It will end as it began, in the crucible of combat.
The nations of Europe have been forged by war into instruments of terrible power. The ancient kingdoms of Africa and India; the golden cities of the Americas; the nomads of the Russian steppe; all have in their time fought the dominion of Europe, and all have been destroyed in their turn. Only China remains, a wounded dragon struggling to keep its foes at bay. Now a new age of iron and steam power promises to multiply the strength of nations. The subject peoples groan under the yoke as the prospect of successful revolt dwindles. Only in the quarrels of their overlords is there hope for them; and those struggles now have the power to kill men by the hundreds of thousands, in such wars as even Europe's blood-soaked history has not seen.
And what of that troubled continent itself? Its thronging masses have such prosperity as their grandfathers could only dream of; daily its factories churn out such amounts of goods as nations might before have made in a year. But still its rulers are not content. In the cold corridors of power men plot the fate of nations, calculating the weight of armies and guns, ships and shells. Their ancestors have struggled for half a millennium to win the hegemony of Europe, and even were they inclined to heed the voice of sanity, to cease their plans for war and enjoy new-found wealth, that trap of their own making enshrouds them; for who would be the first to lay down his arms, and trust in the goodwill of others?
Europe is a glittering beacon, a powerhouse of wealth and industry, an example to the world - and it is a charnel house of shattered dreams, where widows wail in the wake of broken armies. Only time can show which fate is the truer; whether it will be an Age of Trade - or of Dominion.
So, we've struggled through Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis. Now we'll be expanding our battles to the industrial age! Nine Powers remain, where once there were many : England, Burgundy, Spain, Norway, Poland, Italy, Byzantium, Persia and China. The question is, can China with its vast population catch up to the established industries of England and Spain? Will Belgium be able to turn its German population into the enormous industrial machine they deserve to be? Can Norway overcome the handicap of small numbers, through high technology? Stay tuned!
Here is Europe after the first session.
The players should be familiar to those who've followed our game through Europa, but let me give a quick rundown of strengths and weaknesses in Vicky. Norway, as mentioned, has a very small population. However, our literacy is the best in the game, as is our tech base; it may be possible to turn this into a sufficient advantage that Yngling rule will again spread back into Germany, or further over the Americas.
England has Norway's handicap to a rather lesser extent, but at this stage they are not feeling the pinch - hence their First Power status. Coal, iron, colonies, largest navy in the world; not a nation to tangle with. However, they will be in trouble as the need for industrial POPs becomes more pressing; one might expect them to attempt to deal with the threats to their hegemony before that happens. On the other hand, Bob is a peaceable sort of fellow; we may see a more or less historical England, which doesn't fight to stay on top, at least not pre-emptively.
Burgundy (Belgium) on the other hand, with French+German culture, will feel no such pain. Had it been up to me, they'd have felt a gangbang in our alst EU2 session, but that proved impossible to arrange. They'll be a juggernaut once they get their industries properly organised; it is to be hoped that a coalition can deal with them before that happens.
Finally, Spain, second only to England in power and size. They have a new player, Samilou, an experienced Vicky veteran - indeed, it may be that superior skill will prove more decisive in the long run than simple numbers. The rest of us are VIcky noobs, after all! So, three giants; their respective strengths : A good start, a huge population, and skill. And on the outskirts, Norway, always looking for the main chance; patiently awaiting the day when our foes will be weakened, and the berserker hordes let loose to pillage the ruins of a continent.
Poland is at war with China, as is Byzantium; they appear to be winning, at the moment. That should change when China gets its player back; if anyone wants to assert Western superiority by taking command of one of these nations, please feel free. Drop me a PM.
South America, divided into Burgundian and Spanish spheres of influence.
North America, with four divisions. Unfortunately I was late in the colonial race due to a crippling lack of explosives; it took me some time to get my factories properly set up.
Asia, where China is not looking as strong as we expected it to be.
And Africa, off-limits until 1860. Then we should see some scrambling.
As an aside, we need players for Italy, Poland, and Persia. If you wish to play, you are very welcome; the game is at 0600 Pacific time, on Saturdays. That's 0900 Eastern, and 1500 CET. Send me a PM or post in the B&I forums.