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Thread: The AARlander Issue #14 ACA Results Issue November 2008

  1. #1
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    The AARlander Issue #14 ACA Results Issue November 2008



    Welcome to the AARLANDER , AARland's monthly publication ! If you would like to write for the AARlander , contact canonized or English Patriot - everyone is welcome ! Also , what's the best way to support the AARlander aside from writing ? Give comments ! Put your comments in the AARlander: Comments and Discussion Thread for our writers to read !


    Code:
    Editor in Chief and Cover Artist : 
    canonized
    
    Editors:
    English Patriot
    
    Assistant Editors on Staff: 
    General_BT  Estonianzulu  ForzaA
    
    Secretary:
    Avernite
    
    Contributors for This Month: 
    phargle   The Swert  robw963   canonized
    Alfred Packer   The_Guiscard  Degeme
    Comagoosie  crusaderknight  Capibara 
    
    Other Writers or Contributors on Staff: 
    Judas Maccabeus  LeonTrotsky  Hajji Giray I  TreizeV  Cyrus_The_Great ElidioEmperor
    JimboIX  VILenin  Grubnessul  jeffg006  Myth  grayghost  Kurt_Steiner
    Mettermrck  DerKaiser  KanaX  Alfred Packer  AlexanderPrimus  Atlantic Friend

    Last edited by canonized; 03-11-2008 at 16:53.

  2. #2
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    ACA RESULTS

    by phargle

    Hello! It's November 5th, the day after the most important voting of our lives finished. . . that's right, the AARland Choice AwaAARds for Q3 have wrapped up! Another round of the AARland Choice AwAARds has come and gone, and the winners are here in all their resplendent glory! Some categories were rocked by newcomers, while others were held by favorite mainstays of the forum. We also saw a lot of old favorite AARs ending this quarter, and the fans out there gave them all fantastic sendoffs. We also saw a lot of AARs making their debuts - you're going to find a lot of newcomers taking firsts this time around. It's all very exciting, provided none of you feels an urge to blow up Parliament. Those urges are totally inappropriate, and you should see a psychitrist pronto, tonto. Much has been said about the smaller turnout for this cycle, but there were still sixty-three voters this time around. That's down forty-one votes since Q2. Much of this was due to the turnout of votes in Rome being down by fifty percent, making the rise and fall of the Rome AAR sub-forum particular spectacular. Other things of interest are that there were no votes whatsoever for EU1 or HoI1 AARs, nor any votes for foreign-language AARs. Still, sixty-three is about where our average turnout sits, and the other categories generally saw good participation. Even Vicky had a slew of competitive contests. In other words, we did good - and we can do better next time. The ACA as an institution may need retooling to account for the changing readership of AARland, but let's not worry about that for now: there are dozens of AARs that earned votes and deserve y'alls congratulations. Without further ado, pretend I said something totally hilarious and enjoy the results!

    - - -

    AARland Choice AwAARds 2008 Q3
    Number of voters: 163

    Index:
    Rome AwAARds
    EU3 AwAARds
    HOI1/2 AwAARds
    Victoria AwAARds
    Crusader Kings AwAARds
    EU1/2 AwAARds
    AARland AwAARds

    Rome

    Favorite AAR, Rome:
    For Rome's Honor by comagoosie (8)

    Regnum Iudaeorum - The Lost Ten Tribes Of Israel by crusaderknight (3)
    "King of Kings" - An Arche Seleukeia AAR by TreizeV

    Favorite Narrative AAR, Rome:
    For Rome's Honor by comagoosie (6)

    Regnum Iudaeorum - The Lost Ten Tribes Of Israel by crusaderknight (5)
    I, Silvagenus - A Rome AAR by English Patriot (2)
    "King of Kings" - An Arche Seleukeia AAR by TreizeV

    Favorite Comedy AAR, Rome:
    Highly Original Title - a crash-test T&E 0.91 Rome AAR by Djack (5)


    Favorite History-Book AAR, Rome:
    "King of Kings" - An Arche Seleukeia AAR by TreizeV (2)

    Colchis - A New Dawn Approaches by Jaspume

    Favorite Gameplay AAR, Rome:
    Highly Original Title - a crash-test T&E 0.91 Rome AAR by Djack (6)

    The Die Is Cast - Caesar's Civil War (705 AUC) by Rensslaer (3)
    Colchis - A New Dawn Approaches by Jaspume (2)
    "King of Kings" - An Arche Seleukeia AAR by TreizeV

    Europa Universalis 3

    Favorite AAR, EU3:
    Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? by canonized (15)

    The Adventures of the Crovan Clan 2: The World Is Way Too Much by Alfred Packer (5)
    For God's Sake - A Castile AAR by PrawnStar (4)
    Paris ne vaut pas une messe! - A Huguenot IN AAR by Milites (3)
    A Greater Netherlands - IN Brabant AAR by FYROM (3)
    vINland: The White Falcon of Ragnorok by Urcules (2)
    The Ebony Cross and the Sacred Eagle (Era I) by rcduggan (2)
    Empires At Arms 1399-1960: Princes of the Renaissance by Darknesskilla (2)
    Asian Pearl - A Filipino AAR by thebigboss-89
    What if the Pope had 200,000 men? -- a Papal States EU3 1.3 aar by safferli
    Yaroslavl, Yourself by Brandenburg III
    Islamic Spain - IN Granada AAR by Monnikje
    And Rumours of War by King of Men, etc

    Favorite Narrative AAR, EU3:
    Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? by canonized (15)

    And Rumours of War by King of Men, etc
    The Adventures of the Crovan Clan 2: The World Is Way Too Much by Alfred Packer

    Favorite Comedy AAR, EU3:
    The Adventures of the Crovan Clan 2: The World Is Way Too Much by Alfred Packer (11)

    There might be Vikings out there! Or: how I accidentally traded my wife for a halibut by Greubnessul (4)
    Bavaria: A German Culture AAR (In Nomine) by EUR007 (2)

    Favorite History-Book AAR, EU3:
    Paris ne vaut pas une messe! - A Huguenot IN AAR by Milites (9)

    The Ebony Cross and the Sacred Eagle (Era I) by rcduggan (7)
    A Greater Netherlands - IN Brabant AAR by FYROM (3)
    Asian Pearl - A Filipino AAR by thebigboss-89
    Heaven On Earth: Part Two by asd21593
    Flower of the Lilly by Mr. Capiatlist

    Favorite Gameplay AAR, EU3:
    For God's Sake - A Castile AAR by PrawnStar (5)

    The Papal State:A Mission AAR for EUIII (In Nomine) by EUR007 (4)
    A Greater Netherlands - IN Brabant AAR by FYROM (2)
    Sforza!!! = A Milan AAR by Rensslaer (2)
    Mecklenburg: Shadow WC by unddu (2)
    What if the Pope had 200,000 men? -- a Papal States EU3 1.3 aar by safferli
    The Adventures of the Crovan Clan 2: The World Is Way Too Much by Alfred Packer
    Scotland the Brave (....but a wee bit cowardly sometimes....) by Babington-Smyth
    Yaroslavl, Yourself by Brandenburg III
    Stumbling Through the North -- An [IN] Denmark Learning AAR by Landwalker
    A shot of tAQUILEIA... an [IN] learning AAR by antracer
    Asian Pearl - A Filipino AAR by thebigboss-89
    The Eternal City: Rewriting Roman History 1399-1953 by AugustusCaesar
    And Rumours of War by King of Men, etc

    Hearts of Iron 1 & 2

    Favorite AAR, HOI1/2:
    WIELKOPOLSKA - Rise of the White Eagle - A Polish AAR by robw963 (6)

    The Setting Sun - Gotterdammerung, Japan 1944. by Remble (4)
    Resistance: Fall of Man - An Oral History by TreizeV (4)
    Return to Glory: A Germania AAR by Hardraade (4)
    For King and Country by Draco Rexus (3)
    German Freedom and German Greatness: The Legacy of Gustav Stresemann by Faeelin (3)
    Against all Odds: The United Kingdom in World War Two by trekaddict (2)
    Habsburga la vista, baby! - A 1914 Austro-Hungarian AAR by Helmold (2)
    Trouble in the East - WiF Japan AAR by Klaipedietis (2)
    The War Path (HOIDD) by Kurt Steiner
    Kamil Krofta Guesses Wrong by Alfred Packer
    City on the Volga reboot by Alexus
    Forging Destiny: Sunrise of a new world by KiMaSa
    Fatherland - Deutschland über alles by Kanitatlan

    Favorite Narrative AAR, HOI1/2:
    Weltkriegschaft by TheHyphenated1 (7)

