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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Rensslaer

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Definitions:

CompulsAARy – The manic feeling that you don’t know what to do with the little time you have, so maybe you should start another AAR!

One-Armed Paper HangAAR – Someone who tries to juggle too many AARs.

PrAARfessional – Someone who spends years of his life writing AARs.

SAARenity – Peaceful contemplation of an AAR where you try very hard NOT to interact with the rest of the world, so… What could happen??

What this is:

Serenity will be a gameplay AAR using an un-expanded V2, patched to v1.3 (current as of Feb 2013). The gameplay will be role-played, much as the Japanese did historically. My intent is to ignore the rest of the world until it’s absolutely impossible to do so. After that, expect the Japanese to – again – do as they did historically, and attempt to make their way in a big, scary world so that they feel safe and important. This may include conquest. It may include World Wars. Who knows?

What this is not:

Serenity will not follow in the footsteps of I Am Siam, where I sought to become a great power. Nor will I be going into strategy as much as I did in I Am Siam – the strategies are mostly known, now, plus many of you have moved on to other expansions that work differently. I’ll be producing AARs (probably) for those expansions too (looking forward to Heart of Darkness), but this is just going to be a short AAR to fill the time.



At the start of the game, in 1836, Japan is painfully aware of the presence of China, which looms large not just in a regional map, but also in Japanese history. Japan wishes to avoid interference with China or by China as much as possible. Korea also holds an important spot in the corner of Japan’s collective mind. Some are already plotting possible conquest there, but others warn that that would complicate relations with China, and perhaps entangle Japan with China. Others see Korea as a possible ally against China, but that almost invites conflict, so… Beyond these two countries, Japan is aware of the rest of the world, but really has very little interest in it.



Japan’s initial target for research will be Early Classical Theory and Critique, for no particular reason. Keep in mind I’m not trying to game the system, so I’m not going to pay very much attention to what would get Japan to civilized status quickly. I’ll research those things that seem relatively logical for an isolated Japan to be researching, but which don’t leave us too far behind the rest of the world.



I do have a bunch of small armies located around the country. In fact, Japan starts as the 9th most militarized power in the world. I don’t know why – I’m uncivilized and all my armies are irregulars. I will soon begin producing regular infantry, to double the size of my military. It makes sense, with China nearby, to have a defensive force. I won’t produce a navy because that just invites contact with the outside world (I know, it would also help prevent invasion, but that’s not how the Japanese are thinking during their “Sakoku” period of isolation before the Meiji Restoration and the Black Ships.

I set my National Focus to encourage Artisans in Edo. Japan already has a large number of Artisans – 544,000 of them, which makes Japan the 6th most so-endowed in the world.



Since Artisans are the only way we can produce anything not farmed or mined, Artisans are very valuable in Japan – it reduces our need to interact with the outside world.

Below, you can get an idea of what our provinces are producing, and how rich they are.



To wrap things up, Japan has no slaves. We have a certain number of very bored Capitalists. Because of our reactionary Shogunate government, taxes are locked at 50% for everybody, which means we should have plenty of money during our isolation period, because there’s not a lot to spend it on.

We leave military spending at default (about 50%), and increase Education and Administration slightly (remember, I’m role-playing – without urgent need, no reason to increase those particularly) to about 70%. Tariffs stay the same.
Now, with all that done, all we have left to do is sit on the seashore, wait in serenity and watch the Chinese ships go sailing by….



The Index (hidden as a spoiler):

1836 - Intro, getting started

1837-1852 - Early resistance to foreign contact, fears of European encroachment

1853-1857 - Russia "opens" (spheres) Japan, active efforts to increase technology, military to resist

1858-1860 - Europeans begin to dismantle China and SE Asia

1860-1861 - Japan rises up against its overlords! 1st Russo-Japanese War begins (Jun 1861)

1861-1862 - Early victories, in 1st RJW

1862-1863 - Continued victories, then setbacks, in 1st RJW

1863 - The great struggle, a White Peace ends 1st Russo-Japanese War, but Japan is free! (Jul 1863)

1864-1868 - Continued European aggression, the Meiji Restoration & Westernization (Aug 1867)

1869-1870 - Technological race, provoked to 2nd Russo-Japanese War (Sep 1870)

1870-1871 - Setbacks already, and White Peace ends 2nd Russo-Japanese War (Feb 1871)

1871-1872 - Tech pushes, Korean Conquest (May - Jul 1872)

