• 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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I PROMISE THERE WILL BE A COVER THIS TIME​


Editor-in-Chief: anonymous4401
Assistant Editor: canonized
Columnists: Atlantic Friend*, Estonianzulu*, phargle*, Phoenix Dace
Contributing Writers: ComradeOm, Lordling

* (on sabbatical)

Code:
[b]EUROPA UNIVERSALIS[/b]
[anchorlink=Jan2008-EU1][b]Mod Review:[/b] An Interregnum Review[/anchorlink] by Lordling
[b]VICTORIA[/b]
[anchorlink=Jan2008-2][b]Triple Threat:[/b] VIP:R0.1[/anchorlink] by anonymous4401
[b]HEARTS OF IRON[/b]
[anchorlink=Jan2008-3][b]History: [/b] A Brief History of Communism (1914-1953)[/anchorlink] by ComradeOm
[b]AARLAND[/b]
[anchorlink=Jan2008-4][b]Applying Sun Tzu to Paradox Games:[/b] No. 1[/anchorlink] by Phoenix Dace
[anchorlink=Jan2008-I0][b][color=white]INSTRUMENTALITY[/color][/b][/anchorlink]
[anchorlink=Jan2008-i1][b]Une Noel de Tornade - A Failed Britannia Story...[/b][/anchorlink] by General_BT
[anchorlink=Jan2008-i2][b]The Christmas Spirit[/b][/anchorlink] by Judas Maccabeus
[anchorlink=Jan2008-I3][b]An Assessment of Axis Grand Strategy in the Second World War:[/b] Part I: The European Axis[/anchorlink] by Myth
[anchorlink=Jan2008-I4][b]You've Been Canonized!:[/b] ComradeOm[/anchorlink] by canonized
[anchorlink=Jan2008-I5][b]Frank and Uncut New Year Reflections from an Old New Writer[/b][/anchorlink] by canonized
A New Year for the AARlander
by anonymous4401
 
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[anchor=Jan2008-EU1]
An Interregnum Review[/anchor]
by Lordling


There are many mods for Europa Universalis II, as there are many mods for Doomsday, and quite a few for Victoria and EU3. There are mods like CORE and AGCEEP, which are designed to augment the basic gameplay experience with more relevant events, in the case of CORE, more technologies, and even the editing of the units with which the game is played.

There are mods like the Dark Ages mod for EU2, which is designed to let you play in a different period of history. When the game lineup consisted more-or-less of EU2, this was a lot more important than it is now.

Lastly, however, there are mods like Interregnum. I suppose the Doomsday counterpart would be Kaiserreich – it doesn't aim to improve the gameplay experience, it aims to change it. And, when it comes to writing AARs and improving the playability of your copy of Europa Universalis II, these are some of the best and most fascinating out there.

Since the AARlander is primarily a feature dealing with, well, AARs, I'll primarily be speaking about the nature of Interregnum as it relates to writing an AAR.

Interregnum is an alt-history AAR in which the Ottoman Empire never rose, the Kings of France and England died at the walls of Constantinople, the Reconquista was destroyed by Al-Andalus, and Ireland is the most cohesive political unit in the British Isles. In the East, the Abbasid Caliphate survived, and the Il-Khanate did as well. China is not unified, and the Maya are an empire of the Carribean, rather than one of the mainland.

Most importantly, however, history is more malleable. Not malleable in the way that EU3 is – completely open with little influence from rulers or events, but rather malleable in that there are a great many choices to make for most nations, and, due to this, no game of Interregnum is ever the same.

Writing an AAR under these circumstances is surprisingly easy. As it stands, I have written two Interregnum AARs (and although one has failed, and the other is still ongoing, this is more to do with the fact I have never finished an AAR), and, in each, the unique Interregnum gameplay makes things fascinating. For one, divergence from history means little, as, unlike as in AGCEEP or vanilla EU2, there is no standard to measure Interregnum against. Secondly, it means there are new enemies to face every time. In vanilla, one tends to end up with the same lineup of Great Powers – England, France, Spain, Russia, the Ottomans, and so on, and so on. There are various strategies that tend to be used against each one, and, since their alliances tend to remain fairly fixed, what works one war against Russia as England will probably work the next.

In Interregnum, however, as Ireland, you will undoubtedly face a thousand different enemies. As a colonial nation, you might have to fight Brittany and Genoa for control of the New World, or perhaps France will arise like a phoenix from its own ashes, and attack you on your island.

There are a few problems with Interregnum, not the least being that there are too many colonial nations in the New World, and, of course, that there are relatively no predestined enmities – which means wars are occasionally harder to come by in Interregnum than they are in vanilla, though that may merely be my experience.


Despite all this, I find Interregnum a thoroughly enjoyable environment to gain AAR inspiration from. Playing as England or France over and over again does not give the imagination food for thought – rather, it can often bore you into ceasing the game altogether.

Since you are provided with much more choice than in vanilla, and, more importantly, this is characterized choice. Although it's no CK, the War of the Roses, one of the most significant events in English history, is given but a few events in vanilla, and a few more in AGCEEP. In Interregnum, although there's no War of the Roses (as there's no England), to name a single country, Byzantium, you have a vast array of choice. You can choose your dynasties, new reforms, partake in traditionally Byzantine civil wars, and, later in the game, even transform into a new nation, a full-fledged Roman Republic.

By comparison, vanilla EU2 seems less worth writing about. When one can put pen to paper and describe the new glories of Byzantium, with hundreds of events to give you all the grounding you need, despite the alternative nature of Interregnum, the creativity that's sparked off by Interregnum is immense.

Although it was designed first and foremost as a multiplayer mod, there's no doubting that Interregnum makes a cracking good base for an AAR.
 
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[anchor=Jan2008-2]Triple Threat: VIP:R 0.1[/anchor]
by anonymous4401


In the world of Paradox modding, there is usually a mod for each game that rises above the others in providing a comprehensive historical overhaul, beefing up Paradox's original offering with new events, countries, and mechanics. For Victoria that mod is the Victoria Improvement Project, which has released the first version of itself for Revolutions, VIP:R 0.1. In the following article I will review three Victoria AARs that use this mod.

Kamrat Kim Kommer Krossa Kapitalisterna! -A Swedish Juche AAR by Dysken starts off with a humorous conceit well within Paradoxian tradition - that of the present-day Democratic People's Republic of Korea travelling to 1836 Sweden to set up a regime that follows the Juche ideal. Game restrictions—no stranger to the Paradoxian—follow, which sound particularly harsh to the Victoria player, with the banning of imports and the requirement that the Korean Workers Party always be in power. Of course this is offset by free annual plurality decreases and a starting stockpile of 1000 sulphur and dye, as well as adding Finnish and Korean as national cultures.

Despite the humorous premise it is quite the straightforward gameplay AAR, solving its ban on imports by conquering the faraway nations from which said imports originate, including Siak, Japan, and the Korean homeland. Sadly the latest update on November 25 was right before a promised wrangling with British India, which would not only have provided some excitement but also perhaps showcase VIP's mechanics in that area. It was simply too short to provide more than a glancing look at the world of VIP:R.

175 Countries Closer to the World - a Colombia VIP:R WC AAR by Horace is a continuation of the proud Paradoxian tradition of conquering the world with poor, small countries. His strategy is quite straightforward, diving into war with his neighbor Ecuador by April of 1836. Othe South American nations follow, but the typical poverty of the South American provinces mean that these conquests simply aren't enough to pay for themselves, and soon starts Colombia on that familiar narrative: Sending clippers to East Asia to annex the richer yet uncivilized nations there. From there the World Conquest is pretty typical, picking off small European nations to gain a foothold while avoiding land borders with the greater powers and attacking guarantees of the same.

