May 16th, 1384:
A flask of the worst biological weapon known to mankind dropped into the Mediterranean, and a time-traveler named Alexander Phokas worried that he had deleted his future from existence. At least it wasn't open.
"Don't worry about it. This isn't our reality, and I'm sure the vial of death won't shatter," said the time-traveler's companion, whose name was George.
"Okay, fine, maybe it won't matter. But I've already wrecked one reality, and I hope I haven't destroyed another," Alexander responded.
"What do you care? If that thing ends up releasing bubonic plague on the world, it's their problem, not ours."
Since none of the other passengers on the cog understood a word of English (even Middle English), this went ignored. Besides, it was a warm night out, and the sky was black except where it was dotted with stars.
"Nostalgia Freaks" tells the story of the nigh-on-immortal, if fairly ineffectual Alexander Phokas, and his attempts (or lack thereof) to steer the development of humanity in WAMMO's "Dark Continent" scenario.
First time readers:
- WAMMO is a mod that combines Miscmods with EU3Plus (formerly AzeriEU3). It's not complete yet, but what's available is pretty cool. Essentially it adds a decent amount of content to the game, if not as much as one of the really big mods like MEIOU. It also makes things harder and perhaps more realistic.
- My overall gameplay goal is to reclaim as much of the former Roman Empire as possible, starting with the Byzantine half and possibly working my way westwards as possible. However, I occasionally make roleplay-oriented in-game decisions. To be fair, I pick up the Byzantine Empire tag rather quickly.
- My overall writing goal here is to remain mostly in a narrative/humorous approach, in that I try to balance the bizarre anachronisms with a good dose of what's actually happening in-game and in-universe. Gameplay notes and other administrative text within updates proper will be in italics. I'm making the assumption that the reader is at least slightly familiar with EU3, if not necessarily WAMMO. If an update doesn't have a timestamp, it's an entirely narrative/state of the world update.
- I am going to shoot for Monday updates at the minimum; I may be able to update more frequently, especially early on before my college semester gets demanding. As of March 2013, this has mostly turned out quite well.
- The science fiction elements in this AAR get more prominent with time, and really take off in the accurately named 15th gameplay episode. To say more would spoil the experience.
- I'll add more points to this list if relevant things come up.
Table of Contents
Episode 1: The First Intervention (1399-1407) Currently this post. I should eventually ask a mod to split the Episode 1 post off from the explanatory things above it.
Episode 2: Alexander the Pretty Good (1407-1422)
Episode 3: The Failed Intervention (1422-1430)
Episode 4: Worse Than Troy (1430-1443)
Episode 5: Carving A Turkey (In Which Troy Is Actually Assaulted And Captured) (1443-1453)
Episode 5.5: Alternatives to the Fall of Constantinople
Episode 6: Power Politics (1453-1466)
Episode 7: The Gulf of Venice Resolution (1466-1473)
Episode 8: Rise of the Basileous Brothers (1473-1485)
Episode 9: Mortal Acts of Roman Nations (1485-1492)
Episode 9.5: A Kingdom Of Statistics
Episode 10: The Imereti Imbroglio and the King in Kiev (1492-1505)
Episode 11: The Generation Gap (1505-1518)
Episode 11.5: Maygari Culture Shock
Episode 12: Thálassa Mas (1518-1531)
Episode 13: The Planet Shrinks (1531-1548)
Episode 14: Byzantium's Annoying Neighbors (1548-1558)
Episode 14.5: Globalism
Episode 15: The Most Shocking Episode Of The AAR (1558-1560)
Episode 16: The Era of Desperate Flailing (1560-1575)
Episode 16.5: How to Destroy Byzantium Without Really Trying, Part I
Episode 17: Greeks Gone Wild (1575-1591)
Episode 18: How to Destroy Byzantium Without Really Trying, Part II (1591-1593)
Episode 18.5: The Role of Nostalgia Freaks in International Politics
Episode 19: I Don't Think We're In Constantinople Anymore, Toto (1593-1607)
Episode 20: Platinean Pragmatism (1607-1615)
Finale, Part 1: George Nejem's Lack of Ambition
Finale, Part 2: Destroying the World to Save It
Finale, Part 3: Everybody Loses It
Read my analysis of this AAR (primarily my writing process) here.
Episode 1: The First Intervention
October 11th, 1399:
Europe had been scoured clean by a disease that had somehow, implausibly run out of steam the moment it hit the geographical boundaries of the region - even before then, perhaps, as there was still plenty of human life in the Caucasus and other areas west of the Urals. Best not to dwell on it.
Meanwhile, on Crete, a mild mannered Cretan named Theodoros Phokas (who had just happened to be in the right place at the right time) had decided it was time for his little archipelago nation to become slightly larger. Considering that most of the people who would oppose him were dead, or at least heathens, now had seemed about a good time. Unlike most ambitious people in the world, he happened to be a king... of sorts; he'd been lucky and seized power from the Venetians once they started dying. He hadn't told anyone about his desire for more land, but he'd eventually have to.
