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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

dark_melancholy

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Well, this is my first post on the Paradox forums, after a lot of lurking, my first AAR ever, after admiring several other AARs, and my first, no make that second, game of CK. Any advice on any of the three counts would therefore be appreciated (with me being a noob and everything)

My first thoughts after playing CK for the first time (a Norwegian conquering spree ending in rebellion) was how different it appears to be, compared to HoI2 and EU2. So, any advice to help me shake my old habits and avoid another crazy rollercoaster like my previous game would be very nice indeed!

As for the AAR itself, I'm playing Castille, obviously, beginning in 1066. Any lack of screenies would be due to me being quite inexperienced at this and forgetting to take screenshots for the first part of the game.

So, without further ado:

Part I: 1066 - Introduction

Behind a mask of calm, Sancho, the second of his name and king of Castille was seething. He had played the polite host for his brother, Alfonso IV of Leon who had surprisingly travelled to personally announce his marriage to Aldonza de Castille. Sancho saw the message clearly, though. His brother’s coming wife held no titles or land, but Sancho saw a message in that, too; her role would be to secure an heir to the Leonese throne. Sancho, the oldest son of Ferdinand the Great had no wife and no heir. Alfonso must have taken great delight in reminding Sancho of this. And the fact that should something befall him, all his lands would fall in Alfonso’s eager hands.
He would have to act.

Following the death of Ferdinand I in 1065, his kingdom was divided between his three sons, with Sancho receiving Castille, Alfonso inheriting Leon and the youngest of the brothers, Garcia inheriting Galicia. Ever since, There was little love between the brothers, especially between Sancho and Alfonso who were quite different in personality and rivalled each other in power.

sanchoii1066zt6.jpg

As it approaches the year of our Lord 1067, Sancho II is, as mentioned, king of Castille. A man of the sword first and foremost, he was quite different from his brother Alfonso, a clever diplomat, often preferring less overt means. With Sancho disliking the courtly games and intrigues of his brother, quickly came to dislike him, even more so after the partitioning of their father’s kingdom. Seen by most people as a wise and honest man, Sancho encouraged others to honesty as well, and disliked trickery and subversion, habits he especially attributed to his brother.

alfonsoiv1066dr6.jpg

Alfonso was, for his part, certain that the pen was as mighty as the sword, and enjoyed his “courtly follies”, as his brother called it. He rarely passed up an opportunity to show off his talents if it meant annoying his misguided brother.

garciaii1066om0.jpg

Their younger brother, Garcia was more of a mild-mannered disposition, and happy with his lot in life wisely did his best to stay out of his siblings’ rivalries. Although a decent fighter, he was even less adept at deception than his oldest brother.

urraca1066fa2.jpg

elvira1066ww8.jpg

Ferdinand also had two daughters, Urraca and Elvira, both older than their brothers. After the partitioning, they had been awarded a city each, leaving them in the domain of Alfonso. Urraca, as countess of Zamora was an accomplished conniver, even more so than her brother Alfonso, though Sancho saw his brother as the most devious plotter in Christendom. Elvira had been given the town of Toro and thus became a vassal of her older sister, and more competent, sister (although it can be said that Elvira’s milder disposition certainly made her a better negotiator than her vengeful sister)

iberia1066nqs8.jpg

The situation of the Iberian Peninsula was at the time far from stable. With sibling rivalry between the sons of Ferdinand, conflict between Sancho of Navarra and Sancho of Aragon as well as the considerable power of various Muslim emirates and sheikdoms the land was a proverbial powder keg.

(and, yes, i spelled Sheikdoms incorrectly :p )
 

Veldmaarschalk

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Welcome to the forum and good luck with your AAR

Starting in Iberia in 1066 is not the easiest place to start, so I believe we will see a AAR packed with wars and, because of the 3 brothers, family tragedy
 

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Looks like a great AAR in the midst! I always loved to fight in the Iberian Peninsulia. Cant wait for the next update. :)
 

dark_melancholy

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Veldmaarschalk: Thank you! And, yes, I believe war and family tragedy will be important ingredients, especially while Sancho is king!

Iron_Skull: Thanks for the praise! I'll have an update soon, and hopefully something will happen.

By the way? Does anyone know why I can't have a signature?

And, some more questions: What diplomatic actions should you do, especially in the early game? (I've played a bit in this game already, but for future games) Is it smart to grab a few titles early on? I feel diplomacy in this game is a bit tricky, so war always seems the best option. Am i mistaken?
 

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dark_melancholy said:
Veldmaarschalk: Thank you! And, yes, I believe war and family tragedy will be important ingredients, especially while Sancho is king!

Iron_Skull: Thanks for the praise! I'll have an update soon, and hopefully something will happen.

By the way? Does anyone know why I can't have a signature?