As OHGamer himself comments in the thread, VIP does not have much detail for nations on the South American continent, and the few events that fire end up not fitting the context of the mad world Horace's Colombia creates. An event to end Colombian slavery does not have much of an impact when said slaves are a drop in the bucket compared to the millions of Japanese peasants under its rule. As the Colombian Army marches on Berlin, a single army under General Melo manages to execute a coup d'etat in the homeland. As they march down the Champs-Élysées, he is deposed by a Constitutional counter-revolt. But what are penalties in the hundreds of pounds and benefits in handfuls of prestige to an empire that just annexed half of Prussia?

Sadly the last update was in September, leaving us with a Colombian empire entering 1855 in a mop-up war against the shrunken Spanish and French mainlands. With most of Germany and Italy, large parts of Southeast Asia and South America, a third of Iberia and the entirety of Japan backing the Colombian Empire, the outcome of the war is in little doubt. Having all these things with eighty years left in the game, whether Horace will reach his goals is also in little doubt.

But the speed of the conquests combined with the lack of a truly challenging war after the first page makes this AAR pretty difficult to differentiate from the other world-conquests out there. It seems that neither VIP nor Revolutions adds much hindrance or options to this straightforward annexation spree strategy, so it really feels no different than if he had tried to conquer the world with Colombia in vanilla. Perhaps finally taking on the United Kingdom would have provided excitement in the form of multi-front wars where the outcome was not already entirely sealed, but the AAR never got to that point.

And finally, we have The Value of Dreams:A Federal Republic of Central America AAR by CCA. It uses both a history-book-style narrative and letter excerpts to illustrate the United States of Central America's journey through the Victorian age. But what seems to set this apart from many of its brethren is simply its briskness, summing up entire decades with short paragraphs alternated with pictures instead of stretching them into gigantic walls of text. I suppose the concept of not spending many words on periods of your game where nothing much happened should not be something that needs to be pointed out and lauded, but so many history-book AARs start out with thousands of words detailing the nation's entire history up to the point of the start of the scenario - then are abandoned a few years in or even none at all. That is certainly not to say that there is no place for such lavishly detailed AARs, just that those that are in the habit of spinning their wheels might be advantaged by imitating the AAR now being reviewed and trying a style closer to AARland's roots.

CCA's game goals are also not overly ambitious, another nice change of pace. Though for the beginning such is not surprising, as any USCA player's first goal would be to prevent its looming dissolution. However in the game accomplishing this goal did not seem very challenging. All that is noted is a single rebellion in 1837 that is crushed, and eight years later in 1845 all fears are laid to rest with the firing of the 'USCA survives' event. Another thing that is noted is a high influx of immigration to the USCA from places all around the world, which is enough to double its starting population by 1860 and provide a good base to propel the USCA to being the industrial jewel of Latin America. However it does not then go on to meddle in Africa or Asia and not even much so in its own backyard. In an irony only relevant in the context of this article, the only country the USCA annexes (or near-annexes, rather) is neighboring Colombia.

This avoidance of those repetitive, unrealistic landgrabs really only benefits the AAR as it can then focus more on the social and political changes of the USCA itself, an aspect of Victoria so often lost to the glories of large armies smashing into one another repeatedly. (Or more typically, large human armies crushing outnumbered computer armies repeatedly.) Though this focus is not rich fare (for those seeking such I would recommend ComradeOm's work) it is still nice to see it.

In conclusion, this reviewer must conclude that there is simply too much of a lack of gameplay-focused AARs using the mod VIP:R 0.1 that really show the world of VIP:R. That is to say, OHGamer's Power By Production v 2.0 - A VIP:R 0.1 Prussia AAR should have a rival in showcasing the rich possibilities and gameplay of this mod, but it does not. But in a way, such is entirely expected. Paradoxians crave challenge, and so gravitate towards the weakest countries in the game. Which countries are the weakest? The ones that were more historically marginalized, and thus the very ones that would not have fully-fleshed event trees. The ones for which the normal dynamics of colonization and trade and diplomacy are off-limits, as each dynamic must be broken to achieve anything. The ones that are precisely in the wrong position to demonstrate VIP's strengths.
 
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[anchor=Jan2008-3]A Brief History of Communism (1914-1953)[/anchor]
by ComradeOm


"A spectre is haunting Europe… the spectre of communism"

Karl Marx

The roots of modern communism go back to the early 19th C with the emergence of the school of French socialism following the French Revolution but it was in the 20th C that communism became a major facet of global politics. The rise of the Soviet Union following 1917 was ultimately both more dramatic and far reaching than the emergence of fascism and Nazi Germany. By the 1953 the Red Army was in Berlin, over a third of the world's population lived under Communist regimes, and the world was well into a new ideological struggle of titanic proportions. Given all this its not surprising that communists, of various creeds, tend to feature prominently in many Hearts of Iron AARs. My purpose in writing this brief history is to provide the writers of AARland with a brief overview of the development of the international communist movement during the first half of the 20th C.

Unfortunately this history is bound to be extremely brief as providing a proper and comprehensive account is the task of professional historians and would occupy many volumes in itself. For this article I've simply skimmed through the development of communist organisations in Europe from World War One to the death of Stalin. This means that categories such as minor ideological currents and distinctions, Russian politics, economic programmes, etc etc will all get little to no mention. Its not ideal but I hope that what's left is of use to even a few readers. As always, I'll be happy to respond to any specific questions or corrections.

A note on the terminology: There remains much confusion as to the capitalisation of "communist". As a rule "communist" is only capitalised (ie, "Communist") when referring to an official Moscow backed party. Otherwise the lower case form prevails. For example, "John is a Communist" implies that John is a member of a Communist Party, while "John is a communist" states that John could belong to any current of communist thought.



Socialists

The date originally chosen as the start of this brief history was that of the October Revolution in Russia 1917. It was this pivotal event that marked the emergence of modern Communist Parties following the decisive break between the moderates and radicals of the old socialist movement. Prior to this communists had merely represented the revolutionary wings of the various European social-democratic parties*, the great German SPD being the epitome of this model. It was the 1870s that saw the rise of mass socialist parties and these were, nominally at least, radical, and often Marxist, bodies in favour of overthrowing the bourgeoisie (ie capitalists) and constructing a socialist society. Despite their radical aims these socialist parties naturally embraced democracy as a means to further their agenda and the belief that the system could be reformed from within, thus negating the need for violent revolution, found widespread acceptance.

But life in parliament, and an absence of social revolution, acted to shift the political centre of these parties away from radicalism. Despite paying lip service to reforming the system from within, demands and programmes that advocated revolutionary changes were quietly dropped by party leaderships. Slowly socialist parties proved to be quite compatible with the bourgeois governments that they were supposedly determined to abolish. Naturally this political shift greatly frustrated those radicals who still desired nothing less than complete social transformation. Largely the differences between the "revolutionaries" and "reformists" remained contained within inter-party squabbles but the building tension finally exploded in 1914 when the European socialist parties almost fell over themselves in their haste to approve of the Great War. For the revolutionaries this support of an imperialist war, and sight of respected colleagues sprouting the jingoist and nationalist slogans of the Right, was too much. In 1915 the coexistence of both revolutionary and reformist wings effectively came to an end at the Zimmerwald Conference in Switzerland. The leader of the left internationalists at this summit was none other than one VI Lenin.

