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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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King of Men

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This is the AAR thread for the EU4 portion of our multiplayer megacampaign, "Recessional".

It is also the index post for Venice AARs.

 
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King of Men

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God of our Fathers, the first part of Recessional, is at an end; 240 years of crusade, dynastic dynamics, and backstabbing are at an end. Poland, France, and Hungary have been ground to dust. Persia has suffered the far worse fate of being corrupted from within, and is now a puppet in the hands - say rather, the manipulative organs - of the thing that rules Egypt, the heart of darkness. Now we enter the age of exploration and colonies, pike and musket, sail and broadside; we are done with wars to please our gods, and will now openly struggle only for Dominion over Palm and Pine.

Venice enters this new era in an un-enviable (perhaps even un-viable) strategic position. I was constantly at war for the last fifteen years of CK, and consequently convert with no money and practically no army. Moreover, I'm surrounded by much bigger empires: To my east is Byzantium, south is the African Republic (which just kicked me out of Libya), north is my ally Germany, and west is, of course, the Wicked Warden of the West, the English Empire - occupier of the Mediterranean islands, largest naval power, enforcer of embargos, and all-around bully. My chances of winning a war with any of these powers are, to put it mildly, not good. My one major strategic asset is control of the Venice end-node and most of its provinces. It is fortunate, then, that I am playing a dynasty long noted for its lust for gold, rather than land or soldiers or glory. Wealth that cannot be quickly packed into a getaway bag and stashed on the back of a fast horse is not true wealth; land and cattle and even ships are merely a means to the end of acquiring gold, lovely bright gold coins that glitter and gleam and chime sweetly when flung up in the air to rain down over your head... ahem. As I was saying, although my main strength is economic, it is clear that to become a significant power in Victoria, I'll need to parley that gold into soldiers, while sitting in the middle of major empires with a lot of soldiers out looking for gold. Not a happy situation. Some diplomacy may be called for.

So what are my diplomatic options? As mentioned, Germany has been my ally for some time; and as he has no navy to speak of, but can muster a large army, our strengths complement while our ambitions do not clash; the Alps are a Schelling point for a border. Germany is, however, embroiled in a lengthy conflict with Denmark over the Baltic coastline, which to be fair was Danish before it was German. Denmark has for a considerable time been an English vassal/ally; if England comes in, I doubt Germany can hold the line. (Indeed England tried that quite a few times in CK, but was only able to get CBs involving claims by minor countlets, who all unaccountably died a few months after the DOWs were delivered.) Allying with Germany is not, at any rate, a short-term play.

East is Byzantium; that border has been peaceful for three centuries, but this does not translate into adventurism in the Western Med. Byzantium is skirmishing with Russia over the Balkans and with Persia over eastern Anatolia; the last thing they need is another front. Which does suggest that a teamup with Persia might be a viable strategy, traditional enemy and puppets of the Jackal though they are. But I can't say I'm too excited about acquiring a lot of wrong-culture, wrong-religion, not-too-developed, inland Balkan provinces. A similar objection applies to expanding into Russian Hungary (perhaps with Byzantine aid since they're already in that fight), though I did try this in CK. (And it would have worked, too, if not for the damn lag that made me five days late to that decisive battle.) Additionally, Russia has a long tradition of squealing for English help whenever the going gets rough, and getting it too.

The African Republic has been an enemy of Venice since it was the Castilian Kingdom; but as they have finally acquired my Libyan colony that they spent two hundred years drooling for, perhaps they have no further territorial ambitions in the Med? At any rate I'm prepared to let poor provinces full of dark-skinned people be bygones; Libya is an expendable out-march for an Italian power. (Which is why I spent exactly zero CK ducats building it up, though I can't speak for my vassals.) With the core reason for our traditional hostility gone, an alliance here might be possible. As with Germany, there's a natural border, the Med; unlike Germany, though, our strengths match instead of complementing - we're both naval-ish powers. A possibility, at any rate.

What of Persia? Admittedly it would be a deal with the devil, but eh, after all I play Crusader Kings. An alliance pact with an alien entity intent on the enslavement of mankind and the return of the old gods that demanded human sacrifice won't break into the top ten questionable things I've done. The question is what commonality of interest we can find; I've already noted the problems with attacking Byzantium, and as for Africa, who is going to get the resulting provinces?

And then there's England. Much of CK's diplomacy revolved around various people's attempts to form a coalition against England; it would be just my luck to throw in my lot with Baron just as somebody finally succeeds. And, of course, he has those Mediterranean islands, and the end-node in Genoa is obviously mine by right. On the other side, England is much the most powerful nation around, which works to its allies' advantage in two ways: One, when he hits your enemies they stay down, two, everyone's keeping a careful eye out to see he doesn't grow any bigger. So a large amount of the spoils of war can go to small-but-useful vassal-allies.

Many options, none obviously excellent, all mutually exclusive, and picking the wrong one means death. Still, the Aiello have survived the back streets of Venice, where men are occasionally murdered for the clothes they're wearing. The truly poor know what it means to make alliances, to pick the best among bad options, to choose the strategic moment to change sides. The stakes have been raised, from ragged shirts to rich provinces; but the game remains the same. How hard can it be?

VenetianIdeas_1.png


Custom ideas of Venice. I am disappointed that EU4 doesn't show flavor text for the traditions and ambition; here they are:​
  • Azure Three Bezants (Trade Steering +10%): The founder of the Aiello family had a legendary nose for a good deal, and the talent has not deserted his descendants.
  • Crossroads of the World (-5% Tech Cost): All the world comes to Venice, and all its best ideas, too.
  • The Rods and the Axe (+7.5% Discipline): Behind every Venetian soldier stands the shadow of a Roman Legionnaire, reminding him that to run is death.
Europe_1444.png


Europe, 1444. Note that apart from vassals, we have several large personal unions, so the map is less fractured than it looks: Milan is in a union with Venice, Saxony with Germany, Novgorod with Lithuania (better known as Russia), Sweden with Denmark, and Burgundy with England.
 

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The dreams came again, they come almost every day now. In the night, I am standing on a cliff, overlooking a black, endless expanse of ocean. Across the ocean he comes to me, me and many others. He names himself The Prince and speaks of his King. the King of the lands of magic and spirits. In the land of Magic, Man was made humble and constructive, and Man prospered universally under the King, for they knew his greatness and sang of his glory.

U3aNkEM.jpg


Days passed in a blur, as I began to anticipate my nightly visits to the cliffside more then my temporal responsibilities. Finally on the eve of Taisho 5th of Bun’an 1, the Prince came to me again, on the cliff facing the ocean. The Prince spoke this time about this black expanse before us. About how the expanse expands and contracts like the phases of the moon. The Prince spoke of how once a year, the ocean is small enough for the King to see into the land I call Home. The King sees the willful acts of Man in the land of Technology and is most displeased.

For the first time in these dreams, I find my voice. “ I am but one Man of many, how can I change the ways of Man outside my reach?” The Prince bade me to turn around. As I did, I saw a mass of my fellow man staring at the Prince and I in rapture. He spoke to me alone, for what I realized was the first time. “You may be One, but I have spoken to Many these past nights, you need but to lead, and the faithful will follow you. For after tonight, you will walk in the path of the King.”

BjTM0hX.jpg


Turning back to the ocean the Prince asks me to lead him to the Emperor, the Willful man pretending to be a God. For tomorrow was the day that the expanse was at its shortest, and the King permits myself to cross into the land of Technology. The Day of Sacrifice.

I woke with cold sweat on my head, but my purpose was clear, I would meet with the Emperor, and he will know the name of the King.




----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Over the course of a three year period between 1441-1444 in Japan, a most curious change happened in the dogma of the normally decentralized Shinto belief system.shrines and monastic orders gradually began preaching of a “King” of spirits, one who had brought peace and prosperity across the whole of the spirit world. They espoused his desire to now use the Japanese as his chosen peoples to spread. it stayed on the undercurrent of polite conversation, with no one willing to admit the visions they were receiving until it came to a head in July 28th 1444, where the shogun, Mai Yamato, murdered the current and final Emperor of Japan Go-Hanazono. Mai Yamato dissolved the shogunate system of Japan and established himself as the Custodian of the King’s domain on Earth. on the same day, the families of several daimyo were massacred on the same day. It took only four months for the coup to successfully restore order in the new “Theocracy of Chzo.” Now the normally insular Island nation has a drive to proselytize and spread the word of their “King” to whoever will listen, by pen or sword.

uaCIaw3.png


Credit to Yahtzee Croshaw for Chzo.
 

