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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

marko river

Second Lieutenant
Dec 16, 2013
I just noticed I made some error in last post in first screenshot. So, after almost 3 years of suppressing rebels, with manpower being at -12k, I got event Bumper year giving me 14k manpower. That completely changed the flow of things. Armies were slowing down with rebels and I wasn't able to stop Castillians from expanding into Anatolia. But that event allowed me to stop Castille and Hungary and to continue clearing rebels. Super-lucky.

In previous post I covered events until end of 1447, but in next post I will add fiction part in the beginning of 1445.

marko river

Second Lieutenant
Dec 16, 2013
Feb 1445

Galdan was sitting outside his tent dressed in warm fur. It was cold but sunny noon and he would rather sit outside in fresh air than stay safely warm inside a tent. It was still winter after all, and he will miss cold air during summer in Anatolia.

He was studying the map of the west, thinking how to handle all the wars on his shoulders currently. "Focus on one target at the time", his father would say, "like great Subutai did". It was just like his father, not even speaking of Temujin but praising his general, as if that would lower Temujin's reputation and make it easier for him to proclaim himself new Khagan. But Khan Esen was right about it. He focused everything on crushing Ottomans and succeeded, costly as it was.

Now it seemed that price for defeating Ottomans is still being paid. They expected only minor resistance from other Turk nations, but instead met armies of Castille and Algeris constantly arriving with ships. They were recruiting soldiers from conquered lands, but casualties were still huge. Curse them all, Spaniards and Africans both. He had to focus on the strongest enemies. Spaniards threatened to take some land, so did Venetians in Balkans. They must be crushed completely, no garrisons left, then they won't come back. Just like his father would have done. That meant lot of fighting and lot of men to lose, so he better fight those battles soon.

They were now in Bersh, breaking garrison of rebels that they captured yesterday. What were these rebels fighting for exactly, he could no longer tell the difference. Patriots, zealots, particularists... one was certain: they were rebelling against his rule, and he must have his back safe before going forward. His men were still going through garrison, picking valuables. He ordered one day of rest, tomorrow they head for Astrakhan and forward through Georgia into Turkish lands.

Day before yesterday, when it was clear rebels garrison is in sorry state and they won't be able to repel the assault, he gave a speech to his men that he meant to elevate his title once in Constantinople. He didn't say he would call himself Khagan or use any specific title for that matter. He wanted to see if anyone will make a move against him. But he was troubled that nobody spoke against the idea. It seems that his Mongol brethren were more clever than he assumed. Which is why he made it clear he intends to march toward Anatolia starting tomorrow and then somehow reach Constantinople himself. There with his mighty western armies and great general Güshi, he can hold a ceremony in Constantinople. He was very unspecific about ceremony itself, but knew how it will sound to any Mongol listener.

He said it to provoke some reaction, but also he had the idea to actually do elevate his title. He can't replace Bojrigins, and he started to realize that he actually shouldn't. He should form new empire and become bigger than Bojrigins. Reach for even more. And use some other title. Bojrigins can have their Khagan, he as to come up with new one and his followers won't be able to object.

He was ready for any kind of move whole day, his blood-brother stayed close inside the tent, observing if anyone would get close. He wasn't expecting open attack, that would be punished by others regardless what they felt about his idea. But the whole morning and noon nothing happened, nobody disturbed him. Everyone was busy with enemy garrison, captives, and packing up for tomorrow.

And then he spotted a soldier approaching, he was young, one of those that kept close to general Tsewang. Could this be it? Galdan raised his head and kept his eyes on the soldier, waiting for him to reach the talking distance. He was carrying a small barrel under one hand.

- My Khan.
Galdan gave a short nod.
- News from Anatolia. Kastamon has fallen.
Galdan gave a longer nod, turning his eyebrows to appear pleased instead of curios.
- We spotted Mamluks army leaving province of Van towards our vassals Trebizond. They are allied with Candar so we expect they are heading for Kastamon.
- Yes, that is likely so. Anything else?
Soldier offered the barrel.
- Gift form general Dayan, they discovered cellar full of wine in the castle, expected to be sweeter than Georgian wine. Messenger carried only a small barrel.
- Hmm, very mindful. Is messenger from Anatolia here?
- No, my Khan. He reached only Astrakhan, a messenger from Astrakhan proceeded forward.
Convenient, Tsewang's man I would say. No use of questioning him directly.
- Very well. Put that barrel beside tent. One more thing, notify all commanders to have dinner with me, here. Before sundown, we shall start marching early, so we should dine early.
- At once, my Khan.

There was no need for man to suspect anything. He already did dine with all of them more or less regularly, and before the long march they would expect him to talk about general strategy for Anatolia. Everything would be clear by the end of day anyway.


Dinner was going on without anything out of ordinary. They talked about Anatolia, more or less all agreed that Spaniards are biggest thorn due to sheer numbers they unloaded in both Balkans and Anatolia. They will try to capture provinces from Oirats, not just defend like weaker enemies, so they can not be left for later. Annex their garrisons first, then Algiers, then rearrange armies to keep Anatolia at bay and finish Ottomans once the cease-fire ends. Once casualties are reduced, new armies should be possible to muster. Mamluks are going arrogant, seizing Van, and any Oirat leader will have to punish Mamluks for their crimes in the past. But Egypt was distant war, focus is on Anatolia first.

Galdan was sitting alone at the top of the table. It was set in front of his tent, with Galdan's place at tent entrance. Galdan's blood brother was sitting oposite of him. On both sides were commanders: advisers and sergeants, leaders in his army where he himself was a general. His advisers stayed close to him naturally, except minting adviser Quduqa who sometimes spent time in different provinces, lately mostly being at Astrakhan and gold mines in Georgia, where he was most needed. Currently he was in Astrakhan, and already received instructions to look for new artist adviser.

