• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    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
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Derahan

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Greetings there reader! I welcome you to yet another astounding issue of the new AARlander which you will hopefully find very interesting. So as usual I want to give my gratitude to those people who made this new AARlander possible. First and foremost, my thanks goes to Canonized and the others, who along him, worked on the first AARlander and made this one possible with their work there, otherwise this AARlander would not be here (most likely). Secondly I want to thanks the moderators who made it possible for me to do this and came up with the idea to revive the AARlander for a second round. Thirdly I want to thank Gen. Marshall, the one who has made the graphics and also is spreading the word about the AARlander on the forums and last but not the least all of those who has contributed to this number of the AARlander, a many thanks to you all who in the end makes this possible with your articles.

And yet, a final thank you to you readers who when you read this, makes us others who work with the AARlander filled with the spirit to continune our work here! Thank you!

And as usual the feedback thread! Critique on!

Code:
[SIZE=4][URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?699921-The-AARlander-Edition-10&p=15729268&viewfull=1#post15729268"]The Spanish Revival - Rensslaer[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?699921-The-AARlander-Edition-10&p=15729278&viewfull=1#post15729278"]The History of AARland: Pre-AARland and EU1(2000-2001) - DensleyBlair[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?699921-The-AARlander-Edition-10&p=15729284&viewfull=1#post15729284"]History Park: Who Wants to Be Napoleon - Rensslaer[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?699921-The-AARlander-Edition-10&p=15729296&viewfull=1#post15729296"]Twelve Questions - Tanzhang[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?699921-The-AARlander-Edition-10&p=15729309&viewfull=1#post15729309"]Last Man and Shilling - Gen. Marshall[/URL] 

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?699921-The-AARlander-Edition-10&p=15729319&viewfull=1#post15729319"]De Hautevilles: Can Anyone Stop the Norman Invasion? - Gela1212[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?699921-The-AARlander-Edition-10&p=15729340&viewfull=1#post15729340"]Time for some Carnage part II - misterbean[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?699921-The-AARlander-Edition-10&p=15729347&viewfull=1#post15729347"]In the Shadow of God - Merricks Chance'[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?699921-The-AARlander-Edition-10&p=15729356&viewfull=1#post15729356"]Editors Note - Derahan[/URL][/SIZE]
 
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Derahan

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Many Victoria players think of Spain as sort of a "Great Power Joke".* A declining power, for sure. That is, unless they're playing Spain.* Then, there's always a chance!

Spiller68's The Spanish Revival is a Heart of Darkness showcase, and is one of those chances to overcome inertia for this once-great power.* The story starts off lamenting how far Spain has fallen - from a leader of the world (many would say "THE" Great Power), to second rate status and a loss of colonies (Spain, in 1836, is still a Great Power, but clearly is on the downslide, without intervention).* Add to that a civil war (the Carlists), and it seems a long row to hoe.

But in this gameplay AAR, Spiller starts right off reconstructing an empire, putting down the Carlists, and then looking abroad.* Across the Straits of Gibraltar, he finds his first target, and begins to rebuild Spain to (referring to the Spanish flag's motto) the "peak of perfection" (plus vitra).* Before long he's involving himself in HoD's crisis system, and arm-wrestling the USA and other great powers.

Does Spain intend to reconstitute her American empire?* That could be a long but perhaps lucrative process. And who will she have to fight to achieve that goal? I won't spoil the surprise, but let's just say there's action enough to entertain! ;)

He uses primarily screenshots, with brief explanations of what's going on, so it's easy to follow and keeps everything moving.* Spiller occasionally overlays the screenshots with arrows, explosions, etc., to better illustrate his plan of action.* And it works -- it's well done, it's not out of place, and adds to the story (I'm often not a big fan of extra illustrations if they're sloppy or unclear, or just meant to be funny).

There's nothing sophisticated about this AAR (true of most gameplay AARs), but there doesn't need to be.* It's fun.* It's quick.* It's interesting.* It's worth reading!

Now to a number of niggles… It's not that there are too many screenshots, but rather they are too dense.* That's not a problem for readability sake -- many would say that's a good thing.* But honestly it sometimes takes a while just to load all those images per page! The author might fix this by reducing the number of screenshots per update, thus spreading them out.* Readers can fix this too -- more comments means fewer updates per page! :D

Next, I should warn you that Spiller has been having problems since the very beginning with his screenshots overrunning their bandwidth. Certain updates may be unviewable at times. This is particularly bad in the first week of the month, and then resolves itself later. He’s done a lot of work to fix this, so I’m not afraid to recommend you still go read and put up with the minor annoyance of an occasional missing screenshot.

I think sometimes, also, the screenshot is redundant, because he’s already explained a particular minor detail in the text. Other times, a screenshot isn’t really necessary, and could easily be replaced by a mention in the text. Judicious limitations on screenshots would be helpful in streamlining the story, and would also help him resolve his bandwidth issues.

Not having seen Heart of Darkness yet, I found the descriptions of the new features really interesting. There's lots of Great Power drama, as seems to be alot more common with HoD, largely because of the Crisis system. It seems to have really amped the number of major-power wars, which surely increases the excitement, but maybe isn’t quite so realistic (not Spiller’s fault, obviously).

I’ll mention that there’s a particularly fascinating twist that happens as the new century dawns. There’s plenty of interesting stuff going on, still, as the game enters the 20th Century. Spiller's updates to the end of June have brought him up to 1908, so there's still more drama to come. I hope you’ll go check it out, if you haven’t already!
 
