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Thread: Ayutthaya - The March of the Elephant

  1. #1
    Lt. General merrick's Avatar
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    Ayutthaya - The March of the Elephant

    Hello everyone! As a long-term lurker on this forum, and an admirer of many of the writers here, I think it's only fair to try and put something back and write an AAR of my own. (OK, who am I kidding - I'm a confirmed show-off).

    I've chosen to try Ayutthaya because
    a) It's an interesting challenge - tricky, but not Albania
    (Actually, this is my second try at Ayutthaya - the first one came to an untimely and sticky end under the Chinese juggernaut. And that was only on Normal).
    b) There aren't many South-East-Asian AARs out there
    (I note there are only two Ayatthaya AARs in the LibrAARy and neither gets to 1500 - I'll try and live longer than that.)
    c) I like elephants. 'Nough said.

    The Game will be a vanilla Grand Campaign, starting in 1419, played in v1.05 (I'm not going to try and learn a whole new playing style until the betas stop and 1.08 comes out), on Very Hard Difficulty (I'm stupid, but brave) and Normal Aggressiveness (not that brave!)

    The AAR will probably be written in pseudo-history-text mode unless I get struck by inspiration (stranger things have happened...).

    While I'm trying to do well, this is not a World Conquest attempt. I'm well aware that there are people here who could conquer the world with Ayutthaya - by 1650 - and write a brilliant AAR about it (not to mention doing the Minute Waltz and ...), I am not one of them.
    So I'm trying to keep my objectives reasonable.

    Objectives

    1) Not to get squashed by China.

    2) To unite all Buddhist provinces (or as many as I can manage) under a single flag (mine).

    3) To claim as much currently unclaimed land as reasonably possible for Enlightenment and the Thai people.

    4) To return the European colonialists whence they came, suitably chastised.

    5) If things go really well, Ganges & Guangdong look nice...

    6) To maintain a tenuous grip on rationality.

    7) Not to get squashed by China.

    0) To have as much fun as possible on the way. Enjoy the ride!

  2. #2
    Fighting the Boredom

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    There is a nice edge of humour even to the opening of this AAR... you know you mentioned not getting squashed twice... although i bet that was deliberate

  3. #3
    Lt. General merrick's Avatar
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    Chapter 1 - Setting the Scene

    In 1419, the kingdom of Ayutthaya comprised a mere three provinces (Bangkok, Kwai and Phuket), located at the head of the Gulf of Siam. It was perhaps the most powerful of the Buddhist states of the region, but this was very much a case of first-among-equals. It could not approach the size or strength of the great nations of India, let alone the Chinese empire, nor could it match the wealth of the Muslim trade states to its south.

    The population was uniformly Buddhist in religion, and the kingdom was dominated by a powerful noble class, which dominated the court, the merchants and the peasantry (1).
    Despite the riches of Bangkok province, Ayatthaya was not wealthy, and its scientific and technical development can only be described as backward (2).

    Militarily, Ayutthaya was no more than a minor power. The army was small, somewhat neglected, and of no special size or training; and the kingdom and its rulers had thus far shown no interest in trade or war by sea (3).

    On its borders, the kingdom faced a kaleidescope of threats and possibilities.
    To the north-west were the squabbling Burmese states - Pegu, Taungu, Myanmar & Assam - each with claims on all the others and ready to march at the first opportunity, not to mention Muslim-ruled Arakan.
    To the north-east, beyond the relatively stable neighbours of Vientiane and Cambodia, was the aggresive young nation of Dai Viet, ready to shake off the yoke of Chinese dominance, and the Hindu holdout of Champa.
    To the south were the maritime Muslim states of Indonesia - Malacca the richest and most dominant, with its great port and trade hub, its bitter rivals Atjeh & Brunei and distant Makassar, locked in a private contest with Hindu Mataram for the rich spice trade. And among and beyond these were the unclaimed islands of Indonesia and beyond that the unexplored ocean.
    Dominating the scene from the northern border was China, bigger than all the rest put together, richer and far more advanced. Ayutthaya might be the elephant kingdom, but even the elephant fears the dragon.


    Ayutthaya in 1419.


    Ayutthaya is red-brown, centre. Neighbouring states (clockwise from upper left): Pegu (light grey), Taungu (orange), Vientiane (blue), Cambodia (dark grey), Malacca (yellowish).

    The diplomatic situation of the time was fluid. No-one had allies, everyone had ambitions. The brave rushed in, the prudent held back and everyone waited to see how the dice would fall.

    The king of Ayutthaya was Int'araja I, a skilled leader and competant administrator (4). It was to him that would fall the task of steering the Elephant Kingdom through the perilous jungles of the times.

