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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

cynos

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First off, I am a n00b. Check my post count! So please bear with me

Brothers in Arms

livonians.jpg
 
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cynos

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Prelude - Omens

The dark forest was totally silent, the blanket of snow deadening all sound. The night sky was covered in heavy sullen clouds, and Siegfried knew that more snow would arrive before the dawn. This was a barren land in winter, and the cold seemed to chill his courage.

"Come now," he chided himself. "You are Siegfried Lander, Grandmaster of the Swordbearers, not a little girl easily scared by shadows!"

Gathering his cloak about him, he strode onwards along the vague path, still anxious about what lay ahead. He did not fear wolves or wild men in the dark night, but he was afraid of his dreams; afraid that they were true.

For they spoke of his land in flames, and his brethren slaughtered.
Each night, he witnessed the end of his Order.
 
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cynos

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Beginnings

Sweeping the snow off his shoulders, Siegfried entered the mouth of a cave. He narrowed his eyes, and peered into the gloom. The distant flicker of firelight reflected on the walls of a narrow sidepassage confirmed at least that the cave was inhabited. Was this the one he sought? Or had the village elder, perhaps in remembrance of some wrong inflicted by one of the brethren, directed him to a lair of bandits instead? With a whisper of metal on scabbard, he drew his well honed sword, and started forward.

He walked slowly towards the light, listening carefully to gauge numbers of possible adversaries. As he drew closer, he could count only one, who didn't seem too worried about making noise. He could hear coughing, and a few strong words in the local dialect as something clattered onto the rock floor. Confident that there was no ambush waiting, he walked into the firelight, sheathing his blade.

"Ah, good evening Grandmaster, I was expecting you, but you did pick an awfully cold night yes?" the old woman said.

"I seek the one who follows the old ways, and speaks with fallen angels." Siegfried said.

"If you mean the one who listens to the trees and the rocks, you have found me. Are you here to save my soul, or do you need my help?" she said kindly.

Siegfried turned bright red "Do you mock me woman?! I tolerate you within my realm because it keeps my people happy! Do not push your luck!"

"Come now, I mean no harm. Let me see... ...hmm, you've been having bad dreams, haven't you?" she asked with sympathy on her face.

Seigfried stopped midbluster, "I... how did you... yes. Yes. Of course you'd
know...You have to tell me, are my dreams omens from God, or am I tormented by devils?"

"Oh they are omens all right, whether for good or evil I cannot say. But... I've been dreaming too, and my visions are what you seek. The answers - the future. Sit down and listen."
 
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cynos

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Like Joseph

"In my dreams, I saw two war hounds. Proud and fierce they were, ready to fight at an instant. One was older, and led the younger one. They stood on a beach, with waves crashing down behind them. Two wolves approached them, the smaller wolf leading the bigger one. In the distance a bear waited. The older hound leapt for the two wolves... ...and then the dream ends. But I know the meaning, and this is what you seek. You and your knight brethren are the younger warhound, lead by the older, who live to the south."

"The Teutons..." Siegfried breathed.

"Yes. The wolves are the king of Lithuania and his suzerain. They will destroy both your orders, if you follow the Teutons. Turn from them. If the wolves do not end you, then the bear will. The bear wakes from his slumber in the east, in the lands of Tula."

"Well, yes, it is no secret that the Muscovites hate us & covet our land, but betray the Teutonic Order? That is impossible! They are our brothers!"

"They are your brothers, yes, but they are also your most deadly enemy, though they do not realise it. Their martial pride and your friendship will end you both."

"What are you saying?" Siegfried asked aghast.

"I am saying that unless you turn against the Teutons, both your Orders will perish, Grandmaster. I cannot say it simpler than that." she said sadly.

"But, do not take my word for it, leave this place, and within one journey of the moon, the old warhound will prove me right. Excuse me now, my stew is nearly ready."






As I said, this is my first AAR, so constructive critique on writing style, posting style (image size ok?), or strategies welcome. Nasty critique might make me cry.
 
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Machiavellian

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An excellent opening. You set up the pace and the mood for this AAR quite well. I look forward to seeing more.
 

unmerged(9046)

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Good luck on your first AAR. You didn't pick a very easy place to start!

:)
 

Rythin

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Stroph1,
It is his first AAR, not his first game :)
 

cynos

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Tidings


Siegfried stared sullenly at the map, which had the little flourishes so beloved of fanciful cartographers who had never left their home town. "Here be monsters indeed." he snorted. "Why affix such a warning to the far seas, when greater evils lie in the hearts and minds of men?"

Siegfried was unable to relax, he felt his tension lie like a stone in his stomach, for it was twenty seven days since he had spoken with the old witch; the moon would be full tomorrow. There was a polite knock on the door. "Enter", he said, still glaring at the offending legend.