1872-1873 - China starts 1st Sino-Japanese War (Nov 1872)

1873 - An amazingly bloody struggle, in 1st SJW

1873-1874 - Fight Chinese to a standstill, White Peace ends 1st Sino-Japanese War (May 1874)

1875-1879 - Recovery & advancement, China declares 2nd Sino-Japanese War (Feb 1879)

1879 - Japan demonstrates significant technological superiority in 2nd SJW

1879-1880 - Japan advances against China, in 2nd SJW

1880 - Japan stuns China, acquires E. Manchuria in conclusion to 2nd Sino-Japanese War (Jun 1880)

1880-1885 - Biding our time, research advances, re-sphered by Russia

1885-1888 - Ironclads & other tech advances, Spanish-Japanese War to capture Luzon (June 1888)

1888-1889 - Conclusion of Spanish-Japanese War, Japan acquires Luzon (Sep 1889)

1889-1891 - 3rd Russo-Japanese War starts as Japan rebels against Russian control (July 1891)

1891 - Japanese successes in 3rd RJW

1892 - Continued success in 3rd RJW, but momentum slows, then China invades in 3rd Sino-Japanese War (July 1892)

1892 - Japan is holding off both Russia and China (3rd RJW, 3rd SJW)

1892-1893 - Slaughterous combat on both fronts, Japan tiring, makes compromise peace with Russia, acquiring Sakhalin Island (3rd RJW ends Feb 1893)

1893 - The mini-epic of the 3rd SJW, wins and losses, and secondary invasions

1893 - 1894 - Devastating Debacle in Southern China

1894 - Japan Regains Its Balance, Shantung Invasion

1894 - 1895 - Conclusion of the 3rd Sino-Japanese War

1895 - 1896 - Tech Advances & Great Power Diplomacy

1897 - 1899 - More Tech & Diplomacy, 4th Russo-Japanese War Begins (Dec 1899)

1900 - Initial battles of 4th RJW, Japan begins to win

1900 - 1901 - Japan Begins to Dominate 4th RJW

1901 - Japan Has Russia On the Ropes, But the 4th RJW Continues Nevertheless...
 
Last edited:

Rensslaer

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Before I do feedback, I want to point everyone to Avindian's magnificent Japan tutorial AAR, Reliving the Restoration -- it's for AHD, while my own is Vanilla, and he's after different goals than I, but it is scholarly in its review of revised Victoria 2 gameplay!

Another Rensslaer AAR? I'd be a fool not to subscribe! :)
Aww! :) Thanks, Avindian! And Welcome! You, Sir, qualify as a PrAARfessional, certainly... But you are NOT a One-Armed Paper HangAAR, as YOU actually FINISH your AARs! :D

Seems interesting, never seen an isolationist AAR before.

I look forward to the next update.
Thanks, Psychiceman! And Welcome! I'm honored that you've been around for 2 full years, and yet you've graced me with your FIRST post in the Forum! :)

It is actually quite relaxing to read. Subscribed indeed.
Welcome, Micutio! Thanks for stopping by! I promise to relax you. lol

Will be reading :)
Great! Welcome, King50000!

I'll have another update sometime this weekend, I expect. I've played ahead a bit, and it should be an interesting AAR!

Thanks for reading, folks! Always glad to have readers, and ESPECIALLY glad to have comments! Anyone else out there watching?

Rensslaer
 

Noco19

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I have never seen an isolationist AAR before, should be very interesting. No telling what the world will look like by the end with no interaction.
 

sactwu

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Awesome, a new Vicky AAR by Rensslaer! I've been waiting for this since you finished I Am Siam, so I'll definitely be following this!
 

psyciceman

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Thanks, Psychiceman! And Welcome! I'm honored that you've been around for 2 full years, and yet you've graced me with your FIRST post in the Forum! :)
Yeah, I tend to lurk a lot on forums (not sure why, I just do).
Out of curiosity how do tariffs fare on the economy? I've tried to avoid them in my playings but I imagine that they'll be pretty important for an isolated nation.
 

Rensslaer

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Speaking of China… They keep sending us envoys, trying to ally with us.

Keep in mind, when I explain our attitude, I’m often role-playing – giving you an idea of how the Japanese might think of the situation. I’m not necessarily giving game advice. In fact, many times you may think (and you may be right!) that I’m doing something stupid. That’s usually (not always) because I’m role playing, and doing what the Japanese would have likely done in that situation.



