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Bearly Surviving: A Novgorod AAR


Bears. Fish. A Throne. If there was a multi-headed bird added this would be the perfect flag.

Hi all, for my first Crusader Kings AAR I thought I'd play a Russian principality and Novgorod seemed as good as any other (who am I kidding, look at that awesome flag!!!!). This is actually my first "real" game of Crusader Kings after several false starts, so hopefully I'll get some help with my awful gameplay while at the same time amusing everyone with wacky images and too-cool-for-school ironic text.


If you don't know me, this is my life story so far.

No bears were injured during the making of this AAR (this assumes that Black Bears are not considered "true" bears because I was torturing one of those at certain points). The patch is 1.04, the difficulty is normal, the year is 1066, and the drink of choice is vodka and lots of it.

The goals are to muck around in Russia and maybe take over some people. I'm going to be aggressive against pagans but won't attack my fellow Orthodox Princes unless it's absolutely essential (a few slow years, etc.). Beyond that, hopefully I can survive the Mongol Hordes. I'm posting as I play, so anything can happen as far as that goes.

Anyway, on to the game. The end of 1066 finds Novgorod ruling many dirt poor provinces, with only two vassals. Mstislav Rurikovich, the Prince of Novgorod, can only administrate two provinces with any skill (he also has a first name that seems to be missing at least one vowel), so the need to create some vassals is rather pressing. Sadly, Novgorod starts with no courtiers, so I have to wait a bit while precious gold is draining away.

Finally the warm bodies to give colorful flagged vassalages begin to arrive. At this point I'm just trying to break up a too large nation so I'm not too picky, although most of my new vassals have decent stewardship abilities (nothing less than 6).


Selecting "qualified" candidates to be my vassals.

Eventually only two provinces (Novgorod, Bezhetshy Verh) are under my direct administration and Novgorod is now making some money each month. I reduced Scutage tax quite a bit to keep my vassals loyal and strong and decreased all other taxes slightly to build up the loyalty of the people. More church donations were even allowed. An enlightened Russian ruler? I'm surprised the game could handle that without crashing.

I know all of you want to hear about the DIPLOMACY!!!! and I won't cheat you any longer. Smolensk and Sweden became allies in 1067 and a marriage was concluded between Prince Rurikovich and the lovely and talented Olga of Tver. Her role quickly becomes acting as a constantly pregnant baby machine.

After concluding these alliances and building up the infrastructure a bit with training grounds and foresters I'm ready to start bringing the Truth of Bears, Fishes and Thrones to lands that lack these critical elements, or at best have a low supply. Who better than Pagans, nature's punching bags?


The Novgorod armies ready to "maul" some "victims."

The Ingers are the first to feel our rightful fury, and they collapse faster than the level of discourse in a Presidential debate. Soon their lands are a vassal of Novgorod. Estonia gets it next and while a brilliant fudge-up on my part forces a payment for naval transport and nearly running out of money requiring me to lower army support and cause massive attrition they are still pummeled into submission, becoming a vassal state in 1070.


The basics of warmongering. I used the option on the left.

After these "glorious" victories my attention returns to internal matters. Rurikovich is now suffering from "stress" while his wife is attempting to single-handedly repopulate the entire world. Some investments in roads and a few new technologies such as "Business Contracts" and "Two Field System" are the order of the day.


Helping the "stressed" Prince.

Smolensk drags us into an alliance war in 1071 against Ugric (we already have your culture, according to EU 2! Take that!) Chuvash and Mountain Cheremisa. We send our best wishes, but no soldiers. To be honest I didn't even know WHERE these enemies were, which made hostilies a bit harder to pursue. Seriously, Mountain Cheremisa. It sounds like a very ethnic energy drink or something.

Anyhow, this non-war eventually ends with these pagans being swallowed up by a growing white blob (oh no, not again!) nation whose name I forgot to write down but probably isn't "Austria."

1075 hits with Novgorod at peace and developing into something of a power. More war in the Baltic or Finland seems very likely, but the economy needs help first. There's a lot to do!


