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    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

hjarg

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Hello there!

As you can determine from the title, this AAR will be about Etruscans. Not even a nation, but a very loose coalition of city states who used to dominate Central Italy, but whose power is now waning, while the Roman star is rising. Let us see if we can turn the tide and make the Etruscans the power they used to be and make Romans the thing they deserve to be- slaves.

Or at least, die trying.

On a side note, this AAR is somewhat influenced by (as far as i know) only historical novel about Etruscans. A Finnish author called Mika Waltari wrote a book translated perhaps a bit uninspiringly into "Etrusan" from the original Finnish title "Turms the Immortal". I am not sure who thought this sounded better. Strongly recommended by be as a brilliant, if a bit depressing, reading material.
 

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Good luck in crushing the Roman dogs
 
Rebirth

hjarg

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Rebirth

I am Lars Turenidi. I am an immortal. Yes, in time, my body will grow old and feeble. I will lost sight and cannot stand straight. I might be even killed in a battle or disease may take me. Though, all this is but my mortal shell. One day, i shall return. I shall walk the streets of Vesnth, walk up the sacred mountain, to the temple of Voltumna. And then, looking at my beloved city, i shall remember.

Remember this very moment, when i picked up the stylus, and decided to start writing. Remember by childhood, when i grew up in Vesnth. Remember my childhoods before. Remember me, holding a spear, standing in line with my fellow citizens, sweating in fear, watching as the Romans approach and the screams of terrified soldiers as the Etruscan and Samnites were defeated by them. Remember running for my life. Remember my first love. And other first loves of all the other mes. Don’t ask, this is personal. Remember my first sip of wine and my last breath.

Then, i shall watch the ancient city of Vesnth and feel my past lives flow through me. And I thank the Goddess, kneeling in the dusty stairs. Then, I shall rise up, walk to the temple and tell the priests. “Open up the gates, I have arrived”. And they shall kneel before me, no matter what rags i wear, no matter how poor or dishevelled i look. They shall wash my feet, they shall feed me, they shall bathe me, and they shall cover my body with fine linen, for i have returned. For I am the favourite of Voltumna

After that, I shall walk to my tomb. Look at the brightly colored frescoes, depicting my previous life. Images of me feasting, hunting, warring. And then, I shall look at my sarcophagus. With me, all alone in the cover. And i realize that there is a price to pay for my immortality. I shall be alone. Alone in life, alone in death. And I shall kneel before my remains and cry the bitter tears of immortality. As I have done again and again. As I will do in the future.

If anyone ever reads what I have written, them I am certain that you are confused, but have a basic grasp of who I am. This is but an introduction though, for there is one thing I am not. Important. I do not lead the nation. I do not hold political power, nor do i lead armies, steer ships or rule over hearts and minds of men. I simply am, for the Goddess has willed so. This story is not about me. This is about Etruscans, or Rasenna, as we call ourselves.

It was the day before. At around the noon, when an indescribable sound, like a thousand trumpets, pierced the cloudless sky, forcing everyone to their knees. It pierced the hearts of men, woman and children alike, making everyone cry in anguish.

It ushered the end of an era. For this sound will be heard only once in the one’s lifetime. It means that all who last heard it are dead and none among the living shall hear it again. It meant that the old Year of the Gods had ended and a new begun, new in deeds, new in customs, new in thought.

For Etruscans, this spelt the end. For Gods have granted the Etruscan twelve cities twelve Years of the Gods, and this was the twelfth. The ancient prophecy, passed down since the Etruscans were taking their very first steps in Italia. For we are an old nation, having lived in our beautiful hill cities since time immeasurable. When the Rome was but several villages of mud huts, each encompassing one hill, we had stone cities and sanitation and wealth and culture and cool shade on these summer months. And now, with the new Year of the Gods, we shall end.

As people grow old and feeble, so do nations. New, younger ones will compete, while we slowly wither away. Our cities will burn, our men die in hopeless battles, our women and children cry in slavery. This is the way of this world, as cruel and unforgiving as it might be. It has been such since the ancient times and will continue to be so in the future.