The years following 1915 saw much bitter debate and divisions amongst the socialist parties but it was in Russia where this split was finalised and an alternative strategy to parliamentarism proposed. The success of the Russian Revolution was the most significant event since the Paris Commune and it was a seismic shock to much of the world, socialist or not. The transformation of the Bolsheviks into the Russian Communist Party (later the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) completed the split with moderate socialists and from this point on the relationship between social-democrats and communists would be bitterly antagonistic and often bloody. As socialist parties throughout Europe similarly splintered, the clearest demonstration of this "civil war" within socialism came in Germany where the SPD leadership actively supported the suppression of its former communist wing (the Spartakists) and was complicit in the assassination of Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht - two highly respected former SPD members and Spartakist leaders.



Communists

But what exactly was this alternative model provided by the Bolsheviks in Russia? The autocratic nature of Tsarist Russia had precluded participation in parliamentarism and so Russian socialism retained much of its secretive and subversive nature. In contrast to Western Europe, the only contact that the various socialist groups had with the state was hostile or openly violent in nature. Following the success of the October Revolution Lenin drew two far reaching conclusions from the experience of the Russians. The first was on the nature of the bourgeois state, which Lenin charged should be completely abolished and not, as previous socialists had assumed, reformed or reshaped**. Secondly the underground nature of Russian politics had produced the divisive "vanguard theory". The broad organisation of previous socialist parties was rejected in favour of a disciplined and politically uniform revolutionary party led by a cadre of professional revolutionaries. In 1919 these principles officially became the model for the rest of the world with the formation of the Third International.

The Communist International was the third of the famed Internationals (the Second having collapsed in 1916) designed to coordinate the efforts of the international socialist movement. The ComIntern, as it was better known, was a Russian led effort that gathered the emerging world communist parties into a single organisation. Lenin insisted that membership of the body be restricted to those who followed the Bolshevik model of "iron discipline"… something that most parties were only too eager to do. The belief that the Russians had finally discovered the secret ingredient to a successful revolution played a major role in the "Bolshevisation" of European communists during the early years of the 20th C. For the first time Communist Parties, members of the ComIntern, began to appear throughout Europe, and the world, based on a single model and shorn of socialist or "reformist" wings. Of course there was one obvious problem raised by this "Bolshevisation" process - how could one build a revolutionary party in a country that was nowhere close to revolution? This question, which even today remains unresolved, was rapidly rendered irrelevant as the centre of world communism shifted east to Moscow and unquestioning obedience to the Russian/Soviet CP quickly became the key prerequisite for advancement within the parties. This rigid model of the "vanguard party" loyal to the central Party was established in the early years following the October Revolution but would form the basis of all Communist Parties well past the end date of our history. In this it would survive both fascist repression and shifting orthodoxies.



Revisionists

Given the primacy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, of which all other CPs were effectively local branches, a closer examination of the policies and politics of Moscow is required. In the first place the reason for this commanding position occupied by the CPSU lies with the lack of European revolution in the crucial years between 1917 and 1923 (the effective end of the German Revolution). The Bolsheviks were under no illusions as to the backward nature of Russia and Lenin was, publicly at least, quite prepared to offer up the leadership of the communist movement should the revolution succeed in the more advanced Germany. We know of course that the commentators were wrong and the communist uprisings in Central and Eastern Europe were uniformly quashed. By the time of Lenin's death (1924) it had naturally become somewhat unfashionable to suggest that the fate of the Russian Revolution depended on events further west. Ironically it was only after this point that Soviet Russia was even marginally capable of directly influencing events beyond its own borders.

The early 1920s saw the establishment of the ComIntern framework but many of the European CPs, in particular the German KPD, would come to be caught up in the increasingly bitter power struggle between Stalin, Zinoviev, and Trotsky. While the latter two still advocated the traditional Marxist line of world revolution (with Trotsky increasingly casting this as his doctrine of Permanent Revolution) Stalin, with the aid of Bukharin, proposed that Russia was ready to advance to socialism in isolation of the rest of the world. That this radical departure from Marxist tradition, formally known as Socialism in One Country, eventually became established orthodoxy is due in no small part to Stalin's political skills and Bukharin's theoretical genius. While the USSR would continue to support Communist movements throughout the world the focus of Soviet policy remained firmly fixed on domestic issues. This was only reaffirmed when Stalin eventually emerged victorious as unchallenged head of the Soviet Union in 1927. The practical influence of Trotsky on international socialism was minimal (Trotskyites never formed a mass movement to compare with the official Communism) and from this point on the European Communist Parties can be regarded as essentially tools of Stalin's foreign policy.

While Stalin's brand of communism, officially labelled Marxist-Leninism, formed the dogma adhered to by all CPs, the leaderships were also expected to change their policies on Moscow's whims. So while Communists of the 1920s pursued highly sectarian approaches and viewed social-democrats as "social fascists" (as per Stalin's Third Period policy) this approach was hastily reversed following the rise of Hitler in 1933. Then the opposite approach was taken with Communists allying with moderate socialists against the fascists in Popular Fronts. In turn this anti-fascist policy was replaced following the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 when all CPs began to advocate peace with Germany. Naturally this programme did not survive the Nazi invasion of the USSR. Party leaderships that were slow to adapt to such changes could easily find themselves deposed and replaced on orders from Moscow***. A favoured tactic was replacing an entire party leadership (who were suddenly branded "revisionists", "ultra-leftists", or the like) with carefully groomed successors from the relevant Communist Youth movement.



Resistance

The frequent changes in policy and orthodoxy naturally led to a high turnover of leadership and intellectuals. Despite this the CPs still managed to inspire a remarkable devotion amongst the rank and file. Tales of German Communists interned in Nazi concentration camps paying their party dues in cigarettes, or Italian Communists carefully setting aside their annual dues for payment after the collapse of fascism, cannot be easily dismissed. This loyalty proved an immense asset during the Second World War when Communist partisans formed the bulk of the resistance to Nazi Germany in its occupied territories. In France it was the Communist Resistance (FTP) that conducted the majority of acts of sabotage against the occupying forces prior to liberation while the surrender of German forces in Italy in 1945 effectively left much of the north of the country in the hands of Italian Communists. In both France and Italy this performance was rewarded with the Communists emerging as major parties in the post-war politics. Further east the advancing Soviet armies had been followed by Communist agents who lost little time in setting up puppet regimes in the newly occupied nations of Central and Eastern Europe. The tools of Soviet control were enhanced by victory but lost none of their subservient character. Outside of Europe communism began to penetrate the Third World on a mass scale for the first time as both Marxist-Leninism and Maoism, a Chinese variant of Marxism that placed more emphasis on the peasantry, began to find an increasing role in anti-colonial struggles. The explosion of national liberation conflicts in the post-war period gave both Moscow and Beijing increasing influence across the underdeveloped world.

In 1953 communism was poised for the first time to become a truly global ideology and yet it was still dominated by events in Moscow and, increasingly, Beijing. The death of Stalin was widely mourned and Khrushchev's subsequent denunciations received with shock but the remarkably resilient Communist Parties survived both blows. Ultimately it was not until the centre of their world collapsed in the last decade of the 20th C that they themselves folded.

-----​

* Until the split with the moderate Mensheviks (finally in 1912) Bolsheviks were merely a faction of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). They would continue to use this name until the foundation of the Russian Communist Party (1918)

** This was laid out in State and Revolution which today remains the standard Marxist work on the nature of the state. Note that Lenin did not rule out contesting elections but stated that any such exercise in parliamentarism should be directed at building a mass revolutionary party.

