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Thread: The New AARlander Edition 1

  1. #1
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    The New AARlander Edition 1

    Honored visitor of the new AARlander, I welcome you to this first edition of the newly restarted AARlander. One behalf of everyone involved in this project i thank you for taking your time to read this and hopefully we will have a wonderfull time together here on the Paradox Interactive forums, if i may say, the best forum around the internet! I would like to say that this has been a very fun projet so far and i am really thrilled to see how the forums will meet the new work, especially since no one in the current crew has written for the first AARlander and thus we are all new to this, please excuse us if there is any misstake made!

    I would like to thank various people for this wonderful projet, firstly Canonzied and the other AARlander editors that has come before me, thanks for running such a great project! Secondly i would like to thanks the Mods here, especially Qorten, Eber and Mr. Capitalist for brining back the idea of starting the AARlander and for giving me the premissiong for running this project! Last but not least i would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the new AARlander, (In alphabetic order) Alfredian, Dewirix, Gela1212, Loki100 and Prince of Savoy, a great mighty thanks to the five of you for making me able to post this with content!

    Lastly, to you reader, if you find interest in joining out little group all you have to do is PM me and i will see to that you hopefully get a spot in the next edition!
    Well then, till next time!
    Cheers!
    Derahan



    Last edited by Derahan; 02-12-2011 at 19:37.

  2. #2
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    EU3 AAR Review: Porta Atlanticum, Portus Classis / An England MMU AAR by Chris Taylor
    By Dewirix


    Chronicling the fortunes of English royalty from the accession of Henry IV in 1399, Porta Atlanticum is a history book-style AAR in the truest sense of the term. The installments strike a good balance between text and the screenshots and artwork, which are used to give context and help to develop the narrative.

    Chris has set himself the goal of acquiring all the territories held by Britain in 1815 while trying to retain England’s historic continental possessions against the rising power of France. Although the goals might be historical – or at least plausible, and more on that later – this in no way means that the story is predictable. Gibraltar is acquired in 1402 rather than 1713, as it was in reality, and at the time of writing (1501) the Hundred Years War is still very much a live issue.

    Porta Atlanticum is excellent at weaving gameplay decisions and events into a robust and believable historical narrative. The kings and queens of England have to deal with contrary parliaments, restive nobility and questions of love and duty. Chris’s England is loyal to its allies and implacable towards its enemies, even if this means exhausting reserves of both blood and treasure in pursuit of seemingly lost causes.

    The underlying game also plays its part in maintaining dramatic tension. Although England is in a powerful position its enemies are many and we have already witnessed a war lost and territory ceded. As the major European states consolidate the situation promises to get ever more fraught and the stakes ever-higher. England’s early game naval dominance has served it well – which is appropriate given the title – but is unlikely to last forever.

    The AAR displays an impressive grasp of the history of the day, which in turn creates an aura of plausibility: a sense that we are just scraping the surface of a wider story and that a complex world underlies the events we read about. Thus vignettes on the Western Schism, the death of Henry IV and medieval agriculture are used to give background and make sense of otherwise familiar in-game events.

    Such attention to detail is a hallmark of Porta Atlanticum. The character of the monarchs is both believable and consistent, the careers of minor characters fleshed out and updates are provided on the wider European diplomatic situation.

    Special mention must go to the artwork and maps. Events are illustrated with pictures from the period or of appropriate historical subjects alongside screenshots from the game, and the lavish maps raise the bar even further.

    Of particular note is the constantly-evolving coat of arms of the Lancaster dynasty. Beginning life as the historical lions and fleur de lis of Henry IV, it has over the span of the AAR come to incorporate Byzantine devices and to reflect the changing political situation of the realm. Chris obviously knows his heraldry and the coats of arms are put together with professional skill.

    Finally, Chris himself has proved a responsive poster, providing detailed and thoughtful replies to his readers' comments and queries. That Porta Atlanticum is his first AAR makes his achievement all the more impressive. Readers looking for an engaging and plausible alternate history would do well to give this work their time.

  3. #3
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    HoI3 Article
    By Loki100


    One of the roles I do within AARland is to maintain the library for the HOI3 AARs. Rather than review any particular AAR, I'll use this first piece in the new AARlander to discuss some trends.

    The very first AAR for HOI3 was Lordban's Objective Warsaw started on 5 August 2008.

    Since then 188 AARs have been recorded in the reporting thread. I'd guess another 50-80 have gone unrecorded, though equally I'd guess most of those were short lived.