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Lithuania and Byzantium look very much alike on that map! Is color modding possible?


Also: YAY! Congratulations for making it into the second stage of your epic megacampaign. :)
 

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Pharaoh hardened his heart
Prelude - The Sailor

Aydhab, 31 december 1444

"There's a storm brewing," old Captain Ahmed said. "We better leave the harbor soon."
"Surely we cannot leave before dawn."
The Captain gave him a look that was half severe, half mocking. He knew. Everyone knew. Venkat blushed.
"I mean, I would like a last chance to take a walk…"
"Better be back before the morning tide, or I leave you here."
"Yes, Captain."
"And Venkat?"
"Yes?"
"Stay out of trouble. There really is a storm brewing."

Captain Ahmed bin Ahmed had spent most of his life on ships, moving goods back and forth for his father and then his older brother and now his nephew. The capricious sea was his home if he had one, but he was still a son of Aydhab; he had a good feel for the city's changing moods.

And now the mood was not good. No one talked in the streets; everyone was shouting or whispering, and glancing suspiciously at everyone else all the while. Venkat's features did not help one bit. He had counted on darkness to hide him a little, but there were torches everywhere, many more than usual. With a shudder he thought of the Chinese powder in the dockside warehouses.

As long as he was in the harbor itself things were mostly fine. Sailors and longshoreman were a strange and rough lot, and they stuck together against outsiders, internecine grudges notwithstanding. No one would care to be first one punching a sailor in the harbor. But when he got to the slums he could tell the danger was greater and different from the usual backstreet thugs.

Groups were assembling at crossroads, each one just short of a mob. Chinese powder. For a short while he thought of going back of the ship, but before a month of sea, and maybe a year before coming back to Egypt, he needed it, one last time. In a square planted with acacias, a dozen angry Druze disputed, like everyone else, over the death of their leader. Sheikh Sikander had been found in his bed this morning, eyes glassy and wide open, with no clear wound or mark to explain anything.

" Assassinated!" a burly, long-bearded firebrand shouted at the others. "A brother saw a man climb down the palace wall just afterwards! And I say it's a kafir!"

"Kafirs? or a Sunni fucker!" someone else shouted back.



Venkat slunk away prudently. Soon he was in the familiar narrow street, peering into squalid tenements. The turmoil had driven away most of the trade, but he could still make out some silhouettes standing further down the street. He felt his blood racing.

“Are you looking for me?” A strange voice asked behind him.
When he turned and saw her standing in a low doorframe, he knew she was. Everything about her was perfect. Sand-white skin, brown hair, clear eyes. Big breasts. She was like the ideal Egyptian woman, the one had had dreamt off even before he was a sailor.
He could not talk. He just nodded.

“You’re a sailor?” She smiled. “Come.”
He did not even ask for the price. With a little shame he thought he could run if it came to the worst. She lit up a candle. The room, as usual, was barren except for a straw mat, a few cushions, a low table.
She came close and put her hands on him. Then it happened.
Afterwards she talked to him in a soothing voice, passing her fingers through his long hair. There was something unsteady in her voice, like when his own had shifted, a few years ago, and for a while it had been hard to keep his register consistent. She asked about what places he’d seen, what boat he was on, about his family back there. When he told her he had none left she smiled kindly.

“You want to do something Indian women won’t do?” she asked.
He could feel himself blush like a pale-faced Arab.
“Yes.”
“Put your fingers here.”
She was holding some kind of golden jewel, with a loop in it. Way too big to belong to her, or to be real gold.
“It will feel good,” she promised. “Trust me.”
And he did.

hiero_G1.png
hiero_G1.png
hiero_G1.png


WIth EU4 rolling around it's time to uniformise my faith. Because of a bug in the converter I am no longer Druze but I will keep pretending.
 
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dragoon9105

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Chapter 1: The Merchant's Cross​
QRoCcdd.jpg


The sun was setting over Tangiers. Not a Hundred years ago this town was a mere Trading post, a stop where Atlantic based ships could resupply before moving onwards to Italy, Venice or Greece. Gareth had grown up, here, safe from the Knives that had taken so many of his family. His Father, was Arthur D'mertange, Grandmaster of the Templar Order, Grand Consul of the Templar Republic and various other titles that truly didn't mean much. Under his father had Tangiers grown from a mere trading port into a city.

Was Tangiers worthy of being the Capital to the republic? No, but the Templar had their plans, they wished to build Anew instead of atop the old. The Virgin lands of North Africa provided them this, an opportunity to build a new Nation, free from Europeon Influence alongside the Merchant Families of Old Andorra.

"Come, Gareth, Your Father has taken ill, we need to prepare for the worst" Said a man in a deep Red Robe. Gareth knew this man, It was Ignacio Galvas, The Master of Laws, sorry Chancellor of the Templar Republic. The old Feudal titles had been last to go.

Ignacio, was a lanky and pale man, more the administrator than the talker. The only merchant among a Council of Templar Ignacio had grown insecure in the past year since his appointment. Growing out his beard and taking to wearing a Bulky Red robe with white lining to make him appear wiser, older and larger than he really was. Still he was a good man, and served his father faithfully, if he was concerned for his help then it was worth listening to him.

Through the darkening hallway the smell of gathering Incense had begun to fill the air. Gareth hated the smell, it reminded him of Greece, where he was fostered. Where the Men worshipped dragons, wore loose unkempt beards and ruled based on right rather than merit. Still the Greeks were stalwart allies against the Dark, and such customs such as their cursed incense were said to ward the evil from any room it was burned.

In the Room there were two men waiting, Uncle Juan, and Commander Pedro de Alarcon. Uncle Juan was not blood, but close to it, he had married his Aunt Christine and together they had five children, though Gareth suspected Juan had many more. Juan was Teuton, sorry a Bobbi, for much of his early life, and spent his years on the High sea's winning over women who had long since abandoned waiting for their husbands to return from the Treacherous atlantic. He came to Tangiers to serve as Arthur's spymaster and has stayed since, though his eyes still longed for the days of adventure in Italy, Greece and Syria.

"Good, My Nephew has arrived, That makes the entire Council then" Juan opened with.

"About Time, I'm afraid Arthur only grows worse as we sit here my Lords" said Pedro, in his deeper more refined tone.

Pedro was a Templar, and the only true Templar besides Gareth to sit the Small Templar Council. He had won his position through his excellent command over a very long Career. How old Pedro was, was a mystery but his hair had long turned white before Gareth was old enough to talk. Though his age was soon catching up to him, His presence on the Council was a godsend, for his experience on and off the battlefield had kept the army well supplies, well trained and in good spirits.

HGlLhCq.png
The Red Chancellor spoke next "Should Arthur Perish there will be an election, The Merchant Families will likely provide us with candidates to approve"

"I'm well aware of how it works Galvas, Though any Candidate they provide will not be as talented as my brother"

iESWIdW.png

It was true, Arthur had fufilled his namesake and Ruled the Republic with a talented and Guided hand. Something previous elects had failed to do, either through finding the Knife too early, or simply being too incompetent to keep the Various Feudal and Republican lords in harmony. When the Nobility of Portugal and Leon Revolted upon his election, Arthur crushed them under a guided and holy fist. The Duke of Jenne and the King of Songhai were put into line not longer after and the Final vestiges of the Old Andorran Empire had finally been swept away. Arthur had seen first hand what corruption the Hereditary Monarchy brought, and found no reason why his house and his alone would be the only Templar to face the brunt of the forces of Darkness when more able men could come forward and lead where his descendents could not. Now more than ever, would be such a time.

"We have three matters of Concern" the Chancellor responded. "One is England, Which in it's desperate rush to defend itself from Rumors of gathering Forces in Cathay has recklessly attacked further south, Into the Duke of Songhai's sovereign territory"

"The English are stalwart allies against the Darkness, Perhaps you should not have Japed that we would Join with the Cathay should Songhai demand war" Pedro added, looking quite displeased with the current state of Affairs.

