The AARlander Issue #17 February 2009 AARland Choice AwAARds Results Edition

  • 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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Welcome to the AARLANDER , AARland's monthly publication ! If you would like to write for the AARlander , contact canonized or Avernite - everyone is welcome ! Also , what's the best way to support the AARlander aside from writing ? Give comments ! Put your comments in the AARlander: Comments and Discussion Thread for our writers to read !

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[I][U][B]Editor in Chief[/B][/U][/I]: 
canonized

[I][U][B]Editors this Month[/b][/u][/i]:
trekaddict   Avernite

[I][U][B]Assistant Editors on Staff[/B][/U][/I]: 
General_BT  Estonianzulu  ForzaA  English Patriot  robou

[i][u][b]Secretary[/b][/u][/i]:
Avernite

[I][u][b]Contributors for This Month[/b][/u][/I]: 
canonized  Grubnessul  demokratickid
Comagoosie  Capibara  monnikje
trekaddict   phargle   

[I][U][B]Cover Artist[/B][/U][/I]: 
robw963

[I][U][b]Other Writers or Contributors on Staff[/b][/U][/I]: 
Judas Maccabeus  LeonTrotsky  Hajji Giray I  ElidioEmperor  TreizeV
JimboIX  VILenin jeffg006  Myth  grayghost  Kurt_Steiner  KanaX
Mettermrck  DerKaiser AlexanderPrimus  Atlantic Friend The Swert
robw963  Degeme  Duke of Wellington  The_Guiscard  Alfred Packer
Ksim3000  General_BT   Qorten  Cyrus_The_Great   2Coats     crusaderknight
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[B][U]TABLE OF CONTENTS[/U][/B]

February Issue

[B]PART I: The People's Choice[/B]
   [anchorlink=I1]ACA Results by phargle[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I2]Another Page Has Turned by comagoosie[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I3]Comments from Duke of Wellington by canonized[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I4]The Paradox Tribune by Grubnessul[/anchorlink]

[B]PART II: AARlanders for AARland[/B]
   [anchorlink=I5]How to Create a Short AAR by Monnikje[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I6]Comment Anatomy by phargle[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I7]A Sneak Peek at a New AAR by Capibara[/anchorlink]


[b]PART III: February Specials[/b]
   [anchorlink=I8]Fort Simserhof – the Maginot-line today by trekaddict[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I9]Three Countries by demokratickid[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I10]The Battle of Solferino by demokratickid[/anchorlink]

Code:
[b][u]Previous AARlander and INSTRUMENTALITY Editons[/U][/B]

[url=http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?t=387739]The AARlander Issue #16 January 2009 New Year's Edition[/url]
[url=http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?t=384138]The AARlander Issue #15 December 2008 Christmas Edition[/url]
[url=http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?t=380482]The AARlander Issue #14 November 2008 ACA Results Edition[/url]
[url=http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?t=376782]The AARlander Issue #13 October 2008[/url]
[URL=http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?p=8843680#post8843680]The AARlander Issue #12 September 2008[/URL]
[URL=http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?p=8739503#post8739503]The AARlander Issue #11 August 2008 ACA Results Edition[/URL]
[thread=364263]The AARLander Issue #10 July 2008[/thread]
[thread=359869]The AARlander Issue #9 June 2008[/thread]
[thread=354778]The AARlander Issue #8 May ACA Results Issue[/thread]
[thread=349326]The AARlander Issue #7 April 2008[/thread]
[URL=http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?t=344752]Instrumentality Special Stand Alone Issue March 2008[/URL]
[thread=340744]The AARlander Issue #6: February 2008[/thread]
[thread=336567]The AARlander Issue #5: January 2008[/thread]
[thread=332878]The AARlander Issue #4: December 2007[/thread]
[thread=329391]The AARlander Issue #3: November 2007 [/thread]
[thread=316106]The AARlander Issue #2: August 2007[/thread]
[thread=311400]The AARlander Issue #1: July 2007[/thread]
 
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[anchor=I1]ACA Results[/anchor]

by phargle

The final round of voting for 2008 has come and gone - the votes are in, the deadline has passed, and the AARlander is sitting out there with an article-shaped hole in its heart. A hole that only results can fill. And I bring the results. I am the result-bringer: phargle, the resultinator. The resultitron. The resulteropterix. And you know what that means!

Now that the one anonymous vote has been posted, it's that time we've spent all January and part of February looking forward to: when people who are bad at math get to read an article written by yours truly announcing the winners. This is that article! As for the winners? Well, there were some close and interesting contests this time around, and some not-close and boring contests too - but no boring AARs! We'll be putting up a comprehensive vote tally in the days ahead, and that'll be official. In the meantime, here's who appears to be ahead according to my only-been-wrong-three-or-four-times-or-so-so-far math. May they bask in the glory of their victory! Or at least bask in the glory of being incorrectly declared victors until the actual comprehensive results are re-audited, which is almost as good! What I am trying to say is that there were some awesome AARs this time around, and the community pulled together in an awesome way to honor 'em. Onward!

In Rome, we have a few familiar names, a few unfamiliar names, and a bit of comedy with comedy. For Rome's Honor, by comagoosie, took both the Favorite and the Narrative categories despite a showing by Second Rising of the Sixteen Pointed Star in Narrative. Skipping to History, we have History of New Macedonia - Vae Victis AAR, by Aekar, which got enough votes to wind up on top, while over in Gameplay vandalay222's There can be only one appears to be a vote ahead of its nearest competitor. Comedy? There were two competitors, each getting one vote: Italia Graecia - The rise & fall of the republic of Tarentum, by The Valkyrier, and Armenia Aar: If behind every beards there was wisdom, goats would be prophets., by Ablamor. When we say that every vote counts, we mean it. With one vote each, those two guys are champions!

EU3 had no surprises in Narrative or Favorite, with both going to canonized (insert obligatory comment about me crying myself to sleep, because I AM), but there was an abnormally competitive field in Comedy as The Adventures of the Crovan Clan 2: The World Is Way Too Much barely held off the second-place finisher in an 18-15 photo finish. Kanem Bornu - Out of the Sahara got more votes than almost all of the winners in other categories, but Alfred Packer's comedy epic ultimately prevailed. His trick was apparently to lose the game. Meanwhile, History went to Milites with his Paris ne vaut pas une messe! - A Huguenot IN AAR and Gameplay was dominated like a red-headed Portuguese step-child by The Audacity of Hope - An Iroquois IN AAR, by PrawnStar.

The biggest heart of iron went to WIELKOPOLSKA - Rise of the White Eagle - A Polish AAR by robw963, an AAR that faced stiff competition in Favorite but managed to win that, Gameplay, and the Overall Graphics category. The winner for favorite Narrative went comfortably to Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two by trekaddict. Comedy, on the other hand, followed the unusual trend of being competitive, and For the MotAARland (Soviet WIF AAR), by Storm501, triumphed. Lastly, Atlantic Friend's familiar Crossfires, a French AAR for HoI2 Doomsday and El Pip's The Butterfly Effect: A British AAR emerged from a crowded field to tie for first.