    For those of you fascinated by numbers, here's a few statistics:

    3 used the pre-release demo;
    98 used vanilla HOI (55 of these based on patches 1.3 and 1.4);
    74 have used Semper Fi; and,
    16 are based on For the Motherland.

    The latter may sound a bit strange but I think its partly related to a number of players waiting for some of the Mods to become compatible and perhaps a few of the more regular posters still completing ongoing SF AARs.

    Of these 45 have been recorded as completed. This designation is based on two criteria, more than 10 updates and a self-declaration by the author that they have completed the AAR.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, Germany is the most popular country (49 recorded), followed by the UK (17), Italy (14), USA (13), USSR (12) and Japan with 11. There are, however, AARs for countries as disparate as Bolivia and Zaire (for a listing check here).

    Perhaps equally not surprising, gameplay is the predominant style covering some 130, 35 were narrative, 18 were History Book (which is becoming more common) and only 8 are recorded as comedies – perhaps an indication that its not a time period that is a natural fit to comedy?

    Increasingly, AAR writers are making use of the main mods (see a listing here) with 38 recorded as relying on one or the other (HPP followed by ICE being the most common).

    This corpus of work has been produced by 136 different authors (see here for a full list) of whom superjames1992 is the most prolific (at least in terms of AARs started) with seven followed by Valentinian with six.

    As to trends. I guess, we will see a steady growth in the AARs based on For the Motherland, we will continue to see many AARs written as Gameplay (new patches, releases and mods make these fresh and always interesting) but we will see a steady expansion in Narrative and History Book treatments as the game matures. It will be interesting to see if the trend in the HOI2 forum for very long, slow moving, detailed AARs becomes a feature of HOI3. I guess not till there is a perception that the underlying game engine will no longer be updated. But I do guess that Germany will remain the most popular country.
    Last edited by loki100; 03-12-2011 at 12:26.

  4. #4
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    AGEOD Interview
    By Loki100


    Hi Narwhal, tell us a little about your background as a player of strategy games ?

    I’ve always played games - I played the Brøderbund’s venerable “Ancient Art of War” at 10 even though I did not speak English, then became more and more selective (striving for “realistic” games as I grew older). I ended up playing Paradox Games – I found out about their games when I found a game called “Europa Universalis III” in the “unsold” bin of a retailer. I remember I was interested by the number of countries on the map on the back of the box. Oh, and by the price, too - 4 €. Before that, my only “Grand Strategy” game was Civilization, which was never intended to be realistic. All the other games I played by that time were more tactical, like Theatre of War.

    In any case, I was blown away when I first played it – even though it had none of the expansions. I registered on Gamersgate and bought all the expansions available – I even had to buy core EU3 a second time due to language issues. After getting acquainted with most (recent) Paradox games, I first heard of AGEOD when it was bought by Paradox, when the upcoming Rise of Prussia was also announced. Rise of Prussia was a bit too expensive for a game I knew nothing about – Wars in America was not. I bought it. And here I am.

    Why do you have a habit of writing MP (multiplayer) AARs?

    In most AARs I read, the first years are interesting, but quickly enough the player become so powerful that the AAR mainly consists in interesting ways of saying “I declared war on XXX, I won, I took half his territory” – at which point I lose interest. Only a few AARs – the best – manage to look challenging.
    Writers of AARs sometimes try to spice up the challenge by playing a clear underdog – let’s say Crete at Victoria, or any Pagan nation at Europa Universalis. Unfortunately, it makes the game even less realistic and it only postpones the moment where the player has broken the game.

    I see two options to “avoid” this: succession games, where you have a reason to play egoistically, leaving the next player worse-off. Those were my first AARs – one of which was quite successful : a succession game with Crimea that spanned 2 centuries with 13 rulers / players. The second option is going multiplayer, with at least one other real player trying to do anything he can to stop you from being the big blob in town. That’s my AGEOD AARs. And I should add that AGEOD shines in multiplayer.

    Why should someone who is used to the Paradox AARs come over and read an AAR on the AGEOD sub-forum?

    I believe there are three reasons.

    The first one is the very different scale of the games (except for Pride of Nations, another beast entirely) : one conflict only per campaign. Two sides in most cases. This makes the flow (and thus the AAR) much more realistic than in sandbox games. Moreover, due to the level of details of the game, you can see military outcomes that you would never see in a game of the level of abstraction of, say, Hearts of Iron. For instance, in my Rise of Prussia AAR, I managed to force my opponent to lift the siege of the strategic city of Kassel and lose a whole campaigning season without any battle, just by maneuvering my forces around him. Moreover, since it is just you and your opponent on the map, you have to go close and personal. You don’t race to annex the AI factions before finally settling it between the humans.