    Against all Odds: The United Kingdom in World War Two by trekaddict (6)
    Resistance: Fall of Man - An Oral History by TreizeV (4)
    For King and Country by Draco Rexus (2)
    German Freedom and German Greatness: The Legacy of Gustav Stresemann by Faeelin (2)
    The War Path (HOIDD) by Kurt Steiner
    Return to Glory: A Germania AAR by Hardraade
    Mongolia calls the captain Deng by oriafontan
    Imperial Russia - The Golden Age by Doge Robert
    Josephe Makael's heritage - India continues by Yumo

    Favorite Comedy AAR, HOI1/2:
    Habsburga la vista, baby! - A 1914 Austro-Hungarian AAR by Helmold (9)

    Kamil Krofta Guesses Wrong by Alfred Packer (8)
    Furious Vengance - A 1944 UK AAR by El Pip (3)
    Mongolia calls the captain Deng by oriafontan
    WIELKOPOLSKA - Rise of the White Eagle - A Polish AAR by robw963
    Uniting Russia, (another) Kaiserreich AAR by Stefke

    Favorite History-Book AAR, HOI1/2:
    Crossfires, a French AAR for HoI2 Doomsday by Atlantic Friend (4)

    German Freedom and German Greatness: The Legacy of Gustav Stresemann by Faeelin (3)
    Against all Odds: The United Kingdom in World War Two by trekaddict (2)
    For King and Country by Draco Rexus (2)
    Forging Destiny: Sunrise of a new world by KiMaSa (2)
    Trouble in the East - WiF Japan AAR by Klaipedietis (2)
    The Prisoners of Silence - NSDAP 1936-1991 (History and background) by Karelian (2)
    Grey Alert: the German invasion of America by Winner (2)
    Lesser of Two Evils: Germany in a Draka World by soonerborn0524

    Favorite Gameplay AAR, HOI1/2:
    WIELKOPOLSKA - Rise of the White Eagle - A Polish AAR by robw963 (9)

    The Setting Sun - Gotterdammerung, Japan 1944. by Remble (6)
    Fatherland - Deutschland über alles by Kanitatlan (5)
    Trouble in the East - WiF Japan AAR by Klaipedietis (2)
    Habsburga la vista, baby! - A 1914 Austro-Hungarian AAR by Helmold
    Baltijas Republika - A Doomsday AAR by Von Uber
    Return to Glory: A Germania AAR by Hardraade


    Crusader Kings

    Favorite AAR, CK:
    Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR by General_BT (13)

    Knud Knýtling, Prince of Denmark (and other assorted tales) by phargle (6)
    Furor Normannicus by The_Guiscard (5)
    Chronicles of the Golden Cross by AlexanderPrimus (4)
    The Machiavellian Adventures of Princess Eleanor by frogbeastegg (2)
    Lo Llibre dels Feyts - The Book of Deeds by Kurt_Steiner
    The Beautiful Girl and the History Class by Jestor
    The Adventures of the Crovan Clan by Alfred Packer
    The Kingdom of Aarquitania- Alternate History with DVIP by Count Lake
    Kings of the North - an AH Finnish Mega Campaign by swippy

    Favorite Narrative AAR, CK:
    Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR by General_BT (12)

    Furor Normannicus by The_Guiscard (7)
    Chronicles of the Golden Cross by AlexanderPrimus (3)
    The Beautiful Girl and the History Class by Jestor (2)
    You Win or Die. by Spothisto
    Lotharingia -- A tale of resurrection by Snugglie
    Storm over Tintagel - A Cornwall AAR for CK:DV and the TASS mod by performer
    Ten Years After: The Lost Girl and the History Book by Jestor
    The Machiavellian Adventures of Princess Eleanor by frogbeastegg
    Heaven On Earth: Part One by asd21593

    Favorite Comedy AAR, CK:
    Knud Knýtling, Prince of Denmark (and other assorted tales) by phargle (12)

    Lo Llibre dels Feyts - The Book of Deeds by Kurt_Steiner (7)
    The Adventures of the Crovan Clan by Alfred Packer (4)
    Storm over Tintagel - A Cornwall AAR for CK:DV and the TASS mod by performer

    Favorite History-Book AAR, CK:
    The Kingdom of Aarquitania- Alternate History with DVIP by Count Lake (6)

    Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR by General_BT
    Heaven On Earth: Part One by asd21593
    Furor Normannicus by The_Guiscard
    Chronicles of the Golden Cross by AlexanderPrimus
    Storm over Tintagel - A Cornwall AAR for CK:DV and the TASS mod by performer
    The High Kings of Alba - A Scots MegaCampaign by Lord Valentine
    Revival of the Byzantine Empire by TC Pilot

    Favorite Gameplay AAR, CK:
    The Kingdom of Aarquitania- Alternate History with DVIP by Count Lake (5)

    Knud Knýtling, Prince of Denmark (and other assorted tales) by phargle (3)
    Kings of the North - an AH Finnish Mega Campaign by swippy (3)
    Storm over Tintagel - A Cornwall AAR for CK:DV and the TASS mod by performer
    The Adventures of the Crovan Clan by Alfred Packer
    A Nice Case Of Burgundy by Rex Angliae

    Victoria

    Favorite AAR, Vicky:
    Carefully Applied Force: A Prussian AAR by robou (9)

    The Golden Nation- California (VIP) AAR by DerKaiser (6)
    A Special Providence by Director (3)
    The Revenge of the Bear! A BeAARhug just for you! by Mishgan (3)
    So Far From God (Mexico 1836-'76) by ComradeOm (2)
    Uruguay - Vickywiki, the free encyclopedia by Llywelyn (2)
    The Roof of the World: A Tibetan AAR by Earendil
    An Irishman's Story by Hardraade
    The Harp and Crown: An Irish AAR by RossN
    "The Footsteps of Illustrious Men"- USA GC AAR by Estonianzulu
    Stiff Upper Lip: A Terribly British History by Dr. Gonzo

    Favorite Narrative AAR, Vicky:
    The Golden Nation- California (VIP) AAR by DerKaiser (6)

    An Irishman's Story by Hardraade (5)
    A Special Providence by Director (2)
    'I'm sorry, but you're not the only one...' by robou (2)
    What could have been: The story of Lt. Tuca in the Slovenská republika rád by demokratickid
    The Harp and Crown: An Irish AAR by RossN

    Favorite Comedy AAR, Vicky:
    Uruguay - Vickywiki, the free encyclopedia by Llywelyn (8)

    The Roof of the World: A Tibetan AAR by Earendil (2)

    Favorite History-Book AAR, Vicky:
    Carefully Applied Force: A Prussian AAR by robou (9)

    The Revenge of the Bear! A BeAARhug just for you! by Mishgan (5)
    "The Footsteps of Illustrious Men"- USA GC AAR by Estonianzulu (2)
    So Far From God (Mexico 1836-'76) by ComradeOm (2)
    Divided But United - Austria 1836-1920 by KanaX (2)
    A Special Providence by Director (2)
    The Harp and Crown: An Irish AAR by RossN
    The Golden Nation- California (VIP) AAR by DerKaiser
    Stiff Upper Lip: A Terribly British History by Dr. Gonzo

    Favorite Gameplay AAR, Vicky:
    The Roof of the World: A Tibetan AAR by Earendil (4)

    Carefully Applied Force: A Prussian AAR by robou (2)
    Quebec, que sera sera by stealtherella (2)
    "The Footsteps of Illustrious Men"- USA GC AAR by Estonianzulu
    The Bavarian Empire by Kaiser Fritz
    Brave or Insane - an Egypt V.I.P:R AAR by Ahura Mazda

    Europa Universalis 1 & 2

    Favorite AAR, EU1/2:
    Novgorod and it all belongs to mother Russia by Mega Death (4)

    The Book of Saint John: Volume 1 by The Swert (3)
    Resurrection: Rebirth of the United States by CatKnight (2)
    Born to the Purple by Chief Ragusa (2)

    Favorite Narrative AAR, EU1/2:
    Resurrection: Rebirth of the United States by CatKnight (4)

    Born to the Purple by Chief Ragusa (2)

    Favorite Comedy AAR, EU1/2:
    Albania by Mega Death (2)

    Novgorod and it all belongs to mother Russia by Mega Death

    Favorite History-Book AAR, EU1/2:
    The Book of Saint John: Volume 1 by The Swert (4)

    Born to the Purple by Chief Ragusa (2)
    Panther's AARberation by panther-anthro
    Sons of the Union - An England WATKABAOI AAR by cool-toxic