For the record, here is Crete at the beginning of Dark Continent. It's a bit precarious, but it could be a lot worse:
+ Island nation; therefore, judicious use of naval power may result in the wooden wall effect.
+ Crete gets the "Surviving Lineage" modifier, which opens up an event chain allowing it to become much more powerful than it would otherwise.
+ Crete is within range of the Middle East, Greece, Italy. In other words, money... although Europe is generally rich.
* The national ideas Crete starts with (probably sourced from EU3plus) are a bit weird, but it doesn't really matter, since you can choose new ones immediately. However, you lose the nice "Traditional Ideas" modifier if you do so, which gives you cheaper stability costs and a small amount of cultural tradition.
- The ruler we start with is pretty terrible.
- Crete is an Orthodox minor in a sea of relatively powerful Islamic nations, but none of the small Christian minors that you can usually form webs of alliances with. The Ottomans begin at war with the Timurids and some minor Turkish beys, but North Africa intends to kill you. Also, they start with higher technology levels - all 5s to your 3s (which is nothing new, of course). At least none of them start with cores on you, or anything else that promotes AI aggression.
- Questionable sliders, although WAMMO's "more complicated method" of nation birth in Dark Continent will make this a moot point after a while.
As you can see, Europe is mostly empty. To make things a bit more interesting, Dark Continent adds in several new nations - these generally represent Islamic settlers from various parts of the world trying to make their claim on Europe, although they have the option to switch to new, more "out there" religions.
October 12th, 1399:
Alexander Phokas could trace his ancestry back approximately 1300 years. This was one of the advantages of being part of a time-traveling, nigh-on-immortal civilization. On the other hand, it seemed at least in this universe that he'd managed to prevent his own birth. Obviously, time did not subscribe to single-universe/paradox based models, otherwise merely traveling too deep into the past (Any more than 25-50 years, even) would result in spontaneous existence failure. On the other hand, it turned out that Theodoros Phokas was still alive. One of the side effects of being Cretan, perhaps?
"You're the 4th time traveler I've had in here today," Theodoros told him in front of the court when Alexander stumbled in, trying to explain his situation. "What do you guys want?"
Four travelers in one reality meant interesting things were about to occur. Alexander was having trouble responding.
I play with random lucky nations, usually. I've uncovered three of them so far - Scotland, the Ottomans, and the Golden Horde.
"The first came in a gigantic metal bird. The second challenged me to an extremely odd variant of chess. The third wanted to tell me about a group of individuals who call themselves 'Septic Flesh'. What are you going to do?"
Alexander had to think fast to appease his who-knows-exactly-how-many-times-removed grandfather.
"Well, I... uh... represent a corporation called 'Nostalgia Freaks" that helps people relieve their childhood memories and desires," he ended up stammering. It was a blatant lie, and something that didn't really have a proper equivalent in the local dialects of Greece.
"Yeah, and I'm the Basileus of Crete-" At this point, one of Theodoros' advisors had to inform him that he was, in fact, the ruler of the local islands. This brought some degree of pleasure to his face.
"Right. Have you ever wished the world was as good as you remembered it being in your childhood?"
"I know that a few hundred years ago, the Romans still held sway. Then some crusaders sacked Constantinople and things went downhill."
"So are you a Greek or a Roman?"
"Let's see... born on Crete, never left. I think I'm a Greek."
"Are you implying you're going to help me rebuild the Roman Empire?"
"Well, I don't have anything better to do, so I might as well..."
It looked to be an entertaining way to spend a few hundred years, at least by Alexander's reckoning.
Alexander immediately wanted to have the citizens of Crete construct new settlements on the mainland, but they were too busy being frightened of plagues to leave the island. On the other hand, they had no real objection to people visiting or staying on Crete. The army was expanded slightly, and a variety of administrative tasks awaited everyone, such as the accumulation of money. Theodoros seemed to understand; he made a speech about improving local infrastructure.
Speeches are pretty self explanatory. However, if you become a republic with term limits, each option also triggers a random themed event - often with negative consequences.
Merchants attempted trade without much success, and marriage requests were sent out to the few bastions of Christendom. Religious debate continued, and Alexander had to keep his futuristic views private as Theodoros claimed that Crete had survived only by the piety of its citizens.
A few months later, he tossed out his kingly title for that of a metropolitan.
"Are you sure you want to give so much power to religious interests?" Alexander asked him in 1401.
"Don't worry. I represent all religious interests for the moment," Theodoros responded. "Besides, these robes are pretty comfortable."
I chose to go for a Theocracy partially for the sliders, and partially because it decreases the amount of time it takes for me to get the "Reclaiming the Lost Continent" modifier that's unique to this scenario. This ensures a steady supply of colonists - one thing about WAMMO is that generally, you don't get any until you make 'Colonial plans'; they generally require either a high level of naval technology or access to Siberia. I delayed my slider movements and national idea choices until I was sure of what sort of government I would go for. First slider movement is +1 Quality in June 1401; I choose my national ideas at the same time. I am intending to wage a great deal of wars, so Unam Sanctum/Grand Army/National Bank should increase my war capacity in all three major realms - targets, soldiers, funding, etc.
