As Madam Zheng and Baron's group were so close to each other, they decided that they would each conquer in different directions from each other. Madam Zheng would conquer north and eastwards, while the latter decided to subjugate to the south, west, and east. Zi Bo and Zi Ji Ge were no slowpokes when it came time to train their troops and getting their weapons and such into working order.
Those two spent days before the official start date of the clashing on working out a workable way to win as much land as possible. There weren't a lot of islands in their vicinity and there were in total 3 or 4 giant islands that would prove even more difficult to take once the tournament progressed to the later stages. This was not something that they could control so they could only gradually conquer instead of continuing in one direction so that they could take one of the big islands for themselves.
For one, the waters here were deep enough for submarines to comfortably operate and that would ensure a whole new level of risk that would come with venturing too far from the homeland. The situation with bases was a little unique with the naval tournament in that if you didn't have land in your territory, you could only use your ships as your base. This meant that if you don't have land nor a sturdy enough main fleet, your chances of success weren't very high. Plus, even if you did manage to have a strong fleet, it didn't guarantee that you would have a higher chance of survival.
In this competition, having land was crucially important for a multitude of reasons. The main one being that no matter how powerful you are, there is nothing better than being able to regroup with your men on dry land. The other reason is that it is possible to use land-based weaponry on land. The same could not be said when all you have are ships. This adds an extra layer of defense when it comes to defending territory.
At the beginning, there were over 10 thousand strategists that were vying for supremacy out in the open waters. Those that shared territory with land started to fight each other so that they would be the sole rulers of their island. Others made truces and alliances because they knew that it was better to not get into a death feud right at the start, No matter how many weapons and men one had, there were more uses for them at the later stages rather than at the beginning.
Madam Zheng's group and ZI Ji Ge's group decided to not do this since they knew from experience that these pacts didn't last anyway and it was better to get rid of competition early on rather than when both sides have matured into their most fearsome state. Madam Zheng's group had a much larger island that they had to fight over so they took a little while longer than Zi Ji Ge's but they managed to do it since their opponents weren't the most experienced strategists.
Zi Bo and Zi Ji Ge had a much smaller island to conquer and as such needed less than a week to do so. Madam Zheng's group took closer to 3 weeks. With one small island under their control, the Zi siblings quickly made use of the land to make sure that they had enough defenses on the island. The two leaders did not have many blueprints in this department and Baron and the other two stepped in and provided a few they thought were appropriate. They brought out missiles, radio towers, a bunch of radars and Baron's favorite ancient flamethrower. The reason Baron decided to use this here was that it would be overly useful to fleets that were still made of wood, not so much when it came to anything modern and made of metal.
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While this weapon was not exactly useful for the endgame of such a large tournament like this, it would serve to be extremely useful for anyone still using ancient ships. The radio and radar technologies were built in record time and they were able to communicate with each other and be able to detect enemy ships that had a motor within a 25 km radius of them. The only disadvantage would be that wooden ships would be able to slip through, that's why there were multiple men stationed around the island to keep watch of anyone coming to steal their land.
This was only possible because they were able to convince most of the other strategists that had territory within the land to convert themselves to be under the Zi siblings. This proved to be a great boon to their strength and a great early advantage. Once they had prepared all of their defenses, and other infrastructure projects, they continued to conquer all of the territories with the people now under their control.
Within 3 months of the battle start date, the Zi siblings' territory reached from the southwestern edge of the map to the almost a quarter way to the middle of the map. They did not make much leeway into territories from their north due to Madam Zheng instructing them not to do such a thing.
Madam Zheng, on the other hand, had claimed much more territory in addition to their mid-sized island that they had to take control of first. Her group did not rely on absorbing conquered enemies into their own group. Instead, they adopted a tactic like the Bair fighters in the previous competition had. This might have led to an overall decrease in their strength but Madam Zheng knew that it was better to rely on people she has fought with before instead of relying on strangers. Three months in she was doing war with the corner island on the northwesternmost island that extended all the way to the edge of the map.
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