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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

unmerged(58610)

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I'll bet Tom cheered on the Minotaur in the story when he was young. Why couldn't Theseus just leave him alone?

The Port Authority is in France, symbol the cock and the minotaur is a bull. They'll believe Meck's story is a load of old bull and test him for mad cow disease.
 

CatKnight

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I'm sure the Marseilles Port Authority is used to talking bull-headed people. After all, that describes most politicians.
 

billy bob

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CatKnight said:
I'm sure the Marseilles Port Authority is used to talking bull-headed people. After all, that describes most politicians.
:confused: The problem with that though is that most politicians are more like the jelly fish with their stances changing with the tide.

Also this is an actual bull head, that can gore you. GORE YOU. Do you know how painful that is? Very. Oh well Meck is a master of disguise.
 

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Duke of Wellington said:
Not the best of disguises for slipping by authorities.
They are French you know, maybe he could have said he was a German Minotaur and gotten through while they run? :D
 

Farquharson

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Emperor_krk: I'm slowly reading through your AAR - great stuff. I don't know how similar my Mecklenburg's destiny will be to your Pomerania's, but I hope I can match it in scope anyway!

Miral: Actually minotaurs can do lots of things - hopefully this AAR will be a valuable educational tool for revealing some of their lesser-known habits and capabilities... :D

Chieg Ragusa: The nice thing about northern Germany at this stage is that the situation is fairly fluid. Being opportunistic almost always pays! ;)

billy bob: I was trying to work out how Meck could reach Tom without the "cover" of looking like he was going to a New Year's fancy dress party. And then I thought "No, he just gets stopped by the police and Tom has to bail him out." Problem solved! Well, of course the next problem is how Tom actually does bail him out, but that's the next update...

stnylan: And here I am back in my favourite Paradox game too!

J.Passepartout: I wasn't thinking about the minotaur's last period of incarceration in relation to his arrest, but maybe I can use that... ;)

Deus: The Marseille police in general are a pretty hardy lot - it takes a lot to surprise them.

Chief Ragusa: Testing for mad cow disease :D Sounds very realistic to me! Hmm - you can tell when an AAR is going slow when people post twice between updates...

CatKnight: Quite right - but as I say, these guys aren't fazed.

billy bob, Duke of Wellington: Yes, I think Meck is still something of a novice when it comes to disguise, but he does have other non-violent talents which can compensate as you will see.

billy bob: Hmm - you can tell when an AAR is going slow when people post three times between updates...

OK, the next update is mostly written so it may be up today or tomorrow.
 

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Chapter 3
Ignoring a Warning

As Tom drove slowly through the Marseille city traffic towards the port, his mind went over the game. He had now reached 1435 and Mecklenburg had receiving a rather worrying warning from Denmark. Then the Mecklenburg Alliance had expired and in view of the Danes' sabre-rattling he had decided not to recreate it, but rather to get into a more powerful alliance. The choice was obvious - Brandenburg was now allied with Saxony, Pomerania and Stettin and he was on good terms with all of them. Mecklenburg was immediately welcomed in, while Holstein and Bremen continued a very weak alliance on their own and Berg went off to join the Hessian Alliance with Meissen and Cleves.


The newly enlarged Brandenburg Alliance​

Was this why Meck had come back? Was Duke Johann also wondering what to do when the alliance expired? And what on earth had happened at the port? Had the minotaur actually been arrested or was he just being detained for questioning? Surely it wasn't a criminal offence just to have a bull's head? Well, he would soon find out. Here he was at the port, being directed to a squat building with a tricolour flag flying above it. This was not the Vieux Port, with its crowds of tourists and ranks of pleasure boats, but the much larger commercial port of La Joliette to the north. When Tom walked into the building he was astonished to find the minotaur laughing and chatting with a group of policemen. He seemed to be speaking fluent French and was telling a stream of jokes, not all of which were suitable for family viewing.

"Oui, monsieur?" said one, wiping tears from his eyes and turning to Tom.

"I'm Doctor Fraser," said Tom, then added by way of explanation, "Meck's friend."

"Ah!" cried another of the policemen, slapping the minotaur on the back. "But everybody is Meck's friend, n'est-ce pas?"

