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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Judge

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Sorry to hear of the demise of this excellent AAR. I hope I will not face the same destiny as I also have upgraded my games in the same way as you did.

Why not play an South East Asian minor (refreshing after a European minor) and use the style in this AAR. Ayhuttaya is pleasant for a fairly peaceful game
;)
 

Director

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Stuyvesant - I do think you'd enjoy HistoryPark, but I am biased. :)

Speaking of 'next project' - I tried a game without war, but the game kept crashing. I'm working on a programming project for myself, and on a EU2 mod-game that begins with the End of the World - based on Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana'.

Commandante - I do take some satisfaction in guiding a tiny, nondescript german minor to a glorious destiny. Much like a certain other German state... B, something. Starts with a B, I think... Brandy? Did someone order brandy? :D

Judge - Well, when it's over it's over. My biggest challenge the last twenty years was to spend the golden tide of money that poured into my treasury - over 700g per month. I was building manufactories at 8000g apiece! No French Revolution, no Napoleon... the French just refused to play. <sigh>

I haven't been playing much, waiting for the post-1.07 patch, but now it seems there won't be one anytime soon. And I don't like 1.07 much, so I'm not playing much right now. We'll see. Maybe it's time we heard from Doctor Rivers again.
 

Valdemar

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Director, a belated visit from me, I still haven't caught up, I have not even kept up with my own AAR :(

But I still would like to come by and offer my gratitude for the way you keep your stories up, they are good read no matter if I don't have the time any more (see sig) :)

I will be back :D

V
 

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Originally posted by Director
There will be one more essay.

Yippie! Already looking forward to it...

My word processor has died and I am in hell.

I see. Is that (1) my word processor died and (2) I am in hell, or is it my word processor died and therefore I am in hell? :D
 

Storey

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Originally posted by Commandante


I see. Is that (1) my word processor died and (2) I am in hell, or is it my word processor died and therefore I am in hell? :D

You raise an interesting philosophical point. Some writers feel that the word processor is the gateway to hell because you’re chained to it as it sucks the creative resources from your soul. (Usually through your nose) Others feel that it is the only way to escape hell in that it provides the means to use your imagination and prevents the demons of boredom from dragging you under. (Usually by your nose) In either case losing the use of one’s word processor can cause emotional spasms that can warp the victim and/or lead to what is called psychological whiplash. This can be a very threatening period for Director. The immediate solution is a quick shot of booze but in the long run only the reuniting of writer and machine will provide succor for Director’s soul. My thoughts go with you Director.:(

Joe
 

Storey

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Stuyvesant

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So... an essay is forthcoming (Yay!), but it will be an unspecified amount of time (Boohoo! His!) because your word processor is beyond earthly cares?

Boy, that's tough.

Like Joe, my thoughts are with you. Try Joe's suggestion (something about alcohol and your nasal passages, if I understand ït correctly :p). And (re)acquire a word processor at utmost speed. Till that time, I guess I'll look up that HistoryPark thing (there's also this thesis I have to write, but 'All-Work-And-No-Play-Makes-Jack-A-Dull-Boy', if I remember 'The Shining' correctly).
 

Director

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So everything was fine. And then I tried to install a game.

Then Word refused to run - it tries, but lapses into a coma from whence it never returns. Ctrl-Alt-Delete causes the screen to pop up saying insufficient system resources...

So we've defragged, cleaned out the disk, added another hard drive, rebuilt the registers, doubled the RAM and deleted/reloaded the damned thing twenty times. It won't run.

So I've been offline for four days now.

Excel runs, Lotus AmiPro runs (but won't load Word documents). EU2 runs, everything runs - except Word. So ALL OF MY WORD DOCUMENTS are locked away, untouchable...

The last essay will be posted Sunday, just before I take a plumbers wrench to my PC. Or myself. Or Bill Gates (just kidding).



Commandante - YES. :D

Storey - Living as I do in the Great American Sauna (the LOW last night was 81 Fahrenheit), nothing can be sucked out of my nose. Sorry. And my friend took the bottle of Bacardi 8, so there is no booze in the house. I've been 'drowning' my sorrows in chocolate, so be very, very careful around me...:eek: :D

Stuyvesant - What! You haven't read HistoryPark YET! No new essay for you, young man! (Just kidding - will be up Sunday).


I've struggled to find a fitting 'cap' for this series, but I think I have. (Just erased the hint I was going to give out).
 