Crusader Kings had some atypical results in that General_BT's vastly dominant Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR won Favorite but not Narrative - that category went to the much-deserving Furor Normannicus, by The_Guiscard. Came to some kind of truce, didja fellahs? :) Morsky won Comedy with his unfortunately-abortive The SalopAARds: A History effort - maybe he'll start it back up again if we keep piling awards on it. After these crowded fields, the History and Gameplay categories were more or less deserted: General_BT pulled a robou by also winning Gameplay with Vikan Vojislavljevic is a Fool, and Other Tales of Imperial Serbia, while History went to The Siwards - A Family Story, by tudor.

In Vicky, Ireland, Awake! faced off several challenges to take Favorite and give the win to demokratickid, and also won the much less competitive Gameplay category. In Narrative, robou narrowly came out ahead with Correspondence, and he also, uh, pulled a robou by winning History with his other AAR, Carefully Applied Force: A Prussian AAR. That leaves Comedy, which went to the local favorite More Vodka, I Say!, giving FallenMorgan a win at the end of his AAR.

The orphan of the voting, EU1/2, managed to get a few votes in each category, and even managed to have some competitive contests. All of your bases belong to us!, by Mega Death, narrowly emerged as the winner in Favorite and Comedy, while the old favorite Resurrection: Rebirth of the United States (CatKnight!) took Narrative. The_Swert's determined effort, The Book of Saint John: Volume 2, won History, and the tongue-twiser Fine Feats with Finland - an EU2 SG, by Olav, won Gameplay.

That just leaves the favorite new writer - since the graphics winner is way up there in HoI2. Favorite new writer was close, and the winner there was ultimately Cartimandua and her debut AAR Daughters of the Dragon. It has chicks in it, but no dragons (so far). Well, except for the one on the banners. And those aren't real dragons. Check it out.

It was a great round of ACAs, and now we're ready for 2009! This past year was a terrific showing for the ACA and a terrific showing for AARland. Our community of writers is one of the best around - let's all do our part to make 2009 even more awesome! Keep writing, keep reading, and keep commenting. You can do it all night long. I'm phargle. Courage.

Ta!
 
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[anchor=I2]Another Page has Turned[/anchor]

by comagoosie

Clearly, an era is closing and a new one is emerging, and never before has one been so clearly marked. The only thing that remains is what does the next era have in store for us and AARland? There have been only a few eras in AARland, each defined by the transpiring events. A good example would be the emergence of the Crusader Kings AAR forum. It was clouded in mystery as to whether or not it could be ‘cultivated’ by EU2 narrative writers, and to the surprise of some, it happened.

But now the era of Timelines domination in the ACAs is to a close and we eagerly await the next. For those of you who do not what has come to light, Timelines, an AAR that has literally dominated the ACAs in both Overall favorite and Narrative for two years straight is now resigning from its throne peacefully so that the transfer of power is as smooth as it can be. Yet why has the author, canonized, done so?

According to canonized, the time is ‘right’ for another AAR to take the spotlight. “There are quite a few reasons. One particular one is that after this ACA season, Timelines would have reached her 2 year ACA anniversary. If she wins it, then she would have won two years of straight ACA wins in both of her categories. I want to emphasize more work with newer writers as well as discovering new talent. I've always been committed to helping out new writers break out of the mold ever since I began as a new writer on the scene. I know how hard it is to win the weekly awards at times, for example especially with 'established' writers winning them repeatedly. In that way, I wanted to free up some ACA space while preserving the integrity of the ACAs. Some people had wanted me to stop winning awards a few times before, but I would say that that can be discouraging to new writers who want to see how their AAR stacks up against other AARs in different ACA periods. It'd be one thing if Timelines only had 1 or 2 competitors that stayed the same; but no, she's had a myriad of amazing writers to compete with such as thrashing mad, english patriot, capibara, and recently coz and phargle. In a sense, Timelines is retiring from the ACAs as opposed to pulling out of it. She's had enough wins (two years worth) and since I'm doing it voluntarily as opposed to having it set down somewhere in the ACA rules then I feel like it retains the integrity of the process. I would encourage everyone to participate in the ACAs. Timelines is a special case since after 2 years of winning and 17 awards later (with an estimated 2 more years of production to go), that's a good enough chunk to call it a day. Lastly, it's also because I'll be pushing forward my side project, such as Timepiece: The Adventures of Young Renault de Fronsac for possible ACA wins.”

However, I, on the other hand, have some viewpoints that I would like to share to make sure the whole story is told. If one were to look at the current voting trend of the Q4 ACAs, one would see something quite disturbing. As of the 23rd of January there are only three votes total for Timelines on the first page with the rest going to new AARs that started this quarter, [thread=382958]Thrones[/thread] by phargle and [thread=385134]The Longest Night[/thread] by coz1. After going through the next four pages and seeing that the Timelines fans really turned out for canonized, the race is really too close too call.

There is a conclusion that one can draw from these statistics. I asked canonized when he decided to retire Timelines and he responded, “Sometime in the beginning of January.” If we look at this from a very pessimistic approach we could hypothesize that since canonized decided to retire Timelines during the month of January, he did it because he was cornered with his back behind the wall. He knew that his AAR would be beaten, sooner or later, so why not take the prestigious route and retire your AAR. This way you end at a high note. Just think about the fame that would come if canonized was able to say, “Timelines, the AAR that never lost an ACA”. Maybe if coz1 or phargle didn’t arrive on the scene, we might be seeing Timelines in another round of ACAs.

When asked about it, canonized responded that “viewership from new viewers and new voters has declined ever since Timelines reached the level of being perhaps the longest thread in all of AARland both because of updates and because of all the comments (four pages worth sometimes) between updates. I suspected early on that we'd have diminishing returns as the population of AARland grew and many new readers are put off in tackling such a huge thread. It's one of the reasons why I started the much smaller (and slower paced) Timepiece spinoff to try and reach newer readers or readers who have always wanted to enter the Timelines universe without having to invest in the multi-volume Timelines set. In this way, I thought we could head off the eventual disaster of losing an ACA due to the sheer gravity of Timelines' epic scope. Coz and phargle represent some of the best established writers of AARland and although I've faced off with coz in the ACAs in the past, Timelines has had rough times before. Slugging to beat the immensely popular AARs of Rensslaer and thrashing mad were some of the most exciting parts of the ACAs. I only wish that Rensslaer and thrashing mad were around more: both are great guys and have written excellent AARs.”

But let us not dwell on what is opinionated. Timelines has left its mark upon the ACAs and we know it to be true, all of us. No AAR can claim that every single ACA that has come up, it has won the category that it was aiming for. When the voting was done and the results were released everyone would head over for Timelines for a celebration.

No doubt getting used to not voting for Timelines will be hard. I know that most of us will fill in Timelines on our vote ballot just because it has become second nature over the two short years. I wouldn’t be surprised if canonized puts up a tough fight even though he is not running.

What shall the ACAs be like now that there is no Timelines? Well I recently talked to robou who he and phargle share the same ideals, and what he said was that winning the EU3 Narrative category wouldn’t be worth as much now that one didn’t have to go through Timelines. In part, it was a writAAR dream to dethrone the mighty Timelines, but now that it has stepped down that dream can no longer come true. And if we look at it from a fanwise perspective, canonized thinks that new writers won’t be attracted to read Timelines, but he suspects that current fans will stay for the show.