After next strategic steps were agreed, Galdan slapped his hands and wine was brought. Everyone had a cup filled. Galdan stood up and lifted a cup. Everyone followed.
- Let's make a toast with special treat: sweet wine from Kastamon. Let's taste the spoils we will secure. Mongols, tomorrow Anatolia will be ours, then the whole world!

Everyone raised their voices and cups and started to drink voraciously. Galdan started drinking but didn't lift the cup completely but tried to look at everyone over the cup. His blood-brother was doing the same. Tsewang was sweating instead of drinking. Another man, sergeant Qayshan, was doing the same but started to drink as everyone was finishing. Galdan lowered his cup and looked at his brother, who just gave eye signal on Tsewang and sergeant. So, he saw the same thing. Then there is no doubt.

As others finished their cups and slammed them back at the table, Galdan threw his half-drank cup like a stone, crashing few dishes. Everyone froze alarmed, Tsewang still holding his full cup.
Galdan leaned on the table with both hands, looking down.
- There is nothing you would like to say, commandant Tsewang?

After few seconds without response, Galdan met Tsewang eyes with look full of hate. He made a nod and his blood-brother went around the table and into the tent. He came back carrying a small unopened barrel. Tsewang closed his eyes in realization, while sergeant exhaled with relief. It should be plain clear to others by now.

- Your men are already being captured and will be executed. So will you. You do not deserve a warrior's death. You will all drink from this barrel.
Tsewang looked at barrel and then just nodded. Men around him were made small distance and were ready in case he tries anything, but he wouldn't. It was useless once caught in act, in middle of the camp. Galdan turned to sergeant. He was oldest man at the table, brave and capable blade in his army, who started to fight even when his grandfather Toghan was khan.
- And you, sergeant?
Sergeant's eyes were calm and resolved. He was no coward, he clearly already accepted his faith.
- I am also part of it, my Khan. And I took part in your father's death. I believe in old ways. Khan that is abandoning them is bigger danger than all enemies around us joined.
- I see. And why did you drank with others if you thought wine was poisoned?
- I am proud, my Khan - he certainly sounded proud - I would always chose death with other Mongols then to live as a coward. Poison was meant for you, whom I think is too proud to be a powerful Khan. But if everyone is to die for that purpose, I will not retreat.
Spoken like a true warrior. Galdan felt hate for him thinking about his father, but that was reaction of feelings. He didn't feel any anger for his own murder attempt. He even felt respect for a brave man to drink a poisoned wine, only to achieve something he deemed necessary for glory of empire. People will surely hear of his example. Killing him might even make him a hero. And Galdan preferred to use heroes for his own ends.
- I will prove you wrong about Khan Galdan, brave sergeant. I will mount the whole world, or pave the path for my descendants to have as fewer enemies as possible. And like I said when I became Khan, I will use any mean available to do that. And I also respect our ways, regardless of my... affection for elven legends. I never planned to proclaim myself Khagan, like my father wanted. I would never betray our ways and trust of our warriors like that. Higher title will not be that of Khagan. I spoke about higher title only to provoke the attack and get rid of my enemies. More precisely, enemies of my father. It would be a pity if all of you went unpunished.

He created a small pause so other men could swallow all this, then continued in slow voice.
- And I will prove you wrong about my pride. I will not punish you like the others. You showed great bravery, and for that I am willing to treat you better than a mere coward backstabber. You will not be punished directly. You are old and fought too many battles and will continue to do so. You will die a warrior's death because you deserve it. The only punishment is, regardless of your age and commanding experience, you will again fight in the front lines. You will demonstrate your bravery until your time comes. Before that however, you will also tell names of others who were part of this, in other garrisons as well if you know about it.

Sergeant's look was of complete surprise, as expected. Galdan wasn't looking at other men but there was no doubt everyone had same expression on their faces. Sergeant's look then became resolved again, and he simply nodded with words "Yes, my Khan". Galdan had no doubt that Tsewang was brain behind everything, sergeant was simply a rough soldier, supporter of the old ways. The nGaldan's eyes were again full with hate as he turned to Tsewang.
- Take him away.

marko river

Second Lieutenant
Dec 16, 2013
So, let's continue with autumn of 1447. On far east, Ming again appeared on our borders and attack. Eastern army simply sits in Manchu owned province where Ming can't access and wait for Ming to be willing to accept Oirat defeat without any tribute. As I was checking some Ming provinces I spotted something: they lost Mandate of Heaven.
This means they have rebels popping-up and generally should be way easier to brake into smaller states if pushed in right direction.
Previously I always peace out from Ming like that since they can't send colonist, so eventually they will always simply accept surrender. However, that costs Legitimacy, and that is important for Horde nation. So maybe, just maybe, new Khan Galdan should not accept defeat from anyone, ever. Eastern army started walking around provinces under occupation in order to reach northern Ming province of Xilin Gol.

New year found Khan Galdan in Persian lands, since Persian army is in currently super busy Anatolia, so Central Army came from Caspian sea to handle Persian rebels, and then to proceed in Anatolia too. Santa decided to pay a visit to Khan Galdan.
This only slightly changes the plans. I was unsure should I get province Kerman as well since tax rate is small, but it does produces spice. However, free core is not to be rejected, so after Kerman becomes Oirat's I will peace out with Persia. Mamluks are colonizing province Van and I can't really stop them now.

In Anatolia, rebels are going wild. That did help me for province of Anatolia since Castille was already colonizing it and colony was very big, so that actually saved me the province. Angora was also colonized but there I had more time to win the siege and gain control back. However, there are news in Balkans. Venice got Kozani and their colony is almost full in Macedonia, I won't be able to stop that. I did recruited some Azab infantry in Bulgaria, so 3rd Western army is now 11k strong. Venice has 13k, although only 3k of cavalry. They arrived to siege Burgas, and since I was weaker I moved my army to Serbia. But as soon as my army was not in neighboring province, Venetians assaulted the garrison. Naturally, I moved back my army towards them. Assault failed, but lasted into next month. So before that month was over, with infantry having zero morale, 3rd Western Oirat army arrived to Burgas

And naturally battle was won. What followed was more than 10, almost 20 small battles during chase. My general has bigger maneuver, Venetians mostly had low morale and attacking penalty, but took months and constant chasing around to finish them. One would think Mongols are natural for picking off defeated armies, but seems like Oirat elves are not.
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marko river

Second Lieutenant
Dec 16, 2013

Galdan's 1st Central army was marching through Anatolia. Small army was formed in Persia to conquer Kerman, after local population partly accepted oncoming Oirats. But Azerbaijani rebels were annihilated, they will think twice before rising again.

