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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!

AARlander is, as always, available in PDF or iBook format.

Code:
[SIZE=5][URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?720187-The-AARlander-Edition-11&p=16109262&viewfull=1#post16109262"]WritAAR Introduction: Ikarases - Belgiumruler[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?720187-The-AARlander-Edition-11&p=16109274&viewfull=1#post16109274"]Monroe and Roosevelt for the Win! - Rensslaer[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?720187-The-AARlander-Edition-11&p=16109280&viewfull=1#post16109280"]Twelve Questions with Tanzhang[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?720187-The-AARlander-Edition-11&p=16109288&viewfull=1#post16109288"]The Return of Ancient Gods: Lithuanian Kingdom - Gela1212[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?720187-The-AARlander-Edition-11&p=16109296&viewfull=1#post16109296"]The History of AARland - DensleyBlair[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?720187-The-AARlander-Edition-11&p=16109319&viewfull=1#post16109319"]Avindian's AARlander Academy[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?720187-The-AARlander-Edition-11&p=16109354&viewfull=1#post16109354"]Time for some Carnage - misterbean[/URL]

[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?720187-The-AARlander-Edition-11&p=16109367&viewfull=1#post16109367"]Editors Note - Derahan[/URL][/SIZE]
 
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Derahan

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If you frequent the Hearts of Iron boards within AARland, it is more than likely that you will have encountered this month's interviewee. Ikarases has made a name for himself writing about his exploits with the game – often with him playing as nations with whom it is well-nigh impossible to win the game (his exploits with Mongolia and Czechoslovakia spring to mind.) Ikarases has also shown his modding ability on many occasions, writing about games with 'Belgelands' and Baltic Union, respectively.

As he seldom ventures forth from his preferred HoI home, I felt that it was high time for the rest of AARland to meet this erstwhile Fan of the Week laureate. Without further ado, then: Ikarases.


You're somewhat well-known in the HoI area of AARland, though seldom travel elsewhere: do you have any plans to do so?

If something catches my eye (most likely in the AARlander, like the last time), then why not? But so far I've my hands full of modifying the game in million and one ways. Add to that I need to revive my HoI3 copy and finish (off) two AARs and I've effectively nailed my whole vacation just toying around with HoI.

To that end, do you plan on playing (or even writing about) any other Paradox games?

As far as the HoI3 brings me enough satisfaction, I don't think I need to play anything else, basically for the same reasons as per above.

Now onto your own work: you tend to favour the 'gameplay' genre. Do you have any plans to experiment with others? Perhaps even a narrative or tutorial?

Regarding narrative AARs; I often have troubles to keep up even with gameplay AARs. Keeping my readers simultaneously informed about my rather rapidly going play through is tough even when your average description of the screenshot is ten words long and all you do with the screenshot is that you crop it (as I like to say, “if I even bother to do that at all”). I consider this to be one of the key factors of the AARs; keeping your readers on track makes them more active in commenting your progress. After all, nobody is going to read a gameplay "book", let alone a narrative one, unless he has a hell of a reason to do so. To sum it up: I can't stop playing HoI3, because I’m rushing through the game too fast. And that effectively prevents me from writing a narrative AAR, even when I know I could write at least as good narrative AARs as a lot of others do around here.

As for writing a tutorial AAR: I don't think I'm remotely close of mastering my usual "AI stomping", let alone I haven't played a single multiplayer game yet. My life could be further burdened by the feeling I advised someone the wrong thing and I'm not going to risk that.

You're known for your modding capabilities. Any plans on a sub-mod for HPP, or even vanilla?

While I don't pretend I don't have any experience with [modding], it is rather limited, even though it might be more than the one of the average user. I'll leave these works up to real professionals like SSmith, who helped (or rather is helping) me on modifying my future AAR and I'm already grateful to him for that.

Any plans for any new projects?

I definitely want to try Poland once again. Then, who knows? Scandinavian Empire, China (whichever or the two) or even Unión de la America del Sur. I don't know any limits in modifying The Game.

And finally: which one of your AARs would be your favourite?

It has to be the Hitler’s Final Stand. If you check my Inkwell, you’ll see that last five AARs are countries with rather grim outlooks of survival, be it whatever has left from the Soviet Union or the (surprisingly strong) Belgelands. But neither of those is consisted by two provinces with enormous amount of divisions, let alone the other is totally annihilated in Bornholm (those aren’t divisions anymore; those are solely equipment lying on the ground), while the militia and garrison swarms are encircled in Berlin. Add to that Belgelandian (yes, they’re there too!) tank division is better than the German one and they’re outnumbered at least 10 to 1. Welcome to madness, ladies and gentlemen!

Thanks Ikarases. It's been a pleasure.