And, some more questions: What diplomatic actions should you do, especially in the early game? (I've played a bit in this game already, but for future games) Is it smart to grab a few titles early on? I feel diplomacy in this game is a bit tricky, so war always seems the best option. Am i mistaken?

You will have to be a member for at least 6 weeks before you can add a signature.

The best diplomatic actions as one of the Iberian kings would be assassination, you are in line of inheritance for the title of your brothers.

But if you don't want to do that, then go first after the muslims, make sure none of them gets to powerfull, since else they might beat you.

The Muslims will start to fight amongst themselves and then one of them will come out as the winner (mostly the emir of Sevilla), so take out those muslims shiekdoms :D around Zaragoza first
 

dark_melancholy

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Veldmaarschalk said:
You will have to be a member for at least 6 weeks before you can add a signature.

I thought it was something like that. Oh well!

Veldmaarschalk said:
The best diplomatic actions as one of the Iberian kings would be assassination, you are in line of inheritance for the title of your brothers.

I've thought about it, but aren't kings very hard to assasinate? In any case, I don't think Sancho would even consider such a shameful act, that's something Alfonso would do! ;)

Update coming up!
 

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Part II: 1067 – Arrangements

It was a surprisingly hot January evening, and Sancho, the second of his name and king of Castille was tired of surprises. He felt as if he had just put his seal on the letter to Navarra, and now a messenger had arrived from Sancho IV of Navarra. The timing was unsettling; not even the fastest horse could have reached the Basque court in time for Sancho to dispatch an answer that would arrive so soon. The King of Castille pondered as he awaited the messenger.

A few days earlier, the weather had been considerably chillier, even for mountainous Burgos. Perhaps it was the chill in the King’s bed that had prompted his actions. His search for a wife had certainly begun the day Alfonso announced his marriage the year before. Knowing that he and his oldest brother were about evenly matched, his own marriage had to be one for influence as well as a way to secure his line. No suitable matches could be found in the western duchies. And for that matter, Sancho wasn’t too familiar with the Duchy of Braganza, and he did not wish to be affiliated with his meagre brother. Therefore, he had turned his eyes upon his eastern neighbour and the court of the son of his father’s brother, King Sancho IV of Navarra. Sancho knew the sisters of King of Navarra well, because of the close ties between the two courts, and they were all in their twenties. The next youngest, Urraca, certainly reminded Sancho too much of his own sister Urraca, and the others he remembered as intrigue-makers as well. The exception was the youngest, Jimena, who had been very young when he last saw her, but trusting his gut feeling, Sancho began to pen a letter to his cousin. He might not have seen her for three years, but the rumours painted a picture of quite a lustful wench. Alfonso’s Aldonza was apparently already pregnant, but if the rumours were true he was very likely to have an heir of his own very soon.

Still with the quick response from Navarra in mind, Sancho became worried that the prompt reply was simply to show how adamant his cousin’s refusal was. It wasn’t too unlikely that his brother and that scheming wife of his already had Sancho of Navarra firmly in their grasp. If so, he might be facing a two-front war very soon. The scenario didn’t scare him overly much. After all, the King of Navarra wasn’t a particularly good general, and his brother certainly did not amount to much in that area, either. And if it should come to war, Sancho had another definitive edge; as his marshal stood Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the greatest warrior in all of Christendom.

elcid1067za4.jpg

A brilliant general, but also merciful and generous, Rodrigo was a man after Sancho’s heart. A true knight in every way, Sancho was indeed proud to have a man like Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar in his service. Not that his deceiving brother would ever understand to appreciate such ideals so Sancho could enjoy it much.

A sharp knock at the door announced the entry of Sancho’s chancellor Teresa. Not waiting for a reply, she simply walked into the room and handed the king a letter.
“The messenger from King Sancho, the fourth of his name, king of Navarra delivered this, my lord. Though I doubt it can be a reply to your earlier request.”
He knew perfectly well, but Teresa enjoyed showing him her worth. He suspected she desired the position of Steward, held by Petronila Fernandez, whom she saw as weak-willed, wasteful and generally unfit to run the kingdom.

teresadecastilla1067fp3.jpg

The grandmother of Rodrigo de Vivar must certainly be responsible at least in part for his martial pursuits. With her daughter proving to be a useless coward (and, of course, a woman!) Teresa must have seen an opportunity in her daughter’s son and was thus able to secure a military career for the boy. If only by her kinship to Sancho’s marshal, she felt very confident of the king’s continued support.

petronila1067pj6.jpg

Often Teresa’s rival was Petronila Fernandez, the Steward of the Realm, a job she carried out with exceptional skill. Her aptitude for making money was almost sinful, but she was also a generous woman, sharing freely the wealth she created. It was for this reason, as well as her lack of will, Teresa urged the king to replace her.

