem was that there simply *were* no openings. An hour passed, then two, and the tide of cars never let up. There wasn’t even a CHANCE, where he could have maybe gotten halfway and then risked it in the other half. He never had the chance to start.

    Cold, miserable, frustrated, our hero looked up, ready to curse any god that may have existed for this cruel fate and the fact that suburban roads weren’t more pedestrian-friendly. He was met by a particularly large chunk of hail smacking him right in the forehead. Our hero crumpled to the ground, knocked out cold, as the hail and rain continued to pour in on and around him.

    Some time later, he woke up.

    “Hospital?” he muttered to himself.


    It was not the hospital.

    “Of $#@!ing course.”


    Relm has died! They were:

    Town
  9. What's the best ballgame you've seen in person,...

    What's the best ballgame you've seen in person, if any?
  10. Completed Day 7 Flavor It had been a busy past three...

    Day 7 Flavor


    It had been a busy past three days for the remaining conventioneers as they continued to play the deadly little game. Most of them had settled in a twisted routine: They would wake, eat breakfast in silence, head to the conference room, see the new head that adorned the conference table, and then they would just unleash on each other for the entirety of the day. Once that was done, most of them would retire to their rooms and just try to get some sleep, inevitably failing.

    None of them had seen the sun in days. Our hero was the only one to try to go outside at all, and he had lost a good bit of his sanity for doing so. Others were considering trying it, but one look at our hero cackling and muttering to himself while sitting in the corner of the room was enough to put them off.

    The game continued. The heads mounted, literally and figuratively. The smell became acute. The nightmare repeated.

    The man in the waistcoat smiled.



    Scare was lynched! They were:

    Town
  11. Completed Night 6 Flavor Our hero stood by the same...

    Night 6 Flavor


    Our hero stood by the same bus stop that he had the previous evening, but this time he knew better. This time, he would summon that most American of transportation methods to get him to the airport: He would hail a taxi.




    “Ok,” he said to himself, “This is very simple. I hail a regular taxi. It stops for me and I get in. I tell him to take me to the airport and he takes me there. The taxi driver is licensed and probably has GPS. He will know how to get to the airport without getting snarled in unmoving traffic, even if we have to take back roads. He will drop me off at the correct terminal, I will pay him, and I will be free to book a flight home. Millions of people every single day do what I am about to do. He will not get in an accident. The odds of that happening are statistically remote. This will be fine.”


    Content with himself - though a bit annoyed he didn’t think of this plan days ago - he once again sat on the pavement and waited for a taxi to drive by.


    And waited.


    And waited.


    And waited.


    Muttering to himself, our hero was already thinking back to his transportation mishaps over the past week and second-guessing the plan. Taxis were certainly plentiful in DC itself or even city centers in Arlington and Alexandria, but his hotel’s location was not that. There simply wasn’t really enough foot traffic to justify taxi drivers regularly cruising for fares here.


    But our hero was nothing if not stubborn, so he waited it out. And eventually, he flagged down and it stopped.


    “Where to, buddy?” the driver asked as our hero climbed in and buckled himself.”

    “Reagan Airport,” he said. “Don’t particularly care about the route, just avoid traffic if you don’t mind.”

    “Sure thing, buddy.” The driver pulled out and got into a lane, doing so professionally and without a hint that he was anything but somebody who wouldn’t get into an accident. Our hero immediately felt better.


    “Hey, you don’t mind if I pay by credit card, right?”


    SCREEEEEECH! Faster than our hero thought was possible, the taxi veered off to a side and came to a halt.


    “Sorry buddy, the card reader is broken. Cash only.”


    “Cash - cash only??” our hero sputtered. “It’s 2019 and you’re part of a licensed business, you’re seriously telling me that I can’t pay with a card?”


    “Machine is broken. Sorry buddy.”


    “GODDAMMIT THIS IS WHY THE TAXI INDUSTRY HAS BEEN LOSING SO MUCH GROUND TO UBER AND LYFT OVER THE PAST DECADE! YOU PEOPLE HAVE ALL OF THE MARKET SHARE IN THE WORLD AND YOU’RE LETTING SOME DOUCHEBAG GROPEY TECHBROS IN SAN FRANCISCO DISRUPT YOUR INDUSTRY JUST BECAUSE YOU REFUSE TO CHANGE WITH THE TIMES AND ACCEPT A 1% LOSS IN CREDIT CARD FEES IN THE NAME OF CUSTOMER CONVENIENCE! $#@! I HATE THIS TOWN! You know what, fine. Just take me to the nearest ATM.”


    “You got it, buddy.” The taxi driver pulled back into the lane, went another block, and dropped our hero off at a convenience store that had an ATM sign inside.


    He went in, inserted his debit card, punched in his pin, and tried to withdraw $100. “Fare, tip, and a little left over in case I get hungry at the airport or something,” he said to himself. But he was quickly thrown from his usual routine by a loud, unwelcome beeping.


    “Account overdrawn? What the- I’m not mafia! They can’t do this to my finances! The stupid convention people only do that to the mafia! It said so in the rules!” He broke down, sobbing. “Wait a minute - is this my girlfriend? Did she actually - OH MY GOD SHE RAN OFF WITH JEFF. I $#@!ING *KNEW* THAT GUY WAS TROUBLE. God, joint bank accounts and a joint lease on the apartment and I never even proposed to her godDAMMIT was that shortsighted. $#@!ing Jeff. I’ll bet you HE’S a part of this!”


    Still ranting and raving, our hero walked back to the hotel, completely forgetting about the existence of the taxi driver or his latest failed plan to get to the airport.





    RE1031 has died! They were:

    Town
  12. Completed Day 6 Flavor Apologies for the lack of text...

    Day 6 Flavor


    Apologies for the lack of text accompanying the decomposing heads over the past two dayphases, work deadlines plus me going away for the weekend have conspired against me. As an apology, please accept the latest state of the heads.




    Charu has been lynched! They were:


    Town
  13. My number system is a hodgepode of seniority plus...

    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeP47 (#346)
    That update made me think, do you have a system for deciding who gets what number on the field? Who's 10? Do you go for pure skill, or seniority for the good numbers?
    My number system is a hodgepode of seniority plus a homebrew of my own internal rankings that only I can understand. Generally, for numbers 1-11, they're mostly given to the traditional positions: 2-3 for fullbacks, 4-5 for central defenders, 6 and 8 for mids, 7 and 11 for wingers, and 9 and 10 for attackers. Once a player receives a number from 1-11, they keep that number for as long as they remain with the team, regardless of age, skill level, or playtime. For example, Domingo Marín, one of my central defenders, has the #5 jersey, and even though he's been more or less supplanted by Ricardo López, he gets to hold on to the #5. Morales got the #10, but even though he's leagues better than its last holder, Mohammed, he would have gotten a different number if I hadn't sold Mohammed.

    I try to keep the first 11 numbers filled at all times. If a number opens up, I'll usually fill it from the most logical choice between longevity and skill. If Gutiérrez retires or leaves, for example, Borracha will probably get the #9 unless I bring up a talented youth striker or buy another all-star at the position or something.

    Once I get past 1-11, it gets a bit trickier. What complicates things is that in Spain, you literally can't assign a player any number beyond 25 unless they're a youth player and technically not registered. This is annoying because normally I give my backup fullbacks numbers in the low 30s. Backup offensive-minded players usually get 15, 18, 19, and 23 (don't ask me why), backup central defenders usually get 22, and backup mids I usually give whichever numbers in the teens are available.

    The only exception is the #20 jersey: I have that number permanently retired across all my saves after a central defender from my first ever youth intake wore it, captained club and country, played around 1,000 games for us, and actually won a Ballon d'Or (which is damn near impossible to do as a central defender). I'll only ever assign the #20 if there's literally no other option, like if I'm running a national team or something. Even then, it will go to the third-string goalkeeper.

    Also mildly related to having long running players: Do you know what happens if you have a testimonial scheduled for a player that left the club? (found myself in that situation...)
    Haven't stuck with a situation long enough in FM 18 where I've run into that issue, so I can't help you there. In FM 15, the testimonial went ahead with or without the player, but I know they've reworked the mechanics of that since then.

    ---

    As an aside, I won't be able to play the game again until late Saturday, so the next update will probably not be until Sunday or (more likely) Monday.
  14. Completed Night 5 Flavor Our hero had acquired bus...

    Night 5 Flavor

    Our hero had acquired bus schedules and route maps and spent the day reading them and mapping out a new plan. After he had first tried unsuccessfully to navigate an interchange, and then tried again only to find himself tangled in an impossible traffic jam, and *then* to try to take the Metro to the airport to escape, the bus system was his latest plan to escape from this nightmare while he still could.


    “Ok,” he said to himself, psyching himself up to do this for a fourth day in a row. I have mapped out the route and I have mapped out the bus schedules. I’ll have to do a little bit of waiting around at points but I can handle that. I take the first bus from the Metro station I was at last night up north a bit to the Annandale area. From there, I get off this bus and wait for one of the 16 buses to take me east on Columbia Pike. The 16 buses could let me off at either the Pentagon Metro stop or Pentagon City. It doesn’t matter which one. Whichever bus I *do* get off at, I take the Metro south to the airport. There are no closures on the part of the track I will be traveling on. Both of the buses I take run infrequently at this time of day, but they still run. The same is true with the Metro. I will be avoiding the major highways and the traffic jams that come with them. There will be no institutional failure that will stop me this time.”

    Satisfied with his plan, our hero sat cross-legged on the sidewalk and waited for his bus.

    And waited.

    And waited.

    And waited.

    He was mildly annoyed, but this was fine. It was the bus. Buses ran late. He didn’t have a working phone to tell him when the next bus was *actually* do, but he had time.

    Minutes later, the bus finally arrived. He got on, paid his fare, and found a seat near the back. Finally, he was free. He didn’t have to worry about driving or traffic. He could just space out for a bit, and pay mild attention as he waited for his stop. How many people crapped on the bus as a means of transportation? A bunch of idiots, that was how many. People who didn’t know any better. Our hero, for one, had always appreciated the bus, and never moreso than this very mo-

    *CRASH!*

    He was thrown forward, banging his head on the seat in front of him and slumping to the floor. Picking himself up, he saw the situation and started laughing hysterically.


    The bus wasn’t totaled, but his trip was obviously done. The driver had to wait around for emergency services and to do a bunch of other paperwork. Some of the other passengers looked badly hurt. A few people gave our hero dirty looks as he doubled over, cackling, but he paid them no mind. He was beyond the point of empathy.

    His bus ride had lasted about half a block. The hotel was right there. Like a magnet, it attracted him back. And like the $#@!ty, helpless iron filing that he had become, he was powerless to resist its call.

    Ten minutes later, he was back in bed, awaiting the report of who had died overnight.


    yogsloth has died! They were:

    Town
  15. Season 10, Part II: Time's Arrow I posted my...

    Season 10, Part II: Time's Arrow

    I posted my last update on August 28th, 2026 on the game's calendar. One day after that, Jesús Gutiérrez turned 30 years old.



    This is his tenth season with Cartagena since he came to the club as a 20 year old loan product to fill a hole that I desperately needed. Since then, between his time on loan and as a full Cartagena player, he's made 313 appearances for the club (including this season), scored 134 goals in all competitions, racked up an all time 7.04 average match rating, and scored some absolutely clutch goals for us, especially early on in our fights for promotion in the lower leagues.

    He has been the single constant on F.C. Cartagena for the past decade besides me. He has seen every player that I've dealt with come and go: From the never-weres like Genís Palomeque and Carlos Varela, to the early stalwarts like Etienne and Pepe Ramírez, to the key figures who kept us up in La Liga like Roberto Fernández and David Escribano, to the figures helping lead the club to glory in its current era like Ulisses Gaspar and Damián Fernández Morales. He's practiced with all of them, shared the field with all of them, experienced the highs and lows with every one. He is an F.C. Cartagena man to the bone, a leader in the locker room, and has proudly worn the #9 shirt through it all.

    He is also growing increasingly redundant as a player.