Captain "Young" Radi was riding beside Galdan. They will go through Mamluk controlled Van without stopping to deal with Mamluks garrisons there. It was matter of time before Mamluks will be considered as owners of Van. Even though it was agreed to focus on Castille, captain didn't like the notion of losing land, especially to Mamluks. As if Galdan liked it. He swore to enact vengeance on Mamluks after becoming a Khan. But Spaniards were far more dangerous.

- Forgive me for not keeping my mouth shut, my Khan, I know of our plan, but still I am clenching my teeth as we are getting near.
- As everyone else here, captain.
- Yes, my Khan, I know. Just thinking that they will laugh when they realize we simply rode past them, and I have to clench my teeth.
Somehow captain managed to look as if smiling even with clenching of angry teeth.
- In time, captain, in time. Let them laugh for now. Once we turn towards Egypt, I will not stop until they are crushed. Some traders from that travel through our realm still choose Samarkand and Alexandria, due to religion most likely. I will make sure there are no trade centers left other than Oirat's.
- Samarkand, my Khan?
-In time, captain. I told you I wish to elevate my title somehow. In any case, that means all other Mongol rulers or realms formed from Mongol empire need to accept it, Timurids included. I will not use diplomacy.

- So when you say other Mongol realms, you mean...

They were interrupted by shouts. One warrior rode close to them from behind and announced a messenger. Galdan replied to let the messenger ride close. He will listen to him without stopping the march. Messenger arrived soon and had some shocking news.

- Greetings, my Khan, I bring news from east. We are in war with Ming again as you know, and they sent two armies north-east to siege Hinggan and Haixi. But general Zaya of Eastern Army decided to abandon guarding Manchu and Korean lands, marched around Ming armies and went into Chinese lands. He sent messengers throughout the realm to inform everyone of his decision before entering Xilin Gol.
- What?! - "Young" Radi screamed out in surprise, while Galdan just kept half-opened mouth in disbelief. Messenger quickly proceeded with explanations.
- Spies, my Khan. Our spies informed us that Ming dynasty lost Mandate of Heaven! People are protesting and refusing to pay taxes. Nationalists are rallying up, and there are at least 2 open rebellions from peasants. We received same news from all over.
Galdan's face went from stupid surprise to focused with narrowed eyebrows.
- And he decided to simply move into their territory? Does he thinks he is Heraclius?
Both messenger and Radi looked confused. Radi gave Galdan confused look, but Galdan just waived his hand.
- Doesn't matter. I spent too much time with scholars as a child.

He then gave a sign with hand and rode outside of marching column, accompanied by dozen of guards, his blood-brother and captain Radi. Messenger followed and they formed a circle beside the moving column. Galdan motioned to wait. Soon, rest of sergeants broke of from their positions in column and hastened to the circle. Then Galdan spoke.

- I want you all to hear this. Messenger from east is informing us that Mings have lost Mandate of Heaven. And that general Zaya abandoned his defensive position. Where is our army now?
- I can only assume they already reached Beijing, my Khan.
Most of sergeants gave sounds of surprise and rejection.
- What is general Zaya's intention?
- To avoid any direct clash with their armies and not even go close to any city. Plan is to go through whole China, while our scouts monitor movement of their troops. As many provinces should be looted and as many villages should be deprived of food and any valuables that might be found. No unnecessary killings, preferably no killings at all, as long as villagers don't resist. General Zaya wants to reach south-west part of China and simply exit through Tibet.
- Bhutan. And our scouts are allowed to move through Bhutan?
- There are paths suitable for horses, my Khan. And guard-posts there do not reject coins.

Galdan nodded and started to think about it. Zaya, new general of Eastern Army, appointed by general Dayan himself as his successor. But this unwise bravery is not completely unwise. Even though his army is small to pose any direct danger to Ming, it will serve to further destabilize the lands. Take food without killing people, so Mings have more hungry rebellious peasants to worry about. General Zaya might prove to be smart instead of reckless. Galdan had no plans for the east, but there is too much friction going on there now. And he hated idea of having to accept defeats to gain few cease-fires with Mings like his father did. He hated idea of accepting defeat without the fight as much as every Mongol did. In any case, there is no hurry. Ming won't be able to deal with the situation soon, and Oirats are not capable of involving in China now.

While he was thinking, more and more sergeants were voicing dissatisfaction. Some of them were quiet, but those that spoke agreed that general Zaya will get all his men killed for no real gain. They were all fine and brave warriors, excellent at judging tides and opportunities during the battle. But on larger scale, they were as wise as their horses were. Perhaps his father was right after all to allow him to spend time with books and scholars in his youth.

Eventually, "Young" Radi spoke to Galdan.
- My Khan, should we proclaim general Zaya a traitor and send voice that he should be imprisoned and new general appointed to Eastern Army?
Galdan looked at him in disbelief. He was great influence on men, but no too much of adviser for strategy. However, he will prove more than useful afterwards when men start to have similar reactions.
- A traitor?! For what? For bravery? I have not punished men for bravery before, I do not plan to start now either. He is young and hungry for victories. General Dayan brought down two realms and kept them at bay, an accomplished leader we can all agree. But general Zaya got already broken realms to guard. Staying idle is rotting on the edge of the world for him. As far as we know, Manchurians and Koreans won't think of attempting new rebellion soon, and if what spies have told him is true...

During his speech, there were many eyes glanced toward sergeant Qayshan, who remained unblinking. Tough old wolf. But he didn't blink on much harder occasions.

