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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Nate90909

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: King of All Ireland 1 2 3
Chapter 2: Curbing the Earls 1
Chapter 3: The First Crusade 1 2 3
Chapter 4: A-plotting in the Isles 1 2
Chapter 5: War of the Isles 1 2
Chapter 6: Fist of King Augaire 1 2 3 4
Chapter 7: Ser Ailin and the Boy King 1 2





My name is Aed. Earl Aed of Breifne. I can trace my fathers back over 800 years. For nearly three-hundred years my fathers have been Earls of Breifne. No longer. The burning vigor of ambition flow through my veins. I was born son of a earl. I will die king of all Ireland!

-Earl Aed, September 1066AD

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My father and half-brother are dead. My closest living relative, my nephew is my heir. He already has two sons, and they sons of their own. My dynasty is almost dead, and that is why I am in Bamberg, in audience to the Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire, Heinrich IV. After waiting for hours it is finally my turn to address him. Suddenly the entire room hushes to silence as they finally realize what I have just asked. Hate filled faces glare at me, and I almost could feel the heat of their anger. The emperor looked at me for a full moment before beginning to laugh heartily. Three days later I left, and returned to Ireland, married to his older sister, Adelheid.

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Returning to Breifne was quite a shock for my new wife, for she was used to the finery of her brother's empire. Not so, in Castle Dromahair it is quite spartan. That would change, I assured her. In December it was quite clear she was pregnant. I could not hide my smugness from my men, nor was I shy about boasting about how I would soon be a father.

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My new council sat around the table in the top of the tower. It was quite cold, and my court chaplain was wearing not one, but two of those large church robes. I arrived last, it is a gift of those who rule to arrive late. One must remember to arrive, though, as I almost did not this time. Sometimes one's pleasures almost get in the way of business at hand.

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My orders to them were quite brief and I allowed now argument. The chancellor was to head east into Dublin and cajole is way into papers showing that the lands rightfully belonged to House Ua Ruairc. I told him I did not care how. That he was to just do it.

My Marshal, who was almost useless, I ordered to train as many troops as he could, which undoubtedly would not be many. My steward I ordered to make sure the taxes were in on time. Which they most likely would be. I get quite upset when the taxes are late.

My Court Chaplain was to go to the Bishopric of Kells and find a way to convince the bishop to pay part of his tithes to me instead of that man in Rome.

Finally after they had all left, another entered the room. My spymaster. His orders were quite simple. He was to make sure my wife didn't end up murdering me. While I quite liked her, she didn't seem so enthused about the accommodations and she hadn't smiled at me since arriving at the castle.


It was hot, and I assuredly stayed outside in the breezy courtyard while gnawing on my thumb. Every so often I could hear a scream from the room above and I would jump, before settling back down on the stone bench. Finally after what seemed hours my guard captain came to me and informed me I was the father of a healthy young boy. You could not imagine how fast I climbed those stairs, and I was in my son's room. My son Art MacAed Ua Ruairc.

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After years, finally the day came. My chancellor arrived, with men on horses chasing him. A few arrows from the tower saw them run off and he came to me in my hall. He knelt to one knee and handed me the papers. The papers that would prove my families claim to the county of Dublin. I laughed. I laughed hard, and loud and my loyal guards slapped each other on the back and grinned. Finally House Ua Ruairc would go to war. My son, now five ran into the room. He had no idea what was going on, but he smiled and cheered as well. I picked him up and sat him on the crook of my arm while I spoke to my men in the hall. Then I got drunk.

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Sixty Large Ducats earned me fifteen-hundred Breton mercenaries. Along with the two-hundred and eighty of my personal men-at-arms and a few of the mayor's and bishop's men we marched toward Dublin. I'm sure that Murchad had no idea the weight of numbers I was bringing him. We were only a week behind the news that we were at war.

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The battle went well - we outnumbered him gravely. The nearly two thousand of my men completely surrounded his nearly three hundred. They fled almost immediately, there was no weight behind their shields. No heft behind their axes. I'll say this for the Bretons, they know how to fight. We lost thirty-seven men. They were taken down to the man. Only the earl managed to escape, he ran fast on his horse, and early to. I'm sure there was more than one of his men that cursed his name.