    Unlike the other Cartagena longtimers who have experienced this, this is not Gutiérrez's fault. He's still at the peak of his abilities and is what he's always been: a physical beast with decent mentals but lacking the technical skills to truly crack the mold and become an elite striker. The problem is that everyone else has gotten better.

    ---

    First, there was Borracha. I bought the then-teenaged Brazilian as a striker five seasons ago, seeing that he had all the potential in the world and giving him a run in the team. Gutiérrez was the better player back then, more fully formed, and he got the bulk of the important starts, including the one in the Europa League final that year.

    Time passed, though. Borracha developed. And while he hasn't quite hit the highs that I was envisioning, either through him not achieving his full potential or me simply misjudging it, he has, by any metric, become a better player than Gutiérrez.



    (You will note that Borracha's nationality is listed as Spanish in the above picture. This is because, while he has an international appearance for Brazil, it was in an unofficial friendly match and thus he remained not quite cap-tied. Last month, tired of not being called up to Brazil and being eligible for Spain due to having lived long enough in the country to gain citizenship/eligibility, he accepted the call-up and promptly got capped. This appearance was official, and thus Borracha's transition into Diego Costa has been completed. Minus the personality, thankfully.)



    Despite this reduction in status, Gutiérrez still got a good amount of games due to splitting time with Borracha and occasionally appearing on the field with his strike partner, putting in a good performance. But by the end of last season, there was a clear pecking order, and Gutiérrez was not at the top.

    Then, just this past summer, I spent €99 million on Damián Fernández Morales.

    Morales is a truly elite striker. He's just as big as Gutiérrez, and while not quite as physically gifted he's mentally and technically far more proficient. Putting Morales on the left, his favorite hobbies include getting the ball and charging down in a straight line before firing a laser right outside the penalty area into one of the corners of the net. Like Borracha, he plays for Spain. Unlike Borracha, he's also good enough to play for Brazil.

    The two of them are my offensive foundations and will be for at least the next half-decade. Where does this leave my longtime striker?

    That's a good question.

    ---

    Gutiérrez hasn't been phased out, having appeared in 11 total matches this season so far. But a lot of those were sub appearances, not starts, and his number would be even lower were it not for the fact that João Antônio has already picked up two separate injuries over the course of the season, keeping him out for over two months combined and forcing my other attackers to play more minutes and pick up his slack.



    During his time on the field, Gutiérrez has displayed the same strengths and weaknesses he's had for his entire career. He's a big striker who can physically go up against any defender on the planet, and is still the best attacker on the team at one-on-ones (Borracha, when given a breakaway, is still a 2/3 chance of kicking it right at the keeper or out of bounds; Gutiérrez will actually reliably score). At the same time, he's not exactly technically the best and will screw up on what should be gimme headers far more often than I would like. He is what he is at this point. He'll have his occasional moments of brilliance, and is a useful player to have during the long rigors of the season, but if I had a full team available and it was the match that determined the fate of the universe, he wouldn't see the field.

    Hopefully, that will be enough for him. Hopefully, that will be enough for us.

    ---

    Zooming out a bit, the team is playing well. The move to the Estrella de la Muerte has gone swimmingly and we're regularly demolishing opponents there. 5-0 against Osasuna. 4-0 against Eibar. 6-1 against Cádiz. 4-0 against Atlético Madrid, again. The only blemish on our record there was actually the most recent match we've played, a 1-1 draw against the surprising Real Sociedad.

    Away, the results are a bit less lopsided, but still good enough for us to gain an outright lead in the league. The Champions League has been the trouble spot though: While we've taken care of business at the new digs, away losses to Arsenal and Fiorentina mean that we have yet to secure passage to the knockout round with one match remaining. Luckily, it's the easiest one of our six: Home vs. Feyenoord, so I'm not too worried, but still. There's a mathematical chance that we could miss out, and if that's the case then we can say goodbye to a good portion of our newly-acquired financial muscle and refamiliarize ourselves with the wonders of the Europa League.

    League table as of December 1st:



    We have yet to play Real Madrid this season, and our first matchup is at home. I'm sure they'll be the perfect guests at our new digs and let us have our way with them without a single complaint.
  16. Completed Day 5 Flavor Let’s not wait around, you’re all...

    Day 5 Flavor

    Let’s not wait around, you’re all here to see the heads anyway.


    -Prismo- was lynched! They were:

    Town
  17. Completed Incredible performance by the wolves here. Sorry...

    Incredible performance by the wolves here. Sorry for my man Choxorn, that was an unfortunate result, but you fought to the end and almost got there.
  18. Completed Nght 4 Flavor It was about a 30 minutes’ walk...

    Nght 4 Flavor

    It was about a 30 minutes’ walk to the Metro station from the group’s hotel, and our hero had decided, one more, to try and take control of his own fate. So, he began the EXTREMELY pedestrian-unfriendly hike to the station.

    “Excuse me, sir!” the concierge at the front desk called out. “You know that we provide complementary shuttle serv-” He stopped, as our hero stepped out of the lobby without giving any indication that he had heard the concierge. Such was the singular focus of his mind.

    The skies were a threatening gray, but the rain held off as our hero completed his trek and found himself at the station.


    “Ok, this shouldn’t be too hard,” he said to himself. “I am going to Reagan Airport. It is on the Blue and Yellow lines. This station is already on the Blue Line. I can’t accidentally go in the wrong direction at the start because this station is at the end of the line. I don’t need to do any transfers. I just get on the train, don’t get off at Van Dorn, don’t get off at King Street, don’t get off at Braddock Road, get off at the airport. Then I’m home free. The map is very readable. This is the easiest thing I have ever done. There is no way that this can *not* go well.”


    He paid the fare, passed the gate, and made his way down to the station platform. On both tracks were trains that gave no indication that they would be departing anytime soon. Our hero wasn’t sure which side he was supposed to board on, so he just decided to sit down and wait for them to give an indication of what he was supposed to do.

    So he waited.

    And waited.

    And waited.

    And waited.


    Twenty minutes passed. Then thirty. Then forty five. Then an hour.

    “The hell kind of mass transit system is this for a large American city?” he muttered. The station was completely deserted and had been for the entire time he was waiting. At some point during his wait, it began to rain, so our hero retreated back to the part of the platform that was covered. Naturally, the roof had multiple leaks and there was no real way for our hero to avoid getting wet, drip by drip.

    Another hour passed. Still no sign of human life. Our hero’s clothes were nearly soaked through at this point.

    “Hey, buddy! The hell do you think you’re doing?”

    A human voice! Our hero turned to see a surly-looking figure in a luminescent yellow work shirt. “Uh, waiting for a train?”

    “You’re gonna be waiting for a while, chief. This station’s closed for repairs until September.”

    “...what?”

    “Yeah!” the worker said, digging into his pocket and unfolding a piece of paper, showing it to our hero. “Six Blue and Yellow Line stations in total, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Critical track work as part of our SafeTrack repairs. It’s been all over the news for months, folks in charge have been saying to make alternate plans!”


    Our hero studied the paper, cursing silently.

    “You really didn’t know? It’s been, like… everywhere…”

    “I’M FROM OUT OF TOWN!” our hero snapped. “I JUST WANT TO GET TO A GODDAMN AIRPORT! I CAN’T DRIVE THERE BECAUSE THE TRAFFIC IS HORRIBLE IN EVERY DIRECTION AND MY RENTAL RAN OUT OF GAS, MY PHONE RAN OUT OF POWER SO I CAN’T CALL FOR AN UBER OR WHATEVER, AND THIS STUPID $#@!ING METRO STATION IS CLOSED FOR ANOTHER THREE MONTHS! HOW THE HELL ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO GET ANYWHERE IN THIS $#@!ING AREA?”

    The worker said something in response, but our hero didn’t hear him, already trudging out for the 30-minute walk back to his hotel. In the increasingly intense rain. At this point, he would have welcomed death.

    Death did not come for him, though. Instead, it came for OnlyA.


    OnlyA has died! They were:

    Town
  19. Completed Day 4 Flavor The complimentary “continental...

    Day 4 Flavor

    The complimentary “continental breakfast” that the hotel provided was a very muted affair. With everybody’s minds on the state of the heads that awaited them in the conference room, nobody was too keen to eat their rubbery croissant and not-exactly fresh eggs.


    “You know, I used the last of my phone juice last night checking my email,” one of the remaining players muttered to another. “Did you know that they’re charging us extra for how long we stay in the game?”

    “Stick around a while, run up a huge bill. Get out of the game early, and… well.”

    “Yeah.”

    After that thought, what little remained of attempts at conversation violently died. The players mostly tried to keep the gameplay confined to the period of day when they were in the conference room, keeping game separate from life, but with these stakes, that was impossible to do. The mafia may have been just as trapped by the restrictions of the game as the town, but they were still of the opposite alignment. It was literally in the town’s win condition to remain alive to see the mafia dead. Paranoia started seeping in everywhere to the point where it was best to just not make friends and concentrate on your own survival.

    “You know, one time I was at an Embassy Suites up in Upstate New York for a wedding… those guys do breakfast right. There was a dude there who made omelets to-order. Super friendly, too…”

    He got glared down by the collective group.

    With no conversation, no working phones, and no TV set to CNN or some other bland morning show in the breakfast center, time slowed to a crawl. It was almost a relief when a tiny bell rang, signifying 10:00 and the start of the next dayphase. Just from a quick count, it had been apparent that nobody had died the previous night, but that still left two heads to continue to deteriorate in the conference room.

    Sure enough, they had.


    “Here,” said one of the conventioneers, who had remained silent throughout breakfast. Clothespins to keep your noses shut and a TON of Febreze to hopefully drown out the small. Take a pin and a bottle and pass the rest down.”

    A few obliged, but then someone piped up.

    “Trying to curry favor so we won’t vote you, eh? I SEE THROUGH YOUR BLATANT POCKETING!”

    A couple of people sighed. More people started yelling. They were off to the races once again. And at the end of the day, Shad was the next victim.


    Shad has died! They were:

    Mafia
  20. Replies
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    Manual https://media.giphy.com/media/hyMFaxhuQkZTq/giphy....

    Quote Originally Posted by uWu_N3wc0mb_F4nb0i_uWu (#90)
    hi!!!!!!!!

    is newcomb in this game because i would like to play it so much i am his biggest fan!!!!!!!

    if he isn't i'll join because he will probably sub in anyways!!!!! UwU
  21. Completed They're deactivated during the games but they pop...

    Quote Originally Posted by elbowsss (#4016)
    Are these thanks buttons new? GG Adrian, you really played a good easily-persuadable townie at the end of the day! I was sure about Dan and GnR, but I thought you might have just been caught up in Dan's scheming.
    They're deactivated during the games but they pop up once it ends.
  22. Completed Hell of a job by the mafia team. GG everyone,...

    Hell of a job by the mafia team. GG everyone, town, you put up a great fight but it just wasn't to be.
  23. mountainous goat

    Quote Originally Posted by LanMisa (#6)
    The Region:
    We start in the Himalayas. This rather secluded region isn't extremely wealthy; it has large provinces with not a lot of holdings and if you plan to become the most powerful empire ever this is NOT where you want to start (I think that India is the best choice for that). So what do we have?

    Mountains.

    Lots and Lots of Mountains

    I basically plan to turn the Himalayas into a mountain fortress. This compliments very well with our religion of Bon: It's EXTREMELY bad at converting, not just because of it's abysmal religious unity, but it ALSO grants us an 80% defensive bonus when other religions attack us on our soil. Couple this with mountains to narrow flanks and give terrain boni to our troops and we should be able to fend off any attacker.
    mountainous goat
  24. Completed Night 3 Flavor As soon as the lynch had been...

    Night 3 Flavor

    As soon as the lynch had been decided, our hero walked out of the conference room and straight to his rental car. For the second night in a row, he was trying for a breakout. This time, though, he was prepared.

    “No phone, no problem,” he said to himself as he fired up the engine. Indeed, this time he knew what to do. While the others had been feverishly debating that day’s lynch, our hero mostly left them to it, going over the local atlas that he had picked up in the lobby that morning before being locked in.