- Is our Mongolian Army still playing hide-and-seek with Punjab?
Somebody confirmed. Galdan turned to messenger.
- Organize with scouts in Mongolia to move to Ming south-west border. Eastern army must not leave China through Bhutan, but move more south towards Buddhist lands. I wanna know what is going on there. I hear Assam and Nepal consider to be in war with Oirats, so there must be some garrisons there still loyal to Oirats. Also, on your way back, pass my instructions to garrisons around Turkestan to raise more cavalry that is to join Mongolian Army. We will need this army at full tumen strength soon.

Galdan dismissed him and messenger rode away.
- Men, I do not think general Zaya is completely reckless. If he gathered words of China first, he knows what he is doing. His army can't be destroyed unless he ends up cornered, and he will surely find many ways to leave Ming lands evading the enemy. If he succeeds in his intentions, there will be more peasants rebelling and I like that possibility. Think about that, and let's continue our march.

He rode away without waiting for any reply. There was no advice to be heard from them anyway. His party followed him and they rejoined the marching column. Galdan was still turning around the situation on the east in his mind, when "Young" Radi interrupted him.

- My Khan...
Something in captain's voice sounded like uncertainty, which made Galdan stop thinking of China and focus his full attention on his words. He just looked at captain.
- I am not sure how to say this. That night, dinner at Bersh. I though a lot about your decision to spare sergeant Qayshan. I was very surprised, everyone was. I think every soldier in army was in disbelief and I'm sure same must have happened throughout the realm. People were almost willing to call you weak, except that you executed everyone else involved. Naturally, I manage to handle men wherever I was present. But it went on for a while.
- And then?
- And then you made sure that everyone knows about Qayshan's bravery against Azerbaijani rebels. They were numerous, and he and his mingghan charged and broke their ranks. We used that moment to press and route their entire army. Now it seems that he is hero of the battle, even though he was against you.
- And result is?
- It seems that this increased your authority. Old and respected sergeant accused you of wrong ways, but fighting your battles with you now proves that he was wrong. As you may guess, I pushed men on many occasions towards that conclusion. It removes any shadow on your prestige and boosts their morale to fight for powerful Khan.
- And all this was already clear. So why talking about it?
- Well, it was a risky move, my Khan. Men could have gone over the edge of deeming you a coward. And armies would rebel.
- Which is why it was important for all sergeants to be present when the plot unraveled. So they can see my determination when dealing with Tsewang and hear my reasoning for Qayshan. Men are less willing to go "over the edge" as you said it, if their direct leaders are against it. Chain of events, captain. Sergeants and advisers keep my army from rebelling, other armies see that Central Army doesn't rebel. And there you have it. It is enough if men are undecided for a while, and when I am proved right they are back on my side with bigger determination. Like with every battle.
- I see. You are very clever, my Khan. Far more than Khan Esen was. Still, your father wouldn't risk that much.
- I know. And he managed to create huge empire that way. But I want to conquer the whole world. Can I do it without risky moves, captain?
Captain's smile went a bit wider.
- Surely not, my Khan. Surely not.
- And I feel same about general Zaya. It is risky move, might cost us one tumen and provinces on far east that we fought so long to gain and contain. But in the end, it is just one tumen. And we will regain Manchu and Korea if we lose them, I have not a single worry about that. But if he succeeds to add to Ming's destabilization, they may be crippled for decades. Which opens many possibilities, one at least being that we won't have to struggle against them like my father did. It is risky, surely, but risky doesn't have to be reckless. And it sounded like he has a good plan. Avoiding any direct conflict should be doable, and we will know much more of situation in China when looting is over.

Captain just nodded and kept riding. He was very good at judging the man and somehow managed to guess whatever man was thinking of or was worried about. Not so good with strategy, but then again no other warrior was. After he is explained the strategy, he does great job at keeping people's opinion controlled. And always keeping at least a short smile on his face.

- Captain...
- My Khan?
It was Galdan's turn to have uncertainty in his voice, which didn't pass unnoticed.
- I wanted to ask you. That night during the dinner. I had to keep my focus on Tsewang and Qayshan. I couldn't spare to look at you. I wonder... the only time I saw you with serious face was when my father died. Was that night the second time?
Captain burst into laughter without providing an answer.

marko river

Second Lieutenant
Dec 16, 2013
Before getting back on track, when Commandant adviser died in 1445, culture was at 100% and I got lvl 6 artist.
Then investments were changed to force stability and government to get to first NI. There was no tech improvement yet due to constant increasing number of provinces.

In the east, ambitious general Zaya looted Ming provinces unchallenged and finally reached SW province of Salvador. Plan is to continue west through Tuongo territory (which is still in war with Oirats) and attack Assam and Nepal (which are still at war with Oirats).
EU3_107.jpg EU3_1.jpg
You can also see a continuation of "chased Venetian" tour of army in Balkan.

At the end of September, it was time for a positive event again, finally. Aristocracy is already at max -5 but stability increase was more than welcome.

In Persia, Kerman with Oirat core was captured by 2k infantry stack. Now 2 more improved cavalry are being recruited (thx to Timurid cores in Persian provinces) to deal with minor Persian threat.

Lot of movement in Anatolia naturally. Initial idea was to keep army in Kastamon until it defects so Candar is destroyed and I don't have to worry about their regiment or two. Khan Galdan's Central Army made detour to Gerogia to deal with new rebels. However, due to rebels in Karaman provinces, which are main focus to capture so we can say goodbye to Castille, army from Kastamon had to move south, allowing Mamluks and Algiers armies to move into Kastamon unchallenged. Meanwhile, Khan Galdan arrived, defeated smaller Algiers's army and started a siege of Sinope, so we can end the war with Algiers after defection. Mamluks are sieging Armenia while 2nd Central Army is chasing Georgian rebels around

In Europe, 1st Western army is handling Hungarians and Moldavians. 2k will remain to win back Budjak from Hungary and to scare off 1k strong Moldavians. In east, Eastern army is proceeding to attack Nepal in province of Assam, which had a while ago defected to Nepal by province event.
EU2_052.jpg EU2_54.jpg

Eventually new 1449 year has begun. 1st Western proceeded south to Bulgaria because there is second Venetian army there, although a weak one. In Balkans, Oirats still chase main army of Venice. In Anatolia, huge force of Mamluks and Algiers is still in Kastamon, while rebels in Sivas/Erserum and in Kastamon lands are defeated. In far East, general Zaya routed Nepalese army and starts the chase to annihilate it.