Juan opened his mouth then quickly shut it, reconsidering what he was about to say.

"Yes well I have been assured the English did not take it seriously, still this is a violation of our Integrity of the lords of Africa"

Gareth finally spoke, Pedro and Ignacio often argued about such things as the English, and Juan often had been accused of Bias whenever he tried to interject becuase of his History. If anyone where to end this line of discussion in the council, it would need to be himself, time was wasting. "We make our intent clear we will aid the English against the Cathay, We don't need a war"

"Young Master, you overste-" Ignacio tried to counter, though he was cut off by Juan

"Good lad, We Make peace with the English, Some damnable beach is not worth bringing the Templar and Teutonic to war, Africa must be Tamed, by whom is not our concern"

Pedro nodded in Agreement "Should the English hold the port of Cayor Hostage we will do the same with their precious coastline in Italy they desire so dearly, or Territory in the Lands across the sea.

"I think that would be wise, Ser Pedro, If there is one thing the English understand its trade" Gareth added "Now Can we move on to the other issue, my father grows worse as we speak

"The Next is Europe, The Syrian and Russian Kingdoms are being fallen upon by Vultures" Ignacio continued.

"Germany is a Stalwart ally, I would hardly call them a Vulture, even if they insist on keeping that oversized Chicken on their flag" Juan quipped.

Pedro interjected "We have a duty to the Catholic Faithful to keep the peace, and Protect the Holy Land"

"With what, Your great Charisma Ser Pedro" Juan quipped again. "I suggest we sit this out, Let the Germans, English and Greeks Handle this Crisis"

Gareth didn't wish to trust the Greeks with anything, and yet they were the Primary force leading both wars. They had made too large a demand from their vassals and faced revolt, Revolts the Russians had seen fit to support. They had Angered their Clergy, which had nearly broken their country, and they Had attached the Syrians, Loyal catholics that had safeguarded the Holy land since their conversion a century ago. "The Greeks should be Punished should they not? The Holy Land is now threatened by their actions"

Ignacio: "I am afraid I must side with Juan here, I think despite the Issue, we should sit this war out, we have other concerns"

Juan: "Yes exactly, We must prevent the Darkness from seeping into Africa through the Uncultured states" "Its what Arthur would prefer"

Gareth could not argue the last point, It really would be what his father would have done. European Politics had led to the deaths of many of his House. "Very well, we should instead focus on the Integration on the Duchy of Jenne and the Exploration and Conquest of Africa"

"Then That's Three to one" Pedro announced, disappointed "We will leave the Holy land to die"

"Cheer up Pedro, We'll build you a Church in the Sahara for when you want to die of Thirst"

"Ehhmm The Third Issue" Chancellor Ignacio announced

"Yes, we all know"

Gareth knew it was not to be spoken of openly. Though he could feel the lights dim as Ignacio brought it to the forefront. Power had synonyms, for the Templar it was faith, others would call it Magic. Though Templar Magic demanded a constant Price, and with his father about to die, That Price would need to be paid.

The Council nodded silently, first Pedro, then Juan and finally Ignacio until Gareth was left, in the dark room with a decision to make. "We will do it".

And then all the candles died.


u86jDTi.png


The Election would go forth as Normal, Ramon de Villena from Spain would win, on the platform of Exploring the South Atlantic for richest such as Gold, Ivory, making peace with the English and Bringing the Light of Catholicism into the Heart of Africa.


UYIUTwY.png

Ramon was old, 53 at his time of Election, Many would expect him to run for one more term and then step down, likely due to age concerns. Worse in many respects to most Monarchs of the day, but of course the Templar Republic was not so concerned with minor differences in skill so long as the Country remained stable and prosperous.

Oe7wSoy.png

The Duchy of Jenne would later be incorporated into the Templar administration, relieving a long drain on the Templar diplomatic corp that could now be spent on Integrating the duke of Songhai, which many expected would take at least another fifty years. Though the Songhai were open to the idea and so the plan would go forward as soon as the preparations were finished.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And So we have finished the first Session of Eu4. As the AAR states I lost Arthur who was only 22 at the start of the Campaign and 32 at the time of his Death. He would have been a fantastic Ruler but Alas such thinga happen, Republics are bound to the rules of Paradox's Random Number God just as well as monarchies, though some would deny that, thinking only of falling behind themselves.

IfpZK7J.png

Current Borders of the Templar Republic. I'm yellow again which cannot stand. As you can see I control all of West Africa's northern Coastline and a large chunk of the Interior. Still becuase of several Nerfs I am unable to touch the African States until I get Conquistadors, putting me well and truly behind Clone in Asia, which is exceedingly frustrating. Further Frustrating is england snagging the Important COT in Cayor which is going to steal large amounts of my trade for the foreseeable future, Though we've kissed and Made up. Least till I have land he wants and he starts threatening me for it.;)

bjaq0PN.png

The World of 1555. As you can see the Asians are expanding like Crazy. Otherwise everyone is doing some minor consolidation.
 

King of Men

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The Merchant's Dream

"I had a dream," the merchant said;
something there was in it, that made us listen.
"Spires and minarets and towers,
built in ivory and alabaster,
gleaming white in the noonday sun.
Tall ships came to that city,
our power and our pride,
brought on shining sails.
There every man was a trader,
in spice or tea or fierce-colored silk,
and none bore sword or pike.
Laughing women carried water.
The jewel-colored birds flew.
For God's sake give me water,
cut one-fourth with wine;
it's thirsty work, dreaming!

Fever dreams, you say?
It may be so; but listen.
Is not Christendie ruled
by the Prince of Peace?
Bring me wine, cut one-half with water;
it's thirsty work, laughing.
They nailed him to a cross,
the Romans; and he brought not
peace, but a sword.

The ships came home.
Kings dressed in silk;
dukes ate their meats spiced.
And what then?
Men who wear silk
may still move counters on maps.
Yet there is much room
in a ship's hold.
Silk enough for all;
men who wear silk
do not follow the drum.
May not Dives bring peace
though the man who told his story
is invoked to bless armies?
They don't like to fight,
men who can drink tea daily.

Yes, a dream. But think:
Is there not gold in the East?
Gold will bring no peace,
but it rings sweetly
and glitters in sunlight;
a man can throw gold coins in the air
and let them rain down on his head,
and take no harm from it.
For gold you can buy wine
- cut it one-fourth with water;
it's thirsty work, talking.
If peace gives you no pleasure,
what of gold? There's gold in
the Eastern cities, sure;
and jewels, not only on birds' wings.
Send the tall ships east,
the power and the pride,
and bring them home laden with gold.
You can bathe in gold,
and save water for drinking."

We left him there,
shaking with his fever;
but we bought him wine.
It's thirsty work, dying.
Fever dreams? Surely.
But something there was in it
that made us listen, and stop,
and look around. And when we did,
our heads turned east.
We had drunk the night away,
and the sun was rising.

AzureThreeBezants.png

My strategy is decided: I ally with England and turn east, heading across the Suez for Asia. By diplomatic means (rumours of mind-control rays are so two AARs ago) I have acquired a strip of land connecting the Med to the Red Sea, and can thus project power into the Indian Ocean, and in principle onto the subcontinent; also south into uncolonised Africa. The spice must flow!

The first session did not entirely meet my expectations. I vassalised the Pope, but this was roughly speaking my only success; I lost the union with Milan to the untimely death of my converted Doge, and after I wasted a hundred dip points on the annex, too. I reconquered most of it, but unfortunately I had to fight that war at exactly the time that Byzantium's vassals rebelled, thinking they were going to get support from me and Russia. Well, they did get support from Russia, but, gentlemen, can I have a moment here? Just because I support your independence doesn't mean I'm going to put up with any insolence from half of Northern Italy. So instead of a nice two-front pincer crushing what was left of Byzantium's armies after his peasant rebellions, he rallied every last fighting German in the world, destroyed Russia's zombie hordes (I am reliably assured that those armies were drastically mismanaged), and is currently metaphorically looking westward (to where I'm standing with my dagger not precisely in his kidney, but not precisely out of that general area either) with one eyebrow raised, saying without words "Yes Venice? Was there something you wanted?" Well, right now I would like some white peace, and also perhaps a bit of empathy for small powers led into bad decisions by the wicked examples of Big Empires. It wasn't my fault, all the cool Russias were doing it... I suppose a sympathy province is out of the question?