The sense of impending doom filled the streets of Vesnth yesterday. No laughter, no singing. We looked at our beautiful city in silence, looked at the countryside and imagined it all in ruins. Or on fire, with the enemy breaching our walls and bringing death or misery to all within. It was not a happy day. Despite the sun shining and making everything golden with her rays, I felt a chill down my spine and felt gloom. As did everyone in our city. As did everyone in all the cities and villages of the Etruscans.

It was I who gave them hope again. Not because of what I did, but because of who I am. For that is also way of the people. They cling to hope, even in the utmost darkness. If there is a chance, they will take it. Even if the chances are slim. I love them for that.

“It is the end of 12 cities of Etruscans,” bellowed Elbio Vulturreno. “New era shall begin. With new thinking, with new customs, with new deeds and thoughts.”

People gazed up on him. Elbio Vulturreno. The ruler of Vatluna. The greatest of the 12 cities. My friend. He had climbed up to the podium of the temple of Voltumna. It was already nightfall. Few lights were flickering in the city below, as the people had gathered to the temple to pray. Not just citizens of Volsini, but from the other 11 cities of Etruscans. For the temple of Voltumna was where the 12 cities gather, and for the time was for the meeting when the Gods announced our doom.

Despite the people, the mountain was engulfed silence, where sudden suppressed weep came out as thunderous. Never have I seen so many people and such silence. Even the creatures of the night stayed away from the holy mountain, leaving us humans to our misery.

The voice of Elbio Vulturreno cut the silence like a well-aimed ram cuts through the enemy trireme. The sound of the crash, as the ram ploughs herself through the thick wooden planks with full force of the ship. The screaming of men as the ship starts to sink, trying to take her passengers to the watery grave. Startled, everyone looked up, only to see the figure of Elbio Vulturreno, only moon lighting his face in the darkness.

“The once mighty Etruscans shall wither away and die,” he continued, now enjoying the full attention of the audience. “Yet,” he continued, making a dramatic pause and then, pointing at me, sitting in the front row.

“Death is familiar to him,” he said. As the people looked at me, I felt discomfort. My friend, not r caring, continued. “Lars Turenidi had died. From old age. From disease. From cold iron. Yet, here he is. Always does he come back, and always does he find way to the arms of Voltumna.”

Though I was common knowledge, the people still stared and slowly moved away from me, giving me a circle in the crowd. Once again, i realized that the life of immortal is a lonely one.

“Times are changing indeed,” he continued. “The Rome in the south is growing stronger, while we are getting weaker. As the priests said it, the time of 12 cities of Etruscans is over. And I say- let it be over!”

With that statement, the last curious eyes left me alone, concentrating on Elbio Vulturreno.

“Let them die!” Elbio Vulturreno was now enjoying the full attention of everyone. “For we deserve to die. We are like oxen, pulling plough in different direction. We are like sheep, squabbling amongst ourselves, while the wolves gather in the woods. We are like mice, playing blindly in the grass, while an eagle approaches from above.”

The silence of the crowd became thick enough you could cut it with a knife.

“Let them die!” Elbio Vulturreno continued. “Let them die, for they have lived past their age. Let them die, for the Gods told them to! Let the old ways and the old systems fall. But let us emerge from the ashes and, in rebirth, become stronger and wiser! Let the twelve cities die and let us be reborn as a single nation, of single purpose!”

“Divided, we fall. United, we rise!” the voice of Elbio Vulturreno, risen now to volume that seemed beyond human capacity, filled the entire Fanum Voltumnae. “Let us cast aside our differences, and stand against the world”

He gazed at me again. “My friend Lars Turenidi, the immortal. Are you with me?”

So enticing were his words. So promising seemed his concept. So dreadful seemed the alternative. So, without hesitation, I rose. He held out his hand and pulled me next to him. Then, as the crowd started cheering, he embraced me, yelling “Thank you, my friend” to my ear.

Next to me, rulers of Tarchuona, Velcal, Sena and Velathera climbed up and joined Elbio Vulturreno. With a bit of a hesitation, the others followed suit. Tlesna Fulu, the ruler of Vesnth, being the last.

The Gods were right. That night, the twelve cities of Etruscans died. Sooner then anyone could expect. Makes you wonder. Did the prophecy became true because the Gods willed so? Or did the prophecy fulfill itself simply because it existed and enough people wanted to believe it?