And soon afterwards, Khan Galdan receives the news from far east.
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marko river

Second Lieutenant
Dec 16, 2013
- Is this again about allocation of artists?

Galdan was irritated with this topic, especially as it was not the first time to give explanation. Time as Khan made him more proud and less patient. Far less patient when men are complaining about something far less relevant than changes they already accepted. And when they are not direct about it but approach as cowards...

- No, my Khan. I merely suggested that next caravan...
- Should carry some of the paintings back to Mongolia! Which means you still don't want to accept my decision and are undermining it. A little attempt as it is, but still undermining! I will have no more patience for such behavior. We changed the way we make war, use soldiers and include old legends, and some men want to waste my time with art.
- My Khan, the glory of Mongols...
- Glory?! Our glory was already shattered like Mongols were, shattered into many squabbling realms posing no threat for anyone outside of steppe. And glory will not improve by having glorious paintings inside Mongolia where only Mongols can see them.

Young sergeant was now quiet. Galdan was considering a punishment, but was afraid of how others would react to harsh punishment. After all Galdan was kind of Khan you could speak to directly, and losing temper would send different message.

- I will say this one last time. Old Empire reallocated artists to Mongolia and produced many impressive works there. I do not want to impress Mongols, our conquests alone should be enough for pride of the steppe. And I don't want this second Empire we formed to break apart after 100 years like Temujin's did. Why would I do same as Temujin in keeping the conquered people conquered?

Galdan took a breath and reduced his voice to less angry loudness.
- I want people we conquered to be impressed with glory of Mongols. Otherwise they will always be unruly. Therefore, artists might be reallocated between conquered cities, but not sent across the steppe, both on west and east. They will stay in lands where they enjoy reputation and serve their new rulers there, one way or another. I don't want to let these weaklings see us as savage hordes that come, plunder and leave, so naturally they must fight us whenever possible. I want Mongols to rule the lands, to be rulers, like Kublai did with Chinese people. I went them to subdue. Glory of Mongols will hang above their heads every day, and new generations will be born into such world.

Why am I even explaining myself to the fools? They are warriors and should do war. Why are they meddling where they don't belong. My father was far less stern but men would never give him disrespect like this. And all I can do is to be more stern. Winning battles is no longer enough for my men?

- That is why new adviser for art Ulan will stay with his brother, adviser for gold minting in Astrakhan and govern glory of Mongols there. And slowly move westwards through important cities and keep other artist in track. I want improved stability in these western lands. That is my order and I will hear no more of it. Can't you see how much easier it would be....
- My Khan, my Khan!!!

One man rushed into the tent and was seized by guards inside. Galdan recognized him immediately and motioned to guards to release him. One of the soldiers, probably guarding the gate of the camp.
- How dare you interrupt like this? What is going on tonight, did everyone lose their minds? What is it? Are Vikings invading Mongolia?
There was a short laughter inside the tent. The guard was catching the breath.
- Messenger, my Khan, messenger. From China.
Well, that is something new.
- From Eastern Army? Is he here?
The guard just nodded.
- Well then, I guess evening won't be finished in dull conversations after all. Make space.

Men moved away making room in front of entrance and everyone was silent for few minutes. Then few more guards entered with messenger in the middle. Man looked like he haven't slept in days. He took a stand in front of Galdan's chair at few steps distance, barely noticeably shaking. So, he's been riding without stop for days, probably is more tired than he looks.

Man whispered with something that could be salute to his Khan.
- You come directly from Eastern army? From general Zaya?
Man simply nodded. Galdan turned to servants and made a small nod, and cup of wine was offered to the messenger. He took only one, but a long swallow.
- Name yourself.
- Bol, son of Kücügür, of the Taichiud tribe, my Khan. I've been riding without barely any rest for myself, sleeping in saddle and exchanging horses with scout parties I encountered on the way. General Zaya ordered to be as fast as possible. News is about general Sechen, my Khan. He is still loyal.

Shock and silence ruled the tent for several seconds. Khan Galdan wasn't aware that his own mouth was half-opened in surprise. General Sechen... there were some reports from traders that Oirats still hold Pegu lands but they were not attempting communication. Everyone already agreed that he surely founded his own Khanate, and they will soon hear about it. But this... this was unbelievable.

After some whispers were heard around the tent and Galdan straightened up in his chair, he bid the young man to continue. Messenger drank rest of wine and told that armies never came close to each other but they found that Tuongo is still at war with general Sechen, while Buddhist states east of Tuongo still pay tribute. Then scouting patrols met Sechen's scouts and then formed a line of communication. General Zaya was asked to proceed east and deal with Assam and Nepal, while Sechen wants to conquer Malacca on his own, after so many years. Initially conquered lands were treated fairly, but after Khan Esen died, every province rebelled and south-east army went north to deal with rebels. Both Sechen's messengers as well as local Chinese farmers told of huge massacres with more than hundred thousands men killed.

- Impressive, with only one tumen. We have heard some of this massacres, indeed. But no direct word from general Sechen came from any trader or traveler.
- Yes, my Khan. Messengers told that general Sechen forbade any word about state of army or their intentions, under penalty of death. Not a single soldier tried to send a word until we arrived in the area, so direct communication with another Mongol leader was again possible.

Galdan thought about it for a minute or two, while others kept silent. Yes, that might be valid strategy. Make other states around you think you will desert the Oirat realm, and they will approach you with different offerings and proposals... and reveal their own intentions, relations and eventually, weaknesses. Might even be something I myself would do in the same situation.