I did reach admin and mil tech 4; I'm holding off on diplomatic tech because in my present situation marketplaces are useless, so I may as well maximise the neighbor discount. Additionally, exploration is a strong contender for my first idea group, in which case I'll have need for my diplomacy points elsewhere.

Mediterranean_1455.png


Mediterranean, 1455. New Venetian provinces picked out in red. Note the disappearance of the Mamluks, what used to be Syria; Persia now has access to the Middle Sea.
 

Kuipy

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Pharaoh hardened his heart
I - On the shore of a crowded sea

Marca, capital of the Ajuuran Sultanate, 1454

“It’s getting crowded,” Mohamed bent and whispered in Majid’s ear when the Indian man entered. Majid nodded.

Mohamed had not meant the room, but the council room was getting crowded, with everyone who had any business being here plus foreign interlopers and the usual crowd of gawkers. Sultan Umar suffered all sorts of ruckus and nonsense in his court, which was why the country was going the way it went. With someone like Majid in charge… He caught himself thinking that and looked around some more, as if to see if someone had somehow heard it.

With his big green turban, bushy beard and golden armbands, Captain Venkat cut a striking figure. In a decade or so, and a dozen successful journey, the penniless Indian sailor with a knack for charting a course had become rich and well-considered. Many, even the Sultan, looked up to him beyond reason. His ship and those of his affiliates brought jade, sea cucumber, gold nuggets and other exotic goods. In Zanzibar the previous year, a merchant lord had given half his fortune for two pets from east, two skittish, leaping animals that would eat in their master’s hand nevertheless.
Nonsense. Majid did not exactly feel hatred for Indians, as he did for the two D.R.A.G.O. agents strutting about and talking smack in front of elders twice their age; or fear, as for the Egyptian man in chains before the Sultan; or contempt as for the dark-skinned men from inland. But overall it was better if they kept to themselves, as they used to do in the day of his youth, if they just did their business and then went away. They had no business meddling in the political matters of Ajuuraan, even those that did concern them, but even more so when it had nothing to do with trade or with their treatment. Surely the Sultan could see it would be disrespectful of a visiting foreigner to contradict the elders, and pointless to just agree with what they said?

The two Italian “merchants” were arguing again out of turn and ranting about the Witch-King of Egypt.
“Did a German lord not try to expose him, on your advice, and only made himself look silly in the attempt?”

Majid smiled wickedly. The magnates of Ajuuraan might not be able to control everything that came to Africa in the hulls of Italian ships, but neither could the Italian themselves. Gossip and secrets found a way or made one.
“One more ruse of him! The greatest trick he plays is making people believe he doesn’t exist! I insist, your Highness, you must ban all Egyptian from your realm! Beginning by this one. This one spy!”
“Thank you for your advice.” Sultan Umar rose to his feet and started stating the facts solemnly, as if pondering them out loud.

“I am of course concerned by the rumors surrounding the emperors of all the Egypts. There are also more immediate issues. Both Egypt and Persia have now fallen to the Druze Creed. Shia and Sunni are no longer the dominant doctrines in the House of Islam.
Worse, the Anubid emperor has shown he meant to spread his Creed by any mean, ever since the death of his minister Sikander died. I hear his lapdog Shah Rukh has been rooting out Christian priests and faithful imams throughout the kingdom, making as many as eight thousand martyrs in a day. I hear the Emperor threatened the city of Zeila into submission. I hear he might have such designs on our lands as well, starting with Qardho.
With this in mind, I have already sent ambassadors to Mombasa, Malindi, Kilwa and Zanzibar to forge an alliance against any transgression of Egypt, or any other foreign power.
And then there is the matter of this particular Egyptian, an Anubid of the emperor’s blood. Sheikh Abdirahman of Qardho tells me he was spying, mapping the fortifications under cover of a “pleasure trip”. These are serious charges, but there is little proof.”

He should ask the elders for their opinion, now, Majid thought, preparing his own words, polishing them with inherited wisdom.

“What do you think, Captain Venkat? Should I free this man? Or expel him? Or imprison him?”

Majid saw the D.R.A.G.O. men smile. Was their hand in this? Venetians resented their competitor’s success, and would carefully imply he was in league with Egypt. Maybe this was a test, to see if he would advise an indulgent verdict for another spy? A smart way to ask him: Which side will you be on?
“Kill him,” Venkat said. Everyone started whispering. “Kill him and send his head to the Emperor as a warning. That kind of snake makes it harder for us honest merchants to be trusted.”
“What if he is innocent?”
“Then his death still serves as a warning, a better one, even. It shows the Emperor you will not leave anyone the benefit of the doubt. I know the Egyptians. They are a blustering people, but not a warlike one. Show them strength, and they will look for an easier prey.”
Majidi frowned dubiously, but he could see Sultan Umar was convinced. So the Sultan of Ajuuraan cut an Anubid’s head without evidence, and sent it to the man who wanted a pretext to attack his lands.

hiero_G1.png
hiero_G1.png
hiero_G1.png


The lynchpin of my politics this session is that guy:

aar-eu4-01-02_zps82nvag8t.jpg


As I mentioned in my last post I am the most religiously divided state at start which is a bigger hindrance in EU than in CK. So I had to take on this problem before anything else. Being all Shia would be a big boost, and, incidentally, make me less appetizing to everyone except my good pal Yumi.
Fortunately, I lucked out for once and got a inquizitor in my starting advisor pool. Unfortunately, he’s skill 2. This is bad because it makes me more expensive then what I can really afford, and offers no further benefit than a measly additional power point (the advisor-specific bonus does not scale).

But at this point in the game +2% conversion rate is enormous. It literally halves my conversion time for some provinces. So I hired him regardless and started cutting corners everywhere else.
Otherwise warred for a little of Syria, fought rebels, threatened AI for one of my claims, which sounded like a great time-saver at the time but in fact forced me into a truce during which the rest of my claims on that AI lapsed. Heh. Live and learn.
And start forging claims on East Africa.


Also it turns out on close inspection that Ajuuraan is actually a theocracy and does not, in fact, control Qardho. Bah. For AAR purpose I only consider the details of AI nations vaguely canon.
 

Gollevainen

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Adventures of the Sultanball, Part 1
 

King of Men

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no further benefit than a measly additional power point

You're complaining about an extra 240 adminpower? (Assuming he lives 20 years).
 

dragoon9105

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Chapter 2: Welcome to the Jungle​
19271.jpg


More than 13 years had passed for Gareth. No longer the Young and Ambitious Knight he had been one he first sat the council, Though some would think no wiser than he had been before the wars, Before Africa. Consul Ramon de Villena in his term brought a period of Unrest to the Republic, more unrest than the council has originally predicted. Originally the Port city of Arguin was planned to be the jumping point for a new exploration of this New World Ramon spoke of. However the speeches and great promises he spoke of may have won elections but did not win settlers and the Port had taken well over a decade to properly construct. Meanwhile Ramon, who had become infuriated at the lack of progress in the Atlantic struck out at the Native Peoples in West Africa, many of them peaceful. The Templar would be forced to comply to the Consul's demand to subjugate the African Tribesman and did so, though at heavy cost. Nearly Thirty Thousand fro the armed forces alone had died, Though many of Gareths friends within the order did as well, including his uncle Juan. When the time came for Ramon's third election, Ramon choose to run, despite protest from within the council due to his age. Gareth had seen to make sure he would not be around long enough to sway the election either way.

The Merchants, in this time had divided into various parties. The Expansionists, favored continued outwards expansion, mostly into africa but were not opposed to European, Mediterranean and East African gains. Ramon had become the de facto figure head of this Part, and upon his untimely natural death the party instead chose to Joseph de Barcelona as their candidate. Though Joseph was more experienced the other two factions within the Republic had felt it best for a change.