"I take it there isn't a problem then," said Tom a little stuffily.

Meck turned to him and gave him his sheepish bull-face look.

"I'm sorry, Master - it was the sword," he explained. "And now they have taken it from me. My Spartan xiphos that I've had for longer than I care to remember."

"I'm sorry, Meck," said one of the policemen, "but we can't let you go wandering around Marseille with that."

"Oh, but I won't be wandering round Marseille now," said Meck brightly. "Doctor Fraser and I will be leaving by boat right away."

"Oh really?" said Tom.

"It's the Danes, Master," said Meck, by way of explanation. "I've told Duke Johann not to worry about them, but he insisted on speaking with you. Listen," he said turning to the policeman, "how about if I swap you the xiphos for these genuine fifteenth century Hanseatic coins? I think you'll find they fetch a good price."

Meck pulled a handful of copper coins from a pouch at his waist, and the policeman peered at them closely then took them and handed over the sword.

"Well, I suppose if you are leaving right away perhaps there isn't a problem after all," he said.

As they walked away from the police station and headed for the spot where Meck's drakkar was moored, Tom turned to the minotaur.

"You know you'll really have to find a more discreet way of getting in touch with me, Meck. This just won't do at all."

"Yes, of course," said Meck. "I'll think of something. And I'm very sorry to have given you all this trouble."



The port of Marseille​

"Well, I think Duke Johann is right," said Tom. "The Danes are a real threat to you. I don't think you can survive long with such weak allies."

"Ah - well that is what I was going to ask you. The alliance is about to expire."

"Don't re-create it," said Tom. "Join the Brandenburg Alliance instead."

They were in the drakkar now and sailing out of the port, Tom clutching his laptop at his side.

"Hmm," mused the minotaur, "You know, Master, that could make a lot of sense. Powerful allies to the east and a handful of weak neighbours to the west. I like that."

Once they were out on the open sea, the drakkar again did it's alarming spinning trick, plunging beneath the waves to emerge in the chilly waters of the Baltic.

This time Duke Johann was actually waiting in the boathouse to receive them, and Tom was shocked at the change in his appearance, since, as it seemed to him, only a week ago. The truth was that fifteen years had passed in Mecklenburg, and the Duke, although not particularly old, was now a sick man.

"Greetings, Duke Johann," said Tom.

"I am so glad to see you, Doctor Fraser - I have the Count of Holstein and the Archbishop of Bremen here right now," said the Duke in agitation, as Meck and Tom climbed out of the drakkar. "They want to sign a new treaty of alliance."

"Don't!" said Tom, quickly. "You are right to be afraid of the Danes and those two will be of no help in stopping the combined might of the Scandinavian armies. Send them away and see if you can join the Brandenburg Alliance instead."

"Ah! Now there is a sensible idea!" cried the Duke. "And I'm sure the Elector Friedrich will accept Mecklenburg into his alliance right away since my cousin Heinrich the Fat is married to his daughter."

"Well, well," remarked Meck, "so your fat cousin Heinrich is going to turn out to be of some use after all!"

This Heinrich, as Tom soon learned, was the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, while Johann was the Duke of Mecklenburg-Stargard. Two DP shifts towards centralization had helped somewhat in promoting Johann as the senior ruler of the House of Mecklenburg, but there was still a long way to go. Fortunately Heinrich the Fat was not at all ambitious, except when it came to eating, so Johann found him easy to manipulate and in practice it was he who made most of the important decisions concerning policy in the Duchy.

Once the Duke's unwelcome visitors had been sent away empty-handed and arrangements had been made to send an ambassador to the Elector Friedrich, Tom and Meck sat down with the Duke and Tom started up the laptop and played through a couple more years in the game. There was no more trouble from the Danes. The only other happening of note was the appearance of an uncooperative philosopher in 1437.

"Wait - I know who that is!" said Duke Johann. "I'll bet that's that Nicholas Krebs who was given a post at the University of Rostock last year. He's been getting the clergy very nervous with some of his ideas, despite the fact that he himself is a cardinal."

"What sort of ideas?" asked Tom.

"Well, for one thing I heard that he was interested in astronomy and was suggesting that the earth might turn about the sun - a bizarre notion I grant you, but he seems harmless enough."

