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RossN

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The Games Gods Play: A Macedonian AAR


The Kingdom of Macedonia, 474 AVC


Prologue

This was the place the gods called home, known to man as Mount Olympus though it lay on no mere mountain that could be found in lands of mortals, any more than Hades could be found beneath their feet. The Immortals are not bound by the petty tyrannies of earth such as you or I. Theirs is the land that dreams dwell, that ideas live and breathe.

The lands were the games of men are played.

The gaming table lies in the middle of a room of gold and marble. Around are gathered a host of men and women - or perhaps I should say beings that are to men and women as a child's cloth doll is to the works of Praxiteles. They are the gods of the Greek world and they are once again playing at their game. The stakes are higher than you can imagine, the pieces are not those found in any mortal room, but the nature of the game is familiar to any gambler. Even deities love to wager.

"A worthy fight Ares," said Apollo with a graceful bow to his defeated opponent. "Lysimachus was a fine follower."

"Not nearly fine enough," the war god roared angrily and left the group to stomp off somewhere and enjoy a long divine sulk. Apollo watched him go wearily. Some men (or deities) never knew to quit while they were ahead. Presumably he was off to pick another fight with Laran or Set. Apollo rather hoped not: the last such brawl (over one of the lesser Muses) had resulted in the eruption of Thera in the mortal world.

"New game?" he suggested to the gathered divinities.

Athena, Poseidon, Aphrodite and Helios stepped forward. The god of the sea chose Carthage (so playing with his usual imagination then), the goddess of love went for Egypt (because her fondness for kohl) while the sun god plumped for the Seleucid Empire (after making a deeply unfunny 'joke' about the sun always rising in the east).

"You already made that joke," pointed out Athena rolling her grey eyes. "Remember when you backed Cyrus?"

The goddess of wisdom let out a long, world weary sigh that Apollo frankly found a touch too theatrical and ended up settling for Rome, a civilisation she felt had real potential.

"And you brother?" Athena asked Apollo.

"Macedonia," said Apollo favouring his sister goddess with his second best smile - the one that been known to cause mortal women (and some mortal men) to burst into flames just seeing it. All it elicited from Athena was a suspicious glance.

"Why Macedonia?"

"I have my reasons," answered the god of prophecy coolly.

