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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

TheButterflyComposer

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Monsieur Butterfly

That's a new one.

Besides, whenever I play HoI4, I can't help but notice the UK AI either goes towards decolonization or it ignores that whole focus tree entirely. Heck, I had one HoI4 game where I brought back the Kaiser in Germany, and Britain invaded Holland to secure their place within the Allies.

For me, the Brits seem hardwired to be crazily protectionist and usually try to federalist the empire and then go after Europe themselves.

there's no need to decolonize unless you're going the Communist Britain route, but even then, knowing that Germany and Italy are about to crazy in a few years, why would you put yourself in that weakened predicament? Unless the German AI is also going an alternative route (eg., bringing back the Kaiser), it seems silly to initiate that tree.

Even if you wanted to be communist, you'd also want there to be not much communism. Much easier to make the world communist if you already own a quarter of it yourself...just imperial federation everyone into the brotherhood then kill everyone else. Very simple.

That last part is a good point to bring up. There's no Soviet Union to send aide to Republican Spain, and to my knowledge no one else has sent expeditionary troops up until this point. So everything you see Republican Spain doing here is by it's own power.

I have no idea how they did that without help. The war starts with them surrounded and outnumbered...
 
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Henry v. Keiper

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That's a new one.

:cool:

I have no idea how they did that without help. The war starts with them surrounded and outnumbered...

Keep in mind that the civil war is still going on at this point in the writing - it's far from over, and the Nationalists aren't going to get steamrolled. Later updates will discuss that further in detail.

That being said, it is mighty impressive how well the Republicans are doing this early on, since in most other games I've played, the Nationalists ALWAYS win, and rather quickly.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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rBKVCB2.png

Chapter 9
Alexander


April, 1937

bdL5TGA.jpg

What did you do when you found out your mother was the long lost daughter of the assassinated Tsar?

The attempted murder of his mother, and right before his eyes, had been shocking enough. It was even more shocking when Alexander discovered his mother’s past. He had known little of her past, really. She said she grew up near Petrograd, that her family had been murdered by the Bolsheviks during the Civil War, and that she had married their father shortly after the murder. Father had served in the Civil War, though he never gave specifics. To have it all suddenly explained to him gave Alexander some peace and rest, since all the holes in his mother’s backstory had suddenly been filled. At the same time, it was quite the shocker. To grow up in mean living, only to suddenly be whisked away in the dead of night and brought to a palace, and told you were destined to be a tsarevich? It was enough to make your head spin. Alexander still wondered sometimes if he should pinch himself and see if he would wake up, but the thought of finding himself back in Yekaterinburg, sharing an attic room with his sister, was itself a nightmare.

Even now, as Alexander stood in his room, gazing at himself in the mirror, he felt more like a little boy playing soldier than an actual nobleman. He was wearing a sharp white uniform that had been given him by the Black Baron, with the officer’s cap to match. Still, he cut the dashing figure, if he did say so himself. He had his father’s handsome, angular face, and even at the age of fourteen going on fifteen those broad shoulders did wonders for his form. Snapping his legs together, he brought his hand up to a smart salute, similar to how he had already seen officers on the parade grounds outside doing it. I could easily play the role! I was made for it! came a thought.

There was a knock on the door. “Come in,” Alexander said.

The door opened, and a greatly wrinkled face, coupled with a big white beard, peeked in. “Ah, come in, he says!” said the bearded face. “Come in, come in! What happened to come forth? That’s what our Lord said to dead men.”

Alexander had to hide a smirk. He had been given many tutors for his time here, but this one was the most peculiar of them all. It was Isaac, a monk who had been brought in from the Urals, and who had been assigned as his spiritual father of sorts. He was a kind old man – perhaps the kindest of all his tutors – yet he was also the most eccentric. Sometimes Alexander was annoyed by him, while other times he accepted him as quiet amusement. “But you aren’t dead, Brother Isaac.”

“Oh, am I not? That’s good to know!” He sauntered in through the door, wearing his thick black habit and leaning on his gnarled staff. He walked into the room and closed the door behind him, then proceeded to take his seat in a stool beside the wall. He lifted up his whitening blue eyes to Alexander and waggled a finger nearly as gnarled as his walking stick. “And never shall I be! I shall live forever! I have been told that.”

“Who? By our Lord?”

“Why no! I know this, because others have said that about me. Because you see, I’ve heard what people have said about me, when they think I can’t hear...” Isaac looked off into space and held up his hand, moving it slowly through the air in a dramatic fashion. “…they mutter to one another, ‘This one shall never die!’”

Alexander laughed at that. “Are we studying our lessons for today?”