Novgorod, 1075

Look for updates at wildly varying intervals and expect lots of bear/dog/motorcycle humor in the posts to come.
 

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What's your plan when the Mongols rear their ugly head? :D
 

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Getting ready to post the next update.

Solmyr: Thanks for checking out the AAR! It should get really entertaining when I start running into succession and other complicated game play elements that I've been neglecting so far in favor of bashing the most pitiful possible targets.

Iain Wilson: One possibility that just occurred to me: "multi-headed bears!" Can you imagine how awe inspiring that would be, especially when combined with the usual cluster of thrones, fish, birds and Christ portraits. Maybe put a dog and/or motorcycle into that mess and perfection would be achieved. Thanks for reading!

Judas Maccabeus: I was never much of a Novgorod fan in EU 2 (it was hard so I gave up and played Muscowy!) but they're really starting to warm up to me in CK. Glad to have you aboard for this, I can promise I will use every possible bear/fish/throne reference and may sneak in a few Murdercycles/Motorpsychos, too.

Henry v. Keiper: I expect this AAR to fully live up to its name when the Mongols hit. :D Historically Novgorod was spared from Mongol conquest, so maybe I'll catch a break. If not, I fully expect to accept a horrific beating, what with my limited skills and poor planning. It should be fun. ;)

jwolf: Good to hear from you! The dog is definitely going back to the vomit (and motorcycles!) for this one. :D Somehow the comic/wacky tone seems well suited for me in general and for "doomed rookie in way over his head" AARs specifically. The stuffed bears was a favorite of mine too, although the public school kid was a close second. As for the Mountain Cheremisa I think I'll leave them to others and concentrate on conquering Mello Ugric or Orange Flavored Latvia. :D
 

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1075-1090: Novgorod fights the Christ flag, Worms fight the Chancellor's digestive system, Paranoid Tsar fights his own ignorance/hubris

1075 begins with Novgorod slowly emerging from extreme poverty and weakness into the glory of just plain ordinary poverty and a general lack of strength. My income is 9.18 a month and the manpower is 3714. Look out France, there's a new powerhouse in town.

Meaning England, of course.


Discussing the weak economy with an unsympathetic Mecklenburg.

Of course there's no better cure for a weak economy than patience and internal development. Just seeing if you were paying attention. The real cure is, of course, large helpings of Vitamin Sword.

The new policy is to attack Pagans with shields that I disapprove of. The first target is Karelia, who have the temerity to use a bear in their flag. This can not stand. The main forces of Novgorod descends on the traitorous usurpers of bear iconography like some sort of freedom bringing fog.

Meanwhile, our ally Smolensk apparently has an issue with nations that use the face of Jesus Christ in their shields, declaring war on Vitebsk. Call me crazy, but I think that crusade might be a little misguided. We duly honor the call, however, and even defeat Vitebsk's armies and siege their lands briefly. A pay off of 97 gold convinces me that there are perhaps bigger threats to address than a single province nation that wields the awesome powers of icons and co-religionist guilt (and isn't afraid to use them).

Karelia falls and becomes a vassalage. It all belongs to Mother...Novgorod? Whatever.

Poor Olga is still having a child about every ten months or so. These children provide near constant entertainment as the years pass. Some are merely interested in religion (good God, no!) but others enjoy torturing pets or killing servants. Luckily, being the good father that he is, Mstislav is on hand to "explain why those actions were wrong."

Specifically, they were wrong because they got caught.


Hopefully this will teach one of Mstislav's 73 children to stop torturing pets and graduate to humans like his brother.

Kexholm is the next target for expansion. I don't know what their shield is supposed to be exactly, but I know what I don't like and it is certainly an example of that. Kexholm becomes a new vassalage in 1077 and Savolaks and their silly bow and arrow coat of arms are next. Honestly, a bow and arrow? Is this a nation or a summer camp?

The summer camp for pagans is conquered.