We stubbornly turn the Chinese down, every time they come to our cities. They seem quite put out! They are increasingly agitated when we refuse to ally with them, as if it is our sacred duty to do so.

Korea sends their own envoys too, and we also refuse their requests for alliance.

With China, we refuse because we intend to remain unentangled, as surely they seek to simply make China a stronger foe when the foreign devils come calling. They will drag us into their petty conflicts, and ruin our lives and cities, for the arrogance of their Emperor.

Korea, however, is beneath our attention. They are probably beneath the attention of the foreign powers themselves. Their natural ally and protector is China, of course, and they should most naturally send envoys to them. But the Koreans, they believe themselves on a par with Japan – believe they can remain independent – whereas they are of course mistaken. They will someday – once more – be subject to either China or Japan. It is only a matter of how the courses of events happen. Right?

That is not a question which need disturb our serenity today. It is a question for the future. The far future.



It seems that some of our POPs are starving – the Artisans. Now, while these Artisans are important to the future of Japan, there’s only so much a government can be expected to do to help them. We will do what we can to make the economy stronger, and if that helps these Artisans to meet their needs, then that will be a good thing.

In December, 1836, prospectors find Gold in Kobe province. This is really good news – our budget is not particularly rich, even with 50% taxes mandated by our reactionary government. This will help us to build a budgetary surplus for rainy days.



At the end of 1836 the reactionary Shogunate Faction loses support in the government – a sudden drop from 48% to 18% support. The conservatives add 36% to their base, earning the 30% from the reactionaries, and even 6% from the Liberals, leaving the Liberals at 11%.

Remember that I am intentionally keeping you in the dark about events around the world, so as not to ruin the suspension of disbelief as to what the Japanese either don’t know about, or don’t care enough about to pay attention to. This is – at present – an isolationist government, focused on internal affairs, and only concerned with foreign affairs as they would directly affect Japan.

At the beginning of 1837, they are aware that China is warring with some hill tribes on their frontier. Who they are is unimportant, because whoever they’re fighting with is unimportant! :)



Our next research target becomes Freedom of Trade. NOT because I’m seeking to westernize – quite the opposite, Westernizing is intentionally NOT on my list of things to do right now, because… Why would I see an advantage to Westernizing? Japan and China are the pinnacle of human achievement! We have no interest in these barbarian ways and ideas.

Freedom of Trade simply gives Japan some serious internal economic advantages, providing better output from our farms and mines. We achieve that research in 1840, whereupon we switch to more sedate, artistic pursuits, such as pursuing Romantic Art.

Prestige? Is this a ploy to earn Prestige?? Well, of course it is! Why wouldn’t the Emperor want Prestige? :)

A quick check on our POPs in 1840 shows that the poor Artisans are starting to make a living, which is great. That will serve the Emperor. By 1846, they were starting to do even better! A look at our economy shows that Kobe has multiplied their income by 5 times, and it’s now the richest Japanese province, because of the Gold discovery. A lot of our other provinces are doing quite a bit better because of Freedom of Trade. Only the silk-producing provinces don’t seem to be doing as well.



In April, 1846, we were given an opportunity to Westernize, slightly. Ever so slightly. It wouldn’t break my promise to be isolationist… would it?

The Emperor decides that the foreign ships are a danger to Japan, and they must not be dealt with. We remain in isolation – Sakoku.

But in 1848 we have a Shipwrecked Soldiers event, and some Western influence is forced upon us.



We choose the least invasive option, to contain the corruption these barbarians bring. They are not allowed to return home. They will be forced to live in Kyoto, where they will have certain degrees of freedom. The likelihood that they could ever find their way home is small. They will integrate into our society, to the extent that barbarians ever can. Meanwhile, they will help us to learn some of the more useful techniques the foreigners use. This can be an advantage to us.

Or so we thought…

Within 6 months, the predictable occurs – one of the barbarians causes a gross offense to one of the highborn of Kyoto. It is decided that the foreigners must go. So that they do not carry back word of Japanese ways to their homeland, we will drop them off in an out-of-the way town in Korea. We will take what we have learned from them, and be content.



As time goes on, we continue researching the cultural arts, and by 1852 we have 16 Prestige as a result. Japan has been gaining a reputation as a very cultured land. We are happy that others can see our refinement.

On the other hand, some radical ideas – from the West – have infected the minds of some of our higher citizens, and they speak of these things in public, and in conference with other government officials. We estimate they may have contaminated a very small percentage of our ruling party. Enough to be of concern for the future.