The letter had barely reached Sancho’s hand when Elvira, the king’s spymaster slipped silently into the room, with only the silver cross around her neck making the slightest sound. The message must be of some importance to her, then, Sancho thought.

elvira1067yc2.jpg

The Castillan mistress of spies (commonly referred to only as ‘the mistress’) could usually be found observing the daily life of the court, and keeping eyes and ears peeled for anything relating to the king and his kingdom’s security. Having a deformed upper lip, impeding her speech, Elvira usually kept silent, merely observing rather than take active part in conversation. Even more zealous than Teresa the Chancellor, she secretly despised her gender; she would have preferred to lead men into battle against the heathens. As it was, she would have to leave fighting to her husband Gonzalo and advice the king when the inevitable clash between Christians and heathens ensued.

Sancho was shocked to discover the contents of the letter from Navarra. Before King Sancho of Navarra had even read his proposal of marriage, his eastern neighbour had sent a proposal of his own. In the simple style of his, the King of Navarra proposed an alliance Sancho had feared would have to wait until long after his marriage, if there ever would be one. He immediately instructed Teresa to pen an appropriate answer, smiling slightly. In a way, she had been wrong. This was all the answer to his letter he needed.
 

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Just out of curiousity, what happened to 'El Cid' ? He has negative prestige and a debt. Did you get a tourney event ?
 

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Veldmaarschalk said:
Just out of curiousity, what happened to 'El Cid' ? He has negative prestige and a debt. Did you get a tourney event ?

Ah, but you are right! I didn't notice that! There must have been a sneaky event somewhere that I've forgotten, or something. Otherwise, it's just a penalty for being such a frickin' awesome marshal... ;)

Perhaps it's just as well... It wouldn't do to have 'El Compeador' shame himself in the AAR :p
 

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Part III: 1067 – Marriage

As soon as answer came from Navarra, Sancho, the second of his name and king of Castille made ready to meet his bride. The reply had been only a formality and all was set for the journey by the time it arrived. Waiting for the answer also meant an invitation to the Navarran court, which was preferable to testing their hospitality by requesting an audience. It was more prestigious to be invited, and did not show overt eagerness. But Sancho was indeed anxious to meet his wife to be.
Leaving the wet late January of Burgos behind, Sancho and his retinue paid visit to King Sancho IV’s brother Ramiro, Duke of Navarra on their way to the capital. As long as the King of Navarra remained childless, Ramiro would inherit the kingdom, should anything befall his mediocre brother, so it would not hurt to improve relations.
Arriving in Navarra, Sancho was, after a lavish reception, introduced to his future wife. As her brother led her to her coming husband, it was obvious to Sancho that she had grown into a young woman of great appetites. Rivalling her small brother in height, she certainly outdid him in girth. Sancho quickly saw her as a beauty, especially compared with her plainer, though certainly smaller, sisters.

jimena1067qa4.jpg

Along with her sister Mayor, considered the most beautiful of Garcia V’s daughters, Jimena Jimenez was a woman of immense appetite, both for food and sex. Most would be surprised to find that the fat young woman was also a determined Christian, seeing the heathens of other faiths as abominations of the worst kind. Apparently, lust and gluttony did not make one less of a Christian in Jimena’s eyes. Until King Sancho II of Castille’s sudden marriage proposal, Jimena had no means of punishing heathens, being content to glut herself at the royal table of Navarra for the time being.

The wedding was a lavish affair of gigantic proportions, with Petronila sparing no expense to make the occasion unforgettable. Teresa objected to the expenditures vehemently, but Sancho stood by his steward. Jimena desired an extravagant wedding, and the king was to smitten too object. It would seem that the marriage, which was primarily one of convenience would become one of love as well. Taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather, the marriage took place in late April.
For her part, Jimena could not complain about the wedding her husband had given her. She could gorge herself at the wedding feast until she was so stuffed, she had to be carried to the king’s chambers. And it would seem she had been satisfied there as well, considering that chancellor Teresa had to announce to Sancho of Navarre that the king was “indisposed” the following day, barely hiding a smile.
Although royal duties had to come before marital duties, Sancho was unable to avoid his lecherous wife completely, and in early June, it became known that Jimena was with child. He would have an heir to make him proud, and his brother green with envy.
 