    The second one is that AGEOD allows outstanding storytelling. One example among many : all your leaders, all historical, have a name, a face and “traits”. It is not random general #17 who botched the decisive battle of province #131, it is your trusted Marechal Nadasdy, who did great so far (you even gave him a promotion) but who, due of his “reckless” trait, refused to disengage after 3 hours of battle when things started to turn sour, like any other general would have done, allowing your opponent to envelop him and destroy one of his corps at Dresden.

    The third one is that AGEOD games are among the very, very few games that allow a player to recover after a defeat. In most games, after a decisive defeat, it is game over. But I believe there are examples of “recovery”, at least locally, in all the AGEOD AARs. Battles are rare and while they can be decisive they almost never wipe out entire armies, the numerical advantage of either side is hard to use fully due to supply issues, winter will stop all operations for one third of the year and any fortress in the way will take months to siege. All this gives a player time to regroup after a defeat, to prepare a new defensive strategy… or maybe launch a counter-attack on a completely different front. In my Rise of Prussia AAR, the “highest tide” of my Austrian opponent was Hannover in the West and Magdeburg in the South – the latter being 80 km away from my capital Berlin. Some cities (Wismar for instance) changed hands 5 times or more.

    Finally, I would like to add that my two AARs were made specifically for people having never played any AGEOD games – that’s why I explain all game concepts as the need arises (“beginner’s corner”) and (except in the first posts of my Rise of Prussia AAR) I edited the pictures to emphasize what is important. Actually, that’s the reason why I started to write an AGEOD AAR in the first place – I wanted people to discover the game, because I thought people who liked Paradox games would like AGEOD games.

    Many people who are used to the Paradox game design model find the AGEOD games to be daunting at first sight. What do you think someone making that switch should concentrate on first?

    Forget about the numbers. The statistics of your troops is very secondary, their nature is much more important. Try to play logically. If you want to siege an enemy fort, maybe that gun will be useful – but not if the fort is on the other side of the mountain and you have to cross a narrow pass to get there. Sure, your highlanders are better than the regulars your opponent uses. But maybe those irregulars would be even better given you are likely to fight in forest. That’s the way you should think.

    Second advice : check the orders given to each corps a last time before next turn. It is quite common to give orders to your armies, have a second thought, change orders, but forget to give new orders to that one corps that was supposed to join up, corps that will bravely go fight its way alone. Happens a lot in all the AGEOD AARs, too. The results are usually interesting.

    Last advice – be cautious. Guderian is not born yet. Always ask yourself “What would McClellan do”.

    Will you do more AGEOD AARs on the Paradox Forum? If so, using which of their games?

    I believe I will. I would like to do smaller AARs though. I would like to do a (MP) AAR on the Finnish Civil War, with huge chunks of ideology inside (“Drive the Bourgeoisie out of Finland !”). And a single player one on Gàlvez campaign during the American Independence War. I believe Galvez is a very fascinating character, a Spanish Lafayette – loyal to a very conservative government, but admiring the ideas of the Founding Fathers – so I would focus on that character.

    Also, I want to tackle the impressive Drang nach Osten scenario of RUS in multiplayer. Basically, this is an alternative universe scenario. After the victory of the Central Powers in WWI, a crisis on the status of Ukraine prompts Germany to attack Soviet Russia… in early 1921. But will the German satellite states follow ? Will the German working class allow Soviet Russia to be stabbed?

    And a final question, where did you find the wonderful Avatar you use?

    Majesty 2. There is also a very nice Donkey as an avatar. Majesty 1 was one of the most original game I ever played – and is in my top 10 even after I discovered Paradox and AGEOD games. Majesty 2 had decent art design.
    Last edited by loki100; 03-12-2011 at 12:23.

  5. #5
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    Examining Victoria 2's AARLand
    by Gela1212

    Preface

    All games hope to reach a point where their AAR community is fledgling. This kind of community produces a few superstars and is littered with the corpses of dying and dead works that either never caught on or suffered from a bad case of author abandonment. Though we all hate seeing great potential thrown to the wayside, it's a good idea to look on the bright side for the future.

    As such, it's important to note that Victoria 2 has recently reached this point. Its front page has five works over 10,000 views at the time of writing, and another with over 100,000. This is quite an accomplishment for any game, let alone one that hasn't even yet received its first expansion. Still, this is the kind of community that is in the most danger. The same thing happened to Rome, and now it's essentially as dead as.. well.. something that's dead.