Stuyvesant

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[WHIMPER]Am immersing myself in HistoryPark as I type this! Well, okay, I am loading the page and will be reading as soon as I send off this email. But I am reading. Honestly! Truly![/WHIMPER]

:)
 
Last edited:

Director

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Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!



As the 18th century neared its end, an independent observer might have supposed that Bremen had attained a real measure of security. Her chief military foe - France - was reeling in the aftermath of bloody civil war, as was her ally but chief commercial rival, England. Spain had been humbled and her colonial empire destroyed, Austria was immersed in Italy and the Balkans, Poland was wholly impotent. Bremen's domestic economy was the largest in Europe, her trade spanned the globe and her armed forces were technically advanced and strong in numbers.

And yet, Bremen made no move to relax her vigilance. The army and navy budgets remained at painfully-high levels, with almost half a million men under arms in the European provinces alone. Intelligence activity remained high, even on the territory of states that were allies and friends. Immense sums were poured into fantastical projects of dubious military value.

Where, then, did this feeling of insecurity originate, and how did it persist in the face of all the evidence to the contrary?



Men may be termed geniuses for the originality and perception of their thoughts. But perhaps we may be permitted to advance the argument that no thinker of original thoughts can be considered truly great unless he - or someone else - is able to clearly communicate those thoughts to others. The real practical value of the work of genius is the degree to which more ordinary men may put it to use.

That said, we may also state the less-obvious corollary: all work of genius is subject to corruption, perversion, misuse and abuse, particularly so among those who have imperfectly grasped the intent of that genius. So Darwin was misused to excuse rapacity and Machiavelli to excuse faithlessness and treason, so even the Holy Bible would be quoted as justifying every kind of crime. Given the vagueness and generality of most of Doktor Gropius' work - it is less a philosophical work than a collection of maxims and anecdotes - we may see that the margin there for misunderstanding his concepts would be uncommonly large.

We know from careful examination of the work of Doktor Gropius that he held the Roman armies in high esteem (and we count the Eastern Roman armies as Roman, as those men did name themselves). We know that he believed that the success of Roman armies was chiefly due to the Roman virtues of devotion to duty, love of country and disciplined behavior. And we can assume that, while a man of genius might fully comprehend the Doktor's thoughts and a man of mediocre intelligence gain some understanding of the art of war, a man of more limited reason or greater ideological fervor might miss the spirit entirely and turn the words to unintended use. Might make the fatal assumption that such a perfectly obedient army could be used only for good ends; might assume that the end - assumed to be good - would excuse the means employed.



Bremen's government had long rested on three legs - a rich mercantile class, a landed aristocracy that dominated the military and a powerful church establishment. Seemingly unstable, this three-pronged structure had proven dynamically stable: pressure on one leg was resisted by the others, and the system tended to return itself to a stable state. Forever teetering and flexing - forever cursed for its seeming inability to accomplish anything - the 'self-correcting' nature of this dynamic stability had given Bremen centuries of domestic peace.

But from a certain perspective - one more accustomed to the solid certainty of centralized government on the French, Austrian or Spanish model - Bremen's government would have seemed a fragile thing, not to be trusted in the revolt-ridden days of the late 18th century. Just as a ship seems endangered by the waves that twist and flex it, yet that ship may ride on waves that batter down cliffs of solid stone. Few men, however, would rather be on that tossing ship than on the seemingly solid but crumbling shore. And the storms - those massive upheavals of civil war that convulsed England and France - would have seemed a threat that Bremen's ship of state could not weather without a stout anchor. An anchor best provided by an army of utter dependability, of perfect devotion to duty and absolute loyalty to... well, to those who felt they deserved that loyalty and the power that would come with it, of course. They would not have seen that their effort to rigidly fix the republic in an unchanging form would inevitably cause it to crumble. They were only men, foolish and fallible, who had watched two powerful nations collapse in civil war - and they were afraid.

Another of the converging lines of force that would intersect with such terrible result was the temper of the times. It was an age when reason was thought supreme, when human nature was thought to be perfectable; it was an age in which rational philosophy was thought capable of defining what a perfected human nature might actually be. It was an age that believed - absolutely - in absolutes. The ultima thule of an engineer was a truly stable work platform; the ideal of an architect that of a truly precise measurement. The holy grail, if you will, of religion was an unshakeable faith, and the unrealized goal of every ruler was a perfect fidelity, an absolute loyalty from his subjects.