*** The Trotskyite position in relation to fascism remained at least consistent. Trotsky argued for the formation of United Fronts - alliances of working class parties and organisations arrayed against both fascists and social-democrats. Arguably this was only ever seen to any degree during the Spanish Civil War
 
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[anchor=Jan2008-4]Applying Sun Tzu to Paradox Games[/anchor]
by Phoenix Dace


Sun Tzu was in all likelihood one of the greatest generals of all time. He is certainly one of the most famous, and his writings, initially produced over two millenia ago in China, are still studied today in military schools, and are still taken as good advice on the waging of warfare. So, the real question to be asked is 'how can we apply these teachings to help win at Paradox games?' Because, after all, everyone knows that war is basically just a very complex Paradox simulator.


Today we'll be taking a look at the first chapter of SunTzu's Art of War. The way we'll be doing this is by taking it section be section, breaking it down, and writing how you can apply these writings to Paradox games. Of course, most of us have already conquered the world as Bhutan in every Paradox game that will let us, so these teachings won't actually be all that useful, but they might be fun to take a look at.


Note that the translation I'm using is that by the Denma Translation Group. Your copy may vary slightly due to translation from two-thousand-year-old Chinese.


Chapter One: Appraisals


The military is a great matter of the state.

It is the ground of death and life,

the Tao of survival or extinction.

One cannot help but examine it.​


This passage can be summed up as meaning that you must not ignore the military. It can be easy, in a game like Europa Universalis or Victoria, to overlook the military while on a drive to enhance your economy, or your colonies, or something else of the sort. But this is dangerous, as it leaves you open. You must not ignore the military, as it is your means of survival, and what keeps your nation from extinction, and relegation into the being of a province of one blob or another.


And so base it in the five.

Compare by means of the appraisals.

Thus seek out its nature.​


This section deals with the five elements of using the military, and with comparing them by means of Sun Tzu's seven appraisals.


The first is Tao, the second is heaven, the third is earth, the fourth is the general, the fifth is method.​


These are the five elements mentioned above. The triad of heaven, earth, and humanity (the general) are a fairly common theme throughout ancient Chinese literature, and The Art of War is no exception. These three are flanked by Tao and method. This part is not useful in Paradoxia yet.


Tao is what causes the people to have the same purpose as their superior.

Thus they can die with him, live with him and not deceive him.​


What Sun Tzu initially meant was that both the populace and the military should go along with the Tao, or the larger order of things. In this way both the people and the military get ready for conflict at the same time, not one or the other separately, thus leading to strife of one sort or another. Translated to Paradox games, it can basically be seen as keeping your internal stability up. Seen as stability in all but Hearts of Iron (since Deus Vult, at least), in which it is modeled as dissent, the will of your people affects everything about your nation, including how well your troops fight. To sum up, don't go to war when it will cost you too much stability/dissent. Wait for a casus belli, which will be your people getting ready, as your military prepares, and strike when it does not cost you much in terms of the will of the people,


Heaven is yin and yang, cold and hot, the order of the seasons.

Going with it, going against it – this is military victory.​


Here Sun Tzu refers not only to actual weather, which is not an issue except in Hearts of Iron, but also to larger global patterns, and is essentially the ability to command coincidence, and take advantage of momentary patterns. Going with these patterns can lead to victory, while going against them can lead to defeat. For instance, if Austria has exceeded the badboy limit and there's a general pattern of repeated wars against them, now rather than later is the time for war, even if you are less ready than you would be once the situation has settled down.


Earth is high and low, broad and narrow, far and near, steep and level, death and life.​


Sun Tzu not only refers to the use of actual terrain, but also to the base of any given situation – the opportunities and limits that are part of a situation. If a situation has no opportunities, for instance if the Soviets built a wall all along your border, you might want to avoid doing battle with them until you can find one. Just as the physical earth comes in many forms, so do situations, and you must learn to shape yourself around them, not try to bend them to your will.


The general is knowledge, trustworthiness, courage and strictness.​


That's you. Got all of those things? No? Oh well. Essentially, the general is the person who brings all the elements together, appraises the situation, and decides the course of action to take. Since you don't actually talk to your individual troops, most of the other qualities don't matter as much.


Method is ordering divisions, the Tao of ranking and principal supply.​


Here's the actual use of the armies, sending this one here and that one there. This is what Hearts of Iron is all about.


As for all of these five-

No general has not heard of them.

Knowing them, one is victorious.

Not knowing them, one is not victorious.​


Here Sun Tzu points out that knowledge and victory are strongly correlated. You have to analyze the situation before you charge in, because we all hate running into a massive army two provinces behind the frontline.


And so compare by means of the appraisals.

Thus seek out its nature.​


You have to use the appraisals, which Sun Tzu goes over in a moment, to see which military is stronger overall.


Ask-

Which ruler has Tao?

Which general has ability?

Which attains heaven and earth?

Which implements method and orders?

Whose military and multitudes are strong?

Whose officers and soldiers are trained?

Whose rewards and punishments are clear?

By these I know victory and defeat!​


You have to know the five elements we just went over, and then use these appraisals to compare your strength in all of those areas with that of your opponent, before going to war. Also, there is no universal measurement for this: it is all based off relative ability and strength of you versus your opponent – whether England is the strongest world power or not doesn't matter if you're Hungary and you're fighting the Ottomans. Note that Sun Tzu does not go in order he introduced them, but rather by order of importance – Tao is most important, followed by the skill of the general, use of heaven and earth, and so on. Army size and training is near the bottom, and as any skilled Hearts of Iron player can attest to, certainly doesn't have a strong correlation between victory and defeat – when facing the AI, at least.


The general heeds my appraisals. Employ him and he is certainly victorious. Retain him.

The general does not heed my appraisals. Employ him and he is certainly defeated. Remove him.​


This one more deals with you, the player, playing the role of general. So instead I'll say that high-skilled leaders are better than low-skilled ones. Really deep analysis indeed.


Having appraised the advantages, heed them.

Then make them into shih to aid with the external.

Shih is governing the balance according to the advantages.​


Here Sun Tzu introduces one of his more vital concepts, that of shih, meaning essentially the skill of good measurement through comparisons of relative strength. One who is good at knowing how many soldiers you can defeat with a given general and X amount of troops, or how best to use the overall global patterns to best advantage over their opponent, will have an advantage over the other.


The military is a Tao of deception-

Thus when able, manifest inability.

When active, manifest inactivity.

When near, manifest as far.

When far, manifest as near.

Thus when he seeks advantage, lure him.

When he is in chaos, take him.

When he is substantial, prepare against him.

When he is strong, avoid him.

When he is wrathful, harass him.

Attack where he is unprepared.

Emerge where he does not expect it.​


This passage is fairly self-explanatory. Essentially, you never want your opponent to know what you can or cannot do, and you never want your opponent to know exactly what's going in. If you know what is coming and he does not, you have an advantage. This one more applies to multiplayer, since it's very hard to fool an AI that doesn't have fog of war. Having this advantage of knowledge, you can take control of the situation and force your opponent to become reactive to your advances, instead of you being reactive to his.


These are the victories of the military lineage.

They cannot be transmitted in advance.​


Shih is always changing, from moment to moment, and cannot be predicted. You must be able to take advantage of momentary opportunities, when you see a temporary shift in the balance of power. France's armies are all off in the Holy Roman Empire and you're playing as Spain? A perfect opportunity to march to Paris and demand they give you that CoT.