"Hmm," mused Tom, "I wonder if he'd be interested in steam engines?"

"Steam whats?" said the Duke.

"Tell you what," said Tom, "let him go free, and tell him to watch the steam coming out of a kettle. If he can think of a way to use that to turn a wheel, I think I may be able to power the Secret Lore from here."

"Watch the steam coming out of a kettle?" said the Duke, looking baffled. "Well, I suppose it's no more ridiculous than the earth going round the sun."

My goodness, thought Tom, what on earth am I playing at here? I'll be making catastrophic changes to history if I carry on at this rate. And what relation did this world have to his own anyway? If he really set the Duchy of Mecklenburg on the road to glorious conquest, and taught its scientists how to build steam engines three centuries early would it actually change his own history? Or was this simply an alternative timeline completely unrelated to his own?

They played a few more uneventful years, uneventful that is, but for a change of monarch in January 1439. The new ruler was Heinrich, but whether it was Johann's fat cousin or some other relative Tom wasn't sure. His main concern was to distract the Duke so that he didn't even notice this event. Given his current state of health he would perhaps have been glad to know that he still had nearly four years to live, but to know the exact month of his own death would surely be an intolerable burden to bear.



"Oh look, Duke Johann! What's that strange bird flying past outside the window?"​

Fortunately Heinrich's stats were almost identical to Johann's so the change went unnoticed. And then something really interesting happened. It was only weeks after Heinrich's accession and for some obscure reason many alliances were going to war with Venice, including Bremen and Holstein. What made this interesting was that Venice was allied to the Papal States, which gave Mecklenburg a CB on its weak western neighbours. Oldenburg had also been in this alliance but dishonoured at this point and joined another alliance with Styria, Strassburg, Wirtemburg and the Palatinate. The crazy thing about this was that this alliance was also already at war with Venice and the Papal States. In any case, Mecklenburg could now grab the opportunity to annex another nearly defenceless neighbour.

"Which do you fancy?" he asked the Duke. "Holstein, Bremen or Oldenburg?"

"Let me see," said the Duke, peering at the map on the screen. "Well Oldenburg certainly looks like the most defenceless of the three. What if our allies dishonour or don't help us? We could get mauled by those armies from Bremen and Holstein."


"Very well, Oldenburg it is!" said Tom excitedly. "We'll just wait till winter is over."

"But really, do you think it's safe?" said the Duke, looking worried. "I mean, we've been warned by Denmark and all. You don't think they'll attack us if we declare war on Oldenburg?"

"Relax, Duke Johann," replied Tom. "Look at the armies your allies have got. I really don't think the Danes will risk it, and if they do, you'll probably thrash them between you."

"Well let's see what happens!" said Meck, who was swinging his precious xiphos around in excitement and anticipation. Surely he was about to see Mecklenburg take another step toward greatness.

Tom waited longer in the vague hope that the Bremen and Holstein armies might sail off to attack Venice or the Papal States, but they showed no sign of doing so. So in July the entire Mecklenburg Army was assembled and sent into Münster from where they could attack Oldenburg without having to cross the Weser River on the way. By September they were in place and he declared war. By the following April it was all over.



Annexation for Dummies - the three stage process
(Don't be distracted by all those Burgundian Armies - they had nothing to do with this war!)​

Tom did hesitate before annexing Oldenburg. It was a nasty BB hit, and it could perhaps be done in a more civilized manner by simply vassalizing the Oldenburgers for now. But Mecklenburg was still only a two-province minor. They needed territory and quickly. He clicked the "Annex" button and hoped for the best. Meck was dancing about flailing with his sword and making strange grunting noises, while the Duke nibbled nervously at his fingernails.

Of course, Mecklenburg was still at war with Strassburg, Wirtemburg and the Palatinate (Styria having dishonoured their alliance). Tom sent a few offers of White Peace to them, but it wasn't until he sent the Mecklenburg Army into Anhalt, recently annexed by Strassburg, and began a siege there that Strassburg accepted peace.

There was still the question of Denmark, whose CB on Mecklenburg still held until April 1442. So Tom played on until then, just to make sure, but by that time the Secret Lore's battery was getting low and it was time to shut down.

