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Thread: The New AARlander Edition 3

  1. #1
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    The New AARlander Edition 3

    Greetings again readers and followers, whoever you are out there on the forums! Lurkers, posters, AARtist, Moderators, Staffers, all is welcome here to read this new edition of the...well...revived AARlander (Gah i said it again!). I would like to say my thanks yet agian for everyone who has made this possible for me and the rest of le crew to do; First to Mr. Capitalist, Qorten, Eber and any other moderator who discussed this and took the subject up on the forums boards to the public again. Secondly to Canonzied and anyone who wrote on the pervious staff of the old AARlander, thank you all for your wonderfull work and your legacy! Third but not least, a major super big thanks to you who has made this number possible, Loki and Mr.Capitalist, i thank you for your participations and writing. Now

    Now i hope everyone who ventures here will have a good time and have a nice read, and as always go to the feedback thread and tell us what u think! Criticism is allways welcomed!

    Best Regards.
    D.


    Last edited by Derahan; 02-05-2012 at 21:32.

  2. #2
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    HOI3
    Being Helpful – Part I
    By Loki100

    Being helpful in the context of an AAR can mean many things. It can be a commentator offering useful input on game options, correcting errors in the original post or adding valuable additional information. It can be the author explaining their plans and logic either in the AAR proper or in response to a request from a reader. Equally most gameplay AARs are written to some extent as something that another person could follow (at least until the relative randomness of the main war starts with all the variables of battle outcomes, AI countermoves etc). One person who is a master of this style of AAR is Rensslaer, and for those who haven't already read his AARs I'd really recommend checking out his Portugal and Germany AARs. The latter is also an example of using an AAR to showcase one of the main HOI3 mods (in this case Slan's Historic Plausibility Project – HPP) and in particular the ways that alters the base game. Really helpful if you are deciding whether to use a given mod (on which subject, a fairly full list of all the AARs using a modded version can be found in the HOI3 library).

    What I'd really like to do this in edition of the AARlander is to look at three different styles of AARs written less to showcase the player's own performance and more to explore game mechanics and strategies or to act as a guide for beginners.

    An example of the first was Kirth Gerson and his HOI 3 v1.3 HQ AI Assessment which in turn built on the work by Chilango2 on the demo and his subsequent Annals of the OKW. All three of these are with vanilla HOI3 and were written at a time when a lot of players were using the AI for little but the simplest of tasks. They looked over how it handled certain circumstances and created a workable model for understanding the AI. No one has taken this up under SF or FTM, in part I think because the AI has become more intuitive to use, though it would be interesting to see a FTM AAR that did experiment with the AI in situations (such as a strategic retreat) which are challenging even with manual control.

    A second model of 'helpful' AAR is to put together very detailed how to guides, in particular around OOB and force tailoring. On the HOI forum this has probably been cornered by Valentinan with his trilogy on building land divisions, naval task forces and airforce design. His advice is perhaps of more use to those playing MP or those players who love to optimise their armies but even someone as lazy as I am can learn a lot about how different types of brigades and ships can be combined.

    Finally, there is the how-to AAR. Paradox now releases 'strategy manuals' with almost all its new games, and links to the ones for HOI3 can be found here. Inevitably they are dated but the generic advice on how to understand the basic game mechanics and the application of good operational concepts remains incredibly useful. Which usefully brings us to the final category of AARs written to bring a beginner step by step into the game. Given the complexity of HOI3 and the initially daunting technology system and large map this a much needed resource. So everyone owes a debt to mankle30 for his SF guide and misterbean for producing one for FTM. Both take a relatively mainstream approach to the pre war phase and both offer careful advice on how to cope with all the decisions that the game generates. When I'm learning a new game, thats the hardest part, once you are into combat etc, its a lot easier to do it alone as often you can respond to a much more limited set of options.

    So in this update, I've particularly looked at the learning resources available on the HOI3 board. As in the introduction, to be honest, almost every AAR will give its reader an insight into game choices, strategies, exploits etc, but the ones mentioned above set out to do that as their primary goal.

