So... In my recent mini-update, I explained my thinking about why I should not immediately declare war against Burma. Not right away, anyway... Not immediately, as opposed to in several months or so, which... Well, you'll see.
First, I want to point out some strategy tidbits. That is, after all, what this AAR is meant to dwell upon. Smart (and not so smart) strategy in gameplay. And to have some fun along the way, but to learn something.
Over the course of the next few peaceful months, I had a couple of minor decisions to make.
One was whether to accept an offer of Alliance from Dai Nam (Vietnam). No -- they're a target, and I do not want to Ally with them.
And an Event. The options are... Well, the options themselves are more or less irrelevant from a strategy standpoint (a roleplaying standpoint is different, and I've definitely played games when paying more attention to roleplaying than to smart strategy!). What's important is what the consequences of each choice are.
As I recall, the choices were between losing 21 research points and gaining 21 research points plus some few POPs gain 3 CON and 1 MIL. Now, I suppose 21 RPs is small change (you're looking at a total choice difference of 42 points -- -21 vs +21). But for a country the size and level of development of Siam, that 42 points is literally a difference of about a month and a half of research time.
I am so utterly dependent on research for survival against the big dogs (eventual civilization) that I don't want to take the chance. Especially since I happen to know this event (or one similar) will come up again in another province. The added 3 weeks of research is worth it to me, and I know I can dispel the Militancy, at least (at least I think I can... Watch me fail (lol!)).
Peacetime considerations have allowed me to back off some on my earlier stress on the Budget. I've built a Treasury up to above 1,000 pounds, and would like to keep it there. My daily balances are around breaking even, which is fine with a balance like that.
I'm backing off on taxes, so that my POPs can have a little relief. Now we're at 75% for the poor and 50% for the Middle class. In one of my feedbacks earlier one of the readers pointed out that the effective tax is what matters, which is true (15% now for poor, 10% for middle), but the "marginal" effects of lowering taxes still allow more of my people to get the goods they want. Ideally, I'd prefer all my POPs be able to buy all their life and everyday needs, but none of their luxury needs (because that increases CON). But that's hard to balance, since different POP types have different needs and abilities to buy and gain income. This will do for now.
Education, Administrative and Defence budgets all increase by about 5% over where they were. I don't remember if I'd lowered tariffs before, but now they're down at 10% instead of 15% (or even 20% I'd had them at earlier).
So... What shall I do strategically? I want to expand and gain Prestige, eventually. Where and when do I have an opportunity?
By the spring of 1838, I've convinced myself that it's time to take on Dai Nam. This, of course, comes along with Cambodia, so I prepare a holding line in the north (ready to plunge into Vinh) and a major strike force to sweep through lightly defended Cambodia.
Then I get to second guessing myself... I don't actually see any of Dai Nam's troops because of Fog of War. But I know I have 9,000 Cambodians, and there must be plenty of hidden Dainamese troops out there, too. My military score is 6, and since the beginning of the game (quite recently, must be, or else I forgot) they've increased from about 9 military score to 11. Is this too risky?
Ultimately, I decide that it's not the prudent time to take on Dai Nam. I'll come back for them later when I'm stronger. I begin marching my troops toward Burma, instead. Then.....
All right. Looks like I'm taking on Dai Nam anyway. Just as well that I have troops pre-positioned on their border. May I be able to turn this into a "surprise reversed" scenario (any Star Fleet Battles fans out there???)?
An unexpected happenstance is that Dai Nam's satellite Cambodia hasn't been called into the war yet. This may be to my advantage, by shortening the possible front. I immediately order my nearest (medium strength) army into Vinh, while moving my other armies to support (the southern army) and to attack north.
Now... We have here an illustration of the dangers of Fog of War. Had I any ships, I might have deployed one into the Gulf to see where his armies were (I probably would have done this before war started, since I was planning to invade him). It's important to carefully watch your armies when they're approaching Fog of War, because you're never sure what's there.
I happened to face the nightmare scenario, which I couldn't have avoided if not at the very slowest creep-speed. The inset shot on the left is what I see on July 1 -- nothing except a northern army marching toward Vinh, expected to arrive on the 6th (time enough for me to become the defender). ...
Then, like in a movie where a Mack truck emerges from an alley just as you're driving past... Suddenly not only are there 24,000 enemy troops in Vinh (with another 6,000 on the way), but I'm outnumbered 3:1 and I'm the attacker into difficult (-2 Terrain) territory! This is destined to go badly. And there's nothing I can do for it.
I start building a new Infantry unit -- all my other units are Irregulars. This is part of a modernization program I'll continue as I can.
It was a slaughter, and a major setback. I lost 9,000. I was happy to see (and surprised, frankly) that I'd taken 4,000 of the enemy with me (mostly because of my new General's +4 attack score and the enemy's -1 defence). But the fact remained, I had just lost 1/3 of my entire army!!! Not a good way to start a war.
The enemy, of course, advanced. They split, with one of their armies returning to defend the northern approaches. The other 3/4 moved forward into my mountainous border regions (an unwise thing, all in all, but still...).
I began balancing my forces in a defensive formation. No sense using my typically aggressive strategy anymore. I was most definitely on defense now. I'm hoping the Attrition the enemy should expect will help me even the score so they can't get past my defensive lines. I've placed 6,000 troops in each province. At my tech level I can't dig in, but I can sit in the mountains and/or jungles of my territory and wait for the enemy to come against me.
So we've arrived at a coda, of sorts. What's to happen next?
Cliffhanger... Sorry. Get used to it!