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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Peter Ebbesen

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Blood to the Ankles - And Rising

Blood to the Ankles - And Rising, The Introduction

- Being the Narrative of a Stranger in a Strange Land -​


I was busy at work at my desk planning the overthrow of the established world order when the video-phone cunningly inlaid in the desktop rang. Probably just a telemarketer, I thought to myself as I ran several possible gruesome death-scenarios through my head. Sure, animating the caller's phone and having it eat the sucker was always a possibility, but animated phones are so... passé. Everybody does it. It lacks... Style. A true evil genius must hold himself to higher standards or what is the world coming to?

Few people understand the true hardship of being an evil overlord. All they notice are the robotic minions, the power, the nice flowing capes, and the maniacal laughter - they never consider the immense amount of work and determination that goes into our projects! Do YOU think it is easy to construct a secret underground lair on a shoe-string budget while dodging the authorities and AT THE SAME TIME spending fortunes on your pet perversions? We are a misunderstood and much maligned demographic segment of the general population.

At any rate business must take precedence over pleasure, and it might, just might, be relevant after all, so I told my personal secretary to answer the phone. She crawled out from under my desk, stood up in a slow undulating movement, wiped her mouth, and took the call.

"BADASS Inc. HQ. Are You Friend Or Foe?", I heard her ask the caller. She was not hired for her brains, I tell you. In my business an utterly trustworthy sex bomb without an ounce of initiative but capable of eviscerating inopportune callers within two seconds of receiving my secret signal is usually preferable to the more intellectual types, who tend to ask disturbing questions like, Are you sure dropping him in the crocodile pit was the humane thing to do?.. Fond memories, those, fond memories. Something to tell the grandchildren about, if I had not had them all put to death for not eating their porridge. Manners are slipping these days, as I told their parents before their tragic immolation.

I hear a scream as my secretary was sucked into the phone and vanished without a trace, but dismissed it for a moment in favour of introspection: one of the most important traits of surviving evil overlords is the ability to discern which occurrences are important and which are not, and introspection, rare as it is, sure beats the loss of a hireling. As I said to that oh-so-smooth fellow in the suit, when he asked me if I would at least tell him what it was all about before I killed him: No way, dummy, I said. Not that he listened, the ungrateful man. Possibly because I dumped him in the piranha pool before answering. Better safe than sorry, I say. Fond memories, I tell you. The phone began ringing again.

Ah, well, needs must when the devil drives, and he drives passing well. I call my trusty lieutenant, attach an everseeking cord to his tattered remnants of a soul, fortify him with the Aegis of Hermes Trismegistus and tell him to answer the phone. Naturally, he does, and naturally he is sucked into the phone. It is just one of those days. If it is a telemarketer, he is more aggressive than usual in catching the customer's attention. I can use guys like that.

Better make a good impression! I stand up tall and strong, zip my zipper, don my half-mask, make sure my cape flows freely no matter the wind (never trust mother nature, I say, she is one mean bitch), focus my third sight on the everseeking cord as it twists through the universe, take hold of it.... And pull!

As I zap through the universe at approximately nineteen trillion times the speed of light (going a bit slow to avoid ruffling my costume), I finally approach a green world bathed in the glow of a not particularly impressive sun, and I am sucked down to the surface.

As all evil geniuses know it pays off best in the long run to be alert at all times or there may not be a long time, so I begin an inventory of the surroundings.

I stand on a beach... The beach is not deserted... I see three paths, going east, north, and west. I detect no threats. On the northern path there is a group of natives.... FOCUS. They look like primitive warriors. I adjust appearance to look more like a physically imposing version of them (size always matters in primitive cultures, I know from experience) getting rid of a couple of miscellaneous horns and claws, while retaining my costume. MY fashion is NEVER out of style. I go north along the path. I see the group of native warriors and they see me. I see the beheaded corpses of my secretary and my trusted lieutenant lying at their feet. I feel a burning pain in the neck.

Now, as an evil genius, one of the first lessons you get is that, no matter what, you should never lose your head. With lightning reflexes I swivel on my feet and with the seven deadly blows of Ghori-Maa I dismantle my attacker and stack him in the classic pattern showing complete confidence in myself, yet respect for his abilities. No reason to insult the locals. I quickly reattach my head and pick up the fallen warrior's weapon, which appears to be some sort of sword and slowly, but menacingly, turn to face the rest of the group...

...I smile and tell them my name. Who knows, I might be expected. This causes some consternation, but one of the natives, who looks slightly more distinguished than the rest (having a keen eye is important in the evil overlord business!), quiets them and addresses me. "Konnichi-wa, Peter Ebbe-san", he says, near enough, and begins babbling.

His babbling is easy to decipher for a genius like me (always take pride in your abilities, or you might as well just be a minion!), and it appears he is talking about his leader, some Daimyo.

Deadpan, I tell him to take me to his leader. Who knows, this might be FUN, and I needed a holiday anyhow, and if you cannot pamper yourself, who can?

As I walk with the natives on the road to their leader, I cast my eye over the verdant countryside, the cowed populace, and the utter peace and tranquillity, and I get my first real impression of these people, and impression that will only come to be strengthened over the coming years: These people are in sore need of a firm hand, for they are bloody boring.

An evil overlord could go far in such a place.
 

Peter Ebbesen

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Chapter One

Blood to the Ankles - And Rising, Chapter I

- Concerning the Costs of Establishing A Secret Base, 1836-1854 -​

As I stand in the shadows near the building with a full moon overhead, I woefully conclude that the Daimyo will be of little help. Conceited, yes, and such a quality is always useful, but too stupid to live, really, and a skinflint as well. Not that I would kill him in a murderous frenzy for my own enjoyment, mind you. Business before pleasure, is my motto! Vigilance my watchword! I draw seventeen throwing knives from the hidden recesses of my suit and dispatch the elite warriors guarding the private fortune of the Daimyo.