Now, in the rod-counting at court before battle, one is victorious who gets many counting rods.

In the rod-counting at court before battle, one is not victorious who gets few counting rods.

Many counting rods is victorious over few counting rods,

how much more so over no counting rods.

By these means I observe them.

Victory and defeat are apparent.​


According to the commentary in my version of the book, no one is quite sure of the meaning of this passage. Some think it is an actual means for calculating the strengths and weaknesses of each force and determining which is stronger. Others think it is some form of divination, the same sort done with chicken entrails so long ago, although Sun Tzu declares elsewhere that you should never take your knowledge from a means such as that.


From analyzing the elements and appraisals before heading to war, you can see the overall balance of power and thus where victory should fall, with you or with them. But the actual method of winning the victory is very different from knowing who should win. Sun Tzu discussing this in detail, and we will go over it as well in later months.
 
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[anchor=Jan2008-I0]
[/anchor]​

Welcome once again to INSTRUMENTALITY , The Tempus Society's Monthly Publication .​

The Tempus Society is an all inclusive organization dedicated to the edification of AARland and for promoting excellence in writing in the Alternate History genre as well as in all facets of our community. If you are interested for writing for our monthly publication please feel free to contact canonized or English Patriot for more information.​

Editor in Chief
canonized S.T.S.

Assistant Editor
English Patriot S.T.S.

Member Writers for This Month
General_BT F.T.S.
Judas Maccabeus S.T.S.
canonized S.T.S.

Contributors for This Month
RGB
Myth

Other Writers on Staff
Atlantic Friend F.T.S.
English Patriot S.T.S.
LeonTrotsky F.T.S.
JimboIX F.T.S.

Current Tempus Roster
 
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[anchor=Jan2008-i1]
Une Noel de Tornade - A Failed Britannia Story...

by General_BT​
[/anchor]

December 22nd, 1925

The mayor nervously continued his address as the new microphone system scraped, chattered, and made all sorts of racket in an attempt to drown him out. Mitterand found it rather amusing - the new technology the pompous old man had brought it was drowning him out. It appeared things made in the Old Country even were prone to failure - something that made Mitterand pleased. Personally he was tired of all the Americain pompousness, the belief that everything that was either Anglais or Americain was infinitely superior. After all, hadn't the Greeks some four hundred years ago driven the forefathers of the Americain from the continent to their "glorious isle" of Angleterre?

Nonetheless the mayor's speech continued, describing the monstrous tornado that overtook their town some eight months before - a behemoth that had first been seen near the town of Sous-Caen, in Sainte Louis province at one in the afternoon on March 25th. It then carved a path some 219 milles to the east-north-east, moving at an incredible clip of 73 milles per hour. It scraped the Earth in a path over a mille wide, stripping grass from the ground, hurling cars, and demolishing homes. It took some three and a half hours for the beast to be sated, and some 693 people had died, but, as the mayor noted, the death toll could have been far higher, if it hadn't been for the intendant and his efforts to save lives, and put out the fires that started in the rubble.

It was Mitterand's turn to blush. Partly it was from embarassment at being singled out - partly it was due to the fact that he'd never worn a "coat with tails" before, and felt terribly out of place. He wasn't alone - there were hundreds of people in Nouveau Paris that had lent a hand to their neighbor in crisis, and in that moment, it seemed the divide between Americain and Etranger had fallen away. The horrors of the Great War, the trenches criss-crossing old Europe, the bad blood over the suddenly flood of immigrants from what had been an enemy nation, all seemed forgotten.

Disaster had a way of doing that.

Yet such solidarity never remained. Mitterand could remember it was only one week after the tornado when they found the young Etranger Pavlos Mitokalis murdered outside of town - a drunken brawl, where five Natifs beat him to a pulp. THe old animosities, and bad feelings were back to normal.

The mayor's speech finally ended with its triumphant and overwrought conclusion, promising that the town's rebuilding would continue, thanks to generous offers of donation from people around the world, and companies like Gassiere Steel. Mitterand tried to hide the sweat that was starting to bead on his brow, as the words he'd dreaded since he'd been told he was invited to this dinner came out of the mayor's mouth.

"And now a word from our intendant, Pierre Mitterand!"

---

"Georgios, if you need any help..."

"I'm fine, Hajnal... really," Georgios smiled at his youngest cousin, part in thanks, and part in annoyance. He resumed his work of hanging the mistletoe above one of the archways, and felt Hajnal's eyes following his every move.

He wasn't quite sure what made all of his female cousins think he was incapable of raising a child, or anything else for that matter, but their continued offers to help annoyed him to the core. It took almost all his civility sometimes to politely refuse their assistance - especially considering some did not take a refusal for a "no." Hajnal was a particular petite piece of troublemaking in that regard.

Yes, it'd been hard since that day. He and Arkadios had been lucky - they had a broken arm, a bloody nose, and more scratches than tomcat shared between them. Anastasia, Helena and Nikolaios had not been so lucky. The funerals had been hard, but he'd made it and Arkadios had made it, this far at least.

"When are you moving out from under Theophano's wing?" Hajnal pressed, and Georgios barely fought the urge to sigh aloud. "I'm sure she'll miss the extra help around the house since Renault..."

"Yeah, she will," Georgios said, momentarily remembering that trip to the morgue, one of many as the dead were counted that March night. "As soon as I get the next hundred livres saved up," he said to the tenth person who'd asked that night, "and as soon as the winter's done. Noel is pretty with snow, but it makes things horrible for building," he smiled thinly. "Then we're going to build on the same plot as before, and I'll put it up with my own two hands again. Your father, Venizelos and Thrakesios have all pledged to pitch in and help." He smiled. "We'll be under our own roof in no time."

"What about taking care of him when you're doing your work?"

Georgios couldn't hold himself back and rolled his eyes.

"I'm going to quit the intendant's office, go into carpentry full-time, so I can be at home when he is."

"I think you're getting out just in time - I heard the Justice Ministry is putting new regulations on where etrangers can work in the government," Hajnal replied. "Says that because they used to be some term - 'combatants' and 'enemy' or something - that they're banned from most government paid positions. I'm worried about Anathasios..."

"They always need railroad workers!" Georgios dismissed her concerns with a laugh, despite the inner fears in his own heart. He didn't have the heart to tell her that the regulations put down by Premier Thune and backed by the Governor-General and "good" King Henri back in Angleterre were part of the reason he wanted to do carpentry full time. Surviving and coping after that horrible day in the spring was hard enough. It only became harder now that the Natif government was displaying the same arrogance towards the Hellenes as it did when the Great War started ten years ago...

---

Even as he spoke, Pierre felt the visceral feelings of that day rise in mind. His hands trembled slightly as he read his prepared speech, as a faint echo of the acid taste of panic that filled his mouth eight months before played in the recesses of his mind. Most of those gathered before him were in the side of Nouveau Paris that had only been side-swiped by the juggernaught - the mayor's house had only broken glass, Ms. Debardeau's home came away with some missing roof tiles.

So Mitterand made sure to tell them the other side of things.

How he'd watched the monstrous storm - so large that no one could tell it was a tornado - chew into the poor side of town. The side that was mostly filled with new Etranger immigrants, not the richer, more established Natifs. Of how he saw houses, churches, even people swept up into its terrible maw, only to be spewed across the countryside as so much loose timber and debris. Of the panicked drive down the hill and into a ruined town - the people in the streets, the walking wounded and the dead laying about. And above all, the smell of the smashed homes, the broken gas mains, and the freshly thrown mud that covered everything.