Before I leave for today, let me recap on how good of an example Timelines is for a rise to fame AAR. When Timelines started, and thus canonized, there weren’t too many fans. On the first page of Timelines one will see five updates, which means that there was an average of three comments between each update and this is including canonized’s posts. And if one can believe it or not, there were no reader comments between chapters 4 and 5, so this can only mean that the now 20 comments in the time amid the updates is contributed to canonized’s awesome writing style. In the author’s defense, he did write 5 rather large updates in a span of a week, giving hardly a break to any potential readers. The AAR started off with barely any fans and now has a cult-like following, which goes to show that anyone and any AAR can start from nothing and achieve everything.


The new reader, demokratickid, shares his thoughts

comagoosie: As you may or may not know, Timelines is no*longer going to be able to be voted for, for the next quarter.

demokratickid: Yeah, it*was a great run! Spectacular, in my opinion,*because it went undefeated.
*
comagoosie: So as a relatively new reader to Timelines, who is catching up, how are you feeling that you are going to no longer vote for Timelines.

demokratickid: Yes, I am catching up to it. I was absent from the forums from August to October, so it*has been quite a long slog to catch up*to it fully. Well, [I am feeling] a little nostalgic actually [about not voting for Timelines]. It's nice to always know who's got your vote in the ACAs, but I think a little change can always be good.

comagoosie: In any way does this effect your readership of Timelines?*

demokratickid: No, not at all. I think I've been sucked in by its magic and won't be leaving soon!

comagoosie: And do you think the decision is right for Timelines and the ACAs?

demokratickid: Yes, completely. Timelines is an immaculate work, and it would always continue to win ever award ever made. So, I think canonized is doing the noble, generous thing by making it the last time. Now, newer writAARs can come in and have a real chance to compete.


Grubnessul and his fantastic views

comagoosie: So Grubby, you have been with Timelines since the rise, did you ever expect to see the popularity that it has achieved?* Most notably winning Overall and Narrative in the EU3 category two years in a row.* At first did canonized have that attitude, style, audacity that you recognized who win the hearts of many a voter, or was canonized surprised at his loyal readers, including you.* Will you ever be sane again for now you can’t vote for the AAR you have been on the sidelines cheering for, for two years?

Grubnessul: As for your first question, I don't think anyone could have foreseen the popularity of Timelines, it's pretty much unparalleled in both length, depth and numbers of readAARs and awAARds. Back when I first read it, I could not have imagined that two years later, we would still be reading it and we would still only be at what, half of it? When I started on Timelines, I was still pretty new to AARland, so I doubt I'd ever expected Canonized to start a two year triumph at that time. The project seemed really ambitious to me, even at that point already it seemed this was more than just a normal AAR, it seemed more the start of a novel than a after action report on a game.

Loyal readers are the core of the fanbase of an AAR, and it must be very good for him to see such a large group of people keeping the discussion going on, even when he doesn't update for days. As far as I've seen so far, this is pretty much unparalleled by any other AAR (my own, which I should update already) included.

Not voting for canonized isn't that mindkilling, in fact, I support him in this action, Timelines doesn't seem to end any time soon and there are a lot of good AAR's around, I think it's a good move by him to give some new writAARs the chance for a time in the spotlight. Now, the big question is whom to vote for next time...


The Swert and his statistical data

comagoosie: Do you think the decision will help the ACAs in anyway, or do you think that it shall hurt them?

The_Swert: I thought about this when I first read his announcement on the tempus society website. I'm not sure of what will happen, there seems*to be*arguments for both helping and hindering the ACAs.

There seem to be numerous voters each period who tend to vote only for Timelines, many of these are newer forum members with few posts to their name. This could be interpreted two ways. Firstly, they only read Timelines in which case the loss of Timelines will see them no longer vote. However perhaps some of these people are just new and have only been introduced to Timelines, their participation the one ACA period*could allow them to expand their horizons so that next time they vote for more categories.

I do expect to see a decrease in voters as many of these people who currently only vote for Timelines will choose to opt out but I don't think that will cause much issue on the other categories because they never voted on them anyway, the number of votes in other categories shouldn't change. So on a direct level the loss of Timelines should not effect the ACAs. However there's still the massive drawing power of Timelines which brings readers to the forum and with them not recieving 'Go vote' messages from canonized might mean an indirect*loss of voters.
*
As for the particular Favourite EU3 AAR and Favourite EU3 Narrative AAR categories, participation should drop, although I hear there are a few good aars that could provide good competition in the first post-Timelines period. Will be interesting to see what the result will be on those awards, how many ex-timelines supporters will choose another aar and what the spread will be.

comagoosie is the author of For Rome's Honor
 

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[anchor=I3]Comments from Duke of Wellington on his OscAAR Win[/anchor]

by canonized

canonized: first , congrats on the OscAAR ! was a well deserved win

Duke of Wellington:thanks.

canonized: so I'd like to first hear your reactions , how does it feel to be honoured with the OscAAR for best completed EU3 AAR ?

Duke of Wellington: its pretty good. I still enjoy winning awards for my AARs since it means that my AARs are succeeding in what I try to do which is entertain and write something good. On the other hand it was just an online poll and they are often subject to a lot of problems like doubling voting and so on. So I don't take the results as gospel that my AAR is 'better' than any other.

canonized: doubling voting ? what's that exactly ?

Duke of Wellington: people having more than one account on the forum and simply logging in on them and voting multiple times

canonized: oohhh , I didn't even know that was possible with the mods watching and what not

Duke of Wellington: I guess on the bright side its a sign of dedication to an AAR. The mods are pretty relaxed about it as long as the user isn't flaming himself or being obnoxious with them.

canonized: Though I'd say not to sell yourself short ; after all that would just be a conjecture . It might not even have been likely to happen , right ?

Duke of Wellington: I don't believe its a big issue but I do believe its there. There was one point where my AAR suddenly got three votes in 15 min. That look suspicious to me.

canonized: Do you have a comment or two about the format of the OscAARs themselves ? Aside from what you've said of the polls , how did you like the organisation , the nominations , the timeframe ?

Duke of Wellington: I think it runs very smoothly. I like a poll because its exciting being able to watch the results day by day in more of a race format than say the ACAs. I am impressed at how long it must have taken coz to sort out the eligible AARs from the hundreds around. I think the nominations were top quality. I wasn't familiar with all of them but upon checking them out found them to be great.

Duke of Wellington: I particularly like Birth of a Salesman and storeys work. the timeframe was adequate but I guess might have been a bit shorter

canonized: Speaking of the ACAs , there are indeed lots of award contests going on at the beginning of this year . As a winner of one of them , did you have any comments on the ACAs and the other OscAARs such as the recently completed CK one and the ongoing Vicky/Rome ones ?