“Lessons? Oh I fear not.” Isaac closed his eyes and tapped the side of his head with a fist. “My lessons have gone to sleep, and I fear to wake them up, for they shall be in a frightful mood. I have actually been sent to summon you. The Baron of Black will have a word with you.”

“Where is he?”

“Ah! That would be an important part of the message, wouldn’t it? He’s with your mother down the hall.” He tapped his staff along the floor in a line. “Twentieth door on the right. I know, for I counted them. Twenty. Twenty indeed. I thought there was twenty-one at first, then I recounted. Twenty! You better run along, then.”

Alexander nodded, then left the room and walked out into the large, expansive hallway of the interior of the Peterhof Palace – their temporary home in Petrograd. He hadn’t gone too far past another hallway when he heard a girl’s voice say:

“Alexander, you are looking well today.”

There, coming up towards him, was Olga. Alexander took in his sister a moment. Her long hair was done up into a thick bun in the back of her head, decorated with pearls. She wore a white lace dress that dragged down to the floor. It was quite the change for her, truly. Alexander had always thought his sister attractive (at least, as far as little brothers can think such things), but it was hard to imagine that, only a few months ago, this had been the same girl who was often found in their cottage, dressed in worn clothes, with dust and soot on her face from helping mother clean around the house and sweep up the fireplace. Now, she was perfectly spotless, with her smooth cheeks and soft jaw, her hair visible and pristine, and her clothes new and clean. Most of all, he was shocked how grown up she now looked. Back in the cottage, she often wore baggy clothes, and sometimes looked like a slightly taller girl. Now? Her form was distinctly feminine in that dress, and she seemed much taller now. There was no mistaking her for a young woman.

Alexander tipped his hat. “And you look well, Olga.”

“They say I am Grand Duchess Olga now. Do you think I look beautiful enough for a prince?” She held her arms out and twirled. It was not a haughty expression – she seemed sincerely curious, in that childish manner she often exhibited. The motion was similar to a young girl playing princess – even if, in this case, the girl wasn’t playing it.

Either way, it made Alexander sick. And he showed it. “Why should I care? Ask a prince.”

“Well, shouldn’t you care? I may have to marry a prince one day, just as you will have to marry a princess. Do you think Nadia will be jealous?”

“Nadia?”

“Yes, the girl from the village that you fancied.”

A feeling of revulsion came to Alexander’s belly, mixed with a hint of embarrassment. He hid it all with a sneer and a wave of his hand. “I didn’t fancy her. She was a bloated tart.”

Olga gasped, her hands going to her cheeks. “Alexander! You mustn’t speak like that! Especially since you’re a tsarevich now!”

“She was! She was always going on about how her father had connections with the military, and that was why her father could do so much business and they earned so many coins. And she said our father must have been a coward who fled his post if he had been a soldier but wasn’t an officer yet.”

Olga shook her head. “All the same, Alexander, that is not proper. If you become tsar one day, you will be her imperial father, and you must treat her with the same kindness and patience father shows you.”

“You’re not mother, Olga, and don’t talk to me as if you were.”

Konk! Konk! Konk!

Alexander and Olga turned. Isaac was there, walking down along the other side of the hall. He was striking himself on the head with his walking staff, quite hard. Every time he did, a comical cry of pain would leave his lips.

“Brother Isaac! What are you doing?” asked Olga, her eyes widening in shock.

“Ooooh, I am punishment myself!” cried Isaac. He shook his head. “I am overcome with grief. I remembered this morning, as I awoke, I heard a bird chirping outside my window. I grew mad and tossed a shoe at the noisy creature. Oh, how it grieves me, for such chirping is pleasing to our Lord, and will be remembered by Him far longer than my few moments of rest.” With that, the old man turned a corner and continued on down another hallway, repeatedly whacking himself with his cane.

Alexander raised an eyebrow… then thought on that some. Olga, like the bird, had only been doing that which was good, complimenting him on his looks and trying to remind him that he was no peasant boy any more. His anger towards her was misdirected and unwise. With a sigh, he turned to her and muttered. “I’m sorry, Olga. I shouldn’t have spoken to you that way. Please forgive me.”

Olga smiled sweetly. “I forgive you, Alexander… please think nothing of it.”

Alexander nodded, then adjusted his cap a bit before turning and walking off without another word. He almost forgot how many doors down Wrangel was, but then remembered Isaac’s quaint way of putting it. Twenty. Not twenty-one, he recounted. Yes, twenty. He got to the door and paused when he heard speaking inside. It didn’t sound like yelling, and he didn’t hear any swear words, which told him it couldn’t have been too bad. With that, he opened the door and peeked in.

