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[anchor=Jan2008-I0]
covermay.png
[/anchor]​

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

Code:
[I][U][B]Editor in Chief and Cover Artist [/B][/U][/I]: 
canonized

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

[I][u][b]Contributors for This Month[/b][/u][/I]: 
KanaX   comagoosie   Estonianzulu   canonized   Alfred Packer
English Patriot   Kurt_Steiner  Capibara   Cyrus_The_Great
AlexanderPrimus   Atlantic Friend   phargle   TreizeV

[I][U][b]Other Writers or Contributors on Staff[/b][/U][/I]: 
Judas Maccabeus  LeonTrotsky  Hajji Giray I   crusaderknight
JimboIX  VILenin  Grubnessul  jeffg006   Myth   grayghost
Mettermrck  Avernite  General_BT   DerKaiser
Code:
[B][U]TABLE OF CONTENTS[/U][/B]

[B]Part I: SENATUS POPULUSQUE ROMANUS[/B]
   [anchorlink=I1]I Came, I Saw, I Wrote a Review by English Patriot[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I2]Europa Universalis Rome Showcase: The Hellenistic Kingdoms – Kingship and Armies by Treize V[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I3]A Strange and Bizarre Story About How I came to be a LibrAARian and How I’m Coping by comagoosie[/anchorlink]

[B]PART II: THIS PAST MONTH IN AARLAND[/B]
   [anchorlink=I4]The AARLand Choice AwAARds! - 1st Quarter 2008 Results by phargle[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I5]Fled to Brutish Beasts: An Anonymous4401 Eulogy by Estonianzulu[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I6]You've Been Canonized: Lord Durham by canonized[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I7]The Inkwell: What It Is, And Why You Should Use It by Cyrus_The_Great[/anchorlink]

[B]Part III: MAY SPECIALS[/B]
   [anchorlink=I8]Sección Española hosted by Capibara[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I9]THE AART OF MEDIA: How to Transform the Mediocre into the Magnificent by AlexanderPrimus[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I10]THE HEROIC JOURNEY, CHAPTER TWO: THE CALL OF ADVENTURE by Atlantic Friend[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I11]Go And Read These AARs by Alfred Packer[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I12]Of modding and AAR-writing by KanaX[/anchorlink]
 
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[anchor=I1]I Came, I Saw, I Wrote a Review[/anchor]
By English Patriot

It is out, yes, and many have bought the game, but why not a review? Everyone must buy EU:Rome! And I shall be the one to persuade them!

Being the enormous Paradox fanboy I am, I ordered Rome CE as soon as I could and spent the weeks reading books on Rome or playing EU3. Of course, when Rome came out, I was in my Hertfordshire abode, and had to play Rome on the rather awful computer there. Paradox very kindly gave us a download copy which I immediately set about installing on this archaic piece of equipment. Needless to say, it ran slowly, Gods! How slow, but I persevered, I waited on the couch, reading Nietzsche, I was first alerted by the magnificent opening music of Rome. I put the book down and walked over to the PC. And what music, there was something brilliantly Roman about the music, something that screamed Legions, senates and men in skirts. I dragged the mouse across the screen, it was achingly slow, and set about loading up the Pyrrhic war scenario as Rome.

Needless to say I gave Pyrrhus a damn good thrashing and had a good go at Carthage too, but the ridiculous computer foiled my good fun for a while. So I returned to Devon and my sweet, sweet powerful computer. Gamersgate, download, install, play!

rome14ai7.png

Greece, has more soldiers than Leonidas gave them credit for..

I choose Rome, Rome is always fun. Load it up, the graphics on my computer are much better. And in all honesty a real step forward from EU3, the terrain is well defined and I feel brings to mind one of those pretty topographical maps you see in museums every now and again. The army graphics are also much improved, no longer the angular beasts in EU3. In a wide sweeping motion, I would declare the graphics to be quite pretty indeed, Rome really has come on very nicely, even things like the toolbars, windows etc are all very attractive.

The character system is an excellent addition to the EU series in itself, with a large pool of characters one can lead armies, govern provinces and send them on ridiculous missions to get them killed, like desecrating Carthaginian temples. The characters are largely event driven, and privately too. so its a nice touch that we no longer get bombarded by messages telling us what happened to that old woman that just sits in your court whining about money. Instead its largely done behind the scenes, with characters making their own choices, forming friendships and rivalries as they see fit, which adds a good, almost random element to the upper echelons of society.

rome17qa4.png

The King of Macedon, outdone by his wife in manly virtues..

My one big gripe though is almost the lack of consistency in dynastic elements. Family was a big thing in Rome, marriages were largely political and senators often made their way into politics on their ancestors coat tails, so to speak. It is a slight disappointment that most characters and family lines, seem temporary, with no arranged marriages function, great generals often sink into history with little or no-one to carry their name, Consuls, Kings, Chiefs etc often marry, when they are in their very old age, and then the low fertility rates of Rome take their toll. Whereas in CK we could expect wives to pump out child after child. The people of the ancient world just don't feel inclined to marry or breed. Unfortunately, its this very thing that loses Rome a bit of character, as if we still have EU3 generals, but with portraits. Civil wars are also slightly disappointing, instead of a character driven, dynamic chases, betrayals and climatic battles, it bogs down into the usual kill people and siege provinces, which sort of does take the edge of things, and makes civil war in a good sized empire slightly ridiculous, especially since you can't just call it quits and rule your own bit o'land.

Combat, well where would Rome be without its Legions? It does seem like the standard EU fare that we've all come to know and love, well apart from the ping-ponging, but I hear that the Rome-Enhanced mod may have sorted that out, hows that for the Paradox community?! But other than that, what is there to report on combat in a paradox game? The addition of popularity for Generals who win or lose battles is something again that adds much needed flavour, but doesn't seem to affect the game that much. Loyal units are now a lot of fun and another great addition, but once again, are but icing on the cake that is the Paradox combat. Whether there are major differences, I do not rightly know, I let my General's deal with battle, I deal with the Empire.

rome19cx3.png

Rome, too fond of war..

Speaking of Empires, the government system, I for one am quite fond of the new system, national ideas determined by government, say tribes get few, republics a bit more and so on. Its definitely a bonus moving into a dictatorship sometimes, but how does one take the plunge into good old autocracy? Well, its all event driven, no more picking from the list, if you have a Sulla like character, he'll take power, if he wants it, and you can't force him! On the one hand, this is much better, it brings a real dynamic to countries in Rome, unlike EU3 where chaps wake up one day to be told their head of the Noble Republic of Castille because someone wanted a better bonus than Feudal Monarchy. No-one knows what happened to the King. On the other hand, tribal governments are very hard to break out of, and indeed hard to get anywhere with the new civilisation score.

The barbarian minors are a big challenge to play and gameplay can get quite tedious, I was mildly disappointed at the lack of playable tribes in the world. But I honestly feel the barbarian invasion system does a good deal to make up for it, oh to have civilised borders! If you play someone without civilised borders, keep an army on guard, because those barbarians will just up and invade at the drop of a hat, you can attack them, passively defend your borders, demand their surrender if they invade, or if you're feeling particularly girly, pay them off. I always, always destroy the barbarians. Remember what Conan said, “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women” Unfortunately, my CE version didn't come with the lamentations.wav file, so I have to be content with the bit of cash and slaves I take from the barbarians.

Ahh the economy, and these new fangled trade routes, goodbye to men with big hats and weighing scales, hello to ships and fat men wearing ridiculous dresses. The trade routes and useful resources are definitely a good addition to the game, my eyes always wander to Thessaly, I need cavalry, but the Macedonians aren't nice enough to trade, no matter, I'll just have to wait. Each resource gives you some sort of bonus, grain gives you a population increase, and for that is incredibly important, wine lowers revolt risk, salt lowers recruitment time etc, some resources enable you to build different units. Heavy infantry need iron, cavalry are pretty useless without horses. And people need wood to build ships now. For me, at least this has changed the nature of conquest , another brilliant addition I will say, all aided by a nice and efficient trade interface, just a few clicks and Rome will be getting its much needed Iron!

Which brings this rather meandering review onto interface, since I mentioned it in the last paragraph, as expected, you are given a good amount of buttons to press, windows to navigate etc. That list thingy in the upper right corner is still as handy as ever, all in all it seems just as, if not slightly more efficient as EU3, if it wasn't for the character interface. Its all fine for finding someone who is a general, governor or ruler, but otherwise, it takes so much time fiddling around to find the right person. Why you ask? I just wanted to check up on people, CK did it well. The diplomatic interface is also, much much nicer, no more scrolling around clicking up and down, all your diplomatic and espionage options are presented for your viewing pleasure, which is nice.

All in all, EU:Rome suffers from what EU3 suffered, ping pong armies, a lack of depth in the character system (though a great step forward) and real flavour events. The new additions to diplomacy, trade and warfare do so much to polish the EU series, but the character system seems to have fallen just that little bit short of greatness. We've got faces and traits to put to names, but do they come alive? I have yet to experience the mad lustful, murderous, heretical world of CK, and it feels like there should be more of it in EU:Rome, characters seem just that little bit too happy to play ball and live a decent life, apart from a bit of fraud, but who doesn't take a few bob from the cash tin? I won't give a definitive score, because that would simply be too obvious for this review. Instead, I'll just say I had fun, I just wish there was more CK in there..