A young servant entered. "Sorry to disturb you, Grandmaster, but an envoy has arrived, with what appears to be urgent news."

He could taste the tension now, bile rising in his gorge. But, he was committed to the improvement of his peoples' lot, as he had come to consider the natives of these lands, and he could not let the opportunity to educate this young man pass.

"Boy, you are young, so I will forgive you your impertinence. How do you know the envoy brings urgent missives? Or did his sudden coming startle you?" he growled.

"No, no..no sir, I saw his horse. It was heavily lathered, and barely standing. It was a fine steed too sir, not one to ride so harshly unless for very good reason." the page stammered.

"Well boy, with your fine powers of observation, you should've been able to recognise the livery of the rider. Tell me, from whence did he come?" Siegfried asked, knowing the answer, yet fearing it.

"Sir, he wears the habit of the Teutonic Order."

----

Siegfried eyed the Teutonic man-at-arm. "What news do you bring us?"

The envoy bowed and spoke. "Grandmaster of the Order of Swordbearers: The Grandmaster of the Teutonic Order, your kindred, requests that your Order join their brothers in holy battle."

"Is it defensive, or offensive?" Siegfried asked.

"Sir?" the envoy replied, startled.

Siegfried sighed. "Has your Order been attacked, or have they attacked?"

"Sir, we boldly strike against our foes. We do God's will!" the envoy proclaimed proudly.

A fine example of that deadly martial pride, Siegfried thought ruefully.

He spoke slowly. "We... we will not follow."

"I'm sorry sir, I think I misunderstood you." the Teuton said arrogantly.

"You heard me well enough."

"Need I remind you that your brethren are technically part of the Teutonic Order, and have only survived by our good grace in admitting you?" the envoy said frostily.

"Enough!" Siegfried exploded. "I will not be spoken to in such a disrespectful manner by a mere man-at-arm!"
"I tell you this now - The Schwertzbrüder of Livonia declare themselves independent of the Teutonic Order, and will conduct themselves thus! We will not be destroyed by your master's suicidal folly. What romantic nonsense fills his head? He declares war on Poland and her vassal? Lithuania alone could destroy us both, and he would ask us to share the doom of his making."

Siegfried subsided. "No, no we will not. All alliances are broken. Go to your Grandmaster, and tell him Siegfried Lander of Spanheim says this: 'You have decided the fate of your Order - the Knights of Livonia will decide theirs.' Now, get thee hence, or I'll have my battle brethren teach you of respect."

Siegfried turned away from the pale face of the envoy, and strode past his bodyguards and into his quarters.
 
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cynos

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Der Krieghund

(Three months later)

Siegfried knelt before his statue of the Madonna and prayed. "Mother of God, full of grace, forgive me my sins. I have trafficked with witches, and shortly I must lie to my most trusted knight. The evil I do, I do out of necessity. If you find me worthy, redeem me from hell, so that I may atone. If my soul is condemned, let it be the price of my peoples' lives."

He stood up and crossed himself. "You may come in now." he said.

"Good evening Grandmaster." Cyresse said as he entered.

"Good evening, have a seat." the Grandmaster gestured at a chair. "We must discuss our order of battle."

"Battle sir?" Cyresse inquired, as he seated himself at the table.

"Yes. Battle." Siegfried cleared his throat, and with a last silent prayer for absolution, he began.

"Cyresse, it is no secret that I have nominated you to succeed me. You have proven yourself worthy in battle, and capable in the administration of your estates. So, you are to be Grandmaster when I die. Therefore, I will take you into my confidence. For some months preceding the Teutonic Order's foolhardy attack on Poland, my spies in Konigsberg had reported rumours of heresy within the Teutonic Order. It is supposedly the same heresy which damned the Knights of the Templar, the teaching of the Rosy Cross. After further investigation, and plenty of gold, it was confirmed for me that the Rosicrucian heresy was present in their Order, and that their Grandmaster was possibly involved. So, I waited and prayed, for my agents could reveal no further information, hence I asked that God send me a sign. Their war with Poland is such a sign, I am sure of this. I also knew that if God favoured them, then they would surely triumph in battle. How fare they now?"

"Sir, at last report Danzig and Konigsberg are besieged, and the crops burn in the fields. Only the province of Memnel is free of enemy presence."

"God confirms the worst. The Teutonic Order have fallen from His sight, and their heresy corrupts their souls.
Cyresse, you must swear to me that you when you are Grandmaster, you will not cease to wage war on our fallen brothers, until all their lands are under our control. Only then can we excise the the evil and save our kindred. Swear it!" Siegfried exhorted.

"I swear by the blood of the Christ." Cyresse said earnestly.