    Favorite Gameplay AAR, EU1/2:
    Novgorod and it all belongs to mother Russia by Mega Death (6)

    Born to the Purple by Chief Ragusa

    AARland

    Favorite Graphics, Overall:
    WIELKOPOLSKA - Rise of the White Eagle - A Polish AAR by robw963 (12)

    Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR by General_BT (2)
    Bavaria: A German Culture AAR (In Nomine) by EUR007 (2)
    Empires At Arms 1399-1960: Princes of the Renaissance by Darknesskilla
    Novgorod and it all belongs to mother Russia by Mega Death
    Kamil Krofta Guesses Wrong by Alfred Packer
    Habsburga la vista, baby! - A 1914 Austro-Hungarian AAR by Helmold
    Paris ne vaut pas une messe! - A Huguenot IN AAR by Milites
    Lotharingia -- A tale of resurrection by Snugglie
    Asian Pearl - A Filipino AAR by thebigboss-89
    Furor Normannicus by The_Guiscard
    A Greater Netherlands - IN Brabant AAR by FYROM
    Return to Glory: A Germania AAR by Hardraade

    Favorite New Writer, Overall:
    Furor Normannicus by The_Guiscard (11)

    Quebec, que sera sera by stealtherella (2)
    Imperial Russia - The Golden Age by Doge Robert
    Asian Pearl - A Filipino AAR by thebigboss-89
    The Kingdom of Aarquitania- Alternate History with DVIP by Count Lake
    World at War - The Fight for Democracy - A Bourbon AAR By rarwrarwrbangbang
    Last edited by canonized; 06-11-2008 at 00:54.

  3. #3
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Where the votes go after the count

    By The Swert

    As of this quarter, it has been three years since anonymous4401’s AARland Choice Awards (ACA) were made forumwide. For many this will seem like a long time yet to me they still seem so young considering that they effectively replaced the EU2 OscAARs, Crusader’s Chalice, VictAARian Cross as the primary awards of AARland.

    I’ve never won an AARland Choice Award but it has never really mattered. I always got joy from just being nominated. I suppose that’s the way it’s supposed to work; just one vote it means I’m somebody’s favourite and that’s something to be proud of in itself. Now back when anonymous4401 ran the awards whenever he released the results not only would he announce the winners, he would always refer to the results archive for a full list of votes. After every quarter I would rush off to the archive and see my AAR’s pretty name there with one or two votes beside it. However in anonymous4401’s absence I noticed this archive was discontinued and only the winners were published; I was left having to sift through all the votes to see if I got a nomination. Well after this last quarter I addressed the issue with canonized and phargle and they said they were looking for a volunteer to manage the archive. Well I thought, I’ve already brought the EU2 LibrAARy back from the dead, it’s time to bring back another valuable resource. I like being a necromancer.

    Now most of you probably didn’t even realize there was an archive, well here’s the link. Within days I shall upload the results from the last 3 quarters which I’m just putting the finishing touches on. So that’s great I hear you say, a historic relic has been saved, no big deal. But there’s much that can be learned from the archives. Let me explain.

    No I’m not going to tell you how to win an award. If I knew that I would have won one by now, but even so we can make some conclusions. For example the Favourite AAR awards are generally won by narrative AARs. However if you’re planning on writing an EU3 narrative you’ll need about 30 votes to overthrow canonized’s stranglehold; the EU3 awards are the most voted upon but also the most lopsided. On the other hand the HoI2 awards are always very close contests with dozens of AARs each getting nominations. If you want to win an award here you may only need 5 or 6 votes.

    However the archive offers so much more than theories on winning. Most recently I’ve been using it to examine the trends in voting. This is especially relevant considering the apparent drop off in voting in this quarter awards as of the time I’m writing this. I present to you three graphs.



    Taking a look at the first two graphs we can see that the ACAs are going from strength the strength. The number of people voting and the number of votes made have increased dramatically since 2006 despite a few hiccups along the way. However it is these hiccups that are quite interesting as there seems to be no discernable trend or pattern to them. This poses a few questions in light of this quarter’s humble vote tally. Why would voting decrease at certain times and increase at certain other times? And how can we try to turn the tables and get more people voting? Well I have one hypothesis. Activity rose in Q1 2007 which was the first time voting was allowed for EU3 AARs, activity also rose last quarter in which voting for Rome was first allowed. Could it be that these new games spark some sort of impetus that gets people going? That’s all very well but this impetus only seems to last for that quarter. By the next quarter, voting has returned to the previous lower level, as seen this quarter. The jump in Q3 2007 however I cannot explain, there were no new categories to vote for so I see no reason for the spike.

    The third graph is another good sign although must be read with caution. Votes per category have increased in line with the rest, which on the face of things suggests that the competition should be stronger within categories. However I believe this statistic is somewhat skewed. It seems apparent that some categories particularly the EU3 categories have shown greater activity but on the other hand categories like EU2 and comedies have dwindled. Has competition really increased or is this just a case of “Timelines Fever” with canonized’s epic hogging all the extra votes? Votes per voter is another interesting statistic. We would all love to fill out complete ballots but it rarely happens, although we are filling in more now than in 2006. This suggests that we are reading a greater variety as well, although there are more categories to vote for now, so that might help explain why each voter now votes in more categories. If an average voter currently makes 10 votes, how can we try to get them to read wider and make more votes?

    These are all interesting questions whose answers could go a long way to the longevity and competitiveness of the ACAs but there are no easy solutions. It’s like trying to predict an election result. How often is it that the pre-election opinion polls don’t reflect the final result and how often do all these so-called experts get it wrong? The way people vote is one of AARland’s big mysteries. However at least the future of the ACAs look strong enough, let’s hope anonymous4401’s dream lives for another 3 years.


    The Swert is the author of ThundAAR from down undAAR

  4. #4
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    You've Been Canonized!: robw963


    Good evening and welcome to You've Been Canonized, the weekly interview segment we usually host on Timelines but tonight, on the AARlander, we bring you robw863, author of WIELKOPOLSKA - Rise of the White Eagle, join us in welcoming and getting to know the rising star of EU3 gamplay, I'm your host, canonized, author of Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? and without further ado, lets begin!

    Part I: Mathematic Artists
    Introducing, robw863.

    canonized: First , I'd like to thank you for being on the programme . Would you please introduce yourself for our readers?

    robw863: My name is Rob Wooding...I'm 45, an architect and designer living in Rhode Island in the northeast corner of the US and I've been playing Paradox games for about 4-5 years now

    canonized: You're also relatively new to AARland; could you tell us about how you were first inspired to begin writing on the forums ?

    robw863: I only recently discovered the true depth of the AAR section of the forum. Previously I was mainly involved (or lurking) in the Scenarios and Modifications section, learning the games, and in general absorbing information. I became more interested in writing an AAR out of a wish to share some of the knowledge I had acquired and saw it as a perfect means of expressing my interests, namely: History, Gaming and Graphics.

    canonized: Speaking of graphics , at the time of this interview , you've almost monopolized all the votes for Favourite Graphics Overall for an AAR in the AARland Choice AwAARds ! How did you get to be so adroit with your image craft?

    robw863: I've been interested in graphics and drawing since I was a kid. I've always been drawn to the graphical expression of information and when I was a boy was always drawing maps, charts, graphs....very nerdy stuff...lol. In college I was exposed to computer graphics and instantly fell in love. As a designer I'm always needing to graphically represent my ideas and sell people on the merits of my design concepts. As an architect, this is a critical aspect of what I do. Eventually I expanded the type of design ervices offered by my business...including furniture design, lighting...and more significantly web media and graphic design. All of these pursuits have required that I'm good with my graphical skills. I could on and on about this....my hero is Edward Tufte.

    canonized: And these talents have definitely lent themselves to your engrossing game play style ! Have you thought about doing any other genre of AAR in the future?

    robw863: Honestly? not really....I'm best when I use graphics as means of communicating. I'm not a very good writer. Your AAR, Timelines for example, is beyond my skill set. I'm happiest and most prolific when I'm making graphics. Although who knows? Perhaps I'll evolve over time.

    canonized: So what do you think of AARland so far ? Both as someone who is a new writer and at the same time someone who's steeped in the atmosphere of HOI2 which sometimes can be a whole different monster in itself.

    robw863: I'm really impressed with the open, supportive, enthusiastic atmosphere in the AAR section, and for that matter, within the entire forum at large. I'm very excited by your efforts, via the AARlander to reach out to new writers, support existing ones and honor past writers. This kind of open minded, open hearted atmosphere is exactly what makes this forum successful.