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We quickly settled in to begin the siege, that was when we heard of an army of almost three hundred men marching to Dromahair. I quickly took my men, leaving the mercenaries behind to continue the siege. This last battle would be met Irishman to Irishman.

It was a bloody battle that one. They had begun to set camp outside the castle when we arrived. The sun was in our eyes and we almost missed their first volley of arrows. Luckily we had our shields set in time. Finally we clashed, We had the numbers but only barely. Men I knew were hacked and bloodied, maimed and killed. Men I knew all my life. Something changed in me that day, I grew more determined, more hardened. We took the field, I lost nearly a third of my force. They lost more. I shook my head as my captain asked if we should pursue. Let them go I said, there had been enough killing that day.

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Soon me and my men were marching to Leinster, the men there followed Murchad. He had taken it a few years before, just as I was now taking Dublin. We couldn't mount an effective siege, I knew. What we did was harass and harry, and prevent any reinforcements from heading north to lift the siege of Dublin. It wasn't light work. We lived almost like dogs, but my men were hard, and someone had to do it.

News that my wife was once again pregnant reached us. Once again I couldn't keep the grin off my face as my men congratulated me. That night I was frowning in my cup as I wondered how lucky we had been to conceive the one night I was back after the siege. I couldn't help but wonder if she was unfaithful, and if she was with who. I got drunk that night, more drunk than I think I ever had been. I had to man up the next day though, so I put it out of my mind. A drunk commander is a bad one. Remember that.

I learned that men were raiding around Dromahair. I worried more, about my wife, and son. The cold spring rain made me moody, and I wished it would end. News from the north came to us, and we learned that the siege went well and the castle would soon fall, and it did. The mercenaries began to siege the city, and it would soon fall too.

The city fell in June, and as they began to start besieging the Bishopric, a messenger arrived from Dromahair. Earl Murchad was willing to concede. We had won. I could not get home soon enough. It did not take but a month to confirm the peace. I marched into Castle Ath Cliath with my men. We revelled and got drunk. My chancellor took charge of things their, while I rushed home to my wife and son. The mercenaries returned home, much richer for their work, which to them was quite light and bloodless. That August my second son was born. Olchbar MacAed Ua Ruairc.

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My plans didn't stop there though.
 
Last edited:

WelshDude

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Very good.
 

Garuda

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A good start.
 

RKFM

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Great! Will definitely be following this saga!

One small edit: fix the typo in the last sentence.
 

Nate90909

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I needed gold. So I raised the taxes. The burghers complained, but what could they do? It didn't take long, I took Ill. Did one of them try to poison me?

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It took a month, but I recovered. The same day I started exercising at the sally with one of my men-at-arms my chancellor appeared, papers in hand. He had managed to prove that my family had rights to Leinster. I grinned, that coward Murchad would be furious. My chancellor assured me it was much easier this time for him, and that Murchad's vassals had lost faith in his rule. Well, all the easier for me, but for some reason I didn't think they would give in without a fight.

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I couldn't just attack again though. The peace agreement specificed a truce that would last at least several years. That didn't stop me from training my men and preparing for war. I was sure Murchad was doing the same.

Two years have passed, the truce is almost over. I have a daughter now. Little Ben-Mide Nic Aed Ua Ruairc.

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Muchard no longer ruled Leinster. He had passed away the year before. His son Donmall now ruled. My chancellor assured me it did not matter. So we went to war - again. How the Ua Cheinnselaig must hate us. I didn't have much coin as before. There were no Breton mercenaries. Just Irishmen bent on conquest.

It was early May when we arrived outside Leighlin Castle. My four-hundred and fifty men met Donmall's two-hundred and eighty. The weight of numbers told. I can say this, he and his men were not cowards that day. I lost over a hundred brave men. Over three hundred dead lay on the field before the castle. It took us four days to burn them all. Then we began the siege. My scouts told me that several bands of Donmall's men, and likely Donmall himself had gone north to Dublin to raid and pillage. Not enough to worry me though.

