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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

LordTempest

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I wasn't thrilled about it either, but my entire first round of choices were all eliminated/never born: Fez, Oudh, Xia, Shaybanid, Maldive. I really hoped that Shaybanid would still be around, since I wanted to see how badly I'd fail compared to tamius23!

Shame, I would have liked to have seen Fez. With Daniel as a Fez.
 

Avindian

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Ashantai

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Awesome stuff, even if Chaos has created me to comment on this AAR! :p
 

Avindian

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Awesome stuff, even if Chaos has created me to comment on this AAR! :p

Perhaps he's created us all; he is a busy guy, after all!
 

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Cologne: The sweet smell of success! (Relatively speaking).

This particular ritual was Daniel's least favorite part of traveling with Chaos, if he had to pick just one.

What sort of creature was he now?

I gave you a break this time, sport. Since we're relatively close to our last destination, I've let you keep the same body.

"Wait, you can do that?"

Chaos mimicked Daniel's naturally nasally voice to perfection. 'Wait, you can do that?' I'm one of the most powerful beings in creation! I can do whatever I want.

Daniel snickered. "Unless Order says you can't."

All right, funny man. We'll see how funny you are as a rutabaga next time!

"Have they even heard of rutabagas in 15th century Europe?"

It's Swiss, apparently, so yeah.

"Have you ever eaten one?"

Nah, it's just fun to say (Author's note: Go on, try it!) Have you?

"Can't say that I have." Not wanting to be condemned to the vegetable prison of a rutabaga, Daniel thought fast. "Suppose I offer you a wager?"

Chaos stroked his beard. (Author's note: Oh yeah, Chaos has a beard. I mean, why wouldn't he?) You intrigue me, mortal. Go on.

"If I succeed this time, you can't do anything horrible to me at the beginning of the decade next time."

And when you inevitably fail?

"You can have my body for the next ten years."

Hmm... even in your disappointing meat sack, it would be fun to run amok. You've got a deal!

It's better not to imagine them shaking hands.

"Excellent. So what have we got in Cologne?"

Take a look.

colognemap.jpg


colognemission.jpg


"That's a suspiciously easy mission. What do you have planned?"

Chaos laughed. You know me too well. I fired your entire army.

colognearmygone.jpg


Oh, and you still have to earn power, and remember, no more mind control.

"Just out of curiosity, while you're down here with me, what is Order doing?"

I dunno. Probably drinking. See, he's lucky -- most things take care of themselves, so he only intervenes once in a great while. It's even easier with me stuck in this parallel timeline.

"So are you two running the whole show, or do you have a boss?"

Do I look like I have a boss?

"I have no idea what you like."

Touché. I have to think about this one, so why don't you work on your own problem while I sort out the best answer?

"Uh, okay."

Daniel approached the largest church in Cologne; since Cologne was a theocracy, he figured he'd find most of the important folks there, especially on a Sunday. Sure enough, he found Hermann IV, the Archbishop of Cologne, personally delivering mass. He sat down and listened, as the Archbishop finished his sermon.

"... and that's why God punished us by letting our enemies in Münster take our second province, but lo, He smote those infidels. He smote them into, uh, little bits. Something like that. Mass over; everybody take it easy."

Daniel blushed, but realized nobody here knew that was his fault, so that was a minor relief. He approached the Archbishop, figuring the direct approach would probably be best.

"Archbishop, may I have a word with you in private?"

Hermann III gave a friendly smile. "Certainly, my son. Do you need confess your sins?"

"Not exactly. My name is Dan-, uh, Hermann von Beck."

"Say, that's pretty neat. We have the same first name!"

"Yeah, what are the odds? Anyhow, I'm here to offer my services as an economic advisor."

The Archbishop thought for a moment. "Sorry, don't need one."

Daniel blinked. "Beg pardon?"

"The Catholic Church pays for everything. It's a pretty sweet deal, honestly."

"I see. Well, is there any other way I can help?"

"You could clean out the stables. Those always need a good washing down."

Daniel sighed. "I mean, help govern your Archbishopric."

The Archbishop looked puzzled. "Why would I need help? We're an OPM; we don't have that many people."

"Wait, you actually call yourself an OPM?"

"Of course. Oldest Praisers of the Messiah."

"Why would that make you smaller?"

"It's an exclusive club."

Daniel was getting nowhere with the direct approach. It was time to try the directer approach.

"Okay, Archbishop, look. I'm here on a mission from Archangel Michael."

The Archbishop cocked his head to one side. "Michael, eh? And what is this mission?"