Duke of Wellington: I don't know much about the other oscaars not being familiar with CK or Rome AARs. I really like the ACAs and think they're a very fun contest to take part in. I think the awards do mean that a winning AAR is good since the field is usually tough. Their frequency is good for keeping p interest without having them all the time. As for this particular round I don't have much opinion other than I am following it a bit more closely than the last since I have an AAR eligible again

canonized: Going back to Shaybanid , what would you say was the winning formula that made it so popular ?

Duke of Wellington: I think that it really helps to write a comedy AAR. It keeps people interested. Also the format of lots of pictures and short text that makes it a very easy AAR to read. Only a minute per update. It's not high quality but its popular

canonized: You've already mentioned it a little bit earlier , but would you like to say anything more about your competitors in this contest to our audience ?

Duke of Wellington: I believe they are some of the finest on the forum. In particular coz and Storey who have both written some of my favourite AARs of all time, Quest the Spanish search for Gold and A Tall Tale Told on a Cold Night both in the EUII forum. So I guess running against them was a bit daunting after all they have many dedicated fans.

canonized: Before we close, would you like to add any last comments ?

Duke of Wellington: Just a thank you to coz for the initiative and organisation of the OscAARs and keep up the good work on the AARlander

canonized: Wonderful ! thank you very much !

canonized is the author of Timelines
 

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[anchor=I4]Paradox Tribune[/anchor]
by grubnessul

Finally it's back; the Paradox Tribune! For those who have no idea what this may be (as myself until recently); it's an initiative by Darth Tracid featuring everything Paradox related, both games and forum developments.

As every self respecting person talking about the Paradox forum, the Tribune, of course, had to mention our beloved AARland, featuring an AAR for Paradox' most prominent games. For Victoria Carefully Applied Force (CAD) was selected, an AAR on a Prussian campaign to unite Germany without moving the rest of the world against himself. Not entirely familiar with the AAR (nor Ricky itself I must confess) it seems that Austria has a different opinion on the peacefulness of Prussia. Still it seems an impressive attempt for a layman as myself and I cannot do anything else than wishing Robou good luck.

The second AAR, Crusader Kings, is Furor Normannicus, an AAR set in Medieval Italy covering the rise and fall of a Norman kingdom in Italy. Celebrated for a realistic view on the Medieval world and a very strict-to-the-game-approach (no events just for the sake of the narrative). As a fellow Viking author, how could I not hope for the best for my brethren in Italy?
AAR number three finally brings me to some more familiar terrain, the Audacity of Hope is an AAR on the Iroquois. Native Americans are very hard to play in EU3 and that is what the Tribune's mention of the game is about. For me, the Audacity of Hope would be Hiding in a Corner Hoping not to be Found by the Big, Bad Europeans. But, I'm sure PrawnStar will do a much better job on this than I would ever do.

The youngest kid in the Paradox family is getting spoiled; it receives two, not one review. As eldest of three kids, I can confirm that this is always the case; the youngest always gets a bit more. Setting personal traumas aside, Rome deserves this little extra, as far as I know, Rome's forums are the most empty. By drawing a few more posters to the forum, we may one day see the activity as the EU3 forum knows it.

The first of the two AARs is 'Imperium Romanum: Senatus Populusque Romanus (Interactive AAR)' by Darthvegata800, rather a mouthful of words. Interactive AARs are always fun, and this one seems particularly interesting. So, put on your toga, sharpen your dagger and see what you can do in the Roman Senate!

The second Rome AAR is again by Darthvegata800: Sparta: Rise to Glory – A Rome AAR; this time a narrative rather than an interactive AAR. The style of the extract if fluent, and seems rather interesting. Interesting enough for me to go check it out later on. With two ROME AARs on his hands, I can do nothing else than wishing Darthvegata800 good luck and I hope we'll be reading more of his hand in AAR land!

grubnessul is the author of There might be Vikings out there! Or: how I accidentally traded my wife for a halibut
 

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[anchor=I5]How to create a short AAR[/anchor]

by Monnikje

What do you think of when you just say the word AAR aloud? Is it the Epic Tale from Timelines? Or is it Hasan’s Ambition, a one-post AAR? I bet that most of you will think of a tale about a country throughout centuries, told in a way that kept you clamped to your screen for weeks, months, and maybe even longer, eagerly awaiting the next update. Think deeper. Do you really recall every moment of that AAR, or do you see the best parts in front of you? That great war he won against all odds, or that gripping love story he told in-between? The funny remarks from your favourite advisor? The Easter eggs he had hidden? The graphics? The originality? Would you still remember the same AAR if he had just told you that one part? Created an AAR centred around that single event? Just think about it, and have a look at the entries of the first Europa Universalis Short AAR contest. You’ll see six stories, all told within the boundaries of just three posts. With no room for epic tale telling, they all had to do exactly what I just described: single out that great moment and tell it to you, so you would remember. But how did they do that? And, maybe more important, how could you do that? Maybe we can find an answer if we look more closely at the contestants.

The Russo Persian War [post 1 post 2 post 3], by Balkanite: What we see here, is a really short AAR. That’s one thing you should keep in mind: try to limit the length of your story. It’s called a short AAR for a reason. Further we see that in this narrative story is centred around a Russian-Persian war. One war, one focus point. One simple story-arc.

Scandinavia is Not Enough [Introduction post 1 post 2 post 3], by Pro: The typical gameplay AAR. A lot of screenshots with comments on what’s happening. Not much text, but much visualization. We see here the struggle for Scandinavian dominance by Norway, in 52 years and a few wars. There is one goal during the entire AAR (Scandinavian dominance). But when we look at the separate posts, we see cliff-hangers. Will the army survive this battle? Who can explain this strange event? And what we also see, is interaction with the readers. Two important points to keep in mind!

Crisis of Faith [post 1 post 2 post 3] by ComradeOm: This is the third type of classical AAR you can find: history book. It tells you how the protestant reformation happened in Northern Germany. It centres around this event and shows the struggle of Brandenburg in this turmoil. But what’s more important, is the use of images, maps and even animations in the form of .gif images to support the text. I will call this supportive images ‘make-up’. It is a good addition to the story, but isn’t the central focus point like in a gameplay AAR.

Gladius Dei, Sword of God [post 1 post 2], by Mettermrck: In this narrative story about Sir john, a general who battles in the Middle-East and Egypt. We see here again the use of make-up, in the form of images of landscapes, paintings and other things. But what we also see, is a recognisable image at the start. We saw something similar at Crisis of Faith: that AAR started with a recognisable blue name. This is a feature that can enhance your AAR too: a recognisable beginning.

Knights of the Order [post 1 post 2 post 3], by Alfred Packer: Once again a narrative AAR. Without any make-up, it solely relies on the strength of the story about the Knights’ quest for the Holy Grail. But it uses techniques I already mentioned: cliff-hangers and a clear story-arc. It also shows us that you don’t need make-up to create a good AAR. Create a good story which the readers want to continue to read, and you're there already.

Westphalia Alert [post 1 post 2 post 3], by monnikje: What kind of AAR is this? You could argue that it’s a narrative AAR because it tells the story of Einstein travelling back in time to bring the country of Westphalia to power, or you could say that it’s a gameplay AAR because of the in-game screenshots and the explanation of tactics and events that happened. Whatever it is, it surely has a lot of make-up. Maybe too much. There is the large, recognisable beginning, a lot of images and maps, the use of links to music on YouTube, the use of different colours to distinguish between different characters (the same kind of dialogue can also be seen in The Deconquista) and parodies all around.