    “Ok, this looks very simple,” he said. “Don’t get too distracted by that interchange. You want 395 North, you’re only on it for a few miles, and you’re looking for the exit to Reagan Airport. I know you flew in at Dulles. That doesn’t matter. Dulles is too far and Reagan is a perfectly functional airport. Don’t worry about pricing. Just get the first available flight to anywhere. Get out of the area and work it out from there. 395 North is the ticket home.”

    With that plan in mind, our hero got in the correct lane for 395 North, navigated the interchange… and stopped.

    395 North wasn’t moving.


    The cars weren’t budging. Our hero squinted in the distance and didn’t see any semblance of movement ahead of him. Not even stop-and-go. The HOV lanes were just as bad, and he had no chance to merge over into one anyway. He sighed. Nothing to do but grin and bear it.

    He tried to put on some music via his Bluetooth before he realized that his phone was still out of battery. Cursing, our hero tried terrestrial radio. The first station was the dreaded sports talk: the DJs were busy blasting the Nationals’ poor attitude and the callers were still debating on who was to blame for Bryce Harper’s departure to the Phillies this past offseason. When the DJ closed the segment with a promise that they’d talk about the Redskins’ minicamp after the commercial break, our hero knew that he couldn’t stand it anymore. He turned the radio off.

    He continued to wait in place.


    Two hours had passed. He rolled down his window and signalled to the driver next to him, who rolled down his own.

    “You have any idea what this is about?”

    The other driver laughed. “You new around here or something? 395’s like this every day!”

    “You have *got* to be kidding me. I HATE THIS CITY!” our hero shouted, before regaining his composure, thanking the other driver, and rolling his window back up.

    He resumed waiting.

    Another hour later, something happened: His car stalled, and died. “Oh… oh god, out of gas? Really? I idled on this stupid road for so long that my rental ran out of gas?” He sighed.

    Looking behind him, he could see still his hotel in the distance. He thought about it, realized that he certainly wasn’t going to get any further going this way, and abandoned his car, starting to walk back to the hotel to get another night of sleep and hopefully live through until the morning.

    Finally plopping down on his bed five hours after he had started the journey, he wondered who would die. Nobody did, though!


    Nobody has died!
  25. Well, Rousseau just turned 27 and he plays a...

    Quote Originally Posted by LanMisa (#340)
    Do you think that you'll turn Bruinier into your captain one day, him being the best player in your team?
    Well, Rousseau just turned 27 and he plays a position that tends to age well, so there's a good chance that he'll be wearing the armband for quite a while.

    That said, Bruinier probably won't be in the line of succession. His Leadership attribute is actually one of his worst (10), and I kind of like the idea of pulling a (IRL) Roma and having the captaincy remain in the hands of a local boy once Rousseau is done. Maybe López, depending on how he develops (Pablo burst out of the gate but hasn't done much since and his determination has actually dropped a couple of points in the past year or two despite my attempts to keep him on the straight and narrow).

    Alternatively, the money man, Morales, could be the heir apparent. He's only 21 now, but his Leadership is already at 15 and his single current "long term plan" is to become Captain of the club. That's the kind of attitude a man can appreciate.
  26. You know, that doesn't sound too bad. :wowee: ...

    Quote Originally Posted by LanMisa (#2)
    "Is this REALLY the extent of your abilities? Is this how you want to spend the rest of your life? Brawling with the local men and getting drunk?"
    You know, that doesn't sound too bad.

    Kidding aside, I've never actually tried the shattered world setup in CK2. The map is surprisingly less border gore-y than I was expecting.
  27. Completed Day 3 Flavor The diminishing party filed into...

    Day 3 Flavor

    The diminishing party filed into the conference room at the usual time and immediately were taken back by the sheer force of the smell.


    “Really?” one said. “Another head? And you didn’t even get the last one out of there?”

    “Look,” said the man in the waistcoat, “If you think any of the hotel staff is paid a wage that would justify them removing a human head from a conference room, then congratulations on waking up from the coma that you’ve been in since 2008. The economy crashed, nobody could afford anything, it slowly recovered but nobody can *still* afford anything, and it’s probably about to crash again.”

    “But… but it’s attracting flies!”

    “Think of it as motivation,” the man in the waistcoat said. “You want to stop there from being heads in the conference room, then lynch mafia and choose good night actions! The faster you win, the faster you can never see the inside of this room again. Alternatively, you could always dispose of the heads yourselves…”

    Everybody suddenly grew very interested in the room’s carpet pattern.

    “I thought so,” the man in the waistcoat chuckled. “See you all at sunset!” With that, he walked out of the room, and the group glumly began discussing the night’s events, most of them with their shirts pulled over their noses.

    At sunset, they had decided on a name and by now mostly gotten used to the smell, but they were all apprehensive that a fresh head would be awaiting them tomorrow - and, worse, the two current heads would be a day *less* fresh. Only the man in the waistcoat seemed completely unaffected by the stenched, as he cheerly announced Capage’s fate.


    Capage has died! They were:

    Mafia
  28. Replies
    215
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    Manual Each of the past two Anniversaries has had a...

    Quote Originally Posted by Omochao (#52)
    Quote Originally Posted by Anniversary 2019 (#51)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jaleb (#26)
    In

    Why are there no 3ps?
    https://www.mafiauniverse.com/forums...niversary-2018
    This explains nothing to me seeing as I did not play in it.
    Each of the past two Anniversaries has had a neutral/3p faction of varying strength and we've decided to go in a different direction with this game.
  29. Season 10, Part I: Fully Armed and Operational ...

    Season 10, Part I: Fully Armed and Operational


    The city of Cartagena is located on a fantastic natural harbor (it's why it was built in the first place). With the Mediterranean and more specifically the Bay of Cartagena to the south, the city is located at a point just north. On both sides of the harbor are hills that stretch out into the bay, overlooking the city, harbor, and any ships that come in. On the base of the western hill is the Fuerte de Navidad (Fort Christmas), a stone fortification built in the 1700s to defend Cartagena's naval base (it was and still is the base of Spain's Mediterranean fleet).


    On top of that hill, overlooking both the fort and city, is where we built the new stadium.


    Though not located downtown like the Cartagonova was, it's still close to the city of Cartagena and within the municipal limits. All in all, we're trading accessibility for imposition. Placed on top of the hill overlooking the harbor, the new stadium will dominate the landscape for miles around and is intended to showcase the rise of and awesome power that F.C. Cartagena is.



    Collectively, as a club and as a city, Cartagena has been obsessed with the past. This obsession comes out in our stadium name, the Roman Theater being the city's cultural centerpiece, and the city's most important yearly festival being "Carthaginians and Romans", a two-week celebration in September commemorating the Punic Wars. No longer.

    The city of Cartagena is more than welcome to hold on to its cultural heritage - I would not have picked this club in the first place if it didn't have this - but F.C. Cartagena has its eyes on the future. We are at the top of Spain and Europe. We symbolically avenged our forefathers by slaughtering Roma in the Champions League Final. We are now, literally and metaphorically, at the summit.

    Our stadium name needed to reflect our supremacy. Thus, once the new building got finished in July and we officially moved in, I cracked open the In-Game Editor and changed its name from the boring and generic "Cartagena Stadium" to something more, well, fitting.



    For those of you unfamiliar with Spanish, we now play in the Death Star (I would eventually drop the initial "La" from the name because I didn't like the way it looked). Tacky? Absolutely, but I wouldn't want to have it any other way.

    ---

    There's no real way to phrase this differently: I went on a major power trip this summer. With the Estrella de la Muerte coming online, and our share of La Liga's TV revenue continuing to increase (we were now making over €100 million a season just from the TV rights), and our continued deep runs in Europe providing lots of extra cash, we were rich. We couldn't quite match the continual spending power of a Real Madrid or Manchester United, but we were now, without a doubt, among the financial elite in Europe.



    I might have taken nine seasons' worth of financial frustration out on the world this summer. Shortly after the Champions League Final ended, PSG decided to stop screwing around and triggered Dirk-Jan Bruinier's release clause.



    Too late! We were already in advanced contract talks with Bruinier. While we (presumably) weren't able to offer him as much money as PSG could, we were able to get close enough to the figure where his familiarity with Cartagena and new-found enjoyment of playing for us was enough to make up for the difference.

    His new release clause is set at €186 million. PSG waited around and dawdled for a year before getting serious, and it cost them dearly. If they still want him, they're going to have to shell out even more.



    We also renewed Borracha's and Robert's contracts, giving them both big raises. In years past this would have essentially sapped our budget entirely, but now... now we were just getting started.

    ---


    Departures

    Vicente Ramírez (DR) - sold to Cádiz for €2.8 million: The youth product was now 23 and just not quite on the same level as the rest of the team. He had been a decent, cheap backup to both Sariego and later Arias, but it was time to move on.

    Gorka Arrese (MF) - sold to Las Palmas for €3.8 million: Arrese is a similar story. With the addition of Ulisses Gaspar halfway through last year, and with the full-time transition of Sergio Fernández to defensive midfield, there was simply no spot in the midfield for him.

    Abdulla Mohammed (LW) - sold to Newcastle for €9.5 million: The best player that Qatar ever produced was a huge component of our rise up through La Liga and was at one point probably the most critical player on our team. Then, he stayed the same while we continued to get better. Let's call Mohammed the final casualty of the churn. He's now 30 and I think this is the last year we could sell him for such a strong profit before his stats started to drop. Mohammed has been a faithful servant to the club and we wish him well in England, but this was an easy sell.

    Roberto Fernández (RW) - retired: Fernández was with the club since 2019 (it's now 2026) and has been its captain since 2020. He holds the team record for assists and Player of the Match awards in a single season, both set in his first year at Cartagena. He seamlessly made the transition to La Liga at age 28 and stayed at a high skill level for years despite middling across-the-board stats, all while keeping the team's morale steady during some rocky stretches. It's impossible to state how much he has meant to this team over the years.

    That said, it was clearly his time. He hasn't played much over the past two seasons due to declining skills, and as a result his influence in the dressing room had waned. I promised never to sell him unless he wanted to leave, but earlier this season Fernández saw the writing on the wall and decided to hang his boots up. His coaching attributes are marginally decent, so he's sticking around as a U19 coach. It's the least I can do for the man's years of service.




    Arrivals

    Giuseppe Botta (DR) - €45 million from Fiorentina: Is this too much money to pay for a 19-year-old fullback who's still pretty raw? Absolutely. Do I care? Not one bit. He's already better than Vicente Ramírez, I had money to burn, and he has the potential to supplant Arias as my starting right back. His physical stats are mostly there, and he's got a good work rate. The rest of it will come with time. Hopefully.



    Spending €45 million on a project was pretty outrageous, but it was just a warm-up for the main event:

    Damián Fernández Morales (ST/LW) - €99 million from Valencia: Boom. I knew that I wanted a marquee signing going into our first year at the Estrella de la Muerte, and Morales checked all the boxes after breaking out with Valencia last year to the tune of 27 league goals. He's young, he's Spanish, he scored two goals in the World Cup over the summer (none of my Spanish players have ever been called up for international duty, not even Fraile, who the team could probably really use), and most of all, I bought him from Juan Carlos Alonso.

    Morales is a complete striker: a physical specimen like Gutiérrez who's also technically proficient and mentally strong. Striker is his best position, but his stats translate well to the left wing, where I'm training him to fill Mohammed's absence. The plan is for Morales to rotate in between both positions whenever Borracha or João Antônio need a break.



    Our wage budget is close to being maxed out, but we still have €90 million in the kitty for transfers, and that money can go to wages as well should I need it to. Any further moves will wait until the winter. I want to see how the machine does when it's fully up and running first.