  3. #3
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    AGEOD
    Being helpful – part II
    By Loki100

    This section of looking at helpful AARs will cover three that have been written using the AGEOD game system. Even more than in HOI3 this is a bit invidious as every AAR on the sub-board is written to be helpful to someone learning the game and often sets out strategies and choices in painstaking detail. If you're struggling with Pride of Nations (PoN), even with the new patches, you could do a lot worse than to read the older AARs in the AGEOD library. Here I want to showcase 3 AARs written for Rise of Prussia (RoP), Wars in America (WiA) and Revolution under Siege (RUS) in particular. I'll stress that, even more than the Clauswitz engine that Paradox uses, AGEOD's game system is very similar across games. So even if you want only to play Pride of Nations, you can learn a lot about combat and supply from an AAR for RoP.

    The first AAR I'd like to reference is Narwhal's (and Baris his opponent) Learning from Prussia - a Rise of Prussia AAR against a real player - for beginners. As the title implies, like a lot of the AGEOD AARs, it is based on a MP game rather than against the AI. The joy of this AAR is the use of "Beginner's Corner", usually a section embedded into a normal post. These run from how to read the stats and traits of your generals to how to select posture, rules of engagement and the impact of activation (these are common problems in all the AGEOD games and key to good game play) and how to understand the downright complex recruitment and replacement system (fortunately this is unique to RoP but again aspects are found across the AGEOD games). Even if you don't own RoP, just quickly skimming the AAR for the Beginner's Corners is a superb lesson in how to understand the AGEOD system.

    The second is also by Narwhal (and this time I was his victim) using WiA: Wars in America: A 'how-to' AAR. Here again you have the same mix of an AAR and the use of Beginners Corner. If PoN is your interest, oddly this is more useful as a lot of the PoN mechanics are closer to WiA than to RoP. But again there are specific discussions on how to organise an army (and the vexed problem of command points) and the final post is a comprehensive and easy to follow explanation of how the AGEOD combat system actually works (and the essence is common across all the games). Again as with the RoP AAR, it is worth skimming for the Beginners Corners even if you have no interest in the rest of the AAR.

    Now less my erstwhile opponent gets too full of himself (cleverly the one game in which I beat him was the one we didn't make into an AAR), the last I'm going to showcase is by Bornego (who is a major contributor on the AGEOD forums as well). All his RUS AARs are good reads, but I'd particularly like to draw your attention to: Who put the stranded Admiral in charge? - Siberian White Short Campaign PBEM. As with the others this is based on an MP game. The key contribution of this AAR is the way in which a very complex game on a hugely confusing war (forget the idea of linear front lines) is explained and that starts in the very first post. RUS is probably the only game that concentrates on the Russian Civil War and its pretty unflinching in its portrayal of the player options. Special operations, forced recruitment, requisitions, the Cheka and more are part of the game and winner is the side that goes furthest down into the mud (winning is not for the fainthearted but then the consequences of losing weren't either). Bornego's AAR advice is more specific to RUS but some elements will be very useful for players of PoN, especially if you go past the 1890s and artillery and rifle fire becomes a lot more deadly, entrenchments so much more elaborate and division structure becomes more flexible. The first post has an index to the sections that deal with specific mechanics and anyone trying the game should read those posts before starting.

  4. #4
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    World Building
    A Guide to Long-Term Political/World Believability in Narrative and History Book
    By Mr.Capitalist

    I once said something along these lines: "I am not interested in the AI's disregard for my ideas." I stand by it, though it may not be the most popular of opinions. What I mean is that a game is a game and a narrative is a narrative. A narrative is not a game and a game is only a narrative when played in the right state of mind. This is the guiding principle behind Baltikja, currently in the early chapters of book two, Bastions. However; I am no longer playing any of the games for my story. In fact: I never played through the "modern" ages. Why? Because I am not interested in the AI's plans; I have a plan and I'll be damned if anyone messes with it.