He looked at the steel magnate when he spoke of digging survivors out with his bare hands, of organizing a bucket brigade to stop fires from breaking out while they searched for survivors. Of pain and misery, and of the many who still had no homes. He realized that the Natif probably hadn't seen any part of the Great War, seen dead Etrangers alongside dead Natifs. Once blow open, they were indistinguishable.

When he'd finished, he looked out at his audience and saw a mixed sea of faces. Some had looks of abject horror - the images of what he'd described playing faithfully in their minds. Some held looks of astonishment - the wonder of the storm and its images transfixed them more than the tales of devastation. And some, like Msr. Beaucerc sat idly amused at the often tongue-tied, flustered and embarassed intendant. For them, the words did not sink in, other than a mild amusement, something to observe and then discard later in the night when a more palatable memory came along.

A polite pause greeted him as he stepped away from the podium, and back to his table, as waiters were already bringing out a fresh feast for them all.

---

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Theophano hissed and grunted like a steam engine as she came out of the kitchen, her hands carrying a steaming tray. In its midst sat a partly blackened form that probably was a turkey, at some distant point. A host of others came behind her, carrying the various dishes everyone had brought for the family meal. Noel was an excuse for all of them to come together for once... and even the act of bringing out food was one of chaos.

"Damn thing burned on me," Theophano kept apologizing, feverishly starting to cut the turkey, before giving up with another sharp curse. "Dammit! Renault could've cut it..." she snapped, her eyes starting to well up.

"Wait, let me try," Georgios reached forward, and started cutting the turkey with ease. Theophano marshalled her reserve, and kept herself to a sniffle. Not in front of the children. Never in front of the children. Arkadios already had a plate out, and once a piece of turkey was on it, Georgios handed it to his cousin. "To our wonderful cook!"

Plates were dished, banter echoed, and soon everyone had at least something. Most of it was simple. Some of it was badly cooked. But all of it was heartfelt.

---

"This looks delicious!" someone at the table twittered, and Mitterand nodded absently. The food before them was impressive and overdone, as far as Mitterand was concerned. By his face Beaucerc was used to something more lavish than spiced pig graced with a sauce Mitterand couldn't pronounce, the ubiquitous turkey, lamb, and more vegetables than Mitterand had seen in a year. The intendant himself only had a slice of turkey, some carrots and peas, and a small piece of chicken. He didn't trust food he couldn't say by name.

After the last of the plates were served, the Bishop took to the podium, and asked all to bow their heads in grace, to thank God for the grace of another year. Pierre Mitterand, like all the others gathered in the massive, silent banquet hall, bowed his head and said grace. Less than a mile away, in a crowded home, Georgios did as well.

General_BT is a Fellow of the Tempus Society and author of Rome AARisen
 
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[anchor=Jan2008-i2]
The Christmas Spirit

by Judas Maccabeus

[/anchor]

Judas Maccabeus is the Dean of the Vetus Schola of the Tempus Society and author of O Lord Our God, Arise
 
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[anchor=Jan2008-I3]
An Assessment of Axis Grand Strategy in the Second World War
Part I: The European Axis
[/anchor]
By Myth​

The grand strategy of the European Axis powers largely revolved around Germany, with Italy playing second fiddle. It is common wisdom that Germany came dangerously close to winning the Second World War, or at least of defeating the Soviets. This first of two articles will argue, however, that the European Axis grand strategy was fatally flawed and any political settlement quite unlikely even against the Soviet Union. Due to the extremely broad nature of such a question, I have decided to focus on German operational doctrine and its impact on politics and even then, this article will be painfully short and cannot encompass much more than one basic element.

Central to this study is the concept of blitzkrieg. Blitzkrieg defeated a variety of continental enemies: the Poles, the French, the Benelux, the Yugoslavs and the Greeks. However, blitzkrieg could not reach Great Britain, and foundered in the Soviet Union. Blitzkrieg’s early successes, however, mask its weaknesses, and it has a certain key weakness that make relying upon it less than ideal. The essence of blitzkrieg was its political shock; it was not as much about destroying armies as it was about stunning the victim government into surrender. France is the most dramatic example of this, as Germany’s panzer divisions poured through the Ardennes and drove deep into French territory; the French government subsequently decided against withdrawing to continue resisting from North Africa and sued for peace. The 1940 French campaign seemingly proved the shock value of blitzkrieg and, together with the debacle that was the Winter War, prompted Hitler to believe that the next year’s invasion of the Soviet Union would result in the same conclusion, judging by his infamous words that it would take only a kick in the door to bring the entire rotten structure collapsing down upon Stalin.

However, though blitzkrieg typically results in brilliant, daring and, early on, quite successful operations, it is not necessarily the ideal tool of grand strategy. The political initiative, one of the four elements of grand strategy (DICE—Diplomacy, Intelligence, Combat, Economy), rested consistently with the enemies of blitzkrieg. During the invasion of France, the French government in the end chose to surrender to the Germans rather than continue the fight from North Africa, where the Germans would have likely had a difficult time reaching them. Famously, blitzkrieg could not reach British shores and, though the u-boat campaign did frighten the British government and populace, there was never a time when the Germans could actually dictate terms to the British from any position of strength; any political settlement would have to be initiated by, or at least be entirely dependent upon, the British government. Thus again, one sees that German grand strategy was fatally flawed as one of its four basic elements was virtually inoperable.

Finally, one has to mention the Eastern Front (given that, from the Axis point of view, North Africa held very little worth other than for prestige purposes even for Italy). The German invasion was structured much as Napoleon’s invasion in 1812 was: the war was meant to be fought in Eastern Poland. Much as Napoleon had referred to it before the fact as ‘the Second Polish War,’ the German General Staff realized that German logistics would be overstretched by the time the Dnepr River was reached, forcing a pause upon the advance; this thus necessarily limited the locales of the presumably decisive victories of the Wehrmacht to only a slightly larger extent of land than what Napoleon had envisaged as his own decisive theater against the Russians. However, as any student of military history knows, though the German invasion produced a shock, it was apparently more in the fact of invasion itself than its blitzkrieg nature. The Wehrmacht had gained several great victories by the end of August 1941, killing or capturing millions of Soviet soldiers, shattering their air force and wrecking their armored forces. However, there was no collapse within the Soviet Union politically. The nature of blitzkrieg kept the political initiative for suing for peace in the court of the enemy and, though greatly shaken, in the end the Soviets did not extend the olive branch. As with the British, the Germans had no answer to this stubbornness though they did have one advantage: unlike the British, the Soviets were a continental foe. Thus, the Germans did the only thing they could do, they continued pushing forward even after the Soviet recovery in the hope that they would induce a collapse at some point; however, the vital political component of grand strategy remained elusive to them.

To conclude this article I will explain the importance of the aforementioned diplomatic component of grand strategy, though the perceptive will have already understood. Grand strategy revolves around the four aforementioned pillars of DICE: diplomacy, intelligence, combat and economy. Economy allows for the prosecution of a war; combat is the mainstay of war and intelligence is a valuable aid or hindrance to both economy and combat. Only one pillar may actually end a war, however, and this pillar is diplomacy. It is vital for the aggressor to always retain the political initiative for the aggressor is the state that challenges the status quo and thus for any geopolitical change to be recognized, it must be confirmed by a treaty put forward by the aggressor. If, however, the aggressor relies upon the enemy to initiate such diplomatic talks, as the French did in the summer of 1940 and the British and Soviets subsequently did not do, then their war is bound to become a long one if blitzkrieg proves itself wanting, as it did. The grand strategy of the European Axis powers was thus fatally flawed from the very start for, however successful they might have been at the intelligence, operational and economic aspects of the war (this success being variable and arguable), they simply could not end it themselves.