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I was over year around Leighlin. They had a well supplied larder, and no matter how many times I tried to sneak a spy in to soil it, it never worked. It was around then that I learned my wife was pregnant. I was wroth. I had not returned to Dromhair in over a year. Now I knew of her unfaithfulness. That September the siege ended. The county was mine. Donmall surrendered. I returned to Dromhair to my pregnant wife. We did not have words. I glared, and she raised her chin and gave me a look I wish I had beat from her face. I nearly did, they tell me I have a temper like no other. I didn't though, I controlled myself. That was when I decided to see her dead.

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She died the next month, I did not have to do much. A word in a few of my more loyal vassal's ears, and in the ear of one of my wife's maids. The unborn bastard would never see the light of day.

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The anger I felt after that left me in a sorry state. I can say now that I did not do well integrating my new county into my lands. In my rage I changed the inheritance law in my domain. No longer would all my sons inherit. Gavel-Kind was out, Primogeniture was in. I was reasonably certain my first son was mine. Though the shrew might of found a way to find a sailor on the vessel home. My second son and daughter, I'm afraid I could not be sure about. For some reason I still loved them though. After my rage had passed I knew that I had made a mistake, but I could not undo it. I could however make sure he got the land he deserved before I passed, and that my daughter would marry well.

In December, 1079 the peasants of Dublin revolted. The harsh taxes had been too much for them. I needed the gold else my ambition would not be satisfied. I led my men to put the rebellion down.

We were surrounded, outnumbered four to three. Men around me died by the handful and my personal guard had to save my life more than once in that hellish melee. Pitchfork and spear met sword and axe. Shield met flesh, horses neighed and died. It was a bloody, savage affair. Somehow we won, the peasants broke, over two hundreds of them fled to the hills around Dublin. My bloodied savaged retinue shook ourselves as we begun to search for survivors. It took us three weeks to see to the dead on that field. It haunts me to this day.

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In August of 1080 I was crowned Duke of Meath. I was the third duke of Ireland, and the second strongest. I would see to it that I would be the strongest soon. Despite my losses the previous year I had my marshal training more men as fast as he could. Soon I would march on Kildare, and force Earl Mael to be my vassal. That year I also married the daughter of the Duke of Baden. While she was on the way I prayed to god that she would be a better wife than my first.

Art finally turned sixteen. I love my son, but I am also disappointed. He has shown no aptitude during his education, other than he read the occasional book. I'm not sure what to do with him. Later that month I made him my marshal.

I turned 45 this year. My plot has finally come to a head as well. I have declared myself Duke of Leinster, and demanded the Earls of Kildare and Ossory submit to my rule. They refused, and now there is war. The bretons have returned, lured by my coin. The banner of Ua Ruairc is unfurled to the sun. We march to war.

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Kildare's men quickly marched to Dublin while I and my men-at-arms marched to Kildare. Ossory's forces forced my men at Leinster to take cover in the keep. Meanwhile the Breton mercenaries marched to Dublin to lift the siege.

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A week later an even battle between my men and Ossory's army erupted outside Kildare's castle. It was not the bloodiest battle I have ever seen, but it was not clean. We won, however more forces, this time men of Kildare's attacked, they were few in number, but we were bloodied. We saw them off, but not without losses. Meanwhile I received word that the Bretons had reached Dublin and had lifted the siege and blooded Kildare's main force.

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After that, all opposition faded, and the sieges of Ossory and Kildare began. They lasted almost a year. Ossory fell first, then Kildare. I was now Duke of Meath and Leinster, Count of Breifne, Dublin, and Leinster, and Kildare and Ossory were held in fief to me. I was now the greatest duke of Ireland. My life ambition was nearly in my grasp. Or so I thought.

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Today, Art bothered me for the last time about a fife of his own to rule. I sent him to Orkney, were he will marry the Duchess there. I hope she is as kind and gentle as my Adelheid. (Yes, his second wife is named Adelheid as well.) My wife is pregnant for the first time. I wonder if it will be a boy or a girl.

My wife gave birth today, to a beautiful baby girl. Derborgaill Nic Aed Ua Ruairc.

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It has been two years since I have written here. I had almost forgotten my journal. My wife gave birth to a baby boy. Augaire MacAed Ua Ruairc.

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It is now May, almost a year has passed. I have finally found enough funds to bribe enough of Duke Tadg's vassals to usurp his title. I am now Duke of Connacht. I've raised my men, we march their to impress upon him his vassalage to me.