The game began...



~~~~~

Hey all. Yes, this is yet another AAR - this one about Macedonia starting in 474 AVC and using the 1.3 patch.

I'm hoping to go for something like my EU III AAR Strange Shores, so if you liked that you might like this. :)
 

comagoosie

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I haven't read your previous EU3 AAR but this one looks promising. I can't wait for more :D
 

Eams

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I liked Strange Shores, as well as your other AARs. I'm just hoping that someday you'll stop posting new ones without telling us about it ;)
 

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Ah, the gods playing with the destinies of the nations. This sounds interesting.
 

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Subscribed.
 
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Nice idea, and witty portrayal of the whimsical Olympians. I am curious to see wether you stay with the god-perspective all the time, return to it now and again, or if this was just an intro.
 

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Delighted to see you begin a Rome AAR. I look forward to your next update.
 

RossN

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Sorry for the lack of updates but the inside of my house is being redecorated AND I am going through a new college course. I'm afraid my computer use (and the rest of my life!) has been pretty disrupted.

I'll try and get back to you guys as soon as possible. :)

~Ross
 

RossN

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Ptolemy Keraunos & Meleager

Part One: The Brothers Ptolemy (474 - 500 A.V.C)

We begin we a Ptolemy. Not that Ptolemy, the first and greatest, who became king of Egypt, nor his son who followed in his footsteps but that Ptolemy named Keraunos ('Thunderbolt') who sought his fortunes in Macedonia.

Ptolemy Keraunos, having won his throne by trickery and deceit proved a failure at keeping it. Skills bred in the royal courts did not transfer to the battlefield.

To the west of Macedonia lay barbarous Illyria, a primitive backwater that would prove easy meat for the Macedonian veterans. Or so Ptolemy assumed. The assassination of a Macedonian noble provided just the pretext he needed.

In March 475* Ptolemy assembled his armies and crossed into Taulanti, defeating a smaller Illyrian force sent to oppose him, before sacking the city of Epidamnos. Then he advanced into the Illyrian heartland, confident in his superior numbers. The Illyrians and Macedonians met at Scodra. What followed would shape Macedonian fortunes for a generation. Despite his advantage in manpower Ptolemy lost almost six thousand men, three-quarters of the entire army; worse yet the king himself fell into Illyrian hands and was spirited off into the depths of enemy territory.


Disaster in Illyria

After this disaster the Macedonian nobles stripped Ptolemy of his throne in absentia and offered it to his brother Meleager. It was an astonishing move, but the Macedonian throne was not what it was. Ptolemy had gained power through intrigue and Lysimachus through conquest. Macedonia had been through six kings and three dynasties in twenty years and there was little appetite for either an interregnum or a civil war. Hence Meleager was the least objectionable choice.

Meleager was not as strong minded or brave as his brother; in some matters he was simply incapable. Still for all his flaws he was much more charismatic than Ptolemy had ever been which allowed him to get his way when more gifted men may have floundered. Meleager made a grand show of accepting the title of 'Regent', sternly reminding the Macedonian court that the luckless Ptolemy remained king.

Aware of his own martial shortcomings, the Regent appointed other men to lead his armies, armies that themselves had to be painstakingly rebuilt. The brilliant general Cremonidies would restore Macedonian pride and honour as the war continued for the next four years. Handsome, brave and ingenious he soon passed even the Regent in popularity. Something that would not go unnoticed by Meleager...

By 480 the Illyrians were exhausted by war and facing a rebellion in their own lands. They offered Meleager Taulanti and Dalmatae. Some nobles wanted to press for more, but Meleager pointed out that the men were badly needed to combat the barbarians of Paeonia who had made a positive of plague of themselves. Unstated was the worry that Cremonidies had become just a little too popular. Certainly he was promptly dismissed at the end of the war and replaced with the far more reliable Nicorates.

That same year saw a remarkable turn of fortunes for Ptolemy Keraunos. Having languished in captivity for four years Ptolemy became caught up in the Illyrian civil war. With his talent for betrayal and saving his own skin Ptolemy rose far - so far in fact that when the rebels captured the Illyrian capital he was able to declare himself king of Illyria. As he was still technically ruler of Macedonia this created a problem, at least until an outraged Macedonia court deposed him and Meleager accepted the kingship.

Ptolemy wisely chose not to contest the decision. Better to keep the throne he had than risk everything on reinforcing his claim to a kingdom that barely remembered him and disliked him if they did remember.

The next few years were mostly quiet, at least if you can call a period of barbarian maraudings 'quiet'. Meleager set up colonies in Paeonia and later Maedi which regularly fell to raiders. Unhelpfully his brother was also trying to colonise the Balkans and between them they stirred up a barbarian hornet's nest. The city of Bylazora was besieged five times and sacked twice between 483 and 500.

It was not barbarians that occupied Meleager's attention however. Nicomedes of Bithynia had conquered the Thracians and the presence of the wealthy Asian kingdom so close at hand was like a knife pointed at the Macedonian heart. Meleager bided his time till the Bithynian’s were occupied in an Asian war. Then he pounced. In a matter of months Thrace was his and the Bithynian’s were reduced to paying tribute.

By 490 the Macedonians had revived much of their former power; Epirus and Sparta were their allies and Illyria was still licking her wounds. Meleager was willing to go to war with his brother in 494 to secure a bridge to isolated Dalmatae - he would end up winning Scodra and Ditiones. In a quirk of fate the 'Kingdom of Illyria' still existed, but had lost both its original homeland and its native rulers: the indestructible Ptolemy Keraunos kept his throne.

Yet even at this apogee dark forces were stirring in Macedonia. In 496 and 498 Meleager was forced to put down peasant revolts in Thessaly. Constant war had left its mark on the country. More ominously when Meleager replaced the influential and successful general Nicoles with his son Damasias there was deep grumbling in the ranks of the nobility. Meleager arrogantly assumed the disquiet could be ignored.

He was wrong. In early 500 Nicoles had retired to his vast estates in Thrace. Gathering a crew of discontent nobles and officers he gathered his strength and on 25 November declared himself king of Macedonia.

The First Macedonian Civil War had begun...


The Kingdom of Macedonia, 500 AVC (prior to Civil War)

~~~​

"Funny thing Ptolemy getting captured in his first battle," said Apollo shooting a cool glance at Athena.

"Funny thing you 'remembering' that you had Meleager as a backup character," said his sister meaningfully.

The two glared at each other.

Aphrodite looked at each of them in puzzlement: she didn't get what so funny. With a sigh she returned her attention to the board.

She never really got these whole intellectual jokes anyway.

 

comagoosie

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So great to see you take up the mantle of this AAR! Great start too!

The Ptolemy are too good at thier sneaky ways. They could convince Romans that they weren't romans. Too bad a civil war had to start. I wonder how many provinces the rebels have and if they pose a serious threat.
 

OutsiderSubtype

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Wow, I like this AAR so far. The Greek gods are always entertaining. Let's hope they don't take their sibling rivalry too far!

And that is crazy about Ptolemy K.
 

Enewald

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Hmph, some fast growing.
Divine creatures do not understand jokes! :eek:
 

Olaus Petrus

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Ptolemy Keraunos as the king of the Illyrians, certainly was surprising turn of the events.
 