The Templarists, who aligned themselves with the Military and the Templar Order had nominated Councillor Pedro de Alarcon, a Veteran of the African conquests. Pedro ran but found himself unable to gather enough local support under his platform to Intervene in the European wars. Isolationism and Peace was the rule of the day among the various voting classes and so the Election fell to the Atlantics and their Head Tomas de Lana. The Atlantics had formed around the Explorer turned Politician Tomas de Lana and his personl Political ideas.

Atlantic Doctrine was built on three doctrines, Isolationism, Colonialism and Religion. A Winning combination it seemed. With trade with West Africa and English Colonies in America opened the the Rush for a base in the New World had formally begun. Tomas who had been to the New World himself promised continued investment and free trade in regions outside of the Republics borders, while also promising to protect local interests within Iberia and the Western Mediterranean at large. And with a victory in the 1462 Election the formal political parties of the Templar Republic had begun to form.

F56N6CJ.png

It was now a week after the Tomas' re-election. While Tomas was Grand Consul the Council had had many older faces on it and now the first formal secession of Tomas' second administration was about to begin. Gareth entered great hall. It was dark, and filled with Smoke. Tobacco Gareth thought. It smelled terrible and had now started to make his eyes irritated as he walked to his chair.

"The Grandmaster graces us with his presence" Said a brown haired brown skinned, goateed man across from him. Anakba'ali Machel, The Grand Consul's Foreign Advisor.

Machel as he was more commonly called was a master Diplomat, He was also Berber, A people that had recently been recognized by Tomas' administration due their large population. Though the Berbers where Christian for some time, many had still had an Arabic tendency, Machel for example did not drink, a trait shared by many of his kinsmen. He did however love to smoke and was now blowing rings of the Devil's weed into his gareths face.

"I Have, Where is the Grand Consul" Gareth spoke.

"We have been waiting for some time, I suspect he is with Cristobal speaking of recent events" The last man in the room spoke. It was Pedro de Alarcon. Pedro had like Gareth Maintained his spot on the council and despite running against Tomas, twice he was allowed to keep his position of Marshall. So Valuable he was to the de Lara administration.

"What recent events" Gareth asked.

"Word from Rome" a Fourth man said. This time the Voice had come from the doorway, and tall, robed man with hair cut down and cleaned had appeared there.

"Cristobal, There you are" Machel said after finishing a puff on his pipe.

Cristobal Cienfuegos was the Fourth Councilor, and head of the Templar Inquisition. A Humorless and quiet man, Cristobal spent more time studying Scripture and speaking with clergy than amoung his fellow templar. Still his skills as the Leader of the Inquisition were immensely valuable in the conversion of the African Pagans near Benin.

z4e398I.png

"Alexander the Sixth has died, And the College has seen it fit to elect Alejandro Rodriguez to the Throne of St Peter. The Merchants of Venice have since denounced this new pope and demanded a recount but the College was unified on this matter, The Holy Mother Church will be headed by a Templar" Cristobal finished

This was of course, Great news Gareth thought, Though it certaintly would cause problems with the Venetians and Germans who both had invested a great deal of time and gold on their own candidates.

"I trust there are no Antipopes?" Gareth spoke, already expecting an answer

"No, there are not" answered Cristobal.

"The Germans mean to bring war upon the Orthodox in Russia, they will need the Holy Father's blessing" said Pedro.

Machel sat up and set his pipe on the table "Great, And here I was hoping to stay in Tangiers at least for a few weeks. It looks like I will be heading to rome"

"I will go as well, I have something to bring forward to the Holy Father" Gareth Proposed.

In Truth Gareth really did but not to aid Machel, In Benin, where the local missionaries had begun to incorperate native traditions into religious practices. Templar Knights, who were assigned to in the south had begun to spread tales of strange magics, and even have been reported to have adopted some of these customs themselves. When Gareth had invested these claims himself he had discovered more truth than he had hoped, both in the Rumors, and in this new intermixing of Christian and Animist Faiths.


d9HS9Gk.png

Gareth could remember the tribal huts, strange smells, and the chanting that seemed to freeze his bones as he bore witness to such magic outside Ijebu. The Local ritual was innocent enough, a sacrifice of a goat to a horned God, that local missionaries had identified could be the demon Bahamut from the scriptures.

Disbelief and cynicism quickly gave way to fear, as shortly after the Goat fell to a tribal blade and light itself seemed to flee from the room, being replaced only with the Dark, and the Cold. Then came the chanting the cursed chanting as the goat came to life and spoke. To his horror Gareth witnesses the Goat speak to the Missionary who had called him to the village in the first place, and then watched the Missionary take his own life, then two of his guards. Finally when the goat turned to him Gareth ordered his men to slay the goat, and the Chanters, and then burn the village.

This was no an Isolated case however, Similar reports had arisen throughout the area and ever since that night whenever Gareth closed his eyes he saw him, The Pentagram, Goat and heard the cursed demon tongue, speaking in bastardized latin, and promising him great power for loyalty.

"Why would you do that?" asked Critstobal "We need you in Benin"

"I Wished to inform the Holy Father of the current progress of our conversion efforts"

"And what would you tell him" Cristobal asked.

Cristobal heard the rumors as well, of course it was natural he would be apprehensive, If the Holy father or Europe found out about Ijebu there would be questions, questions best not asked around the Republic or the Templar Order. Or so Gareth thought anyway.

"I would tell him of Ijebu, and our need for more Inquisitors, and perhaps The Knights Hospitaller and Knights Teutonic"

Cristobal didn't speak but, Machel did "I would prefer it if you did not accompany me Gareth"

That had taken Gareth off balance, There was a real threat gathering in the Niger delta, and ignoring it would not make it go away.

"No, I think I will go, This is important"

"Gareth, I'm afraid we cannot allow you to go" Cristobal spoke once more "You must accept the true lord into your life if you are to speak to the holy Father"

True Lord?, What could they be talking about?

"I am Grandmaster of the Knight's Templar, were questioning my Piety now?"

"Nobody questions your Commitment to the Order, Gareth, We question your Commitment to God" Machel answered

Pedro stood up "Your Piety will not save you when the True Lord comes, Gareth"

It was then the Anger escaped from Gareth, and an Epiphany struck. "Your speaking of.."

"Do not speak his name" Pedro interrupted

The Council had been corrupted by these Teachings? Gareth had known these men all his life, they were devout catholics, all of them. What horrible power must have a grip over them to make them turn against their Kin of the faith.

"The Lord took those who did not embrace im when we fought against the Air, Gareth, You were spared for he wishes you to accept him" Machel spoke

"I will never accept your Dark God, Machel, Whatever has taken hold of you, you must fight it, you were good men once do not let this take you"

Gareth drew his sword, but as he did so he felt a sting in his side. To his left was Pedro de Alarcon, standing, and a line of blood across his aged face. "I am sorry Gareth, We had hoped you would follow your father into the true Faith, we were wrong"

Then the Pain hit him, and then a second sting as he turned, then more pain as he saw Pedro's blade through his chest. Then came the words again, and the Goat and then only the black.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Well the Templar Republic has warred and vassalized several new members of the Templar Family, Namely Air and Kano have joined the fold. The Original Plan was to give all of Air to Songhai, and well that didn't work becuase the half of Air that Songhai didn't want they refused to take but also Songhai refused to give back the parts of air I did transfer to them, So i was forced to either Vassalize Air or give 2 Provinces to Songhai and be forced to declare a second No CB war to close the Central pathway into West Africa.

Air did however give me plenty of claims to conquer down to Bennin where I've met up with Englands colonists yet again who have greedily stolen ALL of the centers of trade in Ivory coast. I have since been promised that if too much of my trade is being stolen I will be able to receive them (Yea Right ;) ) Meanwhile England foils my attempts to get into Brazil without having to eat the Treaty of Tor Malus. But its totally cool, becuase you know hes bigger than me. That's how Diplomacy works after all.

Meanwhile in the World, Germany and Russia have once again gone to war, This time it looks like it'll be make or break for Lithuania, which will determine the course of European Politics for the rest of the game. Also there might be a Crusade Brewing against Persia yet again but we'll find out. Next time on, Palm and Pine!
 