About Hitler's Final Stand:

I did a quick poll to see which of Ikarases' AARs is the most popular, and the result is one of his ongoing AARs, Hitler's Final Stand. In "Hitler's Final Stand", he starts with a defeated Germany, a Germany with only 2 provinces, a bunch of Garrisons and Militia, weak tank techs and and lots of equipment (divisions without men). His equipment is stuck in Bornholm, an isolated island in the Baltic Sea. His troops in Berlin are encircled by Soviet troops, and the Belgelands are present as well, with stronger tanks then Germany! It is gameplay, to the extreme. He follows his own one sentence a screenshot rule, so that means almost no text. His graphics are rather simple, which is ok, but I advise him to make a border with GIMP around his screenshots, then it will look better, and since it is gameplay, he can't say he doesn't have time for it! I personally like narratives a lot, but his AAR is both light and entertaining, you read trough his updates in 5 minutes, while still having enough satisfaction for that day - excellent if you don't have the time to read narratives! He updates rather slowly though, and he plays very fast, since it is gameplay. While this AAR is in its second hiatus now, I would like to see more updates!

Ikar's Inkwell:

Greek AAR: Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος (Freedom or Death) - finished by victory
Mexican AAR: Trabajadores de México... - abandoned
Finnish AAR: Finnish soldiers, prepare for battle - finished by failure
Ethiopian AAR: The Black Courage - finished by victory
Lybian AAR: The Oasis of (Eternal) Peace - finished by victory
Czechoslovakian AAR: Účel světí prostředky - finished by failure
Mongolian AAR: The Legacy of Genghis Khan - abandoned
Baltic AAR: The Story of the Baltic Union - finished by victory
Post Bitter Peace Soviet AAR: From Urals to Moscow - finished by victory
Belgelandian AAR: The Die-Hard Defense - ongoing
Post Götterdämmerung German AAR: Hitler's Final Stand - ongoing
Polish AAR: Pierwsi do boju - finished by failure
 

Derahan

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In Zorro’s V2 HoD AAR, Monroe and Roosevelt For the Win!, he states his intent is to combine the Monroe Doctrine (keeping foreign powers out of American affairs – North, South and Central) and the Roosevelt Corollary (so that European powers don’t have to intervene in Latin America if there’s a conflict, the US will intervene in their favor… which kind of works out in the USA’s favor too ;) ). And, he promises, to take these “to the extreme.”

Thankfully, he doesn’t “go to the extreme” all at once. Early on, he wisely avoids potentially dramatic conflicts with Britain, attempting to maintain good relations so that he doesn’t get involved in an early war with such a powerful country.

Essentially, he wishes to build a historical USA, free Canada, and maintain a total US hegemony in Latin America.

I like that Zorro provides a sort of a strategy guide for playing USA as he goes – explaining what he’s doing, and why it’s particularly important for the US to do those things.

The AAR is amply illustrated, not just with screenshots, but also with period paintings which add to the sense of story. What’s more, when events in his AAR coincide with real history, he uses maps and other material to add to the immersion into what’s going on.

In many US games I’ve seen conflict with Mexico come quickly over the matter of Texas. In Zorro’s game, he lets the Mexicans have Texas… partly because he knows it will only be a matter of time before he has a reckoning with Mexico, and will get those lands anyway. He does explain his full rationale, strategically, but I’ll not spoil that part.

Once his first war with Mexico is done, he quickly goes on to push the first of several European colonial powers off the continental shelf into the deep.

This isn’t a “look how great I am” AAR – Zorro is honest with his readers when he makes a mistake. But he’s pretty good – the game is well played, for the most part. His errors, of inattention or unfamiliarity, serve to make the AAR more interesting. He takes advice and tips from readers, which makes reading and feedback more fun.

Before long, he’s got action on the Pacific coast, too. He’s pretty lucky, IMHO, that the first European power to do so decided to invade with nothing but two regiments of artillery – love the decisionmaking of the AI. :) Next, he’s managed to get himself into a second war, before the first one is finished. More nail-biting! Then, he tries an impressive long-shot ploy, and pulls it off. This AAR will keep your interest!

By 1848, he’s taught the Europeans a lesson about meddling in American affairs, and he’s well on his way to accomplishing his mission goals, as stated at the beginning of the AAR.

There’s still that sticky issue of the American Civil War. As the event draws near, he adds both strategy considerations and historical reminiscences into the mix, which I enjoyed. After setting up his Civil War scenario, but before diving into the action, he gives a brief interlude in the form of a history lesson on how the US Civil War went, historically. Just to get you in the mood, perhaps. It’s something I’ve not seen in other AARs, and I like it.