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Derahan

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AARland.

We all know the name; we all enjoy the community. Indeed, it is a term unique to the Paradox boards, with a quick Google search indicating that no other 'AARland' exists on the Internet, aside from a few Norwegian Facebook users with such a last name.

At its most simple level, AARland is a place for showing off our own writing talents and encouraging and enjoying others'. I have enjoyed doing such for around eight months now – though it feels like longer. Of course, there are other elements – countless 'philosophical' AARlander articles exist on the subject – though I will save those for the main body of this history.

Being a part of this community is an immersive experience, and one which can be very full-on at times. Between writing and other commitments, commenting on the work of others can - especially on particularly busy days - take up a sizeable chunk of time. I feel like I have been here for more than eight months, such is the investment and depth of my involvement here that being a part of an online community has done something I never thought it would. Being an AARlander has become a main part of my life.

Yet, at the same time, I feel as if I have hardly seen any of our community, and am in fact just a relative speck in its history. It is easy to forget, perhaps - for I cannot claim any first-hand experience - that AARland has existed for over a decade. When you look back on its history, you find a rich catalogue of camaraderie, enthusiastic members and - arguably above all - wonderful, wonderful writing.

But this is a history that largely remains unknown - especially to the large numbers of newer members who are often, through no fault of their own (if indeed, fault is the right word.) It hardly seems fitting that such a history is left to gather dust in the deepest depths of the EU1 forums.

When the idea of a comprehensive history was raised, therefore, I was immediately enthusiastic. AARland has a proud and rich history - it seems paradoxical that it is not more widely known. Hopefully this series will do something to combat that.

Over the next few months, I will be writing this and publishing it in the AARlander. I aim to be as comprehensive as is possible, and must express my sincere thanks to those who have been kind enough to offer help. I shall do acknowledgements once this series is over, but, for now, I must express thanks to Derahan, for being so enthusiastic with regards to publishing this, and to Tanzhang (譚張), for sparking the idea that spawned this hideous beast.

Any corrections or extra pieces of information can be sent to me via PM.

DensleyBlair

[HR][/HR]

For all AARlanders.

[HR][/HR]

Pre-AARland and EU1 - 2000-2001

The Beta AARs

Europa Universalis was first released in Belgium, on the 14th March 2000. It was released next in Germany – over seven months later. When the game was released, therefore, only a limited section of the community were actually able to play it. These people unable to access the game needed a means of sating their need to see actual gameplay footage.

A few months prior to this, a beta version of the game had been released to a closed group of testers. As is often required of a tester in a closed beta, those with access to the game noted down their experiences, as well as any faults with the AI. Naturally, with the Paradox community still relatively small, these two groups met – on one side, the privileged few with access to a fiercely anticipated game, on the other, those clamouring for a peek. When testers posted their findings and notes taken during gameplay, people took interest – commenting and asking questions. A nascent AARland had appeared.

Of course, these were by no mean the first AARs – Julius Caesar, for one, wrote his Commentarii de Bello Gallico some time around 50BCE – yet this marked the first occasion on which the medium had been introduced to the Paradox fora. And the medium spread like an enjoyable case of the plague. By the end of the year 2000, 163 AARs had been at least started — with most 'completed,' owing to the earlier AARs' very nature.

AARland-proper's history began on the tenth of April, 2000. The first AAR? Sapura's Well folks, its [sic] up!, in which the author documents a testing session as Sweden. Or so I have gleaned from subsequent comments, for the AAR itself - posted outside of the forums, is no longer accessible. Sapura was the webmaster of the Europa Universails section on a website called Sidgames, which would seem a likely location for the AAR – though it would seem this website also no longer exists. The author has also since been banned in circumstances unknown, leaving the AAR and its contents lost to the winds of time.

What then is the first AAR to have been posted in AARland? Seeing as most of the very early threads were moved from the EU1 General Discussion forum, this is a hard question to answer.

Posted mere hours after Well folks, its up!, Graham Dodge's 1492 Campaign - Turkey is a possible contender. Though it was moved from the General Discussion forums – where its first part still resides, having been split into two threads – the subsequent parts were posted natively. The piece is also notable for having amassed nearly seven thousand views in its time – its time being one in which circa 500 was doing well.[1]

We need to look at the next AAR, then, to get our answer.

Posted on AARland's second day of existence, The Mellow Game (England Grand Campaign) by gbraley sees the author guide England through the eighty or so years between 1492 and 1576.[2] Hardly a grand campaign, it could be argued. A valid point – the author himself evens mentions such in the thread with this post:

I guess we haven't created a 'standard' to follow - I am going to post part 2 of this AAR in a new thread; if I get yelled at by the audience I promise not to do it again

Indeed, these AARs were often no more than single post breakdowns of gameplay, with very few literary embellishments. Arguably the first AAR to break the mould, however, was revolutionary.

Oranje's Oranje's Dutch AAR spanned eleven pages, with many citing the work as their reason for buying the game. Warspite summed up the AAR's importance thusly:

Truely [sic] a classic im sure we can all appreciate from the early days. Before there was Ariel and Lord Durham and all the great writers we see today, there were the pioneers of this forum such as Oranje who made these AARs the envy of the gaming world.

Whether or not Oranje's AAR was responsible for the larger change in the styles of AARs around this time is debatable, though the work was certainly influential in terms of game advertisement. And as soon as the game was released to everyone, the AARs came on even greater numbers, with people experimenting with style and structure in – at the time – radical ways.