When we look at these six different AARs, we see a lot of different techniques being used. Let me summarize:
- Choose one focus. It could be one war, like the The Russo Persian War, one event, like the reformation, one mission, like the Quest for the Holy Grail or one country struggling for dominance in a limited time or over a limited area. You can’t create an epic century-spanning grand tale one country in just three posts (proof me wrong!), so you have to choose one focus. It’s by the way a great idea to have a look at the missions in In Nomine: they can certainly give you good ideas, even if you're not creating an EU3 AAR!
- Choose the style you want to write your AAR. Will it be a picture heavy gameplay AAR, or a narrative with just text? Or do you go for the history book? But maybe it is worth looking for a mix. It happens in literature too. Just look at how Frank Herbert in Dune, and among him many other fantasy and science fiction authors, start chapters with a text from a fictional history book. Or maybe you can intertwine gameplay and narrative, or history book and gameplay, or use all types?
- Choose an interesting country. You could take a country people rarely play (Maldives? Westphalia? What the hell?) to draw attention, or present something else people have not seen before. By drawing the attention, you’ve got half of your readers. Now you only need to keep them.
- Create a recognizable beginning. By doing this, people will know immediately that they start reading this particular AAR. And why not make use of this fact by incorporating the recognizable beginning into your story? Use a screenshot, map of the world, relevant image, colourful title or a prologue to your post.
- Make use of cliff-hangers, good dialogue, compelling descriptions… All the tricks you could think of that would work in a story will definitely work in a short AAR. Don’t see your AAR as just a info dump of how your game went, but as a story that will suck your reader in just like the game did with you.
- Interact with your readers. They like to feel they are involved in the AAR! This can be done by simply answering their questions or commenting on their posts, but you can also run extensive polls and contests. Although this is a little complicated in a short AAR, and especially in a contest, you can surely interact.
- Give your AAR some make-up. Why only tell about the Scottish armies using bagpipes when going to war when you can also let people listen to it? And why just tell about the black pudding they eat afterwards when you can give the recipe? And why just give screenshots when you can make them more interesting by adding some other images, or combining them, or creating even animations! Make-up can enhance the reading experience, till the minds of the readers will blow up, but you can also overdo it.

Now that we’ve looked at the contestants and spotted several techniques they used to enhance the reading experience, to create a good short AAR, it’s time to build our own. I challenge you to make your next AAR, or even your next post, to be a short AAR. Or even to join the next contest! As long as you keep in mind that your AAR should be short, has one focus and attracts the attention of your readers (by having a good story, some nice make-up or both), you should do fine.

monnikje is the author of Islamic Spain.
 

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[anchor=I6]Comment Atonomy[/anchor]

by phargle


As we approach - or, depending on when you read this article, experience - the new year, it seems altogether appropriate and correct that we forumites set aside time for a little introspection. Frequently throughout the past dozen or so months, our collective critical eye has been focused on others as we plowed from AAR to AAR leaving comments hither and yon. That's why I say we take just a little moment to really give some solid consideration to the thing that really matters on the forums; the one thing that without which we would find our AARs empty, lacking, and truly without purpose. The single most important thing, my friends: me. Yes, me.

I'm kidding, I'm kidding. You see, I'm not the juices that make the AARs around here flow, and that's because I'm not the bulk of commenters and fans who read the AARs we write. That crowd - and it's quite a crowd - provides the most critical pillar propping up the entire concept of AARland. With their constant presence of kind, generous, and uncritical (but not unconditional!) support, an environment in which AAR fiction can not just exist but prosper has emerged and, against all Internet reason, been sustained. That's why I say without reservation that the commenters are the most important thing in AARland. Also, I wanted to see if that little vein in my editor's forehead would bulge out if I didn't say it was him.

Commenters come in all shapes and sizes, and detailing the ways in which they make their presence felt is a pretty cunning plot to pump up my word count. Before I begin, let me say that my assessment of the anatomy of commenters is analysis, not critique. I've been every one of these guys, and every one of them has left comments in my own AARs, for which I am very, very grateful. They've all got value - and that value comes in lots of different flavors. Without further ado, let's get pumping!

First of all, we've got our Lurkers. These fellahs - and I use that term as a gender-neutral word to cover both men and women, and also because we actually are all fellahs, even frogbeastegg who is actually a trucker father of four living in Newark - these fellahs are precious commodities. They're the folks who stick with an AAR for weeks, months, or years before finally popping in and saying, "Hey, I just wanted to let you know I've been reading this for weeks, months, or years before finally popping in." By breaking their silence just to let us know that they are a reader and a fan, they bring home the notion that there are several readers for every commenter we get. Cool, huh? A variation of these guys are the Hey, I Just Found This AAR Guys who have to speak up to let you know they started reading your awesome AAR. It's even more awesome when they have a post count of ten, because then you know you're the welcoming wagon for the forums. No pressure!

Among the more regular commenters, we've got a plethora of posters. The I Just Read The Last Line Guy will dash off to an AAR and, upon finding themselves at a loss for what they should say, just comment on the last sentence. Maybe they read the whole thing and aren't sure how to make small talk. Maybe they just skimmed. Maybe both! The possibilities are endless, or at least three. Like cool and mysterious kids in school who the teachers are never quite sure are paying attention, they always have an worthwhile comment or two about the last thing you said. And they're typically pretty reliable, which makes them extra-valuable. I sometimes find myself being this guy when I'm doing something else at work while reading AARs - I know I saw a bunch of words, but they're clogged up in my head along with TPS reports, so a quick comment about the final twist in your AAR may be all you get from me. Since this is often the cliffhanger or resolution, this kind of comment can often be astute and appropriate, too.

Then there's I Just Saw The Pictures Guy. This commenter probably reads a bunch of AARs, and he picked yours because it has a lot of screenshots or pictures. Skimming through the text quickly, he keeps up by paying attention to the graphics more than the text. That doesn't stop him from posting a comment, making him at least as reliable as I Just Read The Last Line Guy. With many AARs, they truly are after-action reports and the screenshots rather than the words are what tell the story. And in non-gameplay AARs, the pictures serve the purpose of attracting the eye, making the blocks of text around the picture more likely to be read. Many writers will plop a picture in a particular significant part of the story, or use them to break up the text into more digestible chunks. And others will use really stunning graphics to draw and keep the reader's eye, giving a better chance that the entire text will be read. Because of their reliability and their numbers, these kinds of commenters are valuable too. I often find myself being one of these guys when maps are on the line - even if I don't have the time or interest to read a particular AAR, I'll always make time to let someone know when their map is top shelf.