    I might also add that I'm also impressed with the general level of intelligence here...I've learned a LOT from other forum members...and continue you to do so.

    canonized: Lastly from this section , I've noticed in your AAR how sometimes there are just days and days worth of people commenting . What would you say is your secret to success in getting such a vibrant reader base ?

    robw863: I seem to have touched some kind of chord...at least that's my guess. I'll admit I've been very lucky as a first time AAR writer. Enthusiasm in my AAR ignited quickly. I think it has to do with the a general feeling, particularly among Polish nationals and perhaps to some extent other eastern Europeans, that the humiliation of their defeat in World War 2 is an unbearable stain on their honor...and anything that can alleviate those feelings is attractive. I actively encourage the debate within the AAR...

    I WANT to hear people's opinions and thoughts about Poland in this timeframe. I find it an incredibly fascinating subject for discussion and I think a lot of other people do too....a ripe subject for alternative history since there are so many what-ifs.

    Part II: Shocked and Awed
    This Portion, as per AARlander regulations can only be found in the full interview here

    Part III: Featuring Józef Piłsudski
    A little bit about robw863’s AAR

    canonized: My first curiosity is: why Poland? Any particular special connection for you , perhaps?

    robw863: Yes indeed. My mother is Polish, a first generation American. Her family came to the US in the mid-1930's. Her Dad (my grandfather) from Cracow and her Mom (my grandmother) from Suwalki. For a long time I basically ignored the ethnic heritage from my Mom's side of the family...in the last 5 years or so interest in that has been awakened.

    I'm also simply attracted to the underdog status of Poland within the HOI2 game system. I love the whole idea of turning an underdog into a juggernaut.

    canonized: And you've definitely done that with great skill . Your specific technology tree as well as gambling initial units to gain a better industrial leverage was particularly intriguing for me. Where did you acquire your strategic prowess for this AAR?

    robw863: By reading from others at first. John Heidle, in particular, was very influential for me in terms of understanding the principles of maximizing research efficiency. He published several concise but incredibly effective guide on German research strategies. I simply applied some of those principles to other countries.

    Poland is a real challenge because their technology teams are much weaker (than Germany's anyway)...I literally build Excel spreadsheets that mapped alternative pathways and experimented with all kinds of alternative pathways. That...and using the Research Team analyzer....i'm BIG on planning ahead. Planning is what makes this game so incredibly lush.. for me anyway. From a game play perspective....strategy, command efficiency...that has all been gleaned from experience and lots of hours on the forum reading and absorbing.

    canonized: Some of the most tense moments in your AAR have included the massive bouts with the Germans especially around Poznan . How did you feel during the actual game itself? Were you as anxious as your readers have been?

    robw863: Yes! my heart literally races in those situations...I get very emotionally involved in the outcome and love the suspense of tense game play situations. I wanted to, as best as I could, to capture some of those feelings by displaying as much detail about the situation as possible.

    canonized: Let's take a moment to talk about your actual graphics . In a way, would you take us a little bit behind the scenes of the way you make updates and tell us a little about it?

    robw863: I try to play ahead quite a ways...so that I have a nice fat batch of content to develop into a coherent series of updates. The campaign in Germany, for example, was played in 2 marathon sessions and painstakingly screen captured nearly hour by hour. I use a screen capture tool called MWsnap which allows me to easily review what I've captured and assemble into a presentation.

    Often these are expressed in battle animations which are tedious to make....I feel they're a worthwhile way to convey some of the tension in my actual game play experience. I then mix in layers of period images to enhance the mood and atmosphere....sometimes there are just simple images found using google image search...other times they are images altered to suit the storyline. Between updates, I try to keep things interesting with maps and charts...various types of analysis....in the end more for my own entertainment (I’m a map and chart-o-holic).

    canonized: Hahaha . Speaking of a little comedy, let's talk about the star of your AAR , the iron fisted Józef Pilsudski . Tell us how you came up with this persona, please.

    robw863: I know it's wrong....i know it's politically incorrect...but I’ll just come right out and say I’m always fascinated by the dictator type. Józef Pilsudski I find particularly impressive. I mean really...this guy did some amazing things! His defeat of the Soviets outside Warsaw was simply epic. His benevolent iron fisted rule...concepts of Prometheism and Miedzymorze were truly breathtaking in their geopolitical scale. I loved the idea of capturing his essence in my AAR and using him as a way of embodying an attitude. It also begged the question: What if Józef Pilsudski played Hearts of Iron. How would he play? What would he do?

    canonized: I think it's definitely fair to say that your AAR transcends the usual concept of game play . Whereas most people just post massive amounts of screenshots and make little comments, you've captured the drama of battle in the taut second by second exposition of animations, to the eye candy of watching a war unfold in the softest of colours . Will you continue in this tradition after your AAR has ended or what kind of future plans do you have?

    robw863: Wow...tough to say. I'll admit that the animations are exhausting to create. I’ve also learned that lengthy animation bore the hell out of people so I'd say that for the future, from a presentation perspective) I’ll likely tone down some of the really LONG animations and move to more atmosphere supporting images. The charts and maps will stay....I like doing those too much...lol.

    canonized: Wonderful ! That completes my battery of questions. Is there anything you'd like to add?

    robw863: Just one last thing. I started out writing this AAR with the pretty humble expectations...hey, here's a guide on how to win as Poland. What I didn't expect was so many heartfelt really touching PMs from people...Polish people...so enthusiastically supporting me....I started to realize how emotional the subject matter really was for some people. I found that amazing....and I feel really good that I've made some people happy doing what I'm doing. That just feels good.

    canonized - And that about wraps it up ! Thank you very much for being on the show robw863 , and thank you to all those who joined us today and tuned in ! If you would like to see more interviews , join us in Timelines for our regular weekly interview segment . Thank you once again , and goodnight !

  5. #5
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    EFFECTIVE GRAPHICS FOR AN AAR

    by robw963

    An effective use of images has the potential to turn a good AAR into an even better one. Even a narrative AAR can benefit from well selected, nicely presented graphics. I’ll assume that most everyone is comfortable with simple embedment of a photo into a post. But what if something more elaborate is desired? Perhaps a diagram with arrows showing the intended routes of your invasion force or an animation to convey a sequence of events. I get a lot of PMs from other forum members asking for advice about the creation of a variety of graphical effects shown in my current AAR. In this article I’d like to share some graphical techniques that others may find useful, so I’ll get right down to business.

    PHOTOSHOP:
    Start by having the right tool for the job. Hands down, Adobe Photoshop is the best graphics application available. Yes, there are other options available but let me save you some frustration and tell you (at the risk of sounding like a snob) that MS Paint is not a substitute for Photoshop...not even a little bit. But what if you can’t afford the $500.00 necessary for Photoshop? Don’t be suckered into believing you need to have the absolute latest and greatest version. A quick search on eBay or Craigslist can often yield plenty of older, outdated copies (like versions 5.5 through 7) for under $100.00 that work perfectly well to create the kinds of graphics I’ll be discussing in this article. If you still can’t afford that, I might recommend using a free tool like Google Picassa which won’t allow you to do as many tricks as Photoshop, but you’ll still be miles ahead over remaining in the dark ages of MS Paint. Another possibility could be Paint Shop Pro, but honestly I know very little about it. All that being said, I use Adobe Photoshop CS3 (version 10) and the examples I’ll be illustrating use that particular version.

    CHOOSING THE RIGHT FILE TYPE:
    GIFs, JPGs, PNGs...which to choose! The basic goal of any good web based graphic is to maximize image quality in the smallest file size possible. Each of these files types is best utilized for particular types of graphics. Here’s a basic summary:



    JPG: (.jpg) is a file type most appropriate for color photos and color images using many colors. A JPG is capable is displaying over 16 million different colors (24 bit color) and can do so in an impressively compact file size. There is a limitation, however, since a JPG achieves its small file size using a compression technique resulting in a lossy effect. Lossy can be seen as little pixel artifacts or spots on your image. I typically use a compression level of 70 which seems to be a good balance between quality and size (0 = low file size/low quality; 100 = high file size/high quality). Generally speaking, if you have a color photograph, a JPG is a good file type choice.



    GIF: (.gif) is a file type most appropriate for flat art images with relatively few colors. Flat Art can be defined as artwork with large areas of pixels that are the exact same color. A GIF is limited to displaying a maximum of only 256 colors (8 bit color). GIFs use a compression technology which is not lossy (the compression has no effect on visual quality). Generally speaking, if you have relatively simple color artwork, a GIF is a good file type choice. It’s worth mentioning that you can also create animated GIFs (with the same 256 color limit). More on that later. Another important distinction of a GIF is the ability to define areas of the image to display transparently. This is a handy way to allow irregularly shaped images to display seamlessly against any background color.