Criticisms? Well, his editing could stand some improvement. Sometimes he uses the wrong word, or something is misspelled. But this does not detract from the story. He has a quote in his signature from Emperor Sigismund: “I am the Roman Emperor, and am above grammar.” So I take it this has been mentioned, but has not reduced his fanbase, nor should it. :)

And if that’s the most I have to say I didn’t like, then this should seem a serious endorsement. This really is a promising and well-done AAR. I recommend you subscribe. There’s plenty more where all this came from, and I look forward to seeing more of this AAR. It’s only been active for a month, and he’s only up to 1860, so far – plenty of time to join in the fun!
 

Derahan

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[URL=http://s1350.photobucket.com/user/GenMarshall1/media/Misc/Tanzhangbanner2_zpse68ab4f3.png.html] [/URL]

Tanzhang

Tonight's interviewee is Jape, a veteran AAR author with a myriad of AARs (sadly most are unfinished) to his name. A living master of the Historybook genre, Jape's AARs are perhaps best known for their meticulous attention to detail and for their historical accuracy, backed up by hours upon hours of research undertaken by the author himself. Often fond of the exotic or unconventional over the familiar or typical, Jape often sets his AARs in interesting periods of history; his latest is no exception. Set during the the time of Mehmet II, The Shadow of God: an Ottoman History for EUIII is a historybook tour-de-force, combining Jape's love of the Ottomans and their history with epic storytelling and a flair for the dramatic. Tonight he talks to us about the fine art of writing, and whether or not he'll ever get around to finishing an AAR!

1. You've been something of a regular fixture here in AARland for almost a decade now, but can you still remember the name of the first AAR you ever read?

Sadly no though I remember details, if anyone could figure it out I'd be very grateful. It was a Vicky1 comedy AAR about Italy fighting colossal wars against Sweden. The final line involved the king in his moment of triumph tripping down the stairs of his palace and breaking his neck. I laughed quite a bit.

2. Have there been any writers (of AARs, historical fiction or any other genre) in particular which have influenced your own AARs or the way you write them?

Loads, it would be difficult to name them all really. Sir Humphrey was very important early on in proving AARs that focused on politics didn't have to be boring, while a restrained realism only gives alternate history greater bite. RossN, Mettermck, Allenby and El Pip can be added in there too. Then there's Milites, ComradeOm and Merrick' Chance who have all pushed the history book AAR into exciting places. Yogi and cthulhu inspired me to try harder in narrative ways though I've been quite inactive on that front for a while. Also EdT over at the alternate history forum who combines research and creativity to make the greatest alternate histories I have ever read.

3. You're probably best known these days for writing detailed and well-researched historybook AARs, so I was a little shocked to find out that you actually started out writing narratives! Comparing the two genres, what do you see as the pros and cons of both and what made you switch from one to the other?

Both are very enjoyable. Narratives, well they're traditional fiction, they can be rollicking adventures with engaging characters so the appeal there is obvious I think. Histories meanwhile combine the fun of history (I'm sure plenty of AARlanders are history nerds like myself) with fiction, building an entire world, what's not to love? In terms of problems, narratives can feel slow as an AAR can cover centuries, and if the writing is not engaging it can feel like you're rooting around for nuggets of AAR information in a mire of mediocre prose. Look to masters like Yogi and cthulhu however and the rewards can be incredible. Cons for histories? I'd say too dry but I can happily read David Kynaston's door stop tomes on post-war Britain like they're Tom Clancy thrillers so I can't say this put me off personally. Lack of research maybe? Quality of prose and dearths of research have put me off my own AARs in the past certainly.

4. Is it a genre that you would like to return to? That is to say, can we expect a new historical fiction narrative AAR from you sometime in the near future?

My hard drive is an elephant's graveyard of AARs and notes that never even got onto this site. Chief amongst these are narratives ideas mainly because I don't feel my abilities in that direction are of a good enough quality. There's a Kaiserreich Noir idea, a Cold War thriller one, a British WW2/Lovecraft/X-Files idea, etc. There's a lot and I certainly want to give narrative another go. I've never done a comedy actually. At least not intentionally.

5. If you ask me, the trademark of any Jape AAR is the impressive amount of detail, research and historical facts you manage to cram into each chapter. Just how much historical research on average do you do for each chapter, and how important do you feel it is for authors of historybook AARs (and historical fiction in general) to "get their facts straight" so to speak?

I often throw myself into books and websites on a time period I fancy and this then sparks an AAR. After things get going I take in-game events/happenings and read in that direction. Russia invades Japan in 1940 in a game of HOI? Time to look up Khalkhin Gol, etc. I think doing research can give historical fiction so much added depth and bite, why not do it? It allows readers to sink into the story but also inspires a writer and allows them be more confident within their time period which then allows them to move about and create something truly original.

6. The high level of historically-accurate detail you do put into your works certainly sets them apart from the crowd in my opinion, but I also think it's fair to assume that given your track record of strangling AARs at birth (or at least at some time before the “toddler” stage) your efforts might not be without their side effects. To echo a point made by my fellow AARlander contributor Merrick in an article past, do you feel that wanting to add too much detail can cause an author to lose focus and/or interest in an AAR, and that therefore: too much detail is hazardous to an AARs health?