Rounding out the quick comment crowd are I Probably Didn't Read The AAR Guy, I Really Try To Read This AAR Guy, and I Am Using This Thread As A Chat Room Guy. The first fellah is typically a pretty reliable poster, and will toss out a comment any time you toss out an update, but it's never clear whether or not he's actually read your AAR. Oh, sure he probably is actually reading it, but it's hard to tell sometimes because the comments are vague and quick. That's not to say that this kind of comment lacks value; it actually has a lot of value because even a small handful of "Yay! An update!" posts go a long way towards making a writer feel appreciated. . . but, that said, I try to go just the little extra mile when posting comments. When I find myself being the Yay guy and start leaving comments that would make sense no matter what AAR I posted 'em in, I try to go back and edit them to be specific and complimentary.

I Really Try To Read This AAR Guy is a variant of that, in which you're pretty sure he's reading, but you're also pretty sure he's having trouble keeping up because of real life concerns. This commenter likes your AAR and posts to say so, but that's about all they have time to do. Pretty valuable because it says that, among all the AARs in all the forums in the world, they walk into yours. When work or life comes up and konks me over the head, this is the kind of poster I become.

And that Chat guy? He's hanging out in your thread like it's a club and you're the bartender, and he's cool enough to not spend all his time chatting with the bartender. He posts his comments in response to other comments. This is valuable too, because it takes your AAR and turns it into an environment. Instead of a story, it becomes a place where people hang out and talk about your AAR. That's can be pretty cool. This isn't the kind of commenter I tend to be, and I find that my chat-room posts are seldom really appropriate to the AAR itself. . . so I try to bank up some goodwill by being a good commenter as well. It's kind of like an exchange of goods and services: I'll say something in response to your AAR, and in return I get to goof off in your thread. Everybody wins! Especially me.

All of these short-post variants can have the modifier Complimentary, in which whatever the poster says is preceded or followed by some sort of compliment on the AAR. For example:

"I just wanted to say I've been reading this AAR for months without posting, and it's the best AAR I've ever read."

"I just found this AAR. How did I not read this awesomeness before?"

"best aar ever! lols. i hope roger survives the cliffhanger at the end lols"

"Great AAR! I love the maps."

"Finally! An update! Great AAR btw"

"This AAR is my favorite AAR, and I just got done skiing with the family and playing with my kids before I run off to work, so I sat down and read the last update. Still loving William the Conquerer."

"hey I love skiing haha :) :) :) hey great aar"

No matter what I am saying about the AAR, I try to make sure my comment has some sort of compliment in it - and I try to explain my compliment. 'I love X because Y' is a great formula for success in leaving comments, but that sort of commenting behavior is a class of its own: the Provides A Little More Detail Guy. The Provides A Little More Detail Guy provides a little more detail in his comments. Really, this commenter is two kinds: Speculates A Little Guy and Praises Specifically Guy, and both of these types. The first kind is pretty common in story-oriented AARs. Because of the serialized nature of AAR updating, the environment in which we write lends itself well to cliffhangers or mysteries, meaning there's typically a lot of stuff to keep readers guessing - and Speculates A Little Guy happily guesses. This is a valuable guy to have around, because you know someone is paying enough attention to the specifics of your story to invest some imagination into it. The Praises Specifically Guy is also valuable as a commenter. A comment that tells you what is working for a particular reader can be worth its weight in gold, especially since our supportive culture in AARland generally renders criticism uncouth or forbidden. As said earlier in this paragraph, that's the mode I try to rest in when I comment, as I find it works for me both as a reader and as a writer. Nothing is cooler than a commenter quoting a specific passage in your AAR to tell you what they liked about it.

The big mojo commenter at the top of this pyramid is Really Paying Attention Guy. Sometimes a blend of other commenter types, sometimes on his own, this fellah is so taken by your story that all of his comments are specific, astute, insightful, and rich. In a land of one-liners, a paragraph or two of kind critical analysis stands out like a gemstone, offering praise and thoughts in appropriate measures. In time, this commenter evolves into . . .And Skilled Enough To Offer Critique Guy, because a paragraph of honest, fair, and kind critique among three paragraphs of praise and insights is the perfect recipe for a delicious comment. These commenters are highly valuable because they provide the kind of support and assistance you'd get from a writing circle - and, because AARland is a place where we go where we want and read what we want, your crowd of commenters only includes your fans, making the critique that much easier to process. In time, and especially for my favorite AARs, this is the kind of poster I try to become, leaving comments that are valuable both to me and to the writer. Good writing gets me excited, and I want my comments to show it.

Ultimately, this thought experiment came about because I started reading a lot of AARs, which led to me posting in 'em, which led to me thinking seriously about the kinds of comments I was leaving. Wanting my comments to be good and useful meant not only reading what other commenters were saying, but also really reading what I was saying. Ultimately, this resulted in a personal commitment to establish a commitment to make it my duty as a good citizen of AARland to maintain a reading list that was varied and diverse - and to leave comments that were varied and diverse enough to do those AARs justice. I think all comments have value, as do all readers, and hope that any fan of AARs who's read this can find ways to make their contributions to AARland even richer than they were before.

If my ISP mends its Internet issue before my editor explodes in fury at me missing a deadline, I hope you all have a delicious and delightful New Year full of happiness and serenity. And if I'm to spend the next 24-72 hours offline while network issues are resolved, I hope canonized doesn't use the belt. . . and I hope my comments in your AARs are missed. Goodness knows that I will be missing yours - each and every one.

phargle is the author of Thrones
 

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[anchor=I7]A Sneak Peek at a New AAR[/anchor]
by Capibara

Dear Son:
I can feel death is near me now, I can even feel her knocking on my door. I know you are far away from here, at the capital, attending important business. That’s why I’ve written you this letter; I want to talk to you one last time before my soul goes back to the Lord’s House. I have been blessed with a long life, which I have used well. I must admit I made things I’m ashamed of; however, I don’t regret them, for they helped to forge the spirit of our great nation. I was born in a time when changes of importance were about to happen. I fought for the freedom of our country during the War of Independence, which was achieved after bloody years of conflict. I fought and spilled blood on many of the civil wars that plagued and menaced to torn apart this country for decades; I even had to turn against my own homeland once.

During these years I fought alongside great leaders and gained a place in History as one of the heroes of the Motherland. I loved a woman, your mother, for many years, despite of all the adversities that came between us. I still love her, even if she is not longer here. I knew pain as well, and the scars in both my soul and my body can attest that. I learned how to live the epoch I was born into and that allowed me to survive in the most turbulent years of this young nation. You might ask yourself why you would want to read the story of my life. Why the words of an old man would be of any use to you? The answer is simple: because I love you, and I care for you. I don’t want you to repeat the mistakes I did during my lifetime, some of which caused me a great deal of pain.

You are on the way of forging your own history, of becoming a great man, perhaps the president of the Republic if you are clever enough and know how to deal with your enemies. We are now in a period of peace, but remember that there will always be ambitious people that will do anything to get a grasp of power, even if it means destabilizing the country, so be careful I who you befriend and who you trust. Just remember that and use your own skills and I’m sure you will be remembered as one of the nation’s greatest men. Never forget what I tell you, put it in practice and I’m sure you will forge your own legacy. Never be afraid and follow your heart. Take care of your family, love them. They will support you even if things go the wrong way. Treasure everyone and each moment you spend with them. Please visit your sisters once in a while back home, they will appreciate it deeply, you know how they are.