Enormous advances in the mechanical arts were everywhere: steam engines were pumping mines and powering boats, electrical experiments seemed to promise god-like powers to the men who could unlock their secrets, chemistry and metallurgy progressed in leaps and bounds. It must have seemed that, for the first time in human history, rational methods might be applied to developing the perfect obedience that the nation seemed to need in order to survive. And, most horribly, it must have seemed perfectly rational to try.



The armies of Europe in that age were made up of long-service soldiers. Men were recruited for terms of up to thirty years, and recruited from gutters, gaols and asylums. The officers (and a fair percentage of the cavalry) were younger sons of nobles or men who were wealthy enough to purchase commissions in a regiment for themselves or their sons. The artillery officers were mostly bourgeoisie, literate and specially educated in engineering, siege and fortification techniques and the minutae of logistics and supply. Units drilled endlessly: manuevers were perfect, uniforms meticulous, discipline was savage. It was not unusual for a man who attempted to desert to be flogged to death - slowly, so that the lesson would bite home. The rich, gaudy uniforms were as distinctive as our modern-day prisoners' day-glo orange, and for the same puropose, so that men who attempted to run would be spotted and stopped or killed.

Battlefield power was thought to lay in siege lines of geometrical exactness, of infantry lines as straight as a ruled line, of cavalry charges in exact order and volleys delivered with clockwork precision. And all of this required robotic obedience, when the shot and ball were flying about and men were dying all around. An army that could achieve perfection of manuever, perfection of discipline and obedience, perfect unflinching acceptance of casualties... that army would, they reasoned, be invincible.

But despite the mind-numbing repetitions of drill and the ferocious discipline, units still broke. Men disobeyed, units mutinied. Ambitious army officers might even lead their troops in rebellion against their government, as officers had done so lately in France and England. The ideal of perfect dependability - perfect obedience - was only attainable by clockwork mechanisms. Could men be turned into clockwork?

Therin lies our tale.



In defense of Bremen - if any defense is even possible - no evidence has ever surfaced that would show that her government conducted, condoned or even knew of the terrible events that unfolded in that gloomy forest along the Rhine. Undoubtedly, some generals and officials may have provided monies, or suspected the truth and looked the other way - after all, dozens of soldiers must have been involved - but no active conspiracy can be proven. And nothing at all might be known today had not a dissolute young English aristocrat not passed through in search of poetry.



In the latter half of the 17th century and the early days of the 18th there lived a famous, learned man by the name of Johann Konrad Dippel. Born in a castle on the German side of the Rhine, his parents were refugees from France and Dippel adopted Germany as his new home. University-educated, renowned as a theologian, chemist and alchemist (he invented Dippel's Oil, and prussian blue pigment), he was also thought to be possessed by Satan. He eventually bought that birthplace castle by the Rhine, but after his death the madwoman Euler let it all go to wrack and ruin.

Located atop a hill halfway between Mainz and Mannheim, the castle was within convenient traveling distance to the army defending Pfalz and yet isolated, the surrounding area thickly forested and thinly populated. The castle towers were not yet topped with the modern peaked roofs when the castle and Darmstadt town played host to the glittering literati of the 1790's. Nobility and intelligentsia gathered on the hillside lawns for romantic outings, and in the Gothic fashion of the day we can be sure they told each other tales of Gothic horror. Goethe was certainly there, as was a dissolute young English aristocrat with delusions of poesy - Percy Shelley. Luigi Galvani was not there, but his experiments with electrical stimulation of nerves would have been avidly discussed. One man who was certainly in attendance was young Heinrich Sieger, whose own operation was quietly underway past the old Franconian stone quarry that gave the name to Castle Frankenstein.



The achievements and scandals of Dippel must have merged with garbled local reports of Sieger's activities, become seasoned by Shelley's own experiments with electrical galvanism and emerged as his young wife's tormented masterpiece in 1816. With no other written records and only uncertain local rumors, what can we deduce of Sieger's experiment?

The man himself was young, probably in the middle half of his twentieth decade. He was a recent graduate of the University of Ingolstadt, with good but undistinguished marks. The comments of his tutors all have a single theme: great promise but no application to his courses. His mind, it would seem, was even then turned to other subjects than rhetoric, Latin and theology.