    Therefore, I present to you the first of what will (hopefully) become a semi-monthly article examining the written talent contained within this community. My goal, and hopefully the goal of everyone here at the AARLander, is to bring attention to high quality writing. Hopefully, this will draw notice to both the reviewed story and the works for that particular game as a whole.

    Onto the Show!

    There are many, many options for a review in Victoria 2, and I had a hard time deciding which to review in detail. However, I have finally decided upon “In den Augen Gottes: An Alternative History Affair” by TeckoR.

    Before we begin the review, let me just say that TeckoR is both an awesome writer and a pretty creative person. This particular AAR is in the history book-style for the most part. If you aren't aware of what that means, it's when an AAR is written as if the author were writing a history textbook (Except generally it's actually quality writing and not drenched in nationalism)
    The Beginning: 7/10

    Now, I must admit that the beginning wasn't my favorite part of this AAR. Essentially, TeckoR first treats us to a detailed few posts that show Prussia's journey from a nation recently defeated by France to a nation that just recently defeated France. I find that it moves a little slow, focusing a bit too much on military details that break up the general flow of the story. Still, it's a solid beginning with little to no writing mistakes.

    Near the ending part of Chapter One (which is made up of several posts) it starts to get better, and if you just stick with it through this part you'll find yourself hooked by an engrossing story that covers the evolution of the Prussian court and its progression through the world. My main problem with it was that it lacks a “hook”, something that draws you into the story as a whole right at the beginning. I found myself trying to read through the first few posts so I could get to what I knew would inevitably be an amazing story.

    Plot: 9/10

    Although it can be hard for a history-book AAR to have a really good plot, this one manages it. Despite the lack of character ambitions that often make up a good written plot, you'll be too stunned by international events to really notice. I find that TeckoR seems to have found a way to make this style's plot to be just as good as the plot of a narrative or the humor of a gameplay AAR. The only problem, as mentioned before, is that just a bit too much time is spent on military detail.

    Some other high points of the plot include the internal affairs of Prussia and the reasoning behind its exploits abroad. I cannot stress this last point enough. Too few AARs actually show why they did what they did, especially once you stray into the vast amount of history-book works. Most of the time, simply saying “Nation A invades Nation B” is just not enough. TeckoR avoids this and manages to both give realistic reasons and ones that don't amount to “We want land!”.

    Overall: 8/10

    This is both an average score between the two things I really found deserving of their own review and also a score assigned to the work as a whole. The story faces problems when it comes to moving the plot, but is generally fantastic. I wouldn't say this is the best AAR in the Victoria 2 section, but it's certainly a great read for fans of the history-book style and just about anyone else who's up for a good story.

    Although the focus is mainly on the events of the international scene, the few characters explored in detail are both moving and interesting. Near Chapter Three it starts to round out, perhaps because this is where the story finally starts to become fiction. I find that this is also where I managed to get past the aforementioned beginning and really start enjoying the story.

    In this AAR, there doesn't seem to be much of a deeper meaning, as that's outside the realm of history-book AARs. The author here is just trying to present us with a story of his game in an entertaining fashion, and I think he does a pretty good job of it. In fact, despite the simple goal, he actually manages a great execution in terms of delivery. It feels very fulfilling even though the plot isn't exactly dynamic, and doesn't leave the reader craving for explanations.

    However, his use of screenshots and pictures does leave a little to be desired. Few screenshots break up the text, and for readers with a shorter attention span or an aversion to lots of texts this may be a slight difficulty. The screenshots that are used don't really aid understanding for the most part, they just seem to show you what is a direct recount of what happens in the game and what is something added in by the author to make it a bit more interesting.

    In addition, the AAR religiously follows the idea of just recounting the tale of a game. This is actually a good thing, especially for history-book AARs. By following this ideal, the story seems full despite a lack of humor or satire. Indeed, this is one of the few works of this type that manage to feel solid, developed, and also make you feel absorbed in the atmosphere of the Victorian era.

    Despite a few faults, TeckoR has written a great piece here, and it seems that it'll be even better soon enough! I'd recommend reading it, due to both a good writing style and a captivating story that manages to keep you reading after it gets off the ground. Don't forget to read his other works either, as he is an all-round solid writer who deserves more recognition than he gets.