So finally, I wish the best of the lucks in whatever you decide to do from now on. Just do what you like; do that you feel passion for and you’ll be happy. Be happy, that is my last advice, my son, be happy and never forget who you are, a son of Santiago Cienfuegos. This is the last time you will hear from me, I send you all my love. May God bless you. I hope to see you again in a better life. Farewell.

Santiago Cienfuegos
San Diego, California, Mexico
November 17th, 1877


capibara is the author of The All New All Island AAR
 

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[anchor=I8]Fort Simserhof – the Maginot-line today[/anchor]

by trekaddict

When we today hear the words “Maginot Line” in Germany we usually have three things to say: “Waste of money”, “useless” and “it was the French, what do you expect?”. However if you actually look at the figures, the Maginot Line, however useless it was in World War 2, it forces you to admit that it was a very impressive endeavour. The reasoning behind the line even makes sense if it is looked at from the French point of view. The French had taken horrible losses in the Great War, so great in fact that the birth rate suffered an unprecedented drop, as the result of which the French Army was severely understrength by the early 1930s, the so-called “Hollow Classes” as they are called. But that was not the real reasoning, at least not during the immediate post-war conference, in which the future defence of France against Germany was discussed. Amongst many other plans came the one that would eventually lead to the Maginot line, but it was not approved until 1929.

And so, at the height of the Great Depression France set out to build the largest system of fixed fortifications in the 20th Century to date. Among the forts built, and also among the few that can be visited today. Why did I choose this particular one? It is the closest to where I live and I have been there multiple times. Originally the plan for this area called for a small Artillery fort, surrounded by Infantry trenches. It was to be 260 metres wide and to contain five guns, all in all nothing too spectacular. But as it is so often, the plan changed, and soon there were two main works, connected by a subterranean system of corridors under construction. Work was started in September 1930. By 1933 the actual building was completed, sometimes providing jobs for 2000 workers in day and night shifts, in the end consisting of eight so called “Fighting blocks” for the Artillery and two additional entrance blocks. The French then began with the installation of all the systems and weapons, and by 1938 the fort was declared operational. The bigger entrance point, meant for munitions and supplies, was fitted with a small, 60cm width field train, that also carried the shift changes to their stations. The other entrance, which is today also used by tourist groups to enter the site was fitted with a normal staircase and an electrical elevator. The garrison entrance was guarded by two 47mm Anti-Tank guns that, along with several heavy machine guns. The munitions entrance was less well protected but still had it's own Anti-Tank gun and heavy machine guns. There were additional AT turrets littered all over the site, including the AM turrets that had a combination weapons system where the AT gun could be retracted to make way for a heavy machine gun, thus saving space and money during construction. There were also turrets intended for 5cm and 6cm mortars, but war broke out before these could be delivered. The main armament of the fort however consisted of the eight Fighting blocks, armed with guns that ranged from 75mm to 135mm guns in casemattes or retractable metal turrets. All of these were again guarded by a mix of heavy machine guns and AT guns. All in all this had cost 118 FF, even then an enormous sum, especially for one single installation, so it is not surprising that not all parts of the original plan were then realized.

In 1940 the garrison of the fort consisted of 812 men of the 153. Régiment d'infanterie de Forteresse, or Fortress Infantry Regiment and the 150. Régiment d'artillerie de Position, or Fortress Artillery Regiment, along with 27 Officers and a Lieutenant Colonel in Command. The troops serving there were well cared for, as the fort included everything from a fully equipped sickbay where even surgery could be conducted, to a huge barrel of wine in the commissary- Each soldier was entitled to two glasses a day, one in the morning, the other in the evening, a fact that had me comment that it was the French Army after all.

When war then did break out, the fort initially did not see action. According to the few sources available ( read: not in frog-speak...ehrm French ) and from what I can remember from the last tour I took, the first action took place on 14th June. From then on to the surrender of the fort on the 30th of the same month, apparently the guns fired almost constantly, the guide describing the atmosphere as a mix of sweat, cordite and gunpowder. When the fort surrendered, the French Flag was still flying over it, as the Germans never attacked it directly. It can be speculated that the fort could have held for a few months at least, but at this point all resistance became futile.




If you are interested, there is the page of the fort, but it is only available in French, because apparently no one can be arsed to repair the links to the indicated German and English versions. It will therefore not be linked here. I suggest putting “Fort Simserhof” through the search engine of your choice. I can only give you the Wikipedia article.



trekaddict is the author of “Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two”
 

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[anchor=I9]Three countries[/anchor]

by demokratickid

Côte d'Ivoire

Kiribati

Kyrgyzstan

The Three Nations You’ve Never Heard of or Can’t Pronounce

With a forum filled with history and geography buffs, the premise of this article seemed shaky at the beginning. However, I feel that at least some of the not-so-high-and-mighty members such as my humble self will learn a thing or two from this. If not, use it at any trivia event, and you’ll win. No questions asked.

1. Côte d'Ivoire
Pronunciation: kot di’vwar
What? : Ivory Coast, silly! It’s in French!
Official Name: Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
Official Language: French
Find it on a Map: See the big bump of West Africa? It’s on the bottom coast. No, the coast, dummy! No, a little further south. There, that’s it!

Côte d'Ivoire is a charming little country on the Gulf of Guinea, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean. Its capitol is at the equally unpronounceable Yamoussoukro, which lies just south of the county’s largest body of water, Lac de Kossou. Côte d'Ivoire is one of those traditional African nations that gained independence in the early 1960s, and everything went downhill from there. President Félix Houphouët-Boigny (Not even going to try that one) held his mildly-competent self in power as the country’s president from 1960-1993. Though things went well early on, according to the wise sage of the internet Wikipedia, “This (economic) success, uncommon in poverty-ridden West Africa, became known as the "Ivorian miracle" and was due to a combination of sound planning, the maintenance of strong ties with the West (particularly France), and development of the country's significant coffee and cocoa industries. However, the exploitation of the agricultural sector caused difficulties in 1980, after a sharp drop in the prices of coffee and cocoa.”

After Felix H-B’s death at age 88 in 1993, things went rapidly downhill, with various coups and civil wars. The Ivorian miracle had finished its run, and the Côte joined its West African brethren in poverty, famine, and disease.

The population of Côte d’Ivoire is 17,654,843 with a population growth rate of 2.03%. Its median age of 19.2 years makes it one of the youngest countries in the world. Côte d’Ivoire’s ethnic groups are Akan 42.1%, Voltaiques 17.6%, Northern Mandes 16.5%, Krous 11%, Southern Mandes 10%, other 2.8%. ‘Other’ includes mostly French and Lebanese. How Corp. Klinger got to Africa, we’ll never know…

2. Kiribati
Pronunciation: kiri-bas (Yes, it’s weird.)
Official Name: Republic of Kiribati
Official Language: English, Gilbertese
Find it on a Map: Make a big arc with your hand across the South Pacific, and you’ve probably got the idea.
Wikipedia says, “Kiribati was named Gilbert Islands after the British Captain Thomas Gilbert, who sighted the islands in 1788. The current name, Kiribati (/'kiribas/), is an adaptation of "Gilberts", from the former European name the "Gilbert Islands". How the devil they got Kiribati out of Gilbert is beyond me, but this charming island nation lies across 2,000 miles of Ocean. It occupies three hemispheres, which means the I-Kiribati (Yes, that’s how they say it. We would just say Kiribatians or Kiribatiis, but no!) will be invading your native country soon.
If you’re heading to sunny Kiribati, you’ll fly into Bonriki International Airport, which is more like a strip of concrete on a spit of land in an expanse of blue. Though Kiribati is so beautiful, it is one of the least visited countries in the world due to its vast remoteness. Recent attempts at offshore banking have gone well enough to improve the economy, Kiribati relies heavily on foreign aid. Though, the banking adds several Russian ‘tourists’ every year.