Wrangel stood there, facing a table towards the door. Even in the dim light of the room, his black uniform was one of the most distinguishing features about him. Before him was a large map of Europe, unrolled with Wrangel’s sword keeping down one end while his hat kept down the other. At one end of the table stood a short man with dark hair and a thick mustache. Alexander seemed to remember him – he’d seen him at the palace before. Maksim… Maksim Lobanov. Yes, that was his name. He had been hired recently to assist as an adviser and speaker for mother. He had some complicated title, like “General Secretary of the Transitional Government” or something like that – Alexander couldn’t quite remember the details. And given how little respect or concern the adults seemed to give that title, they didn’t seem to think it was too important any way.

324lSol.png

“Hitler is of little concern to me at the moment,” Wrangel was saying. “He hates the Communists like we do. He’s focusing on rebuilding the German economy, like we should the Russian. And besides, there are graver situations facing us.”

“Ah, you mean the situation in Finland,” Maksim said. He tapped with two fingers the spot on the map where Finland was.

Wrangel leaned over the table, staring at the spot where Maksim had pointed. “Yes, with this Gustav V or whatever he wishes to call himself… he’s seriously taken it upon himself to overrun both Sweden and Finland.”

mFTIMPt.png

“Isn’t there anything we can do about this? This will upset our ties with Finland. They’re a member of the Pact of Petrograd.”

“I fear there is little we can do,” replied Wrangel with a frown. “They’ve denied any assistance from us, and are relying on support from Sweden. And I fear, with the state of Russia as it is, and with our current efforts to establish the throne, that going to war would not be prudent.”

Alexander had heard a bit about the Finnish Civil War – people at the palace had commented how it seemed to erupt around the same time as the Spanish Civil War. Gustav V was apparently attempting to take over Finland and push on to Sweden, only the Swedish government had stepped in to assist the current Finnish government. Even with that minimum knowledge, Alexander could tell, from this little bit he was hearing, that it was a mess.

“Is there nothing we can do here?” Anastasia suddenly said. She stood up and pointed to the map. “The country is already weak. Now we have a dissolving alliance? Am I taking control of a kingdom or a house of cards?”

“Please, Anastasia, please,” Maksim said. “You must be calm. There is little we can do – that is simply how it is. Even if the alliance shrinks at your coronation, what will it benefit you being crowned during a war? Will that prove any better?”

Anastasia did not seem happy at either prospect. Wrangel attempted to diffuse the situation by adding, “And speaking of coronation, we need to think about that.”

“Yes indeed,” Maksim said. “I believe, general, that you’ve been working on that quite a bit.”

“Correct. I’ve been meeting with Kerensky and Tsereteli to recreate the Duma as it was – or at the very least, as close as it could. They’ve formed the Union of October 17 Party, though in function it’s more of a coalition.”

“The Octobrists?” Anastasia asked. “But didn’t they fall from power and split apart before the last war had even begun?”

“There were many circumstances around that, Anastasia,” Wrangel explained. “The Octobrists hoped to bring reform at a time when your father was under pressure to only promise reform until the 1905 Revolution was over. These new Octobrists are working together to ensure you may obtain the throne, in an effort to work together under your leadership. The government will be modeled similar to that of the Prussian government: the legislative body will serve to keep the government in check, but it shall be the empress herself, and her government itself, which makes many of the decisions.”

“Can we really trust Tseretelli?” Maksim asked. “I mean, the man is a socialist. He’s borderline Bolshevik.”

“On the contrary,” Wrangel said. “He may be a socialist, but he’s a staunch anti-Marxist. He showed more bravery speaking at the Duma when the Bolsheviks wanted his head than many soldiers did on the battlefield. Besides, it is his primary interest not to see Russia dissolve, and to see all the political factions come together.”

GVpwDee.png

“In the meantime,” continued Wrangel, “the coronation should be scheduled for 19 May of this year. I understand dignitaries from many nations have been invited.”

“Oh yes,” said Maksim with a grin. “Even from America.”

“America?” Alexander asked.

Wrangel, Maksim, and Anastasia both turned to look in the direction of the doorway. Anastasia pursed her lips. “Alexander – what are you doing spying on us?”

“It’s quite alright, Anastasia. I actually sent for him.” Wrangel stepped around the table, walking up to Alexander. Although he had a smile on his face, the echoing of his stiff boots as they stepped succinctly on the floor added to the imposing nature of his stature. When he got up to Alexander, he put his hands behind his back and stood tall. “Alexander, it is often customary for the children of nobility to be given an honorary title with a unit of soldiers. Your sister has already been made an honorary colonel herself.”

