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OrangeYoshi

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I'm with BlitzMartinDK, loving the maps and it reads like a proper megacampaign now Sid is being 'victimised'. I'd also vote for more of Golle's acid fantasy AARs even if I never understand a word of them.

It seems a shame that the American players just seem to be there to be taken out by Europeans - might as well leave them as AI!

Was that by design?
You're gonna love me.

Worringly close to what?
Each other. Which is ironic.

If France, South Germany, and Byzantium had survived as European powers, matters might have stood differently; there would have been twice as many internal faultlines within Europe for the American powers to exploit.
This. Plus there's also the fact that the Americans refused to even do diplomacy with each other to keep the Europeans out.
 

PrawnStar

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@King of Men - Ah, that makes sense, they ended up one on one with someone bigger and nastier as a result of the CK endgame.

Thanks to all the players who've taken the time to answer I expect there are quite a few people interested in what happened.

@OrangeYoshi - what can I say, you emu cultists are unforgetable ;)
 

King of Men

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The Long March

To understand how the Komnenoi united the steppe tribes they passed on their Long March, it is first necessary to understand the nature of what they built, and in particular, what it was not. Specifically, it was not a territorial state as understood in the rest of Eurasia. Mapmakers in China and India might bring our their biggest brushes, and paint a vast swathe of Asia - up to a twelfth of the land surface of the Earth - in Roman purple. But this did not indicate, as to-all-appearances-similar expanses of dye did in other places, the existence of the heavy infrastructure of civilisation: Roads, canals, fortresses, walled cities. Nor yet did it indicate the less visible parts of an empire: There were no tax collectors, garrisons of regular soldiers, official records of ownership or marriage or inheritance, or state church. Of the four armies that other nations considered essential to stability - a standing army of soldiers, a sitting army of bureaucrats, a kneeling army of priests, and a crawling army of informers - the Komnenoi kept only the first; and even then, since that army in effect consisted of every Roman male of fighting age, it was not a regular army as that term is understood in countries based on the ownership of land.

The new Roman state, then, was in one sense the most fragile of constructs: It existed only in the minds of men. In particular, the state consisted of the continuing choice of a thousand tribal chieftains, in consultation with their foremost warriors, to remain loyal. Now to an extent this is true of all states; even the worst tyrant must, at a minimum, keep the loyalty of his inmost circle, at least to the extent that they do not draw their weapons and kill him while discussing the fate of a million peasants. But in the Komnenos Khanate this fact was exaggerated to absurd lengths. Any chieftain, if he found a yearly tribute onerous, or a levy of horses or fighting men inconvenient, or even if he merely disliked the manners of the envoy sent to treat with him, might simply remove himself a thousand miles, or ten thousand, into the trackless steppe, bringing his herds and fighting men with him; and what then was a central authority to do? True, good grazing and fertile oases are not found everywhere on the steppe, and most tribes recognise at least a rough division into traditional ranges; so the power of the chiefs to resist unwelcome demands of the state was not completely without limit. But it was far greater than that possessed by anyone whose wealth and power depended on farmland. Even a great feudal magnate, who behind strong castle walls could defy - for years on end - the armies of his king, could still have his fields burned or confiscated, and find himself impoverished even though plague or invasion might lift the siege and force a reconciliation.

How, then, did the Komnenoi build a state from the disparate and fractious steppe nomads, and a state, at that, which militarily was a match for anciently civilised and densely settled powers such as China? First, we must note that humans habitually form hierarchies, and the nomad tribes were no exception; by long-standing custom the chief of one tribe or another was recognised as Khagan, and thus exercised at least nominal hegemony. The office was rarely hereditary, shifting with fluctuations in the herds and the fighting tails of each tribe, and there was not always complete agreement on just which leader was Khagan; but there existed, at any rate, the rudiments of a supertribal framework; it was not necessary to introduce the very concept of hegemony - Genghis and Tamerlane, although defeated in their European campaigns, had managed at least that much.