[HR][/HR]

[1] As an aside, the thread is also notable for the fact that its most recent reply was posted on the 16th April 2011 – 11 years after the discussion had finished.

[2] According to Estonianzulu's AAR Classics thread, this was actually the first AAR in AARland.

[HR][/HR]

Next Month: EU1 - The End of the Testers' Hegemony (2001)​
 

Derahan

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Is it a game show? Or is it a reality show? Is it a theme park? Or is it something entirely different? Something never seen before in human history?

Whatever it is, it’s Director’s History Park: Who Wants to Be Napoleon!

In Edition 9 DensleyBlair’s review of the fAARq gave us a look back at the traditions and legacies of AARLand. It seemed to be well received (enough that he’s expanded that look in Edition 10), so I thought it would be good to review some of the gems of AARLand past – those classics which maintain their value over many years, no matter how old the game was upon which they were based.

Mostly, we’re talking about stories – not necessarily “narrative stories,” though certainly many of them are. But those AARs which told a tale of an imaginary civilization or empire which many of us still remember today, even if they only really existed, for a time, on the author’s computer hard drive.

Who Wants to Be Napoleon is one that sure stuck in my mind, even having read only parts, and when I finally had the pleasure of reading it in full, a few months ago, I had to wonder how I had so cheated myself by not reading it earlier.

It’s really a remarkable piece of art. I say art because it’s not just the writing. And it’s not just the storytelling. It’s the way everything worked together like a culinary masterpiece, or – perhaps more appropriately for “The Director” – a symphonic magnum opus.

First, it was well-written. Director is about as talented a writer you can expect on an amateur forum where the writers can’t spend weeks or months editing their stuff.

Secondly, it was a reasonably original idea, completely recasting the best of the Jurassic Park concept in terms of history and gaming.

Thirdly, it was expertly plotted, with four main plot lines intertwined with a wide variety of subplots. A mission to smuggle British gold out of India? Sound exciting? A mere tangent from the main plots, but covered in no fewer than 3 or 4 scenes. That’s development!

Fourthly, there were more than a dozen major characters involved just in the “real life” story/plots, while Director brilliantly fleshed out an equal number of historical military figures, and threw in his own crew of imaginary “historical characters” to boot. You care about these people – even Napoleon’s generals, with their varied talents and temperaments – and you can’t wait to see the next scene where you can find out what happened to them!

Fifthly, Director is a student of military history, and undertook to examine and replicate Napoleonic era strategies and tactics in great detail. Instead of describing historical battles in the story, he modifies them to meet the conditions and the gameplay, so that game results are fleshed out in realistic battle scenes of authentic character.

The climax of the whole story involves a “Golden Bees” horse-drawn carriage, two “Napoleons,” and a soundtrack of high adventure, all cast into a high-stakes pursuit through the Park after the bad guy!

I won’t spoil the story by explaining what the 4th main plot line is, but let’s just say it’s a poignant “coming of age” story, of sorts, that’s a perfect intellectual counterpoint to the dramatic action “on screen and off.” And two different sets of characters, in two different main plots, have to decide whether the personalities they’re interacting with are friends or foes.

It is a testament to Director’s skill as a writer – and a storyteller – that he’s able to pull all these elements together into a seamless whole, despite its complexity.

In History Park: Who Wants to Be Napoleon, Director delivers keen strategy and dark intrigue, burbling just under the surface of an amazing, outwardly successful entertainment extravaganza featuring not just Europa Universalis gameplay in virtual reality, but also the most wicked roller coaster ride, ever. Once you step off – once the ride is done – you’ll never forget it!

And if you enjoy it, you must really follow up with History Park: Here There Be Dragons, as I have. It’s much darker, longer, much scarier, and just as complex. Furthermore, as I understand, Director has other works which have been acclaimed as highly or moreso.
 

Derahan

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One of AARland's newst authors, MondoPotato has made an immediate impact with his smash hit debut AAR The Republic - A Central American AAR. In his AAR, Mondo manages to masterfully weave a tapestry of gameplay, tutorial, narrative and historybook styles married together with beautiful graphics and a few sprinkles of occasional comedy, just for good measure. A mere nine chapters in at the time of writing "The Republic" has nevertheless already won it's author the Artist of the Month Award and was recently named as the Weekly AAR Showcase.

1. Can you remember the name of the first AAR you ever read?

I can, actually, and it's surprising because it goes back quite a while. The first AAR I ever read, and I was reading it while it was still in progress, was "The Wind in the Heather" by Farquharson. This one goes back to the long lost early days of 2003! I can remember it because I had just bought EUII, which was the first Paradox game I'd ever played. I played a quick game, and was destroyed in spectacular fashion. I jumped on the forums to see if there were any tutorials or helpful guides, and stumbled on the AAR forum. It was at the top of the list, so I read it. I learned practically nothing about playing the game, unfortunately, but I had never even heard of something like an AAR before and found the entire concept really intriguing. I've been reading them, and playing the various titles from Paradox, ever since.

2. As a relative newcomer to AARland, may I ask just exactly what was it that inspired you to "take the plunge" so to speak and start writing your first AAR?

That's a good question, especially considering how long I've been reading and lurking. Honestly I'd thought about writing one for ages, and even actually sat down to start a few in various fits of inspiration. But for whatever reason, I either changed my mind or just didn't bother. When I started "The Republic," I convinced myself to actually just put something together and post it. I started the game, played for a few hours, and wrote the intro pieces. I made sure I posted everything on the forum right away so I wouldn't slack off or forget about it again. I'm glad I did.