"I have to run your country for you."

"But we're doing just fine. Why would Michael send somebody to help people that don't need it when there are so many others that do?"

This was getting infuriating. Daniel wasn't a religious sort, but he still felt uncomfortable about his next step. Still, he had to take drastic measures.

"This is getting out of hand. I tried to be nice. Now I have to be less nice. Make me your leader or else."

The Archbishop wagged his finger at Daniel. "I hardly think Michael would approve of your tone."

Daniel closed his eyes for a second, then did something he was almost certain would get him sent to Hell, even if there wasn't one.

He punched out the Archbishop and took his clothes, then stuffed Hermann III in the confessional. He put a sign on the door that said "Confession in progress, do not disturb." As he put on the priestly garb, he was delighted to find out that it fit. He returned to the main hall, to find a couple of still waiting.

One elderly lady bothered him for about twenty minutes about whether cats had souls. After assuring her that they probably did (maybe), the second man walked up and said hello.

"Good afternoon, Archbishop."

Daniel couldn't help but ask. "Look, that last lady was pretty old, but surely you can tell I'm not your Archbishop?"

"I'm not stupid. What did you, punch out the old one and stuff him in the confessional?"

Daniel stared for a minute. "Why, of course, not, what kind of monster do you think I am?"

The man shrugged. "It's how Hermann III got the job. Somebody will let him out in a day or two, give him some money, and send him along his way. It's a pretty good system, actually. So what name did you pick?"

"I don't know... Hermann IV?"

The man frowned. "Not very creative, but all right. It's your show now."

"Okay. Let's devote our treasury to making money so we can improve relations with Aachen!"

"What are you telling me for? I'm the janitor."

Daniel took a deep breath, then got directions to the town hall, which was where the government was run.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
His first few months on the job went pretty smoothly. He minted money like it was going out of style to buy off Aachen. He also got to elect a new Holy Roman Emperor, which was kind of fun. He picked Bohemia because Austria had screwed him over in Brandenburg.

cologneelectoralvote.jpg


He also hired a guy named Siegfried Stenkhoff as Treasurer. Siegfried was your stereotypical German; tall, blond, and completely stoic. What made it so odd was that he went by "Stinky" and insisted everybody call him that. He did it without a cracking a smile or even acknowledging the inappropriateness of the nickname, which made it twice as hard to keep a straight face.

You know, I should give you a nickname like that. How about 'Numbskull?'

"You give me nicknames all the time. Like Danny; nobody calls me Danny."

Chaos considered that. There is that; I don't like my creativity to be limited, numbskull.

"Right. Do you have an answer for me yet?"

Chaos searched his memory. What was the question?

"Do you have a boss?"

Ah! That's right. That's a tricky question. Order likes to think he's my boss, but I'm my own man.

"Is there a God?"

Yeah, me.

Daniel rolled his eyes. "No, I mean, somebody who created the Universe."

Chaos shrugged. I dunno. It was like this when I got here.

"Where did you come from?"

Beats me.

"Wait, you don't actually know?"

Nope. Why would I? How could I possibly remember my own creation? Do you remember yours?

"Well, no, but I came from my parents, obviously."

Why is that obvious? All you have to go on is their word.

Daniel was absolutely stunned, and the worst part was that his question was genuine, with no humor or malice.

"Uh... I have to come from somewhere, right?"

Not necessarily. Maybe you've always been here.

"That can't be true. I mean, all kinds of stuff happened before I was born."

Are you sure? All you have to go on is a bunch of books and other people. Neither is particularly reliable.

"There are films!"

Chaos snorted. Oh yeah, and those couldn't possibly be faked. You humans are so trusting.

Daniel found himself losing the argument, so decided to change the subject. "But what about you? Do you have a boss or not?"

If you mean, do I have somebody I have to report to on a daily basis? For the purposes of this bet, just Order.

"And before this?"

Order scratched his head. There was another bet before that. Honestly, I think we both have gambling problems.

"You mean to tell me that you've been around millions --"

Billions, maybe trillions.

"-- of years, and you can't remember not being involved in a bet?"

Nope.

"But that's insane!"

Maybe, but when you become immortal, you tell me what you can do to pass the time.

Daniel threw up his hands. "I give up. I'm going to go lay down before I lose my increasingly fragile grasp on reality."

Have a good nap!, remarked Chaos with an unusually sweet voice.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Daniel had been just busy enough not to ask any more metaphysical questions, but not so busy he wasn't bored. The problem was that Stinky took care of almost everything, and so the only thing the Archbishop did from time to time was make decisions, and there weren't many. He began to regret punching Hermann III; not out of remorse, but because he kind of understood why so many Archbishops just left after the modest sums they were paid.