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He had taken the other side of the river. Despite our numbers we could not cross the ford very effectively. I lost a lot of men crossing, however once across our numbers told true, and we pressed them from the field. They ran to their castle, and now the siege begins. As I looked upon the siege works being built, I was told that my wife had given birth a week earlier to another daughter. I smiled as I looked up on the castle walls. I could not wait to return to Dromhair ache in my bones tell me that I am getting old to go a'warring. I know I am not done yet though.

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That year I made Tadg my Chancellor. Despite the fact that I had 'acquired' his dukedom and forced his vassalization we seemed to get along, and he was quite a negotiator. I've sent him north to Oriel to see about seeding the ground for its joining to my lands. The Earl there I hear is an imbecile.

I also placed the Earl of Ossory as my marshal were I can keep an eye on him. He has be quite loud about his protests of the new Tax I levied on my Earls.

The Mayor of Wexford is my steward, he is good with coin, at least he is more competent than the last steward. The Mayor of Dublin is my spymaster, though he likes to pretend he is actually a bastard prince, I let him put on airs as long as he continues his good work.

Of course my court chaplain, used to be my kinsman, however I had to replace him with the Bishop of Kells, to ensure that the weaselly man paid his tithes to me instead of the Pope.

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My son Olchbar burst into my room this morning. He raged at me quite loudly, that I must re-instate gavel-kind inheritance and that he deserved a fief to hold. That he was much better than his good-for-nothing older brother. I'm afraid that's when I lost my temper I ordered him carried out by my guard. I called my steward and I sent papers to have him bethrothed to a baroness in Poland. He left for there the next day. I'm afraid we have never spoken since, nor written. I never meant for it to get this out of hand, just the time was never right, the words never right. God I wish I could call him back.

The next spring saw my fourth son born. Fergus MacAed Ua Ruairc. I'm not sure I'll live long enough to see him grown, I'm getting too old to have children. My wife though says I am young enough for her. I almost feel content, yet my ambition is not yet met. It must be soon.

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A letter arrives this year, from the Earl of Ossory and Connacht demanding an Elective Inheritance to the Duchy. My soldiers strap their shields on, this is rebellion.

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My army marched to Connacht, and once again we were stopped at the damned river. The same battle years ago, was repeated. We won, but this time we paid a higher price, we did no have so many men as last time and that cost us. In the east Dublin and Leinster marched on Kildare and there the battle raged, I received word of the victory there at the same time I learned that the Duke of Munster had declared war, stating that Leinster was rightfully his. I glowered at the letter for an hour before ordering the march to Kildare.

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Before we could leave more of Connacht's forces engaged us. I sent word to the men at Kildare to come to our aid, and they did. Unfortunately by now the levies of Munster were preparing to march, and we had already been bloodied.

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It did not take long once reinforcements arrived to force the soldiers of Connacht into the keep. We received word that Munster's army had arrived in Leinster, so instead of setting up siege we were forced to march to Leinster, there we outnumbered them five to three, but the battle cost us lives, and time. Less than a week after the battle we fought another levy from Ossory, then another from Connacht. Our numbers dwindled.

A new force from Munster arrived, and with five hundred men in it, our two hundred was forced to flee, but they had cut us off from Breifne. My new marshal, Earl Mael of Kildare suggested we take to sea, so we did. It was then that I decided we would have to call in the Breton mercenaries once again.

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They arrived, and quickly headed to Leinster, and completely smashed the forces from Munster there. This good news came at the same time that word from France arrived. The young king had agreed to marry my eldest daughter who had also turned sixteen.

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Despite the Ache in my leg I ordered the men to prepare. The new recruits were finally trained enough not to hurt themselves. I could only gather three-hundred men. We marched to Connacht, and there was barely any resistance. It did not take us long for us to set up siege. Likewise word from Ossory arrived, the mercenaries were doing well in their siege of the keep there.

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Nate90909

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It did not take long, a white flag waved over the keep and Earl Tadg came out and we spoke. He agreed to surrender. News arrived a week later stating that Domnall of Ossory had surrendered to the Breton Captain. With the rebels taken care of we marched on Munster. We did not get far before I received word that both Earls had refused house arrest and were once again in rebellion. Another siege was on, this time it lasted a year.