Overall though, the main reason I wanted to write an AAR was to tell the story. In the past, I did it through maps, like this one and this one. I think writing an AAR, although a lot more work, just offers so much more depth to the ability to tell that story.


3. Normally I like to ask interviewees about the different styles of AAR and those in which they prefer to write, but asking that of yourself might be a little bit tricky given that your AAR is a hybrid of all styles! Of the three component styles which make up your AAR (Gameplay/tutorial, narrative and historybook) which do you feel is the most intrinsic in making your AAR what it is, and which of the three do you enjoy writing the most?

I think I most enjoy writing the history book pieces. No, wait, it's the narrative. Yes, definitely the history book, or the narrative. Possibly the tutorial. Honestly though, I enjoy all three for the merits they each have, and the unique style of storytelling they all offer. The tutorial and gameplay pieces are great to get information out in a way we all readily understand and we can immediately relate to as players. The narratives offer a chance for me to write about the individuals that inhabit the world, and allow the readers to hear how they think on a personal level moreso than a brief description and a picture can provide. The history book pieces layout that world in a clean and concise manner. Because of the different qualities they each have, I think I enjoy writing them all equally. But my favourite is definitely the narrative.

As for making my AAR what it is, I'd have to say that it's specifically the combination that does. If it was all narrative or history book it might be equally as enjoyable, but the transition between the two makes it, in my mind, both fun to write and enjoyable for the reader. I hope anyway! And to answer your question, my favourite part to write is the history book. Narrative.


4. As a historybook AAR writer myself, the facet of your AAR I appreciate most is the incredible amount of historical detail that you manage to cram into each update. Exactly how much research do you do before writing each update and on the whole how historically accurate is your AAR

I did quite a bit actually. In the beginning I had very little actual knowledge or background in Central American history. I didn't want to start writing without having some sort of background around how and why the Federal Republic collapsed in real life, and how the people that lived there thought and reacted. For each individual update, especially if it involves something that closely resembles something that happened in real-life, I try to read up as much as I can, within a reasonable timeline for actually getting the next update done of course. I use that knowledge to guide my thoughts in writing the story. In the beginning of "The Republic", I* stuck very closely to the actual history, to the letter for much of it in the first posts. As it progressed I took things into the direction the game led, but have always tried to stay conscious of how the people involved would have reacted. To do that I think it's important to have some understanding of how it was in reality, and how similar events affected other parts of the world as well.

5. Another thing which I like is how you're prepared to take potentially harmful gameplay actions (for example maintaining an unprofitable Reactionary dictatorship instead of doing the sensible thing and liberalising your nation's political system in order to attract immigrants) in order to achieve both a more interesting and more historically accurate outcome. This also echoes something which Merrick talked about in his AARlander article last issue. Just how important do you feel it is for authors to take unconventional, even damaging gameplay choices in order to shake things up and make the story more interesting or realistic?

I think it's purely a style choice and dependent on the AAR in question. An AAR about world conquest, or a purely tutorial "how to play" AAR, might seem silly if the player actively took harmful gameplay choices. For a history/storybook style, sometimes that authour is trying to tell a story of unmitigated success. Sometimes, it's a breath of fresh air to see the player lose... Not because we want the guy playing the game to fail, but because when that happens in the story, it makes it seem much more real. History is full of egoists, narcissists, brilliance and failure. We get used to seeing the player win, and usually substantially. It is a game afterall, and in the end it's hard to shake that "I must win" mentality.

For writing a History Book AAR, I tried to think about how the leader would react, and role-play that in the game. Carerra, one of the early presidents in "The Republic", for example, was deeply religious, reckless and impulsive, aside from being quite a capable president. During one particular war I threw his army against hopeless odds, and was soundly defeated. As a player I would never throw an army away like that. But Carerra would. He may have been a strong leader (the 8/8/8 king in EUIII), but that doesn't change his personality type, or the attitudes of the era and the attitudes of the culture he was raised by. In my mind, Carerra wouldn't liberally reform the state, because he was fundamentally ultra-conservative and vocally against anything the liberal republicans said or wanted. That didn't mean he was any less strong of a leader. I tried to make sure he came across as a god-send to the country, even though by modern standards he would have been a horrific totalitarian tyrant. But in 1836, democracy wasn't quite what it is today.


6. But surely doesn't making said unwise gameplay choices damage the appeal of your AAR as a tutorial piece?

Yes, that's definitely a possibility. It's one of the reasons why the tutorial pieces I've added in have been more about instruction of the use of a feature or system within the game, but not my game. Take Industrialisation, for example. The tutorial I gave regarding the in's and out's of industrialising didn't even mention a word about how I was actually handling that in game. Instead I mentioned "The Republic took it's first steps towards industrialisation, and here's how you should do it".

So, I suppose an obvious question is why add tutorial pieces at all? Well, when I first read an AAR, back in 2003, I was looking only and exactly for a tutorial, but instead I found not only that, but a whole alternate history to dive into as well. I'd like to think that anyone today in the same boat could find my AAR, and read an enjoyable story, while also seeing these bits and pieces of tutorial tagged on the side to help understand the game as well.


7. We've talked a lot about the historical aspects of your AAR, but I think the aspect your readers enjoy most are your award-winning graphics. Just how important a component do you think good graphics are in an AAR, and do you have any presentation tips for any budding authors out there?