“But Olga can’t fight in a war. She’s a woman.”

Wrangel chuckled. “The role is strictly ceremonial. You won’t be fighting in anything. You’ll inspect the troops, make certain their morale is up, and give them hope with your presence. That will be your sister’s duty. As for you, we’ve thought of assigning you with the 28th Udarnaya Division. It’s a motorized division, and they’re currently under the command of General Viktor Pokrovskiy.” Wrangel cleared his throat. “A good man, though a bit overzealous and peculiar.”

“May I go and fight in the Spanish Civil War?” Alexander asked eagerly. “I hear that Germany and Italy have sent soldiers. Are we sending soldiers?”

“Spain is not the land for Russian soldiers to fight and die on,” Wrangel remarked. “Already it’s become a mess. The city of Madrid was taken by Nationalists in April, and now only too recently has been taken back by Republicans. Take it from an old general like me: this is not a good start for a war. I fear it will not end any time soon.”

Alexander frowned. “Then what good will I do as an honorary colonel?”

“As the future Tsar of Russia, young man, it will do the soldiers good to see you showing that you care about them.” He patted Alexander on the shoulder. “Now, that will be all. I must continue assisting your mother.”

Alexander left the adults there, and continued out into the hall from whence he’d come. As he did, he thought more on his role as honorary colonel. Indeed, as he walked, in his smart uniform, and thought of how the world was developing, he realized truly what his role here was. Yes, Olga was right. He wasn’t a little boy in a small village in the country anymore. No… now, he was the future tsar. He was the son of the Empress of Russia. He was a young man who will someday inherit the throne.

And someday, he would prove it to everyone that it was his to hold.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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A budding little psychopath or a new Peter the great?

You make the call!
 
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Specialist290

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I think I enjoy this Brother Isaac fellow :)

The situation in Sweden and Finland is certainly cause for concern. An absolute monarch with imperial pretensions will almost certainly be aiming to extend his influence into the Baltic states next if he wins, which will put them on a direct collision course with Russia at a moment when they don't need any outside distractions.

I do have to admit to being curious as to the situation in the Far East, particularly to see what the Japanese have been up to in China and Manchuria. I'm guessing that situation is still mostly historical?
 
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TWR97

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Interesting tidings indeed, seems this 'Second Comong of the Lion of the North' might make for an interesting adversary, assuming he can find a way to defeat the Swedish government that is. That brother Isaac fellow sure is an interesting man alright, hopefully he does not make too much of a scene for the Romanovs like a certain monk did to the family many decades ago.

I hope this thinking Alexander is having is just typical teenaged shenanigans and he'll actually be a matured man when he does eventually suceed his mother. Wouldn't want the Romanovs to get another coup again when they had just returned to power now eh?
 
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Captured Joe

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Ah yes, the most important task of a young Russian prince, picking which uniform to wear and what elite regiment to attach your name to.

A budding little psychopath or a new Peter the great?
I dont't think those would be exclusive to eachother...
 
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Alexander seems like an interesting kid. Hopefully he will prove to be a fine ruler in time.
 

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I just caught up !
Nice to see Anastasia back and a Romanov on the throne. Let's see what it will mean for Russia and maybe a new start.

And there may be a Lion in the North. It could be fun for us readers. ;)
 
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A budding little psychopath or a new Peter the great?

You make the call!

Only Alexander's hairdresser knows for sure!

I do have to admit to being curious as to the situation in the Far East, particularly to see what the Japanese have been up to in China and Manchuria. I'm guessing that situation is still mostly historical?

At the time of this writing, yes, things are for the most part historical. The only exception may be borders: sith no Soviet Union and no rise of Communism/Marxism, there's no Communist China for Chiang to deal with, and Nationalist China is one big united country, giving it even more strength.

The Far East definitely becomes an interesting sideshow later on.

Interesting tidings indeed, seems this 'Second Comong of the Lion of the North' might make for an interesting adversary, assuming he can find a way to defeat the Swedish government that is. That brother Isaac fellow sure is an interesting man alright, hopefully he does not make too much of a scene for the Romanovs like a certain monk did to the family many decades ago.

Brother Isaac will appear again, but not become as controversial as certain figures in Russian history who caused problems for the royalty.

And he will definitely be less controversial, than, say, certain other bearded side characters from my other AARs. (I'm lookin' at YOU, Dermot...)

I hope this thinking Alexander is having is just typical teenaged shenanigans and he'll actually be a matured man when he does eventually suceed his mother. Wouldn't want the Romanovs to get another coup again when they had just returned to power now eh?

That would be somewhat amusing, but also sad.