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A Jimenez marrying a Jimenez, that sounds like trouble :)
 

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Veldmaarschalk said:
A Jimenez marrying a Jimenez, that sounds like trouble :)


Atleast some...krhm...interesting children. :p
 

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Part IV: 1068 – Turmoil

As she grew bigger, Jimena also grew more confident in the Castillan court. Her easygoing and friendly nature made sure most of the court was on friendly terms with her, even though some women complained she was seducing their husbands. Sancho, the second of his name and king of Castille dismissed this out of hand and warned them not to insult his wife so. Not that he was as certain as he pretended. The young queen’s primary allies became Chancellor Teresa and Elvira, both recognizing a kindred crusading spirit in the gluttonous queen. Petronila was also fond of the new queen, happy to finally have someone to pour money into, in her opinion a wonderful diversion from the usually austere days before Sancho married.
Jimena, Elvira and Teresa were all three involved when they, at the end of 1067 urged Sancho to a holy crusade against the infidel Muslims. The king was more occupied with monitoring the activities of his brother, however (especially since his newborn heir was rumoured to be a bastard, and precluded from inheriting his father’s kingdom) and was uncertain what a war in the south would bring. In the end, the words of his wife won out, and on the 8th of January, he declared war on Calatayud, part of the Emirate of Zaragosa. Mustering his troops, Sancho marched on the Muslims along with Rodrigo de Vivar.

At first, the war went well, with his army sending the combined armies of Calatayud and Zaragosa fleeing, digging in for a siege. After over five weeks of siege, a messenger arrived in Sancho’s camp to announce that his wife had given birth to a daughter. Disappointed he had not been given an heir, Sancho was nevertheless delighted to be a father, especially the father of Jimena’s child. The messenger could also inform him that Jimena had named their newborn daughter Sancha after him, as she had to be baptized immediately because she was such a frail thing. Worried about his daughter, Sancho wished for the siege to end quickly.
It did not, and to make matters worse, but a month after, in March, word from Elvira at home informed him that his fears had come true; the Christian aggression had provoked the Tulaytulah Emirate to declare war. With almost his entire host poised at the walls of Calatayud and his Navarran allies tied up with the remaining enemy armies, Castille was open for attack. Still, Sancho was reluctant to break the siege and loose the city that would be his only prize in this campaign.
The Muslim horde numbered almost 20.000 men and easily broke any resistance by the militias in the southern parts of Castille, but their numbers slowed their advance. They were also very aware of their numerical superiority and slowed their progress in order to secure their supply lines and the conquests they acquired, confident that Sancho could not muster the strength required to repel them. For his part, Sancho and his some 2.000 men were fighting bitterly against the armies of Zaragosa, for Sancho of Navarra had withdrawn most of his troops to fight in his own war against Sancho of Aragon. By autumn, Sancho had little choice but to stay put and hold off persistent Muslim attacks, while the Moorish host encroached upon Castillan land from the south.
 

EvilSanta

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Beeing christian in Iberia is tough. I hope you can beat back the muslims so this aar can go on.
 

Veldmaarschalk

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That doesn't sound very good, hopefully Sanco the second of that name, has another trick on his sleeve (or something like that :) )
 

dark_melancholy

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Part V: 1069 – The First Battle of Burgos

As winter released its grip on the Castillan capital, an army of some 5000 Moors was advancing rapidly on Burgos. The army had been diminished by attacks from the army of Pedro de Valladolid, vassal to King Sancho, the second of his name and king of Castille, who had been convinced to commit his troops in return for substantial aid to pay for his new wife’s indiscriminate spending. Still, the attacks had done little to deter the Moors, but had bought enough time for Elvira’s husband Gonzalo to assemble a small army. Aided by a woman who knew much more of war than himself, Gonzalo would offer battle to the invaders in a valley, where they would not be able to bring their numbers to bear. Still, Burgos hung in the balance as its last warriors marched out to fight an enemy army outnumbering them at least ten to one.
Seeing his capital suddenly in danger from Moors that had left their calm pace and made a bold dash towards the heart of his kingdom, Sancho took advantage of a respite from Muslim attacks and marched towards Burgos.

In Burgos, Gonzalo had received word that the king’s host was returning to relieve the city, and decided to sell the lives of his soldiers as dearly as possible, although it seemed impossible to hold the invaders of long enough for Sancho to reach the city. Still, he donned his armour and marched out to meet the Moors.
Taking advantage of high ground, his forces contacted an enemy regiment that had moved too far ahead of the main army. Despite more even odds, the battle would soon take a turn for the worse when Gonzalo’s left flank began to crumble under Moorish pressure. With his wife’s aid, Gonzalo had been able to bring his forces in a strategically favourable position, but tactically, the Moorish commander greatly outmatched him. Seeing the flank faltering, Gonzalo spun his horse around and shot down his lines, leading his remaining cavalry in a charge to relieve the beleaguered left flank. It was a wild ploy, and Gonzalo took several wounds, worst of all a spear to the chest which pierced his lung and unhorsed him. Still, Gonzalo’s sacrifice was enough to repel the Moors long enough for what little remained of his army to retreat back to Burgos in an orderly fashion. It also allowed the Moors to regroup in order to strike again, this time in full force.
 

EvilSanta

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Things are going bad for Castilians. This might turn into a short aar and its sad. But I believe Sancho manages to trick himself out of war.
 

Veldmaarschalk

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It sounds indeed like a short AAR :)