Merrick made a good point and it certainly applies to me to an extent. I'm easily distracted but am also often sucked into a particular AAR, drowning in the flavour of the period I write about. This can ultimately drain me and leads to regrettable results namely disappointing the people kind enough to follow my stuff. So I'd say my problem is not more width but depth. I've spent whole evenings looking into things I never even intended to get in my AARs!

7. I'm not really one to talk, given that I'm yet to finish an AAR project myself, but do you think you'll ever get around to completing an AAR you've started?

If I ever do I'll strut like Ric Flair for a week. And El Pip might have a heart attack.

8. Impressive though your backlog of past AARs is, I can't help but notice a little void in your vast repertoire; you've yet to write an AAR for Crusader Kings. Is that a gap you're looking to fill in sometime in the near future?

The game has obvious strengths in both terms of history and narrative as shown by the countless fantastic AARs on the sub-forum. I once toyed with the idea of a narrative AAR about the Cathar Heresy actually, those notes in turn bled into an idea for a Papal States tale from the POV of the Inquisition (with Lovecraftian flavours) but both have come to nought so far.

9. Let's leave the past and future aside for one moment and move on to the present. Your current AAR for EUIII is set in the Ottoman Empire and I've heard you mention before in the AAR thread about just how “undervalued” Ottoman history is. Just what is it about the Ottoman Empire and its history which interests you, and what do you feel makes it such a good setting for an AAR?

I've always been focused, like many AARlanders, on the West and my own country, Britain in particular. One day, tired of reading about Churchill and Mosley I picked up a few cheap books on the Sultans simply because it was outside my comfort zone. I knew bugger all. The Ottomans were one of the most successful empires in human history, they besieged Vienna, traded slaves in Zanzibar and sold cannons to Indonesian princes all before the advent of industrialisation. They embraced Europe, Africa and Asia, they were steppe khans turned Roman emperors. The Ottomans absorbed their subjects creating an incredible multiculture. For an AAR they combine a superpower that is fun to play with a rich background to build alternate history around. There's no such thing as a hack topic, only hack writing (I'm sure some of the best 'Nazi Germany wins WW2' AARs are yet to be written for instance) but claiming virgin territory can certainly make things easier!

10. Perhaps I'm speaking a little bit above my station here, but do you see yourself as something of an advocate for the periods of history you write? I mean, it's no secret that Paradox games (and indeed video games in general) do have the power to educate their players and get them interested in history, and I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who only developed an interest in history or a particular period of history because of a computer game. Do you think that historybook AARs such as your own can serve a similar function?

I've always been a history nerd but Paradox and AARland in encouraged me to read up on loads of periods. When I started writing I then got into alternate history and this really pushed my real world interest which eventually led to me studying history at university. So in a roundabout way I can thank those damn Swedes for my crippling debt. Advocate might be pushing it but I'd be thrilled if any AARlanders read up on a period because of my writing.

11. Just before we move on to the final question, is there anything you'd like to say about “the real Jape?” What are your hobbies and interests out there in the real world and how do they help shape the kind of AARs you write?

I write all over the place as might be expected. I've written comedy sketches, comic book and television scripts, alternate history, noir, horror, sci fi and more 'literary' short stories. Right now I'm doing* The Hawk! a site slavishly in the vein of The Onion which is an exercise to keep me writing on a regular basis than anything. 'Hard' alternate history has certainly influenced my approach to history book AAR writing. Bar that I toil in an office and have a mole on my face.

12. Okay, everyone's favourite final question: Gun to your head, which AAR among your plethora of works is your personal favourite and why?

Looking back through my AARs I'm quite critical and can see plenty of flaws. I enjoy Dark Shadows, my Fascist Britain/Superhero AAR for its originality however I think the narrative quality is quite poor. Ultimately I enjoy my first ever AAR 2nd Civil War: Manhattan Commune for Vicky the most in hindsight. Its a fun alternate history idea and though it lacks 'depth' I think its still quite a readable history book AAR. Also ironically its probably the longest AAR I've ever written(!) and due to it being killed by a save file getting corrupted technically it wasn't my fault it died!

Thank you Jape for your time.
 

Derahan

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Throughout Paradox games, the first start date is considered the “standard” game, and any other start date besides perhaps one or two can be considered to be an oddity. In fact, if you ask many players, chances are they will know the state of the world very at the beginning start date but may not be familiar with the other years at all. Crusader Kings 2 is no exception; before The Old Gods, most of the common starts were within 40 years of 1066.