Second, although they had fled Anatolia with only what they could carry, in nomad terms the Romans were actually quite wealthy. Specifically, they owned several thousand excellent horses, in addition to a great quantity of iron weaponry, armour - and cookpots! True, these goods were effectively irreplaceable, and in using them the Romans were expending capital, not income - but the point remains that they had a great deal of capital, by the impoverished standards of the steppes. The five thousand trained kataphrakts that were all that remained of the legions were an immense advance in striking power and even tactical mobility over what an average nomad tribe, or even a dozen tribes together, could muster. Iron weaponry and armour against bone and leather; immense grain-fed cavalry horses [*] against scrubby ponies; and a system of discipline that did not rely on the bonds of family and clan - these all added up to make the Komnenoi a formidable force, easily capable of overcoming any tribe or any coalition of tribes that could be mustered quickly. Of course it is ridiculous to suppose, as some writers have done, that five thousand cavalrymen might have overcome the combined forces of the steppe tribes; but now the lack of state infrastructure cut the other way, for who was going to raise such a coalition? There was always some line of fracture, some blood feud or grudge or vendetta, for the single most powerful military force to take advantage of.

Third, and perhaps most powerful (for this war of unification, ultimately, was waged in the hearts of men more than on the field of battle) the Romans offered a unifying ideology. The nomad tribes had always practiced a rough egalitarianism as far as adult males were concerned; but Roman propaganda - and it must be remembered that the practice of organised propaganda for state purposes was also new on the steppes, and the tribes had no acquired immunity to it - raised the equality of fighting men to the level of an overarching claim to superiority over the settled peoples. The Komnenoi claimed that Rome had been destroyed because it espoused the equal freedom of all citizens, which was to say all men able to bear arms; that the nomads were now the last bastion of this ancient principle; and that it was the duty of all to keep alive the fragile flame of liberty against the slave empires that would impose feudalism or, worse, bureaucracy on everyone. This brilliant piece of manipulation was carefully calculated to appeal to every faction on the steppes, from the Cossacks of the Russian border, whose founding myth involved fleeing from serfdom, to the half-sinicized Mongols of the far east, who had a long and resentful history of Chinese scholar-poet-officials attempting to impose Confucian ideals upon them. To assert the brotherhood of Rome - the epitome of agricultural empires, and the home of mass chattel slavery! - with the nomads who had sacked so many of its cities was, in the words of one historian, "too awesomely mendacious to fail"; however that may be, the nomads united almost as fast as Alexandros could march his refugees past their territories.

This is not to say that the feat was accomplished entirely without fighting; some tribal federations did resist, and some indeed maintained their resistance for decades and centuries, on the marginal subarctic edges of the steppe - tolerated by the Komnenoi partly as a demonstration that fighting men really did have freedom, not merely the freedom to submit to Rome; and partly because subduing them would be more trouble than it was worth. After all there is steppe and steppe; the Komnenoi and their network of tributary allies commanded the best grazing, the fertile oases, the convenient caravan routes - in short, such sedentary wealth as the steppe offers. Reducing every last marginal borderland to formal obedience was quite unnecessary.

The travails of the Long March rapidly became a founding legend of the new Rome, told - even while the marchers were alive, in some cases - in the same tones used for recounting the story of Romulus and Remus. But it is worth noting that the legend does not, with a few exceptions, focus on battles; the Romans overcome hostile weather, mountain ranges, endless distances, and internal dissent, but after Jvris Ugheltekhili, few external enemies.

So much for the unification itself; we may also ask, how was the fragile structure of loyalty maintained? As noted, the heavy cavalry horses and iron weaponry of the Komnenoi were capital, to be husbanded carefully and expended reluctantly. Like any successful and wealthy warband, they attracted recruits from other tribes, mounted and armed more traditionally, and thus rapidly constructed their own swarm of light cavalry to supplement the kataphrakts and infantry. But while this was a welcome addition to their strength, it was, ultimately, the same means that previous Khagans had used to maintain their hegemony - in other words, if the heavy cavalry were allowed to attrite away, the Romans would become just another pony-mounted tribe, susceptible to the usual generational shifts in the Khaganate. To introduce a unifying ideology was one thing, but to make unification under the Komnenoi stick, it was necessary to maintain a strong military advantage against any likely combination of tribes.

To do so, the Romans took for their territory the doubtful lands surrounding the Great Wall of China, where nomad and farmer had pushed the frontier of settlement back and forth for millennia. This area does not offer the best sweet grazing, and the climate is atrocious even by the hard standards of the steppe, and thus no tribe was mortally offended by its seizure. However, the main concern was access to the two crucial goods the Romans needed to maintain their military edge: Iron and grain. With China split by dynastic revolt, the Romans could offer a bargain to the northmost tier of cities: Protection from nomad raids, in exchange for a tribute of the products of civilisation - in particular, the iron weapons and the feed required to keep the kataphrakt tradition alive.