I think the visual aspect comes down to a readers preference. There are those that love the textual information and the detail that it provides. Others skip the text, check out the pictures, and that's it. I wanted to provide both because I enjoy both, and I wanted to do so in a way that made both equally appealing, and equally able to tell the same story. Now, I've never considered myself much of either a writer or an artist, but I think I've done well to meet that goal for myself. That said, a picture says a thousand words. A well placed visual can enhance the understanding of a subject where a solid page would be troubled to do the same.

As far as tips go, I'm no graphic artist by any stretch, but the best I can offer is simply to try, and practice, and try again. Enjoy criticism, because when someone says "Hey, I don't like this", they're actually telling you exactly what they do like, and it gives you a solid example of how you can improve. Be proud of your work, even if it sucks. On top of practicing, the next best thing is to just look around and find infographics and such online, see what the pro's do to tell a story in a picture, and try and mimic it yourself. Read tutorials, and ask questions. Then try some more, fail a bunch, scrap the lot and try again. In the end, you absolutely will improve. I think the exact same words can be applied to writing as well.


8. Let's leave AARland to the side for one moment and talk a bit about the offline Mondo. What are your interests and hobbies out there in the real world, and how do they (if they do) affect your AAR writing in the virtual Paradox world?

In the real world, I'm a 33 year old software developer, mainly specializing in GIS and cartographics. Basically I write software that makes mapping with computers happen, but unlike , say, Google Earth, which is generic, I develop specialty and R&D tools primarily for government and sciences. I've also worked in the gaming industry handling various odds and ends of engine development from networking to terrain generation algorithms and such. I have two kids (12 and 9) and we live on the most beautiful island on the planet. I like my coffee the same as my beer; dark and thick enough to stand on. I've always been interested in the history of various era's and read a ridiculous amount of books relating to whatever tidbit I'm curious about at any given day. I'm a musician in my off time, both writing and playing. I usually play guitar, but over the years I've learned to play quite a few different instruments (sax, trumpet, flute, anything with strings). When it comes to gaming, obviously I love most paradox grand strategy titles, and I play a lot of Battlefield when I'm not conquering the earth. I imagine my experience with mapping and cartography greatly influence my AAR writing, especially with the maps!

9. Am I right in suspecting based on your AAR that you have a strong interest in southern and central American history? If so, what exactly is it about the period that interests you and made you want to write an AAR which takes place there?

I'm interested in all history, but I'd never known much about Central America. My ignorance on the subject played a major role in deciding to write an AAR that takes place there. As I started reading about the history, I became more convinced that it needed the AAR treatment. It's a nearly unknown and obscure part of the 19th century world, but it's filled with it's own cast of really unique characters, like Del Valle, Morazan and Carerra. I think that obscurity also helps because a number of readers won't have any preconceived ideas about where it should go, because there's so little out there to base it on.

10. Although it's still early days in your AAR writing career and I'm sure you're still going to be busy with updating The Republic for some time to come, do you have any thoughts as to the sort of AAR you'd like to start after The Republic wraps up? Would you be willing to produce a graphically-intense hybrid like your first AAR or perhaps something more traditional style-wise?

Because I enjoy all of the different styles of AAR, I think the hybrid graphical/narrative/historybook really suits what I like to do the most. I like all three, so squishing them together just makes sense. Any future AAR's would likely have the same style, though I imagine the graphical style would change somewhat as I improve in putting them together and adjust them to fit the mood and feel of a different country or a different era. I'm really enjoying putting "The Republic" together, but I've already had ideas for future AAR's (Canada/British Columbia, Persia, Sweden). Now that I've started one and caught the bug, I imagine there's going to be others that follow!

11. Can we expect another Vicky II AAR from you or are you thinking of expanding into writing AARs for other Paradox games?

You know, I'm not sure. I like Vicky II as an AAR for several reasons. One, I love the game. Two, the timeframe is long enough to develop an intriguing story, but short enough that it doesn't run that risk of dragging on too long and wearing down the readers or the writer. That said, CKII is a writers dream come true. It practically begs for the role-play story writing treatment that so many AAR's use. I think that's a huge part of what makes the game so popular and so fun to play. Rome is another one that seems so well suited for a great story; it's really too bad we don't have a Rome II to look forward too (yet). Admittedly, I've had this nagging "what about The Republic in HOI" thought as well.

12. It's tradition that I save the last question for asking my interviewees which of their own works is their favourite, but since you've only written one AAR to date that wouldn't be much of a contest! Instead, let me ask you which is your all-time favourite AAR apart from "The Republic" and why?

Wow, that's a hard question! There are so many really great pieces of work out there, and great for so many different reasons. Instead of giving you just one, I'd have to list some of my favourites. Milites "Paris ne vault pas une messe" is definitely in that list. Excellent writing, visually stunning, and such a strong historical depth, well played out in a unique alternate history. Duke of Wellington's "Kanem Bornu - Out of the Sahara", for being entirely different than the previously mentioned. robw963 and "AMERICA Saves the World!"... seriously, what else needs to be said here. Fuggetaboutit.

Thank you very much MondoPotato for your time.
 