RossN

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Prince Damasias, Macedonian heir


Part Two: Thicker Than Water (500 - 508 AVC)

When King Meleager assembled his court in Pella, more than a few loyalist generals must have wondered if they had backed the right horse. Stooped, prematurely aged and dull eyed the Macedonian monarch did not cut a dignified figure. Disappointment and ill health had robbed him of the illusion of vibrancy. No wonder many eyes turned away from Meleager and instead found hope in the dashing figure of Damasias Ptolemy. Meleager's twenty year old son was clever, brave and capable - a bright future for Macedonia and the Ptolemy dynasty.

At the beginning of 501 it seemed that the loyalists did not have much to fear; Thracia, Maedi and Paeonia might have sided with the rebels but the great bulk of the kingdom and army had stayed true. Yet there was something rotten at the heart of the kingdom. Damasias, that splendid prince, was secretly meeting with the traitor Niccoles. What exactly was said was said between the two was never revealed, but clearly at some point he agreed to betray his father. On 17 July 501 Damasias defected to Niccoles, bringing with him fifty golden talents given as a gift from his father, the famed general Chremonidies, and last but hardly least the twelve thousand soldiers of the 2nd Strategos.

It was a cataclysmic blow, and within months the Archons of Taulanti, Scodra and Ditones declared for Nicoles. With the exception of suddenly isolated Dalmate all the lands Macedonia had gained since 474 had been lost. All the rest of 'New' Macedonia had gone over to the traitor.


The Civil War, 26 November 501

The unexpected treachery of Damasias broke Meleager. Though the King lingered on until February 502, it was a bloodless shadowy existence. He was only forty-eight years old but his spirit and died and eventually his mortal body followed it. It was perhaps a blessing for Meleager that he did not live long enough to see the rebels sack Pella itself a few months after his death.

In more normal times the throne would have passed to Damasias, but the court balked at handing the Kingdom of Macedonia to a traitor. They briefly toyed with the idea of sending for Ptolemy Keraunos (still lording over the Illyrians) but in the end they decided upon Sosthenes.

Sosthenes was not a member of the Ptolemy dynasty, though he was married to Meleager's daughter Aristomache. He was an Antipatrid, the nephew of that Cassander who had once been king of Macedonia and when Sosthenes took the throne he was already in his sixties. He was a superb soldier, administrator and leader of men.

Unfortunately for Sosthenes the situation he had inherited was deteriorating rapidly. The court was forced to flee to Larissa in Thessaly (and then Kórinthos in Argolis) leaving Macedonia proper to Nicoles. Though the loyalists managed to score a victory of their own in sacking Nicoleses own capital of Tylis the war was plainly running in favour of the rebels throughout most of 502 and 503.

The first great victory for the loyalists came in April 503 when Sosthenes annihilated a rebel force that was trying to relieve his siege of Iamphorynna in Maedi. The loss of six thousand veteran soldiers was a crippling blow to the Nicoles and tremendous morale boost for the loyalists. Sosthenes had realized that though the rebels now had more soldiers they were tied up in relatively small armies that he could easily gain local superiority. Instead of trying to be strong everywhere at once the loyalists would have to work methodically. In short order the loyalists began rolling up the rebels in the north. In 504 Sosthenes and his loyalist generals Pitholaos and Euripides broke the back of the rebels in Macedonia and Thessaly and though a decisive victory eluded them the tide had clearly turned. Loyalist nobles flocked to the cause, providing money and men even as the forces loyal to Nicoles withered on the vine.

Though all hope of victory had vanished by late 505 the rebels fought on with desperate courage for almost three more years, making Sosthenes pay for each blade of grass. The great king would not live to see his victory; on 17 August 506 he died quite suddenly in his sleep. It was a strangely quiet end for so great a warrior king. He had restored a great dynasty to power and saved the kingdom. Alas, he had not shown the same vision when it came to his offspring. The throne passed to his seven year old son Xanthos.


Xanthos I, King of Macedonia

The rebels were facing defeat everywhere by the winter of 506, with only Eubeoa remaining securely in their hands. But with Niccoles, Damasias and Chremonidies on the run the rebel cause could never truly die. In July 506 Chremonidies was ruinously defeated in Thessaly, but Niccoles and Damasias managed to escape to Thracia and join with the rebels there as they retook Tylis. It was here, where the cause of Niccoles had begun, that it would die. The city, and with it all of Thracia finally surrendered to the loyalist armies on 27 February 508. With the surrender of the rebels in Euobea the Macedonian Civil War was finally over.

Chremonidies was dead, but Niccoles and Damasias lived to see to captivity. There was little doubt over the punishment of Niccoles, but Damasias was a more complicated case: he was a Ptolemy, the son of old Meleager and the brother of Queen Aristomache who was now serving as regent. His own nephew was king. Aristomache, who was neither intelligent nor tactful, was disposed to spare him until her advisors pointed out the risk he represented to her own son. With Damasias around Xanthos would never be secure in his rule.

In the end blood told: Damasias joined Niccoles in being put to death. The great hope of the Macedonian Ptolemy dynasty ended his journey in some paupers grave in the Thessalian countryside, unmarked and unmourned.


The fall of the Ptolemies