From the ashes, Etruscan League rose. More then a loose alliance between cities. Less then a nation. Born out of desperation, in order to avert the incoming doom. In the North, skies darkened and clouds gathered, and soon, lightning pierced the skies. Again again, lighting the night sky bright and filling the air with roar of thunder. Thus, the Gods showed their approval. It is now up to humans to be worthy of that approval.
 

hjarg

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Ehh, first impressions of the game- the size does not matter, the geographical location does. That is referring the alliance system- for it seems like my cunning plan of uniting Italian peninsula against Rome does not work just because there is no way allying myself with the rest of the nations due to power differences.

Anyway, one introduction done, the first episode proper most likely tomorrow.

Good luck in crushing the Roman dogs
From thus far, luck is a vital component.
 

stnylan

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Nice speech :)
 

Nikolai

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Very interesting. :)
 

Smokez83

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Interested in seeing where this goes! Good opening!
 

gnarviking

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Yeah, good luck..
This "size matters" system is just stupid.
 
The Etruscans

hjarg

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The Etruscans

I had left my car in a gas station a few kilometers back and decided to walk. Now, I am not sure why. Mixture of feelings, I guess. Perhaps I wanted to imagine myself as an Etruscan grunt, holding a spear in my hand and feeling the weight of my armour, as I march in line with the others, returning from a successful war, joking and singing. Or it was just that the sun and the summer of Tuscany seemed tempting enough from the comfort of my air-conditioned car that I decided to take a stroll. I just knew, when I stopped at the gas station, smoking and gazing at the hilltop city of Vetulonia, that i wanted to walk.


Modern-day Vetulonia

So I did. I put out the cigarette and turned to long and winding road, heading uphill. Now, about halfway up. Let us just say that sometimes it is not easy to admit to myself that I am not an ancient Etruscan soldier, but an ordinary bookworm who should not have worn a pair of brand new fine Italian leather shoes I bought yesterday evening from Firenze. My feet were killing me. Plus, the sun. It is easy to forget that without air-conditioning, the Tuscan sun can be brutal.

Time for a break. The cypress trees decorating the roadside looked as tempting as the road looked unpleasant. So, I removed by shoes (and noticed a small impint in them- Made in China. Authentic Italian craftsmanship my ass), let my feet feel the dusty Tuscan grass and sat down, leaning against the cypress, trying to get as much shade as possible. I opened by backpack and pulled out a book that caught my eye in gas station. “Rebirth of the Etruscans”, by some local author and opened it at random.


“There is always some truth in legends,” the paragraph started. “Just more often than not, the original message is mired in mythology. Take them mysterious Etruscan God-Years for example. 12 God-Years granted for 12 Etruscan cities. At first glance, a modern man will dismiss it as a hogwash. Examining more closely though, and calculating an average God-Year to be 50 years, we shall get from 300 BC to 900 BC, consistent with archeological record of Villanova culture, the first “civilization” in Italy. Also, looking at the decline of the Etruscan civilization for a few centuries before 300 BC, there is a good chance that this part of the legend just symbolizes the rise and fall of the Etruscans. Or at least, the predicted fall.

As for the story of Elbio Vulturreno, the truth can be much more simple. Seeing as the Etruscans, along with the Samnites, just lost what we know to be a second Samnite war. Rome was now the power in Italy. The Republic was stronger then ever- and the other nations were on decline. The logical thing to do would be to forget and forgive past differences and join forces. Instead of one fateful night in Vesnth though, the process was most likely gradual, with cities joining forces not out of omens and oratory power, but from desperation and hope to avoid impending doom.

The Lars Turenidi part- that is most likely hogwash.

By 450 AVC, as I shall be switching over to Roman calendar, as is customary these days, the Etruscan League had been formalized. Elbio Vulturreno, the ruler of Vatluna, was in charge. More or less. His power was far from absolute though. The young League was still taking baby steps, and alliances formed within alliances. Beside Elbio, there were three more rulers who were, de facto, co-rulers. All of them had their own armies, and in the future, they will shape the Etruria, while as usual, trying to get as much power to themselves as possible.