- Why is campaign taking so long? Is Malacca too strong?
- Their supply lines were cut more than once, my Khan, or so they claim. State of Pattani was formed north of the city, before the siege began, then rebellions, then even more rebels. General Sechen believes this is a work of Majapahit, local maritime power, that was in war with Malacca before and currently occupies the city. They are trying to weaken his army and prevent the siege, and keep the city and its markets. And general doesn't want to attack army of Malacca before both are weakened by their own war.
- Hmmm... How is general Sechen maintaining the size of his army?
- With defenders from fallen cities, my Khan. Many men were recruited as infantry. At first under life threat, but it goes easier after rebellions were put down.
- What? How is that? Shouldn't people have more hatred for Mongols after executions?
- That is the second part of the the news I bring, my Khan. General Sechen made many efforts to win the common people to his side. And he is doing that through religion.
Young man made a pause for few seconds.
- For years now, general Sechen and most of south-east army are practicing Buddhists.

If Galdan's mouth were half-opened when he learned about Sechen's loyalty, now his face showed complete surprise, eyes and mouth wide open. Sergeants and warriors in tent produced loud exclamations after hearing this information. Only "Young" Radi kept curious look, his smile seemed as he was amused with news. Galdan raised his hand to produce silence once again.

- So punishing rebels was followed by donations to temples, and similar actions?
- Yes, my Khan, and more. Even Chinese peasants that we encountered heard of Mongol warlord claiming he is protector of Buddhism, as in some of Ming provinces are many Buddhists being oppressed. He also sponsored Buddhist fanatics in small state of Deva Benghali. They converted local population and proceeded to nearby Hindu provinces, now controlled by growing state of Nepal. General Zaya has already agreed to general Sechen's request to protect those fanatics, until he receives the word from you about all that.
- And is that done solely for purpose of conquest?
- No. General Sechen humbly asks to send more Buddhist monks, mostly from Tibetan monasteries to spread the word and Buthan rulers already agreed to provide safe passage and supplies to any Buddhist mission. General also hopes even that you yourself would hear about Buddhism from Tibetan monks, and that once Malacca and all it's trade is in Oirat hands, you will be more inclined to listen.

Galdan had to raise his hand again before speaking.
- Very well. Rest here for few days in case I have more news and then ride back. Tell general Zaya to fund even more fanatics to show support and gratitude for general Sechen's loyalty. And to proceed with subordination of those Buddhist countries that are in open war. Let everyone in our realm be reminded of freedom of religion, already proclaimed long time ago in the growing Temujin's empire. Inform general Sechen that I am not unfamiliar with Buddhism, and if he delivers Malacca after all this time, it is only my duty to hear the words he wants me to hear.

As expected, there was noise in the tent again. But as no objection was directed to the messenger, or to anyone else in particular, young man saluted his Khan with a nod and turned to leave. Galdan was looking through him in incredulity. The most unexpected turn of events. Whole army loyal after so long. And new religion. Some Mongols were Buddhists for long time, but general with whole army.... Chinese farmers seeing him as liberator, fanatics converting Hindu provinces, people more willing to serve as soldiers of Mongol empire... Loyal after so long... more soldiers, more local support on east... loyalty...

- STOP!!!
There was silence again with all eyes on their Khan. Young messenger also turned and met Galdan's eyes, burning with determination.
- None of us dared to believe that this was possible. But now we know it is. And I am ashamed to meet such bravery and loyalty with such poor gratitude.

He made a pause giving everyone few seconds to acknowledge that he means to supports actions in the east, stood up and made few steps to stand in center of the tent.
- The whole south-east army did and is still doing something incredible. And loyalty must be rewarded much more than spoils of war. Messenger Bol, you will ride back as soon as you rest and bring news from Khan Galdan himself, Elf of the forest and dire-wolf of the steppe. General Sechen may immediately start with Buddhist missions. Freedom of religion is guaranteed and any man can make his own choices on that matter. He can send missions to Mongolia, and I will personally hear any mission that reaches this far west. Same goes for every warrior, and two closest armies are your own under general Zayan and Mongolian army under general Dawa. Instruct your general to fund more Buddhists in the same state where general Sechen already did, and let it spread westwards through India.

Now, most or sergeants narrowed their eyes and started to nod. It was simple strategy but very doable. Galdan pointed his finger to young messenger.

- Pass the message to your general. Then you will ride south and meet general Sechen in person. Tell him that his achievements are more than impressive and will echo through the realm. Tell both generals to keep an eye on Ming and any opportunity to fund religious rebels there as well. And I will send more messengers with new orders for general Dawa. Mongolian army is to abandon war with Punjab and invade Ming through Xi Xia, plunder southwards and join our armies in Buddhist lands. If general Sechen, more loyal than everyone dared to think, claims he is protector of Buddhism, than realm will do its part not to let general Sechen look like liar.
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marko river

Second Lieutenant
Dec 16, 2013
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So while western armies focus on Venice, Hungary decides to peace out. This is acceptable for elves since they want to focus, and Hungarian provinces are poor. They should probably be vassalized once Croatia is formed as separate country. We want many small fragmented vassals. I changed the intentions to actually go to HRE through Poland, taking far better provinces like Kiev, Podolia, Krakow and Ersekujvar and gain border with Bohemia from the west-northwest. In Hungary I might take only 1 or two better provinces to have border and vassalize Croatia and Bosnia somehow. Either way, goal is to take gold provinces in Austria and Aquileria before westernization.

I am also tempted to take more provinces from GH and Timurids since it is easy and can be done without much loses, but we'll see. If I go slow with conquest for couple of years, I will finally get NI which I think might be beneficial more than simply pushing forward. Also I want to have a solid manpower pool before starting on HRE.