    ---

    We played all of our friendlies away from home. Most of my transfers were completed early on in the summer, so we spent that time building up fitness and gelling with each other while I watched as Real Madrid, smarting after having been shut out of any trophies last year, reinforced their aging defense:





    Clearly, the Powers That Be over there hadn't forgotten about the 6-1 loss to Roma. In addition, they also brought in legendary left winger Fredson Vinícius from PSG. The three-time Ballon d'Or winner was now 34, but he was still deadly with the ball at his feet and had always been particularly effective against us. It was a clear shot across the bow and a statement of their intent, but I didn't need transfers to tell me where we stood in their eyes:



    We responded by crushing Tottenham in the UEFA Super Cup, 4-1. That left the only remaining bit of preseason action: The Supercopa de España against Barcelona. The Catalan club had never quite rebounded from the retirement of their legendary attacker Jorge Pino from a few years ago, culminating in an embarrassing 7th place finish in the league last season. But they were still Barcelona, and they were still a proud club, and they showed us all that they were not going to cede their spot of Real Madrid's archrival to us without a fight. In the first leg at the Camp Nou, they held Morales in check, giving him a putrid 6.1 player rating and beating us 2-1.

    The second leg was the first ever match held at the Estrella de la Muerte, official or otherwise. I got the board to make arrangements with the city so that the cannons at the Fuerte de Navidad would fire after every Cartagena goal.

    The cannons fired three times. Our €99 million signing scored the first ever goal in the building and we won the only trophy that was missing in our collection.



    ---

    There was one matter remaining to us before the league games started: Roberto Fernández needed to be replaced as captain. Ángel Fraile was the obvious choice. He was the current vice captain, a longstanding member of the team, was highly skilled, had great leadership abilities, was Spanish, and was super clutch for us, especially in European finals.

    However, there was one small problem:



    Here's the deal: Fraile had come up through Betis's youth system. In 2018 (my second season with the club and first in Segunda Prime), they had loaned him out to a little club that had just been promoted to Segunda Prime: Lleida Esportiu, coached by one Juan Carlos Alonso. It was a successful loan spell as the young Fraile was key to helping keep that club up. He returned to Betis for the 2019-20 season, and then, in the 2020-21 season, Betis themselves hired Alonso and their relationship continued to grow.

    Alonso was sacked near the end of that season and we bought Fraile from Betis in the summer of 2021, after which he has since very much established himself at Cartagena, but clearly Fraile still looks fondly on the old manager who gave him a chance. That's all well and good for him, but I can't ever allow the captaincy of Cartagena to go to someone who holds La Cucaracha in such high esteem. I decided that Grégory Rousseau would be the club's next permanent captain, with Fraile remaining in his position as vice captain.





    All in all, we are now ranked as the most reputable club in the world, have a shining new stadium on a hill, and I'm buying players for fun. La Liga and the Copa del Rey are waiting for us. The Champions League pits us against Arsenal, Fiorentina, and Feyenoord in the group stage this year. It's been a long road to the top, but now it's time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Time to blow up some planets.
  30. I've actually tried to hire him as an assistant...

    Quote Originally Posted by mhsmith0 (#331)
    The real question everyone is wondering about, though: when will Cartagena finally hire Alonso?
    seriously, congrats tho
    Quote Originally Posted by LanMisa (#336)
    I think that the ultimate way to end this AAR is to hire LolAlonso and make him the green keeper's assistant.
    I've actually tried to hire him as an assistant manager/coach during at least one of his unemployed spells just for one final dunk. I think he would have been open to it, but he declined because he hates my guts.
  31. Completed Night 2 Flavor The meeting room had been...

    Night 2 Flavor

    The meeting room had been locked during the day during the voting period, but the man in the waistcoat had said nothing about their hotel rooms being locked at night. That was the loophole that one man, hereafter known as Our Hero, had found.

    He had spent the first thirty minutes after the lynch cooped up in his excessively dark room, burning what battery life he had left on his phone to give himself a flashlight. He used that flashlight to read over the contract he had agreed to three times over, making absolutely certain that he hadn’t overlooked a critical provision.

    “Ok, he said that the mafia’s families and bank accounts were being held hostage in order for them to comply with the game… but I don’t see *anything* in here about him doing the same with the town’s. There’s no penalty if I try to escape! And I’m town because I know I’m town and my rolecard says so and I’ve bled town nonstop for the past two days! If I get out of here, I’m free!”

    Eureka. That was it. Excited, our hero rushed out of his room, through the hotel lobby, and into his rental car, firing up the ignition and only getting the smallest glimpse of what lay ahead of him before it ran out of juice for good.

    “What the…”


    This monstrosity of an interchange was less than a mile north of the hotel, and there was no way around it if he was to get to an airport… any airport. Reagan, Dulles, hell, even BWI… all of them required passing through the Mixing Bowl.

    “What the hell is this?” our hero said. “Why are there so many 95s? Why does 495 show as running north and east? I know Dulles is to the northwest… do I take 495 east and just turn around? Do I take it north? It’s a damn circle! What’s the difference between I-95 and 395? Don’t they overlap? Or is that with one of the 495s? Does this rental have E-Z Pass? $#@!! It doesn’t! The hell am I supposed to do??!?!”


    Deciding that his best course of action would be to just pick a lane and see where it took him, our hero pressed on. His first attempt took him to a road that ran past a park in what looked to be Alexandria. Cursing, he turned around and tried again. His next exit soon found him crossing a river that looked to be the Potomac (he hoped?) and eventually seeing signs for Joint Base Andrews, which… that was nowhere near anything, dammit. A third time saw him inadvertently U-Turn and crossing the Potomac for a *third* time, heading right back to Andrews. Wishing nothing but the foulest of deaths for whatever engineers designed this suburban hellscape of an interchange, he tried for a fourth time and found himself on the off-ramp for… his hotel.

    Again.


    Taking this as a sign, our hero glumly parked his rental back where he had left it an hour and a half ago, trudged out of his car, back through the lobby, and into his room, praying he survived the night.

    He did. Not everyone else did, though.


    SwedishSkumbag has died! They were:

    Town
  32. Completed Day 2 Flavor Everyone screamed at the sight of...

    Day 2 Flavor

    Everyone screamed at the sight of Shawna’s head on the table.


    “What is the meaning of this?” somebody shouted. “Is this some kind of joke?” said another. About half the people flat-out tried to leave, but they found the door to the meeting room locked and unyielding. Nobody noticed the man in the waistcoat, apparently there the whole time, until he spoke.

    “Why so surprised?” he asked, sounding something close to genuinely confused. “The rules were clearly stipulated on the documents accompanying your invitation. By confirming your presence and being here, you clearly signified your agreement to the outlined rules. I don’t understand why there’s so much confusion here!”

    “Look, buddy,” one of the conventiongoers said. “I don’t know about everyone else here, but I got my invitation here because of *forum* mafia. And if I never read the OPs and site rules there, I’m sure as hell not going to read any fine print legalese here!” He looked around the room for cheers and support, but quickly slumped down in his seat when he only received annoyed glares in his direction.

    “Well, your loss then,” the man in the waistcoat said. “Look, I’ll read it to you, it’s all on the up and up…” - he pulled out a few crumpled pieces of paper and muttered to himself as he parsed through them - “Ah, here we are. ‘By attending the convention, you agree that the World Mafia Society assumes no liability whatsoever for any loss of life, severe psychological issues, or otherwise that may stem from said convention. You waive all legal rights to press any charges against the World Mafia Society for any reason for the duration of the event and agree that you are knowingly participating in this convention with the extremely likely chance that you will experience grievous harm up to and including death.’ It’s all very clearly stated, our lawyer is a member of the Order of the Tin Cow and he spent months on it, it’s ironclad.”

    A sullen silence greeted this news as everybody, perhaps for the first time, started processing what they had gotten themselves into. Until…

    “Wait!” somebody else shouted. “What’s to keep the mafia from just not participating? Surely they killed Shawna last night, right? Or, they selected her to die in the game if not *actually* killing her? What if they just don’t pick?”

    “Section IV, Clause 7, Subclause B,” said the man in the waistcoat, his nose buried in the papers. “ ‘Those who rand mafia are to follow through and play to their win condition through the duration of the game. They authorize the World Mafia Society to take no less than 7 (seven) family members and close friends hostage during the event as collateral, as well as grant the World Mafia Society fiduciary power over all financial assets they hold.’ Again, it’s all in the rules. The mafia have to keep playing, or they lose everything.”

    “But… but that’s outrageous!” the player yelled. “You can’t just FORCE them to keep playing if they don’t send in a kill!”

    The man in the waistcoat greeted that with a bemused silence, apparently done answering questions. Seconds passed, then a minute, with nobody uttering a word. And then, it came:

    “Wait, why are you so concerned about the mafia? Are you one of them? Is that a slip?”

    “WHAT? DON’T BE RIDICULOUS!”

    “YOU ARE! THAT WAS A SLIP! WHAT TOWNIE WOULD BOTHER TO ASK THAT SORT OF QUESTION?”

    And just like that, all sense of horror and thoughts of escape were washed away as fifteen people erupted into fifty different arguments at once. Chuckling, the man in the waistcoat slipped out of the door using his provided key.

    He would be back at sunset to see who they had chosen to lynch. And sure enough, the players had continued playing, selecting OrangeP47 as their next victim.


    OrangeP47 has been lynched! They were:

    Town
  33. Season 9, Part VII: Adiós, Cartagonova ...

    Season 9, Part VII: Adiós, Cartagonova



    The Estadio Cartagonova was built over the short span of a few months in 1987 and 1988. The architect had a model in place for its design and construction: F.C. Barcelona's Mini Estadi, and he followed the plans with only a few tweaks to build the stadium in Cartagena. The Cartagonova opened on February 7, 1988, midseason, and the first ever match there was played between Cartagena C.F. (the current club's predecessor) and Burgos.

    That match ended in a goalless draw. Aside from the fact that it opened a stadium, the match was otherwise utterly unmemorable. It was during a season in which Cartagena were relegated from Segunda Prime, the start of their long slide down the Spanish pyramid that eventually warranted the formation of the current F.C. Cartagena in 1995.

    The Cartagonova had never been built for the wilderness of the lower divisions. In my first season in charge of the club, it had the highest seating capacity of any team in Segunda B4 at 16,000. The place rarely even came close to being full that season. I certainly don't blame the fans for staying away. The Cartagonova was built with the expectation that its tenants would provide pleasant mediocrity, but Cartagena hadn't even offered that for a long time.




    Naturally, this changed over the past decade with me in charge. We gained promotion to Segunda Prime after our first season, and, aside from a brief three-season sojourn starting in 2009, the club was finally playing games at a level that the stadium was designed to accommodate to.

    The problem was that while the Cartagonova had been built with the expectation that its tenants would provide pleasant mediocrity, we had soon shot well past that. Two seasons after we won promotion to Segunda Prime, we catapulted ourselves to La Liga. Three years after the Cartagonova had been the highest capacity stadium in its division, it was now the second lowest.

    An expansion improved its seating capacity to 22,000, but it was still not enough. The year the Cartagonova expanded, we were playing in the Europa League. The year after that, we had made it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Pleasant mediocrity was firmly in our rearview mirror and it was fading fast.




    The Cartagonova's existence was, for the most part, an ill-fitting thing. It was like a piece of clothing that was too far large for a child, and then suddenly the child crammed five years' worth of puberty into six months and it suddenly became hopelessly small. First, the team didn't deserve it, and then, all at once, it didn't deserve the team.

    It had never seen a trophy, either. Oh sure, Cartagena has won its share of silverware during my time in charge, but all of those were won either at neutral sites (cups, Europa/Champions League) or cliched during away games (Albacete, Segunda Prime, 2020; Leganés, La Liga, 2024). The stadium had never quite fit right, but it served us well over the years, and later on, once it regularly filled, it was a fantastic piece of home-field advantage for us. The old building, named after an iteration of the city that had its chance at lasting glory snuffed out right as it was finding its stride, deserved a trophy of its own.

    We provided it with that trophy.




    ---

    The match was never really in doubt. Borracha, fully recovered, scored early, the defense (I caved and started the experienced Marín over the promising López) easily blunted Atlético's attack, and Gutiérrez got the capper in the 80th minute to seal the victory beyond any question. In their match, Real Madrid did their part by putting four in against Betis, but it was for nothing.



    There was only one dark cloud to our victory: Late in stoppage time, in a completely meaningless attempt for the ball, right winger Léandre Diarra came down with pulled ankle ligaments. The injury would keep him out for around two weeks, maybe a bit less, and the Champions League final was 13 days away. It would be a race against time for him to be fit; otherwise, I would be down a third winger (the chances of João Antônio recovering in time remained remote, and Roberto Fernández, just recovered, was not someone who I would trust with gametime at his present age and deteriorating skillset).