Hey monkey brain! What's up?

"Not much. I've fulfilled your silly mission."

colognenewmission.jpg


Great! You're accumulating money, I trust?

"I am."

Splendid. How did you win that war I tried to send your way?

"I said no. Look at the map! Only a total fool would want to fight Provence, particularly if Bohemia joined in."

colognewarcall.jpg


colognefrance.jpg


Chaos applauded. You actually figured out you could decline wars! You're finally figuring things out, my dimwitted companion.

Daniel glared. "Oh, shut up."

Did you get my note about Brandenburg?

colognebrandenburggone.jpg


"I did. Why do you delight in my past failures?"

Actually, I'm ambivalent. You should be mad at them; they're the ones who delight in it!

"Who's 'them'?"

Chaos sighed. Never mind.

(Author's note: Please don't let Daniel's discomfort dissuade you from reading further!)

"If it makes you feel better, I did accept one war."

Chaos paused. You went to war with no army?

"Well, I'm still gathering funds to finish your mission."

The demon whistled. You have some guts, butterball.

"No big deal; it's just us and Bremen vs. Holstein, and everybody gave us military access, but didn't give it to Holstein."

colognewarcall2.jpg


They could still invade.

"Actually, Bremen's blocking their way out of Holstein with her fleet, since she can't cut through the Hansa."

But they keep trying every few days, right?

"How did you know?!"

AI quirks! Gotta love 'em.

"What's an 'AI'?"

Never mind that. You go off and fight your war.

"Wait, why am I fighting it?"

Somebody has to be the general.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What transpired was perhaps the dullest war in the history of warfare. Holstein essentially waited patiently for Cologne to attack, and with Bremen's assistance, victory was assured.

cologneholstein.jpg


Unfortunately, the real question was, who got credit for the victory?

colognepeaces.jpg


Chaos laughed uncontrollably. This really is terrific. Even when you win, you actually lose!

"Hey, at least I got the prestige!"

Oh! Thanks for reminding me. Your new mission is to get 10 prestige.

cologneprestigemission.jpg


"But I have -16 now!"

Hey, I gave you that preacher, didn't I?

colognepreacher.jpg


"I guess. I'll need to do something clever."

Like what?

"Hire a philosopher! And... support the Renaissance!"

colognerenaissance.jpg


Why is your strategy always 'do nothing?'

"It's a good strategy."

Well, you've had zero victories so far, so I wouldn't call it a good strategy.

"You'll see, come January of 1459. You'll see!"

Oh yeah, there were also two comets, but since OPMs can fix stab hits in a single month, I didn't bother to mention those.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
New Year's Day, 1459. Chaos and Daniel had already been arguing about who won the bet most of the day, and it was nearly time to leave.

"Hey! I won a war and completed two missions!"

Yeah, peabrain, and you didn't get anything out of the war.

"I built three buildings in Cologne! It's better off now than when we got here!"

Chaos was about to retort, but then got an idea. A fiendishly clever one.

You know what? You're right. This is the biggest success you've had, and I commend you.

"Does that mean I won the bet?"

Well, you could take the victory. Or we could go for double or nothing!

Daniel, despite his better judgment, asked what he meant.

It's very simple. If you succeed -- by which I mean add territory -- I'll let you pick the country after this one.

"No random draw?"

Nope. Anywhere you like.

"And if I lose?"

The animacy restriction is lifted permanently; you'll still be immortal, but I can put you in anything I like. Also, I still get unrestricted control for ten years.

Daniel considered that for a moment. "You know what? I'm feeling lucky. I'll take that bet!"

Chaos grinned. Excellent!

"So where are we going next?"

Bourbonnais.

Daniel's jaw dropped. "You no-good cheat! You knew where we were going next!"

Chaos smiled even wider. I did, didn't I?

"You should have told me!"

You should have asked. Hey, it's still possible you'll win the bet. After all, all you have to do is add one province. That's it. One measly province.

Daniel's jaw set in determination. "Then that's what I'll do!"
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I honestly have no idea who will win. We can either get Daniel the rock or we might get a good country for ten years! Who can say?

Well, I can, but not yet, since I haven't played. But you'll find out in a couple of days. Stay tuned!
 

Ashantai

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I love it! So that's how the Hermanns are chosen, is it? Stuffed in a confessional...oh my that was brilliant!

Fantastic update as always!
 