Would you believe it? The old skinflint is broke? All my excercise wasted. Now where will I get my funds to build my secret base? Yes, you heard me right. My secret base. This may be a holiday, but one has certain standards. As an evil overlord it is not only my RIGHT, it is my PLEASURE to have a secret base and an army of minions to serve my will. And a trusted lieutenant, of course. It is only what I deserve, after all.

Now, it pleases me to tell you a bit about this country I am visiting. It is called Japan and is a country of valleys, hills, mountains, and feuding warlords... And a lot of peasants, but nobody counts the peasants. That may be a tactical mistake of the first order. It is extremely backwards according to my standards, of course, but moreover it is also extremely backwards according to the standards of its time and its world. A real dump. The ass-end of the world. Millions of farmers and labourers toiling away to little gain, just like their ancestors did. More than 19 millions of them, to be precise.To give you an idea of just how backwards this nation is, it is an empire with not just one, but two supreme leaders: One is the Divine Emperor, but everybody except for his court ignores him in favour of the Shogun, who is a sort of general to the Emperor. To make it worse, at some times the Shogun has, while being the supreme leader, actually being second to a retired Shogun, who is ALSO the supreme leader. Or else it is the other way around. But it gets worse. The local clergy believes in a vast number of gods, which is fair enough, but they also tend to take the edicts of a group of Divine Servitors slightly too seriously, and the political elite backs them up. The 100% Atheist inceration rate being what has kept them on the straight and narrow, it seems. The known Divine Servitors are as follows, and the clergy is always willing to preach their praises, or whatever:
  • Yo-He, the Leaden one, the Bug of Eternity
  • The Count, the planmeister
  • Cir Tap, the joker
  • The Inescapable Fate of Night (a reformed demon)
  • Tricky Dick, the fortress builder
  • Kenya-Do, the stomper, He of the Mighty Foot
  • Fred the Dead, SpokesServitor to the Gods (a permanently retired used-litter salesman)

Apart from the clergy and the Servitors, Japan is a land rich in opportunity for a person with a certain mindset. I refer, of course, to the special qualities that pertain to that most lofty of titles, the evil overlord. Such as me. Everybody knows his place, and my place, while on holiday, is at the top. Preferably in a bunker behind the throne, or in some deep and dimly lit caves under his palace, where only the slowly dripping water disturbs the hideous screams of the tortured. Fond memories, I tell you, fond memories.. As an evil overlord, I am infinitely flexible in my plans. So first I will have to find out which of the two, or possibly three, supreme leaders' thrones I should get behind or under.

But first I need money, and I hit upon a plan. While it goes without saying that all my plans are cunning, I must admit that this plan even shows traces of true genius.

MUAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAAAAAA HAA! haaaa! MUAHAHAHA!​

(ahem)

A jolly laughter always brightens up my day, but it just isn't the same without minions, really. After such a laugh you really need a sycophant or two to chime in. Now, in all its splendid simplicity (the hallmark of a great mind), my plan is as follows
  1. Corrupt, infiltrate, and take control of the criminal underground of Kyoto and Edo
  2. Set up radical underground cells opposed to the government and the status quo
  3. Contact the Shogun with a revolutionary taxation proposal that will solve all his financial worries [note: wear false nose and ears capable of holding up to an eleventh degree interrogation]
  4. Funnel half of my proceeds from embezzlement of the taxation proposal to the underground
  5. Funnel a quarter of the funds into digging a big hole outside Kyoto. Bigger than any hole ever seen before on this planet. A humongous hole. A truly mega-stupendous great hole. A hole worthy of me!
  6. Use the remaining quarter to acquire a Trusted Lieutenant and a group of faithful bodyguards. Preferably in kinky costumes. Every bit helps.
  7. Exploit the chaos of the civil war that will arise from this


And so it is come to pass. The Shogun happily passed the progressive 100% tax proposal under the motto "money makes the world go around" after I told him that "taking from the rich and giving to the poor" was a relative concept. He is now recruiting lots of crack divisions of irregular foot soldiers, a disorganised mob of people with pig-stickers. Not that I complain, mind you. Meanwhile, the people is getting ever angrier with his leadership. My rebels, though rebels without a cause save avoiding starvation, are gaining in strength, and my hole is being dug. I tell the workers that I want them to dig all the way to the centre of the earth, but I do not think they believe me. They keep telling me that there is no actual centre because the core consists of molten magma in eternal motion, but what do they know? Uneducated recidivists all. I still have no luck in the minion business, unfortunately, but I have acquired the services of a highly trained and utterly immoral Geisha named Shagme. A compact combination pleasure artist and spy. She does my manicure and counts as a business expense.

Now, it so happens that some people are starting to be slightly upset what with starving because they cannot afford to buy food, but fortunately the Shogun sees no problems with that. Better dead than untaxed, he says, getting into the spirit of the thing, and who can but agree with him? Certainly not me!

Now, as my hole grows ever deeper, an opportunity arises unexpectedly. One of the hallmarks of an true evil genius, and an evil overlord to boot, is reacting decisively to the unexpected. Some merchants arrive from far away on continent #1, named Europe by the natives, and they would really like to trade with Japan, bypassing some centuries long edict that goes a long way towards explaining the inbred nature of this country.

And, of course, the Shogun will have nothing of it! I am a traditional man, he explains to me kindly, and the gods would not look kindly upon this ahistorical option. (I have some status thanks to the tax scheme, thank you very much, but it grates having to act subservient. Fortunately, I am a very master of disguise and thespianism, and can act the humble servant when needed). You silly old bugger, I tell him, you utter pile of excrement. You sour saké samurai. Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once: It is the opportunity of a lifetime! All they want is to trade a bit. You can do it. Nothing bad will come of it. And you can have my Geisha over for dinner.