The Komnenoi were, for a short period, something altogether new in the world: A nomad tribe with some of the trappings of civilisation, in particular a splendid heavy cavalry. Under the leadership of Alexandros, they exploited this uniqueness ruthlessly: They positioned themselves perfectly between nomad and settler, gaining strength from both sides - nomad light cavalry for scouting and skirmishing, and settler grain and iron to maintain a core of heavy cavalry that allowed them to overawe the nomads. Thus each part of their strength supported the other, a closed virtuous cycle. No other tribe could have done it, because no other tribe had the initial capital of horses and heavy-cavalry training (a very different set of skills from light-cavalry skirmishing) required; and no other band of settlers would have done it, because it required abandoning homes and cities for the harsh life of a nomadic tribe. When Alexandros announced that his winter camp would lie in the shadow of the Great Wall that separates and unites nomad and farmer, the symbolism was clear to all.




[*] These were something of a double-edged sword, for unlike nomad ponies they could not survive by grazing alone; the Romans dealt with this by marching along the southern border of the steppes, where they could buy grain from the edge of cultivation.
 

BootOnFace

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This is why the peanuts love KoM. He's such an awesome writer *swoon*
 

Enewald

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How does one feed the katafraktoi on long campaigns through different times of year?
 

Lord Strange

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This world history would be so much better. Mongol Romans ftw!
 

Willum

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Aaand done with the first 189 pages of the AAR threads, now to the Ederon discussion threads.

I'm going to miss Frosty's delightful illustrations and scheming, and the diplomacy does not seem to supply quite the same amount of light-hearted melodrama and good-natured propaganda that made plotting such a enjoyable spectacle for a peanut in CK, but the Byzantophilia in me is forcing me to follow the adventures of Rome v. 2.5 (or is it 3.0?) with interest and partiality.
 

King of Men

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This is why the peanuts love KoM. He's such an awesome writer *swoon*
Thank you! This episode was a bit drier than the high drama of forcing the pass at Jvris Ugheltekili, but sometimes you need to take a step back and look at the big picture. Glad you still enjoyed it. :)

Enewald said:
How does one feed the katafraktoi on long campaigns through different times of year?
With handwaving! :D

Seriously, there is probably a reason the steppes never bred a strong heavy cavalry of their own. But the logistical disadvantage of needing grain to feed the huge horses is outweighed by the tactical advantage of their striking power - the pre-steam equivalent of tanks, as it were - if you can manage to find the grain. This is where the Roman flair for organisation and articulation comes in. First, they stick mainly to the southern fringes of the steppe, where they can get grain from the northern edges of cultivation; the south is where most of the valuable stuff is anyway. Second, for punitive expeditions northward, they use wagons with iron suspensions, which can go faster than wood-suspended yurts over the bumpy steppes, carrying a heavier load. After all, when pursuing some recalcitrant tribe, they don't need to catch the fighting men mounted on a string of ponies, they just need to catch up with the women and children and herds, which the men will have to defend. And third, the kataphrakts are only unleashed when the enemy has been properly fixed by the light cavalry; for most of a campaign they will be held back close to their logistical bases. They unmoor from their line of supply only for a few days, or two weeks at most, a time for which they can carry the needed supplies themselves - the horses will be thin and hungry by the end, but in the meantime a decisive battle has been fought. If there is no battle, then sending the kataphrakts was a mistake and the commander who gave the order will be disciplined.

Lord Strange said:
This world history would be so much better. Mongol Romans ftw!
Indeed. If I had any artistic skill I would draw a pony-mounted nomad, with the classic Fu Manchu mustache, epicanthic folds, and cruel sneer on his face. Wearing a Roman-style legionnaire helmet, and under a banner bearing a golden Eagle as well as nine horse's tails.

Willum said:
I'm going to miss Frosty's delightful illustrations and scheming
Yes, I agree with you there. It would be much better to make my triumphant return to a Europe that contained the same rogues' gallery that forced me to flee, so I could take my slow and lingering revenge on the actual culprits, not merely people playing the same nations. But such is life.
 

Enewald

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Wagons on steppes? Sounds more like 1941... Using those great roads that Romans bring everywhere?
So you basically invented a horde that is based on wagons instead of normal horde that prefers being able to move through snow and rain, without having to use infrastructure?
Iron suspension? Dear Khan, what is that?
 