    Furthermore, we would also be without both our new midfielder Ulisses Gaspar and backup goalkeeper Michael Joham, both of whom were ineligible to play for us in the Champions League as they had already played in that tournament with a different team this season. Finally, with days before the match, Benito Zeno picked up an injury of his own that would keep him out for a month. Zeno was my most reliable and versatile backup defender and I desperately did not want to lose him. I made the risky decision to give him injections to play through the injury and hoped he wouldn't be a factor (his national team, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, did not qualify for the World Cup this summer, so there was no risk of having him miss out on that).

    ---

    ---

    We had played our last game in the Cartagonova, but it seemed fitting that our final game before we moved into the new place was against Roma with European supremacy on the line. For nine seasons, I had been obsessed with the past: the club's past, the stadium's past, and the city of Cartagena's past especially. Our last game was symbolic of that: We were up against the greatest enemy of all from a historical perspective.



    The south entrance to the Stadio Olimpico, Roma's home field, takes you through the Foro Italico, complete with classical era-style statuary depicting ancient Olympians in the throes of competition. This Mussolini-era construction is a deliberate nod to the glory days of Ancient Rome - days that were made possible by the blood and bones of Carthage and Carthago Nova. The great struggles between the two powers had been a fair fight, but in the end, Rome had triumphed and Carthago Nova had waned. They got statues and eternity; we got razed to the ground. Vae victis.

    Cartagena has conquered much over the past decade, but this was perhaps the toughest obstacle yet: could we conquer 2,200 years of our own history and inferiority complexes? My hope was yes. After all this time, it was time to let the past die. We were moving into a new stadium and we needed to make sure all accounts were fully settled. If all went well, this Champions League Final would be an exorcism.

    ---

    In Cardiff, where the Final was held, my starters mostly picked themselves due to injuries and ineligibility. Robert in goal; a back four of Arias, López, Rousseau, and Bruinier; Fraile, Sergio Fernández, and Pauwels in the midfield; Diarra, Borracha, and Mohammed up front. Diarra had healed in time to start, though he probably would not be able to last the full match. Benito Zeno, playing through injections, would come off the bench to assist in defense if needed. João Antônio, though, was not able to make the squad or the bench. The only major decision I had was whether to start Ricardo López or Domingo Marín alongside Rousseau in central defense. Fully embracing the theme of a new start, I decided to go with López and hoped that the moment wouldn't be too big for him.

    We had more of the ball to start and established ourselves on the attack, just as we did last year against Leipzig. Six minutes in, Abdulla Mohammed cut inside from the left and tried to curl in a hard shot from outside the penalty area. It was going well wide, but it ricocheted off Roma winger Ferhat Akriche and went back on course. The Roma keeper, expecting to see the ball out of bounds, wasn't able to reset his footing in time and the ball bounced into the net. 1-0, Cartagena.

    We continued to make use of our possession and attack advantage as we kept the pressure on. In the 27th minute, Ángel Fraile, who literally can't not score in European finals, got the ball inside the box with enough time to line up his shot, and calmly put it into the net to double our lead.

    Nine minutes after that, Dirk Pauwels did this:



    It was a bit over a third of the way through the match and the game was essentially over. Roma finally sorted themselves after that and made some successful halftime adjustments to see more of the ball on the attack, but López - still just 18 - completely marked their star striker Edoardo Petrongari out of the game and Robert easily handled all the shots that came his way.

    The final score stayed at 3-0, and just like that, the historical record had been corrected.







    ---

    The season - and the Cartagonova era - ended in triumph. Dirk-Jan Bruinier, brooding all year over blocked moves to Manchester United and PSG, announced at the end-of-season awards dinner that he was once again willing to sign a new contract at Cartagena. I suppose winning all kinds of trophies, defensive awards, and being named the Supporters' Player of the Year changes one's perspective on things.

    The new stadium is just about complete. Our new board is spending money. We won four out of the five competitions we were entered in this year, including the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup, and most importantly La Liga and the Champions League. Only the Supercopa de España (which we were ineligible for this year) and the Copa del Rey eluded us, an error which I hope to correct next year. Our players are seeing their reputations (and bank accounts) grow, fielding calls from their national teams to make sure they're available for the World Cup, and getting their pictures taken with all of the trophies we've won.

    Not bad for a club that plays in a little stadium built over the span of five months and designed for Segunda Prime play, eh? Imagine what we can do when we move into something twice its size.
  34. I've played both matches. The writeup will be...

    I've played both matches. The writeup will be posted in roughly 24 hours, give or take.
  35. Completed Night 1 Flavor The sixteen remaining players...

    Night 1 Flavor

    The sixteen remaining players walked down the hotel’s hallways to their various rooms and all experienced a universal reaction: “Wow, this seems… kind of dark?”


    Still they continued down the hallways, trying to ignore the growing feeling in their gut that the darkness and general poor-keptness of the hallway was an implication that something far greater was… off… about the entire situation, but they were playing mafia, for money, and they hadn’t had the misfortune of being a D1 lynch. All told, things could be a lot worse.

    And then they took out the keys and unlocked their various rooms, and their growing unease multiplied.


    “Wait, it’s this dark with the lights *on*?”

    “Huh, that’s an… oddly-shaped stain on the wall…”

    “Oh you’re kidding me, NONE of these outlets work? I can’t charge my phone? The hell am I going to do at night?”

    The last point especially was troubling, particularly for those who figured that they were going to last for multiple dayphases, but eventually they all drifted off to sleep…

    ...and some of them awoke, as per the instructions written on their role cards.

    ---

    Breakfast the next day was a muted affair. Once again, food was provided in a room that was just far too small and far too shoddily-constructed to be able to comfortably hold everybody.


    The conventiongoers all made idle conversation about the state of their rooms and asked if anybody had a spare phone charger (the broken outlets were a universal problem, it seemed), but nobody did and a few of them were already carrying phones that were out of power. But at the designated time, they all made their way back to the convention room…

    ...where shawnad2006’s head was displayed on the central table.


    shawnad2006 has died! They were:

    Town
  36. The exact calculation is complicated, but it's...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zapp Brannigan (#324)
    how does the coefficient work? leagues ranked based on how the perform in the CL?
    The exact calculation is complicated, but it's basically "collective performance by a league's teams in the Champions League and Europa League, cumulatively over the past five seasons", with a higher weight being placed on Champions League performance.
  37. Completed Day 1 Flavor The seventeen of them arrived at...

    Day 1 Flavor

    The seventeen of them arrived at the hotel.


    The location was uninspiring, being situated at a convergence of highway on-ramps. The constant traffic flow of I-95 could be heard in the distance, and if you walked a bit, you’d make your way to an overpass where you would have a scenic view of… I-95. Upon checking in, the lobby was poorly-lit and had a distinct smell of weed, though nobody was sure if it came from the front desk clerk or elsewhere in the hotel.

    “There’s a Courtyard by Marriott right across the street, they couldn’t have sprung to put us there instead?” said one conventiongoer to another, with both of them checking in at the same time.

    “Guess they blew the entire budget on the prize money. Still though, won’t complain too much if I win…”

    One by one over the course of the day, the front desk clerk led the seventeen guests to what he explained was the convention room set aside for them: not in the main lobby building, but in the adjacent building that made up most of the hotel complex. They had to go through a door (the clerk’s original key malfunctioned and everybody had to wait around awkwardly for ten minutes while he found another somewhere), went downstairs - “in a basement?” - and finally found themselves in the convention room.


    Everybody silently filled in and took a seat, looking around and continuing to be unimpressed with their surroundings. After a few minutes passed, an eighteenth individual joined them: this one bizarrely dressed in a full waistcoat and full white-tie attire.

    “On behalf of the World Mafia Society, I would sincerely like to thank you all for attending the First Annual Mafia Convention!”

    One person applauded briefly, saw that nobody else was doing it, and stopped.

    “Now,” he continued, “I know that the invitation was a little bit light on the details, and I apologize for that. I will go around the room and pass out rolecards to all of you. This contains your role as well as the powers you have and the nights you can use it on. We’ve decided to use a role madness variant where everybody has a power role at night, and every role can go to either mafia or town.” There were a couple murmurs of approval and interest.

    “The rules are simple: 13 town, 4 mafia. Phases are timed: One day phase per day, one night phase per night. We will be playing a single game, after which you will all hold a vote, and the winner will receive ten million dollars.”

    For the first time, the players found their voice. “Waitaminute, that’s it? One game?”

    “Shouldn’t there be a more objective metric like an impartial jury deciding this?”

    “Realistically to get a truer idea of a championship, shouldn’t there be multiple games?”

    “Do you have any plans to address a corrupt voting system that traditionally and historically discounts certain types of mafia and their playstyles?”

    “SILENCE!” the man in the waistcoat shouted, and everybody piped down. “All voting systems are inherently flawed in some fashion or another, and certain logistical challenges prevent us from adapting measures that would be considered more objective - and they would go against the core mission of what we’re trying to do here anyway.” Some people grumbled at this, but didn’t push the argument.

    “Anyway,” he continued, “Your cards have all been passed out, so there’s nothing left to do but play the game! I’ll be back at sunset to hear the results of your first lynch choice, after which you may all retire to your rooms for the night. Best of luck to you all… begin!”

    The man walked out, and they started talking.

    ---

    Several hours later, he had returned, and the conventiongoers had decided on a lynch. Smiling, he thanked them all for their cooperation and led Nimbus off out of the room.

    “Day two starts at 10:00 tomorrow morning,” he said. “Don’t be late!”

    Everybody filed out of the dingy convention room in the dingy basement and made their way to their own separate dingy rooms. As of yet, nothing *appeared* to be outwardly wrong…




    Nimbus was lynched! They were:

    Mafia
  38. Season 9, Part VI: Seeing Out the Season As...

    Season 9, Part VI: Seeing Out the Season


    As the calendar flipped to March and beyond, the race for La Liga was a three-way dogfight:



    Time started moving quickly as the players prepared for the homestretch. After a rocky start, €41 million addition Ulisses Gaspar found the taste of the net to his liking and, despite his Preferred Player Moves saying otherwise, decided to score 10 goals in La Liga and seriously put Ángel Fraile's automatic starting spot into doubt (Gaspar is ineligible to play for us in the Champions League this season though, so Fraile's spot is safe there).

    Our points lead over Real Madrid waxed and waned, and though they had tied us for the league at one point, we never fell to outright second. For the second year in a row, though, Real Madrid were shockingly eliminated in the Champions League, this time by Roma:



    The collective LOLMADRID aside from the world soccer community in the wake of this pantsing, it meant for us that our archnemeses could once again fully focus their might on the league while we had two fronts to defend.



    Our own experiences in Europe were fraught with peril. In our quarterfinal matchup against Monaco, we drew them in a tense 0-0 showdown at the Cartagonova before bagging two away goals in Monaco to advance to the semis. There, we drew Premier League leaders Chelsea, and OF COURSE IN THE WORLD'S EYES with the Premier League being super rich and popular, they had to be the favorite over our plucky little club, even though La Liga has a stronger coefficient in Europe.



    I chalked it up to more bulletin board material in front of the men, and then wadded up a copy of the report and sucked it down the airplane toilet during our flight to London. I already hated Chelsea, as I hadn't forgiven them for poaching Rodrigo Lacerda from us a few seasons ago, but now this was just getting annoying.

    ---

    The first leg against Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge, was a 12-round slugfest that saw four injury-related substitutions, two for each side. Naturally, their players were fine in the long term, but ours were not: Borracha would miss a couple of games, and João Antônio was probably done for the year. This left us reliant on Jesús Gutiérrez and Abdulla Mohammed, two players that were proving increasingly unreliable as the demands I placed on them grew over the years. Gutiérrez is with us until the bitter end, but Mohammed is probably playing his last season in Cartagena if I have anything to say about it.

    Regardless of future plans, the team held on for a 1-1 draw and a crucial away goal as the series headed back to Cartagena.