    When writing narratives, or anything else, the author controls the amount of information that reaches the reader. Narratives can be the most restrictive from the perspective of the reader but when done well this lack of over-all information can be properly hidden behind beautiful arguments, the entanglements of the favorite character, or the long-winded descriptions of flowing landscape. When the focus of the story is on a handful of characters and over a relatively short period of time, the author need not worry too much about the political world. The changes are minimal and far away from the characters. But what if you plan a narrative over decades? Or centuries? What do you do when you need a world that makes sense to your reader, which feels static when reread?


    The answer is simple: build a world.


    Huh? You might think. Is that not the job of the game? Of course not; you are the author! Take some responsibility and control over your story! So you've played through CK and Denmark owns a random province in Italy? No it doesn't. Forget about it. Don't mention it. Don't hint at it and suddenly it goes away. And the reader knows nothing. And you are not lying to them. This is the strongest difference between gameplay and narrative or history book. It isn't characters. It isn't dialogue... those can exist in a gameplay. Look at "Glory for Ulm". Ulm is a character; the narrator has dialogue with him and the little countries around Europe. But "Glory" is a gameplay-styled story. We see the game being played. They talk about "sliders" and game mechanics. When you write a true narrative you must always decide what to show and what not to show because you must construct a believable story. If Denmark is a small, fledgling nation that is confined to the Baltic, don't talk about the random province in Italy. In fact, give it to some neighboring state. Clean up the borders. And in doing so you've taken the first small steps to building a brand new world.

    Anyone who has played DnD or Pathfinder or any role-playing game knows about world building. Anyone who has GMed such a gathering knows firsthand. Sometimes you buy a book for the world, to give you a head start. Sometimes you get out some graphing paper and a pen and two days later you've drawn a world from scratch. Regardless, eventually your world will be interacted with and it will be your job to hold it together. I strongly suggest for those interested in narrative to at least take a look at the myriad of materials aimed at GMs (Game Masters) rather than players. The insights can be helpful for a writer of any skill level. It might even come in handy when you need to name a tavern!

    But building a world takes time. If you threw a thousand years of history together in a few hours you've done it wrong. A true ahistorical world should hold up at any level. There should be reasons. The game might help with this. Why did Sicily conquer the island of Crete? Well, the Sicilian army got a good roll and managed to win a battle despite the naval landing. Good, that is a history in the making. The Sicilian forces, despite the treacherous waters, managed to defeat the Cretans when a lucky pikeman killed the horse of the Cretan general thus allowing the Sicilians to capture him. History, see? Easy.

    Not so fast. You've come up with an entertaining scenario and fleshed it out, but why? Why did they win? You gave me a game mechanic. Why did the Sicilians conquer Crete? One battle might make a war but there is more than just that. Watch:

    - The Sicilians conquered Crete. Why?

    - The Sicilians won a battle at Crete. Why?

    - The Cretans were weak. Why?

    - The Cretans had just gotten independence from the Roman Empire. Why?

    - The Cretans were unhappy with the Emperor's decision to convert to Catholicism. Why?

    - Rome needed the help of the Catholics to fight the Golden Horde. Why?

    - Rome's armies were weak after a long civil war. Why?

    - An Emperor died without issue and rival Dukes fought for the throne. Why?

    - The Emperor died of plague at a young age. Why?

    - Conditions in Constantinople were very unsanitary. And this can go on forever. There is always another "why" and there should always be another answer. History is continuous. Nothing happens because of luck. When Harold Godwinson was killed at Hastings there was reason the Normans were there. There was a reason that the battle was at Hastings. The arrow was lucky; the situation is never because of luck. Now when you build a world you need to weave these together, and sometimes you need to work in the other direction:

    - The Sicilians conquered Crete. So?

    - With a new base farther East, the Sicilians were able to influence the Roman Empire. So?

    - Eventually the Sicilians and Romans agreed to an alliance with a marriage. So?

    - The marriage eventually led to the two thrones uniting. So?

    - It led to deep cultural divisions in Italy. So?

    - "Italy" was never expanded to include the Two Sicilies. So?