The Emperor changes control of the government to the Court Faction, which seems to regard the threat presented by the foreigners more realistically – merely keeping them from our shores will not prevent infection. Steps should be taken to protect Japan. If these radical barbarians – or even if China – were to land on our shores, we should be able to properly defend ourselves.

We step up our decades-long practice of disbanding Irregulars and replacing them with uniformed Infantry.



We also increase Military Spending to 70% -- we are a bit spooked by the foreigners who have increasingly encroached upon our lands. We change our Focus to encouraging Clergymen… It is not unwise to ensure that our most important classes in society are properly educated about what we know about the world, and shown why Japanese refinement is so important. In fact, we decide that, since Japan’s economy is doing so much better, and because education is important, and because the Emperor needs to have more of an idea of what is going on in his country, we should increase Education and Administration spending to 100%.

Our Treasury is brimming with Gold, and the Court Faction realizes that it is not necessary to keep Taxes at the high level the Shogunate has insisted upon for so many decades. We reduce the burden upon the people to 25%.

In 1852, our fears about foreign influence in Asia are borne out. It was different when China had invaded and annexed parts of northern Burma. But now, the “English” have conquered yet another Asian land, and Burma is no more. Who will be next on their target list? China? Japan? We step up our efforts to prepare our military.

 

Funnyman320

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Alright! A chance to be in on a Rensselaer AAR from the beginning!
 

sprites

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oh interesting , i'll follow!
 

TristramShandy

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It's interesting, and in its own unique way refreshing, to see a Vanilla AAR. I'm especially pleased that you chose an unciv, because that mechanic has been changed so much in AHD; and, if I may be so bold as to say that it perhaps lends an even stronger isolationist flavour to this AAR :D Consider me subscribed!
 

Seelmeister

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Very interesting premise, I like the fact that we are getting such a Japan-centric view of things - exactly as it should be in this period.
 

Athalcor

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Loong time since I read a Renns's AAR (IIRC Sforza and Imperio Novo - I wasn't even registered member then), so...time to fix it up ;).
 

Rensslaer

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Thanks for the cheap plug! :)
MOST welcome! :) I've been reading through it, and you're doing for V2 what Misterbean has been doing for HOI3, tutorially. Great work!

I have never seen an isolationist AAR before, should be very interesting. No telling what the world will look like by the end with no interaction.
Welcome, Noco19! Well, no interaction is pushing it, but not trying to start fights or get ahead? Playing with my hands tied behind my back takes some discipline. :)

Awesome, a new Vicky AAR by Rensslaer! I've been waiting for this since you finished I Am Siam, so I'll definitely be following this!
Welcome, Sactwu! Great to see you along for another! Thanks for your kind words.

Out of curiosity how do tariffs fare on the economy? I've tried to avoid them in my playings but I imagine that they'll be pretty important for an isolated nation.
Well, keep this in mind. Any tax (income tax) or tariff is really a tax upon the people -- not upon merchants, not upon other countries, but your own people. An income tax can be modified according to their class (low, middle, high), so if you want to reduce taxes on the poor in order to help them get on their feet, you can do that. However, Tariffs are specifically NOT tailorable -- they fall on everybody. Worse, they're regressive, which means they have the least impact on those who can afford to pay taxes (I'm starting to sound like a progressive, and I'm not, it's just how to explain this in basic :D), and more impact on those who can least afford it. Basically, if a rich guy needs to spend $3.50 to pay for his life needs, luxury needs, etc., he has the ability to pay that. If a poor guy who only makes $4.50 has to pay $2.50 in tariffs just to meet his life needs, there's not much left for him to improve his situation, and if his income goes down because of hard times it only makes things worse for him. Granted, part of the Tariff is paid by your government too, when you stockpile goods, but since it's paid for out of your own Treasury it kind of balances out. That leaves just your people to pay it.

So my general recommendation is against Tariffs in almost any case. I have thought about it some, and I'm of the opinion that a Tariff actually hurts smaller countries more than larger ones, because smaller countries are less likely to produce everything they need internally, so they and their POPs must buy from the Market and pay a Tariff on all that stuff. Uncivs are worse -- they have to get ALL industrial goods from outside, except for what their Artisans can produce. So I'm having a hard time seeing any particular advantage for a minor or unciv to have high Tariffs.