Myth is a Member of the Warlord Club, an organization which maintains excellent relations with Tempus. Myth is also the author of Permanently Operating Factors.
 
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[anchor=Jan2008-I4]
[/anchor]

You’ve Been Canonized!: ComradeOm​

canonized: Hi again folks ! As you may know , I’m letting RGB do a special interview here between him and ComradeOm . I’d like to thank both RGB and ComradeOm for their participation ! Part of INSTRUMENTALITY and the Canonization series has always been about expanding horizons and trailblazing . By combining RGB and ComradeOm for this interview , I think both achieve to further that here and I hope it continues to make the canonization series and INSTRUMENTALITY dynamic and exciting . The format will be the same as the usual interviews but since ComradeOm and I haven’t formally met one each other AARs the interview will be about RGB’s and ComradeOm’s AAR . I will deliver a closing statement at the end of the interview as well . Let’s get to it !

Good evening everyone and welcome to this edition of You’ve Been Canonized! Today is a somewhat special edition, because I, RGB author of A Year’s Education, am a guest interviewer, kindly invited by your regular host canonized, author of Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? and today’s guest is my good friend ComradeOm, author of the scholarly historical account called Sins of the Fathers. Since he is not a regular reader of canonized’s excellent Aar, we’re going to ask him about my work, his work, and his experience as a writer. Nowe let’s go to the questions !

RGB: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

ComradeOm: I've been a minor feature on these forums for a few years now but only ventured into AARland around this time last year. I'm still feeling my way around the place.

RGB: What took you so long to discover the glory that is the AARland? i.e. why do you think you only became a writAAR recently?

ComradeOm: Well in a way I've always been writing AARs in my head, it’s just recently that I decided to stick them down on paper, so to speak. I can vividly remember constructing my own epic stories when playing CivII all those years ago and I'm the same with CK or Vicky. I don't know what pushed me to enter AARland but it was probably something as simple as boredom

RGB: You said you write stories in your head first. Do you spend a lot of time polishing them and trying to make them just right before they hit the paper?

ComradeOm: For me that's all writing is - polishing up my ideas so that they're fit for consumption. I don't write for the fun of it, its merely the process of translating my mental scenarios into something that others can enjoy. Perhaps that is one reason why I have very little faith in my writing abilities and thus a reason for the torturous amount of work that I put into updating my AARs. For example, each update of Sins of the Fathers went through at least three ( usually four) drafts before I posted. The first would have been written a month in advance and only the bones of that would have survived to posting. Actually that is a habit that I'm trying kick. I think its a confidence thing more than anything else.

RGB: The amount of work definitely shows! You’re often complimented about how trim and focused your writing is, both in terms of content and style. You’re also notable among us writAARs for actually finishing AARs within reasonably short amounts of time. Do you set out to write one saying, oh, this and that happened but I'm only going to cover one aspect of it, and finish it within this many updates?

ComradeOm: When I start an AAR the ending is not set in stone but the general theme is and I'll often have specific gameplay goals around which I'll build the story. Focus is my watchword and I work almost exclusively in defined story arcs. Either that or I'm just too lazy to produce update after update week after week. This feeds in nicely with my fondness for keeping stories/updates terse. For my last AAR ( SotF) I specifically set out to tell the story within 12-15 updates. The only time that I abandoned this model was with Les Journals d'Artois and that story came badly unstuck and still needs to be salvaged

RGB: I was just coming to that. You’re the author of two finished works, and a third ongoing one, which differs slightly from the other two stylistically. Can you tell us a little about each of them? Which was your favourite to write?

ComradeOm: I suppose that my first AAR represented the template that I'm most comfortable with. The de Lusignan Dream was a straight up history book AAR with a decided focus on crusading. I got very lucky in that my first ever effort almost wrote itself with each update being devoted to a different campaign by Hugues de Lusignan. Despite that I did learn a lot and Sins of the Fathers (detailing the rise and fall of Papal Italy) was really just an extension of this. I learned a lot from both AARs (and the reception of both was deeply gratifying) but from an experience standpoint my one great failure was invaluable. Les Journals d'Artois was originally supposed to be a brief interim effort but it rapidly snowballed and I ended up with twenty updates detailing two years of game time in which nothing happened. It taught me a lot about the importance of planning and pacing. I look forward to returning to the story soon with my lessons learned

RGB: Okay. Speaking about themes, what made you choose the rebirth of a crusader kingdom and then the nineteenth-century papal state? is there anything in particular that attracted you to the theme?

ComradeOm: They were simply scenarios that I liked to play. Both the Levant (CK) and the Italian peninsula (Vicky) are interesting arenas that I enjoy stomping around in. I had little background in the history of the Crusades or the Papal States but learning about both merely added to the fun.

RGB: I was really hoping for a more humorous answer, you know.

ComradeOm: How about this: the de Lusignan crusade was a metaphor for Western imperialism in the region. Plus I also drove the Pope out and burned the Vatican. You can mention that under my hobbies


As per AARlander Guidelines, Part II is omitted. You can read the full inteview here.


RGB: Let me introduce your excellent AAR by asking the most difficult questions right from the start - after that we can banter. How do you view the history of the Papal States yourself? Were they doomed as a temporal power no matter what happened, or did their dramatic fall have the same roots as their dramatic rise?

ComradeOm: I don't believe that any regime at any time has ever been doomed to fall. Plenty of nations or governments have been placed in difficult scenarios but ultimately its decisions taken by those at the top that determine a regime's survival. Its only when the wrong decisions are taken, or no decisions are taken at all, that a collapse becomes inevitable. In the case of the Papal States it was the determined refusal of the Popes to acquiesce to the changes of the modern world that doomed it. When Pius IX, in my history, determined that he could only rule as absolute monarch trouble was bound to follow. I may have hastened the effects slightly for the sake of the story but the social tensions were bound to explode at some point.

RGB: I find that you're very focused in keeping the iron grip on your country as the pope. Although many real-life monarchies did just that, Victoria players often blink and surrender some of the power to keep their POPs happy. Did a pre-determined game goal help you not take the easy way out of the dangers absolute monarchy has in-game?

ComradeOm: I try in, all my games, to be as faithful to history as possible. For the Papal States in Vicky this means keeping a hard line against the sins of secularism and liberalism. Its just part of the mental story that I weave when playing. This AAR wasn't the first time, and won't be the last, time I unite Italy as the Pope only to see it explode. That's all part of the fun for me

RGB: I noticed a good deal of attention on the Pope's mercenary troops in your AAR. Any particular significance to that, in your mind?

ComradeOm: I read a reference to the Pope employing Swiss and Irish mercenaries during the period and I found the idea appealing. It allowed me to give the Papacy a reliable military force that was impervious to the emotional waves sweeping Italy at the time. In turn this was useful in both establishing Papal dominance and portraying the final fall of Rome.

RGB: Well, being a writAAR is an education all in itself…

ComradeOm: Very true. I knew next to nothing about Italian unification before that AAR. Yet I still fooled you all into thinking that I knew something. Mwahaha!

RGB: in a response to one of the comments in your AAR you said that you try to avoid making up "historical" quotes unless they actually are. Any particular reason for this?