Ah yes, the most important task of a young Russian prince, picking which uniform to wear and what elite regiment to attach your name to.

The funny thing is this isn't made up, but was something the Russian nobility often did. Olga and Tatiana, Anastasia's older sisters, both had honorary military titles and were assigned military units, even being given the feminine version of the relevant uniforms. However, it was as it was described in this chapter: a strictly ceremonial role, meant more for exposure and morale building.

Alexander seems like an interesting kid. Hopefully he will prove to be a fine ruler in time.

The funny thing is, to my knowledge, there isn't an event where a successor comes into play after Anastasia.

Part of me has fiddled with the possibility of modding the Millennium Dawn mod, if this AAR continues down the path it is.

I just caught up !
Nice to see Anastasia back and a Romanov on the throne. Let's see what it will mean for Russia and maybe a new start.

And there may be a Lion in the North. It could be fun for us readers. ;)

For my Finnish/Swedish readers? We shall see. I'll either make them really happy or really sad.
 
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The funny thing is this isn't made up, but was something the Russian nobility often did. Olga and Tatiana, Anastasia's older sisters, both had honorary military titles and were assigned military units, even being given the feminine version of the relevant uniforms. However, it was as it was described in this chapter: a strictly ceremonial role, meant more for exposure and morale building.
I know, it was a well established practice in Europe's pre-WW1 monarchies.

Foreign monarchs were also often given a honorary colonelship, giving them another excuse to try on new uniforms (a favorite pasttime of European monarchs; Wilhelm II was a well-known example of this but hardly unique).
 
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The funny thing is, to my knowledge, there isn't an event where a successor comes into play after Anastasia.

Part of me has fiddled with the possibility of modding the Millennium Dawn mod, if this AAR continues down the path it is.

Well, assuming that you played until the end date of the game, I figured she'd still be young enough to reasonable still be alive. There is no event for a successor.
 
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downloaded this mod bc of the story and I must say I do enjoy your take on the lore. So in this situation, would Anastasia's husband be the first husband? I can't imagine Russian nobility being too pleased at having the future heir to the dynasty be of commoner stock or formerly bolshevik as well!
 
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Well, assuming that you played until the end date of the game, I figured she'd still be young enough to reasonable still be alive. There is no event for a successor.

She definitely would be young enough to be alive, and I also don't see any reason to have an event for a successor, unless the mod were to go well into the 1970's or something like that. HoI4 doesn't have the epic, long timeline that a game like, say, Crusader Kings or Europa Universalis does. Still, an interesting thing to ponder at the very least.

downloaded this mod bc of the story and I must say I do enjoy your take on the lore. So in this situation, would Anastasia's husband be the first husband? I can't imagine Russian nobility being too pleased at having the future heir to the dynasty be of commoner stock or formerly bolshevik as well!

So glad my AAR is giving this mod some more attention! It's still active, still being worked on, and still being updated! I'm glad you're enjoying the writing so far!

In regards to Anastasia's husband, future updates will discuss that subject (the opinion of the nobility) a bit. Her being a woman and having a husband is an interesting dynamic, since a lot of culture and ceremony around the tsar by the 20th century had the assumption that the czar would be a man and have a wife (the tsaritsa). There was, for example, a specific crown for the tsar (designed for a man) and one designed for his consort (designed for a woman)... her husband probably wouldn't be able to fit the tsaritsa crown on his head. (Seriously, look the item up - it's a dainty little thing!)
 
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I can’t imagine what it would be like, being apparently destined for work on the family farm only to wake up one day as an imperial prince. Not entirely sure I’d like the change, personally speaking. But I may well be in the minority there.
 

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I’ve just caught up again too. It seems Russia remains fairly weak and underdeveloped at this stage, and yet to decide which great powers should be sided with or opposed. Wrangel and Anastasia will doubtless be trying to build the nation and its military as time goes by - but to what eventual end, one wonders? What is the victory being dreamt of - over whom?
 

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I can’t imagine what it would be like, being apparently destined for work on the family farm only to wake up one day as an imperial prince. Not entirely sure I’d like the change, personally speaking. But I may well be in the minority there.

Given the state of Russia in this AAR, and the extreme poverty of the population, there are some advantage for the young prince with this change. I would agree with you with our situation (or at least mine), but in this context, I think I would prefer becoming a prince. :)
 

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At the very least, you could take absolute power and then decide to do communism once more, with feeling :D :) :) :eek:
 
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At the very least, you could take absolute power and then decide to do communism once more, with feeling :D :) :) :eek:

What Russia really needs is socialism with tsarist characteristics. (Or is that just Stalinism…)
 
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