You can find my Victoria 2 Strategy Guide here, and in that I discuss other things related to Tariffs. The Guide is somewhat dated, since it was based on the release-version of V2, but most of the advice remains solid because the basics of economics haven't changed. In the Strategy Guide I note:
1) If you're trying to keep Consciousness low (because you don't want revolts and you don't care so much about research), sometimes you could add Tariffs in order to prevent people from getting their Luxury Goods, which helps them develop Consciousness.
2) Here's a quote from the section on Tariffs: "Keep in mind that Tariffs have a direct effect on your POPs’ ability to buy Goods to fulfill their Life, Everyday and Luxury Needs, whereas Taxes have only an indirect effect. Taxes are distributed to all POPs within each Class, regardless of what their Needs are, whereas Tariffs are targeted to only affect those POPs who need to find their Goods on the World Market. ... High Tariffs greatly encourage reliance on your Internal Market,
which is fine so long as your Internal Market contains most of the Goods you need. Otherwise, you’re setting a huge burden on the shoulders of your citizens. Tariffs are actually the preferred method of raising incomefor a country whose Sphere of Influence draws most useful Goods into its Internal Market."

I'd say the first rule with using Tariffs in ANY country is to look at your POPs (esp. the most common POPs or the poorest POPs) and see what Life Needs they need. See if they can get those inside your country (if you produce that Good, and if you produce enough of it) -- if not, they'll have to buy elsewhere, and they'll have to pay the cost of the import PLUS your Tariff. Can they afford to pay that? Looking at Everyday Needs is useful too -- you'll usually want your POPs to also be able to afford their Everyday Needs, and your Tariff can be a burden for them if they have to look outside of your country to buy those.

What do others (AVINDIAN???) have to say about Tariffs? Agree, disagree? :)

Alright! A chance to be in on a Rensselaer AAR from the beginning!
Yaay! Glad you're looking forward to this! Welcome, Funnyman320!

oh interesting , i'll follow!
Welcome, Sprites! Hope I meet your expectations!

It's interesting, and in its own unique way refreshing, to see a Vanilla AAR. I'm especially pleased that you chose an unciv, because that mechanic has been changed so much in AHD; and, if I may be so bold as to say that it perhaps lends an even stronger isolationist flavour to this AAR :D Consider me subscribed!
Welcome TristramShandy! It's been a while since I've played V2, and I haven't had the chance to buy the expansion (s) yet. I will soon, and will probably do an AAR using one or both, but for now it's just this. What is it about AHD that makes it different from V2 Vanilla in this respect? I'm curious. I'm getting my first exposure to AHD through Avindian's Japan tutorial.

I did notice that V2 changed the requirements for Westernizing, cutting the prestige requirements and military score requirements in half between v1.2 and v1.3.

Terrific AAR! Keep it up!
Thanks, Dave866! Welcome!

Very interesting premise, I like the fact that we are getting such a Japan-centric view of things - exactly as it should be in this period.
I'm glad you like it! I'm going to try to maintain that as much as possible. When Japan opens up fully, I can show you what's been going on in the world.

Welcome, Seelmeister!

Loong time since I read a Renns's AAR (IIRC Sforza and Imperio Novo - I wasn't even registered member then), so...time to fix it up ;).
Welcome, Athalcor! Glad you're along for the ride! Would you believe that both Sforza and Imperio Novo are UPDATING AGAIN? :D I've added about a dozen updates to Sforza, and about a half-dozen to Imperio Novo, in just the last 2 months! :) Would be glad to have you following along over there, too!

Thanks, everybody, for reading, and especially for those of you who've taken the time to comment and encourage me in this endeavour!

I'll get another update sometime this week. Also updating 2 other AARs right now, so Imperio Novo is next up.

It's fun to re-engage with you all on the Victoria Forum!

Rensslaer
 
Last edited:

Tommy4ever

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Your AARs are always extremely good - looking forward to following this. :)
 

Avindian

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Since you asked so nicely, I'm 100% against tariffs for anything other than short term revenue gain. Taxes are a consistent source of revenue and have less overall impact on your economy. Tariffs can hurt your factories (by making goods too expensive), causing them to go bankrupt. They're absolute murder on artisan too. Remember, because POPs always buy from the domestic market if goods are available, there's no "industry protection effect" to Vicky 2 tariffs, the same way there was in real life.

Negative tariffs, on the other hand (import subsidies), are awesome and useful if you can afford them. :)