    - In the 1800s, even after the Italian states united, Sicily is still part of the recovering Roman Empire. So?

    - The bloodiest theater in WWI is the Italian/Roman frontier. So?

    - The peace treaty that ended WWI did not settle all the issues between the Italians and the Romans; providing a catalyst for WWII. So?

    - WWII breaks out after a skirmish between the Italians and Romans. It only ends when a communist rebellion in Constantinople ends the century-old Roman monarchy and signs a treaty with Italy. Once again, I can keep asking so until one of us eventually runs out of breath. When you build a history, whether for a history book styled AAR or for the backdrop of some sort of narrative, you need to ask these questions: Why? So? Two very important words. Why did the situation arise? So what did that mean for history?

    You can always take examples from real life, but you should give them interesting twists. And not everything needs to be so deep or exciting. Some things are mundane. This world is made up of (relatively) mundane things. But the more times you can answer Why? and So? the better your history will hold up. And it is never a straight line. History branches. How does the union of Sicily and the Roman Empire affect Syria? Or Egypt? How does a smaller Italy affect France and Germany? How does a France that can more easily bully Italy affect the colonies of France? Does France pour more efforts into controlling Italy than into controlling Africa? Does that mean Africa is more readily divided between Germany and the UK? Does this mean that Germany and the UK are closer or more distant diplomatically? It can go either way. Maybe Germany gives the UK some important concessions in a compromise and this leads to strong diplomatic ties. Or maybe it leads to border conflicts because both states are interested in taking control of the diamond mines of South Africa.

    But there is more to building your world than making sense of it. You will eventually have more ideas that you can remember. As with any endeavor that will stretch over many days/weeks/years you should take notes. Personally I have two sets of notes: my update notes which tell me the theme of each update (from the first update of Homelands to the last update of Ironworks) and my world notes. I recently posted a small glimpse of these notes in the thread for Bastions (namely the 2012 political map). There is no best organization, only you know what is best for you. But the more you can create and gather the better. For example I have flags, roundels and uniforms. I have maps and I have excel sheets with pages of notes and facts. If someone asks me about something I hadn't thought of before I will usually rationalize an answer, give it, and then right down what I said and the reasons. That way a strong continuity is built. As of writing my "Homelands" folder is 1.51GB

    Writing a truly epic Narrative or History Book can be a fulfilling endeavor. Even with only a few staple readers, the sense of wonder or control can make for something that truly feels like your own. I would never discourage someone from writing a Gameplay AAR, but my heart lies with the deep and I find myself lost in the story that can set me adrift in a sea of realism. I strongly, strongly urge anyone who has thought about taking the first steps into History Book and Narrative but felt unsure of themselves to take that plunge, to dive head-first into this wonderful and rewarding task. If you build it, they will come.

  5. #5
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    Why Crusader King II is a Great Game
    By Derahan

    First of all I would like to say that this is not based on actual facts but rather my own experiences with this new game from Paradox Interactive. As you all know Crusader Kings II is the sequel and/or rebirth of the original Crusader Kings game, of which I am a proud owner! Though I never got to really play and enjoy it I can really boast about having it and being able to play it.

    Now onto Crusader Kings II. Why is it such a great game? For starters it is very unique, if even the only game where you really play characters this way, which is what I want to talk to first. To play a character it is kind of like an RPG like WoW (Which might not be a RPG I don’t know, maybe MMO or something, definitions….) where you get to know your character very much and gets to decide how he will evolve (Not Pokémon reference) and how he will develop. The only thing you can’t control about your character in CKII is when he/she will die.

    Now then, characters done (very briefly I know). The second thing that makes this game great is how unlike the other paradox games you don’t have to control the entire state to play; you can have an overlord who controls, say for example, France. The King gets to boss you around and do much as he likes, as long as the laws of the kingdom is in favor of the feudal lords. The road to power can be very long and difficult and it is very much intrigue, make deals, marry right, get alliances etc. It is very much planning if you want to reach the heights.