    PNG: (.png) is a newer file type which comes in 2 flavors: an 8 bit (256 color) version making it a good substitute for a GIF; and a 24 bit (16 million + colors) version, a good substitute for JPGs. The biggest benefit of a PNG is that its compression technology is not lossy. The file size is very decent, although often you can still achieve a smaller file size with a JPG. PNG-8’s cannot be animated so they don’t offer all the features available in a GIF. You can, however, define transparent areas as you can with a GIF. PNG-8’s allow 1 bit transparency (aliased), while PNG-24s allow for a much more useful 8 bit transparency (anti-aliased).





    A quick note about color depth: 8 bit color, 16 bit color, 24 bit color. What does that all actually mean? An easy way to remember it is this way. The foundation of digital information is OFF or ON; 0 or 1: 2 options. Take the number 2 and give it an exponent equal to the color depth in question. Examples:

    8 bit color = 2^8 = 256
    16 bit color = 2^16 = 65,536
    24 bit color = 2^24 = 16,777,216
    32 bit color = 2^32 = 4,294,967,296

    A key point about these file types is that when using Photoshop, you can quickly compare file size and quality for any graphic. This is very helpful in choosing the correct file type and allows you to see the results for comparison purposes.



    ANTI-ALIASING:
    A computer screen is simply a giant grid of tiny squares called pixels. Rendering objects with straight horizontal and/or vertical edges results in clean, crisp graphics. Curved objects like circles, curves or anything that’s not exactly vertical or horizontal can result is edges which look jagged and less presentable. Anti-aliasing smoothes the edges of graphical objects improving their appearance. Ok...so everything should be anti-aliased...right? Not exactly. Some fonts, for example, are actually more legible when rendered without anti-aliasing. Look carefully at the interface of most Paradox games. Most of what you see there are aliased graphics. The key to choosing aliasing vs. anti-aliasing is choosing the correct application for each.



    HOW TO MAKE ARROWS:
    Photoshop has an excellent utility called the “custom shape tool”. There is a modest selection of pre-made shapes like stars, check marks, grids, arrows and other things. The best part of the pre-made items is that they are easily edited since they are basic vector shapes comprised of nodes which can be pushed, pulled, added and subtracted. I like the fat arrow tool since it most closely resembles the arrows displayed in the HOI2 interface, but the vector editing techniques shown below can work on any of these. You can even create your own custom shapes. By modifying the fat arrow shape, you can easily lengthen or shorten the arrow or even make it curve.



    PATTERNS:
    It’s quite easy to create a custom pattern in Photoshop which can be saved and then used as a fill. The trick is to create a small pattern which can tile...meaning that it will fill seamlessly no matter how large or what shape the area is being filled. Creating a seamless tile can be achieved with a little trial and error. Generally speaking, make your patterns small and you’ll have an easier time making the pattern seamless.



    EDITING A PHOTO:
    Creating alternative history timelines in an AAR can often be enhanced by using historical photos and altering them to match your story. For example, in my AAR Poland captures Berlin from the Germans and I wanted a photo showing the moment where Polish troops plant their flag atop the Reichstag. Many are familiar with the actual historical photo of Soviet troops planting their flag on top of the Reichstag. Using Photoshop, I altered the flag in the original photo by replacing the Soviet flag with the Polish version and voila...instant alternative history.



    ANIMATED GIFS:
    Lastly, I’d like to point out another benefit of the GIF file type. Photoshop includes an animation feature allowing you to assemble a series of static images into an animation sequence called an Animated GIF. This can be useful to show changes on a map over time or really any other kind of motion graphic you might imagine. Animated GIFs still are restricted to the same color depth constraints of a normal GIF (8 bit color, 256 colors), but this is generally enough colors to render images from most Paradox games. Be aware, however, that file sizes for animated gifs can grow quickly, so you’ll need to keep things relatively modest. I’ve also learned from experience that long animations tend to bore readers, and long animations only add file size.



    and the resulting animation looks like this:

    file size = 45.4 kb


    These quick lessons only scratch the surface of all the possibilities within Photoshop, but I believe they give a good primer to get you started and to launch you towards other possibilities on your own. To help you along, I’ve created zip file containing the original Photoshop files for all of the lessons illustrated above. So get going, get out there and make some beautiful AAR graphics!

    DOWNLOAD ALL ORIGINAL PHOTOSHOP FILES HERE

    robw963 is the author of WIELKOPOLSKA - Rise of the White Eagle

  6. #6
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    The Unreliable Narrator in a Chronicle AAR
    A Poorly written, completely un-researched, and badly edited short essay by Alfred Packer


    In Crusader Kings (possibly in Europa Universalis as well, but my motto is “Why Research When You Can Make Up Facts” – keep this motto in mind as you read through this article), there is a long tradition of Chronicle style AARs. By “Chronicle Style” – for you Philistines unfamiliar with my made-up terminology – I mean AARs which mimic or attempt to mimic the style of Medieval Chronicles such as the anonymous and immediate The Annals of Wales and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or the more personal and agenda driven histories such as the British History of Nennius. My personal favorite Crusader King example of this style is The Annalum Eburacorum (the AAR that got me to buy CK) An important thing to remember is that this does not need to just apply to such medieval works. Modern newpapers (and even newscasts) fill much the same function of making sense of the quite recent past.

    Most of the AARs using the Chronicle seem to use the simple and honest rendering of facts as presented in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, some add the Chronicler’s personality and personal reflections to the AAR. In my “exhaustive” research, the one thing I have not seen a Chronicle do is lie.

    By lie, I do not mean “Good King Bladud conquered the Lithuanians with nothing but his trusty side-kick Sancho and a Haddock,” when in fact Bladud died of intestinal worms while never stirring from his castle. No, what I mean is a Chronicler writing long after the fact and with a very clear agenda who perhaps distorts the truth in order to make a point to his contemporaries. This is a concept I find fascinating and even attempted to explore in an AAR about the Vandal Tribes, but the game went screwy. It is something I plan to try again one day.

    The Unreliable Narrator, who writes with an agenda and also (often) without a complete grasp of the facts, is a staple of fiction and can be found throughout AARLand’s many fine narrative AARs. But it also has a long tradition in the Medieval Chronicles themselves. The writers of these ancient histories did not just write down history as they found it and they did not merely incorporate bad legends and heresy into their books out of naivety or laziness. No, they often slandered Kings and Prelates, lied about origins of whole peoples and blatantly distorted and subverted History quite deliberately and in pursuit of personal goals.

    Now, imagine that you have completed a game of Crusader Kings or Europa Universalis (or even Vicky and Hearts of Iron – History Books and Newspapers have not stopped distorting the past in pursuit of agendas) and you are sitting down to write your AAR. Unless you are a talented fiction writer (and there are many of you in AARLand), you are probably not going to dive into a narrative AAR. You will instead probably go for a Chronicle or History Book style. This is a great idea. These are fun to read and write. I have a modest suggestion for you: when you write your AAR, do it from a specific perspective. Did you just play a game as the Norman King of England? Are you writing the Chronicle as a bitter Anglo-Saxon monk living in the south of Wales? How gloriously is that monk going to write about the successes of the Norman Marcher Lords? How much will he crow when the Norman King is excommunicated or dies of Leprosy? What about your King with a negative piety who regularly suppresses the church in favor of the burghers and nobles?

    What if you are writing as a socialist clerk pop? Are you writing an underground paper which would get you hanged if caught? How will the conquest of Ethiopia or the Congo be seen by this Chronicler? You don’t need to write as a shaper of history to have a take on it. You could even do dueling Chronicles (The Free French Underground might report on the sack of Leningrad very differently than, say The Hitler Press).

    While such an AAR can be an end in itself, it could even be a spring-board to writing narratives, for now you have some practice as writing “in character” and some practice and experience looking at events from other perspectives.

    This style also seems like a nice solution to issues of “that’s been done better already by others,” something I tend to be victim of. For example, who can write a Byzantine AAR without self-consciously comparing themselves to VILenin or General_BT (among others)? I have never played as Byzantium for just this reason, but maybe I could produce an AAR as a latter day Procopius, producing another bitter and bile-filled secret history of the Imperial family (and, indeed, maybe I will). It is entirely probable that such AARs have been produced before. If they have, I would heartily recommend someone less lazy than myself should look them up and post them or bump them. Even better, someone should sit down at a keyboard and produce new ones.