In Return of Ancient Gods: Lithuanian Kingdom, however, mnplastic takes us through a lovely change of scenery, starting with Grand Duke Mindaugas of Lithuania in 1236. The start date is rather intriguing – while most realms are considerably stronger in 1236 than they are in 1066 due to consolidation, Lithuania is rather small and surrounded by scary neighbors. It feels like an epic journey because of the start, but takes considerably less time to get going due to the later date.

The AAR is broken up by rulers, each update relaying what a ruler did during their reign. This does mean that sometimes one update can be rather slow and small while another is highly interesting (a fact exacerbated by the incredible amount of murder and young deaths that seem to occur in Lithuania). That said, I feel it's a good organizational pattern for a history-book style work, and manages to keep the flow going.

The writing itself is succinct and does not take detours for unnecessary frills. This is neither a bad thing nor a good thing; it simply depends on preference. Lithuanian Kingdom also makes gratuitous use of both pictures and maps – definitely a highlight for the visually-minded.

Although in the beginning, the AAR moves rather slowly and takes a bit of time to pick up the pace, eventually it does start to move faster and definitely gets interesting later on. Because of this, it requires a tiny bit of a time investment, but I'd say it's worth it if you have maybe an hour or so to sit down and read through it. If you end up not liking it, it doesn't cost you too much of your day.

This particular work has actually had my interest before, and I was considering reviewing it previously, but unfortunately it appeared to have died. However, with a very recent update from mnplastic it seems to have been revived, and for that I'm rather glad. The Return of Ancient Gods: Lithuanian Kingdom can be found here.
 

Derahan

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By the end of January, the year 2001 had seen fifty-two AARs already underway[1] – and, for the most part, finished, considering that the style of the day hadn't yet progressed far from the very first days. Though revolutionary and influential, Oranje's style didn't catch in immediately. The output of the community had boomed and diversified almost exponentially.

By the end of 2000, when the forum was dominated by the beta-testers, there were 163 'AARs.' By the end of the following year, there were 741. The art of AAR writing had become less elite, less exclusive, and would be more recognisable to you, the reader, or indeed I as residents of today's community. Anyone could have a crack at putting up their own efforts, and people were happy to read and comment as before.

Indeed, a quick look at the first page of AARs (sorted by thread start time) in the EU1 forum shows you that the developers were heavily involved, looking for feedback and results from runthroughs of the beta. It was a rarity for a thread not to be marked by the platypus symbol that shows a developer has commented. By the end of 2000, the semi-aquatic mammal was beginning to be monitored by the IUCN, and by the end of the following year, one might expect to see it as often as one would today. The developers had largely left, and comments came from the community members themselves. AARland was self-sustaining.[2]

Then, as with now, comments would make up the bulk of the thread's content. The difference being that a thread may not live to reach a second page. Rather like how we have a longer life expectancy than our forebearers, we can now expect that the average AAR, into which an author puts time and effort, will span a good few pages. Twelve years ago, this wasn't so. Even the most successful AARs, which would receive the around same number of comments per update as today's successful works, would often fall shy of hitting a second page, hampered by one fundamental thing: AARs were still only one or two updates long. Though that didn't always stop innovation.

I have already highlighted Oranje's seminal work as revolutionary, and it was, and still is – not in the least because of the fact that it stayed in one thread throughout and actually maintained a following for the duration – but there is another, more understated piece that is equally deserving of our recognition. Or so I would argue.

Lord Durham has long maintained that his The Seven Years War is the first narrative AAR (something I also mentioned in my article for AARlander 9) and he does have a strong case – after all, his work follows the conventions of a 'modern' AAR in that it stays in one thread, is more than one update long and maintains a following throughout – yet I might have to rain in his parade slightly. [3]

Corsair's Navarra: Stuck between a rock and a hard place was started (and finished) eight months earlier – almost to the day. In his work, Corsair places himself in the shoes of the king of Navarre as he fights Le Grand Blob Bleu, giving a heart-wrenchingly chilling account of his defeat and subsequent annexation by the Merciless Baguette Eaters.[4] It is fantastic stuff, showing that even with the limited format that was de rigueur one could write developed narrative as opposed to – quite frankly – monotonous gameplay statistics.

It's a shame that the precedent set by Corsair didn't catch on immediately. The AAR followed the same principle of 'an AAR must not have more posts than I have fingers,' and was never revisited. Indeed, though it received a good number of comments, there seems to be no evidence to suggest that the narrative really became popular from that point onwards. Corsair's work seems to be a lone bastion amidst a sea of economy statistics and Orders of Battle.

All things considered, I think Lord Durham is right to give The Seven Years War the honour of first narrative AAR. It was a piece that was representative of a change in the way the AAR was approached, and had everything a 'modern' AAR needs; regular comments, and more updates than I have digits.

The AAR was now a bona fide medium for artistic expression (that and just wasting one's time) to which our community today stands a testament. It would be Paradox's next major game where we really saw this change occur.