Siegfried was convinced that he would burn for what he'd just spoken. But, it didn't matter, he needed to ensure the safety of his Order.

"You must swear your successor to the same oath when you are Grandmaster. Will you?" Siegfried asked.

"I will."

"Good. Now, our order of battle. As I said, the Teutons are corrupted, and we must cleanse them. So, in two months time, we declare war. Go then, and ready St Mary's Corp for a long campaign. Raise seven thousand infantry, as the sieges will not be worth wasting good brethren on."

"Respectfully sir, what of our enemies? Will they not attack us when we have committed our knights?"

"I have entered into an alliance with several of our enemies. While I consider it abhorrent to do so, it is necessary, and it only cost a hundred ducats to convince them that we weren't such bad people. The Muscovites cannot be bought so easily, which I admire them for, but our new alliance should aid us, as Muscowy has no love for our new friends either, and hopefully they are richer pickings."
 
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cynos

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OT / Game state details


OK - for people sick of reading - the main preamble was merely a plot device. A plot device! How do you justify the Livonian Order, who begged to become part of the Teutonic Order after a disastrous battle in 1236, suddenly turning on their knight brethren? With a plot device


(People's thoughts requested. Is my writing getting too long/tedious, or do you like it that way? I'm thinking of interspersing the history book style with certain moments described in above style. I think it's a happy medium, but like I said, check my post count. Please share your preference/experience.)

So, I became enamoured of the Ensiferi of Livonia, and tried playing as them. Followed the Teutons blindly, got hammered by Poland/Lithuania/Massovia. Start again, let the Teutons do their own thing, get hammered by Russia, then by Poland/Lithuania/Massovia.

(Do these guys all have cores on me or something?)

So, I go for the longshot -

Game details:

screenie_1419.jpg


February, 1419 Teutonic Order declare war on Poland (who bring Lithuania, Massovia :wacko: )

I dishonour the alliance.

I send a state gift to Lithuania (MA leaders but vassals... :confused: ), and that convinces them to let me join their MA.

And then we proceed...
 
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Rythin

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I like it very much. Great game, slightly too less evil warmongering :D
 

cynos

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The Siege of Memel, and the attempted sieges of Danzig & Konigsberg


In the year of our lord 1419, the Knights of Livonia did march to war against their former allies, the Teutonic Knights.

St Mary's Corp led the campaign with 10,000 horsemen, slaughtering 3,000 of the Teutons in a single day in the province of Memel. While the army in the field had been destroyed, a sizable garrison still manned the local fortress, and so Cyresse von Rutenberg, the able leader of St Mary's Corp, began the siege.

Concerned at the lack of feed for his men's horses, he sent runners requesting that a recently formed native regiment march from Courland to the siege. When the infantry arrived, he sent his cavalry back to their pastures, only one day's ride away.

In the meanwhile, the Polish regiments continued their sieges of Danzig and Konigsberg, albeit very haphazardly. A sizable number of Teutonic men-at-arms had broken free of the siege of Konigsberg, and were causing some significant damage to the summer harvests of Poland & Lithuania. The need to defend the essential crop spread the Polish & lithuanian forces thinly enough that they could make no head way in their sieges against the knights, who had were well versed in the defensive arts. The Swordbearers were equally well versed in the defensive arts, including the art of breaking a siege, and so managed to make some gains against their beleagured opponents.

To the North east of Livonia, the ruler of Muscowy showed his ambitions, as he declared war on Pskow and Novgorod.

As the year 1419 approached the celebration of Our Lord's birth, the first snows began to fall.
 
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Rythin

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Bit more evil warmongering but still... :D
 

cynos

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Christmas


The lone knight walked towards the Livonian pikemen, holding his empty scabbard aloft to signify his peaceful intent.
A captain stepped forward. "Halt Teuton! What is your business? Do you wish to surrender?"
The nearby soldiers guffawed at this sally, but the laughter died in their throats as the knight swept his cold gaze across them.

"Nein. I seek parley with your leader. You should lead me to him, perhaps he could improve your sense of humour with his boot."

"Come now friend, there's no need to be like that..." the captain said, as he lowered his pike with a sneer.

The voice of Cyresse cut through the massed men. "Soldier, put up your weapon! This man comes in peace! You would dishonour us all to strike him!"

The captain spat at the knight's feet, and reluctantly withdrew back into this line.

Cyresse approached the blonde knight. "Do you seek parley, sir?"

"I do indeed."

"Then come."

---

"Greetings, fellow knight. I am Cyresse von Rutenburg, leader of the Corp of St Mary. Do have a seat." Cyresse said as they entered his tent.

"You are too kind. I am Eric Kessler, by default master of this castle." the Teuton said.