For the early history, I once again defer to Wikipedia, “The area now called Kiribati has been inhabited by Micronesians speaking the same Oceanic Language since sometime between 3000 BC and AD 1300. The area was not isolated; invaders from Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji later introduced Polynesian and Melanesian cultural aspects, respectively. Intermarriage tended to blur cultural differences and resulted in a significant degree of cultural homogenization.” During the colonial period, it came under mostly British influence, with settlers arriving in 1837 and a protectorate established in 1892 along with the Ellice Islands. Kiribati had a brief moment of fame when they were occupied by Japanese forces during WWII.

Independence came over a period of time, with self-rule in 1971, separation with the Ellice Islands and further self-rule in 1975, and the full blown thing on July 12, 1979 when they changed from Gilberts Islands to the Republic of Kiribati.

The population of Kiribati is 107,817, with a growth rate of 2.24%. Kiribati is almost totally ethnically homogenous, with Micronesian 98.8% of the population being Melanesian, with the rest being descendants of original immigrants. The migration rate is exactly 0. That’s right, nobody cares to live in Kiribati, and no one’s sure how to get out either. The planes, I guess, can only hold tourists…





2. Kyrgyzstan
Pronunciation: Кыргызстан (What?)
Official Name: Кыргыз Республикасы (Huh?)
Official Language: Kyrgyz and Russian
Find it on a Map: See that big lake in south Kazakhstan? (You know, Borat?) Put your finger on it, and the next country down is Kyrgyzstan. No, that’s the Aral Sea! You’re hopeless…

The former Soviet Republic Kyrgyzstan stands apart from the other former republics in that, it still keeps Russian as an official language… Well, I think the Kazakhs do that to so OK, they’re not the only ones stuck in the past, or trying to prevent a brain drain.

The early history of Kyrgyzstan is actually pretty cool, in the 700s-800s AD they even had their own empire going on, quite an accomplishment for a people who would be constantly overrun for the next millennia. From the Khanates and Hordes of the Mongols, to the USSR, the Kyrgyz were left almost entirely alone other than the occasional invasion or nuclear test.

After independence, President of the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences (kudos to them for having one) Askar Akayev won the presidential race in an upset election. After almost 14 years in power, his brusque handling of the Kyrgyz politics and newfound political liberties earned him the honor of being the 1,000,000th Asian ruler who had his house stormed. For this, he was stripped of his tile of being the ‘1st President of Kygyzstan.’ Ouch…

The population of Kygyzistan is estimated to be 5.2 million, mostly Muslim, Kirghiz. How do you get Kygyzstan from Kirghiz? Many letters were sacraficed for the betterment of the People’s state. The ethnicities are as Wikipedia says, “The nation's largest ethnic group is the Kyrgyz, a Turkic people, which comprise 69% of the population (2007 estimate). Other ethnic groups include Russians (9.0%) concentrated in the north and Uzbeks (14.5%) living in the south. Small but noticeable minorities include Tatars (1.9%), Uyghurs (1.1%), Tajiks (1.1%), Kazakhs (0.7%) and Ukrainians (0.5%), and other smaller ethnic minorities (1.7%). Of the formerly sizable Volga German community, exiled here by Stalin from their earlier homes in the Volga German Republic, most have returned to Germany, and only a few small groups remain. A small percentage of the population are also Koreans, who are the descendants of the Koreans deported in 1937 from the Soviet Far East to Central Asia.” With all those people, it’s a miracle there isn’t at least three civil wars going on about now.

That does it for this look around the world. Just remember these fu nations the next time you plan your next vacation. It could be a trip you never forget! Literally, you might be locked in prison and we’ll never see you again. Have a good trip!

demokratickid is the author of [thread=378796] Ireland, Awake![/thread].
 

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[anchor=I10]The Battle of Solferino: [/anchor]
The fight that saved more then it killed.

by demokratickid

In the eons of time, there have been great battles that men and women alike have recalled and celebrated or disparaged upon. However, there are a few battles that are far too often overlooked by the annals of time. Unless a student of Italian history, the ‘Battle of Solferino’ has no meaning to the reader. However, it was a battle that saved more lives than it took. For, at that moment in time, a man observed the carnage, and was determined to change that. His name was Jean Henri Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross.

The battle itself was one in the series of Italian wars of independence. It was fought on June 24, 1859 in Solferino, Italy, between Verona and Milan. The combatants were Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia-Piedmont, Napoleon III of France versus Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary. All these monarchs personally commanded their forces, making the battle of Solferino the last major battle where monarchs fought each other. The size of the armies, totaling a combined 210,000 or more, was the largest battle in Europe at that point since the battle of Leipzig in 1813. The Franco-Sardinian alliance carried the day, and eventually the Kingdom of Italy won her independence in unification in 1861.

On June 24, a 31 year-old Dunant arrived on the battlefield that evening. When observing the fields of combat, he was repulsed by the 38,000 casualties, most still living, just lying there on the battlefield with no one to care for them. Shocked and repulsed, Dunant, who had years of experience helping the less fortunate and organizing charitable societies, quickly organized the local civilian population, mostly especially young women, to care for the fallen soldiers. Though lacking even the most basic supplies, the brave Dunant and his women worked on late into the night and next day in makeshift hospitals, binding wounds and lending a helping hand wherever it was needed.

Perhaps Dunant’s greatest achievement at this juncture was to convince the population, which was heavily pro-Sardinian, to treat all of the fallen with equal compassion and mercy, a concept he called "Tutti fratelli", which means “all are brothers.” Shortly after convincing the French to release Austrian doctors, Dunant returned to his native Geneva, Switzerland and penned a book about his experiences called, “Un Souvenir de Solferino” or, “A Memory of Solferino”, which he published at his own expense in 1862.

Shortly thereafter, Dunant toured Europe promoting his ideas. Eventually, in February 1863, a group of five including Dunant founded the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. Thus, February 17 is now considered the founding date of the Red Cross. Later in the year, in October, a conference of 14 independent European states met in Geneva to discuss the medical treatment of casualties. One year later, a diplomatic conference held by the Swiss parliament where the first Geneva Convention was signed. The rest, as they say, is history.

In the end, Dunant got his convention and Italy was united. Both can be traced to a battle far too often overlooked by history textbooks. So, it can be justifiably said that the Battle of Solferino was the birth of two great enterprises, both of which have lasted until our day.

demokratickid is the author of [thread=378796] Ireland, Awake![/thread].