Not all is well, however, as my Chancellor gets a case of intestinal worms (yuck). The condition quickly proves to be fatal and another, hopefully less worm-eaten, courtier is forced to step into the resultant void.


Worms prepare to invade some of that sweet, sweet intestine.

1078 see Sweden attack Finnveden, drawing a massive show of apathy throughout Novgorod. For their part, Finnveden fields an "army" of 16 men. Yup, 16 poor devils vs. Sweden. In a Paradox game. Nice knowing you, Finnveden.

Technology and internal development continue at a glacial pace. The best news is the discovery of "Chronicles," so that the unprovoked attack of puny neighbors can be immortalized in heroic verse, and "Reinforced Leather" which will hopefully help our hero army fend off the sharp sticks and rocks wielded by nations like the "We have a weapon in our flag but none of our soldiers are armed County" and "The face of Christ in our shield should be enough to save us, right? Duchy."


The new armors for our brave soldiers.

Things are going to well, so it's time for a series of difficulties. An invasion of the Tribe of Votes seems to be going well, but before I can finish "Rocking the Vote" (sorry, so sorry) Livonia, Dorpat and Reval join the party. Worse yet, Sweden somehow steals the siege in Votes and gains that province!

Rule Number One of Paradox Games: Sweden must do well, no matter what.

1081 has me in low spirits, and for once I'm not just talking about running out of vodka. The southern war against the pagans require all my vassals in support, and to add insult to injury most of the conquests end up going to Smolensk. Eventually I manage to grab Dorpat and Reval, but all of Livonia goes to Smolensk, save Livs, which somehow became independent when I wasn't looking. Arrggghhh!

Worse yet, Reval somehow becomes independent without my knowledge and I'm forced to burn presitige to reclaim it. After reconquering I opt to directly administer. Rurikovich can now handle 3 provinces and I'm getting sick of these surprises. Surprises I like: strippers emerging from cardboard cakes. Surprises I don't like: all others.

Then the Pommeranians attack for some reason. I fight them off for a white peace, but they end up conquering the pagans in Livs, perhaps just to spite me. The lines have been drawn for the future rivalry: the cute dogs vs. the motorcycle riding bad dogs. There can be only one.


A clear and present danger.

Peace, happiness and an eternally pregnant Olga greet 1090. The wars with the pagans provided some white-knuckle moments but it seems all is well for the moment. The question now becomes: who has a shield I don't like and it unlucky enough to share a border?


Novgorod in 1090

Next update soon, thanks again to everyone who is reading!
 
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Time to make the Swedes pay, if you ask me...
 

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Henry v. Keiper: Going against Sweden as Novgorod? In a Paradox game? I really don't like my chances. :D I am able to finally get out of the useless alliance with them in the next update but the hostilities may have to wait until all the bow-and-arrow tribes have been eliminated. Which could take a long time. ;)

Solmyr: I have to agree with the need to make the map look a little better, even if I kind of like their deer-themed shield. Of course the war turned into the perverbial cluster-flub but I'll go into all the gory details of that soon enough. :D

Next update as soon as I can type it!
 

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1090-1105: Wars, assassination, small pox, insanity, bad crops, more unjust wars, backstabbing, laws created by whims, unbelievable human suffering and a son who tries to protect and help the poor.


The official soundtrack (and philosophy) of this era. Alternate special director's cut joke: "All we want is peace! A piece of Russia, a piece of Finland, a piece of Poland, etc."

The first act of 1090 is changing the succession laws from Salic Gavelkind to Salic Consanguinity. If you know what those are without looking them up in the manual you need to get out more.

Anyway, the new succession policy gives everything to the strongest son instead of dividing it all equally. The Prince of Novgorod is only 44 and still healthy, but it's never too early to plan ahead a bit and the loyalty hit happened during an era of peace so it wasn't a problem. Yes, I was very proud of my clever implementation of Salvic Consanguinity. When it comes to instituting Salvic Consanguinity I am THE MAN.

Of course, it isn't long before I get humbled.


Non-motivational poster sums up my character flaws.