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Last Man and Shilling - Semper Fi HPP AustraliAAR
by Saithis

HOI3
Australia 1936
Light History-book AAR
Semper Fi + HPP mod




"Australians will stand beside our own to help and defend Britain to our last man and our last shilling."
-Prime Minister Andrew Fisher​



HOI3 AARs tend to aim for the stars, or rather, for World Conquest. The mechanism is there: Any decent player can manage to conquer the world as the United States; some can do so as Albania or Luxembourg. Although these AARs can be very entertaining to read, their stories are usually far from historically plausible. To distinguish themselves, some history-book and narrative writAARs impose certain historical limits upon themselves to make the game harder for them, and more plausible story-wise. Only few of them, however, go as far in modifying the game to their disadvantage, and imposing limits upon themselves, as Saithis.*

In Last Man and Shilling, the Lady of the North Star takes on the role of guiding Australia through a war to save the British Commonwealth. The title does not overestimate the devotion of this Australia to the homeland Britain - at all. The very first expeditionary Aussie troops are sent to France to help the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) with defending against the advancing troops of the German Reich, and throughout the AAR as it is currently written, the Australian government stays loyal to the true government of Great Britain. In Europe, the Australians are considered elite troops, but they are far from numerous, and this makes Saithis awfully dependent on the infamous AI. There is no way she can beat the Germans on her own, and as we follow the struggle of the brave Aussies, desperation kicks in as it becomes more and more of a fight for survival.

Saithis’ custom events, hand-tailored for this AAR, really do improve the quality of the gameplay. Where the game’s regular events, even those of the Historical Plausibility Project mod, can sometimes be woefully inadequate at dealing with ahistorical situations, the custom events fill this gap quite nicely. And I shouldn’t forget to mention that the events are used responsibly. Hardly any of them are favourable for Australia, and even if some are, there are provisions built in, like a % chance that the events will backfire.*

As I previously mentioned, the situation of the Commonwealth becomes increasingly dire as the war progresses. This has so far added to the atmosphere, but I wonder how the historically plausible nature of the AAR could be kept up as the AAR progresses. Saithis has stated her interest in liberating the European mainland from the German oppressor, but in an alternate scenario where the Germans clearly have the upper hand, such a D-Day would hardly be feasible without resorting to gamey tactics. The very lack of these tactics is at this point one of the things that make this AAR interesting, and to prevent a story-breaking invasion from taking place, I advise that at a certain point in time, one of the custom events is used to weaken the Third Reich.*



“Australian forces performed adequately in the skies, but the war was rapidly taking its tolls. Nearly half of her Sunderland bombers had been shot down or damaged to the point of recall, nearly 150 planes lost in told over the initial 3 months of the war. Most of the crew were either lost in the atlantic or interned by Dutch patrols off the coast of Holland. The Netherlands was committed to neutrality and, like in the past Great War, would arrest any violating its territorial sovereignty and hope to survive this war unscathed. Australian Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires were far less touched, and had covered the bombers adequately so far. There were worries about Germany's ability to outpace the Allied forces in aircraft production as so far the number of planes shot down seemed roughly equal on each side. The British found themselves unable to safely venture into the North Sea, but the Germans were suffering the same. The Campaign was, thus far, as much of a stalemate as the silence of the Western Front.”



The above quote is quite characteristic for the style of Last Man and Shilling*. Rather than describing every battle, the situation is surveyed from a wider, strategic perspective, and this style has several significant advantages. Most importantly for me, it makes for a much more entertaining read, although that might just be personal preference. More objectively, it also makes the reader more aware of the general course of events. “Heavier” narratives have the tendency to focus too much on the details, which may distort the general picture. One, important battle may very well turn into the player’s favour, but describing it might trick the reader into thinking the war is going well, while in fact the rest of his front is collapsing. But I stress again, this AAR has no such problems.*

The AAR is also well-flavoured and supported. Saithis seems to know a lot about the Australian and British weaponry at the time - Either that, or she is just very good with Wikipedia. The pictures are also very nice, and sometimes the reader is treated with even more exceptional graphics, but there are two things I should note. The pictures are nicely finished with an edge and a shadow, which really adds to the atmosphere, but it does mean that all the pictures are in the heavy .png format. So, if your internet connection is very bad, you might not be able to read this AAR properly. Also, some screenshots are cropped too much, to my taste. They show the specific situation only, and not the general surroundings. At times, a “normal” screenshot could be more satisfying.

Now, lest I start complaining about the fact that the graphics are optimized for the redundant blue colour schemes, I shall wrap up the review of this brilliant AAR. It is a testimony to its brilliance that during a recent five-month period of inactivity, it re-appeared on the first page several times. And that’s not the only testimony: *Last Man and Shilling won 3 ACAs, Saithis was awarded the WritAAR of the Week award twice for her efforts, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this Trophy Cabinet would be much expanded when the story comes to an end. And when it does, finally, come to an end, do not worry. For apparently there is much more in store for us…



“I've created this AAR (…) firstly, to help increase my HOI writing practicals in preparation for a future, more grand AAR I have planned.”



Read Last Man and Shilling here.


---
* Except for the spelling mistakes. It’s “Atlantic” and “The Netherlands were“, Saithis. You can do better than that.
 

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De Hautevilles – Can Anyone Stop the Norman Invasion?

AARs are like that guy who rarely finishes talking. You know the one, and if it you don't, you're probably him. Or her. Anyway, in our case, it's more due to having too much to say rather than not being able to shut up. It's just the way is around here, people write about their games and then stop early, because AARs are huge projects. So when one makes considerable progress towards finishing, I can't help but take notice (only partially because I'm super jealous of people who actually finish what they start writing). While only in the 1300s, this lovely piece of CK2 fiction, found here has already told quite the long tale, one whose subject matter is likely obvious from the title.