"Why don't we go and pay Cardinal Krebs a visit right now?" asked the Duke, who was clearly eager to continue the game. "Perhaps he could knock together one of those steam-thingummies quite quickly?"

"Er… I don't think so," said Tom. "And anyway, I'll have to get myself some sort of dynamo and bring it back with me the next time. Just having a steam engine wouldn't be sufficient."

"Oh," said the Duke, disappointedly. "Well, anyway, it's good to know that the Duchy is on the road to glory and conquest. I can hardly wait till 1439 when we get that opportunity to annex Oldenburg!"

Tom just smiled, but it was painful to see Duke Johann's enthusiasm and know that by the time the opportunity actually came he would be two years in his grave. In fact, it seemed very likely that Tom would never see him again.


 

Emperor_krk

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Meck's appearance is just another one you would expect everyday in the port of Marseille, wouldn't you? Or does he just do some nasty tricks with the minds of the policemen?
Whatever. Loved this episode just as much as the previous ones :D.

And thank you again for your kind words on my AAR - I wish I was able to write in such a hilarious way as you do!
 

stnylan

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Bull+China shop = Meck+Europe
 

unmerged(58610)

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http://www.genroy.fr/mecklenburg.htm gives Johann III life into 1438. He came across as a fairly well meaning chap though he had no offspring.

The pair of Tom and Meck will have fun with Heinrich for the next thirty years. He could take the expansion of Mecklenburg too much to heart.

Where and how did Meck get that xiphos?
 

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So the lore has given Mecklemburg some new territory. However the question of the batteries still will be a problem unless Tom manages to find a dynamo that makes exactly the right kind on electricity (Volts and Ampers and Ohms and Watts).

So I presume when you said that he doesn't know much about electricity, then I guess Electricity 101 is on the menu.

Loved the post.
 

Farquharson

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Emperor_krk: Actually I don't think Meck would necessarily be the most outlandish-looking person to be seen wandering about the port of Marseille - it's very cosmopolitan!

stnylan: And he's looking forward to having a smashing time! :D

Chief Ragusa: I was interested to see that genealogy link. I usually use this one which I can highly recommend. It's very similar, but seems to have a bit more detail. It's also in English! According to that one Johann died on 31/12/1438 so I suppose the AGCEEP having Heinrich appear on 1/1/1439 is quite OK. As for the xiphos I'm not sure where and when Meck got hold of it - probably sometime back in his labyrinth-roaming days...

Deus: Hmm. Clearly Tom will have to be careful what he's doing or he'll be causing a catastrophic hard disk failure and Mecklenburg might disappear in a puff of smoke! :eek:

J.Passepartout: What I wondered was why the police didn't just keep the xiphos and try selling that on ebay or something. But perhaps that's where Meck's natural charisma came into play.
 

billy bob

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Farquharson said:
billy bob: Hmm - you can tell when an AAR is going slow when people post three times between updates...

OK, the next update is mostly written so it may be up today or tomorrow.
Nah, Im just spamming to get to 2,000 posts. :D

Oh and nice update. IT is sad that the Duke is gonna have to die before the Lore's prophecies are fufilled.
 

Rensslaer

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Farquharson: Expert of Absurdity.

Certainly not a bad thing!

Bizzarreness! :D

Rensslaer
 

CatKnight

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What's so absurd? A minotaur in Marseilles? Obviously he's an actor. As for that xiphos, maybe he borrowed it from the set of "The 300."

Picking on poor Oldenburg though, for shame. I wonder if there are time police who are going to want to chat with Dr. Fraser before too much longer.

It might be very interesting if Fraser does botch up his timeline, and now he has to find a way to fix it.
 

Emperor_krk

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Any chance of an update? It's been two weeks now and I'm already starting to miss Meck and Tom... ;)
 

coz1

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Ahh, just caught up with this and loving it already. Good to see you back at home in EUII, Farq. I'm liking this set up too. Clear and concise gameplay with a little absurdity thrown in. Now give us some crazy accents and all will be right with the world. ;)
 

PrawnStar

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Slow day at work - so I'm browsing back in the EU2 forums after a long absence and wow, a Farq AAR, excellent.