The rest, as I say, is history. Trade leads, inevitably, to a desire for Dutch intervention, and though the Shogun wails and curses, he is by now completely addicted to the Thar-Kell that I had my Geisha serve him for the past few months and is willing to do anything to get his daily dosis. A really pathetic wreck of a man, unfit for his station. A pliable worm, yet one in control of most of his faculties except for moderation. He also has acquired a nervous habit of chopping the feet of random courtiers, a rather cute affectation, really. It keeps the opposition on its knees, so to speak, and in blood to the ankles.

With the influx of basic Dutch knowledge, the Shogun embarks on a vigorous building plan, building a lumber, cement, steel, ammunition, and small arms manufactory using machine parts that happened to be lying around from ancient times. (Thinks he, the fool! In fact, I had them in a pocket.)

Yes, I have very deep pockets, and wide. Just a standard precaution, you see. There are few things more embarrasing than standing in some strange land without the materials needed to produce a laser cannon capable of tattooing the moon on hand, I tell you. If you have tried it once, you never want to suffer that fate again. It is just so.... Unprofessional.

Now, with the money rolling in from taxes and nineteen million Japanese pissed off by that smart plan, with my rebels making up quaint songs of resistance in places of ill repute, with the thieves, robbers, highwaymen, murderers, poisoners, and thugs working overtime removing the better civic and military leaders (usually the same people), with the farmers and labourers starving, well, with all that, having the Shogun put his signature on a document making Japan a Duth satellite state is just too much - even when he waves that piece of paper stating that he now has peace in our time and that Japan is ready to be pulled, screaming and kicking, into the nineteenth century. Most people are quite comfortable living in the fifteenth, thank you very much. In other words, it is perfect. Something has to fall - even if I need to give it a push. And fall it does, with a lot of blood and iron and death and destruction all over the place.
 
Last edited:

Peter Ebbesen

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Chapter One

One of the better commanders...
btta_1841_12_29.jpg
 

Peter Ebbesen

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Chapter One

The Shogun never knew what hit him. To quote him before they put him to death after the Unpleasant Uprising of 1841-46 (as I named it):

...Let's put it like this. I used all the leaders I could get. I used the incompetents, the hated, and the sycophants. I used the sad sacks, the cowardly poets, and those who were plain idiots. I even used those who were unreliable (-1 to -4). No matter which stat a general had, I used him. I even had a 5% attrition leader running one of my main irregular armies in the 1840'ies and a -2 fire/-3 shock leader who gave my irregulars fire 0, shock 0 run another.... I had several armies with fire 0/shock 1. And I used them all to quell the massive revolts that spawned from having all POPS with high militancy and extremely high consciousness caused by taking the Dutch route (+5/+5 ALL... OUCH).... At the outbreak of the revolt (after signing away the warrior heritage and becoming a Dutch satellite), just about every POP in the country had a consciousness of 9 or 10... Since no-name dummies have reliability -5, it meant that the armies without named dummies usually revolted within a month or two of losing their named dummy.... Thank the good lord that Japan has so many soldier and officer POPs.

All this to say that, when the situation is desperate enough, you will even appreciate the leaders that kill 5% or 15% of their troops per month - when the alternative is having the entire army rebel.
 

Peter Ebbesen

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Chapter One

The Rebel Situation Heats Up
btta_1842_03_17.jpg
 

Peter Ebbesen

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Chapter One

It took six years to quell the rebellions, during which the population of Japan dropped from about 19.5 million to 16.5 million, and now the surviving craftsmen and farmers (their POPs bore the brunt of the losses) are all dedicated socialists and communists.

.... BUT IT WAS WORTH IT! The survivors, or rather, their descendants, will thank me for it. Japan is still uncivilized, and a satellite to boot, but it just gained 25 techs in 1840. That has got to be worth something.

And if they don't thank me, well, that is not all that unusual for an evil overlord. People are niggardly in their thanks, that's for sure, so I am not expecting too much. On the positive side, if nothing else, I had good use of my hole, as it was used as the main dumping ground for casualties. Dead, dying, or just incapacitated, it made no difference. The convoys went on for miles, and all went into the hole. Made it much easier to count the casualties than the usual sloppy approach of just leaving the fallen lying around, and ensured that the countryside remained scenic - so important for tourism, you know.

This Unpleasant Uprising was good for business. I was making money hand over fist. I got part of the taxes from the Shogun, part of the "liberated wealth" from the rebels, and part of the loot from the rogues. Construction of my secret base was begun under Kyoto.

And thus it stands! Japan is at peace, the surviving population is grateful for the lenient 80% tax imposed by the new Shogun, manufactoring is way up, the country is getting wealthier by the day, my new secret base nears completion, the Geisha has been appointed Trusted Lieutenant and is allowed to think without spoken permission, and I have even spoken with the clergy. Now, I just need an army of mindless minions, I am set for my holiday. Until them, I can buy some samurai. The difference is not all that great, really.

Life is good... And peaceful. Too peaceful. Time to invade another country, I guess. Decisions, decisions. Chinese food vs. Korean wood. Timber is essential to the economy of Japan, and somebody (I mention no names) forgot to plant woods in Japan. Life as an evil overlord is harsh, I tell you, and seldom appreciated by the plebes, but it does have its pleasures.

Population Overview By 1851 - Pacifism A Dominant Issue Amongst The Survivors
btta_1851_pop_overview.jpg

And the clergy spoke unto the Divine Servitors, and the Divine Servitors said: this will not be. Henceforth, no-name dummies will revolt less often, but they will be even worse at fighting. Let it be so. And that tax income is a disgrace. It is sick that a nation so backwards should be so profitable. Let us confer in secret!