His father was a retired army officer of fearsome reputation, noted for his rabidly conservative politics. Whatever its source, we know that the experiment was well funded and provided with an ample labor force - survivnig traces of the buildings by the old quarry show that they were large and had immensely thick foundations and walls. They would have been, in fact, nearly or even perfectly soundproof. Local reports reveal an ugly pattern of stolen bodies, graves robbed and missing people along with missing dogs and livestock.

But from what we know of the finale of this tale we must assume that at least some of the victims were soldiers, seconded - or, horrors, even volunteered - from the great Army of the Rhine in Pfalz. Mustering records of that army do show a few more desertions than usual, enough that we may infer the loss of a dozen or a score of soldiers. Perhaps they went to Darmstadt as guards and laborers, but in the end the temptation to test Sieger's techniques on them must have been irresistible.

Far from Mary Shelly's fancies of reanimated corpses, Sieger must have been using electrical shock treatments to instill perfect obedience in those soldiers. Experiments with animals and human corpses would have shown where the electrodes might be placed; batteries, or electrical storms and accumulators could have provided the current. This we may deduce from the tidy rows of unmarked graves behind the tumbled building ruins, the bodies therein whose bones are splintered from muscular contraction, and whose mummified flesh is charred from the awful power Sieger used.

The experiment, of course, failed. The men certainly died, and probably died in agony - though we may hope not, the condition of the corpses in those lonely unmarked graves admits no other interpretation.

And Sieger? We do know how Sieger died, if only from local legend. One dark, quiet, moonlit night, one of Sieger's tormented victims escaped his tormentor. Animated by superhuman fear and rage, he smashed the euipment, spattering himself and Sieger with battery acids. He pursued Sieger through the night, pursued him into the ruins of the old castle, and hurled him from the great tower to the accompaniment of unearthly shrieks and howls. Villagers, drawn by the horrendous racket, drove the poor creature with torches to an old windmill and burned it there, alive.

One assumes it died.

One hopes.



There is no evidence that this tragedy was anything but a conspiracy of a few, an experiment whose horrific results we must believe they could not have foreseen when they began. It is a testament to the fear of chaos, a parable of sacrifice by small, fearful men for no good reason. It is the kind of death that comes to soldiers all too often.

The buildings are gone. The castle wears its ridiculous witches hats on its turret tops and preens for tourists who have never really read Mary Shelley's book. The sixteen graves are long since emptied, their contents reburied in consecrated ground with reverence and pity.

Every October 31st the Seventeenth Regiment of the Line, wherever thay may be, forms on parade. No names are read, no ceremonial speeches are allowed. Only a long, long moment of silence and regret, followed by sixteen single rifle shots.

They died, as soldiers often die, in pain and loneliness and regret, with lives unfinished and fates unknown. They died, as all of us must die, before their time. But one of them, in his loneliness and agony, took the bastard down who caused it, made sure the torment would go no further, gave up his own life to protect the innocent. Like Mary Shelley's monster, he will forever remain nameless.

He died, obedient to his duty. He died a soldier. I have no greater praise.
 

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The ideal of perfect dependability - perfect obedience - was only attainable by clockwork mechanisms. Could men be turned into clockwork?

Therin lies our tale.
Forgive my ignorance. When I first read those lines, I was sure we'd have the eighteenth century equivalent of 'Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines'. In German, of course: Terminator 3: Aufstieg der Maschinen. With big, steam-powered terminators cast in bronze, and silly powdered wigs on their heads. :D

Anyway, 'twas not to be. Turns out to be some obscure book that I somehow managed to avoid during English Literature. :p
(Well, okay, I do know OF the book, but I've never read it)

So, once again you link fact and fiction. Or, to be more precise, real-world fiction (Frankenstein) with game-world fiction (Bremen).
The whole explanation of WHY those horrible experiments would take place, is great and sounds very convincing. After all, when it comes to national security, people always seem willing to tamper with things that are best left alone. Compared to all the research that has gone into refining ways to kill people, your Frankenstein tale is rather tame...

I also like your invention of the name of Schloss Frankenstein. The way you 'explain' the Frankenstein book as a product of a)myths of Dipper b) Rumours about Sieger, and c) Shelly's own experiments is quite inventive too.
And the idea of mastering lightning for the current to electroshock the victims almost made me flinch: those secret laboratories must have smelled like a very bad barbecue, very similar to letting me cook meats on a grill... :p

So, after fighting off Mecklenburg, after conquering a sizeable chunk of the globe, after mystic bells, beer and Mozart, after keeping France humble and docile, after creating a quite different America, we return once more to the arts and find out that only due to Bremen, we now have the Gothic masterpiece that is Frankenstein. :)

Another hit for the Director!