English Patriot is the author of I, Silvagensus
 

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[anchor=I2]Europa Universalis Rome Showcase: The Hellenistic Kingdoms – Kingship and Armies[/anchor]
by TreizeV

Following the new release of the Europa Universalis Rome Game, this article intends to cover some factions that any AAR writer will encounter in their game, and provide some background some of the major Greek players at this stage of history, namely, the ‘Diadochi’, or successor kingdoms which made up Alexander the Great’s former Empire. This will include some basic information on the monarchies and the brief summary of Greek warfare.

shepherdc018019mo6.jpg

Background

Alexander the Great, one of the greatest generals in the Ancient era, had conquered the Persian empire all the way to India in his short lifetime, dying in Babylon in 323 B.C. At his deathbed, he reportedly named no successor to his kingdom, leaving it only ‘to the strongest’. What began next was a series of wars, known as the wars of the Diadochi, where the generals of Alexander fought to either unite the empire under their rule, or carve out a little piece of it for himself as a kingdom. These battles dwarfed the phalanx battles of the Greek city states a little over a century and a half ago. The battle of Ipsus in 301 B.C involved armies of 80,000 men on each side.

After over half a century of constant conflict, the three successor kingdoms, the Antigonids in Macedon, the Ptolemies in Egypt, and the Seleucids in Babylon and Persia, emerged. These kingdoms, with the resources of the former Persian Empire at their disposal, began to wage a number of wars with each other, similar to those of the Greek city states but on a much wider scale. Mercenaries became a popular addition to any successor army, which depended on a solid core of Greco-Macedonians to ensure the loyalty of the native populations of Egypt and Asia. Siege Weapons and the engineers and specialists to construct and use them also began to arise in this time period. This period saw the rise of men who spent their whole careers as soldiers, as opposed to returning to tend to their land after a war as the citizens of the old city states have done.

Hellenistic Kings and their approach to Government

Traditionally, power in Macedonia was the result of the relation between the King, his nobles, and the army. Power, in essence, came directly from his ability to impose his will by force or the threat of force. A very important distinction between the Hellenistic Kings and the later European kings was that the monarchy was personal, not national. The Macedonians of Egypt and Asia did not rule over people of their own ethnicity. They simply addressed themselves as ‘kings’ (baslieus), not king of the Egyptians for instance. This was a legacy of having the kingdoms formed from constant warfare. A good king was one who could protect his people and succeed in war.

Military success was what allowed the Generals to proclaim themselves kings in the first place, and the irony was that it was also what was needed to sustain it. The large number of wars following the succession of the Hellenistic kings (i.e The Syrian wars between Egypt and Seleucia) attest to that. Armies in essence, could make or break their rulers. In the Macedonian tradition, accession to the throne required the blessing of the armies (Alexander in Arrian, and Ptolemy V in Polybius). Armies supported the king because of promise of success in war, which in turn, allowed the king to gather spoils to pay his troops, reward friends and grant land to soldiers. Hellenistic monarchy was very fluid, with the throne often going to the more capable son as opposed to the older son, this in turn, led to many dynastic struggles.

Because of the uncertainties of battle, the king also turned to propaganda to legitimize his power and control the large diverse populations under their rule. The Egyptians and Seleucids formed their own cults within their respective kingdoms, worshiping and honoring the king. The kingship was personal, so personal virtues of the kings were represented and celebrated. This is a unique feature of the Hellenistic monarchy that differed from the traditional concept of kingship, where the king was king by virtue of his personal qualities and excellence, and not by birth. This view was established in the years of the wars of the Diadochi, where generals would proclaim themselves king, only to be defeated in battle and dethroned in succession.

To control the enormous kingdoms they had with the limited number of Greco-Macedonian soldiers, kings adopted a realpolitik approach to government, gaining support from their local populations as opposed to imposing his force everywhere, as it was physically impossible to have his army in all corners of the kingdom. The Seleucids for instance, allowed the Babylonians to have their own laws, content to collect tribute from the cities in return, even allowing some members of the local elites to run their provinces as satraps. This allowed them to have peaceful control as they collected revenues for their armies. The Egyptians themselves, formed leagues of friendly cities in the Aegean sea, proclaiming to be supporters of ‘Greek Freedom’ to the city states. The Ptolemies themselves, promoted the established gods of Egypt and made offerings and dedications to them, even going as far as to claim they were related to Alexander the Great, who was granted divinity as a god by the Egyptians. Egyptian laws were also allowed to continue, in respect for local traditions, alongside the ruling Macedonian laws.

Hellenistic Warfare

phalanxwq1.jpg

Compared to the Roman model, the Hellenistic approach to warfare can be described as being quite ‘limited’. The Greek armies mainly relied upon the formation known as the Phalanx, literally meaning log in Greek. A rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, or hoplites. It was an inflexible formation that was unbeatable in the front, but inflexible in maneuver and vulnerable on the flanks and rear. It was best reserved for open terrain that would not disrupt the formation as it advanced. During the Hellenistic age, the Phalanx was supported by a number of troops, such as peltasts, archers and cavalry.

In the early city state wars, the phalanx battle was primarily test of strength and courage, where both phalanxes would slam into each other and the battle was decided by whoever pushed harder and broke the enemy’s opposing and identical formation. It was not until the Battle of Leuctra in 371 B.C where tactics such as the oblique order were used. At the battle, the Phalanx was made deeper on one wing to bring superior force to bear at a critical place in the enemy line.

Phalanx warfare between the Hellenistic kingdoms usually produced fewer casualties in comparison to Roman battles. The reason for this was twofold. One, the battles were physically exhausting for the soldiers in the Phalanx, who have to push against an opposing body of soldiers to overpower them. The push-and-tug of Phalanx warfare was strenuous and slow. It wasn't quick. Offensively, you couldn't break formation and rush in to expose a hole. Defensively, you couldn't move men around to change strategy halfway through. The pieces were set in stone at the beginning and it came down to who could push hardest. The discipline was staying in formation, which severely limited mobility and flexibility. When a battle did end, and the enemy phalanx broke and ran, the victorious troops were usually too exhausted to give a proper chase; the decline of heavy cavalry in the successor armies did not help either.

Secondly, the reason was because the Greeks were not aiming to pursue total destruction of the enemy. Hellenistic Kingdoms had a vested interest in limiting casualties on both sides, as the mercenaries of the losing army would usually join that of the winning king. Graeco-Macedonian soldiers were assets that had to be guarded and treasured, to better protect the frontiers of the vast empires. Manpower was a serious issue for the Hellenistic kingdoms, as was ultimately one of the reasons for their downfall.

The Macedonian system worked best as a combined arms approach, begun by Alexander. Where the Phalanx was used as the anvil, the pinning force to occupy the enemy line while the Macedonian cavalry (agema or companion cavalry), exploited any gaps in the rear of flanks. For inexplicable reasons, the Macedonians in the later period abandoned their equestrian traditions and fielded smaller amounts of heavy cavalry.

Innovations

The Successors did react however, to the rise in Roman power. To counter attacks on the Phalanx's weak flanks, the Diadochi adopted the 'double phalanx' tactic - where reserves of pikemen were drawn up behind the first line. This tactic was popularized after the decline of the cavalry. There were further innovations, the most famous of these were what Polybius called the 'Imitation Legionaries'. These were first introduced by Antiochus IV of Syria, and they consisted of 5,000 men armed and armoured in the Roman style. Some historians believe that the Diadochi copied the Romans, while others stress that these developments took place outside of Roman influence. The Ptolemaic Egyptians also copied the Roman military - some Egyptain soldiers fought in centuries commanded by centurions! The Diadochi also made frequent use of Mercenaries including Indian elephant battalions, Persian-style Cataphracts and Celtic swordsmen.

Rome vs Greece

There have been many explanations as to why the Romans were ultimately able to triumph over the Successor armies and Greece. The Roman legion for one, was an innovation of its time, and much more flexible to fight in a host of different terrain as opposed to the Phalanx. The Romans also had a capacity to learn from their mistakes and augment their army as a result. By the time the Romans had faced the Greek Phalanx, they had already bloodied the armies of Phyrrus and Hannibal, generals who had taught Rome the importance of flexible formations and cavalry. The Hellenistic Kingdoms, in contrast, saw no reason to change old proven tactics that worked for centuries. Nor did any of them suffer significant losses or defeats against armies using innovative tactics, so there was no urgency for reform, and no model to reform upon, unlike the Romans. Only after the disaster at Magnesia in 190BC were reforms undertaken by the diadochi along Roman lines.

Rome too, also made use of diplomatic weapons to keep the Greeks off balance. During the war with Macedon, Rome maintained alliances with greek citystates in the South. The Romans also exploited the constant dynastic troubles of the Hellenistic empires, playing one off the other, or manipulating internal struggles. Caesar did this with the feud between Cleopatra and her brother. After Magnesia, Royal hostages were taken from the Seleucid court, allowing them to play power politics with the kingdom for decades to come.