Sid Meier

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King of Men

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Wagons on steppes? Sounds more like 1941... Using those great roads that Romans bring everywhere?
So you basically invented a horde that is based on wagons instead of normal horde that prefers being able to move through snow and rain, without having to use infrastructure?
Well now, you must realise that there is a difference between the horde, the army mounted on ponies, and the tribe, the collection of people, goods, and animals. The tribe is mobile, certainly, but it does not carry everything on horseback. When fighting a steppe swarm, the main problem is to pin it down so you can hammer it. Now, if the Mongols are invading Europe, you can basically only do that by trapping them in a narrow pass or against a river with few fords, or something, because there's nothing they need to defend and they are faster (both in overland speed and in OODA) than any conventional army. But if you are attacking them in their homeland, then you don't need to be faster than the pony-mounted fighting men, you just need to be faster than the wives, children, and herds. Attack these and they have to defend. So you can feed your heavy cavalry horses out of wagons.

As for roads, you do not in fact need roads to use wagons. See, for example, the settlement of the American west, done by wagons over trackless waste. The steppe has some similarities to the prairie, in particular that of being dry enough that a nice broad wagon wheel won't bog down into mud even if there is no road.

True, the kataphrakts are weather-bound, but who starts a punitive expedition in winter, anyway? You wait until campaigning season. Tribes, unlike hordes, are not that all-weather mobile, either.

Iron suspension? Dear Khan, what is that?
The suspension is the part of the wagon, or rather of its wheel assembly, that bends and flexes when it goes over a bump. Wood is not as elastic as iron, and therefore not as suited to this task; it transmits more of the energy into the superstructure of the wagon. That superstructure will then bend and break, unless you build it more heavily, which of course takes more out of your motive power; what's more, the turbulence of the motion tends to interfere with moving forward. In off-road vehicles, a better suspension means more speed for the same motive power, because there's less chaotic movement in the vehicle itself.
 
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FrozenWall

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I'm going to miss Frosty's delightful illustrations and scheming
It would be much better to make my triumphant return to a Europe that contained the same rogues' gallery that forced me to flee
Well it is my general intent to return to the game more permanently after summer, which is why I still hang around to sub every so often.

This new position you finds yourself in is quite intriguing, (so many people to backstabb!), but I wonder if your wealth/mp is sufficient to compete with your neighbours? And DEATH TO PERSIA aside, shouldn't foels be a geographicall ally of yours now?
 
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Gollevainen

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could you frosty BTW consider subbing Persia for the time foels appears to be away?
 

Sid Meier

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King of Men

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Well it is my general intent to return to the game more permanently after summer, which is why I still hang around to sub every so often.

This new position you find yourself in is quite intriguing, (so many people to backstabb!), but I wonder if your wealth/mp is sufficient to compete with your neighbours? And DEATH TO PERSIA aside, shouldn't foels be a geographical ally of yours now?
Well, I'll admit that in purely geostrategic terms, my natural course is probably to ally with Persia and attack Russia, rather than vice-versa; or ally with Persia and attack Punjab; or ally with one Asian power to attack another - probably to dismantle Qin, with all those rich Chinese provinces. But the logic of my AARs demands death to Persia. In terms of pure strategy this is probably not optimal, but man does not live on strategy alone.

My manpower, I think, is competitive with that of the other Asian powers, at least for the time being - perhaps not so much when the higher-level military buildings start appearing. Wealth, however, is a problem. I have, and can expand into, some of the least basetax-dense areas in the game. I might grow immensely large in absolute terms while still having a dreadfully low wealth/province ratio. This is another reason for my strategy of omnidirectional peaceful diplomacy in Asia.
 

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And I on behalf of Asia thank you :cool:
 

FrozenWall

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But the logic of my AARs demands death to Persia.
Well since I will be subbing it for some time, and still have a horn in the side of the Komnenoi since CK, I'm sure we could arrange something with Russian/Punjabi MA. :D
 

King of Men

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No need, the Khanate does in fact have a border with Persia, just north of the Caspian. True, it is a single province, but nevertheless it is a gate through which the vengeful nomad hordes can ride without asking anyone's permission.
 

Irsh Faq

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Point of fact: the steppe peoples did develop heavy cavalry, and prior to its military decline, the Mongol Empire's tumen actually contained probably the largest proportion of heavy cavalry of any army in the world at that time, at 4,000 heavy cavalry of 10,000 total soldiers.

Mongol heavy cavalry tactics were actually surprisingly similar in many respects to Maurician Byzantine cataphract tactics. Both relied on a combined arms cooperation between mounted archery and heavy (melee) cavalry, using archery to disrupt formations and then the heavy cavalry to actually kill people.
 
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