PS: Yes, I'm still reading HistoryPark. Scout's Honor.
 

Commandante

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And again, we are back to the (in)famous Doktor Gropius... The circle is complete.

If this truly is your last essay, I congratulate you to another marvellous AAR, Director. It has been a joy to read and comment! :)
 

Storey

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Two things.

First your posts are still too long. My poor eyes were weeping by the end of the post because of the poetry of thought and the majesty of vision that you displayed. Well that and having to look at those long white lines on a blue background. :D

Second what triggered the Frankenstein inclusion into the story? It's brilliant and I didn't see anything like that coming so I'm just curious what made you think of it? It was worth the wait Director. I hope you and your word processor are back together again. Bravo.

I know it's out of synch with the post but when I first read.

"The ideal of perfect dependability - perfect obedience - was only attainable by clockwork mechanisms. Could men be turned into clockwork?"

I flashed on Catch 22 and the officer "Major Major" (I could have the wrong officer) wanting to drill metal bolts into the thighs and wrists of the men so when they marched they would all move their arms at the same height.

Joe
 

Director

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Stuyvesant - Maybe that could be an idea for your AAR - cool idea, and one that had not occurred to me. There were chessplaying automatons (manned by dwarves, unfortunately) and ingenious clockwork figures who played the piano and even wrote out messages.

I didn't invent the name - Frankenstein literally means Frankish (French) stone, and there is a quarry near the castle. Dippel is historic fact, as are the 'literati' gatherings at the castle (including Goethe) and Shelley's experiments with galvanism.

There is some thought that Dippel et al helped inspire Mary Shelley which certainly takes nothing away from her. She created one of the most fascinating figures of all time - and I don't mean the doctor. :)

Side note - Heinrich Sieger literally means Henry Victor, as in Henry Clerval and Victor Frankenstein. I couldn't resist. :)

Gjerg Kastrioti - Something a little different for me, for sure. Thank you for reading!

Commandante - This is it. And it is the only essay without a quote from the Mysterious Doktor. Glad you enjoyed it!

Storey - MY WORK IS NOT TOO LONG! IT'S... It's... ah, hell, it's too long. Mumbles about old authors with no concentration span.

I worked on this installment a fair bit, trying to boil it down for 'punch', but there was just too much background I had to cover. So many intersecting lines of force... the colors... all the pretty...

Ah, yes! Ahem! No, Word is still down.

It's been so very long since I read 'Catch-22' - IMHO the most dementedly brilliant piece of fiction of its time. I don't remember that Major Major chappie at all, but he and Heinrich Sieger would have gotten along like a windmill on fire.

My only comment is to quote the old joke about Austria-Hungary, something like "They aspire to be the most perfect tyranny in the history of man but are too incompetent to pull it off."

Frankenstein. Well, Mary Shelley told her little Gothic horror tale in 1816, which puts it - barely - within the purview of EU2. Mostly, I wanted to end the series with something solid and memorable, and I was fresh out of ideas.

All of the other essays fall into clearly defined categories: the arts, religion, 'supernatural' phenomena, governmental philosophy, etc. As I studied my problem from that angle, it seemed to me that I had said nothing about the perils of rationalism and the frontiers of science.

And there is a book out - forgot title and author - that deals with the many possible influences on Mary Shelley. So, I says, let's start with the assumption that there was some basis for the Frankenstein story. What could it be? And I think - immodestly - that my little tale is not implausible.

The plain fact is that the game provided me with no material I thought suitable for the Last Essay. But I did spend many weeks plotting and thinking before the pieces came together.


Thank you all - it's been a great experience having you for an audience. :)
 
Last edited:

Stuyvesant

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...And it's been great reading! :)
I'll second that! It's been great! Hopefully, you'll be inspired to write a new tale, sometime in the future. I know I'm already looking forward to it. :)
 

Lord Durham

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Well Director, as promised, I've just finished reading through your AAR. Great work. I liked the 'Red Rover' reference earlier on. I remember playing that in school. One of my favoUrite characters in Catch 22 was Lieutenant Scheisskoph (especially with the literal translation :) ).

Anyway, you should assemble this into a document and convert it to PDF. I think there'd be a few people out there willing to download it for a holiday read. :)