And, of course, life as an evil overlord does have its fair share of aggravation. The clergy says that the Servitors say that since Japan is a satellite, it cannot declare war on anybody but its master. Additionally, they say that since Japan is uncivilized, it cannot declare war at all, only colonial wars, and only on its neighbours... Which neither Korea nor China are. In other words, Japan cannot declare war on anybody at all, due to being an uncivilized satellite.

Under the circumstances, I take it mildly, and put on my most winning face (I always carry one around in case of emergencies) and explain to them certain realities.

I tell the clergy, politely, yet firmly, that unless they can find some way to reinterpret the Servitors wishes pretty damn soon, I will make a hecatomb, and another, and yet another, of clergy, since cattle is expensive, until I get the Servitors ears. That should encourage them to act proactively.

All in a day's work, really. This holiday is, if nothing else, interesting, and if I am not allowed to push Japan into war, well, I am sure I can think of something worse..

MUAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA BWABAAAWAAAAAAAAA!

MUCH WORSE!


Disclaimer: Any and all functionality described in this AAR may, or may not, have changed by the time Victoria is released. Much of it changes between sessions, as certain minor loopholes are closed or inconsistencies remedied. :)
 

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Chapter Two

Blood to the Ankles - And Rising, Chapter II

- Being an Inquiry into the Nature and the Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1854-1861 -​

Now, it so happens that that the Divine Servitors have instructed the clergy that Japan, being uncivilized cannot attack anybody except for uncivilized neighbouring countries in colonial wars, and, moreover, being a satellite is not, in fact, allowed to attack anybody except for its master. Since the Netherlands, being the Japanese master, is unfortunately not uncivilized, that means two things:
  1. It sucks
  2. It is an enigma eating a cornucopia while buggering a conundrum - or something like that

It goes without saying that lesser intellects would be stymied by such a challenge. This is again one of those occasions where being an evil overlord gives you a certain advantage on the opposition. I am not trying to boast here, but where lesser mortals would just meekly accept the situation and cave in to the Gods' Very Own Divine Servitors, we evil overlords, we happy few, we mighty ones...

...We break the paradigm. We let loose the strands of chaos and we take no prisoners. Except when they are stunningly beautiful female rebel leaders, of course. One of the perks of the job.

MUAHAHAHAHHHHHHHHH!

That helped.

Now, in this case, an obvious solution presents itself to the inquiring evil overlord. If, temporarily, power is not to be gained by conquest, alternative routes can be found - and so they are. As I told you earlier, my demented listener, Japan is a backwards nation though less backwards now than when I arrived due primarily to an influx of basic Dutch technology. Nevertheless, inventions are few and far between and new technology takes years to acquire.

So I decide to buy some. I send a team of nineteen grade #3 minions and 66 samurai on a trip to the Netherlands with the objective of acquiring whatever commercial or industrial technology they can get along with upgraded rifles, and they get a few trunks full of money to pay for it. Every person has his price. Mine is classified. I do not care much which technology they get so long as it is useful, and given the state of Japan, everything is useful. In short order they return with several bright new ideas revolutionising the banking world and a couple of less interesting technologies. They mistook culture for industry, but these things happen. I was so happy that they did not really suffer all that much before I sank them inch by inch into the scorpion pit.. But I digress. This is great.

I need to start a project to genetically create Japanese scientists. The current crop are, to put it mildly, dummies. Now that they have acquired technology, rather than beginning studies of new technology, they claim they must study what they have just acquired for exactly as long time as if they had had to discover it themselves - some eight or ten years, or so.

The common man, or, indeed, the common ruler, would thus conclude that trading technology was a bad deal as he acquired the same technology in the same time but at a much higher price. The common man is a fool. Rather than having new technology dripping in over the next decade, with the final tech only going online at the last moment, if you will forgive the expression, I have it all now. Right now. For the ENTIRE duration I have it all. My part of the tax money is higher as the income increases with the better banks, the infantry can begin using really neat new weapons, and industry is slightly strenghtened. Even the new cultural ideas are of value. Paying ten or twenty thousand for the advantages of having the tech early would be cheap at twice the price, really.

And the Divine Servitors spoke: That's an awful lot of money Japan is making. Too much. Henceforth, prices are reduced!

....So I ordered the construction of a few more factories to make up for the slack.

With the loads of money generated from the abundant foreign trade from the multiple Japanese factories now in existence, the Japanese set out to mark their manifest destiny.... Even if they have to be kicked. These Japanese have an incredibly isolationst state of mind, which is incompatible with my goals. Since mental hygiene has not advanced far enough yet that brain washing is a feasible option, I have to take other steps. This is just one of the many cases where being an evil genius as well as an evil overlord proves invaluable, really. Even so, you would not believe the trouble I had convincing the Emperor that the Shogun was out to colonise Borneo with a small but dedicated military sect nor the extreme aggravation of explaining to the Shogun that the Emperor was trying to build an army in Mikronesia. I mean, those are pretty straight-forwards propositions, really, but it took an inordinate amount of convincing, and I finally had to drug the Shogun and implicate him with a mare, two imported black slaves, and fourteen sheep. The things we do for progress. The Emperor was easier, once I had him drugged. Sure, now he tends to walk around listlessly saying things like "I am a braindead puppet, Command Me, Master!", which is a great trick at parties, but at least he obeys orders to the limits of his abilities. The treasure of the state was now invested into educating farmers and labourers to craftsmen and clerks, and into one other pursuit as well..

And finally, a few years later, Japan was into the colonial business... Wholesale.
 