[1] This number is likely inaccurate, as some threads in this period are not AARs, but rather adverts for AARs posted elsewhere. Threads titled 'Part Five Now Up!' and such were commonplace.

[2] That isn't to say that in the beginning there were no 'native' commenters. Of course, authAARs operated under the same system of reciprocal altruism as utilised today, yet the presence of the developers was much higher percentage-wise. Figures such as Johan himself also more readily engaged in discussion with AARlanders.

[3] Sorry LD. ;)

[4] Perhaps unsurprisingly, this term does not feature in the AAR. Comedy (or rather, lack thereof) had yet to be discovered as a viable genre. Indeed, on occasion, I myself can be a said Merciless Baguette Eater. ;)



Next month: EU2 – Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (2002)
 

Derahan

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As both an AAR writer and a AARland DM, I read a lot of AARs. In addition, I’ve written non-fiction both in my collegiate career and for fun on a blog with a very good friend of mine. I also teach writing – or at least try to – as part of my history courses. So, when RikD approached me asking to write a tutorial for doing graphics, not only was I eager to see that (it’s really great: take a look!) but it inspired me to write this semi-regular series of articles on writing AARs. Since I’ll be in Russia for the next few months, I can’t say how regularly, but I do envision writing at least once every couple of months. In the meantime, please feel free to send me questions and I’ll try to answer them in the next installment!

Part 1: How do I start?
Mr. Capiatlist wrote an excellent article in the AARlander a while back about making a memorable title. However, there’s an important step even before that: what, precisely, do you hope to accomplish with your AAR? Many people simply want people to read their stuff and comment on it. Others may want to try out a new way of writing to improve their own technique. Still others are more interested in looking into alt-history. Maybe you had a really fantastic game and just want to share it with others.

Speaking for myself, it was a mixture of all four. I’d tried on any number of occasions to write fiction in the past, but always got frustrated and gave up. AARs gave me a way to do it in chunks, and it’s helped me as a writer, I think. One thing the web provides that almost no other method of publishing does is nearly instant feedback.

Maybe you aren’t that organized and you just don’t work that way. That’s fine! In that case, start by reading AARs. Use the AARlander for this – read AARs that have been reviewed and compare your opinions with the reviewer’s. Were they the same or different? Different AARs speak to different people. It’s all a matter of taste. Once you have a concept dancing around in your head, it’s time to put it into practice.

Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of AARs: gameplay, narrative, and interactive. For your first AAR, you’ll be doing one of the first two. (As a DM, I can tell you that people without an AAR or three under their belt generally do not get approval for an interactive AAR.) Gameplay AARs are easier, and if English isn’t your native language, it’s a nice soft way to get feedback. Readers will generally be nicer about your grammar, syntax, and spelling in a gameplay AAR because they’re focused on the action, so to speak. Multiplayer AARs are always very popular, and as an added bonus, the players can all write a little and get some experience. See the Carnage series for examples; I know I have personally greatly enjoyed Zid, maxyboy, and Daphne when they’ve posted, as it gives an entirely different perspective than what CptEasy usually writes.

However, if you’re not writing strictly to get comments, a narrative AAR might be more your speed. Narrative AARs primarily want to tell a story, either as a history book might, as a character might within the story, from the perspective of an omniscient narrator, or as a dialogue. Also, when you fail miserably at one of your objectives, you can just say you were roleplaying! (And no, I haven’t done that. :looks furtively to see if anybody bought it.:) They take a lot longer to write – some of the best have been running for years! They’re also more rewarding, though, at least from my personal point of view. For non-English speakers, these are more challenging, as trying to tell a complex story is difficult when you don’t know a language. I know this from personal experience – I always feel like a child (and a stupid one at that) whenever I speak or write Russian, even though I read the language pretty well.

Comedy AARs are a subset of narrative AARs, and they can be very difficult to write, just because comedy in general is hard to write. However, they’re often the most popular, consistently win awards (if that matters to you), and get lots of views. Comic AARs can be extremely funny when written well; look at how popular Svip’s stuff is! Remember that comedy is subjective, and usually translates badly, so that it might be wiser to choose either a straight narrative or a gameplay AAR.

So, you’ve chosen a type of AAR. Now what? You need to find a game to go with it! Assuming that, like any savvy consumer, you own multiple Paradox games, some games work better with the type of narrative you’re trying to tell than others. The HOI series and MOTE are great for gameplay AARs, as is Vicky 2. CKII, on the other hand, is tailor made for narrative AARs. EU3 is somewhere in between. That doesn’t mean that gameplay AARs for CKII are a waste of point, or that narrative AARs for HOI3 are horrible. Far from it. It is, however, easier to write when the game gives you more material for the type of thing you want to talk about it.