Ultimately, it came down to two main factors, manpower and the moral approach to warfare. In terms of Manpower, the Hellenistic kingdoms had no way of mobilizing armies in the scale of Rome. Although they controlled huge populations, the Macedonian kings were unwilling to awaken the military potentials of their erstwhile subjects. The Ptolemies had mobilized the Egyptian Machimoi during one of their Syrian wars, and as a result, had to deal with a century of constant unrest and revolts in their kingdom. The Romans, in contrast, were able to fill up their ranks with fresh troops even after annihilating losses such as at Cannae. The Greeks on the other hand could not. King Pyrrhus had to retreat out of Italy, even though he slaughtered more Roman soldiers than he lost his own men. Hannibal would lose to the Romans under the same conditions - The Romans could always depend on more men from Rome or from their Italian allies.

Aside from tactics, in terms of their moral approach to war, Rome waged total war on a more intense scale than the Greeks ever did. Several examples can highlight this. After the defeat of the Macedonians at Pydna (where 20,000 greek soldiers were slaughtered) The Romans proceeded to demand all the gold and silver from the towns of Epirus, when they received the gold, the Romans proceeded to slaughter the inhabitants of the towns, selling 150,000 Epirotes to slavery. There are other instances of towns surrendering to Rome without a fight, only to be sacked mercilessly anyways. After Magnesia, Rome extracted a tribute of 10,000 talents from the Seleucids, their entire royal treasury, effectively crippling them permanently as a power. In essence, The Hellenistic kingdoms had never faced a foe as fearsome and efficient as the Roman military machine.

TreizeV is the author of "Je Maintiendrai" - William of Orange and the Wars of Coalition
 

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[anchor=I3]A strange and bizarre story about how I came to be a LibrAARian and how I’m coping[/anchor]
By Comagoosie, Your Roman LibrAARian

Two days I have been Rome’s LibrAARian, though when you read this it will differ, but these first two days have been an emotional rollercoaster. There have been highs and, more than I like to admit lows. Overall, I do not regret my decisions, and love being a LibrAARian. It is actually a funny story of how I came to be where I am now.

On the 18th, Coz1 posted an offer to everyone seeing who would like to take care of the AARs in the Rome forum. I, being new and restless, thought that since the post was about 10 hours old that my chance of glory would be gone by the time I thought about it. I quickly replied saying that I would take care of everything. Then I headed over to the AAR section where I started to build the Library. Meanwhile, I was IMing a fellow forumer who happened to be a frequent visitor to AARland. Here is how our conversation went.
[Him]Hello there, how are you?

[Me]I am extremely busy since I accepted it.

[Him]It?

[Me]Yeah, I am constructing the library.

[Him]Congratulations, I didn’t know you got the job.

[Me]What? You make it sound like I had to do an interview.

[Him]You mean Coz didn’t give you the OK to be the LibrAARian?

[Me]No…oh god…this can’t be happening. My life is ruined. I have to send Coz a PM and straighten this out right away.

[Him]ROFL! Don’t worry though, you are well suited for the job, I am sure everything is going to be fine.

Luckily, here at Paradox forums we have understanding moderators. Coz took my rashness with good stride, and you know that things were worked out, since I am still present, and I am the Rome LibrAARian. Despite my pure joy at this prestigious position, sorry to those who wanted to do the job, even though they would be more qualified!

Right now, I am doing all right, though I wish some things were easier and more people would register their AAR. I am relying heavily on my fellow forumers. They have been able to stand up to my annoying questions that a normal person would dismiss in an instant. In the process, I am learning so many things, not just web codes, but about myself, (I know it sounds corny ;))

Since you are reading this, you probably know that AARland has grown into a huge debate. Part of the problem is that when voting in the ACA, readers elect AARs that do not belong in the category that they put them in, which is like writing Obama’s name when voting in the Republican primaries. With that problem in mind, I now ask the writers to submit what category their AAR belongs to, so this may clear up some confusion, and if it is their first AAR.

Lastly, you can look forward to the statistic page of the LibrAARy. I have someone specifically for the stats, and he will, hopefully, blow your mind with what he has found out. Qorten is our designated man, so if you have any stats questions, look towards him. I have a goal that we can provide the most mind blowing and weirdest stats, ever! Suggestions are welcomed too.

Before I depart I would like…no…love to thank everyone who has put up with me over the past year (really my one year anniversary is this month) and for those who have gotten to know me. Before I go, thank you, Duke of Wellington and The Swert for showing me the ropes. Let’s not forget the mod team for letting me do this and canonized and the AARlander staff for letting me write this article!

And don’t worry, I don’t bite. ;)

Comagoosie is the author of For Rome's Honor and the Rome AAR Forum Librarian, Visit the Library!
 

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[anchor=I4]The AARLand Choice AwAARds! - 1st Quarter 2008 Results[/anchor]
by Phargle
All right, sports fans! The AARland Choice Awards for 2008 Q1 are in and it was a doosie. Seventy voters, dozens of AARs, plenty of ties, AARs withdrawn, and a few new stars sweeping several categories. If that's not enough excitement - and how could it not be? - then carry on to the results themselves!

EU3 - It's easy as 1, 2, 3, I'm talking 'bout you and me
In EU3, canonized continued his streak as Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? once again won Favorite AAR and Favorite Narrative AAR, both by wide margins. These two categories also powered most of the votes in the quarter. Favorite Comedy AAR went to Grubnessel's excessively-long-titled There might be Vikings out there! Or: how I accidentally traded my wife for a halibut, while Favorite History-Book was heavily contested, with The Rebirth of England - Woodhouse Dynasty Part II by English Patriot eeking out a small victory over the second-place winner. Favorite Gameplay also had lots of stiff competition, with Capibara's The All Island AAR emerging triumphant. And that rounds it for EU3!

HoI1/2 - For the Tin Man in all of us
Hearts of Iron 1/2 continued to have lots of tight contests resulting in many ties. The Setting Sun - Gotterdamerung 1944 - Japan by Remble took Favorite Gameplay and Favorite AAR, and Snake IV barely won Favorite Comedy with World war II in colour, boring bulge. The rest of the categories were all tied up. Favorite Narrative was split between TheHyphenated1 and rcduggan with Weltkriegschaft and Kathmandu Can Do (A Nepal AAR) respectively. . . and Favorite History-Book had a whopping four-way-tie. Seriously, it was like some kind of weird, ironic WWII orgy where everybody won. Those four, who each received four votes, were Mr Hearts with Legacy of Rome: A Byzantine AAR, trekaddict with "We will stand defiant!" a AH France AAR, Draco Rexus with For King and Country, and last but not least, the non-English and entirely unpronounceable Zuckergußgebäck and his famous pig Ett Skillnadernas Krig.

Crusader Kings - Celebrating Dysfunction Throughout History
Crusader Kings had some new winners pop up, almost all by decisive margins. Favorite AAR and Favorite Narrative AAR went to General_BT with his Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR. Favorite Gameplay was won by Alfred Packer and his nutty The Adventures of the Crovan Clan. Favorite History-Book was a tight contest that was ultimately won by newcomer AlexanderPrimus and his Chronicles of the Golden Cross. And Comedy was won by some guy. Moving along . . . okay, okay, it was Kurt_Steiner, he wrote Lo Llibre dels Feyts - The Book of Deeds, and the doctor says I should be okay if I can just stop crying myself to sleep each night. Congratulations!

Vicky - You're so fine
Victoria had all kinds of winners, from German AARs to Germans playing Californian AARs to Zulus playing American AARs. DerKaiser knocked it out of the park by taking The Golden Nation- California (VIP) to victory as the Favorite AAR and Narrative, a familiar combination in this cycle. Kaixxor, whose nationality I can't discern and therefore can't gently mock, wrote the winning We AAR All Doomed! A Terribly Odd Prussia, which basically ran away with the Comedy category. History-Book went to Estonianzulu, who is too specific about his nationality, and who is responsible for "The Footsteps of Illustrious Men"- USA GC. And that leaves Quirinus308 and The World Is Not Enough as the Gameplay guy. He's Roman, but history teaches us never to make fun of the Romans. Hey, Vicky!

EU1/2 - Do EU really 1/2 hurt me?
Mettermrck and his The Eagles of Avalon won Favorite AAR and Favorite (you guessed it) Narrative AAR, and I think we should all celebrate by giving Mettermrck some vowels for his last name. In Comedy, it was a tight contest between one khan and the other, but The Duke of Wellington ultimately prevailed and Golden Horde - Scourge from the East took the prize by a hair. I think we can also all agree never to use the phrase tight contest between khans ever again. History-Book had a tie, proven that history is written by a split decision as SeanB and Emperor_krk and their The Fallen Eagle: A Byzantine Empire AAR and Dreams of a Baltic State - Pomerania AAR both came out on top. Empire on the Oder - A Brandenburg/German AAR by Anarion won Favorite Gameplay just barely, and that's all she wrote for EU 1/2.

Overalls - My favorite clothing
The overall category was a double-winner for AlexanderPrimus and Chronicles of the Golden Cross which won both Favorite Graphics and Favorite New Writer. He's not just the favorite new writer. . . he's the favorite new writer overall. I hope he actually wears overalls, because that would be really cool.