After Sivas is liberated, Central army moves to Erserum to help with siege, causing one Algiers army from Kastamon to move to Sivas. Western 2nd is free to attack it from Yazgod, defeat then and chase moves towards Anatolia. Mamluk army won siege of Armenia and goes through Trebizond (defeating some rebels to my favor on the way) and attacks Persian army in Sinope, but Khan Galdan was back to Sivas and than moved to help Sinope, causing Mamluks to retreat towards Trebizond. But Galdan's Central army then changes direction to Trebizond from Sivas and will arrive first to make welcome party for Mamluks.

In Indo-China, Malacca is still occupied by Majapahit so general Sechen has to wait. Since there were only 200 rebels in Perak garrison, he tried to assault, but bravest 17 warriors pushed Mongols back.

General Zaya with Eastern army is sorting things out with Nepal and Assam. You can see Galdan's victory over Mamluks in Trebizond, and is now chasing Mamluks to Sivas.
Aslo, Moldavia should soon perish. Those minors can be irritating with their 1 or 2 regiments, sieging my provinces and cutting landline so some provinces become Distant Overseas. I am putting stop to that.
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And finally Kerman with Oirat core defects, so peace can be signed with Persia. No vassalization, in case I lose some province to rebels, I will need new war with Persia. Also, siege of Kastamon was at 100% after months, successfully locking Mamluks and Algiers armies. Peace out with them too as I do not want them liberated and then they will also recruit irritating regiment. They can be finished later.
And battle in Sivas is won with minimal losses, routing Mamluks to Kastamon where I can't follow, but I assume attrition works there as everywhere else. Galdan makes a decision after the battle.

marko river

Second Lieutenant
Dec 16, 2013
Numerous birds already circled above the hill slopes. Bodies were scattered throughout the slopes, but towards the path between the hills the ground was almost not visible. At least not without red coloring. Men were taking valuables from the bodies, and now and then a scream could be heard. All was as usual, the aftermath of the battle.

Mamluks tried to withdrew through Trebizond after Galdan feigned the attack from the south, while Mamluks were fighting Persian army in Sinope. But Galdan's army was faster, taking different path and blocked their pass to Arabia. Here in Sivas, they had to break through Mongol positions again on their way towards the safety of Kastamon. Not even a hundred warriors lost. A battle outcome even great Subutai might have been pleased with.

Sergeant Qayshan found him with his blood brother and informed him of numbers. He also made some comparison to battles at Sinope and Trebizond. Far from Subutai's glory, but even one in three battles with this casualties ratio is very encouraging. After all, there was no Subutai around to expect every battle to turn out like this.

- I also wish to ask you what to do with captives, my Khan.
Galdan gave him a curious look. Sergeant continued without waiting for any word.
- You never gave any specific instructions on this matter, my Khan. Under your father and grandfather, execution of children was forbidden.
Galdan gave even more curios look. Why would... Sergeant's expression was emotionless as always.
- All right, I will take a look at them.

Galdan went down from his horse before sergeant was able to go back about his business, walked few steps to nearby corpse and picked up blood stained dirt. He watched his dirty red palm for a few seconds. He did the same thing in Trebizond after his first battle with Mamluks. Blood of the enemy. He clenched his fist as if that would break the blood somehow.

- Sergeant, send your men all the way east to Arunachal. Mongolian army is on the move around the Tibetan mountains to Western Xia?
- Yes, my Khan. They are stronger than tumen size, so they can reinforce any loses of general Zaya.
- Good, let general Dawa proceed looting as already ordered. Your men must personally travel with help of local scouts through Buthan and find general Zaya. Order is to quickly defeat Assam and Nepal without subduing them. As soon as that is done, he is to move back east, join with Dawa and together they are to attack Ming and shatter it. Enough of waiting for better conditions and western conquest. Ming is weak and elves want revenge. Order is not to take much land in next years, but to allow rebels to break the realm into pieces. Protect Buddhist and just take minimal food from them, so Confucians can rethink their loyalty. Ming armies are to be defeated separately, without complete destruction but constantly inflicting casualties so they can never amass and stop neither Mongols nor rebellions. General Zaya is to then send his messengers and inform general Sechen of our movements, so general can make his own mind what to pursue. China is far bigger reward than one city at the edge of the world, no matter how big the markets are there.

For the moment he thought he saw fire in sergeant's eyes, but his face was emotionless as always.
- Any objection to the plan, sergeant? Too risky?
- Somewhat risky, my Khan. I have no fear of Chinese sheep, nor will general Dawa. Wolf must always remind the sheep that walls do not turn sheep into wolf.
And he will not say dire-wolf even if his life depends on it.
- So, you approve the order?
- Even more than that, my Khan. I reply to you: finally.
- Then why not advising the attack when you thought it was time?
- You are clever Khan, my Khan. I do not know all your plans, and you had some surprising moves, very effective. And we have other wars and there was no urgency for reaction. No deities will help them recover from this any time soon.
Smart and tough, probably the best sergeant I have. Surely most effective one, after switching back to my side.
- And strategy of fighting armies without destroying them?
- That I do not understand. The great Subutai always made effort to annihilate the enemy.
- True. But it is a big empire now, and before it breaks apart into smaller kingdoms, they will always be able to muster more men, as well as get mercenaries. And new armies, either levies or mercenaries, bring new morale and therefore hope. If all their armies are still there but weak, people will lose hope and they will not trust in their Emperor. People will have to find a new way on their own and that will lead to new rebellion and new states. Ming realm will break into pieces.
- I see.
- I know we talked about ideas of general Güshi about defeating kingdoms without any major battle and loss of men. I know you supported that. I am not against it, but I think it will not work with Ming. Realm is too big. It might work for western kingdoms.
- As you command, my Khan.
- Good. Dispatch your messengers.
- At once, my Khan.

As sergeant rode away, Galdan went back to his horse and went with his blood-brother to look for captives. Radi was already there, accompanied with young sergeant Jembu, the one that objected about art and artists. There were only 4 captives, neither looking old enough to fight. They all wore simple leather armors. It was unlikely that they could wear anything heavier anyway. Jembu pointed at one of them.