King of Men

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This was of course, Great news Gareth thought, Though it certaintly would cause problems with the Venetians and Germans who both had invested a great deal of time and gold on their own candidates.

You won't get away with this! I bribed those cardinals first, and I'm the only player in this game with a three-hundred year tradition of buying elections. You johnny-come-latelies with your hundred-year-old republics will learn what it is to interfere in an election fairly bought by an Aiello!
 

King of Men

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Superior Culture

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A reasonably good session for me, in which I conquered some bits and bobs of the Middle East from the dying remnants of Syria, and started to explore the Indian Ocean. Alas, all the islands are either out of range or already colonised by Egyptians. Egypt has also 'dibsed' - this is formal diplomatic speech on the Upper Nile - uncolonised Africa, and has taken Expansion to make good his claims. All the western European powers (Afrika, England, Denmark, Venice) have taken Exploration; Russia is doing Defensive and needs it badly. Germany is on Influence, which seems odd to me, but perhaps he intends to abandon it when he has absorbed his vassals? Byzantium has Naval, presumably in preparation for disputing control of the Med with Afrika.

A navy allows you to hopscotch hostile landmasses; unfortunately, it turns out that the Kilwa Sultanate had one too. With heavy ships! My Med fleets could have dealt with them easily enough; this is why we need a Suez canal. My light exploration fleet with a few transports was driven off, and my cunning plan of landing on Zanzibar and blocking the strait while I built up my forces did not come off. However, while Venice is not counted a Great Power in Europe, it still commands resources these coastal sultanates can only dream of. I'm about to teach the AI what it is to fight a civilised nation.

Meanwhile, the Powers of the world clash; Germany has driven deep into Russia - which for some reason has allowed its military tech to remain at 4, while I am at 6 and so are these damn African savages - and Persia has broken into India, prompting the construction of a coalition against it. Byzantium objects to the Afrikan pirates throttling its trade, Mongolia uses the phrase "unfriendly acts" in reference to Germany's invasion of Russia, and everyone looks askance at the rapidity of the English expansion into Brazil and down the west coast of Africa. It looks like we'll have an eventful third session.

Europe_1470.png


Europe, 1470. Note the German occupation of Hungary.​
 

dragoon9105

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Foolish Venice. The Pope is Mine, Mine I say Mwuahahahahahahahahaa Cough cough.
 

Kuipy

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Pharaoh hardened his heart
II – Unsettling circumstances

High in the Bale mountains, in the lawless zone between Egypt and the Sultanate of Mogadishu, 1465

The second winter was even worse. By now all the food we had brought south was gone, and while barley had grown well, millet just would not grow this high. We had found out too late. The hunting was not good, either, especially when dared not venture out of sight from the farm. Father and mother ate at little as they could and kept the best for us, and still we suffered. Eventually it got so back Father had to slaughter our three goats, then our hens, and finally poor old Blackfoot. “Maybe he’s the lucky one,” he said after slitting the donkey’s throat. Little Aicha wept, but we were so hungry we all ate.

As soon as it got warmer Father planted what he could, and not soon after the carrots sprouted again and we could harvest tiny, stunted taproots that tasted better than anything we’d ever tasted. Leila could trap hyraxes on the slopes above the farm, never straying out of sight for fear of the black men.
A party of them came to the farm once, tall, shaggy and almost naked. They approached calmly, peacefully enough, but still father made us go in the house and we peered at them through the slit as they talked by the dry stone wall. They wanted to bargain but by then we had absolutely nothing to trade, so they left. They never came back.
The closest farm was a long day’s walk downstream. Father would go there every few weeks, and every time he looked at us too long while saying good bye. “Take care of them,” he would tell mother. When he came back he would say, “They don’t seem to be doing much better than us.”

Then one morning we could see a column of soldiers, Egyptian ones, crossing the pass up in the mountain range. The next day they were camping by our farm, two hundred or so, and the officers slept in our empty barn. Father looked at them warily, saying they were not much better for us than the black men, and many more. When the captain invited himself to our table, he tried to hide how bad things had gotten, but he saw through it and made a great show of giving us a sack of rice and another of chickpeas, “even though food was scarce for them too in the army, with the latest restrictions”.
“We’ve had reports of kafir savages assembling down there south”, he said after asking a few polite but pointed questions. “Heard anything about that?”. We hadn’t.
“Well,” he went on, “Maybe it’s nothing.”

That night I heard Mother and Father whisper.
“I wish we had drawn the lot for Mahe, in Captain Venkat's plantations.”
“Me too. Allah did not will it.”
“You know I wonder, sometimes,” Father said, “I’m not saying we should go back, but…”
“We’ve lost too much already. We can’t. If we went back…”
“Yes,” he said. “I know. It would all have been for nothing.”

They had given so much, the last of their coin, mother’s beautiful hair, hours and days of labor and starvation, blood, sweat, and Ali. They could not go back with empty hands to their kin in Massawa. Father could not look his own father in the eye and tell what had happened to his brother, for nothing. So we would stay. Leila, little Aicha and I, we were only kids but then, kids had to learn fast and grow fast. We would stay too.

The next day went as usual, with chores and drudgery and vague, dull fear that we would not have enough to eat the following month, or that the black men would descend on the farm and kill us, or ravish one of us girls to torture and marry. Then that night, after bedtime, there were violent knocks on the door.
Father was up at once with his hatchet in hand; Mother lit a tallow candle. Leila took one knife and gave me the other, while little Aicha huddled under the covers.
When mother opened the door two soldiers walked in, bloody and disheveled. One, with a short red beard and no mustache, had a nasty gash through his scalp and seemed mostly unconscious. His arm was slung over the shoulder of his bald mate, who drag more than he supported him.
“Dead. They’re all dead. We’re all dead.” The bald soldier said.

It turned out the tribes had ambushed the Egyptian army in a gorge, falling on them from all sides at once. Our soldiers were untrained, badly commanded, and not all of them brave. Our two guests, for example, had managed to play dead and then scurried away as the fight went past them. They fled to our doorstep, turning only to see the others massacred by black men.
“But we can’t walk much farther. He can’t, at any rate.”

aar-eu4-02-01_zpsvdicmwxt.jpg


Father was thinking more than he was listening. Mother asked if they would be here this night.
“Maybe. Maybe not. It happened this morning, so by now it’s over. They’ll be raiding the settlements with impunity. But yours, well, it’s a long way up and nothing much to raid, beg your pardon. Then again, if there are other survivors who manage to flee, they’ll have gone this way, so if the tribes pursue them…”
“Or you.”
“I don’t think they saw us. I really don’t.”
“They’ll disperse in small bands now that the battle is won,” Father mumbled.
“That’s for sure, the bald soldier said. I figure they will. Maybe Somewhere between five and twenty kafir braves, roaming the country.”
“So if one of the smallest parties come upon us… We stand a chance.”
The bald soldier looked at mother, at us, as his wounded mate who was getting a bit better or at least more conscious, and then at father again.
“Are you crazy, man?”
“No. there’s three of us men, and my wife is tougher than me. And my girls, the two older…” His voice trail. “I figure the best way is to remain in the dark, pretend like the farm is abandoned. Then they either ignore it or, when they come in, we fall on them by surprise. Do you have a better plan?”
The soldier was staring, but he shook his head.
“No.”

We gathered all we would need, then blew the candle. We had the soldiers’ two swords, our hatchet, two staves, two knives, and father’s bow that would not do much good in the night. Father sent Leila up by the ridge, to see if she spotted anything. If she did she would not cry out, but run down to us and warn us.
“You’re a brave girl,” Mother said as she hugged her. “I know you are.”

And then we waited for the dawn or black men come to kill us. The bearded soldier could now hobble around nervously. He argued with his mate about what had happened, while Father and Mother stayed silent and little Aicha sobbed in my arms. There were stories about what they would do to the women and children they captured; I do not even remember where we’d heard them, certainly not from our parents, maybe from uncle Ali? After a long while our eyes adjusted to the darkness and we could almost make out one another’s features. Scare shortened every breath, prolonged every moment. The hobbling man asked why we would stay inside and not by the drystone wall outside; Father explained there were not enough of us to cover the whole wall. Hidden inside, we had the element of surprise. The hobbling man nodded pensively, but his bald mate was growing restless.
“I think we should try to go for the pass. Take some advance on them. They’re on our tracks, that’s for sure…”
“You’ll break your neck in the dark,” Father said curtly.
“And here? Here THEY’ll break our neck, that’s if we are lucky. That’s for sure.” He looked at me. “You heard what they do to…”
“We should stay silent,” Father said.
“That’s for sure. But still, I can’t, it’s like, I’m fretting. I would rather be walking, or running.”
“I think you would,” Father said.