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Chapter Two

Japan is Now an Uncivilized Satellite Great Power, June 1856
btta_1856_06_10_greatpower.jpg

Time to Construct a Self-Defense Fleet, October 1856
btta_1856_10_06_fleetbuilding.jpg

Bringing Clerks to a Province Near You, September 1857
btta_1857_09_23_securityathome.jpg
 

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Chapter Two

While artillery costs on the open market have been down to 0.5/piece due to the market glut since the "adjustment" of 1854, this does not greatly worry me. I just built a few factories that produce everyday goods. Liquor is always in demand as is luxury furniture and luxury clothes, and though the small arms market is glutted, no country except Japan seem to be exporting explosives in large quantities. A few construction orders, a couple of very messy examples performed by my #3 hit squad ("The Mauve Devils") reducing the political opposition to the Shogun's new plans, and the economy is running on wheels. Again.

And with the "A Craftsman in Every Cottage" and "No Clerk Left Behind" programmes coming to their natural conclusion in 1857, the by now astonishingly vast tiger economy allows for small miracles. After all, what is 100,000 or 200,000 money amongst friends?
 

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Chapter Two

If I Cannot Conquer Them, I WILL BUY THEM! August 1858
btta_1858_08_08_chinesepurchase.jpg
 

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Chapter Two

Eat hot lead, clergy! I am going over your heads and asking the Divine Servitors themselves, whether it is right for the world order, that a nation can be a Great Power, and yet be unable to declare war because of conflicting axioms, and additionally whether a country as powerful and as advanced as Japan is can be considered uncivilized.

And the Divine Servitors assembled, and they worried sorely, and the Inescapable Fate of Night argued with Yo-He, the Leaden one, the Bug of Eternity. Cir Tap listened in, and the Count, cloaked in shadows, took note of the going's on from his secret abode. And the Servitors declared: Henceforth any nation that becomes a Great Power shall be considered civilized! Rejoice, madman, you are now free to attack your master, you ungrateful beggar, you persistent pest. And, by the way, that income is so grotesque, really, it is so far beyond ridiculous, that market prices will now drop even MORE if the market is glutted. And education costs are up and so is military maintenance. Incidentally, the price for buying core provinces from another nation just went through the roof. Just thought you ought to know, really.

I mumble something about what gracious servants they are, kind and caring, don't'ya know, and begin preparations for Operation Harkhoost. By late 1860, a dozen divisions are ready to invade the Dutch colonial possessions in Asia, and the signal is given: "Climb Mount Tulip"
 

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Chapter Two

Operation Harkhoost: "Climb Mount Tulip", November 1860
btta_1860_11_08_attackmymaster.jpg

Cry FREEEEEDOOOOOM, May 1861
btta_1861_05_20_freedom.jpg
 

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Chapter Two

The Dutch did not even put up a fight. Somewhat disappointing, really, but at least some five or six Dutch provinces, that had been in revolt for a decade, decided to join once Japan set up shop in the vicinity. Just goes to show what a benevolent society this really is, all due to me. Even so, this holiday is not going according to plan. While I do have a secret lair, a Trusted Lieutenant, a Puppet on the Imperial Throne, a blackmailed Shogun, a large and semi-modern army ruled by said Shogun, a secret army of hard-core samurai, four hit squads, seven really gorgeous secretaries with plenty of hands-on experience, if you know what I mean, and I am sure that you do, and a colonial empire, it just seems that something is missing. Some of the joy has gone out of this vacation, and even performing the most hideous forms of torture on small kittens, puppies, and political appointees fail to move me. I have sunk so low, that I am considering ordering an intern for stress relief. Ah, well, these things happen. On the positive side, Operation Woody is nearing completion. And no matter what the Divine Servitors can come up with to avert my wrath, I am pretty sure that I can think of something worse...

MUAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA BWABAAAWAAAAAAAAA!

MUCH WORSE!


Disclaimer: Any and all functionality described in this AAR may, or may not, have changed by the time Victoria is released. Much of it changes between sessions, as certain minor loopholes are closed or inconsistencies remedied. :)
 

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Chapter Three

Blood to the Ankles - And Rising, Chapter III

- Operation Woody -​

It has come to my attention that you, my dear listener, may inadvertently consider me a megalomaniac. Nothing could be further from the truth. One of the most important abilities of an evil overlord is being honest with oneself for it is certain that nobody else will be, and the truth is that a true evil overlord is not a megalomaniacs - he just happens to be abnormally powerful, the lord of all he surveys, the master of the fate of millions of toiling minions, the cause behind the effect, the secret in the dark, the spark of genius, the final judgement, and fully aware of this well-deserved status. This idea, however, is so vast that most plebes fail to appreciate it, but that is fine with me - I always prefer an enemy to underestimate me.

Now, as I believe I have mentioned earlier, the most precious good in Japan is lumber. Well, lumber and timber, since the gods forgot to plant trees in Japan way back in the time of creation. Well, that is the local explanation. I think it is more likely because of a degenerate ecosystem, but hey, who cares? The result is that timber and lumber is scarce and has to be imported at great cost and can usually not be gotten in the quantities needed. After all, the factories and new awfully slow railroads use an extraordinary amount of lumber. Truly astonishing. Fortunately, I have a plan. Unfortunately, it is not particularly dastardly, but rather run-of-the-mill, but needs must when the devil drives, as I told him when I last met him. Of course, he was driving the tank at the time, so it seemed political. Fond memories, I tell you, fond memories.

And now to business: Korea, a nation as backwards as Japan was before my arrival, is just next door and they lack a fleet. Not only that, they also lack a modern military. And most importantly of all - they have TWO entire provinces stuffed with trees. Truly amazing. The plan, in all its simplicity, is as good as it is old: "They have it, we want it, let's take it".

With remarkably little coaching (he never liked the Koreans, it turns out, which is fair enough), the Shogun musters his faction in support of the war, and I strongly suggests he gets on with it, then return to my secret lair.