From humble beginnings in Sicily, or at least as humble as a highborn can be, writer hjarg takes us on a part-narrative/part-history-book journey to the height of the world, telling stories of conquest and men. And, naturally, we read them, as we're wont to do in this corner of the internet. But, that's all things you likely could have figured out on your own. So why did I decide on this particular work, you ask? Well of course, there's the already considerable length of it meaning that it's not a story likely to be abandoned. However, in addition I personally found that it was rather refreshing, in a cold glass of lemonade on a summer day kind of way. The simile might seem a little out of place, but I promise it's relevant! How do I mean?

In the realms of narrative, at least, often many AARs produced have some strange twist and/or are written with incredible depth and detail, sort of like you're reading a fully-fleshed fiction book. But that's amazing! I love details, almost as much as I love key lime pie! If that's what you're thinking, I can sympathize. Mainly about the key lime pie, because I really like it, but also the first part. But at times, when I read an AAR I don't like to feel as if Robert Jordan wrote it, complete with 5-page clothing descriptions. Sometimes, it's nice to sit back with something nice and light, that requires a little less of a commitment to enjoy, like De Hautevilles – Can Anyone Stop the Norman Invasion?


There's a few other things I personally enjoyed. For starters, the writer blends their history-book and narrative very well, such as that you have a hard time noticing where one starts and the other ends. As such, I will personally recommend this AAR to any who, like me, are a great fan of that particular style. Secondarily, it's one of the first times I've felt emotionally invested in a country rather than a character. I won't spoil anything, but I've never been so happy to see a particular war won, simply because I had grown to hate the target of it so much throughout the course of the AAR. That kind of emotional investment is the telltale sign of a good writer, whether it be to an object, a person, or in our case, the empire of the De Hauteville family. All in all, hjarg's work is quite the journey and forms an extremely solid story, one I would recommend to any person with the time to read it. And also possibly for those who don't, because reading AARs instead of fulfilling prior obligations is probably a good idea.
 

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Time For Some Carnage, Part Two.

Recap: Last issue we cornered the leader of the Carnage group himself. Today we continue with another master of Hearts Of Iron 3: a man who always seems to come up with just the right strategy to save the day. Join me as we try to learn just what makes him so great.

->Player: Zid.

Do you guys offer CptEasy any advice or comments regarding the make-up of the AAR?

No, not really. CptEasy has always been somewhat of a writer/storyteller, and the AARs are his creation from start to finish.

How do you decide who plays which nation? Choice? Random die roll?

Previously, we have made lists of what countries we would like to play in order. Easy has then divided us into teams, making sure that there is a good mix of player choice and also making sure the teams are also always divided evenly. He has told me he also tries to make sure the teams are rotated, so players get to play with (and against) all other players

How much time would you say you spend, on average, coming up with an overall strategy for an upcoming campaign? Do you play out a test campaign? If so, is it done alone of with your future allies?

It varies greatly. I always check out the country I am about to play and create a rough plan for what I am going to produce and research. For Blitz Carnage, I spent several hours trying out many different build plans. This was partly because I felt Russia had consistently underperformed previously, and partly because that, in the 1938 scenario, Russia gets almost two years to plan before they are drawn into a major war.

As someone who has never played MP, I would like to know what it’s like playing with other people’s voices in your headset?

It is a rollercoaster. When things are going well or very well, you feel like you have a large team cheering you on. But when you have made a large mistake and your fleet is being destroyed or your armies surrounded, we definitely feel like it would be much better to be left alone with your shame and anger. It can also be very hard to try to help your teammates with advice when they are going through periods of intense stress, especially if you don´t share map vision, as Comintern/Allies.

In Blitz Carnage, you managed to successfully bluff CptEasy from attacking the Ukraine after he pretty much obliterated your first line of defense (some 40 divisions were destroyed, I believe). In Al Dente, you played an almost perfect campaign as the UK, using naval attrition and the element of surprise to destroy both the Kriegsmarine and the Italian navy. In other games you have always managed to play to your nation’s strengths. Would you say this comes from deep-seated strategic insight or a thorough knowledge of the game?

I have also been run over as Italy and managed to lose a game as Germany in... was it 1940? Most, if not all players are old strategy boardgame players, so we all have a strategic mindset. If anything, my strenghts are game mechanics and analysis. I belive that Cpt Easy is a more skilled player on the tactical level. At least playing against him in the Russia/Germany setup has taught me a lot.

You posted several excellent “attendums” to the actual updates in Carnage Al Dente. I, and many others with me, loved this “view from across the fence”. Any chance of seeing more of this in future AARs?

After writing down the addendums, I get more and more respect for what Cpt Easy does. It takes a LOT of time. Also, getting good screenshots are quite difficult.

Carnage Al Dente also saw some unfortunate situations arise as a direct result of the combination House Rules and game mechanics. This sparked such a fierce debate on the subject that the mods had to step in and even closed the thread for a little while. While it is not up to us to debate mod decisions, where you surprised by the intensity of the reader debate? Any comments?

Godwin's Law (“As any online discussion continues, the probability of a comparison involving Nazi’s or Hitler increases dramatically”)was invented for a reason. On the HOI forums, we are one step closer since one in-game side really are Nazis! Lets just say that we in the gaming group had very intense discussions as well, and even had to take a day or two to cool off. I´m just glad that people are so engaged and interested in our games- I think that it is Cpt Easy's intense storytelling and non-stop cliffhangers that make the AARs such a good read.

Thank you.
 

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Hello guys and gals and welcome to my monthly review of AARs on the EU3 forum. I won't necessarily only be doing this (as of now my two posts on common mistakes provide a pretty ok 'lens' through which I can review AARs. However, since we're at the beginning of the summer we're likely to get a large bump of new AARs and in reviewing them I may find that I need to clarify something), but this will be my formal position within the AARlander. The first AAR I'm going to review is already showing some notoriety; I'm talking of course of Jape's The Shadow of God.