The leadership of the Etruscans

Tiberius Alienus, Ceisie Latni and Menandros Sostarid. Still rulers of their own cities, but now also commanding the part of Etruscan armies, loyal to them and them alone. They were not the man who could be ignored. Elbio at the top, three of them to keep him in check, for tyrant was the last thing the Etruscans needed.”


Three quite wise men. Or at least, three good commanders

I flipped a few pages, then another paragraph caught my attention

“The twelve cities of Etruscans” is a phrase you hear quite othen. Used by both Etruscans and foreign parties alike. My personal theory is that they reached 12 some time ago and then decided that enough with the counting, for the Etruscan league was much more then the twelve cities.

Another fact that is easy to miss is that the heart of Etruscan League is not Erturia, but Tuscia. Home of the capital, Valtuna and the only province completely under Etruscan control. Rich in iron, and also a true rarity- rich in both bronze and tin, the mineral wealth of Tuscia had made Etruscans rich. The fertile lands of Tuscia also ensured that Etruscans will never go hungry, and fine marble makes buildings beautiful.


Tuscia, the Heartland

Etruria herself is a bit more agrarian. Olives, fish, sheep and of course, iron. Though the capital is Pyrgi, this is also home of Tarchuna, or Tarquinia, the legendary first city of the Etruscans, rich from selling iron to Greeks in the south and Gauls in the north. All is not fine in Etruria though. The biggest thorn is Nepete, owned by Romans.


Etruria, the Cradle

In addition, Etruria has three more provinces. Pisae in Cisalpine Gaul. Ruled by separate governor, Pesna Vulturreno. More mountainous then the plains of Tuscia and Etruria, the province provides mostly stone, marble and bronze. Around half of the cities are part of the Etruscan League.


The northern holdings

Then, there is Arminium. Only single city is owned by Etruscans though.


Arminium minimum

Finally, the Island of Corsica. Originally, Greeks tried to colonize the island, but were expelled by the coalition of Etruscans and Carthaginians over 200 years ago. The population still stubbornly refuses to assimilate though. The eastern part of the island is colonized, while the western half is still roaming wild tribes. Mostly agricultural in nature, the island provides grain and salt and wine and like. “


Finally, half of Corsina

I skipped the graphs, eyed the pictures of Etruscan artwork and browsed on. Ahh, foreign situation.

“One cannot talk about Etruscans without talking about Rome. Once, the Etruscans were the Kings of Rome, but now, the republic is their greatest threat and also acts and as a driver for unification. Owners of Latium, including former Etruscan city of Veii, the Romans were a real powerhouse. Not just the Romans, but their client states of Frentania, Pelignia, Nuceria and Marsia are the dominant power in Italy. Outnumbering the Etruscan forces by far.


Rome, the bane and boon of the Etruscans

Then, there is Samnium. Much weaker after the just-ended Samnite war. Something the Romans can gobble up and become even stronger. Rest of South Italy is Magna Graecia, consisting of several Greek city-states.


Samnium and Magna Graecia

The dominant power in the region is actually Carthage. Holdings mostly in North African coast, the Phoenician nation has also been fighting over Sicily, owns coastal Sardinia and has holdings in the Hispania.


Carthage. The Powerhouse of the West

In the North, Etruscans have mostly Celtic barbarians, uncivilized when compared to the Etruscans and other southern nations. Also, Friniatia. Not all the Etruscans joined the League. The three cities in the North remained independent. Though allied with the rest of the League, they were not part of it and refused to bend their knee to Elbio Vulturreno.


The non-aligned Etruscans and a lot of Barbarians

In the East, there were more nations. Most notable was Umbria, an aristocratic republic. Ancona, a Greek city. And some barbarians.


Umbria and the Barbarians. Sounds like a 60'ies band

Overall, Etruscans were still a powerful nation amongst their peers. If not for Rome, none of the neighbours were enough to challenge their power. Then again, if not for Rome, the Etruscan power would be much more splintered and a lot of effort would be spent in-fighting.”

After this, I felt rested enough. I put my shoes back on, rose up and continued my trek towards Vetulonia, while swearing that I would take a cab back. If there is one. Vetulonia is not the biggest center no more.
 

hjarg

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Ah well, more intro. Where is the rush, right?
Actually, Etruscans start off quite strong and from a few getting to know the game games i tried, is more then a match to Rome alone. Just not to Rome+clients.