    (if there is enough interest, for the next issue or even for this one I can produce a comparison of King Arthur’s treatment at the hands of Medieval Chroniclers to illustrate unreliable narrators in action)

    Alfred Packer is the author of The Adventures of the Crovan Clan 2: The World Is Way Too Much

  7. #7
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    The Senate’s Gambit. Realpolitik in the Roman Republic.

    By The_Guiscard

    With one main emphasis of the upcoming ‘Vae Victis’-expansion for EU: Rome being on the Roman senate, it might be interesting to cast a look at this govermental body, as its functions and powers were extremely different from anything we have come to expect from modern-day parliaments. For the sake of brevity and conciseness, I shall in the course of this disquisition gloss over some minor exceptions to the rule, and I will also largely ignore the sweeping constitutional changes introduced by Sulla in around 80 BC and later by Caesar and his successors after 50 BC. These death pangs of the Roman Republic cover less than a fifth of the overall game time of EU: Rome and are neither representative for nor pertinent to this earlier period.

    Before speaking of the senate itself I would like to talk about the people who made up this body, more precisely about the Roman aristocracy, about patricians and plebeians. In the earliest days, when Rome was but a very minor city-state, it was a monarchy, but sometime in the 6th century BC, the nobility overthrew the kings and instituted an aristocratic republic. All offices in this early Roman Republic were held by the former kingdom’s nobles, by the so-called ‘patricii’, literally ‘fathers’. The mass of the populace, barred from holding office, were the ‘plebeians’, literally ‘of the people’.

    It wasn’t long and some plebeian families did also rise to wealth – but not to power, as this was firmly in patrician hands and guarded jealously. A struggle of class ensued, lasting for almost two centuries and culminating in total patrician defeat. Plebeians had to be granted ever more rights and privileges, and finally, according to tradition in 367 BC, had also to be admitted to the most influential office of the state, the consulate. From this date onward, one of the two consules had to be a plebeian, and both of them could be plebeians. Well before the time EU: Rome commences, the face of the Roman aristocracy had thus changed completely: The old patrician nobility and the new plebeian one risen from the ranks of the plebeian masses had merged into a new aristocracy, and the distinction wether a nobleman was of patrician or plebeian descent was a distinction in name alone; the families mingled and intermarried freely without holding each other in the least contempt. Patricians might be held in slightly higher esteem, but affiliation with this old nobility was in reality rather a (very slight) drawback, as there were political offices reserved exclusively for plebeians.

    The senators of the Roman Republic as seen in EU: Rome recruited itself from the nobility and were in fact its highest stratum, but by far not all nobles were senators. What could be called nobility was made up of the so-called ‘equites’, literally ‘cavalrymen’ or better ‘knights’, and among them, the senators were a select group. In around 100 BC knights and senators became more distinct, seperate groups, but for most of the timespan of EU: Rome, they weren’t. For the purpose of this article, viewing senators merely as a special group within the knighthood does not distort historical truth.

    The definition of knighthood was moreover a very pragmatic one. The Roman knights were an aristocracy of wealth, not birth. Everybody rich enough to afford the upkeep of a warhorse and the equipment of a cavalryman and was thus able to serve in the Roman militia army as horseman was accorded the status of knight. High or low birth didn’t figure in this equation.

    Now how did a knight become a senator? In around 90 BC, Sulla instituted the change that anybody elected by the people’s assembly into a certain low government magistracy was automatically admitted to the senate after his year in office, but before this time, admittance was by invitation only. Every five years, the people’s assembly elected from among those aristocrats who had previously held the office of consul two censors. These censors officiated for a term of eighteen months, and they did not only conduct a census of the population for reasons of taxation (thus the name of the office), but they did also compile the membership roll of the senate. Everybody the censors wrote onto the list was in, everybody who wasn’t was out, regardless of age or wealth or descent or wether they had previously been members or not. Even though it was not common that people were expelled from the senate once they had been admitted by the censors, the censors did in fact have this power and it should be obvious that censorial power was sweeping. Being elected censor was thus an achievement deemed even greater than being elected consul.

    So the senate was a body made up of a special class of Roman knights admitted by the censors. Its memebership number was customarily kept at around 300, doubled to 600 by Sulla. And it did not have the least legal power. That’s right, the senate did not have the least legal power, it could enact nothing, decree nothing, do nothing. It was a mere advisory board. That’s the main difference to modern parliaments, and it is a huge difference. All executive power lay alone with the elected magistrates, and all legislative power lay with the people’s assembly, which alone passed or rejeceted laws, elected magistrates and voted on war and peace.

    The key to understanding the power of the senate and how it controlled the Roman Republic is not to be found with law and constitution, but with Roman custom and tradition. Romans voters were not entirely free in their decision making. Virtually every Roman was some other, more wealthy, powerful and influential Roman’s ‘cliens’, the word from which modern ‘client’ derives. Being a client meant being protected by one’s ‘patronus’, literally ‘patron’, receiving material support, legal protection, and being a recipient of nepotism. In turn, the client was by custom and tradition required to wait upon his patron – and to vote in the people’s assembly in exactly the way his patron tells him to. This latter obligation was binding, both by virtually unbreakable bonds of custom and also by the fact that voting was done publicly, meaning that patrons were well aware of their clients’ votes and being able to withdraw their patronage if displeased with a client’s conduct. As having a patron was highly beneficial and desirable and as clients who were known to have deserted their patron had a very hard time to find a new patron, clients did invariably vote as they were told.

    Now it is time to introduce another definition for members of the senate, different from but no less true than the one already given. The senate was the assembly of the men with the largest number of clients in the state. This should become readily apparent when one considers that senators, being knights, were invariably wealthy, came most often from old aristocratic families, were usually former office holders and had connections to other, equally influential senators. Taken together, this made senators powerful and influential, and powerful and influential people are of course the most desirable patrons – everybody is rather the protegé of a congressman than a bus driver.

    Patronage was also the main real criterium for being admitted to the senate by the censors. If somebody outside the senate did amass a large nuber of clients and did thus become a powerful figure, the censors admitted him to the senate. Thus they saw to it that all powerful patrons were gathered in the senate and that no outside power threatened the senate’s control of the votes in the people’s assembly.

    And that’s was source of the senate’s power – control of the people’s assembly. The aristocrats in the senate didn’t vote themselves, as the senate had no power to enact anything, but the individual senators controlled voter blocks in the people’s assembly. That the votes and elections in the assembly were thus little more than a sham should by now be obvious; the people’s assembly did very often vote against its own interests, due to the senators’ control of this body. The people’s assembly’s votes were nothing but a mirror image of political currents in the senate and among the senators. Some senators told their clients to vote this way, others another way. Struggles which in modern democracies might be decided by votes in the parliament were in the Roman Republic decided by votes of the people’s assembly, acting as a kind of front for the senators.

    An individual senator’s personal power was a matter of who his friends and allies were (no different from a modern politician), what offices he held or had held, but most of all how many clients he controlled. For a senator, being elected into office or getting a vote passed required winning supporters among his fellow senators who would then charge their clients to vote in this or that person’s favour. In this way, it was the great patrons, less than a dozen men at any given time, who really controlled Rome. All lesser senators curried their favour and tried to remain in these men’s good graces. It was these men who amongst themselves determined the course of the state, and it was them who could make or break a political career. They decided who was elected into office and who was expelled from the senate. In a very real sense, these few men ruled the Roman Republic.

    I hope I could make it clear by now how the senate, a mere advisory board without legal powers, could actually be so very powerful. Everything was discussed and largely determined in the senate before being brought before the people’s assembly. Even though it was in a strict legal sense the peole’s assembly which decides, it was in reality the senators, and among them the few leading men. The elected magistrates did make a point of reporting to the senate, and the senate gave them ‘advice’ – it was in theory after all nothing but an advisory board. But woe to the official who made a habit of ignoring this harmless advice and angered a majority of the leading senators. His political career was at an end, and he was lucky not to be expelled from the senate or to be indicted for some real or invented transgression and banished in a trial before the people’s assembly.

    A modern analogy to the workings of the Roman senate might be some of the political dynasties which have established themselves in most present-day democracies, like the Kennedies or the Bushes in the US. The scions of these families get voted into office repeatedly because they are household names, and because they have their families’ long-standing connections and networks at their disposal. If you can imagine a democracy being run solely by a scarce dozen of such political dynasties to the total exclusion of any free play of democratical power outside these networks, you have got a fair picture of realpolitik in the Roman Republic and the Roman senate.

