For my first AAR I have decided to play China. Yes I know they stand head and shoulders above the rest of the Orient... I haven't played EU2 that much and I didn't want my first AAR to be one of those cheerful postings that ends with the line "and so, only 5 years after its inception the Kingdom of Such and Such was utterly destroyed." Goodness knows I've played a few of those games already (my record is having three different countries declare war Luxemburg within the first year... not a long game there needless to say). So why not play a Super power?
I won't bother to give the Policy settings as they will drastically change a few decades into the game when China gets the Zheng He has croaked event. I'll give them out once the Event has popped and everything goes haywire. I'm playing with normal/normal settings.
So here goes, hopefully this will not be too terribly bad.
Emperor Hongle sat upon his ivory throne and was troubled. Was it the constant squabbling of his nobles that wore heavily on his brow? Was it the presence of a large and soon to be hostile neighbor in Manchuria? Was it the question of what to do with the island kingdom of Nippon? Did the burden of his overlarge army devouring his treasury trouble him? Or was it just that his ongoing battle with constipation was taking its toll on him once again? No one knows the tale of what the mighty Emperor thought but his actions about leaving the Royal Lavatory where clear and decisive.
China stood like a great giant across the Asian landmass. Her Eastern border was protected by the very feebleness of her neighbors there. The South teemed with danger and possible rivals, but the lack of resources and provinces spelled doom for any foolhardy enough to make war on great China. To the West lay the island of Nippon, the only country to muster military resources even close to those of China. And to the North? Aye, there was the problem at hand.
Manchuria and Korea were both quite powerful for their size and their dangerous proximity to the capital of China could not be ignored. Of the two Manchuria was the more dangerous. Her army was large and well trained, her hatred for the great realm unquestioned.
Hongle declared what would later be known as the Northern Solution. Manchuria would be humbled and her mighty armies destroyed. Her provinces would be taken from her one by one, with pauses between the wars to allow China to regather her strength and not appear too greedy to the rest of the world. Korea would be neutralized though diplomatic means till it was her turn to face the armies of China. Nippon would be drawn ever closer to the Imperial court through royal marriages, treaties and gifts to her king. The East could be ignored and the South would be watched like a hawk by a powerful force of horsemen.
The great and powerful army of China was moved to the Northern border. Over 100K+ strong it dwarfed the two Manchurian armies facing it, though their combined might was almost 65K. Once upon the border the army waited till the time was right for it unleash its awesome power (and for me to get a pesky Diplomat to finally show up).
The signs were finally right in the summer of 1419 and the Imperial army surged across the border into Manchuria. The larger of the two Manchurian armies was brought to combat and after a long and costly battle was utterly destroyed. Meanwhile 7k horsemen from the other remaining Manchurian army struck into China and besieged a border province. A contigent of 15k infantry was brought up to deal with them. But they were routed by the superior tactics and fighting ability of the Manchurians and retreated in dissarry to the South. Hongle turned his ponderous army to the South and marched on the foolish horsemen. They were wiped from the face of the Earth. Only one force stood between China and the undefended lands of Manchuria. In the fourth of the great battles of the North the last Manchurian army was brought to bay and slain to the last man.
Leaving behind a force to besiege Jehol, Hongle moved the main army to Lieokung (never can spell that sucker right)and brought its walls under attack. The two cities would bravely hold out while disease and desertation took its toll on the Chinese army. Lord Hongle was not dismayed by this and announced that all was going according to plan. Then he returned to his Ivory Throne for more thinking. At last the siege of the main army was successful and the detachment besieging Jehol was nearing fruitition. The stubborn Manchurians still refused Hongle's reasonable request for the border provice of Jehol and as a result he determined to carry the fight deeper into Manchurain soil. The capital of Manchuria itself was brought under siege and after a long and bitter winter finally fell. Its fall brought the Manchurians to the bargaining table and the province of Jehol was added to the Chinese Empire. But at what price? Almost 100K Chinese perished in the bitter war. Hongle just smiled and asked his advisors for the tax records of the varios provinces.
Thanks I thought giving myself a little breathing space would be a good thing. Basically my pre-playing goals were the same as Northern Solution. Crush Manchuria and Korea, keep the peace with Nippon and strengthen the realm. From there limited expansion in the South (Tibet and the Khanate are just so worthless its not worth taking them) when the oppurtunity comes along and preparing for the arrival of the Europeans. My ultimate long term goal is to keep the Europeans completely out of the Far East. So we shall see.
The great Emperor China was confused by his notes. Heads have rolled and Eunuchs have been... well... ok they have suffered enough. I'm playing at Normal and Normal. I figured it would give me a good tussle but not overwhelm me (of course I didn't take into account the troubles I'd run into when the Zheng He event happened.).