Next time, some actual gameplay!

Nice speech :)
Thanks! Hope it was not over the top :)

Very interesting. :)
Thank you very many!

A solid introduction.
Thanks a lot!

Yeah, good luck..
This "size matters" system is just stupid.
Luck is needed. And yes, this makes no sense. Hello, people, we have a common enemy called Rome, how about we gang up on them? No? Because we have too many provinces?
Actually, one thing i tried is to sell a few cities until i became a local power. Works. Feels stupid.
 

stnylan

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I think I can see why they did what they did with the different powers and stuff, but it has some really weird oddities. I hope they further iterate on it to end up with something more reasonable, maybe a reluctance across power groups that can be reduced by AE and what HoI4 calls "Strategic interests" or somesuch.

Nice overview.
 

Nikolai

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Hogwash, eh? I wonder if not Lars is close by. :p
 

darkhaze9

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This is an interesting start to an AAR, definitely unique. I'll be interested to see where you take things from here, and if you can create a reversal of fortunes for the Etruscans! :)
 

Forster

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I like your start.
 

HistoryDude

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Interesting start.

Also,interesting point about whether or not the God-Years thing was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
 
Deal with the Devil

hjarg

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Deal with the Devil

We, the Etruscans, like our luxury. Fine wine, exquisite pottery, exotic foods, enjoyed together with friends in lavish feasts. We are people who put the citizens of Sybaris to shame when it comes to enjoying the life. Rightfully so, for life is fleeting and temporary. Might as well enjoy your time in this world. The Romans seem to scorn our attitude though. And the word “decadence” pops up more often then not.

Nothing I’ve experienced thus far compares to the reception we received at the court of Cassander Antipatrid, King of Macedon, though. The palace at Pella was the size of a small city, and the hospitality of Cassander knew no bounds. After receiving our gift of 30 talents of gold, the King showed us a truly royal welcome. Slaves catering to our every desire. All the food and wine we wanted, of the most exquisite and exotic kinds. Feasts, dancing, theatres, shows of fight. Military parades. Creative executions. Cassander was showering us with welcome, while trying to show us his might to us. At the same time, despite his joviality and friendly behaviour, i felt his cold eyes upon me, upon our ambassador, upon our all delegation. Calculating. Assessing. Weighing our worth. As is expected from a man responsible for killing the heir of Alexander, alongside with the mother of a heir.

Ruthless, cunning, cruel. The thing is, we needed ruthless, cunning and cruel. For these qualities were also present and cherished in Roman Republic. As for Cassander, he needed us as well, no matter how much he tried to look powerful and mighty. His concerns were in Magna Graecia. A rich and fertile and independent territory in South Italy that Cassander eyed upon. Fully realizing that the Romans threaten his ambitions in the region as well. The Etruscans being the only force in the region capable of opposing the Rome and their client states, so he needed us, as well as we needed the threat of Macedonia to keep the Romans at bay.


Deal with the Devil

Later, in the fine villa of Elbio Vulturreno, we hid from winter rain indoors. Hearth giving welcome warmth to our bones With cups wine in our hands and us positioned comfortably on couches, we idly talked about it all.

“What’s the difference?” Elbio enquired.

“Hmmm,” i played with my cup, as for looking for answers from there. “The difference... we feast because we love life. Cassander feasts because he loves himself.”

“I still don’t get it?”

“We feast because we enjoy wine, music, dancing and company. Cassander Antipatrid holds feasts because extravagant feasts show how rich and powerful he is. We are doing it because we love it. Cassander is doing it because he loves the amazement of other people when he is showing off his wealth and power.”

“Hmmm.” Elbio’s seemed deep in thought. “Will he hold to his promise?”

I hesitated. “I am not sure,” I said, slowly. “If it is in his interest. If he feels so. If..”

“Not the most reliable ally,” Elbio replied. “Will this be enough?”

“We can only hope that the Rome does not want to risk fighting us and the Macedonians at the same time, no matter how slim the risk is...”