Surprised? You did not think I would participate in the war, I hope, gallantly leading charges and wallowing in the blood and mud on far battlefields! Of course not. I attach minicams to the banners of the armies and to the senior officers and watch the battles from my.... <Jarring chord> WAR ROOM!

Now, do not think that I am a freeloader, who does not contribute to the cause - nothing could be further from the truth, I assure you. I send out spies to watch the generals for traces of disloyalty and secrete agents in large bands amongst the camp followers with orders to loot everything that is not tied down, gather all wood, even if tied down, and return a small 70% share to me, and furthermore to destroy all food in the country. In my experience, nothing is as demoralizing to an enemy as having his food supplies systematically destroyed. Pretty soon the peasants are engaging in highway banditry and cannibalism and after that, it is only a matter of time. For that matter, it works as well in your own domain, and it is a good way to get qualified personnel: If people want to eat, they can join the army. The trick is to avoid starving more than an acceptable fraction to death, which is why it is important to practise on a village level before committing fully to the practise. And so I sit down in my comfy chair and call for a Bloody Mary, and when she arrives I order her to serve me a vodka martini, shaken not stirred. Best thing I ever learned from a would-be hero, if the truth must be told. A real cool and suave customer he was, but he just was too stupid to live, really. I shall long remember his last minutes that I watched through the security cameras over the dreadful pit of doom and his famous last words: "Now, just where is the OFF button to this Doomsday device? Ah, well, I still have fourteen seconds left. Time enough to use my SECRET LASER to cut through the manacles, smash the glass dome, and rip out the chip to stop the countdown and save the world.". Silly bugger. The manacles were made of reflective adamantite, the glass dome was a hologram, and the count-down was irrelevant. I always add one in some obvious place just for laughs. As he franctically unhanded himself by misfiring the laser and then fell through the hologram when he lost his balance attempting to smash the dome, I had the whole senior staff and my Trusted Lieutenant watch, and we all had a good laugh. Well, I laughed, and they laughed nervously with a second's delay or so, but that counts as a good laugh in my business. I hit the manual trigger when the countdown reached 007 - it just seemed appropriate at the time - and earned $$$ fast by selling the video-recording to a major retail outlet. But I digress. Fond memories, though. Fond memories.

Operation Woody: Invasion, Summer 1862
btta_1862_summer.jpg

The invasion went according to plan. Tens of thousands died, including some of the enemy, cities were looted, villages razed, food stores destroyed, and lumber collected. Nothing out of the ordinary, really.

Operation Woody: Resistance if Futile, August 1862
btta_1862_08_12.jpg

Soon most of Korea was occupied, and despite frequent partisan risings, it was relatively bloodless in a quaint rural sort of way. We had to run reruns of some of the best scenes from the first phase to keep up the spirits in the <Jarring Chord> WAR ROOM!

Operation Woody: Fall of Korea, August 1862
btta_1862_09_22.jpg

With all of Korea occupied, their leaders enslaved, their fallen transported and filled into my big hole outside Kyoto (my BigHole division has been turning a fortune for years by selling prime fertilizer), nothing was left but to announce the annexation of Korea. This was greeted with joy in Kyoto, and even the emperor in Edo was happy. Not surprisingly, since I told him to be so, but every bit helps. Makes me smile just to remember him ambling about his palaces stammering "I...I am a happy... but braindead... puppet.. Command me, Master". You wouldn't believe some of the things his wife made him do for tricks.

But that is all bodies under the bridge, really. One must look to the future, and one of the advantages of being an evil overlord is that no matter what the future brings, it is probably brighter than the past. Were that not the case, one would merely be a failed dummy with delusions of grandeur, and since one is not, the future is bright. Perfectly simple, and one of the better philosophies of life, when all is said and done. Even so, at times one is surprised by just HOW good life is and how fortune favours the craven!

As a case in point, the Koreans, having heard tales of me, my power, and my secret base, have somehow come to the conclusion that it is likely that I am the pre-incarnation of the Dear Leader, who is expected to reign some 100-150 years from now on. What a strange people, but I will take any advantage I can get, naturally, so I inform them that since I am their Dear Leader, they will now have to follow the Japanese precedent: If you want food, join the army.

Would you believe it? The people are ecstatic and their clergy claims that this decisively proves that I am the Dear Leader.

To celebrate the fact that Japan's population just doubled, the emperor, long may he reign, proclaims a new social policy of good healthcare. I thoroughly support the measure: While minions with sloppy healthcare have their uses, they tend to break easily. It is much better to have some that are more robust, really. As I contemplate the construction of new manufactories in Korea and the ever increasing Japanese wealth, I wonder when I will hear from the clergy again. They have been quiet for too long.

And it came to pass that the Divine Servitors were sore troubled by the good work of Peter Ebbe-san and his tax-gatherers, even operating on a lenient 80% tax basis, and they conferred in secret and asked many questions to the clergy. Yo-he, having conferred with the Count, proposed that perhaps hardly taxed people worked less productively. This was much applauded by parts of the clergy clinging to outmoded belief systems and bad statistics. It was also proposed that perhaps the tax-gatherers become less efficient at tax gathering, the more they practised. This was widely ridiculed. Many inane motions were made, but finally one exceedingly nasty member of the clergy came up with an atrocious solution, that the Divine Servitors could not but applaud. Henceforth, all military maintenance would significantly increase (again, this was just a standard knee-jerk reaction) and, rather more importantly, people who were excessively taxed would begin to lose status: their POPs would devolve and in the very long run, any nation that relied on excessive taxation would end up consisting mainly of hunter-gatherers

What sort of big idiot would come up with that bright solution, I ask myself? The answer hardly matters. Probably a Dane, if I know them right, and I think I do: They were tough negotiators when Japan last bought technology from the poor but knowledgable. But who cares. What matters is that even as I see profits dwindling before my very eyes, I realise that I finally have a challenge. If they think to curb me with such puny restrictions, I will show them that I can do worse.

MUAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA BWABAAAWAAAAAAAAA!

MUCH WORSE!


The hit squads begin a reign of terror wiping out the opposition. My compact All Girl Teenage Chop Corps goes on an emasculation spree in downtown Tokyo disguised as Pandas, which goes some way to show the benefits of a good education. My spies poison the minds of the court. My agents inflame the generals. And I, I personally manifest before a crowd of two million Koreans praising me as the Dear leader. As summer turns to autumn and autumn to winter, several new divisions are raised at high cost, and the army becomes a lean, mean, fighting machine, as I cut the food rations. I want them ready to KILL and to EAT! During the spring they practise maneouvers and several villages are lost, their inhabitants "disappeared", according to the better-fed officers. In secret, I warmly applaud: It is good for the officers to show a proper example for the troops. And come the summer, the Shogun acts. According to common wisdom, some nincompoop once gave the advice to "never fight a land war in Asia", but who cares? Who dares, wins, or is a loser, and I never cared much for losers. The armies are assembled, mini-cameraes attached to banners and officers (and additionally to a group of a dozen soldiers led by a gruff sergeant. I have ensured that they are assigned to some of the toughest spots, which should give me excellent coverage and dramatic in-your-face coverage of trauma and death. Likely usable as a docu-soap once done - every bit helps. Running a base is expensive, and having my morning newspaper and hand-monogrammed arse-wipers brought by swimmer from California on continent #2 is cutting into my profits now that they have hiked up their prices, damn moneygrubbers.

But who cares. It is only money, and time is awasting. By summer 1863 the situation is under control, and it is time to act. Korea, while it does have two timber provinces, is still not able to make Japan self-sufficient in lumber, so I look to the northern resource area.

With a mere 36 out of 60 divisions sent in as probes, the invasion of China has begun.


Chinaman's Chance, June 1863
btta_1863_06_15.jpg



Disclaimer: Any and all functionality described in this AAR may, or may not, have changed by the time Victoria is released. Much of it changes between sessions, as certain minor loopholes are closed or inconsistencies remedied. :)
 

Peter Ebbesen

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Chapter four

Blood to the Ankles - And Rising, Chapter IV

- Cakewalk -​

This is certainly easy enough! Like a knife through butter the armies slash their way through China. Sure, there are an awful lot of Chinese irregulars, but they fall like wheat before the scythe, like Gnai'k before the Woo'Pah. Nothing can stop me now, do you hear me,

NOTHING!!!!​

Advances, Autumn 1863
btta_1863_autumn.jpg

What do you mean by "...There seems to be a small problem in Yingtan.." I see no problems, only possibilities!




Disclaimer: Any and all functionality described in this AAR may, or may not, have changed by the time Victoria is released. Much of it changes between sessions, as certain minor loopholes are closed or inconsistencies remedied. :)
 

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Chapter five

Blood to the Ankles - And Rising, Chapter V

- Cakewalk Redux -​

It is interesting to consider the myriad of details that separate those who are merely evil from those who are true evil overlords. Consider, for instance, the following hypothetical situation: A messenger brings bad news from a superior officer on the general staff (this happens more often that it strictly speaking ought to, and much too often there is some wannabe hero with a death-or-glory concept and a startling hairdo, manicure, and fashion sense as the ultimate cause). Now, the merely evil dummy will, nine times out of ten, kill the messenger. This is wasteful.Any evil overlord worth his salt, of course, knows better. Good messengers are hard to find, while superir officers are always in plentiful supply. Additionally, killing the messenger, while providing brief satisfaction, discourages your minions from ratting on each other. Not to forget, offing failed officers pour encourager les autres gives the survivors an incredible work ethic and reminds them that nobody (except the evil overlord, of course) is indispensable. Finally, designing and implementing exquisitely painful forms of torture for failed officers is ever so much more relaxing in the long run, provides much needed stress relief, and the home videos can be used to spend quality time with the grandchildren. Little children are so inquisitive and giving them a proper education helps them turn out right. Or wrong, as it were.

Unless you have already killed the little bastards, of course.

Ah, you wonder what brought this on? Well, it seems that the Chinese armies, hundreds of thousands of irregulars, not content with being beaten back piecemeal, have actually begun gathering in substantial armies here and there as they reel from the onslaught - and an awful lot of them have congregated in Yingtan under the joint leadership of General Cheng, a coolminded priest, whose use of infantry on the defense is unmatched, and General Hong, an implacable madman, who whips up his troops in a frenzy unseen this side of a shopping mall infested with females eyeing the everything must go signs.

Under such leadership, the untrained Chinese irregulars are - to put it nicely - beating the stuffing out of the lacklustre Japanese regulars while raping the merely mediocre commanders like General Kinoshita seven days to Sunday. One almost has to admire such courage and determination, but not quite. Feeling sympathy with one's enemies is not a survival trait for an evil overlord.

As Chinese reinforcements pour into Yingtan from the north on a daily basis to replace the slaughtered divisions, I am pleased to note that the Shogun is not completely without talent. The greatest Japanese commander, General Otsuka, a gutsy innovative tactician, is ordered to force-march his army from Shanghai to Yingtan. Meanwhile, all Japanese troops in the neighbourhood are ordered to march on Yingtan as well. Even as the first troops arrive, the loss of a minicam with the forces around Beijin announce the loss of the better part of yet another division with the northern forces. It is hard to admit, and many lesser men would shy from it, but the facts are clear: Despite a complete technological superiority and rapid gains of enormous streches of territory, the armies are getting bogged down and overstretched. Chinese partisans on steroids have forced a policy of garrisoning every single province, which has led to a thinning of the lines to such an extent further progress is nearly impossible.