Since we're in the beginning of summer, the AARs I'm going to be reviewing are going to be pretty short (maybe when I'm feeling more ambitious/have more time on my hands I'll review the older AARs), but even early in an AAR you can get a good idea of where it's going to go. Case in point, Jape's first entry.

It's always great for a reader to see that the writer starts off with a 'history up until this point' section. It's not necessarily required for a writer to do this, but as a reader is shows that the writer has done their homework (and furthermore, that they have a level of determination). Jape's ability to reconstruct history that did actually happen shows us, even at the very beginning, that he is going to be skilled at reconstructing history that hasn't happened.

Jape's first entry is a great introduction and a great sign for the AAR in general. Why do I say that? Because he discusses the one historical event which all (well, all 1453 start games) EU3 AARs start from with an eye for history rather than predetermination. "Discovering where Mehmet’s Islamic devotion ended and his kingly needs for security began is a fruitless task." Jape writes. Instead of placing onto Mehmet ahistorical notions--the idea of the Balance of Power came out of the Renaissance, and the concept of raison d'état required hundreds of precursor concepts such as the state or the nation--Jape puts Mehmet in his time, and acknowledges that even though Mehmet is both a historical figure and a creation of a video game, we still cannot know the workings of his heart. Furthermore his lack of discussion of the battle of Constantinople in discussing the event of the fall of Constantinople signals that Jape is avoiding the mistake that has lain low many a fantastic historical AAR--overfocus on details. This or that battle rarely has 'historical' significance to a country outside of its context: yes, Constantinople's fall was dramatic, but historically it was simply the culmination of a centuries long decline in Roman power.

Over his first narrative arc ('Hunyadi's Crusade') Jape expresses and solidifies positive tropes established in the introduction (just as the Turks expand and solidify over their Balkan holdings after the capture of Constantinople). On the macro level is the continued historicity of his work --yes, Turkish arms meant that the Crusade was likely going to go one way, but Turkey was still stopped by an 'aberration', the miracle at Belgrade, which stopped the Turkish advance; thus while 'larger forces' determine the scope of history they can be stopped or helped along by minor events. But on the micro level, Jape starts off with something that I just recently started doing in Lords of France: putting minor details in and only explaining them later. Things like many of the Sultan's attendants being deaf mutes don't 'matter' in the grander scheme of things, but it makes Jape's world realer to us.

In Jape's last entry, he does something that I love (and perhaps do too much)--contradicts an imagined histiography. Although Mehmet is seen in the West merely as a conqueror, he notes, Mehmet should also be seen as the man who modernized the Ottoman's government etc. I love this AAR device because it lets you create a more complicated character at the helm of your government. Yes, Mehmet is a military figure, but he isn't just that, Jape reminds us.

Furthermore, in setting up the structure of the Ottoman government, Jape is showing a huge degree of forethought. Governance isn't merely a series of automatons enacting a rulers will (as any contemporary American can tell you), it's also a conflict between institutions. And those institutions are situated historically: the American army's 'interests' are different than the 'interests' of the British or German armies because of the history of the American army. Similarly, the Turkish 'aristocracy' is different than France's or Poland's aristocracy, and by introducing us to the broad outlines of the institutions of the Ottoman government, Jape is getting a lot of work out of the way--after all, these are the institutions which will do battle over Ottoman policy for centuries.

Jape's AAR, at this point in the June of 2013, is a great place to look for someone who wants to start a historybook AAR. It has a polish and a sense of forethought I haven't seen in any other EU3 AARs, and if Jape keeps with it, it could easily become one of the best.
 

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Well, here is another edition for you all, I sincerely hope you liked it because I sure did (No I am not biased..... I hope, maybe a little). I hope this editors note will be a permanent tradition within the AARlander (says the guy who is writing it...) and that you readers will hopefully appreciate it, or atleast be neutral about it, not hate it. The finest thing this edition I believe is the introduction of the AARland history articles, no offense to the rest of you writers you did very good articles yourself, but perhaps this history of the last decade of the AARland which is its enitre lifespan will someday help someone else do a complete history of the AARland where Densleys and Co.s work will be used. My dreams are little big here, hopefully we will be remembered and not just fade into the abyss. This history of the AARland is perhaps just a beginning of what will come. Maybe we should begin to record from now on what is happening in the AARland so it is easier to do this kind of thing in the future?

And then there is the thing whe have discussed a little inside our little AARland group of writers, graphic and editor, the thing about publicity or PR whatever you feel like using. We haven't really come up with a good plan to get more readers than what Gen. Marshall is doing, which is a great job, but it feels like we are just annoying people... So just got a question for you guys who read this, do you have any good ideas on how we can reach the AARlanders and get them to read this little magazine? The more the merrier right?

And I will just put in a reminder, if you ever want to contribute to the AARlander then all you have to do is PM me with an idea and I will most likely (99% chance) have you onboard the team before you can wink. And don't be confused if I don't get back to you the edition asking for whatever you wanted to particiapte with, I have a really tornado memory so I can forget things easily, just be presistent and like harass me and remind me of it.

Also, this months edition has to be the best one so far according to me, I can't believe how far we have come since edition 1,2 and 3... I feel like a noob when I look back at them :D

With not much more to say, i bid you farewell and hope you enjoyed this months edition! See you in July!

Regards.
D.



ps. 10 posts for the 10th edition
 
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