    The_Guiscard is the author of Furor Normannicus

  8. #8
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    Friends, Romans, WritAARs

    by comagoosie

    As many of you may or may not know, I am the official librAARian of Rome. Being so, grants me knowledge and foresight into the future. Though things may appear obvious, oftentimes, as experience has taught me, they are not. I know of rumors circulating around the emptiness of Rome, but that is all rumors, and based on facts, Rome is sure to make a recovery.

    Roughly, when Rome was in the process of being released to the plebeians, there was a huge hype for AARs, based mainly on King’s and other beta AARs. AARland was confident that the new addition of a brother would help the forum as a whole. Unbeknownst to many at the time would be the reception that Rome received.

    Upon the release, the forum’s state resembled that of chaos. At first the chaos was good, everyone telling of their encounters in their first game, how patch 1.1 fixed many bugs. Threads went up, telling people to post strange screenshots here and army composition there. Even paradox was excited to see how well it was doing, and as result, an initial blossoming of AARs took hold in the field of Rome AARs.

    Then things took a turn for the worst. Bugs reports became much more frequent, complaints came in saying how the game was too easy or how playing a tribe was impossible. Next came the claims that the rebels were pathetic. In the words of Uitra, “[Rome contained an] unrealistic colonization model, trade, national strength, AI, and generic units for all nations.” Not to mention that women came around once in a life time. Still Rome AARs kept on coming and entertaining the readers with some minor slowing.

    Patch 1.2 and then patch 1.3 came out and that is when the real strength for Rome caved in. Assassinations were spammed throughout the game and civil wars were a joke. The character system seemed to be more of a hassle then help, which in turn killed potential AARs. Since characters reigned in Rome, it would make complete sense to have an AAR on them, but if the character system itself is flawed, then an AAR is impractical.

    The AARs started at the time of Rome’s release had come to the end of their life or were discontinued, and with no new influx of AARs, things became unbalanced, and the fans of Rome left in disappointment. In turn, the few existing AARs where put on strain due to the lack of encouragement that fans normally give, and only the fittest of those with the most self-esteem continued. And as if the gods frowned on Rome, authors now had their personal life intervene making them end their AAR or put it on the back burner until further notice.

    We have finally arrive to the present and Rome doesn’t look as beautiful as it once was. Since I keep track of new AARs, a good estimate puts the last new AAR started a month ago, which no AAR sub-form, besides Diplomacy, can boast of. On the contrary having only a few AARs still active is not entirely a bad thing. Those that are alive are, undoubtedly, of the upmost quality or they still wouldn’t be supported by tireless fans.

    Contrary to my previous paragraph, Rome needs new AARs; it doesn’t matter what kind, it will fit. More AARs equal more fans, which equals more AARs, a snowball effect that is similar to other forums that had the same thing that happened to them. Most people think this would be the worst time to write an AAR for Rome, but the opposite is true. If, let’s say you, started an AAR in Rome, wouldn’t you be the only one that was updated for a long time? Think of the publicity of having your AAR at the top of the sub-forum. Those who don’t recognize the name will surely investigate the new AAR. It is a win-win situation. You help the Rome forum, you help yourself, and you help surviving AARs by bringing in more fans. Honestly, there is no reason not to begin an AAR today.

    Of course, there are pessimistic people out there who will tell you that Rome is too flawed to write an AAR about. They may be right in some aspects but prove them wrong and write an AAR. Do a comedy one, exploiting all the flaws or a better one is to do a narrative. Sure having a game to go off is nice in doing a narrative and you can do that too, but you can, also, write a story that you always wanted to share in the timeline that Rome generously provides. I know everyone wants to make a story similar to Gladiator and why not, there is nothing holding you back. Or my favorite, interpret your current game and make it realistic. For example, in For Rome’s Honor, Julius Caesar is heading north into barbarian territory despite the many revolts at home. I then write an AAR based on my own imagination and then historical facts, and so far, it has worked quite well.

    However, this leaves out the gameplay section, which is quite huge and is the basis for a successful AAR forum. Thankfully, Vae Victis is to the rescue. In a short simple sentence, for those unfamiliar with VV, it enhances the character system, the interface, and it adds a senate. This is what Rome has been missing and it will make writing an AAR that much more interesting and easier. Honestly, I am thrilled to see VV come, as it fixes numerous problems with Rome, and then hopefully it will pass on some of its goodness to AARland.

    I am optimistic for the future of Rome and its AARs. Statistically a slow down has happened to every forum, and with a release of an expansion pack, it has picked back up again. It is in my opinion, Rome will be no different with VV, and that new Roman AARs will spring up to life because of it. Nevertheless, for now we can only wait, and for those on the border of writing one or not, remember, don’t ask yourself why, but why not.

    comagoosie is the author of For Rome's Honor

  9. #9
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    A crusaderknight in Martin Luther’s Court

    by crusaderknight

    Okay, so the title of this article might make more sense in context, so let me explain. First off, it’s a play on the title of the movie “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”. Now, how is this so? Well, the first part, I’m sure you guessed. Its me. I’m crusaderknight. The second part might be a little bit harder to figure out. You see, I attend school here at Martin Luther College, which is located at 1995 Luther Court in New Ulm, Minnesota. So, we have my name, and then my location. Witty, I know.

    Anyways, what I came here to talk to you about it just that, the fact that I am now here on campus at Martin Luther College (hereafter referred to as MLC). Starting school here has been a major change for me. Having been homeschooled for most of my life, including all four years of high school, and after that having attended only a few classes at a community college, making the shift to a full-time, hardcore school like MLC has been quite an experience for me.

    I spend over 50 hours a week both in class and studying. The toughest part is learning two languages simultaneously: Greek and Latin. It is a considerable drain, and I find myself tired and fatigued often.

    Back home, I used to play video games (mostly Paradox games, and ofcourse, Gears of War) all the time. Now I hardly have time for any games. I also used to be a prolific writAAR. I had three AARs going at once, and usually would update quite often. As of late, however, all that has changed.

    Now I find it difficult to manage even one update a weekend. It is hard to find to time to Write (and read) AARs when balancing so much school work, and ofcourse, a social life.

    But, I’m not here to complain to you. No, I’m telling you all this for a different reason. Yes, it is hard to keep up with AARland these days, but the things which cause this hardship have also helped me in a way. For one thing, now that I am learning more Greek and Latin, I can apply that to my AARs to help them be more immersive (and in two years, when I start learning Hebrew, I can apply that to Regnum Iudaeorum as well!), and all my new experiences can help to influence my writing.

    Plus, I’m taking a course in Writing and Literature this semester, so my writing abilities may be considerably improved. Though on the flip side, having been an authAAR already for two years, I have a bit of a head start in that class.

    So, even though college has provided me with many challenges concerning AARland, it has also helped me. In return, AARland has also helped me with college, in my writing, as I already mentioned, but also in my social life. I always used to be an introvert. I usually didn’t have a social life outside my small circle of friends. I never felt comfortable talking to people I didn’t know. But then I came to AARland. When I first joined this community, I didn’t know anyone here. Ofcourse, I guess it is easier to talk to people who you know will never see your face (unless you’re in the Paradox group on facebook, or if we ever hold a Paradox Players Convention), but my point remains, I have made many friends here in AARland, and that has helped me to break out of my shell.

    Now that I am no longer an introvert, I am making lots of friends here, and I have a great social life!

    I would love to keep on writing, but I hear that familiar and unmistakable cry of homework calling me, so I will leave you with a final thought. Despite the challenges of balancing school work, a social life (including wooing the most wonderful girl in the world, don’t think I mentioned that yet), and AARland, I believe that I will benefit the most if I continue to do so. And to any of my fellow AARlanders who will be going off to college soon, I encourage you to remain a part of this community as well, and I pray that it will be as beneficial for you as it is for me.

    crusaderknight is the author of Regnum Iudaeorum, the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel

  10. #10
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    The Stolen Letter
    By Capibara

    (Based on the story “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe.)

    It was a rainy day of October in Guadalajara, I was watching the football match of our favorite team, Chivas of Guadalajara in the house of a friend of mine, Diego. We were enjoying it while we ate peanuts and drank some beer. Despite the relaxed atmosphere, I couldn’t focus on the game, since I was still thinking in the big amount of work that was waiting for me the next day. My thoughts were interrupted when the door suddenly opened and our friend Bruno entered; we hadn’t seen him for several days.

    “Hey, Bruno, my friend, how are you? It’s been a while.” I said, in an enthusiastic way.

    “Well… I can’t say I’m fine. That’s the reason I came here. I need your help, at least an advice.”

    Diego quickly turned off the TV, so we could pay more attention to Bruno; apparently he had something interesting to tell us.