"By default?"

"Yes, the previous master was last seen diving into the moat as your forces approached. We assume he is well as we haven't seen him since, and the bodies tend to float." Kessler said wryly.

"Well then. It would seem that the rot within your Order is more widespread than thought."

"Rot? Never mind. The day grows long, and I wish to return before dark, so let us be brief. Will you end your siege?"

"Preposterous. You know that we cannot do such a thing. Will you and your garrison surrender?"

"Of course not, you know that we cannot do such a thing either." Kessler stated.

"Then we are at an impasse, no? I will tell you now, there is no hope for you. Konigsberg and Danzig are surrounded, there is no relief."

"I had suspected such." Kessler said sadly.

"I will tell you this though. It is Christmas, and a harsh winter it seems. I am going to withdraw the bulk of my men until the snows pass, so that they can celebrate with their families. However, we will return in the spring, and you will be in the same position. But for now, you and your men are free to forage for supplies, desert, even swim in the moat, because it won't make any difference. There will be no relief and this castle will fall."

"Very well. I shall return to my men. Can I ask you one question?" Kessler said.

"Certainly."

"Why?"

"Why?" Cyresse queried.

"Yes, why have you attacked us?"

Cyresse's face darkened "That is a question better asked of your heretic Grandmaster."

Kessler look bemused, stood up, and quietly left the tent. As he returned towards the castle, he was oblivious to the jeers and aspersions on his mother's character from the peasant infantry that normally would have roused his ire. He could not understand one thing.

"Heretic?"
 

unmerged(28944)

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Nicely written! I really enjoy the change from story to historical text and back again, it shows character as well as attention to detail! Very kewl! :cool:

I have become enamoured and will have to follow this one closely!

Can't wait for the next update! :)
 

cynos

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Thanks Draco :)

Rythin - the evil warmongering will commence as soon as I can. But first, the Swordbearers need to secure their position and improve their economy, as at the moment, Poland, Lithuania, Russia and Sweden could wipe the floor with the Knights of Livonia.
 

Rythin

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Well, your starting province are really poor. But you own CoT! Use it and have monopolies in at least two centres of trade and by 1429 you will be able to crush the Lithuania in single blow.
 

cynos

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Rythin said:
Well, your starting province are really poor. But you own CoT! Use it and have monopolies in at least two centres of trade and by 1429 you will be able to crush the Lithuania in single blow.

It's a CoT with a trade value of 41, at last count...
...Novgorod, however... their CoT is worth somewhat more.

But, I digress, my game is up to 1440, and I've only just finished describing 1419(!). The balance of power has changed slightly in those 20 years.
 

cynos

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1420 - The Tax Revolt, Memel besieged


Early in his time as Grandmaster of the Order of Livonia, Siegfried Lander of Spanheim had begun to institute changes to stimulate economic growth.
The fine education he had received as a noble's son served him well, and he realised that the key to security in a ever changing world was money, for it bought all manner of men, and allowed for the construction of complex defenses. He also held the outspoken view that if the common peoples of his land were happier, they would be more productive. Not wishing to destabilise the sometimes precarious social order of his realm, he began by revoking certain laws controlling the movement of commoners. These laws had been necessary in the early days, when the threat of rebellion was constant, but as time passes, men's memories of old allegiances fade. (-1 Serfdom)
The taxation system was sporadic at best, so he appointed serjeants of the Order to act as his tax collectors, and ensure that the appropriate tithes were made.

While this increased the income of the Order, it also roused the ire of some the population, who had been quite happy to not pay taxes. And so, in the first month of 1420, an angry mob who had been denied the chance to lynch the local serjeant, incited a rebellion and besieged the fortress in Estland. Death and Taxes event in Estland
With the Order's forces committed in battle and siege within the realm of the Teutonic Order, the Grandmaster was unable to immediately respond. He was by nature a calm man, and while the rebels numbered some thirteen thousand, they had chosen a severe winter in which to rise up.

And so, the Grandmaster waited. The rebels numbers dropped dramatically, the heat of passionate revolt no match for the heat of a warm fire, and raw potatoes dug by hand out of the frozen ground compared poorly to the traditional winter fare. Disease came upon the huddled rebels, and took hundreds of souls.

Come the spring, the rebels were only five thousand, insufficient to significantly worry the local garrison, and so the Grandmaster waited.

And with the coming of spring, the men of St Mary's Corps marched forth once more to besiege Memel. Konigsberg and Danzig were still sporadically besieged by the Polish and Lithuanians, but their forces had suffered significant losses from winter's chill, and they could not mount effective attacks. They did, however, keep the Teutonic knights contained within their keeps.

This state of affairs continued throughout the year 1420, until the arrival of winter.
 
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