In a word: Overstretched and inviting defeat in detail. And this despite having committed more than seventy divisions to the invasion.

I realise that it is time to act, and to act decisively - as only an evil overlord can do. Donning my half-mask, exquisite costume, and cape, I go to the <Jarring chord> WAR ROOM!

As I pass the command staff I can smell their fear, for they can feel my implacable will and they dread what is to come. Fools. It is not time for the monthly team building excercises yet. They are safe - for now. And I sit down in my comfy chair and I hit the big red button.

The big red button is punched clean through the desk and strikes the chains of the runner attached under my desk, who, freed from his unnatural imprisonment, sprints from the <Jarring chord> WAR ROOM! and up through the levels of my secret lair, spreading the news throughout the country: The time has come to mobilize the reserves.

Battles of Yingtan, Spring 1864
btta_1864_yingtan_battles.jpg


Fronts: I+6 and I+12
btta_1864_06_08_frontmovement.jpg

Even as the reserves mobilize, fully 30 divisions of part-time soldiers, the Shogun is ordered to raise every last man, woman, and small furry animal who can carry a rifly, and damn the expense. If it requires garrisoning all of China, every single damn province, 130 or 140 in total, to completely and utterly eradicate every single trace of Chinese independence, I WILL DO IT! IT IS MY MANIFEST DESTINY!

Reinforcements have arrived, July 1864
btta_1864_07_17.jpg

With the arrival of reinforcements and the stripping of Borneo, Korea, and the Japanese homelands of forces bringing the number of divisions deployed against China to 122, it is certain that nothing can stop me now, do you hear me,

NOTHING!!!!​


Disclaimer: Any and all functionality described in this AAR may, or may not, have changed by the time Victoria is released. Much of it changes between sessions, as certain minor loopholes are closed or inconsistencies remedied. :)
 

Peter Ebbesen

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Chapter six

Blood to the Ankles - And Rising, Chapter VI

- The Price of Victory -​


While conducting trade negotiations with the United Kingdom (Chief Power of Continent #1), the Emperor accidentally bought some claims, and proudly proclaimed that Western Australia was now claimed for the Empire.

I am not entirely certain what value those thinly populated areas of ex-convicts and natives brings to the Empire, but they certainly bring their own unique challenge. I've had to ban the use of the words "G'day" and "mate" in the army. I may be an evil overlord, and the Shogunate's army may, objectively, be described as an army of darkness, but there are limits. Evil overlords have standards too, you know.

Western Australia is Claimed for the Empire!
btta_1865_05_21_australia.jpg



They came in the dark of night. A band of brothers, silent as the grave and quick of foot. Clothed in thin and incredibly agile robes of the deepest black (at least one must admire their fashion sense), they penetrated my secret lair. They slew 11% of the guards. They poisoned the guard dogs. They passed the awfully-complex-yet-very-deadly stomping machine without casualties. They evaded the grinding wheel of certain death. They only lost one man to the sharks on level #4, and they took down the twin albino bodyguards, trained in the martial arts by the hidden master since infancy, in only six seconds. The seven survivors seduced my Trusted Lieutenant, the Deadly Geisha Shagme by performing acts of such utter depravity, that I am keeping that recording for educational purposes, and she joined their cause, and the eight of them cut a bloody path through the command staff on their way to the inner sanctum aka. MY humble suite. They then slew the twelve blind elite Samurai in the darkness outside the portal to the inner sanctum, bypassed the exceedingly complex lock that was supposed to be unpickable, and came upon me playing with my nine young busty female secretaries (I was teaching them scrabble, in case you were wondering, so please stop that depraved line of thought right away. I am an evil overlord AND a gentleman).

The poor things never stood a chance.

Gunfire erupted violently all over the place, and I, caught in the crossfire, had to spend the better part of my concentration parrying the bullets. It takes a certain amount of concentration to do the open-handed bullet-parry, but I learned it from the master of the Taijiiiin-Bob-Bob-de-Wop a long time ago and on another world before they took him away for indecent exposure, and, really, I was never in much danger. The hard part was blocking the naginata with my little toe without being cut. Now, that was hard. In the end, of course, the invaders fell to the superior firepower of my secretaries, who emerged mostly unscathed due to them being secondary targets. They are always armed and dangerous, and serve as my secret bodyguard. Well, one of my secret bodyguards - you can never suffer from too many layers of paranoia. Some day, I will find out who sent these guys, or, better yet, who trains them, and I will wax very, very wroth.

After having pushed the bodies into the panther's cage and ordering a new command staff from human resources, we returned to scrabble. Damn, but scrabble is a hard game, especially when you only have consonants and the rules - the evil overlord rules, that is - only allow you to write dirty words. It is, as always, dangerous to be too ambitious in scrabble, especially in the evil overlord variant, as the loser has to perform one of the words of the winner's choice to the best of his abilities, which can at times be x-rated and at other times merely disgusting or embarassing. However, using only my consonants, ckcsckr and a few vowels already in place, I manage to form a word that should be fairly safe for me, all things considered.

Unfortunately, rumours of the demise of the grey eminence (aka. ME), spread like wildfire and the militancy of every single person in all of Japan and Korea increased as a result. These things happen.

On the surface, in an attempt to quell rising militancy, the Shogunate allowed non-socialist trade unions to be formed. These creeping reforms have me worried. The next thing you know, they will want to vote!? Ah, well, it is likely just harmless talk.

And, finally, a year and a half after the reinforcements arrived, and with one hundred and forty divisions tied down in China, all of China, every single province, is under Japanese control! And with only a slight bit of brutality compared to what they have suffered over the course of the last three years, China is subjugated.
 

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Chapter six

China is Subjugated February 1866
btta_1866_02_11_peaceoffer.jpg