Hours passed, agonizingly slow, but we were not past midnight yet.
“We should leave,” the bald man was repeating. “What’s the point of staying? We’re leaving tomorrow anyway.”
“I’m not,” Father said.
“What, you’re not? You’re crazy.” He looked at mother. “You’re staying with him?” She nodded. “Well you’re crazy. Have you thought of your children?”
“You will take them with you.”
Aicha and I stared at him, horrified. He was looking ahead, not at us.
“I suppose we could. We’re leaving tomorrow, that’s for sure, though. At first light. Is it dawn soon, you figure?”
“Not nearly.”

Hours passed with nothing but darkness around us.
“What of your girl up there? What if they caught her up there? You think they can’t?”
“I don’t know,” Father sighed.
“Then they’ll fall on us by surprise.”
“We’ll hear them. If you shut up.”
“That’s what you think. We never saw them coming, or heard them. They caught us completely unaware, that’s for sure.”
Father did not answer. Mother craned her head at a noise only she had heard, then hunched again. Whenever she caught us looking at her, she gave us a smile. It was meant to be reassuring, but…
“What do you think?” The bald soldier asked his mate. “Do you think we should leave now?”
“It’s more prudent to wait,” his mate answered. By now he too seemed annoyed with his companion, but the man had saved his life, so, there was that.
“It’s a subject we should discuss, though, not just dismiss out of hand, like that. I’m putting it for discussion that we should just leave, all of us, now. We should leave them as far behind as we can, or they’ll kill us as soon as they find us, and they’ll find us. It’s their land.”
“No.”
“What?”
"It's my land. MY land, you hear me? I settled it, I planted it, I worked it till my fingers bled. My brother's buried there! It's my land, and my children's after me. Not theirs. Not anymore. We'll make a stand here, and you're supposed to be a soldier, so calm down. And shut up."
Aicha was weeping silently. The soldier stared at father, incredulously.
“Fine. I’m just saying.”
“One of us should check on Leila,” Mother said.
Father started to raise but then looked at the bald soldier and changed his mind. For the first time of the evening he looked at me.
“Sirah,” he said.

I just nodded and went out. It was cold and dark as in a bad dream; all I could really see against the cloudy sky was the outline of mountains around the farm, and, closer to me, the ridge. I hastened over the familiar path, making as little noise as I could. When I got closer I bent down and listen. Not a noise. Suddenly I realized I was even more frightened than I’d been.
“Leila?” I whispered.
“I heard you.”
I climbed near her, absurdly reassured to be near another human being. “Father was worried. Well, we were.”
“I’m fine. I haven’t seen anyone.”
The clouds had cleared a little, and I looked around the land around. People now will tell you that Afder is a deserted backwater, but they do not know, cannot know the absolute solitude it was then. Everything was a cold, lifeless ocean of naked stone and low grass as far as the eye could see. Not a single fire, not a building in the moonlight to indicate men and women might have lived there.

“You should go tell father,” Leila said. “You said he’s worried.”
“You don’t want to go back? I can watch, you must be tired.”
“No, I’ll stay. You go.”

So I ran back home, the dry grass whipping my calves, and explained there was nothing to see, which lessened the tension a little, and we waited for more and more hours. And then the day after, the captain’s column was back, badly battered but alive, commanded by the captain with his arm in a splint.
It turned out at the last moment the Egyptian army had rallied, stood its ground in a gully against the mad black hordes, and finally pushed them back with heavy losses. Riders were now hunting the last of them down, while the captain’s troop, who had taken some of the worst of the fighting, was sent back to the fort for resupply and reinforcement. That meant the two soldiers were now deserters, so they hanged them from our barn’s roof beam. And when the regiment was gone, Father took them down and buried them near uncle Ali.

The third winter was not quite as bad.


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So I got that mission to colonize Mahe, which was something I was planning to do anyway. So I did it and got a nice modifier to my settler increase as a reward. And then I got one of my classic false good ideas: since the settler increase bonus was across the board, and therefore a good +10 settlers by colony, the more colonies I built by making my colonist jump around, the more better its effect would be! I promptly removed him from Mahe and started settling Afder and Ogaden, to open wider the door of west Africa to my Egyptians.
The rationale for the mission reward settler bonus I guess was that I was letting folks believe they’d go to a sunny tropical island in the Indian Ocean with no ferocious natives, subzero temperatures, drought, wolves, lions, or sleeping sickness, and then once they signed up their indenture contracts, oh, did I mention it’s in the Ethiopian highlands? It’s in the Ethiopian highlands.

aar-eu4-02-02_zps4snnu7o3.jpg


Anyway I got my comeuppance for false advertising when it turned out colonies are increasingly more costlier after the first one and suddenly my budget was in the red but, like Sirah’s father (meta-narrative! Pomo!), I was in too deep to go back. So I took loans and started cutting corners. Remember I was already cutting corners to pay for my wonderboy inquistor? Well the good thing with cutting corners is that for every one you cut, it gives you two more, so you can go on, only with diminishing returns.
Eventually my military upkeep got so low that even a native uprising could fight the force guarding my colonies and threaten to win the battle.
But now everything is getting better! Sort of. Live and learn.
 

Gollevainen

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Adventures of the Sultanball, part II
 

dragoon9105

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Yea i'd watch the cost Kuipi it can really sneak up on you if your not prepared to pay for it.
 

King of Men

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ynglingasaga.wordpress.com
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Trade Follows the Flag

With twelve hours of multiplayer EU4 under my belt in the past year, I am now a seasoned veteran; therefore, I'm going to explain trade, since that seems to be a rite of passage for all the great players. (Additionally, having looked through the save a bit, I see some of our players can use the primer.) This has two benefits: Firstly, I ensure that I really understand the details, since explaining them to someone else is the best way to check your own grasp of the subject; and second, all the this-is-how-to-trade explanations I've seen Do It Wrong. That is, they don't give wrong information, but they speak without specifics. I'm going to Explain Trade using my particular situation in an actual game; there has never been an explanation in the history of the world that wasn't easier to grasp for looking at a concrete example of what was being discussed.

So let's have a look at Venice in this year of grace 1485, beginning with the trade node in the Gulf of Venice:

VeniceTradeNode.png

This is looking fairly good. Venice is an end node, with no outgoing flows, so anything that comes in is going to be collected. Since I'm the only state for which this is a home node, and collecting outside your home node reduces your power in that node by half, this puts me in a splendid competitive (more accurately, monopolistic) situation. Notice that although Germany has 2% of the trade power from their one poxy province, for purposes of collecting money my power is 100%; in other words, in an end node, power that would otherwise go to transferring trade is wasted. So anyone trying to reduce my share of the income here will first have to send a merchant to collect, and that makes every other action they take half as effective!

It follows that I have exactly one economic strategy: Increase the trade flowing to Venice. I can do that by developing my Italian provinces, and unlike almost everyone else in the world I'll get the full benefit of such development including the trade value; but observe that the incoming flow is three times the local production. If I can choose to increase one of these by 10%, I should obviously go with the flow. One more point before moving south, however: My monopoly in this node means that marketplaces are completely useless for increasing my income. Suppose that I gave Germany some extra provinces, bringing their trade power up to 10%. Well, unless they sent a merchant to collect - immediately dropping their power back to 5% - then that trade power will still be wasted, because it can't be used to transfer. So I would still collect 100% of the income. Likewise, suppose I build marketplaces in all my Italian provinces, sending my trade power into the stratosphere. Useless! There are only so many percents!