    There was a league match to take care of first, though. Against Osasuna, Roberto Fernández, getting pulled out of mothballs out of desperation to give some of my healthy attackers a rest, pulled up lame in the 11th minute with a calf injury. He was unable to continue and hobbled off the field, sobbing as the traveling fans serenaded him with cheers and songs. In all likelihood, the captain just played his last game.

    We ended up only drawing Osasuna, finishing 1-1 in a game where I told the team to mostly conserve their energy. The return leg against Chelsea was three days away.

    ---

    The semifinal match against Chelsea was the last European battle that the Cartagonova would ever see, and we were determined to make sure it would not be a loss. With the score 1-1 on aggregate, we were in a decent position. Any kind of win or a 0-0 draw (due to the away goals rule) would send us through to the final. If we drew exactly 1-1, the game would go to extra time and potentially penalties. If we drew 2-2 or higher, or lost, then I would probably throw myself into the Mediterranean.

    The game was one of the most physically brutal that I've been a part of in my nine-season Cartagena career. I threw Borracha on as a starter in desperation due to Gutiérrez being more or less useless all year and he plainly was not ready to come back. Two of my three starting midfielders, Pauwels and Fraile, picked up knocks (thankfully, neither of them would miss time) and had to be substituted. We weren't angels ourselves, though: Four separate Chelsea players picked up dings and dents over the course of the match, and they ran out of the subs by the time that their star midfielder Bastian Schilling sprained his ankle trying for a hard tackle on Fraile (ha!).

    All of this amounted to a 0-0 game and Chelsea having to play with only 10 men for the final fifteen minutes. We could have seen out the match and walked away with a win on away goals, but the players didn't want to take any chances. In stoppage time, Bruinier, coming forward as always, hit a high cross that went over the head of Chelsea defender Alvars Laizans (who tried to intercept it), which left Léandre Diarra unmarked. Diarra put it in, and we had just booked our ticket to Cardiff for the Final.





    ---

    This left the league. Our draw against Osasuna had put Real Madrid within striking distance - only two points back with three games to go. We had the tiebreaker over them by virtue of goal difference in the two head-to-head games (1-0 loss vs. 3-1 win), which gave us a bit of breathing room and allowed us a single draw, but they had the easier schedule.

    Sure enough, both teams held serve in the first two matches, keeping our lead at two points. The season would, for the second time in three years, come down to the final day of the season. They would play Betis in Madrid; we would play Atlético in the final game ever at the Cartagonova.



    The stakes are already impossibly high - there's no way I want to lose the league on the last day of the season in our stadium's swan song - but should we blow it, the team has to somehow mentally put themselves back together in time to face Roma in the Champions League final.

    There are two matches to go in the season, and absolutely nothing is decided. The line between agony and ecstasy has never been thinner.
  39. Completed Pregame Flavor Across the world, mafia is...

    Pregame Flavor

    Across the world, mafia is played in many different ways. People play it how it was originally played, live and face-to-face. People play it over video. People play it on forums, in Facebook groups, in chat clients like Discord or Telegram. They play closely-related variants, such as Resistance, Secret Hitler, and Town of Salem.

    But across all media and across all forms, 17 players were judged to be the cream of the crop. And since humanity is nothing without excessive ranking systems and a desire for ultimate competition, 17 invitations went out to determine who the greatest mafia player on earth was.


    ~The World Mafia Society~
    Proudly invites you to the



    First Annual Mafia Convention

    Taking place starting June 10, 2019
    Just outside Washington, DC

    First prize: $10 million US

    All 17 people who received the invitation had the exact same reaction: Holy crap, $10 million for mafia! I have to join this!

    And so everyone made arrangements. Flights were booked, vacation time was taken, transportation was settled. Everyone was ready to make their way to Washington, DC (or just outside of it; the invitation specified that it was “10 minutes across the Potomac”) and play the game of their lives. They were expecting swanky hotels, stylish accommodations, and top-quality play.

    What they got, however, was far different…


    ---

    “Waitaminute, what’s going on?” one of the conventioneers asked as the plane prepared to descend. “I thought DC had an airport that was right on the river! We don’t get to land with a view of the Capitol and the Washington Monument?”

    His seatmate chuckled. “Oh they do, but you’ve got the wrong airport. You’re thinking of Reagan. We’re landing at Dulles.”

    “Dulles? How far is that away from my hotel, I wonder…?” He pulled out his phone and started entering in some coordinates on Google Maps, and then cursed.


    His seatmate looked at the estimated travel time, and then gazed at the conventioneer sympathetically. “Yeah, you’re gonna want to take the high end of that estimate and then add 45 minutes, considering the time of day we’re landing at.”

    “$#@!!”

    ---

    Two miserable hours later, the conventioneer had almost made it to the hotel on a drive that took him nowhere near Washington, DC, and had none of the monuments in sight at any point. He was miserable, he was almost out of gas, the traffic had been nightmarish, and he really had to use the bathroom.

    “At least the hotel accommodations will be top-notch,” he said to himself… and then he gazed out the window.


    “Oh… oh god. *Here*??!?!”
  40. Completed Season 6, Game 10: The Mafia Convention [The...

    Season 6, Game 10: The Mafia Convention [The Mafia Championship]: Game Information!

    This is an automated game of Mafia.


    Setup - 17 Players

    CLOSED
    • Majority will be in effect starting Day 2. Day 2 onward will end the instant a majority is reached.
    • Town wins when all threats to Town have been eliminated.
    • Mafia factions win when they achieve Parity and all other evil factions have been eliminated at any time.
    • Votes are automatically locked in at LYLO.
    • No Lynching is enabled. Vote for No Lynch to forgo a lynch that Day.
    • Mafia factional kills are optional. Mafia may submit a factional kill each night, but are not required to.
    • Mafia factional kills are assigned. They can be tracked, watched, or roleblocked.
    • Mafia share a factional Night Kill, which is a single standard shot for their faction.
    • Mafia may communicate at any time.
    • Tied votes will result in a player being lynched at random from among the tied players.

    Phase Lengths

    Days are 36 hours in length. Nights are 12 hours in length.

    Players

    @-Prismo-
    @BATMAN
    @DeathNoteForCutie
    @M2H
    @Mantisdreamz
    @Nimbus
    @OnlyA
    @OrangeP47
    @RE1031
    @Relm
    @samerk
    @Santygrass
    @Scare
    @Shad
    @shawnad2006
    @SwedishSkumbag
    @yogsloth

    FAQ

    Are you unsure about how actions are processed or how roles interact with each other? Then read more here:

    ORDER OF OPERATIONS

    Night actions are processed in this order:

    Strongman kills
    Roleblocks
    Jails
    Doctors
    Bodyguards
    Kills
    Investigations
    Backups

    When an action was submitted during the night will never matter when the actions are processed.

    ACTION FEEDBACK

    These are the results you will get when you submit certain actions.

    Non-investigative roles when they submit an action (they also receive this if they are roleblocked):

    Your action on Player A was received.
    Investigative actions return results even if the target dies on the same night.

    Actions that count as visits are counted as visits even if the actor dies on the same night.

    Investigative roles (Tracker, Cop, etc.) when roleblocked:

    Your action on Player B did not return any results.
    Trackers when tracking a person that didn't visit anyone (or if they targeted a Ninja):

    Player C did not visit anyone.
    Watchers when watching a person that wasn't visited by anyone (or only visited by a Ninja):

    Player D was not visited by anyone.
    Alignment Cop when investigating a town-aligned player (or a Godfather):

    Player E is Town
    Watcher when watching a person that was visited by multiple people:

    Player F was visited by Player G, Player H, Player I
    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    How do I submit my action?
    Use the form below the game thread. If your role has a night action, the form will only be visible during night phases. It's not possible to submit actions in advance of the night phase.

    What does it mean if the Mafia Host says that night kills are assigned?
    In games with this setting turned on, the member of the mafia team that made the most recent night kill submission will be the one assigned to the kill, which means that the kill can be blocked if a Town Roleblocker or Town Jailkeeper target the mafia player in question. Similarly, the kill can be tracked and watched by Town Trackers and Town Watchers. If this setting isn't turned on, then it doesn't matter who the last person to submit the mafia kill is, as the kill is unblockable and untrackable in this case.

    Where do I find example role PM's?
    This thread contains example role PM's for all roles currently supported by the Modbot as well as information on the various modifiers. Here you will find the answers to a lot of questions not covered in this FAQ section.

    Which roles can self-target?
    Only Watchers are able to use their ability on themselves at night. This means that Doctors or Jailkeepers aren't able to protect themselves, for example.

    Which roles are not able to target the same players on consecutive nights?
    Doctors, Jailkeepers, and Roleblockers are not allowed to target the same player twice in a row. Everyone else is, including Bodyguards. Note that this non-consecutive restriction still holds true even if one of these three roles were blocked the night before when targeting the person that they're attempting to target again.

    What happens if Jailkeeper A and Jailkeeper B or Roleblocker A and Roleblocker B target each other (and are not targetted by other blockers)?
    In the case of Jailkeepers, they will block and protect each other. In the case of Roleblockers, they also block each other. This means that the two players are trackable to each other that night by Trackers and Watchers. It also means that if one of them is mafia and happens to simultaneously be the one submitting the factional kill that night in a game with assigned kills, then this kill is blocked. This same principle applies to longer loops. I.e. in a A > B > C > D > A loop, everyone is blocked.

    What happens if Jailkeeper A targets Roleblocker B who targets Jailkeeper A?
    Jailkeeper A will be blocked in this scenario. Refer to the order of operations: Roleblocks process before jails.

    What happens if Jailkeeper A targets Roleblocker B who targets Player C?
    As stated above, roleblocks process before jails, so Roleblocker B will successfully block Player C. I.e. Jailkeeper A will fail to block Roleblocker B, but will still protect Roleblocker B.

    What happens if Jailkeeper A targets Jailkeeper B and Jailkeeper B targets Jailkeeper C (who isn't targeting any of the former two)?
    In this case, Jailkeeper A would prevent Jailkeeper B's block from occuring, meaning that Jailkeeper C's action is not blocked.

    If an X-Shot role is blocked while using a shot, do they lose that shot forever?
    Yes. A 1-shot Vigilante being blocked while attempting to kill someone will not have their shot refunded.

    If someone with a Strongman modifier kills Player A who is protected by Bodyguard B, who dies?
    Player A will die, and Bodyguard B will survive.

    Can a mafia team choose not to kill anyone during a night?
    The host can determine this using the Mafia Factional Kill setting. Kills can be mandatory, optional, or disabled altogether.

    The default is No. The mafia factional kill is compulsory. This is done in order to avoid deadlocked games where the town keeps no lynching and the mafia refuses to submit a kill. If the game has assigned kills, it will be randomized which member of the team is carrying out the kill.

    If there is only one mafia member left in a game without assigned kills, can the mafia factional kill then be blocked and/or tracked?
    No.

    Can the mafia submit a kill for one of their own members?
    No.

    If I kill someone, does their night action, if they have one, still succeed?
    Yes, killing someone doesn't prevent them from performing their night action (unless they investigated someone, in which case they will not receive a report). Refer to the order of operations: All kills happen at the end of the night, and everyone pulls the trigger simultaneously.

    Can individual night actions be proxied on mafia teams?
    No. If the mafia team has a Mafia Roleblocker, for example, and they want to use this role's action, then the player occupying that slot must submit the action themselves.

    If a Lover is shot during the night, while the other Lover is protected that night, does the other Lover still die?
    Yes. It's not possible to prevent a Lover from dying of love sickness.

    If a Bodyguard protects Lover A, while Lover B is shot during that same night, what happens?
    A dies of love sickness and Bodyguard lives.

    If there are any Innocent Childs in the game, are these confirmed in the thread right when the game begins?
    No. Innocent Childs are able to decide themselves when or if they wish to have the Modbot confirm their role and alignment in the thread. Note that this is exclusively a day action and that it can take up to one minute for the Modbot to process the action.