Runners-up - Second-place guys, or other nice ways of saying we got beat

Of course, in AARland, everybody is a winner. Getting a single vote says you're someone's favorite, and that's a pretty big thing to be. That said, we still count the votes around here, and that means somebody wins and somebody would've won otherwise. Math is a harsh mistress, and she crowns kings and jesters alike. This cycle had a lot of very fine jesters. In EU3, English Patriot, TreizeV, Kazmir, rcduggan, and safferli would've won if it wasn't for those darned kids. In HoI1/2, Draco Rexus, Hardraade, Discomb, Alexus, SEG-CISR, El Pip, Kurt_Steiner, and Alexus all had to unconditionally surrender. In Crusader Kings, Alfred Packer, AlexanderPrimus, Jestor, coz1, Jestor again, coz1 again, VILenin, JMJ, anonymous4401, and the eternally-depressed phargle all were severely wounded in battle. Vicky had superskippy, Director, jeffg006, Director again, Alfred Packer (with one vote!), Dr. Gonzo, and Eärendil not quite achieve Great Power status. In EU1/2, CatKnight, Duke of Wellington, The Swert (owner of the best name ever), Konig15, and Emperor_krk were vassalized. And AlexanderPrimus had to vanquish thrashing mad and TheHyphenated1 to get his overall prizes. We'll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!

- - -
And them's the awards, folks! Tune in next time, vote as hard as you can, and maybe it'll be your favorite AAR up here in lights! 'til then, I'm phargle.
phargle is the author of Solomon of Itil
 
Last edited:

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[anchor=I5]Fled to Brutish Beasts: An Anonymous4401 Eulogy [/anchor]
By Estonianzulu

When Canonized first sent me a private message asking if I would be willing to write a 'eulogy' for the now absent anonymous4401, I thought "why would I?" That's not to say I didn't work with Anon on certain things, and I was hardly his greatest fan. I only perused Delusions of Grandeur, and its sequel, but I never was an avid follower. It wasn't that I thought his AAR wasn't good, I just wasn't interested and had too much else on my plate. Then Anon went his way with HoI2, and I stayed in that Vicky-CK enclave I still reside in. The only time I saw him was when I managed to get to HoI2 or in the general forums. So when I was asked to take a page and talk about Anon, my first inclination was to turn it down and let someone who is more of a fan take the stage. But as you can tell I decided to go ahead and accept the offer and write this 'eulogy' for our recently departed AARlander. Why I decided to accept, and what I am going to say, are one in the same.

God only knows when I first saw a post of Anonymous', but chances are good it was back in 2004 when I first started reading his highly inventive Abyssinia Triumphant. I have never been a regular OT dependant, and so I can say very little of his long and storied history within the deep chasm of OTland. And so all I ever knew was that Anon was a Vicky player who enjoyed a challenge in his games. Ethiopia is still perhaps one of the most forgotten of all Vicky countries, with Anonymous' two stories being the only in existence. For that alone he deserves mention. Anytime an author is willing to go outside the box, try something new and different, he should be recognized. However, just writing AARs for obscure countries is not what gets you a 3 page goodbye thread and a eulogy in the AARlander.

The fact that I am writing this 'goodbye' to Anonymous is testament to the work he did in these forums. After the slow agonizing death of the AARland Gazette and the rather sudden demise of the Advocate, I, along with others, felt that the life of an AARland magazine had come and gone. Anonymous proved us wrong. With an inspiring diligence and drive, he kick started the AARlander. Now, seven months later, the torch has passed and the crew of Instrumentality have taken up the cause. The fact that we can move, unfazed from leader to leader is a sign of our stability, and of the wonderful construct that Anonymous leaves us with. Although the AARlander was driven by Anonymous, it exists because of AARland. And so even without its triumphant leader, AARland exists, a legacy far greater than any article I can write.

One cannot talk about Anonymous' impact on these forums without mentioning the ACA: AArland Choice Awards. Taking the place of the on-again off-again OscAARs/Victoria's Cross/Crusader's Chalice awards, the ACA's became a regular feature to the forums almost overnight. Starting in the Victoria forum, Anonymous took the ACA's AARland wide in the fourth quarter of 2005. Three years later the ACA's are still going strong, with discussion and votes still coming in for the first quarter of 2008. I am proud of the fact that my own AAR was worth of ACA attention, just as I am sure all the winners, runners-up and even once-mentioned writers are proud to be noticed. That is the great legacy of Anon's ACA's. Not only do they recognize the work of the writers and authors of the forums, but they help unify all the different threads together. I've read more than a few HoI2 AARs because I've seen them praised in the ACA's. And now, even as Anonymous fades away, as old soldiers are want to do, the ACA thrives. Yet another landmark that Anonymous leaves behind.

Perhaps the most difficult of projects ever undertaken in these forums was the Libraary. I remember countless hours pouring over EU2 AAR's to aid Mr. T's first attempt at re-organization. It was hardly a task I would wish on anyone, but Anonymous took up the cause of reconstructing the HoI2 LibrAARy with gusto. I shared what little advice I had with anonymous when he sat down to do the same for HoI2. While at times I found his approach to other AAR's a bit harsh, I could always sympathize. No one here is perfect, but even with his imperfections Anonymous worked to better AARland. Countless hours and a well-organized HoI2 Library pay witness to that. And perhaps that is why I really chose to do this piece. I too joined these forums as a High School student, eager to learn about history and share my experiences making it. I too took on a rather boring and difficult job with sorting and organizing old forgotten AARs. So I suppose I saw a bit of myself in Anonymous. Although our methods were different, our goal was the same, improving AARland.

In June of 2003 Anonymous4401 joined the Paradox forums and became, in 4 years, an icon in the AARland community. But unlike some of the founders, his memory is not ‘sparkling and perfect’. Anonymous was a 'real' forumite. For all his contributions and all his work, he still got annoyed, frustrated and angry. And yet, this simple writer, who's strange obsession with Ethiopia was to become a standard for AARland, would go on to run three essential and life-breathing aspects of our community. Without Anonymous who knows what our forum would be like. No ACA? No HoI2 libraary? No AARlander? No Victoria Ethiopian AARs? It would be a shame. His time here is proof that it doesn't take a mod or even an old-fogie to make a change for the better.

But I come now not to praise anonymous4401, but to bury him. As he posted himself, this truly is the death of the anonymous4401 we knew. So, goodbye Anonymous, hope you come back one day and enthrall us with tales of your self-made millions. And perhaps, if you are not to busy, you can tell us a tale of Victoria Two (Please Paradox :D) and how some small, unplayed country in the heart of Africa rose to be a super power. Oh, and while you are at it maybe you can change the face of the forums forever. You know, if you have the time.

Estonianzulu is the author of “Footsteps of illustrious men”
 

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[anchor=I6]
canonizedlorddurham.png


You’ve Been Canonized!: Lord Durham​
[/anchor]

Hello folks and Happy May Day ! Welcome to this AARlander edition of You’ve Been Canonized our weekly interview segment ! I’m your host , canonized , and our guest today is Lord Durham one of our moderators ! Let’s get to the questions !

Part I: The Man Behind the Moderating Mask
Durham sheds some light about himself !

canonized - For those of us who may only know you as one of the
hard working mods on the forum , could you introduce
yourself a little bit ?

Lord Durham - My name is Bruce Durham and I live in Mississauga, located beside Toronto, in the Great White North. I've been a member of the Paradox forums since early 2001 and became a Mod several months later. As for my age? I've been described as 'older than dirt'.

canonized - As someone who's been on the forum for quite the
history , the topic of AARland and its longstanding
period of development has been a hot topic . Could you
tell us how you came upon the forums and your own
personal history through it ?

Lord Durham - It all began with the original EU. I've been a wargamer since my teens, so EU looked quite interesting. From there I found the Paradox forums and out of curiosity ended up in the AAR forum. Note the singular. In those days AARs were sparse, and most of them written log-style. However, there was one particular AAR by a guy named Ariel that was drawing views like water to a sponge. I began to read it and was instantly drawn. It sparked the writer in me, something that lay dormant for years, and shortly after began my own AAR: 'The Papacy: An Alternative History'. In those days the most active Moderator was Warspite. There were a couple others, but they were AWOL. Anyway, I asked Warpsite if he required any help, and shortly after I was a Mod. Those were the days of the early initiatives, like the OscAARs, 'Blast From the Past', 'AAR of the Week', and so on. When Warspite moved on I continued to develop the AAR community with people like MrT, Valdemar and Stroph1. Among my creations was the LibrAARy, the SolAARium, the 'Links of Interest' thread, 'The Great AAR Project' (a series of surveys), and the original 'Weekly Showcase'.


canonized - In your opinion , what do you think makes AARland
unique and where you see it going in the future ?

Lord Durham - I don't think there is another forum out there that attracts as much creative talent as AARland does, especially when it comes to writing about their gaming experiences. The number of AARs gathered here over the years is truly astounding, as is the sheer range of subject matter and style. There is some serious inventiveness and ability going on in these parts. As for the future? So long as Paradox keeps pumping out titles (or even if they stopped), I think these games will continue to attract a huge audience. The Paradox titles are a perfect vehicle to explore and write about history.


canonized - Could you give us any insight into the real life
Lord Durham ? Anything interesting we might want to
know about you aside from your role in the forums ?