Axelius

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"Have they even heard of rutabagas in 15th century Europe?"

It's Swiss, apparently, so yeah.

The 'Sw-' country confusion strikes again! Actually I had no idea what a rutabaga is, so I had to look it up since over here in Jollygood-speakland we call them 'Swedes' (Not that we Swedes call them swedes, had no idea they were called that until I got here).

And rutabaga is a terrible bastardisation of the old Swedish word, not that I expect anything else from jänkare.

I'll shut up now and read the rest :p
 

Axelius

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And not a complete failure for once and Bourbonnaise really raises the stakes! Hopefully it won't end with Daniel tied to one...
 

Concrete

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I wonder if; between almost constant administrative and military failure, Chaos and Daniel will unlock the secrets of creation.

Don't think I've posted in this AAR yet, but I've been lurking it from the beginning and enjoying it immensely.
 

DisgruntledLemming

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Excellent update, Bourbonnais should be fun...

Would it be too gamey or against the rules of the story to let rebels break loose and release you from vassalhood or no?
 

generalolaf

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I haven't laughed as much in weeks :D
 

Avindian

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I love it! So that's how the Hermanns are chosen, is it? Stuffed in a confessional...oh my that was brilliant!

Fantastic update as always!

Glad you liked it!

The 'Sw-' country confusion strikes again! Actually I had no idea what a rutabaga is, so I had to look it up since over here in Jollygood-speakland we call them 'Swedes' (Not that we Swedes call them swedes, had no idea they were called that until I got here).

And rutabaga is a terrible bastardisation of the old Swedish word, not that I expect anything else from jänkare.

I'll shut up now and read the rest :p

Blast! You're right! I would go back and change it, but I'll just blame it on Chaos and move along.

And not a complete failure for once and Bourbonnaise really raises the stakes! Hopefully it won't end with Daniel tied to one...

I would call this a smashing victory by Daniel's standards!

I wonder if; between almost constant administrative and military failure, Chaos and Daniel will unlock the secrets of creation.

Don't think I've posted in this AAR yet, but I've been lurking it from the beginning and enjoying it immensely.

Always good to hear from a fresh poster! If they do unlock the secrets of creation, I assure you it will entirely be accidental.

Excellent update, Bourbonnais should be fun...

Would it be too gamey or against the rules of the story to let rebels break loose and release you from vassalhood or no?

Actually, the good news is that Bourbonnais is independent already, what with France/Burgundy completely imploding and being replaced by uber-Provence. Otherwise, vassals are strictly forbidden and I would have gone on to the next number.

I haven't laughed as much in weeks :D

You must have a very sad life then (or I'm just that awesome. You know what? I'm going to go with that.) :D
 

Michaelangelo

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Finally, the country you played didn't fall. :p

I'm eager to see how this bet turns out. Hopefully you can pick on one of the numerous small French nations in the area, as long as France doesn't have them all as vassals still.
 

Avindian

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Finally, the country you played didn't fall. :p

I'm eager to see how this bet turns out. Hopefully you can pick on one of the numerous small French nations in the area, as long as France doesn't have them all as vassals still.

The good news is that France has been smacked around rather badly; the bad news is I'm not sure how Provence will take it, and I'm very, very scared of Provence.

GL, you'll need it. :p

I suspect you're right!
 

Rendap

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BOOOO!!! No annexation of Cologne! Go back and finish the job I say!

But good update... :D
 

Avindian

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BOOOO!!! No annexation of Cologne! Go back and finish the job I say!

But good update... :D

Hah!

Actually, he brings up a good point. There's enough countries that this won't be a problem early, but as OPMs get eaten, I may find myself repeating countries. In that case, would you rather I find the next best random country or take the first playable (non-vassal or junior PU) country, regardless of whether I've been there or not?
 

Axelius

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Hah!

Actually, he brings up a good point. There's enough countries that this won't be a problem early, but as OPMs get eaten, I may find myself repeating countries. In that case, would you rather I find the next best random country or take the first playable (non-vassal or junior PU) country, regardless of whether I've been there or not?
I think re-visits could work, not with only 10 or 20 years inbetween, but otherwise.
 

LordTempest

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I would prefer a new country each time, I'd include Cultural Unions as new countries.
 

Memento Mori

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I think that re visiting countries could be quite funny. Maybe some old people could remember your past exploits, not knowing that it was actually you ;) Or in case of the countries Daniel was a Daniella, he could even meet his kids (or grandkids)

A compromise would be to leave these cases to be decided by Order or another personification (who would say yes if you find room for puns or plot twists)