    What results are Alignment Cops, Full Cops and Role Cops given if they investigate a Godfather or a Miller?
    Alignment Cops are told "Town" for Godfathers and "Mafia" for Millers. Full Cops are told "Vanilla Town" for Godfathers and "Mafia Goon" for Millers. Role Cops are told "Godfather" for Godfathers and "Miller" for Millers.

    Can Role Cops tell the difference between a Vanilla Town and Mafia Goon?
    No. They are told "Vanilla" when investigating either of these two roles.

    If I roleblock someone with a Bulletproof Vest, will that nullify the effect of the vest?
    No. Bulletproof Vests are passive modifiers that cannot be blocked from working.

    If I roleblock Masons, Neighbors or Lovers with out of thread communication privileges, can I prevent them from talking at night?
    No.

    If I roleblock a Godfather, will they still be revealed as being town-aligned to Alignment Cops and Full Cops that night?
    Yes.

    USING THE SOFTWARE

    Are you wondering about how to vote, submit night actions or multi-isolate players? Read about this and more here:

    VOTING BBCODES

    Our forum votes for someone by using the vote tags: [V]Thingyman[/V]. Preview:

    ##Vote Thingyman

    Make sure that you spell out the full, correct name. Abbreviations or misspelled names will not be registered by the Modbot.

    To unvote, use the tags: [UNV][/UNV] . When unvoting you do not need to enter the name of the person that you are unvoting. Preview:

    ##Unvote

    VOTING BUTTONS

    You can also quickly vote for someone by clicking on the box with a checkmark icon, which will bring up an alphabetized dropdown containing the names of living players:



    This will insert [V][/V] tags with the name of the player you selected in the dropdown, perfect every time.

    Click the empty checkbox button to insert [UNV][/UNV].

    SUBMITTING NIGHT ACTIONS

    If you have a night action, simply submit this at night by scrolling to the bottom of the game thread. Here you will find a night action form like this:



    Click the dropdown and select the player whom you wish to use your night action on. You can change it as many times as you wish before the deadline expires.

    CALLING UP A VOTECOUNT

    Votecounts will appear automatically at various intervals, but you can also call up votecounts yourself by following these steps:

    First, you need to apply to join "Mafia Game Hosts" under Permission Groups.

    Second, once your request has been approved, you will be able to call up votecounts by simply pushing the "Post Votecount" button in the top right corner of any game thread that you'd like an updated votecount for.


    VIEWING VOTE HISTORY

    There are three ways to access the vote history for any game.

    1. Click on the "Vote History" button in the top right corner of the game thread:

    2. Click on the "View Vote History" link, which accompanies all votecounts:

    3. Click on Modbot in the top forum menu. This will give you a list of ongoing and completed games:



      Next, simply click on "Vote History" to view all votes for that game.

    Following any of the above three steps will bring you to an overview like this one:



    Click on a Voter's username to view all of the votes by their slot.

    Click on a Target's username to view all of the votes for their slot.

    ISOLATING A PLAYER'S POSTS

    If you wish to read a player's posts in isolation, simply click on "ISO" in the top right corner of one of that player's posts in the relevant thread as illustrated here:



    Alternatively, you can access a player's posts in isolation by clicking on the number next to "Replies:" in the forum lobby.



    Doing so will pull up a window listing the post counts for everyone who has posted in that thread. You access someone's posts in isolation by simply clicking on the number next to "Posts:" for that person.



    The ISO view itself has Quote and Multi-Quote buttons inside it, which will make it very easy to quickly quote a lot of a player's posts for analysis or commentary:


    MULTI-ISOLATING

    If you wish to read not just one player's posts, but you want to ISO multiple players, then click the "Multi ISO" button to the left of "Game Tools" and select the players in question as shown here:


    MULTI-QUOTING WHILE THREAD IS LOCKED

    Note that you can multi-quote posts from even locked game threads. This is useful for when you wish to reread the game and do work during night phases.

    After quoting the relevant posts, you simply open a different, opened thread and press "Go Advanced". Then add the quotes to your post by clicking the prompt below the post area as shown here:



    Now, of course you can't post your work in the game thread while the thread is locked, but you can copy paste and save your work to a local file or the cloud and have it ready to post the very next day phase (if you're still alive, that is).

    BOOKMARKS

    Whenever you open a game thread, you are able to bookmark posts. This is for many players an important tool for keeping track of and remembering vital pieces of information, reads, claims etc.

    Also, note that these bookmarks are saved to your user account, meaning that it eliminates the trouble associated with keeping notes between different computers/devices.

    If you want to bookmark a post, you simply scroll to the post that you want to bookmark and press "Set Bookmark" as shown here:



    This will call up 5 different colored icons (Blue, Red, Yellow, Green, and Black) on the right side of the post in question. You can click any of these icons, which will then prompt you to include a note for the post.

    If you don't want to include a note, you don't have to - just leave it blank. The color coding in itself can be a valuable tool. Maybe you want to use Red bookmarks for posts that you find suspicious, Green bookmarks for posts that you find townie, Black bookmarks for posts containing claims, or whatever system you can think of that will be helpful to you.



    Once this is done, you have now successfully bookmarked a post with a certain color and maybe even a note. If you wish to remove the bookmark again, click on "Unset Bookmark".

    How do I access bookmarks?

    There are two ways to access your bookmarks.
    1. Inside a game thread, you can access the bookmarks for that specific game by simply right clicking on the "Bookmark" button and opening the link.

      This will bring you to a separate page that is automatically filtered to only show bookmarks from the game thread that you accessed the page from.
    2. You can also access your bookmarks by going to Features in the site's top menu:



      This will bring you to a page where no bookmarks are shown by default. However, you have several filtering options.

      You can filter by Game, by Player and by Color - and all of them at once if you so wish.

      Here's an example of filtering by only red bookmarks in one specific game:



    If you want to be taken directly to one of your bookmarked posts, you just click the post number.

    How do I quote bookmarks?

    You can also multi-quote bookmarked posts by clicking the little "+" button seen above on the far right side of each bookmark.

    Once you have multi-quoted all the bookmarked posts that you want to quote, you will then have to go to the game thread in which you wish to quote the bookmarked posts.

    Here you have two ways of quoting the posts.

    1. Click on "Reply With Quote" on another post as shown here:



      You will then probably want to delete the last post quoted in the reply box, but otherwise you should be good to go.
    2. Or you can do the more smooth option and click the "Reply To Thread" button at the top and bottom of the game thread - as shown here:



      By doing this you will open up a reply box containing only your multi-quoted bookmarked posts.
  41. Replies
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    Completed Just to clarify, MU's own rep last was not...

    Just to clarify, MU's own rep last was not mislynched on D1 last year and advanced to wildcards anyway (I know this because I *was* MU's rep last year - and my backup rep who ended up getting in a game did not do this either). The person you're thinking of had a regular presence on MU at the time, but they were not MU's rep.
  42. The homegrown talent/squad registration issue is...

    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeP47 (#316)
    Good position! Good to develop homegrown talent too (especially for squad registration). That's why I was concerned about those questions earlier.
    The homegrown talent/squad registration issue is definitely becoming more and more of an obstacle as my team continues to progress.

    Right now we have five homegrown players in the squad: Castaño, Dupuis (not an academy product but I bought him young enough for him to qualify), Ramírez, Arrese, and now López. Realistically, Ramírez and Arrese are not good enough to contribute on a squad of this level. But, minimum quotas are in place and they're fairly cheap, so I keep them around and try to work around them. If López continues to be a solid contributor and develops into an even better player, that'll give me license to dump one of the two and buy an actually good player in their place.

    -edit- Forgot about Pablo, he's a sixth. Original point stands.
  43. Season 9, Part V: How a Teenager took Cartagena...

    Season 9, Part V: How a Teenager took Cartagena by Storm


    By Ricardo López
    For The Players' Tribune



    I was 9 years old when Coach Hankerchief took over at Cartagena. I remember the day very clearly. My father, who has season tickets, came home laughing and cursing his misfortune that he ended up supporting a club that would hire some no-name American who couldn't even speak Spanish to take charge. "They must be laughing at us over in Murcia!" he said. "They must be calling us all fools! And the worst part is, I think they're right!"

    As I was 9 years old at the time, my father was, to me, the source of all wisdom and knowledge in the world. If he had an opinion on something, it was the truth. So I agreed with him. Cartagena, hiring some American? What nonsense!





    But my father renewed his season tickets nonetheless, taking me along as often as he could. And soon enough in the season, his tune changed. The men in charge of the club were no longer considered fools for hiring Hankerchief. After all, backed by the performances of José Luis Salido and Jesús Gutiérrez, the team hadn't looked better in years! Soon enough, we were in the Segunda B promotional playoff and won that, after an exciting final match against Deportivo B. We were back in Segunda Prime and my father couldn't have been happier.

    The team didn't stop there, though. They quickly established themselves in Segunda Prime, putting together a good run of results early in the season to provide them a buffer against relegation, and held steady for the second half of the year. We were staying up. The year after that, we were league champions and on our way to La Liga! My father was now calling himself a fool for ever doubting that Coach Hankerchief was anything besides a soccer visionary.

    As for me? It became apparent that I had a good amount of natural athletic talent, maybe even enough to play soccer professionally. A few teams were interested in bringing me into their youth systems, but for me, there was only one choice. I would don the black-and-white stripes of my hometown club. I would play for Cartagena.


    The years in the youth setup were difficult. I knew I was good, but Hankerchief kept making the squad better and better. First, they had a shocking finish in their first season in La Liga to secure a spot in the Europa League, and then the next year they won that entire tournament! They soon became Champions League regulars and became Real Madrid's biggest challenger for Spanish supremacy. How was a local boy ever to compete with that level of skill?

    I bided my time, simply doing whatever my coaches told me to do and always tried to get better. My father, worried that Cartagena had become too strong, advised me to try to find another team where I would be more likely to receive regular playing time. But my course had been set years ago. For me, there was only one club.

    At the start of this season, my faith paid off. I received word that Coach Hankerchief was promoting me to the first team straight from the U19s, skipping the B squad entirely! Domingo Marín was still recovering from a torn ACL and he had declared that he wanted to give as many people as he could a chance for playing time in Marín's absence.

    I was delighted. When the season started, I definitely wasn't Hankerchief's first choice - that went to Sergio Fernández - but I got to play on the same field as the European champions! I was playing alongside people I idolized while growing up! Gutiérrez joked with me! I would usually see game action once every couple of weeks or so, just enough to season me. I figured that I would be sent back down to the U19s or B squad - or maybe even loaned out - once Marín came back healthy.

    In January, Marín got fully recovered, but Hankerchief told me that I wasn't going anywhere. If anything, after a couple of weeks, my playing time only started to go up! Hankerchief's reasoning was simple: Marín hadn't impressed in his recovery and was still making mistakes, Fernández was better in the defensive midfield, and Francis Kamdem was hurt a lot.

    So that was how I found myself becoming Grégory Rousseau's regular partner in the defense at the age of 17. It certainly didn't hurt that I could score when I needed to, first a header off a free kick against Léganes that ended up being the winning goal in an offensive show:



    And then, one game later, I did this against Las Palmas:



    Afterwards, Coach Hankerchief told me that we had scored less than five goals directly on free kicks during his entire time at the club, and that I was going to be doing this a lot more often. All I did was find an opening and kick the ball through it!

    ---

    The season started to get rough in late February, though. Our first Champions League game of the knockout stage was against PSG, in Paris, and Hankerchief told me that he was going with experience over the hot hand and started Sergio Fernández alongside Rousseau in defense (Marín was playing emergency right back, as both the regular starters were hurt). We were thoroughly dominated by PSG's stable of experienced attackers and were lucky to get out of there with a 2-1 loss.

    After that game, the media put the loss on the fact that Hankerchief had sat me in defense. The coach called that nonsense and said that the attackers weren't clinical and that the midfielders needed to do a better job of maintaining possession. But after that, I couldn't help but notice that my playing time only continued to increase.

    A few weeks later, we were playing Real Madrid at the Cartagonova, in what was a super important match. We were up by two points against them in La Liga, and if we won, we would be in a commanding position. And I got the start! We ended up winning 3-1 after going down early. The people who do player ratings and analysis made note of my movement and excellent passing afterwards, assigning me a 7.2:



    But all I know is that I tried my best to stop Real Madrid from scoring and followed Coach Hankerchief's system.