You’ve got a format, you’ve got a game, now you need a country. (Please read in “character” for CKII whenever you see “country”.) Your country choice will largely depend on how good you are at the game, and that’s entirely your decision. Failures can make for great writing, but if you don’t like a game, you won’t want to write about it. Decide your level of tolerance for failure and choose accordingly. Getting readers is important, but that shouldn’t convince you to play, say, Ryukyu in EU3 just because it isn’t done often. Strike a balance. There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of HOI3 AARs about Germany. They can still be great.

Consider that both the winner and the runner up for the 2012 Iron HeAARt wrote about Germany (in different ways, but still fundamentally about Germany). With type, game, and country out of the way, you’re all set to begin playing your game. After all, if you don’t play the game, what are you going to write about? The next installment will talk about how best to play a game for an AAR, so be on the lookout for that! Thanks for reading, and again, feel free to post in the feedback thread or PM me if you have questions or concerns you want me to address in future editions!
 
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Derahan

Ever doubtful
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Oct 30, 2009
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Time For Some Carnage, Final Episode.

Recap: Up until now we have spoken with the team’s undisputed leader and greatest maverick, Captain Easy, and the master of Scary Suprises, Zid.
Today, we talk with the group’s modder and go-to guy in a pinch, Maxyboy. In one carnage game, his masterful defense of the Soviet Union was instrumental in securing an Allied victory (for those who have never read Carnage AARs: it is always Axis vs Allies and Comintern). In the current AAR, Blitz Carnage, Max has been saving the Axis bacon more than once by using Japanese marines and paratroopers in the African and European theater.
But before we begin, there are other, equally impressive players in the group. Sadly, we will not, at this time, be able to talk to them.
Daphne, who warned CptEasy in the first Carnage game about Allied moves before the Allies even started moving troops. Whenever mentioned, this player’s insights have ALWAYS proven spot-on.
Sir Henry, who has been around since day 1, and who’s rock-solid experience makes him a very dangerous opponent to underestimate.
Von Rosen, Thelamon and Gamla Stan fill out the group’s roster. They joined the Carnage games later, but have all proven their worth beyond a shadow of a doubt. Truly a difficult feat in this uber-talented group.

But now, on with the final chapter in this series of interviews.

Player -> Maxyboy.

Let’s begin this interview with the shortest Carnage game ever. In Sudden Patriotic Carnage, you were in charge of Germany. So I have to ask: what happened that made you surender in 1939?

Hm yes, not my proudest moment. I’ll have to let you know that I didn’t even read the AAR (sorry Captain) as I wasn’t too eager to re-live it and read the comments.

So what happened was this. I game tested the early opening in a single player game and observed effects on threat. I didn’t test the actual tactical aspect of going on the offensive that early. I never ocurred to me (until it was too late) that Germany would be too weak to actually carry through to victory. So I got totally stuck in the Netherlands/Belguim and for a full game session I could not make any progress. If I recall correctly, Germany was actually driven back. At the same time the Russian front (controlled by another player, think it was Daphne) was also on the retreat. I then understood that we were beaten and surrendered rather than playing out an obvious and early ending.

Too bad, as starting a new game often requires a great deal of investment from all players.

Moving on the currently, ongoing AAR, I must stress one thing to our gentle readers: Carnage AARs are always 1 year behind the actual game. Since the AAR is not over yet, the game might still be going strong. So whenever Maxy becomes a little reluctant with the details, that is just because he might not want to give secret information to his enemies.
With that out of the way, Max, in Blitz Carnage, China was seriously beefed up. Can you tell us exactly what you guys did with them?

Yes I can since I’m usually our resident modder. We wanted something that was getting stronger as they were getting beaten. Thus staying in the action for as long as possible and optimally still be around when Japan was at war with the Allies.

The “Hidden Dragon” event is introduced when Nationalist China is at 55% surrender progress. It has a 600 day duration and will beef combat movement speed 10%, soft attack 5%, air intercept 25% and supply throughput 10%.

There is a lesser known triggered modifier for China (in effect when the 38 scenario starts) that we increased like this.

Territorial pride now 35% (from 20%)
Organisation regain rate 20% (from 5%)
Leader defence 20% (from none)

For Blitz Carnage we also increased China’s starting officers ratio from 55 to 65.

When implementing the mods I tried them out by starting a game with all the major powers AI controlled and followed the Japan/China battle. I wasn’t happy until, in one run, I saw China fight Japan all the way back to the sea.

How did it compare to vanilla?

Sure, there was some increased resistance, but hands down, in a multiplayer scenario (with China AI controlled) our efforts still aren’t enough.

With the main focus centered on the fortress Europe, we are left a little in the dark about the Pacific War. What has been happening there? How is the balance of forces?