Life is still good in 1091 as Tver accepts an offer of vassalization. If all their women are as fertile as Olga was that province should be able to raise 100k armies easily.

The Tribe of Sames are attacked in 1092, with the stated purpose of improving the appearance of the world map. The war itself goes well, but the results are less than inspiring. One province (Bjarmia) becomes property of my vassal Vologda, while the other two (Samoyeds and Ugra) somehow become independent.

They made one mistake: making me angry. When I get angry people die.

Assuming "die" = get disapproving looks while I sit there impotently.

Time to start laying down the pain. Ugra's ruler gets assassinated and I demand vassalization from the successor. It stands to reason the new count would be so scared he would give in immediately, right?

I probably don't need to say it, but they rejected the vassalization offer.


Assassination is fun, but a poor bargaining tool, it seems.

With the failure of subtle treachery, it's time to return to the basics: unjust war. I grab the title of Count of Ugra and attack, finally capturing a dirt poor province. Revenge: ask for it by name.

Meanwhile the Prince's son Vladimir is trying to help and protect the poor. Say it with me: "Good God, no!"

All the assassinations and unjust attacks at co-religionists have reduced my reputation to "tarnished." It was worth it, I regret nothing.


Novgorod's behavior is so deliciously scandalous.

Dull infrastructure development is interrupted in 1097 with the inheritance of Kiev! 6 new provinces become vassals of Novgorod as I wield the awesome power of Salic Consanguinity with all the care of a six year old who just found a .44 Magnum in Dad's sock drawer.

Meanwhile the seven liberal arts (drinking, smoking, irresponsible sex, nu-metal, more drinking, ill-conceived politics and borrowing money from the parents) are discovered.

Pommern has been somehow reduced to one province (Livs) and in 1099 they face the forces of the seven liberal arts and get soundly beat, finally ending one of the saddest chapters in Novgorod's history.


When a Pommeranian fights a bear the smart money is on the bear.

The Sweden alliance ends in 1100, but I renew ties with Smolensk. While this is going on lack of manure hurts farming.

Honestly, did you think this AAR would ever have a LACK of b.s.?

The farmers can't catch a break as poor seed hits a year later.


Sadly this is not a movie about farmers and their problems, but rather is a chilling tale of pure evil in human form. The form of a little girl! Bet you didn't see that twist coming.

Speaking of pure evil, it's time to go wild with wars against feckless pagans. Kola? See you later. Kemi? History. Halsingland? They foolishly showed loyalty to pagan allies and get overrun with the help of a stolen title.

After these great victories I reward my Marshall generously in an event in 1102. He shows his loyalty by going crazy and dying a year later.


It's probably in the last place you'll look.

1105 arrives to find Novgorod a fast rising star. There are still plenty of pagans left to crush, but the job is being done. The only danger now is succession, but with Olga's brood of 89 (give or take) children it should go smoothly.


Novgorod in 1105

More wacky inheritance laws and awful violence coming soon!
 
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89 children? :eek:
 

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Henry v. Keiper: It was actually "only" 9 children, although the constant pop-up messages about "riding horses hard" and "protecting the poor" made it seem like they were much more numerous. The next post will get into the dynastic relations a lot more than I have so far (the first succession occurs).

Zeno of Cyprus: Thanks for the praise! The next post should be coming soon, although it does take me some time to get some fun images, make sense of my notes, drink several shots of vodka, confer with neighborhood homeless about issues of historical accuracy, etc. :D

Judas Maccabeus: Pskov...what to do with it? Let's just say that we've got all these nice clean swords that aren't really doing any good sitting in the royal armory. ;) Wars to make the map look better (or against ugly shield nations) are just and proper as far as I'm concerned. :D

All: a quick teaser for the next post: it will feature this lovely fellow:

 

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1105-1120: Inadequate soil, adequate assassinations, the power of chickens and beer and evil omens in the sky.


...and business is good! Official soundtrack/philosophy for this update.