Lord Durham - Well, away from here I Administrate the community forums for author Robert E. Howard, the father of sword & sorcery, often referred to as heroic fantasy. He's more commonly known as the creator of Conan, though the barbarian is just one of many characters created by this extremely prolific author during the 20's and 30's. I'm also the published author of nearly 20 short stories covering various genres in a myriad of publications. And I'll be the first to acknowledge that these forums, along with my interest in AARs, gave me the impetus to take that bold step and venture in the published world. Most recently I have joined the editorial team of Flashing Swords Magazine.


canonized - What kind of encouragement might you have for both
your peers and those who are new coming into AARland
or who might be interested in writing for publications
such as yourself ?

Lord Durham - Well, like I said, there is some serious talent in AARland, and I am always encouraging the authors here to take a stab at publication. The SolAARium was created towards that goal, though I'll admit I haven't had the time to properly maintain it. My 'Historical Fiction Markets' thread was designed to alert anyone with the desire to try their hand at submitting stories by providing markets that accept historical fiction. The problem with these markets is that they are so few, which is a shame.

The AAR forums are the perfect vehicle to hone the craft of writing, because you can try things and receive an immediate response. It's certainly not as effective as a critique group, but if you want honesty I'm sure you'll get it. However, be prepared for rejection if you do decide to take that next step. It's a fiercely competitive world out there. But, when that acceptance arrives along with a contract, there are few better feelings.


canonized - What do you see as your future so far as your
writing career ?

Lord Durham - Well, unless my name is Stephen King or JK Rowling, I don't expect to make much of a living off of my writing, unless I'm fortunate enough to strike gold in the right place at the right time. Fat chance of that. Pay rates have not increased much, if at all, from the heady pulp days of the 30s'. However, I'm not in it for the money. I like to create. That said, I've been contracted to write a novel based on my most popular fantasy character, a person named Dalacroy, and am working with an artist to produce a comic based on the same character. So long as I can sell my stuff and opportunities arise, I'll keep writing.

Part II: To Serve and Protect
Durham tells us a bit about his job !

canonized - Especially for the new forumites , could you
briefly describe your role and responsibilities as a
moderator for AARland ?

Lord Durham - My role is to make sure the AAR forums run as smooth as possible with little to no disruption. Preferably no disruption. I'm not a big fan of throwing my weight around, and usually work behind the scenes to resolve disputes, or deal with people who for some reason want to defy the rules. I have the power to close threads, delete offending posts, warn members if they are getting out of line, or request a ban for those who won't comply. I'm happy to say that in my 7 years of Modding, I've had to ban only a few people. That's not bad given the number of members, the number of threads and the potential for volatility. I know there will be those out there who beg to differ, but my approach has always been to sit on the fence and work behind the scenes, unless something comes up that just begs a public response.


canonized - What would you say would be your greatest
challenges as a mod ?

Lord Durham - Trying to keep on top of the AARs and doing preventative maintenance for those that could potentially become ugly. I hate having to come in after an AAR has gone out of control to read the riot act. Fortunately, it has only happened a couple of times. This is a testimony to the maturity of the members of AARland. Other than that, my greatest challenge is trying to get the members to participate in the various initiatives.


canonized - Aside from moderating , could you tell us about
some of the AARs you've worked on ?

Lord Durham - Well, 'The Papacy-An Alternative History' for EUI was my first. It was a history-style AAR that evolved into the birth of 'The Free Company' series of collaborations. My other AAR for EUI was 'The Seven Years War', which was the very first narrative style AAR on the forums. When EUII came out I wrote 'Austria and the War of the Spanish Succession', 'The Napoleonic Wars: An Account by an English Officer' and 'Portugal or Bust: The Director's Cut'. These were all completed narrative AARs. And that brings me to 'The Free Company'. These collaborative AARs were the most satisfying for me as a writer. Each was plotted as a complete novel and writers invited to create characters who were then guided through the ongoing plotline.


canonized - You've written quite the bit of work yourself both
in and out of AARland . For those who may not be
familiar with your real life writings , could you
perhaps give us a little description about them ?

Lord Durham - My very first sale was titled 'The Marsh God', a short story that appeared on-line in the first incarnation of 'Flashing Swords', and introduced the characters of Dalacroy and Moirya. The story was meant as a one-off, but the editor convinced me to submit more. So I did. My next sale was 'The Catacombs of Dharwataqan' (say that 3 time fast), which picked up events after 'Marsh God', and was followed by 'Homecoming'. They all appeared in 'Flashing Swords'. Both 'The Marsh God' and 'Homecoming' won a readers poll for 'Best SF&F Short Story' in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Both entries beat out approximately 50 competitors., which was quite an honour. Shortly after 'Homecoming' appeared I was announced the winner of a contest for 'Paradox: The Magazine of Historical & Speculative Fiction'. The print magazine is the premiere publication for historical fiction, and is no relation to the Paradox people who run these boards. My story was called 'Anezka', and was about the last days of Hannibal Barca. I appeared for a second time in 'Paradox' with a story called 'Marathon', a time-travel story about a man who witnesses the battle of Marathon and through happenstance becomes a part of history. My latest story is 'Valley of Bones', and appears in the print anthology 'Return of the Sword', recently released and available from Amazon.com


canonized - You've recently started up the Inkwell initiative
. Could you share with us what it is and how people
can participate ?

Lord Durham - As an authAAR I've always been frustrated with the 10 line signature rule imposed by the Powers That Be. And I was sure I wasn't alone. We are, after all, a creative bunch. So the idea grew out of the desire to allow a platform where individual authAARs could list their AARs, both completed and in-progress, their accomplishments, and any other information other members could find of interest. To participate is simple. Just read the rules and place a post. I add the name to a alphabetical listing in the same thread. Clicking on the name takes the author immediately to their post, or that of anyone else listed. Consider your spot in the Inkwell as your very own playground, and there's no 10 line limit.


canonized - Lastly , what kind of future AAR or initiative
plans do you have that you might be able to give us a
sneak preview about ?

Lord Durham - For initiatives, I'm not sure. At times they feel like a lost cause due to lack of participation. I had to close down the 'bAAR' for that reason. Even the 'InkWell', after an initial flurry of activity, has died down. Trying to get people to join in has always been a problem. And if I could crack that particular nut, then you'd see a lot more in the way of ideas. For now I'll wait and see before I come up with something else. That said, member sponsored initiatives are always welcome, though we've always asked that new ideas be run past the Moderators first, primarily to prevent duplication of effort.

As for future AARs, time for me is the real problem, especially with my outside projects. What time I have I use to read AARs and Moderate. That said, I've been kicking around a couple of ideas, so there may be an AAR in the near future. What game it's based on, I'm not sure. Recently I guest-posted in Amric and Redwolf's 'Free Company' spinoff, 'Journey to the Far East', in the EUIII forum. I'll admit that was a lot of fun and got the creative juices flowing. So, we'll see. Never say never...

canonized: Thank you again for being on the programme , LD ! And we do hope that everyone has enjoyed our interview ! If you want more interviews with AuthAARs and other people around AARland both old and new please stop by our AAR thread to read our weekly segments ! That’s all for our interview this time , see you next time , and in the meantime stay tuned for more AARlander ; fair , balanced , and unafraid !

canonized is the author of Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World?
 

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[anchor=I7]The Inkwell: What It Is, And Why You Should Use It[/anchor]
By Cyrus_The_Great

After recently browsing through the website I noticed the newest feature to AARland, implemented by Lord Durham, and that feature is The Inkwell.

Possibly one of the most useful utilities I have seen on the forum, it is an area in which a writer is able to post information about himself, his AARs, and anything else he finds appropriate. For anyone who wishes for additional signature space, this comes as incredibly useful, and can be filled with summaries, information about the writer, and anything the writer finds attracting to readers.

After skimming through the Inkwell, I was astonished at how many AARs people have posted, some of them now ancient, but well written nonetheless. I was delighted to discover some of the AARs the veterans of this forum periodically allude to, and even more delighted when, after reading through summaries, I found one that appealed to me. Just like a library, once you have the idea about what type of work you are in the mood to read, it is easy to identify which AAR suits your needs, and also see what the author has been heralded for. This post has unearthed some AARs which have seen better days, giving them and the readers a renewed chance at exposure.

The next excellent aspect of this thread is the ability to get to know the authors behind the AARs readers so heavily cherish. There is an entirely new aspect to commenting and interacting when you know a little bit more about the man, (or woman), behind the avatar. In the past, the only way for this to be done would have been if they were featured in an interview with Canonized, and although I know he tries to interview many authors he sees potential in, he can only do so many. Now, the minute you become engaged in an AAR , assuming the author has posted some information, you can find out more about that said author. The ability to become friendlier with fellow authors is beneficial to everyone, as you can start to bounce ideas off of each other and ask for suggestions.

Lastly, I find comments, or lack thereof, to be among the greatest incentives towards writing on this board. For those having trouble obtaining readers, a post here could be your ticket towards success. As revealed in the discussion thread, many readers have actually taken interest in multiple AARs posted in the Inkwell thanks to rather ingenious “advertising” techniques. One of which worth mentioning is “I Tread in the Footsteps of Illustrious Men,” in which the Author, EstonianZulu, posted a rather convincing looking map of the altered United States .. Flashy pictures, such as those used by Jeffg006, Lord Valentine and AlexanderPrimus have also attracted my attention. Many other authors, through their use of summaries, graphics, and display of awards, have managed to successfully engage me in their works.

So, I seriously recommend authors to set up a post in the Inkwell, and anyone looking for a good read should browse around, with so many talented writAARs, you will inevitable find one.

Feedback to the Inkwell can be found or entered here.

Cyrus_The_Great is the author of A Sicilian Tale: The Adventures Of Giacomo D'Acciaio
 
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[anchor=I9]THE AART OF MEDIA
How to Transform the Mediocre into the Magnificent[/anchor]

by AlexanderPrimus

The single most important thing a good narrative or history-book AAR can have is a good story. Excellent writers can be extremely entertaining to read, and are often able to interminably keep their readers coming back for more.

Unfortunately, sometimes great authAARs are overlooked solely because of the appearance of their stories. When potential readers open AARs for the first time, they are looking for something to entice them, to draw them in and captivate them. If the first thing they see is an enormous block of intimidating, small-typeface text, they are likely to turn to other fare, no matter the skill of the author. Supplementing your AAR with various media helps to overcome this problem by catching the reader’s eye and leading them to your entertaining tale. Of course as a single caveat, if your plot is uninteresting and/or poorly written, no amount of additional trappings will make up for it.

I will now explain some different of the different varieties of media that you may wish to consider including in your AAR. I will also provide examples from my own AAR, The Chronicles of the Golden Cross:.

Music:
Music has been called “the bridge between heaven and earth,” and this axiom remains true in the realm of AARland. A suitable soundtrack can carry your audience beyond your words into the realm of dreams that you wish to convey.

When seeking music clips for your AAR, you should consider the following factors.

Does the music reflect the time period you are writing about? While not entirely necessary, selecting period music is helpful for giving your readers a feel for the world of your story. Modern music can also accomplish this, especially if the piece sounds period appropriate, but there are notable exceptions. Heavy metal music just feels wrong in the confines of St. Peter’s Basilica, for example, and no matter how much you like Carrie Underwood, your AAR about Feudal Japan is not the best place to showcase her music.

Does the music reflect the mood of the chapter? Period music is well and good, but if the chapter you just wrote is about regional genocide, and the music is a fanciful spring festival, your usage of incongruous media will create a wrenching experience for your readers and may even convey an ideology very different for the one you intended. Make sure the music you select is appropriate for the underlying message you wish to convey. Low brass and heavy drums are appropriate for a battle sequence, whereas flutes and tambourines are better suited to the aforementioned spring festival.

Is the music pleasant to the ear? The music you select does not necessarily need to be music that your readers would listen to on an everyday basis, but it should at least be music that they can stand to listen to for five minutes, or however long the clip you select is. If your music is incredibly dissonant and unharmonious that your reader turns it off after 10 seconds, you have accomplished nothing by including it.

There is no end to the musical resources that you could potentially use in your AARs, from movie soundtracks to standard classical pieces to folk music from the locale you are writing about.

In order to get the music you’ve selected into your AAR, simply upload the clip onto a file-hosting site like Ripway or Yuntaa, and then provide a link to the clip on your AAR.

Example:
This clip reflects the general ambience I wanted to convey for the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in my AAR: an exotic eastern world for the European crusaders.

Imagery:
You have probably heard the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This is another truism when it comes to AARs. Rather than trying to describe every cumbersome detail of your lead heroine’s beautiful appearance, you can simply post a picture of a woman whose look matches what you had in mind for your character.

Imagine that you are doing casting calls for the movie version of your AAR? Who is going to play who? There are plenty of movies out there that utilize historical costumes and imagery. Maybe your Macedonian prince looks less like Brad Pitt as Achilles from Troy and more like Russell Crowe as Maximus from Gladiator. Your readers won’t know until you show them.

This same principle is true of landscape imagery. Pictures of the country you are writing about are especially useful in immersing the reader in your AAR’s environment. It is very easy to post a picture of China’s Temple of Heaven to show your audience the locale of your recent update so they are not left wondering.

One of the most common types of imagery used in AARland is the game screenshot. It only makes sense to take screenshots from the game you’re playing, whether it’s CK or EU3 or whichever, so that your readers can follow the in-game events that you are using as a basis for your AAR. You do not need to limit yourself to just one game, either. As long as the game screenshot reflects what your story describes, it is a welcome addition.

Battle maps and genealogy charts are also fairly easy to produce on your own and are extremely helpful for providing the reader with a large amount of data with becoming tedious.

Photographs and movie stills are exceptionally easy to come by. You can simply download them from the internet onto your computer and then upload them to an image-hosting site like Photobucket. Flickr is less useful, as it provides links to the pictures but does not imbed them directly into your AAR.

You can also easily use any basic image software (like Windows’ Paint) to make composite imagery from multiple sources.

Examples:
The following are examples of (in order from top to bottom): movie stills, game screenshots, and battle maps.
guycourt.jpg

JerusalemCross.jpg

Outremer1210finished.png


Video:
Arguably the most difficult form of media to master, videos are excellent because they combine music and sound effects with a series of associated imagery for a fully immersive experience. The most common video presentations used in AARs are battle videos. Games like the Total War series have engines conducive to large scale battles, and with simple programs like GameCam and Windows MovieMaker, you can have a video done in a reasonably short period of time. Just upload them to YouTube and you’re set.

Of course, if you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can gather your friends, dress them up in costumes, and do a live action performance of one of the scenes in your AAR. I’ve never seen this done before in AARland, but it is a promising possibility.

Example:
The following link is a simple battle video I made using Medieval II: Total War.

In conclusion, I hope that this article has helped to introduce you to the many varieties of media available for use in your AARs, and that the use of music, imagery and videos will help your AARs to branch out to a much wider audience.

AlexanderPrimus is the author of The Chronicles of the Golden Cross
 

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[anchor=I10]THE HEROIC JOURNEY, CHAPTER TWO :
THE CALL OF ADVENTURE[/anchor]

by Atlantic Friend

To quote Frank Herbert’s Dune, a beginning is a very delicate time, and a story that starts off badly usually, even if it has a top-notch plot idea, will never fully recover, making its readers lose interest or at the very least never achieving its full potential. Whatever the style of your story is, it is therefore important to make an impression on the readers early on, so they can pardon a few clichés or weak moments later in the narration. Such an impression is usually best made by intriguing them, as History shows there’s no bound to human curiosity when properly aroused, and this often means giving the readers a good feeling of who the Hero is, and of what his world looks and sounds like. Actually, any story can basically been summed up as “a Hero ventures out of his everyday world and steps into unknown territories where he lives extra-ordinary events and meets extra-ordinary characters”. It is pretty basic, but it fits the bill : we as an audience want to be entertained, and we want to get a glimpse of a larger-than-life adventure. Given this basic prerequisite, it is fitting that, having prepared our Narrative Vessel in the previous articles, we now climb aboard and let it take us to that extraordinary world. For commodity’s sake, I’ll refer to the ordinary world as either the Mundane World or the Mundane Shores, and to the heroic, extraordinary world as the Heroic Territories, or Heroic Shores to keep up with the image of a Narrative Vessel.

THE MUNDANE SHORES : A SHORT OVERVIEW

As we all discovered as tourists, a journey’s emotional value is best defined by the changes we notice between the place we left and the place we travelled to. As a result, if the writer wants his readers to get the same evasion feeling, it is important for him to work on the details of the main character’s Mundane World so the readers can appreciate how different the Heroic Territories truly are. Before writing anything down, it is best for the writer to have a pretty good idea of the general atmosphere of the story, of the type of characters he’ll use, and of what they’ll be when the story begins. Will the story be told by a narrator, or will we see everything through the eyes of a character ? Will there be a prologue ? Will we meet the main characters when they’re much younger ? Will we be precipitated straight into an action scene, or will we be given some time to “stroll” throughout the Mundane World ? Will we see a scene apparently not connected to the rest of the story, but which will keep us wondering about when it’ll start making some sense ? All of these questions must have been answered before we can start setting up the Mundane World props.

The Mundane World itself can be of two types : one that appeals to something the readers know, or at least can relate to, and one that is totally exotic and alien. A familiar place will be easier to set up, and the readers will identify with the characters easily. The exotic place might appeal more to the readers, but will necessitate more work as the writer must keep in mind there are extra-ordinary Heroic Territories to set up as well, later in the story. If the Mundanw World is full of brainy Aliens who can create things by a mere thought process, then, (gasp !) what will the Heroic Territories have to look like to appear even more exciting ? The notion of “exotism” and “familiarity” are subjective though, and can vary depending on the readers’ social or national background. A crime story taking place in Washington won’t be the same as one taking place in, say, Lapland, or one taking place in rural Iran. So it’s always a good idea to give readers hints about the general atmosphere, and to go into more detail for the parts that will need some explanation, whether because they’re technical or because they’re the most exotic. Give some thought to the amount of detail, though. One of the most common mistakes I as a reader find in modern novels is that the author sometimes thinks that what he knows, his readers must be familiar with as well, which leads to confusion and turns every technical scene into some sort of Space Opera with characters talking pseudo-scientese and readers having to accept the technical mumbo-jumbo as so much magical formulas. The second most common mistake is for the writer to think his readers are as sharp as a sack of turnips and that it is okay to lord even basic knowledge unto them. In defence of the writers, both mistakes, while equally annoying, are quite easy to make, and striking a balance isn’t an easy task.