    * * * * * * * *

    Notes:
    (1) Aristocracy 7, Centralisation 2, Mercantilism 9, Serfdom 7
    (2) Tech Levels 0/0/0/0 Can't get more backward than that. (And with Buddhist religion, Chinese tech group and Innovative 3, it's not getting better any time soon).
    (3) Offensive 5, Land 5, Quality 2 (And manpower is still only 6). 10,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry, no ships and merchants have yet to be invented.
    (4) Very Good Diplomacy, Very Good Military, Good Administrator. I like him.
    (5) Don't worry. Something will actually happen in the next installment.
    Last edited by merrick; 14-01-2004 at 00:00. Reason: Added screenshot

  4. #4
    Not so idle

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    Good luck. Awaiting for the real action!
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  5. #5
    Field Marshal

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    I enjoyed last year a very nice AAR that finished quite unexpected by 1500...I hope yours will have a longer life than that!
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  6. #6
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    I'm looking forward to this AAR, though I hope Cambodia squashes you.

  7. #7
    Field Marshal Judge's Avatar
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    Ah Ayutthaya, this country has a special place in my heart. It was the first country I ever played in EU 2 and I played it just before I went there on vacation so lots of funny memories that return when I play it.

    I have played the country several times, 1,07 included so I am looking forward to see how you will progress. Sadly I have not been very successful when playing. My usual tactics is to capture Malacca and the cot there, dominate the northern neighbours, colonise the Spice Islands.

    China is always the mortal enemy but a first strike is difficult because you are a bit too far away to be really successful and you do have a lousy manpower. Well good luck

  8. #8
    Oh energy where art thou? R.F.A's Avatar

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    I have som experience from a Dai viet Game according this, and i agree with Judge. HIT CHINA WHERE IT HURTS!

    Anyway, im gonna follow this
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  9. #9
    Not so idle

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    Just to give you a quick advice if you go to war against China... she is full of unfortified provinces, so take them fast with cavalry to gather a good war score if you can!
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  10. #10
    Lt. General merrick's Avatar
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    Chapter 2 - Int'araja I (1419-1424)

    Opening Moves

    In the spring of 1419, Int'araja made his first steps into the diplomatic arena. He chose to align himself with the neighbouring Buddhist states against the Muslims of the south and to pursue friendly relations with China and the Hindu states (1).

    Despite the political tensions in the region, a tenuous peace was preserved for the first few months of 1419. Int'araja took advantage of the breathing space offered to reorganise the army, with the intent of enhancing its battlefield effectiveness (2).

    The burmese pot finally boiled over in May, with Pegu launching an invasion of Myanmar. Shortly thereafter, the ruler of Dai Viet renounced his allegiance to the Emperor of China, and war quickly followed in the north-east as well.

    Given Int'araja's anti-Muslim leanings, it was a cause of general surprise that he accepted an offer of alliance from the muslim Sultanate of Atjeh in July of 1419. This alliance was obviously tactical and aimed at Atjeh's rival and Ayutthaya's neighbour, the sultanate of Malacca (3).
    It was a cause of very little surprise when Atjeh and Ayutthaya declared war on Malacca in May 1420.

    The First Malaccan War

    Despite the enthusiasm for war, the armies took time to position and prepare. The first blows were not struck until July, with a pre-emptive invasion of Atjeh by Malacca. This was repulsed, and Atjeh retaliated with a counter-invasion of southern Malacca. The army of Ayutthaya did not cross the border until August (4). Within a month it had defeated two Malaccan armies in Perak, and shortly thereafter the main Malaccan force, victorious over the Atjan invasion in the south, was defeated under the walls of Malacca itself. By the end of November, the Ayutthayan army had swept the length of the penninsula and Johor was under siege.

    The remains of the Malaccan armies rallied in Perak province, and the area was the scene of bitter fighting throughout 1421. Four consectutive Ayutthayan and Atjan attempts to secure the province were beaten off (5) before the last Malaccan field forces were overwhelmed and the final siege begun in early 1422.

    From then on it was simply a matter of waiting (6). Malacca fell in May, Perak in December, and finally Johor in May of 1423. Shortly thereafter, the Sultan of Malacca surrendered, granting Int'araja the provinces of Perak and Johor, free passage for his army and the remnants of his treasury.

    Developments Abroad

    The war in Burma went badly for Myanmar. Taungu attacked in January of 1420 and Vientiane joined them in August. Exhausted and overrun, Myanmar surrendered Shan province to Pegu for peace in June 1422 - and was promptly attacked by Arakan.

    Meanwhile, Dai Viet's attack on China was initially successful, overrunning the border provinces and prompting the Chinese Emperor to evacuate his court north in July 1421. In the years that followed, however, ever-increasing numbers of Chinese troops steadily forces Dai Viet onto the defensive, and by 1424 Hanoi was under siege.

    Advances at Home

    Even as his armies battled in Malacca, Int'araja set about advancing the the domestic affairs of Ayutthaya. His efforts were reward with a general advance in the commerce and infrastructure of the country (7), and in late 1421 the first foreign trade missions were dispatched, to the liberated harbour of Malacca. Januray1423 saw the reform of revenue collection in the capital.