Not stepping ahead of the AAR time line…

I aimed for a late entry in the world conflict in order to not have a player on USA maximizing spies and threat raising on Germany. The rest of the arena played out fairly “normal”. In Russia there was low or no resistance up until lake Bajkal. While Japan (at least in the early stages) had the upper hand in infantry, Russia can dominate the open land by deploying tanks. A limited arial war was fought by both sides.

In the East Indies there were pretty much no defenders and India was intially also an easy conquest. But this was also the area where I had my only real naval defeat. UK did a good surprise attack on my escorted transport fleet.

After that it has been an increasing European focus with very low attention to the Asian arena. While the Russian frontier seems to be a stalemate, Allies have retaken vital resources in East Indies. In the later game, even naval encounters have been oriented towards Europe.

An assult on the Phillipines was on the early agenda, but with the shift towards Europe that never passed the planning stage.

By nature the arena can be temporarily dominated by any side since both Japan and USA have major ports in the area, but any lengthy operations will risk deployment resources (transports, troops,… - red.).

Due to an Axis mistaken interpretation of House Rules, you found a strong CV fleet trapped in the Med. What did that do to your deployment calender?

Before that step was taken, the important port of Singapore as well as the East Indies’ oil and rare material resources were under Japan’s control.

The trapped CV fleet was partly planned. We did expect Suez to be closed again, but the Italian player promised me it would be opened well before US entry. It turned out to be delayed for several months. I had new fleet waiting in Tokyo to be joined with the Med-fleet.

Also conquest of low priority areas was put on halt. In the end I risked sneaking my marines through the persian gulf to assist in the conquest on Suez.

I freely admit that the following is a fanboy question, but is the actual game over?

I always wanted to say this in a relevant context, and now I can: That information is confidential.

Going to the future, any new HR under discussion?

Absolutely. There have been several on the agenda. A hot topic has been balancing Soviet Union, now Zid introduced this super build strategy. However we will be very careful with making any drastic changes. First step will probably be to remove the modded bonuses we added in this game (with an extra though “general winter” effect for three months). Others suggest boosting Germany.

Also, house rules and modding around the China conflict, Russian trade, lend lease, exp forces, navy doom stacks, BB/CV balancing, amphibious landings, V-weapons (used by CptEasy to great effect in log bombing enemy supply lines and ports – red.), radars and victory conditions have been thoroughly discussed.

I’m a believer in as few house rules as possible and rather see things modded - but only when needed. To me historical correctness isn’t a major priority, I rather have a fun game where classic fronts are mixed with surprise strategies and unexpected events.

I believe you are still playing FTM, right? If so, what will TFH change for the Carnage games?

Blitz Carnage is FTM yes. TFH will change a lot. New strategies, tactics and the option to share plans will open new possibilities to us. Hopefully also to the Carnage readers.

I myself like the take on the new bonus from mixed units which highlights some long forgotten brigades.

Concerning the changes in TFH (especially in*regards to such things as Lend-Lease), do you have any idea of how you will balance these with your house rules?

For Lend Lease we were pretty much choosing between strongly limiting the percentage of production that could be LL'ed (moddable) and possibly create house rule around who could give and receive LL or not allowing LL at all. It is a bit tricky to go into details on more topics as that could imply whether we started a new game or not. :)

Anything else you would like to share with our readers concerning all things Carnage?

Most of the Carnage group have been playing strategy games together for a long time. You get to know each other play styles and to some extent that can be used when playing HoI. As an example, Cpt Easy is an agressive player, if he is on UK you would expect him to try to land in Germany while it is still battling Poland. I’m more of a defensive player and would more likely choose a less direct approach (by still interfering). By early anticipation of enemy strategies you are better equipped to counter them (which seems to be Daphne’s greatest asset – red.). Even so, if you manage to play outside your usual game you’ll have a greater chance of surprising the enemy.

Thank you.
 

Derahan

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Greetings people. Yet another issue have passed and I hope you enjoyed this one as well. I have to say sorry we are a little delayed (well, we skipped a month), but we had to take a little break because things got in the way of our work here in the (most fantasy) office building of the AARlander. The AARlander has come a long way since we started last year, now we have a more permanent staff of members willing to write articles for the magazine which I am so very grateful for and whos work have made this possible. (and I don't have to ask around asking people if they would want to write any articles, such a relief).

Less than a month ago a game came out, a game, which predeccessor was the very game that brought me into the paradox community and has certainly occupied me for well over 500hrs, if not 1000hrs over the years. Eu4 is a game that has more than enough met my expectations for a paradox game and certainly is very good. Now without talking about Eu4 so much, I am planning to make my own review of the game for the next edition, or the edition after that (depends on the ammount of work I have to do for the university studies I have).

Now I know I don't write that much for an editors note but I can't say that I have much to say. Please you guys who read this, keep sending us feedback in the feedback thread on how we can develop and keep the AARlander changing for the better. Suggestions are always welcome!

Sincerely.
D.
 
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