The Mundane World can take many forms : an idyllic small town, a nation at peace, a city where two people are in love, the last bastion of a supernatural race, a bustling and growing firm, all these are Mundane sets where the Hero will live, love, work, play, and enjoy life, possibly wishing he could lead a more adventurous life, or at the contrary hoping this could last forever. But all Mundane Worlds share one major characteristic : they are in crisis. The nature of the crisis can vary a great deal : a foreign army might gather at its borders, the small town might be plunged into the horrors of economic recession and social decay, the supernatural race can de a dying one, war or crime can claim the life of the Hero’s love interest, corruption might reveal the firm’s darker side and sinister deals. The inhabitants of the Mundane World can be aware that something is rotten in their kingdom, or they can be taken entirely by surprise, the important thing is that the crisis will define the story’s plot, and therefore the Hero’s Journey. He’ll fight for his country, he’ll want to bring back social order or natural harmony, he’ll want to avenge his loved one or to get back his honour amongst his peers. The crisis defines the plot, the plot defines the story. It is therefore crucial that the readers know what is at stake, and can empathize with the Hero’s plight. My personal advice would be not to rise the stakes too high, or at the very least not to have everything depends on the Hero. Baring truly exceptional circumstances, nothing ever depends upon just one man – which means the hero will have to win supporters amongst his peers or the strangers he’ll meet, and that we’ll get new characters to like, hate or root for.


RECEIVING THE CALL OF ADVENTURE

As we saw, the Mundane World seems at peace, but the seeds of change have been sowed, bringing (or revealing) the crisis that is about to engulf the Hero’s everyday world. The moment these forces touch the Hero, the moment where he/she commits to the story is the Call of Adventure. In many stories, the Call takes the form of a message, or a messenger, bringing news that will shatter the hero’s vision of the world and set him in motion. In some complex stories, with multiple plots, the Hero will actually receive more than one such Call, each taking the story into a new direction.

Bear in mind that the nature of the Call will vary according to the nature of the Hero himself. Let’s take an example : the Pacific War, clearly an event that had great consequences and plunged a country that was turned inward into a war which changed everything for that nation, from its status to its view of the world, and that had enormous impact on every individual who took part to the conflict, however modestly. Depending on who your Hero will be, the Call will have to be different : The President of the United States will receive news that the country’s positions in the Pacific are under siege, the politician will ponder the wisdom of the defence policy of the past decade, the field officer will see its leave cancelled and be told to go back to his unit immediately, the modest sailor will learn that one of his buddies has been killed in the attack, the businessman in the Philippines will have to try to escape Japanese occupation, and the unconcerned Filipino will have to choose between resistance and collaboration. The key thing is that no two Heroes will share the exact same ideals, the exact same concerns, the exact same fears, and the writer should make it sure the Call fits the character : the Hero whose loved one is killed will hate and seek revenge, the Heroin who stumbles upon solid evidence that the company she devoted her life to is helping the Nazis build a super-weapon will have to ponder if material comfort excuses everything, etc. Quite often, there will be references to the Call before the Hero gets it : some character will hope his son will never have to go to war, a politician will say that Splendid Isolationism will last forever, or the Hero will refuse to pay heed to the first signs that his world is about to get shattered. We as readers will often recognize these first signs for what they are, omens that the Mundane World is about to end, but the subtler the signs, the better. Having a politician say “Bah, what could the Japanese do to us, they’re thousands of miles away !” on September, 1941 is not very subtle if you want to use Pearl Harbour as the Call. Having a businessman saying that the exports of truck spare parts to Japanese Zaibatsus have never been so profitable will be more easily overlooked, but when the time comes, the readers will also realize it was a sign of war preparations.

The Hero’s motivation or lack thereof is also a powerful narrative tool to set the story in motion. Maybe the corporate Hero, after years if passively accepting his world’s inadequacies, suddenly decides after some minor but significant event to try to heal the Mundane World. In other stories, particularly those whose main character belongs to the category of Reluctant Heroes, there might be no portentous event to set the Hero in motion. While he’d like nothing better than being left alone, the Hero will be dragged into it because of a character he’ll meet. A spy will hide some secret document in the Hero’s luggage, triggering his arrest, his subsequent escape and his becoming a fugitive. Or the Hero will meet a character he/she will fall in love with, and whose connections to the events that are taking place will set the Hero on a collision course with the dark forces that are either running or threatening the Mundane World. Reluctant Heroes usually offer more opportunities to portray how difficult it is for them to answer the Call, as we see the Mundane World through “objective” eyes. Idealistic Heroes, on the contrary, will see everything as either all good or all bad and that will somehow weaken the force of the Call by making the answer something more of a done deal.

ANSWERING THE CALL OF ADVENTURE

The Call of Adventure, more often than not, will not be received well by the Hero, be that because of its nature (like the death of a loved one), because the Hero doesn’t trust the Messenger (like the Hobbits are first wary of Aragorn in Bree), or because the Message is delivered at an inconvenient time where the Hero has things to do and live in the Mundane World (the old cliché of the preoccupying news that reach the Hero at his wedding or at the height of some celebration). Another reason for the Hero to refuse to Call is when he balks at being given no choice. The Messenger turns up and tells him he must follow him, he has to embark on the quest, giving the Hero (and the readers) a chance to realize what he’s going to miss in the Mundane World. The Call should very rarely be joyfully accepted by the Hero – although it may be by some of his companions. As a moment of change, it is necessarily traumatic and unsettling, and it should force the Hero to think hard about the consequences of climbing aboard the Narrative Vessel to set sail to the uncharted Heroic Shores.

Temporization

The Hero’s first reaction will often to temporize. He won’t believe the dramatic news, or he will leave the responsibility to act to other forces. Regardless of the method, the Hero will for some time bury his head in the sand and refuse to acknowledge the grave perils that are threatening the Mundane World. The nature of the Hero’s internal conflict can vary. It may be moral, if for example the Hero is being asked to take up arms against a cause he once defended, or is led to realize his former friends need be opposed or put in jail. It may be of a more material nature : the Hero is asked to leave his loved ones, or to put his social position in danger. It may also be brought by the actions of other characters, who will try to demonstrate to the Hero the foolishness of such adventures. It could also be that the Hero gets two Calls at the same time, and will have to ponder which one is the most important (usually favoring the one which is most convenient or closest to his preoccupations, and which ultimately prove to be the less vital of the two). The classic pattern is usually that the Hero will for a moment listen to this sage advice or to his inner fears until another incident happens. Another character, often close to the Hero (like the one who tried to keep the Hero in the Mundane World) will be affected by the very forces the Messenger was warning the hero about, and that event will spell the end of the temporization and hand-wringing phase.

Acceptance

Some Heroes will never temporize once they get the Call of Adventure, and jump on board of the Narrative vessel within minutes. In simple stories, and notably in kids’ tales, the Hero will always jump at the chance of an adventure : he’ll be the knight errant actively looking for some quest to accomplish, the noble prince or the lumberjack who just happens to be in the neighbourhood when Little Red Hood gets eaten by the big bad wolf, or when Snow-White gets poisoned. In more adult stories, this kind of Hero usually gets a background to justify his readiness to accept adventure : it might be because it’s his job (secret agents and policemen for example), because he is given no better choice (a la Dirty Dozen), or because his life in the Mundane World has been shattered and he seeks either revenge or salvation. “Instant” Heroes in adult stories are often more complex characters than their adventurous mind can lead us to believe, and will often have a dark or unbalanced side that will explain their drifting from one quest to another, when their willingness isn’t explained by a good dose of naïveté about life in the Heroic Shores.


ENCOUNTERS OF THE FIRST KIND : GATEKEEPERS AND MENTORS


The Heroes will often meet characters who, either by giving their advice or by setting an example, will warn them against embarking or encourage them. The wealthy lawyer will be a reminder to his young colleague that he could make it big if he doesn’t rock the boat. The half-crazed officer will be a reminder of the punishment that awaits for the Hero if he does disobey and leave the Mundane Shores. The salty old sailor will help the Hero understand the Heroic Shores are dangerous but can be survived, the suffering kid will be a reminder that something is rotten in the kingdom of the Mundane Shores, which needs be fixed. These characters are usually the first Archetypes encountered as we step onto the main deck of the Narrative Vessel, and are either Gatekeepers or Mentors.

Gatekeepers

These characters(as well as those who’ll try to talk the more reluctant Heroes out of their adventurous ideas) represent the Hero’s (and by extension, our own) inner fears. Like the sirens of mythology, they’ll try to lure the Hero out of his path, using cajoling or threats. As such, they are Gatekeepers – guardians of a secret gate that will allow the Hero to leave the Mundane Shores to the Heroic Territories. His overcoming them is the first step of the Hero’s adventure, and should be a key moment in the narration so we understand what the Hero accepts to leave behind him as he embarks on his dangerous journey.