I said, however, "useless for increasing my income"; marketplaces will still do one thing for me, namely increase the amount of trading power I send back upstream. This is 20% of the trading power due to your provinces, ignoring merchants, ships, and modifiers. At the moment, Venice is sending 26.1 power upstream to each of Alexandria, Ragusa, and Wien; if I built marketplaces all over Italy, this would increase to 39.1. Probably not worth it - I have much cheaper ways of increasing my power in Alexandria, as we shall see; but I note it for completeness.

AlexandriaTradeNode.png

Alexandria actually produces more goods than Venice, but the backwards locals keep very little of it, what with all four Med powers striving with all their might to pull the trade forward. Notice that Venice, Byzantium, England, and Castille cooperate to get the stuff away from the heathen Egyptians ("pull"), but then we differ on where it should go after that ("steer"). Byz and I have merchants present, so we get to steer; my merchant has twice the power of Byzantium's, and Venice has bonuses to trade steering, so two-thirds of Alexandria's outgoing trade ends up in Venice. Splendid! But I can do better.

My trade power in Alexandria comes about one-third each from light ships, provinces, and Venice; and is then modified by, mainly, Egypt's embargo. Well, really now, is this any way to behave? This would not happen in libertarian utopia. However, the effects of an embargo are based on the trade power of the embargoing state. If I retaliate in kind, Egypt's trade power will go down and his embargo should get less effective; since I have more power than him in his own home node, maybe he shouldn't have started this fight. So diplomacy, Egypt, Issue Embargo: The modifier from Egypt goes from 11.1% to 11.2%. I confess I do not understand this result. However, my power modifier increased anyway because my merchant feels more manly and confident when his government supports him by throwing its weight around in the market; and I also dropped Egypt's modifier from plus 5.3% to minus 9.8%, which increases my share of power in the node. So the embargo is still worth doing.

Not done yet, though! Those provinces can be improved. I'll create a trade post in Maan, and then I'll build marketplaces all over the Venetian Middle East. That's an immediate increase of 10, and another 25 when the marketplaces complete. Finally, I thought I had a custom trick up my sleeve: The next custom Venetian idea is a bonus to light ship combat power, and I've been told that this also increases their power to protect trade. Having done the experiment, it turns out that this is not true, but it sure sounded good and should definitely be implemented in the next patch.

ImprovedAlexandria.png

So do all that, let the game run until the month changes, and sure enough, the transfer to Venice increases by 20%. Notice that Egypt's pre-modifier power increases by ten, presumably because some buildings finish; but the post-modifier power drops a point or two due to the embargo. Venice's power modifier drops another couple of points, which is due to the Egyptian embargo getting more effective: This explains the weird result above - embargo efficiency is calculated from pre-modifier power, so my counter-embargo doesn't weaken Egypt's embargo, just his income. Still, Egypt clearly shouldn't have gotten into this fight.

AdenTradeNode.png

Moving further upstream we come to the Gulf of Aden. There's not that much to say about this node; I have one province in it (plus upstream transfers from Alexandria), and what I want it to do is send trade to Alexandria where I can boot it up to Venice. Unfortunately, there's a lot of local powers with other ideas; only tiny Alodia is helping me out by steering to Alexandria - most of my trade power is being wasted helping Asians pull the trade up to Basra! That's what happens when you don't have a merchant present to look after your interests. However, my power here is presently so small that it doesn't matter much. When I've built a trade post and a marketplace, gotten some serious upstream-transfer from Zimbabwe, and perhaps added some light ships, I'll consider sending a merchant here to fix the issue. Meanwhile, notice Egypt getting only half trade power because he's trying to collect outside his main trade area; he would likely be better off steering to Alexandria. Merchants that transfer trade increase its value slightly; more trade would get into Alexandria than would leave Aden, and Egypt has quite a few provinces here and could affect the steering powerfully. True, I would siphon off a third of it, but that's better than losing half to the foreign-collection penalty. Egypt, work with me here!

Finally, let's move down to Zanzibar. A side note for old grognards: When I was deciding which provinces to annex from Kilwa, I let my old EU3 (well, ok... EU2) reflexes rule, and thought "Zanzibar is a trade node, let's grab it". Splendid idea, but the province Zanzibar is no longer the same as the trade node Zanzibar. And although it is a center of trade, that's now just a bonus to trade power; which, as we shall see, is quite useless to me at the moment. Still, all I really needed was a port in the general area, and Zanzibar does fine for that; and being an island it's defensible too.

ZanzibarTradeNode.png

As a trade node, however, it has one major flaw for me: It has only one outgoing flow, which goes to the Cape of Good Hope, and from there around all of Africa. If any of this trade ends up in Venice, it is by very twisting and circuitous routes; I think even Genoa doesn't see much of it. So at the moment, I am by no means going to build a trade post or trade company in Zanzibar. Why should I help England, whose alliance guarantees me against Afrikan and Egyptian aggression, at the expense of my vassal Kilwa which sends me 10% of its income in tribute? (True, I also increase my power in Aden, but the effect is small.) Once I annex Kilwa it will be a different matter. At that point I can create a trade company that will control half the trade power in the area, so I'll get an extra merchant; which I can use to collect. As I annex more African minors my power in the node will approach 100%, so that the 50% penalty ceases to matter - if I'm the only trading power in the node, it doesn't matter what my modifier is. At least, that's true unless someone deliberately decides to sabotage me by sending a merchant to get a toehold, and then "protecting" that "trade" with a humongous fleet of light ships. Obviously such an unfriendly act would be a cause for war. Taking my provinces is one thing, but nobody interferes with Venice's trade!

AzureThreeBezants.png

A fair session; as expected, I finished the war with Kilwa, taking Zanzibar and vassalising them. From that base I have started colonising the Indian Ocean; Diego Garcia is now a naval base for further adventures in the Far East. This unfortunately involved me in the disputes of the Great Powers: Japan invaded Malaysia, England intervened and needed naval bases, and who should have just gained some East-African ports but England's ally Venice? Japan, who naturally could do well without three hundred English carracks descending on its Home Islands, then seized Diego Garcia and threatened to burn it to the ground unless I refused further naval access to England. Not wanting to lose my investment (it was about 80% complete at that point) I complied, which in hindsight was a mistake; I should have said "touch the hair of any colonist's head and England will give me Tokyo in the peace treaty". England then declared war on me (which I hadn't thought of when I agreed not to give access) for naval access, and got it too; three hundred heavy ships is no doubt a problem for Japan, but with my army in Africa, England's vassals were a problem for me. Sure, I could raise twenty mercenary regiments in Italy and drive them off, but that would cost money. Japan: So sorry! Force majeure! As compensation, have a twenty-percent-off coupon for African ivory, already a steal at a mere five ducats a unit. (Minimum purchase twenty ducats, Zanzibar location only, offer expires 1/1/1487, void where prohibited.)

AfricanFront_1485.png


The African front. Everything is under control. The Mutapan army cannot extend its supply lines north without taking the Kilwan capital, which will require a lengthy siege; meanwhile our southern army will complete its control of the coastal fortresses and march into the interior, forcing them to the negotiating table. There is no, I repeat no, risk of thousands of savage black heathens crossing the Zanzibar Strait and descending on our colony to rape and pillage. Evacuation is completely unnecessary. Insurance premiums will be capped at the prewar rates.

AfricanBattles.png


Some battles of the African wars. Appearances to the contrary I'm about to win the one for Zanzibar when my reinforcements land, though I admit it was a close-run thing even with the strait bonus.

I picked up Damascus on the cheap, incidentally completing the destruction of Syria, and picked a fight with Mutapa using Kilwa's very convenient claims. This went well until the Crown Princess of Men insisted I pay attention to her just as the Mutapan army recovered and counterattacked; the Kilwans would have won that battle if I'd been able to reinforce them in time, but it's very hard to give timely orders when an active three-year-old is jumping on your arm. But no worries; Venice is not counted among the Great Powers, but relative to an African minor We Have Reserves.

Europe_1485.png


Mediterranean and Middle East, 1485. The conquest of Damascus rounds off a virile and manly Venetian Near East, thrusting north towards Aleppo.​
 

JodelDiplom

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What's up with the weird little countries in places where they have no reason to be? Lorraine in Mesopotamia, Riga in the Arabian desert, Tyrone in Egypt? Converter weirdness?