The devil himself

“I hate that we have to rely on Cassander,” said Elbio. “Not the most pleasant of characters, it seems.”

“Friend, this is an understatement,” I said. “But this is also the best we got, so we have to deal with it. If we go on, expecting to be stabbed in the back, then we shall not be surprised at least.”

“But, Elbio- how did it go while I was away?” I inquired. Changing the subject completely and leaving the question of reliability of Cassander open.

“Much better,” said Elbio, now smiling. “Trade agreements with Carthage and Massylia were conducted without issues. We now have ample surplus of iron in Tuscia and also, horses. Shipped in all the way from Africa, but still, horses. We can have some cavalry now.” Then, he added with a sigh “If only we could afford some more of them.”


Iron and Horses. Base for a good warfare

“Money is tight?”

“War is expensive,” Elbio replied quickly. “You have to recruit them, you have to pay them, you have to feed them, you have to arm them.” He sighed. “And you have to have many of them”

“How many we have?” I asked. “Or rather, will have?”

Elbio shook his head. “Nearly not enough. But we will have to do”

“And the Samnites?” i asked

Elbio chuckled. “Much easier then the Macedonians. They seemed to accept our guarantee of their independence with gratitude. After all, all the benefits, no obligations. They were ecstatic when we proposed it!”


Samnites, now feeling much more secure

“So, we have blocked Rome?” i asked

“We have made harder for the Romans to expand. If they go against Samnites, they will have to deal with us. If they come against us, they must be prepared to fight Macedonians. But we have not blocked them, we have just slowed them,” replied Elbio. “Until we can deal with them,” he added with a dark grin. Then, his face turned into more worried expression. “If we can, Lars, if we can.” he said, heavily.

Then, his face brightened. “As for now, we have reduced the situation to less uncertain. How about we feast!”

I wholeheartedly agreed. Then, we ate and drank and were merry, for tomorrow, we may be dead. Or slaves to Romans. But today, we were free, we were rich and we got drunk as pigs while we danced until we could not stand. For we are Etruscans. We love our feasts.

We did not love the next morning though, when we stood at the temple of Aita and watched the priests to stab a pig, burn it as an offering and check the liver for omens. Apparently, the omens were good and there was some extra money coming our way. And Elbio snuck in some warm, mulled wine to make the bones warm and feeling much more festive.


Help us, Aita! On totally unrelated note, in Estonian, Aita translates as help!
 

hjarg

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Hmm, apparently, i'm off to a slow start. This is episode three and still no war. Highly irregular, judging by other AAR-s. Next time though, there will be! I promise!

And tested some methods of keeping Rome at bay. Like to sell off a few provinces until i was a lower power. Or just attack Rome outright. But this seemed the most cost-effective. Until AI can calculate the fleets of allies, that is. Even though Cassander is not the nicest chap out there.

I think I can see why they did what they did with the different powers and stuff, but it has some really weird oddities. I hope they further iterate on it to end up with something more reasonable, maybe a reluctance across power groups that can be reduced by AE and what HoI4 calls "Strategic interests" or somesuch.

Nice overview.
Thanks!
And at least, add options like "beg for a guarantee" or "become a tributary" or something.

Hogwash, eh? I wonder if not Lars is close by. :p
Lars is exactly one episode away :p

This is an interesting start to an AAR, definitely unique. I'll be interested to see where you take things from here, and if you can create a reversal of fortunes for the Etruscans! :)
Thanks a lot. Well, thus far i have been taking things very slowly from here.

Great setup, I'm really enjoying the mixture of narrative and history you're using.
Thanks! I'm pretty fond of it myself. Haven't totally decided how it ends up though.

I like your start.
Thanks a lot!

Interesting start.

Also,interesting point about whether or not the God-Years thing was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Thanks. And- as is with all well-known prophecies. Do they become true because enough people believe in them?
 

stnylan

Compulsive CommentatAAR
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Well to be fair about the lack of war, you are in a rather different position that most other AARs. You have an immediate and pressing threat to prepare for - rather than @Nikolai who started in the midst of hte conflagration that is the Diadochi Wars; or myself in Olbia or @ManderTea in Britain who have no immediate threats but a need to grow bigger so we go up the local foodchain, so to speak.