    As always, remember to comment if you come up with something to say to the author. View count is a good measure of how popular your works are, but at a certain point those few thousand views begin to look more like mostly all the times the author has read his own thread as opposed to other people viewing it. Comments, however, will encourage the writer far more than an arbitrary number will!

    Gela1212 is the author of the comedic gameplay tutorial Gela's EU3 AAR for Beginners - A Guide and the serious narrative Republic of the Blue Lion

  6. #6
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    The Obscure AAR Review- Shogun: In the Footsteps of Legend
    Shogun: In the footsteps of Legend- A Musashi AAR

    By Prince of Savoy

    Overview-
    This AAR is particularly unique in firstly, it's format. Rather than text-based with screenshots, each update is actually a single screenshot with the text on it. Each update is shown in the form of a scroll, with appropriate text and surprisingly immersing in-game pictures to continue on the story. The Musashi Clan is a small clan near Edo in Sengoku, one of Paradox's newer games. The Musashi are probably most famous for one of their clan members, Miyamoto Musashi, a renown swordsmaster, ronin and wrote the Book of Five Rings, which is on strategy and tactics. Despite Miyamoto's fame, the Musashi Clan is not an iconic clan like the Date, Shimazu or Tokugawa, yet thus far, the Musashi has proven to be effective in what they do.

    Format and Structure: 8/10
    The format for the storytelling is clever and easy to follow through, however, there are some moments where it gets hard to read. The format also allows an easy bypass of that dreaded 20-screen rule, so he can put as many screenshots onto one picture and get by with as many in-game pics as he so desires!

    Storytelling: 9/10
    The author, 2Coats, is a great storyteller, and manages to create an entertaining tale even for those who have not played Sengoku before, (like me). The updates are short and sweet, resulting in a quick-flowing story that will not bore readers with short attention spans. The only flaw I can see in the story is a lack of any dialogue at all, but that is forgivable due to the history book style of narrating the events.

    Grammar and Spelling: 10/10
    Obviously proofread thoroughly, I have found precious few grammar and spelling mistakes, and even these do not take away from the story.

    Overall: 9/10
    This AAR is very well done, the few technical errors made were small enough to neglect, or otherwise did not have an adverse effect on the story. The idea behind the format itself is particularly creative.

    Join me on the next AARLander for another obscure game AAR review! Be sure to PM me if you'd like an AAR of yours reviewed.
    Last edited by Derahan; 03-12-2011 at 14:28.

  7. #7
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    Quick CK Review – TC Pilot’s Chronological Influences IV: The Legacy of Time
    By Alfredian


    It is 1065 and Alexi Stukov arrives from outside our time into the tumbledown remains of the city of Rome. He is unable to leave again and is effectively a castaway, forced to live off his wits.

    This narrative AAR follows Alexi and his descendents as they strive for power and influence in the medieval world. Chronological Influences IV is TC Pilot’s fourth outing for the Stukov family, but you can read it as a standalone tale.

    Awards and Stats

    TC Pilot has been writing this since December 2010, and has now reached 1126. It is currently the fifth most popular of the ‘live’ Crusader Kings AAR’s having been viewed over 7000 times.

    It won TC Pilot the Character Writer of the Week Award back in May.

    Things I like about this AAR

    It feels like TC Pilot has really thought about how to mesh together the three elements of this AAR – the growth of the Stukov’s new realm, the internal life of the Stukov family, and the time travel that lies just outside of reach. This third element is really interesting. Even when updates are rooted in the 11th century, you feel everything could change in an instant because of intervention from outside our time/dimension, or the Stukov’s accessing dormant technology that arrived with Alexi.

    TC Pilot also does some really good set-piece scenes, e.g. explaining the relationships between claimants to the throne by writing about a tournament where they are all present, not just giving a dry explanation.

    Things I am might change

    Sometimes pictures of actors are used to represent characters in the tale. This is a general rant I have. Have you ever read a book and got a really clear picture of what a character looks like? Then they make a film of it and you just want to say “That is not what he looks like. The picture in my head was much better.”

    Should there be more of an open villain? Reading this AAR I have a sense of something nasty lurking in the background. I am sure TC Pilot will reveal this is due course, but do we need a more tangible foe in the meantime (internal or external).

    Recommendation and Scores (out of ten)

    I would certainly recommend reading this AAR. TC Pilot does a lot of things really well in it, and it looks like there are more dramatic events to come.

    These scores are out of ten (and for comparison I would give my own AAR an overall score of 6/10):

    Concept 8/10

    Writing style 7/10

    Presentation 5/10

    Overall score 7/10

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