    You can also of course go the bad way and slaughter everyone above you and literally kill your way to the throne and size it by power and force. Though this might be very bad, because once in power you need to hold onto the power and there your vassals might not like you and they can dispose of you. On the other hand, if you are an experience murderer you can keep your vassals in line by killing them off when they get to rebellious. But watch out, you don’t want to get caught killing anyone, especially your family members.

    Then there is the whole feudalism mechanics over the whole game which of course is the center. Succession laws can be a bit of a pain in the ass but if you manage it the right way, there is no limit to how much power you can hold or exercise, exception is that you can only hold 2 dukedoms before your vassals hate you, you can be king and count over as much as you can without anyone caring.

    The whole thing I want to say that the game really brings forth the dynamics of the medieval period and the totally and utter chaos that reigned in Europe at the time of the beginning of the game in 1066. It is truly a game worth playing if you want to experience the feudal world that we owe so much to. This is not all that can be said, but I am keeping myself very short.

  6. #6
    The Article Beggar Derahan's Avatar
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    A Historical Day II
    Battle of Nieuwpoort
    By Derahan

    Dirt was mushed around beneath his boots and the sun stood high and dried out the whole area. Dirk squinted his eyes and tried to see their enemies at the other end of the field. On his sides he could see the other soldiers on his side, the Dutchmen, spread out across a defensive line across a couple of dunes, entrenched and ready to repulse any attack. Across the field were the Spaniards, the evil overlords who defied the Dutch their freedom, it would be decided on this day, the Spanish would not break them!

    Maurice breathed heavily; the news of the advance done by the Spanish archduke had surprised him and his unprepared army. He had assembled it and hastened it up onto the dunes, he now hoped that I would have been enough, otherwise the Dutch were soon to be toasted. Couriers were running everywhere delivering messages, informing officers of what was happening etc. Suddenly someone has begun to shout, the words were incomprehensible but it alarmed the people and suddenly the base was empty and everyone was at the top of the dunes, looking down on the advancing Spanish.

    Dirk fired his handgun just as the soldiers beside him; through the smoke he could see the Spanish charge up against him. Another barrage of bullets swept through the Spanish lines and the first line of them fell to the ground, most of them shrieking. Their cavalry was crushed beneath the avalanche that was made by the Dutch heavy cavalry that charged down the dunes. The Spanish were repulsed and routed with the cuirassiers on their backs. The Spanish first attack had failed.

    The right flank of his army was stabilizing. After the initial attack by the Spaniards towards the center of his lines they had sent a second wave towards the Dutch, and it was carried out by better soldiers and had almost taken the Frisians on the right by the throat. He had sent his entire cavalry, except a small detachment towards the Spanish flank, the third line of Spanish infantry had stopped them but the first line and their cavalry had routed from the field. The worrying development was at his left.

    James loaded his gun, fired it against the Spanish and then loaded again. In his head his fear begun to take the overhand and suppress his other emotions. The Spanish had sent their elite infantry against the left flank, which was manned by James and his fellow Englishmen. Barrage after barrage went into the Spanish lines but thy kept going forward, that was, until they felled down the pikes and charged against the English. James and his fellow soldiers routed and ran for their lives.

    Maurice was distraught at the development of his left flank and ordered what was left of his cavalry onto the lines of the elite Spanish infantry. He saw the Spanish disorder, how his cavalry plowed through the lines of them, killing many, it was a pure bloodbath. At the same time, Vere, one of his officers, had rallied the fleeing English and mounted a counter attack to aid the cavalry sent by Maurice. The effects were overwhelming and the Spanish turned around and fled in the face of death.

    Dirk coughed as he inhaled the grey-black smoke that was the effect of the powder used for firing the bullets. The Spanish had advanced against the right again, Dirk guessed it was the third line that was attacking; perhaps the last of the Spanish was commenced in the attack. However they were not at the moment breaking the line of the Dutch. It didn’t take long before the remnants of the Dutch cavalry thrust through the Spanish flank, who routed the same. Dirk and his fellow soldiers were ordered forwards against the Spanish who now fell before them like grass to fire.

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