Needless to say, the former king did not like Alexander very much; it was a wonder his presence in the court was tolerated for as long as it was. When some Cretans decided they wanted to take back Greece, Alexander was coerced to go along with them as they made their way to Athens. In preparation for what was expected to be a decent amount of trade, Cyprus was made a staple port.
Alexander figured Theodoros wasn't very smart, as the local merchants had little to no luck trading with the Islamic countries around them. Without access to the government, though, he had no idea whose idea it was.
Some time in November 1402, Alexander saw a meteor blazing a path through the night sky. It didn't appear to be heading in his direction; probably one of the other "time travelers" botching a futuristic artillery attack on the others. Naturally, the settlement in Athens thought something even worse was about to happen.
As you can see, someone really, really liked "Comet Sighted". In June 1403, the next event in the nation forming sequence occurs. I take the middle option since I want the Byzantine Influx modifier and other options screw up my sliders. Going further left than +3 on the innovative/narrowminded makes it hard to keep Unam Sanctum without stability hits. Otherwise, I don't want to be too narrowminded due to the technology speed issues.
One of the Islamic settlements converted through their own event sequences to Orthodox Christianity. Enter Ruma, who spawns in Rome (shockingly) and therefore stands to inherit Italy's many universities and rich processes. Some of this came under Byzantine control in the 6th century, so I will probably eventually try to conquer some land from them. But for now, I want them as an ally.
Despite not having reliable access to the government, Alexander eventually picked up that Crete was not alone in reclaiming Europe for humanity. The Papal State decided to get into the reclamation racket as well, sending their colonists to Epirus. Immediately opposing them by declaring war or something seemed unlikely to work. Things got worse - the Ottoman Turks quickly seized the papal colony. Meanwhile, the religious unity of Europe continued to fragment. Scotland turned to Orthodox Christianity, Norway and Iceland to Asatru (the Viking religion, introduced in Miscmods). Catalunya (Which spawns automatically in northeast Iberia in Dark Continent) went Jewish, and Faransa (Take a wild guess) adopted the Zoroastrian faith. All of the new ones are in MiscMods; WAMMO only seems to add Oriental Orthodoxy, which is generally restricted to Ethiopia, except in the "Peace of God" scenario, where it also shows up in Armenia and on the Deccan coast.
Things got stranger. At some point, two provinces in the bey of Candar came under the control of Greek patriots, who decided to throw their lot in with Crete. I now have access to Giresun and Trebizon, but they seem hard to defend. With this in mind, when another event (Establishing Colonies) comes up, I decide to take the second option, slightly improving my troops, but potentially leaving Corinthia vulnerable to Papal/Ottoman/etc. colonization.
Alexander obviously noticed his life had devolved into low level building in Athens. Why he didn't just pack up and leave for the future he could not quite account for. It must have been the insanity that the local area was beginning to devolve into. He wasn't expecting any less, given the plague incident - Crete was now also allied with Muscovy in the north and had provinces on the Black Sea. He, on the other hand, occasionally laid bricks.
Which wasn't to say he favored non-intervention. One day, a few scraggly men who claimed to be Turkish entered the borders of the colony at Athens. They were slaughtered. Alexander had to remind himself that only a few decades ago, much of Greece and the Balkans were falling under Ottoman control. They'd tried to re-establish their presence in traditionally Greek Epirus, but had been kicked out by Georgians, of all people. Apparently they were getting tired of the Caucasus.
By late 1407, the prevailing mood had shifted - apparently people now wanted in on the colonization game, if only to beat the Georgians at their own game. Alexander felt like helping the Cretans rebuild, but he was no longer willing to get his hands into the gritty bits of it. Metropolitan Theodoros was rather disconcerted when a face from the past showed up at his court again.
"What gives? I thought I had you exiled or something," he shouted. On the other hand, he didn't immediately order Alexander's arrest or execution, so that was something.
"No, man. I'm from the future. Now do you want me to actually help you or not?" responded Alexander. He'd taken one of the many small ships being constructed in the current island core of the country, despite the fact that he was unlikely to benefit from the interest of the metropolitan.
"Are you still going on about that?" Theodoros shrugged. "I suppose you could help around the court if you really want. For instance, I have this nice cassock and mitre set that I need picked up from the local dyer's shop in time for my next mass. If you get that for me, I'll let you hang around."
It was a start.
Currently I have played up to 1422; stopping when my first ruler died. I was able to take advantage of opportunities and develop significantly faster than otherwise expected. In short, I'm now Byzantium. If this installment seems a bit sparse, it's because most of it was spent waiting for the Dark Continent events to trigger. This is where narrative of any sort comes most in handy.