The war with Manchuria had gone precisely has Hongle had planned. The greatest military threat to the nation had been the Manchurian army, and it was no more. But the war had another goal, a much more sinister goal and in that Hongle was also quite successful.
Surely there is no country in the world that can compare to the economic might of Great China. Her CoT is the wealthiest and her provinces the most affluent. (A note to the readers... Emperor Hongle does not handle being second best... it would be wise not to mention the wealth of the Delhi Center of Trade in his presence. Ahem.) Not only did this great economic might allow China to assemble large armies virtually overnight (and the manpower of China was equal to that task)it also allowed for an aggressive policy of research to help improve the country. But there was a threat to this economic prosperity just as dangerous as the Manchurian threat.
The biggest burden on China's budget was her over large army. With over 100k men in arms the monthly drain on the budget was 28 ducats a month. Not even the vast resources of China could support such an expense. The war in Manchuria fixed that problem. After the war the budget cost of supporting the army had gone down from 28 ducats to just 3 ducats a month. All at the cost of nearly 100k killed in the war.
But Hongle wanted more ducats to fill the coffers of Imperial China. A royal marriage with Nippon had been signed during the Manchurian war. This was followed up upon the conclusion of that war with a 150 ducat loan by China to the government of Nippon. This was shortly followed by another loan of 100 ducats to the merchants of Malacca. In time these two countries would become a major part of the Chinese economy. Both of them could afford the cost of taking a loan and both countries were on good diplomatic terms with China. This pattern of loans would continue throughout Hongle's reign into that of his successors.
The kingdom was greatly cheered by the news that Hongle's 4th wife had given birth to a male heir. This proof that the "Loins of Thunder" were still in perfect working condition heartened the populace. Hongle was quite fond of his children and arranged for them to be taking from his sight immediately after their birth and locked away so that there would be no danger of him having them slain(Emperor Hongle had a very short temper).
Hongle's joy and happiness were soon to come to a dramatic end. After the Manchurian war he had dispatched messengers throughout China to discern the state of the taxation system. When these messengers returned they informed Lord Hongle that all over China people routinely evaded paying their taxes and that this loss of income probably cost the government more then a hundred ducats a year. Hongle recieved this unpleasant news with the grace and dignity he was well known. That is to say he began frothing at the mouth and had everyone in the Throneroom put to death. Experienced courtiers noting the tell tale signs of increased muscle twitches and uncontrollable flatulence from the Emperor had already fled the room.
After regaining control of himself Lord Hongle set about reforming the taxation system of China (The infrastructure for China advances to the stage where tax collectors are allowed). Starting in Shanghai and working outwards through the rest of the country every province had an Imperial tax collector put in office to streamline the flow of money to the capital. This practice would take almost three years to complete and it would fall on Hongle's successor to finish the task.
Upset by this infringement on their historical rights a group of noblemen petioned the king to restore other rights the nobles held as to the production of goods in their provinces. The sole surviving witness to this request reported that Hongle began to violently twitch upon hearing this request and rose from his throne (not his Ivory Throne which was just off of the royal throne room) like a great dragon. A great flatulent dragon. All of the nobles in the room were put to death in truly horrible ways and their families narrowly avoided sharing their fate (random event, nobles request return of historical rights, -1 stab.). This would be the beginning of an often bitter struggle between the Emperor and the Nobles for control of China.
Many suspect that the fury Hongle felt upon hearing this request so infuriated him that it brought on a crippling sickness. For the next year he was content to sit on his Ivory Throne. Even though it was evident a great sickness was upon him he appeared at a dinner in which the ambassador from Korea was being honored. So great was his force of personality (even in his reduced state) that relations between the two countries were improved to the point that the Koreans declared themselves to be our friends (random event +50 in relations). Hongle followed up this diplomatic triumph with the immediate marriage of his second oldest daughter to the ruler of Korea. The following month he cemented his gains on the diplomatic front by giving away his third daughter to the King of Malacca, cementing ties between the two great mercantile empires of Asia.
This last flurry of activity was too much for his weakened body. He went to his Ivory Throne one night and never returned. After a week of waiting the court Eunuchs pronounced that the Emperor had died. The Ivory Throne was sealed away to provide Hongle with a proper resting place. Shortly afterwards rumors began to spread that Hongle was still alive and was waiting to one day come forth from the Ivory Throne and deliver judgement to the people of China. Upon reflecting on this rumor the court Eunuchs had the Ivory Throne dug out from the palace, transported many Li away and placed in the bottom of an abandoned stone quarry. They then had the quarry filled up again to ensure that Hongle was not disturbed in his rest. And so it came to end.