    “Then, what is this all about?” asked Diego, while he invited the newly arrived to take a seat with a movement of his hand.

    “As you may know” he started “My wedding is in a week, while my bachelor’s party was a couple of days ago.”

    “And we weren’t invited to…” I muttered. Diego stepped on my foot so I would shut up and Bruno continued.

    “As I was telling you, my bachelor’s party was some days ago, it was organized by some friends, among them Gabriel Valencia, I think that you’ve met him before.”

    “Yes, I remember him” said Diego smiling a little bit.

    “Fine then. The thing is that the party kept going until very late. We had already drank a lot of beer and tequila, but I’m not used to drinking that much, I only did it because it was my bachelor’s party. I wasn’t fully aware of what I was doing; I was semiconscious, so I wrote a letter to Fernanda by initiative of Gabriel. All that I wrote there wasn’t exactly nice or decent for Fernanda, what I want to say is that the contents of that letter are compromising and would put the wedding in jeopardy, a thing I don’t want to happen.”

    “But… What’s the problem?” I asked a little surprised. “I mean, the contents of the letter may be compromising, but I’m sure Fernanda won’t read it.”

    “The problem is Gabriel kept the letter. And he pretends I cede him all the shares I own in the C*** company in exchange for the letter. However, that’s not an option, because it’s one of my greatest income sources. He is giving me until one day before the wedding. If I don’t comply, we will show the letter to Fernanda and the wedding will be over.”

    “I can’t believe you got that drunk” I started “I always thought you were saint…” Diego made me close my mouth once again and turned back to Bruno.

    “Now I understand. How exactly do you expect us to help you?”

    “Well, I’ve tried everything in my power to convince him to return it, I’ve offered him all kind of things, but he just refuses to give it back. I have even been to his apartment, I searched up and down using all I’ve learned while I’ve been with the police force, hoping I would find it there, but it didn’t work.”

    “Then you want us to get it back for you.”

    “Or at least help me do it.”

    “I need you to describe the letter to me” said Diego. “Type of paper, ink, size, among other things, please.”

    Bruno gave us a quick description of the letter, nothing out of the common.

    “All right, gives us until Friday and you’ll have your letter back, trusts us” concluded Diego.

    “Thank you very much” Bruno said goodbye and exited.

    When he was gone I asked Diego: “Do you really think you are capable of recovering the letter?”

    “Trust me, I know Gabriel better than Bruno does, I know how he thinks and acts. You just relax and turn on the TV so we can see how the football match went.”

    “Ah, Chivas lost…”

    Next Friday we were once again sitting in Diego’s living room, eager to know what had happened during the week. I hadn’t seen Diego those days since I had been very busy with work and therefore I didn’t had the slightest idea of what had happened and I was just as expectant as Bruno, but not as nervous. Our friend was pale and kept rubbing his hands together, looking anxiously towards Diego, like trying to guess where he had hidden the letter. However, Diego stayed calm.

    “You’re giving me a heart attack, say something now.” I said, half joking, half seriously.

    Diego pretended he hadn’t heard me, but a moment later he started talking.

    “Well, Bruno, I got your letter back. However, I must ask you something first. I usually don’t do this, asking something in return for a favor, but this time I would like you to ask for a little thing.”

    “Whatever you want.”

    “You see, tomorrow it’s the derby between Chivas and América and I know you own a box in the Jalisco Stadium, and since your wedding it’s not until Sunday, I would like to see if we could go with you.”

    “Conceded. I hadn’t thought of going. But maybe I’ll get to relax before Sunday.”

    “Then, here it’s your letter” said Diego, taking out a paper envelope from his jacket and handing it to Bruno.

    “I’m so grateful; I’ll never be able to pay you, I…”

    “Tomorrow’s match will be enough. Don’t forget to destroy that as soon as possible.”

    “Ok, see you tomorrow.”

    Once Bruno had exited, I went to the kitchen, grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge and returned to the living room.

    “So, how did you get it back” I asked while I handed him a beer.

    “It was easier than I expected. I must say Bruno is good doing his job, but that’s not enough for defeating Gabriel Valencia, a person with an exceptional intelligence. Bruno’s methods would have been enough in any other case, but not this one. They weren’t enough.”

    “How so?”

    “The system he used, as I said before, could have been used in any other case, I mean, it was almost perfect. The problem was Bruno used the method he learned at the police exactly as he had been taught, not giving chance to eventualities or unexpected turns. That’s why he failed against Valencia, who doesn’t fall in the “common” category. That’s the reason he didn’t found what he was looking for, the whole thing was so obvious it went undetected.”

    “Then, how did you manage to recover it?”

    “After a day of thinking what could I do, I finally decided to go and visit Gabriel personally. We have a cordial relationship, so it wasn’t too difficult to arrange a meeting with him at his apartment. Next day I was standing at his doorstep, ready to start my search. He welcomed me without suspecting what my real intentions were. While we talked about football, you know he is a hardcore fan of América, I carefully examined everything around me. I saw a little table next to him with some books, papers and letters, but they didn’t catch my attention. Finally, I noticed a card rack hanging from the wall, which had some cards and a single letter. The envelope was dirty and wrinkled, torn in the corners; Gabriel’s name was clearly visible. The letter had been thrown carelessly on the top of the rack, as if it was of no importance. Despite the fact its appearance was almost completely different of the one Bruno had described, it was of the same size. I knew that was what I was looking for. The worn envelope, the dirt, among other things, the location of the letter within sight of everyone confirmed my suspicions. I left him for that day, leaving my jacket on purpose, while I brewed the next step of my plan. I returned the next day for my jacket and we continued with our football conversation. While we were talking, someone knocked the door and Gabriel went to open. I used that moment to take the letter and replace it with a fake one. By the way, the one who called to the door was a boy I hired.”

    “But, why did you left a fake letter?” I asked “Wouldn’t it had been easier just to take it and run?”

    “It’s possible, but I wanted to give him a lesson and leave him a little message.”

    “You left him something written?”

    “Of course, I couldn’t have left it blank. It would have been an insult. Once, during a trip to Chapala he gave me a bad time and I told him I wouldn’t forget it. So once he realizes he doesn’t have the letter, he’ll wonder who outsmarted him, so I wrote down. “Go Chivas!” I think that will be more than enough for him to understand. Come on, if we hurry, we might catch the movie at seven thirty.”

    Capibara is the author of Italy: Tales of Friendship, Treason, Love and Death

  11. #11
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    But What About India?
    By Degeme

    What is the first thing that you think when someone tells you the word “India”? We have very preconceived ideas of this particular and different country from ours.

    Stop right there and give me you some time to picture a whole new scene; Imagine yourself in a small street, people of all kind, walking by, talking with each other, talking to you, wondering where are you from, talking about their own culture and how proud they are about it, on both sides are a lot of tiny stores, where you can find lots of things, all kinds of traditional clothes, pictures of your favorite monument, fruit, tons of bottles of water, earrings and all types of traditional ornaments, all that together, ready for you to buy it.

    You start walking and people join you, by curiosity or if they are going to same place as you, Rickshaws (the typical and most used vehicle to transport people from one place to another, like a taxi but with a shape of a motorcycle with a cabin) passing by and getting in places that a normal car can´t, finally you arrive at that place, where you plan to visit in that particular city, the monument, you see every city has their own monument or monuments to visit and they are way beyond understanding, the way the people go to pray, to embrace their culture and religion it’s the most captivating sensation, no comparison to any other place, you feel like one of them.

    That is India, the way the people talk to you without knowing anything about you, and still very interested in the way you think, the way you talk, the way you dress, the way your culture is, making you feel like one of them, part of the Indian culture, part of that fabulous culture.

    I had an experience that will mark me forever, in one of the temples, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a big city that has the frontier with Pakistan, there people went there to purify their soul, their body, praying, we went there with the purpose of knowing the important temple, we walked, we talked, even we swam in the holy water, but by the time we finished our visit we saw a big building, where lots of people were reunited, we went there and learnt a good lesson, people were in lines waiting for their turn to get their plate of food served, you see in every temple of India anyone, of any religion, race or sex, get food, being something you don’t see everyday, but again that’s Indian people it´s very different from us and their kindness is their best characteristic.

    Sure India has Taj-Mahal, sure India has Bollywood, sure India is growing economically, but that is not even a tiny part of it, it’s the image that everyone has of it, but India is much more than that, and I learned this from being there, so I would like to suggest you something, don’t make first impressions your lead impressions, give yourself time to know other cultures, to know other people and never close yourself to opportunities, we are a very big world with millions of people, instead of making prejudice make bonds.

    Degeme is a contributor

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