These Gatekeepers in the narration can take several forms, but are usually either close friends or avowed enemies. In the story they’ll represent the Hero’s doubts, fears, temptations and duties. In the temptation department, you will have the Hero’ love interest, who wants to settle down with him and uses her seduction to talk him out of any faraway adventure. The Hero’s conflicting duties can be represented by a family who wants the Hero to stay and take care of them instead of risking his life for complete strangers and some “higher” cause. Fear can be represented by a loving mother wanting to keep the Hero at home, safely out of harm’s way, or by a failed adventurer who’ll tell gruesome stories about the perils and bitter rewards of an adventurous life. These two characters represent, after all, two constants in human psyche : the desire to become a cared-for child again, and our instinctive fear of pain. Gatekeepers representing the Hero’s doubts are perhaps the more interesting and the less clichés of all, as they deal with more complex motivations. They can be the easy-going friend who enjoys just the kind of carefree live the Hero might be longing for, or the experienced colleague or war-weary superior who represents our natural cynicism and mistrust of clean-cut schemes. While duty, fear and temptation are more of an eternal and largely unchanged nature, doubt varies greatly depending on the Hero’s background and motivations.

While their methods may vary, all of these characters have one goal, nipping the adventure in the bud, and one narrative function, to be defeated by the Hero’s resolve in a conveniently dramatic way. As the Hero purposefully turns his back on them – and on the peaceful routine of the Mundane Shores – he’s now ready to meet the second denizen of the Narrative Vessel : the Mentor.

Mentors

Now that we’ve met the characters who were trying to derail the story, it’s time to meet the enablers and facilitators. Under their watchful gaze, and basking in their wisdom, the young and inexperienced Hero will gain valuable knowledge about the Heroic Territories, shedding away some of their preconceived ideas and rising to the first challenges. Allies, teachers, and guides, these characters are called Mentors, and you’ll find them in nearly every story. They are Arthur’s Merlin, Luke’s Obi-Wan, Frodo’s Gandalf, and McLeod’s Ramirez, demanding tutors who will shape up the Hero and make sure he doesn’t get offed by the first henchman. Just as the Gatekeepers represent our inner frailties, the Mentors represent our highest aspirations, what and who we strive to become.

The Mentor is usually best represented with an older, wiser version of the Hero. Come to think of it, it might not be a coincidence that in so many American movies this role is played by a British actor, as one could say Great Britain is – or at least has been – America’s Mentor. More seriously, he soldier’s mentor will most often be a wizened NCO, the young acolyte will generally be guided by an elder priest, the low-life thief will meet a gang boss, and the rebel girl will meet a sharp-tongued matron with a heart of gold and many stories to tell. In narration, the moment the Hero meets the Mentor, and the moment they click in together, accepting the teacher-pupil relationship, is a motherlode of dramatic opportunities. From the benevolent father-like figure to the love-hate relationship, the humbling of the Hero – and of the Mentor – is something that can be played upon page after page, chapter after chapter, reel after reel. The deeper it gets, the more intense it will get when the Hero finally outsmarts his teacher, or when the Mentor finally succumbs to the Villain’s treacherous schemes.

The Mentor being an older version of the Hero, it is important to give its character a lot of consideration in the story. Mentors, like Heroes, can suffer a deadly case of cliché-itis, as it is all too easy to make them the all-knowing, grey-robed wizard of a child’s tale. Mentors have their own life, their own psyche, and should therefore have their own agenda. They are not the Hero’s “wisdom-for-hire”, stepping up whenever the hero is stumped, and stepping down immediately after they have delivered that crucial piece of information. Conversely, the Hero is not supposed to be happy playing “Little Grasshopper” all day long. The Mentor might be dishonest, the hero might be an ingrate, the two of them might become enemies at some point of the story over some deep conflict of interests. As always the writer will have to be inventive and to strike a balance in the way he portrays them.

Let’s suppose my story is set in WW2 Germany. My Hero is an Allied intelligence officer, his Mentor is an old-guard German General. Their agendas might coincide for a while, and each of them might even benefit from their association with the other as long as the goal is getting Germany rid of the Nazis. But will their interest always coincide ? Will the German officer agree that Allied bombings on the Reich’s cities are a necessary evil if that means bringing the Reich down ? Will the Allied intelligence officer want to favour the rise of a non-Nazi, but still powerful Germany ? As the two men conspire to bring Hitler down, we can all feel there is going to be a point in the story where they will be sworn enemies, each of them knowing too much for the other’s comfort, and each of them wanting to advance his own agenda over the other one’s dead body if need be.


*******​

Now that we have seen Mentors and Gatekeepers in action, and that the main character has truly become the Hero, it’s time to see how the story’s first serious obstacles will be overcome. That will be the topic of the next article.

Atlantic Friend is the author of Crossfires, a French AAR for HOI2 Doomsday
 

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[anchor=I11]Go And Read These AARs[/anchor]
A Series of Brilliant Articles by Alfred Packer

There are many fantastic new AARs born every day in AARLand. The goal of this series of articles will be to highlight and bring to your attention a few of them. Since my taste is impeccable, you will doubtless love them.

The format is simple: I find AARs I like and then I tell you about them. I will try to focus on newer works and authors, but since I am lazy and find research annoying, well, some well established folks may find their way in here from time to time. Also, don’t expect author interviews or anything else that seems “worky.” Nope, I will just be finding AARs I like and telling you to go read them.

So, with those formalities out of the way, let us begin.

Today’s theme is: CK Comedies Born In the Month of April!

But first, a FAQ for this segment:

Why CK?
Because I like CK

But I hate CK. I hate the characters, I hate the game, I hate even the letters ‘C’ and ‘K’, how could I possibly enjoy these AARs based on a game that killed my dear Nana?
Like phargles’ epic Knud Knytling, these AARs are really, really funny. The heavy use of pictures means you can understand the action even without owning the game.

But I already read phargle. What is the point of reading another CK comedy if I already read the master?
What, do you have some sort of laugh quota for the day?

So, having answered any possible objections to your reading these stories, let me introduce you to MechtheDane’s You Godwin son and you lose some: A Family Saga

Described by the Author as an Epic, which just happens to be funny, You Godwin son, and you lose some: A Family Saga, follows the Godwinson family into exodus and their attempt to return to glory. The jokes are hilarious and MechtheDane edits his pictures beautifully, weaving, as promised, an Epic Tale that will have you, too, bellowing Godwinson Ho! before the day is out. Begun on April 14, but updates flow like crazy.

And now, AdmiralNelson’s De Bigod? More Like "De Bigot"

De Bigod? More Like “De Bigot” starts the action right in the middle of CK splintering madness and carries forward with a small, ambitious and, well, somewhat bigoted family as they try to reclaim their lost heritage. There are a slew of good jokes, nice subtle deadpan humor and, of course, murder, mayhem and war. Begun on April 12, and updates flowed like honey – until final exams – and then they’d better get back to flowing.

So that’s it. Part one of the master scheme is complete. Now for part two: go and read them.

Next Time: The author maybe writes another article. or not.

Alfred Packer is the author of The Adventures of House Eurpontid
 

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[anchor=I12]Of modding and AAR-writing.[/anchor]
by Kanax

Hello everybody, I’m KanaX, the guest writer for this month. I’m here to talk about, as the title suggests, how mods and modding has affected me as a writAAR. Namely, a mod called Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg for HoI2DD.

My first AAR, “Midnight Sun – Kaiserreich Finland” was inspired by the mod and the scenario that depicts a world where the German Empire won WWI. At that time, I knew very little of modding. When I played the game and wrote my AAR, I slowly started to notice that I wanted to alter the game so it would help me make my AAR better. Thus began my journey in the world of modding. Oddly enough, I wanted to make the game fit my AAR and not the common way of making the AAR fit the game. I began to study the mechanics of the game more to gain further knowledge on how I could change the game to make it better suited for my needs.

At first, I started to make little changes like adding ministers, making new tech teams and so on. Then I started to feel that what I did was wrong. I was altering the “Sacred Game”, made by the Gods of Paradox! How could I even dare change their original design?! I stopped for a while. I also started to notice a change of style in my writing. Now that I understood some of the mechanics of the game, I started to pay more attention to the gaming aspect and notice what just couldn’t be done in the limits of the game. Rather paradoxically ;) I, while trying to free myself from the limitations of the game for the sake of storytelling, started to see them as important factors in my gaming experience and made me think of new ways to write my AAR. I finished “Midnight Sun” and began modding again.
This time, I started to mod things that I knew would have a direct impact on my next AAR, whatever it might be. I only modded graphics, minister traits and generals, all the things that could easily be implemented in my AAR and still make the game feel like the AAR I was writing. Minister and general traits could be described in a narrative manner and the graphics could be seen in screenshots. This process had created my current writing style of mixing gameplay and narrative writing. It’s easier to match the personalities in the game (depending on the game, of course) with your AAR if you know the mechanics.


I think that if one knows modding, it opens new ways of writing your AAR, but one also loses something in the process. I personally miss the feeling of being blissfully ignorant about the mechanics of the game and being able to write pure fiction. But then again, AARs aren’t really novels or anything like that. They’re After Action Reports, and you need the gaming experience before you can write the AAR and I think too high-flying stories don’t really fit the category of an AAR. But, one can make the stories as high-flying as one wants and still base them on the game. All thanks to the capability to modify the game.
Kanax is the author of Divided but united – Austria 1836-1920