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It ended quietly, much unlike a battle, a white flag came up and the guards opened the gate, and came out unarmed begging for food. My men took Tadg, and we marched to Kildare were we met with the Bretons, as they had taken Donmall a week earlier. I brought them out in front of my men in nothing but their small clothes and set them on their knees in the cool dewy spring grass. There I stripped them of their lands and titles, and all said it was just. I ordered them sent to the dungeon in Dromhair. To this day I believe their skeletons still hang on the walls there.

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Munster did not take long to convince to call off his invasion, and he renounced all claim to Leinster. It did not change the fact that he had invaded. I knew Earl Mael had a claim on Thomond. I was already making plans for when the truce was over, vengeance would be had.

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That august word arrived, my oldest son, Art, was dead at the age of 28. What cruel world would take my son's life and yet let me still live? I'm nearly sixty now, I will never be able to give him my Ireland now.

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It has been several months since my son's death. I have begun preparations. The crown of Ireland shall be mine, and my heirs. My grandson lives in Orkney, I am not sure what kind of many he is becoming, for his mother will not send him to me. I sometimes worry for him. The truce between Munster and I will end in two years, and when that happens, on that day, I will press Mael's Claim. With them humiliated I will be unchallenged in Ireland.

The time has come, my armies are ready. I send my messenger to Munster with the papers that tell him we are at war. I already know the conclusion it is not in doubt, he has not the strength to resist my power. The men march. I no longer command the army, but I observe, letting my captains do their job. My leg aches too much to run around so much anymore.

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Munster's levys are crushed already. The papers of his acceptance of Mael's claim have already arrived and sit safely in my tent's strong box. The letters of invitation have been sent out to each of the earls in the north. They've been invited to my coronation.

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Seven Lords arrived at Dromhair that day. Earl Mael, Countess Ben-Mide, Earl Niall, Earl Aed of Tyrconnel, Earl Aed of Ulster, and of course Doge Murchad of Munster. My children were there, even little Fergus.

scaled.php


The crowns were golden, gem encrusted things. My court-chaplain, the Bishop of Kells, lead the ceremony. Finally he placed the crown on my head, and then he placed the second, smaller tiara on my wife. I was fifty-eight years old. My heir was a little boy in Orkney. I looked up, and all my loyal and disloyal vassals alike looked back at me. Then the cheering began, but I knew in my bones it would be harder to keep than it was to gain. Already I felt the daggers at my back.

All hail, King Aed I of All Ireland, Duke of Meath, Leinster, and Connacht, Count of Breifne, Dublin, Leinster, Connacht, and Ossory! All hail the High King of Ireland! Hail the King! Hail the King!

60kingdomofireland2.jpg
 

WelshDude

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Uniting Ireland in the 11th century, that's pretty good. Now, when this blasted game comes out on steam, I'll see if I can do the same with Wales....
 

Saithis

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Good work uniting Ireland! Aed's created a strong kingdom but I wonder if his heirs will be able to live up to his name.
 

Stonewall

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An excellent read. KUTGW.
 

trajan

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Excellent work! Now you have to hope your grandson doesn't come back a Scot -- the Irish counts and dukes won't want a Scot on the throne!
 

Firefly21

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Very good, gameplay focused (with a nice bit of character thrown in!) AAR. Will be following
 

Bballman23

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Very good read indeed, hopefully you continue it. One question, though -- I don't see a red drop by your heir's portrait. Is he of your son's wife's dynasty, or is the drop just not showing up for some reason? Could be a bit of a disaster if it was a matrilineal marriage!
 

Profanicus

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Hi, I am learning the game and found this AAR very helpful.

I was wondering if you could share the reasons behind choosing Dublin as the initial target?
 

hjarg

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Very interesting! And that's one mighty fast Kingdom of Ireland!
 

mac85

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Now Valentine's Day is out the way I shall be following in your footsteps and uniting Ireland. (Who chose that release date???)
 

loki100

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great start, looks interesting to see how you develop this, but:

you need to keep within the forum rules. One of which is no more than 20 screenshots per post

no need to change what you've done but keep this in mind for future posts