ComradeOm: Lack of imagination. Really, that it. There are very few words that I can put into someone's mouth that a) someone hasn't already said batter, and b) wouldn't seem artificial. Besides, that would have run contrary to the broad macro approach to history that I was taking. So I confined myself to beginning each update with an apt historical quote. It still would have been interesting to have Marx comment on the affairs in Italy though

RGB: Now that Marx has been mentioned, can I once again ask about the heirs of the Italian Revolution. To much consternation by your readers, the AAR came to a most definite end, although a sequel was hinted at; what is the likelihood of us reading it some day?

ComradeOm: A sequel is planned for sometime next year. I have a rough outline drawn up and ideally I'll be dealing the impact of the Papacy's demise on wider Europe. I can't say much that that though. None of my projects to date have been as deliberately plotted as this one and that is somewhat scary. What I have planned is ambitious and it remains to be seen whether I have the time to carry it all off. Of course my first priority is finishing Les Journals.

RGB: Oh yes. Tell us more about them! This is your ongoing project; tell us more about it...what's it about, and why we should all go and read it?

ComradeOm: Well Les Journals is essentially a series of dairy entries chronicling the life in exile of the very bitter (and mildly insidious) Jacques d'Artois as he tries to manipulate the court of Brittany to his own ends. The premise had great promise but poor planning on my part meant that it eventually got bogged down with events leading nowhere. I'm working on a series of updates that will change the format and close of the story with a bit of adventure and action. So watch this space!

RGB: Well, thank you very much for sitting though this interview. It was a pleasure talking to you!

ComradeOm: A pleasure. Really. Although I still feel that I should have plugged your AAR more. Lord knows it needs the readers.

RGB: Your words, not mine!

RGB : With this we arrive to the end of my interview segment; I’d like to thank canonized for giving me the opportunity and ComradeOm for patiently answering my silly questions. Stay tuned for the next edition of You’ve Been Canonized!

canonized: Thank you for reading once again and we hope to see you all next time ! I’m very thankful for RGB and ComradeOm once again for doing this on our New Year’s Edition of INSTRUMENTALITY . Although ComradeOm and myself might come from separate ends of the hobby spectrum - wink - it’s nice to get to know more about him and share that with the community . Please tune in next week when we’ll be interviewing ForzaA ! Good fight , Good night !

RGB is a contributing writer and author of A Year’s Education
 
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[anchor=Jan2008-I5]
Frank and Uncut New Year Reflections from an Old New Writer

by canonized​
[/anchor]

One of the reasons why I was hoping to pass on the canonization interview this edition was because I also wanted to write an article for INSTRUMENTALITY today. For this wonderful New Year, I had many thoughts that passed during this vacation season. I thought I’d share and perhaps some things might be useful to any of the other new writers out there who have just recently joined up with us or for those potential new writers who are thinking about joining up with us in our wonderful AARland.

Although I didn’t read AARs before I started writing my AAR in February, if I had the time back then, that would have been one of the things I would have changed and would encourage potential new writers to do. If you are a new writer, prepare to do a lot of reading. From what I’ve noticed in my travels is that although you’ll probably get readers without reading other works, you will find that there is a great correlation between how many comments you get and how many AARs you’re commenting on. Perhaps it’s already common sense to a lot of new writers out there that there, but for those who may not readily discern it, getting regular comments can be helped and augmented if you do the same for your fellow writers-- or at least try to.

For the most part, it is fellow writers that keep the support going. A high readership count is naturally very encouraging, but nothing is more encouraging than verbal and organic feedback. I found that out pretty quickly myself. The more attention I would give my reader-authors, the more attention they would give to me in return. This is not about building a quid pro quo business relationship. On the contrary, it is like frequent visitations by friends. You can’t cultivate a good network of readers and commentators by ignoring them.

I learned about this idea of friendship among authors and brotherhood therein first hand in the new wave of the EU3 generation of AARland. It was a fun time when those of us who started writing did so around when EU3 came out. I made good friends with such acclaimed writers as grayghost, RGB, and thrashing mad and continue to cherish the new wave that decided to take pen to online paper. But I’ve also noticed that AARland is still continuing through its growth and I have been blessed to meet more and more people along the way. Of the continued arrivals of acclaimed writers those whom I was able to make good friends with have included those who are in Tempus.

The Tempus Society is perhaps the culmination of all my feelings about AARland and perhaps the condensation of all my experiences within. In the Society which acts as an all inclusive fraternal organization, we can recognize and affirm our friends in the craft and especially those in the genre of Alternate History. But it is really more than that. Tempus is an attempt to preserve the tight knit feeling of AARland and to make sure that in this growing ranks of more and more writers, that we don’t forget where we’ve come from and the interpersonal communications that make AARland great.

The Society also represents my idea of the future: that is to say that AARland will continue its philanthropic ideals and encouraging atmosphere as we go into 2008. I believe that through such communication, AARland will keep its tight knit feeling and will help provide a sense of belonging. It also shows that the strength of AARland really comes from personal initiative. I call out for those out there who might also have plans that I encourage you in your endeavors! For those similarly looking to help out in current projects including here at INSTRUMENTALITY, please feel free to let me know.

Lastly, the Society reminds me of the indiscriminate nature of talent and writing. That is to say that in the Society we have many different individuals with different styles and, indeed, have been on this forum for different amounts of time. On one hand it shows how well everyone can integrate with one another and reflects the commitment of the people who have been on the forum longer to extend their hands in friendship to newer individuals.

I also wanted to say that in my experience of writing my own AAR, its success has taught me something. It has shown me that people in AARland are not selfish with their support. The only reason my AAR has worked out so well is because of their great attention and graciousness. Thank you for everything! Furthermore, it has shown me that anyone can make a name for themselves even if you are a new writer. Although I hadn’t thought about it when I first began, I became more and more aware of the possibilities. In that same way, it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to get involved with my interview series and with Tempus in order to share that kind of exposure to other individuals and let them have time in the spotlight.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of AARs nowadays and although it would be great to be able to read through the ‘classics,’ it should not discourage anyone from hoping to attempt their own work that could be considered a magnum opus. So take it from someone who has been humbled by the open nature of AARland: start writing, get involved, and take that chance. You too might end up making a classic as well!

There is also one more thing that I noticed: the moderation. Although it may not seem as if moderation is a big deal in AARland from certain perspectives, I have experienced first hand how the moderators here-- especially coz and stnylan-- do a lot to keep the award threads in line and, on the rare occasion, make sure that nothing derails from a person’s story. Please don’t be afraid to approach the moderators; they’re very friendly people!

I might sound a bit too optimistic perhaps. There are indeed some parts of AARland that have not all been positive. Once in a while you get your rude crazy guy who refuses to read the rules or the resources available and demands the mods to give him a link to whatever they want. These little things are rare, however. There is always the annoying single comment and then you don’t ever see the person ever again and sometimes the idea of the friendship cultivation turns into a downward spiral. How many times have I been guilty of and talked with others who have been guilty of “well, so and so doesn’t comment on my AAR so I’ll just stop commenting on his.” I’m not particularly saying that this is a terrible sin; in fact I believe that it is indeed the person’s prerogative who he prioritizes since it’s absolutely impossible to read even a small fraction of the AARs out there. At the same time, however, I hope that learning from my own experiences I can pass on some hope to my friends and readers that give your author-reader the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they’ve had a bad week or they’ve lost the internet or something has happened to hamper their reading. Just keep commenting when you can and you will be rewarded for your diligence and persistence as a friend!

Those are all the thoughts I could come up with for now. I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from myself and from all of the INSTRUMENTALITY staff!

canonized is the SEELE Chairman of the Tempus Society and author of Timelines.
 
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