    Following the First Malaccan war, the incorporation of large number of Muslims into Ayutthaya lead the king to relax his anti-Muslim strictures and allow the new citizens freedom of worship. In token of this new policy, a daughter of the king was given in arriage to the Sultan of Brunei in December of 1423.

    This marriage was Int'araja's last official act. He died in the winter of 1423 and was buried with great mourning (8).

    The new king was Boromoraja II. He was by birth and upbringing a soldier (9).

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Notes
    (1) Maximum tolerance for Buddhists, zero for Muslims (I wanted to provoke something) & Christians (who?), average-plus for Konfucians and Hindus. Given the cost of gifts to China, the Konfucian-tolerance slider is the only diplomatic tool I have.
    (2) +1 Offensive (to 6). Low-tech battles are all about morale (and cavalry).
    (3) I wanted a war with Malacca, they have a CB on Malacca. Next question?
    (4) Malacca had 15k on the border, facing my 13k. Fortunately Atjeh got them to move.
    (5) What's more annoying than having your siege broken by a routing army? Having your siege broken by recruits. Every time they kicked me out they started recruiting again.
    (6) And hoping Atjeh didn't make peace for ducats. But Atjeh did brilliantly (from my point of view) - they engaged the enemy, didn't steal a siege and didn't make peace.
    (7) Trade 1, Infra 1. Also Land 1 & naval 1, for what it's worth.
    (8) Now 5 provinces, 1/1/1/1 tech and a monthly income of 7 (up from 3).
    (9) Dip Average, Adm Average, Mil Excellent and a 3/2/4/1 leader. This should be fun...

  11. #11
    Lt. General merrick's Avatar
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    Thanks for the support everyone

    Just for the record, Real Men do indeed attack China in the 1420s. I, however, am a Wimp.
    Besides, Ayutthaya doesn't start with a border with China (Taungu & Vientiane are in the way), doesn't start with a CB on China, and I couldn't get an alliance with Dia Viet before they started their war. And I wanted that CoT in Malacca. One step at a time.

    Merrick

  12. #12
    Field Marshal Judge's Avatar
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    Nice update, just the opening I would do too.

    Moreover; it was some time since I last played the country but if I remember correctly you get a good leader early on. As for China, I agree, it is too far and it is too risky to get MA and then strike.

  13. #13
    Oh energy where art thou? R.F.A's Avatar

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    nice uppdate! Let those infidels to the south suffer long and hard!
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  14. #14
    CatAARstroph1c moderator Moderator Stroph1's Avatar
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    You have started well. I enjoy AARs from this region. It is a challenging mix to work with.

    I wish you luck!
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  15. #15
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    Nice starting as well! Soon Malacca will be yours, which can boost your income with trade tariffs.

    Are we going to have screenies?
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    Field Marshal jwolf's Avatar
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    Merrick, I want to encourage you to keep this up! I am playing a GC with Dai Viet now and I have found this area to be a challenge in a lot of ways. Moving and fighting in the jungle/mountains of Indochina is literally a killer. At one time, in the mid 1400s, my log showed about 6K killed in combat and ten times that number through attrition.

    And China is truly a ferocious dragon, at least early on. Through 1600 in my game they have kept pace in land tech, matching or exceeding the rich Western Europeans such as France, certainly no slouch in the tech department. They got land tech 9 at or about 1500, and level 18 before 1600.

    In my game Ayuttayah got hit by Malacca, just the opposite of your campaign, losing Kwai and Phuket. Then one of my allies declared war on them, so I took Bangkok. No offense meant, of course. I hope your Ayuttayah does much better.

  17. #17
    Fighting the Boredom

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    Thumbs up

    Great so far... and i like the way you use the notes section at the end to avoid over-"technifying" (new word!) the AAR as it is written... good stuff!

  18. #18
    Field Marshal jwolf's Avatar
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    I particularly liked this line:

    "The diplomatic situation of the time was fluid. No-one had allies, everyone had ambitions. The brave rushed in, the prudent held back and everyone waited to see how the dice would fall."

    A perfect description of the free-for-all at the beginning, valid for so many areas, especially this one!

  19. #19
    First Lieutenant Eustonian's Avatar

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    Thumbs up

    Great start

    I had almost the same plans as ayutthaya

    I conquered all budhists xcept dai viet cause half of china rebeled to him
    And Tibet.. (2 Supply+Out of supply+Mountains+Almost Perpetual Winter=You do the math)
    Confused newbie.

  20. #20
    Lt. General merrick's Avatar
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    Ooh! Lots of replies!

    Thanks for the support again, everyone and I certainly intend to keep going (China permitting).

    jwolf - Yup, Indochina, home of the support-4 mountain province. Sieging any sort of fort in there is painful.
    And yes, China is scary to start with, but once they they learn to assault the Imperial Hordes become terrifying.

    Anibal - Screenies are not really a prospect as (a) I have nowhere to host them & (b) I'm not sure how to set them up anyway.

    Big instalment coming - hold the line!

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