    Four days later, we had the return match against PSG, and I got the start again! Just like with Real Madrid, we won 3-1, to win 4-3 on aggregate. My partner Rousseau got the deciding goal off a set piece. I'm so happy for him!

    ---

    So that's where I'm at now. Cartagena are in a comfortable spot in La Liga and play Monaco next in the Champions League. I'd really love to check out the Monte Carlo Casino while I'm there, but Hankerchief tells me to wait until I sign my next contract with the club. I guess that means he plans to be keeping me around for a while.

    In the meantime, I couldn't be more excited to be a part of this Cartagena squad. My father still has season tickets, though he goes with my mother now more often since I have a better view of the games than him. He now likes to refer to himself as a "fool twice over" for first disbelieving in Coach Hankerchief, and then for advising me to leave Cartagena.

    This is Cartagena's last year in the Cartagonova before we move, and I'll do whatever I can to make sure it sees a double trophy presentation before we pack up shop for good. I couldn't be more excited to be a part of this journey and hope to do so for many years to come.




    EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks for the submission Ricardo, this will work well and fits right in with our standard model of "wax poetic about your humble origins and pay lots of lip service to your team's fans" that we strive for at the Players' Tribune. One thing though: We try to keep the titles super generic - maybe switch it up to something like "Vamos Cartagena"? Thanks!

    - Derek
  44. Replies
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    Completed I'm late to the party (as usual), but just wanted...

    I'm late to the party (as usual), but just wanted to congratulate the mafia on an excellently-played game as well as the Top Four. This game had a lot of moving parts to it and was one of the more compelling games to follow so far this season.
  45. I think it's less about improving your youth...

    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeP47 (#312)
    That's some nice padding at the top. Only three non-Europeans in the squad seems a bit harsh. I don't think managing in England is that strict, though I'm still in the National League so what do I know. Though that brings me to a question, since you seem knowledgeable and were able to tell me about the sugar daddy thing. Most teams seem to have both a U18 and U23 squad. My team only has U18s. Will this change as I improve my youth level/facilities whatnot? (it's pretty crappy right now).

    Oh, and as an added fact of the moment, I was curious this morning. I recall you saying earlier in the AAR you weren't sure if the 4 groups of Segunda B were geographic or not. Wikipedia had the information buried, but if you search, you can find they are indeed geographic. This page shows all the team locations of your first season: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017%E...ivisi%C3%B3n_B

    Sadly, IRL Cartegena got 1st, but did not get promoted, I think.
    I think it's less about improving your youth level/facilities and more about you having enough money to support a U23 youth squad in addition to your U18s. Assuming you're financially stable at your current level, you might need the (relative) riches of a higher division to get one up and running.
  46. Season 9, Part IV: La Cucaracha I was...

    Season 9, Part IV: La Cucaracha


    I was originally going to title this post with something along the lines of "Fighting on Four Fronts" and go into detail about our trials and tribulations in the league, Copa del Rey, Europe, and the transfer front. But then something happened that superseded all of that. I swear to God I'm not making this up.


    This is completely baffling, even for him. Alonso's previous job had been with Athletic Bilbao, who had been underperforming in La Liga last year and where he wasn't able to save them from relegation. They kept him around for their year in Segunda Prime (despite all of my insults against him, he's a good manager in that league), but SACKED him midseason because they weren't currently in a promotional position.

    And Valencia hired him! Not only was he sacked by a team in the second division, he had also previously had a job with Valencia and couldn't make it through November of his first season before getting the axe. He didn't win a single league game with them! And he's back! I don't even have words for this anymore. I'm ripping on him at the press with every opportunity that I get, but it's mechanical at this point. You could tell me that Alonso walked away from a direct asteroid hit and I'd believe you.

    ---

    Anyway, four fronts. As previously mentioned, Sheick Malé is gone, headed for greener pastures (and, hopefully, regular playing time) in Turkey. In his place are two reinforcements:

    Michael Joham (GK) - €4 million from Red Bull Salzburg: Normally I don't like paying for backup goalkeepers, but it was the winter window so I couldn't just sign a decent player on a free. Joham isn't asking for much in terms of wages and played reasonably well against us in our two Champions League group stage games against Salzburg. Best of all, he understands that he's Robert's backup, so hopefully he won't go pouting off like my last two formerly-starting goalkeepers (Ferrer and Malé) did in a year or two.



    Joham filled a hole, but I also wanted to upgrade, specifically at midfield. We had steady rotation in two of my three midfield slots: Castaño/Pauwels and Martínez/Dupuis. But Ángel Fraile's only backup was Gorka Arrese, a homegrown product who, while a fine player, was certainly a step down from Fraile's energy and work rate. If we were to compete for La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Champions League, we couldn't have a dropoff in quality anywhere on the board.

    Luckily, Cartagena's new board finally pulled their heads out of their safety deposit boxes and got me a lot closer to the financial backing I had been dreaming for:



    Moving quickly, I spent about half of it on what blew away our record transfer amount (Bruinier, €25.5 million):

    Ulisses Gaspar (MF) - €41 million from Sporting Lisbon: It took me paying the full release clause to pry him away from the Portuguese club, but I think it'll be worth it. Due to a rule saying I was only allowed to have three non-Europeans on the team (Robert, João Antônio, and Abdulla Mohammed; Borracha got Spanish citizenship a few years back), I couldn't buy a cheaper Argentinian product that I had my eye on. It won't matter. The game says that Gaspar is best suited for the type of role that Castaño and Pauwels currently occupy. *I* say that Gaspar will be a perfect fit for the box-to-box role with a bit of physical training.



    ---

    Gaspar was definitely a departure from my bargain-hunting ways, but I don't see the sense in having some newly-acquired financial muscle if we don't flex it. I had him signed and on the bench immediately; January was going to be a brutal month for us and we needed all hands on deck.

    First up was the next round in the Copa del Rey: a two-legged match against Léganes. Let's not mince words here: Both legs were dire. In the first leg, at the Cartagonova, we played them to a 0-0 draw in what was easily our dullest match of the season, and I'm including our follies in the 4-4-2 in that list. The second leg was similarly 0-0, though not with new addition Gaspar demonstrating his preferred move of "Looks to pass rather than score" at the worst possible time:



    There's no other word for it: That was just ugly. It's any player's dream scenario - he was completely unmarked on a corner and the ball was perfectly placed. And he... headed it away to to Rousseau, and by the time Rousseau fired it at the net the opponent was able to react. Just bad.

    The game went to extra time, and then penalties, where Gaspar missed his kick to compound matters. Léganes eventually advanced by defeating us 3-1 in the penalty shootout. Former Cartagena vice captain Víctor Molina scored the winner. I felt a bit sick.

    ---

    So we weren't winning everything this year. But the Copa del Rey is a distant third on our list of priorities behind La Liga and the Champions League, and it no longer on our plate means we get a bit more days of rest for the rest of the season.

    The league was a different matter. We'd been on a winning streak dating back to November in La Liga, but both Madrid teams - Real and Atlético - were matching us stride for stride, and we had a tricky game coming up against Atlético at the Metropolitano. Most of my preferred lineup sat during the Léganes loss (and there's a definite dropoff at a lot of positions, particularly striker this year) and were fresh and ready to go.

    Thankfully, the starters delivered on a spectacular effort to put us in clear first place.



    With more of a rest period for the remainder of January (there are a lot of Copa del Rey games that month), we kept the win streak going and have put together the biggest league lead in all my time with Cartagena:



    Things are looking good, but they could go up in smoke in an instant if we don't do well in Europe. Our first leg against PSG looms, and Dirk-Jan Bruinier is still in a snit after he didn't get his move to Manchester United during the winter window. They bid €84 million for him, which I swatted aside like a troublesome gnat.

    He'll live. Everyone's happier with silverware staring them in the face.
  47. Replies
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    Completed Congrats to the top four! You all played very...

    Congrats to the top four! You all played very well.
  48. Replies
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    Not quite.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeP47 (#1018)
    Confirm!

    GeneralHankerchief as the host eh? Football Manager themed?
    Not quite.
  49. Season 9, Part III: The Australian Sojourn In...

    Season 9, Part III: The Australian Sojourn


    In my primer on how soccer teams operate, in the second post of this thread, I listed the major competitions that teams took part in and included this following section:

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#2)
    - Several minor one-or-two-off tournaments that you're entered in if you won stuff the previous season. Not worth going into detail about here.
    Now is as good a time as any to go into detail about these, as they're becoming increasingly relevant. We are eligible to be in three of these minor competitions:

    - The Supercopa de España, or simply Supercopa. This is a home-and-away match at the start of the season between the previous year's winners of La Liga and the Copa del Rey (if one team won both, it becomes a rematch of the previous year's Copa del Rey final). Probably the least important and most annoying of the three minor matches I'm eligible for, because it offers the smallest amount of prize money and we're technically supposed to take it seriously at a time when I'm more concerned about getting my players' fitness levels up for the season.

    - The European Super Cup. Mentioned from time to time in this AAR. This is a one-off match at the start of the season played at a neutral site contested between the previous winners of the Champions League and Europa League. I like this competition the most out of the three because it's the richest and only a single match.

    - The FIFA Club World Cup. This tournament sounds incredibly prestigious (it's got "World Cup" in its name! It's run by FIFA!) but it's... not. At least not in Europe. Contested between the winner of each continent's version of the Champions League (as well as whichever is the best team of the host nation), it takes place in mid-late December of each year at a neutral site. European teams start playing in the semifinals, so they only have to play two matches. This competition is fairly lucrative and generally winnable, but its timing means we have to make up a league match or two later on in the season, which can be hellish for fixture congestion if a team remains alive in all of their regular competitions.

    ---

    This year, by way of winning the Champions League, we were entered into the Club World Cup, and thus had to interrupt our excellent December to travel to Melbourne, Australia for a couple of games.




    I mostly treated our two matches as a way to rotate in our lesser players as well as give some of our stalwarts I've been phasing out one last opportunity for glory. In the semifinals, against Mexican squad Toluca, Mohammed scored two goals and Roberto Fernández, given a rare start on his 34th birthday, added a second as we won 3-1. Three days later, we faced Argentinian club San Lorenzo in the final. Sheick Malé recorded a clean sheet in his final appearance for Cartagena (more on that later) and Fernández came on to chip in his second goal of the tournament on a penalty.





    Due to these efforts, we are now world champions. This is somehow less prestigious than being European champions. Still, we returned from Australia one trophy heavier and €5 million richer. We'll take it.

    ---

    The January transfer window is just about to open, but we're saying good bye to an old friend. Sheick Malé, our goalkeeper who backstopped our wins in the Europa League and La Liga, has been unhappy about his playing time ever since we signed Robert at the start of last season. With his contract expiring after this year, he came to me and told me that he wanted out. I decided to honor his request, making sure that he had one last shot at glory and giving him starts in both Club World Cup games.



    The above picture is slightly inaccurate and out of date. We ended up selling him for €1 million to Fehnerbaçe. Happy trails and best of luck, Sheick.

    I have a replacement lined up, but as he hasn't officially joined yet (he will three days from where I paused the game to write this update), that will be for my next post. In the meantime, Bruinier is still sulking about not being allowed to join Manchester United unless they pay his release clause, and I'm actively looking for targets with which to reinforce our midfield for the second half of the season.

    Due to the Club World Cup, we now have one fewer game played than most of the other teams in the league, but should we win that one (we had a perfect December) we'll be in first by a single point.



    There's also the Copa del Rey (which really heats up in January) to consider, and we had the misfortune of drawing PSG in the Round of 16 in the Champions League. But the team is as locked in as I've ever seen them and they've all been here before. Most of my regulars are at peak age (25-28) and peak ability. They know they have the opportunity to forge something great, and they know that they'll never have a better shot to do so than this year.
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    Completed Gg wolves, overpowering effort. Condolences to...

    Gg wolves, overpowering effort.

    Condolences to the town, you guys fought hard, it just wasn't to be.
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Item Thief

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