- This one, the smallest of them, claims he is full sixteen already. Sixteen! He is underfed and small even for fourteen.
Galdan looked at the boy. Fourteen at best. Mamluks are not doing something right if they bring children. Or somebody thought it will make the child stronger. Foolish, either way.

- Lying to Khan is punished by painful death. How old are you, boy?
Expression of fear on boys face made it clear there will be no spoken answer.
- Very well. Look all around you, boys. Look at the color of the dirt under your feet. Dire-wolves are coming to paint the desert. We will make desert flourish, fertilizing it with Mamluks blood. Time for Oirat revenge is near.
Boys looked about themselves with fear and confusion.
- You will be given water and horses. Ride back to your forts and pass the message. Rulers and wealthy in their cities, Mamluk soldiers in their camps, all should stop sleeping peacefully. When night falls down, they will all now hear a distant howl approaching. Dire-wolves are coming to bite their walls with fangs of steel. Elves are coming to show them what pride really is. Oirats are coming to enact their revenge.
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marko river

Second Lieutenant
Dec 16, 2013
In case you actually read fiction part, you might noticed something about "general Güshi ideas". As you might have noticed, I play game few years in advance and collect shots, then come up with fiction part. So at that point in-game time I've been reading about Mongol tactics while not being pleased with Oirats casualties and manpower shortages. I know horde is technologically backwards, but still. I usually take on enemy army head-on with bigger armies until they are annihilated, and then occupy provinces. So I wanna try being smarter and make better use of horde province defection, as well as spreading out enemy and pick them one by one. The first should work with West, second with Ming.

Anyway, back to warring and occasional events. It's the end of 1449 and half of 1450. Let's split happenings by area instead of jumping left and right chronologically. First a global event, as always, on 1st November 1449.
Spread of discoverieeeeeees... and except for Mazovia, everything else revealed were sea provinces. Which once again reminds me it's a bit stupid that hordes can't produce ships at all, since they used ships for Korean islands against Goreo dynasty and had some bloody river battles with Song dynasty. That's before fragmentation of empire and wars with Japan. They should be possible with huge penalties, to even out huge bonuses for land troops, but they should be possible. This is just ridiculous, that being on island with just one ship stops entire horde, but oh well.

So, let's start with west. First, Sinope falls and elves must retain it to end war with Algiers. Eventually one Algiers army is destroyed, second tries to siege Sinope and once again elves need 10+ battles ping-pong style until it is annihilated. Spaniards and rebels are sieging Karaman provinces and it is time to break those sieges. Greek provinces owned by Venice slowly start to fall.
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However, rebel situation is getting worse. They are all around Georgia, spawning in west Slavic provinces and event happens giving pretender army in Anatolia too. Weak, but still a bother. Assuming war with Venice is going fine, general Güshi with 1st Western army starts his march around Black Sea, visiting rebel camps all along the way. There are also some annoying rebels in Nogai-Kazak lands.
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On east, Ayutthaya is rebeling every now and then, spawning stacks bigger than 10k. It is a big city with big contribution to manpower, so general Sechen keeps coming back to secure it. Nothing much in Indo-China since Malacca is still occupied by someone else. In February 1450 general Dawa finally reaches western Xia provinces and starts new journey of looting Ming. Half-way through, Ottomans reappear. General Zaya with Eastern army is wrapping up Assam and Nepal. As suggested by Khan Galdan, Oirats sponsor new fanatic rebels in one province Deva Bengal and after that siege was won, state religion also changed to Buddhist.
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marko river

Second Lieutenant
Dec 16, 2013
Speaking of playing the game few years in advance before posting here, what should elves take as their first Idea? Easy choice is something about war, like Military drill. Or Engineering, so enemy sieges are slower and let attrition work, while enemy provinces fall faster reducing gold and manpower income, or defecting/rebelling. I don't think Mongols need Grand Army :)
Other choice is Patron of Arts. It fits fiction part like it is for keeping nations conquered, and I will need magistrates for buildings soon, but I am not sure does that "Prospering times" event work on Hordes, I guess it should. Fitting for fiction part might also be something about religion, as Oirats will strive to protect Buddhism. I am closest to choosing Patron of Arts, but let me know what you think.

Let's continue, again area based. Time-frame: summer 1450 - spring 1451

General Dawa's Mongolian army finally reaches south-west China and finds 8k Ming army, mostly cavalry, fighting rebels. As no other army was spotted around, Mongols decide to attack after Ming won, before they can pump up morale completely. Both Assam and Nepal lost a city and are ready to accept defeat. Eastern army wants to join Mongolian in China, but Tuongo takes forever to travel to Kachin, probably going to siege Arunachal again. So Eastern army waits for them and then give them another lesson in mountain-fighting. Ming army is almost decimated and Assam and Nepal accept defeat. New 15k strong Ming army parks nearby but don't engage. I can only assume that's how AI works with a low manpower. So Dali is being sieged, and upon manpower recovery, one regiment is left in Dali and both armies move so both Dali and Yunnan are occupied and armies are evened out at 10k both. Ming doesn't attack either army moving or standing. What follows are long sieges without much happening around.
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After clearing rebels north-west of Black Sea, general Güshi moves into Georgia which largely already fell to rebels. Army will focus on destroying rebel armies and few regiments will then siege provinces back and will be merged with 2nd Central army that wanders nearby. Small but not very important positive event happens. 3rd Western army has to leave Balkans and stop Poland from getting more provinces, after they already colonized Kiev and Poltava. Zaporozie will stay in Oirats' hands. However, that will prove to be bad for Balkans as Venice is back with 7 or 8k army and won back fast their occupied Balkan provinces. So, we start over with Balkans. You can also see how much Oirats are minting. In Anatolia, siege of Konya is lifted from rebels, Ottomans are being sieged. Eventually, Konya defects after like 3 years. Hopefully soon Spaniards will be expelled, although Hamid is just being sieged.
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