1105 begins with inadequate soil preparation ruining some crops. Between poor seeds, insufficient manure, inadequate soil preparation, the constant wars and the need to use grain for its primary use (vodka) it's a miracle anyone gets fed at all.

The Novgorod army has been depleted by previous wars, so a painful time of peace continues. The good news is the discovery of the short sword and frontal charge has put our army at the very cutting edge of military tactics. Assuming we were bordered by a circa 50 A.D. Roman Empire, of course.

Mstislav catches an illness in 1107 and with his advancing age it's time to look into a successor. Unfortunately, the man next in line has a score of "0" in all four areas and his personality is a wonderful pot luck of traits such as lazy, proud, suspicious, crazed, and inbred. On top of all that, he's a "Fanatical Priest." Yikes.


The beginning of an inbred nutcase era for Novgorod?

Fortunately, the problem of succession can be solved the same way any other problem in human history is solved: direct deadly violence. The crazed inbred is successfully assassinated and his son gets "even" by assassinating the only living daughter of Mstislav, the Countess of Kola. Revenge: it's what's for dinner.


The occasional senseless murder is good for team spirit.

With the new heir being relatively sane (by Novgorod standards, anyways) I can allow myself a sigh of relief. The internal development continues with new breweries and sawmills promising lots of quality benches and lots of people passed out in a drunken stupor on said benches.


The awesome synergy of the bear and beer.

With only two living children left it's probably best to let some people outside of the royal family die for a while and we all know there is no better cause to die for than an unjust war fought for the sole purpose of balancing out the dark blue on the world map.

Pskov has its title claimed and is invaded. Despite sending an army of over 800 men against an invasion force of 1500 (a close fight compared to most pagan wars) Pskov ends up going down faster than a priest.

When he's praying, that is.


Earning more dirty sin child points.

With Pskov added to the Prince's personal lands I decide to pummel a few more Pagans, just because I can. The Lettigalians are overrun, giving Novgorod the vassals of Lettigalian and Osel. I almost feel bad for the Golden Horde when they finally show up. Look at all the dirt poor Pagan provinces I have! Just bring it!!!!


Pagans: they are to religion what RC Cola is to soft drink companies.

To prove just how serious I am about taking on any enemy, anywhere, any time I decide not to aid Smolensk when they were attacked by the Cumans and Smolensk is promptly shredded. Novgorod is so tough and fearless that we can let our allies get wrecked without hesitation. They weren't helping, anyway. I joined an alliance with Poland a few years later.

In 1110 the dread secrets of CHICKENS!!!!! has been discovered. Prepare to taste Russian beaks you Pagan Devils!


The new secret weapon.

The power of poultry lands like a ton of bricks on the Tavasts in 1113 and the latest Pagan menace is soundly whipped. First you'll hear the clucking and then you'll feel our steel you idolaters!

Mstislav finally dies in 1116. Hopefully there are some vowels waiting for his name in heaven. His successor, Iziaslav, obviously is his father's son, judging by appearance. Sadly, he suffers from depression, just like the amorphous blob in that Zoloft commercial.

An "evil omen in the sky" is explained by the clergy. It meant "donate more to the church," apparently.

The first four years of Iziaslav-o-nomics consist mainly of more road building and other projects (a Templar House in Novgorod?). He also created a few titles (Prince of Livonia, Prince of Pskov) to build up his prestige. I've got high hopes for the Iziaslav years, although that depression could turn into full blown madness any time, which is rather troubling.


The new Prince of Novgorod.


Novgorod 1120
 
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  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
Well I like RC Cola soooo... :cool:
 

frogbeastegg

Lurking Frog
48 Badges
Apr 6, 2004
849
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  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Magicka
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Penumbra - Black Plague
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Victoria 2
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Pride of Nations
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  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
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  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
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  • Deus Vult
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  • Europa Universalis III Complete
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  • For The Glory
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  • Europa Universalis III Complete
:reads .... blinks in stunned confusion .... decides it was a hallucination, reads again: Cripes - it's really that wacked out! :eek:

I don't know what you put in your tea but keep on dumping it in :rofl: