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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Prufrock451

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The Great Game Redux- Sir John Miffling-Hodgkins’ Khanate of Sibir

My family often urged me to write down my memoirs before I took leave of my senses. This made a certain amount of sense, as the last time I saw them, I was a good 91 years old. Today, however, I am a hale and hearty young man. Difficult to take in, I realize. Allow me to start at the beginning.

I was born at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day, 1819, in the small town of Miffling in west Oxbrookshire. My father, a landowner and noble, sent me to Eton and then on to Cambridge, where I passed my forms dutifully, if not exceptionally. Raised to the manor born, it was expected that I would settle in, manage the family affairs, go into Parliament, and generally maintain the decently quiet tradition of the Miffling-Hodgkins name. And, for a time, I met those expectations. However, I always longed to travel, and devoured every travelogue, map, and tale of adventure I could get my hands upon, from Homer to Sir Richard Burton. Finally, on my fortieth birthday, I put my affairs in order, gave over the family businesses to my younger brother, and set out for India. It was a grand adventure! However, it was made somewhat less grand by the fact that I contracted a rather odious tropical disease on my first day off ship. I returned to England, vowing never to travel again; at least, not south.

I settled in to the tasks before me, serving a brace of terms under Gladstone, diving into the family businesses, raising my children. Soon, I had grown old. I had thought the spirit of adventure had died within me. But one day, on my ninetieth birthday, I read of an expedition searching for frozen mammoths in the Siberian wasteland. Suddenly, all my youthful spirit fired within me. Reasonably healthy and indisputably rich, I managed to talk my way onto the expedition, to the great shock and displeasure of my entire clan.

I spent a month or two with my fellow Englishmen riding through Siberia. Everywhere, there were peasants living in indescribable squalor. We were appalled, to say the least. One of the fellows on the expedition mentioned Mackinder’s threory of geopolitics- that Russia’s east, the Heartland of Eurasia, was the key to domination of Asia. I shuddered to think of the Czar’s relentless march into the steppes, and of the grave threat Russia posed to the British possessions in India.

In June of 1908, we found ourselves at our destination- the forests outside a small town named Tunguska. I had gotten separated from the party, and was trotting back to camp on a small pony I had named Bevins. Looking down at my compass and map, I think to this day I would never have noticed what was about to happen had Bevins not whinnied piteously. Dismounting, I patted his neck and noticed him looking skywards. I looked up, and saw the most terrifying spectacle of my life.

A giant ball of fire was descending from the sky directly above me! A whistling began to grow, until it became a deafening roar that shook the very earth. Bevins bolted, but I was too dumbstruck to move. Suddenly, as the tumbling meteor began to break apart, a huge flash of light blinded me. My heart bursting within my chest, I cried out, thinking I was dead. I felt no sudden pain- no burning or limbs flying off or any of the other scenarios that rushed through my head. Instead, the light passed, and I found myself feeling peaceful and calm. “Well, old boy,” I said to myself, “you’ve had adventure and then some. What a smashing way to depart the earth.” Opening my eyes, I was shocked to find this was the literal truth! I was floating above the curvature of the earth, swimming in the ether! The light dimmed and grew, dimmed and grew, and I soon realized that the earth was spinning beneath me at a growing pace, and that the sun was flashing to my right. I had but one thought- that I must be on the ground and away from any further terrifying shocks. I found to my pleasant surprise that I could steer myself by a sort of paddling motion. I began to swim down, trying to time my descent so that I might land on British soil, or failing that, perhaps in one of the Dominions with a decent post. As the earth’s motion continued to gain momentum, though, I found it all I could do merely to stay aimed at dry land. Gritting my teeth, I plowed forward, determined to give this the old school try. I came closer and closer to the whirling earth, and soon found that the gravity of the planet was pulling me in at an ever-increasing speed. As I began my final descent, a final shock became dismayingly obvious- the earth was spinning in the wrong direction! Before I could register this, the earth rushed up, and in a chaos of noise and light, I fainted.

I came to in a snowy pine forest. It was early morning. I stood, and found to my shock that I was completely uninjured! I added it to the list of miracles for the day, and gingerly walked about. As I pondered my next action, I heard singing from the west. I walked.

Emerging from the trees, I found myself face to face with a group of Asiatic men roasting a goat on a spit. As I came into view, they fell into a stunned silence. I cleared my throat.

“I am a subject of the British Crown. I would be most edified if you could direct me to the nearest British consulate.” I was answered only by a distant cricket. Thinking that perhaps I might still be in Siberia, I tried again in Russian. This time, my words had an instant effect. With a single roar, the men leapt up, lashed a rope around me, and trussed me to a mule. Before I could utter a single word of protest, I was being led down a muddy road. I resigned myself to my fate, trusting that nothing about to befall me could be worse- or stranger- than what I had been through. I was about to learn differently.
 

Prufrock451

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Okay- so this is my first AAR. Savage criticism is, of course, welcome.

Sir John Miffling-Hodgkins, my stuffy British Edwardian narrator, has been blasted through time and space by the Tunguska explosion! whoa! So, he'll be running the Khanate of Sibir for as long as I can keep it going.

Short term goals- Stay alive. Whip the other khanates either into submission or into some kind of shape.

Long term goals- Destroy Russia! Save the East for Britain! *waves Union Jack* Once I've got some kind of workable position, I'm going to try for an alliance with Britain and, if at all possible, conversion to Anglicanism. Hopefully, some obliging Reformed power will declare war on me and I'll be able to convert. Can Protestant powers demand conversion? hm.

AI is Normal/Aggressive.
 

Prufrock451

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The Great Game Redux- Sir John Miffling-Hodkin's Khanate of Sibir

Mimir: thanks for the vote of confidence! Here we go.

My trek along the road, if I may generously term that muddy rut a road, was thankfully short. Before long, I found myself being cut loose and prodded at spearpoint towards a group of thatched huts. Rubbing my hands, I stumbled forward into the largest hut. Seated on a golden throne was a hulking Asiatic savage in furs, surrounded by a roaring group of other fur-clad warriors. Quaffing wine and tearing handfuls of meat from barely cooked lambs, the men took little notice of my entrance until a guard shouted for attention. A short conversation in some barbaric tongue followed, and the man on the throne, regarding me carefully, gestured to the guard to bring me forward. He then said, as best I can render his gibbering in writing,

“Uluu k’baanu cher hooma ma balaa? KOOMOO!”

The words sent a chill down my spine. Not for any meaning, obviously, but because of the obvious suspicion behind them. I tried again to demand the treatment due a British subject, but none of the barbarians spoke English. Again, I tried Russian, and got the same response as my earlier attempt; an unholy noise exploded through the room, and I was immediately forced to my knees amid a tangle of spears and axes. I had been faced with mortal danger too many times that day to respond with much emotion, and simply sighed. “Que sera sera”, I said out loud, and prepared myself for the final blow. Suddenly, a piercing shout silenced the room. A bustling grew apparent to my right. I looked up, and saw a painfully skinny man in the robes of a Capuchin monk approaching.

“You speak Latin?” he asked. The benefits of a public school education! In the stentorian voice of a Cato, I answered him.

“I do. Where am I? Why do these barbarians want to chop off my head the second I say ‘Das vedanya?’” The words elicited an angered hissing from the savages.

“You, my friend, would do well never to speak another word of Russian in the court of the Khan of Sibir.”

“The what? Is he some sort of ceremonial figurehead or village chieftain? I thought the Russians had put an end to all that bosh centuries past.” The monk stared at me in disbelief.

”Centuries past? But the Mongols have not been here two hundred years yet.” The words sent a thrill of fear through me. Suddenly, I recalled the earth spinning in the wrong direction during my terrifying descent… as it would if the days were moving back upon themselves.

“In God’s name,” I gasped, “what year is it?”

The monk stared at me in utter disbelief. “My good man, today is the New Year. January the first in the year of our Lord 1419.”

I could not restrain myself. “But that is impossible! It is the year 1908!” The monk took a step back. I had obviously pushed him too far into the arms of skepticism. Resolving to show him, I withdrew an electric torch from my backpack. “Here! Here is my proof!” I shouted, shining the lamp into his face. “Would a man have this in 1419? Or this? Or this?” I showed him my compass, my maps, a tin of sardines; anything that would drive home the veracity of my claim. Suddenly, I noticed the awed eyes of the room upon my torch. It was obviously something beyond their ken- something they had never seen or heard of. I was in the year 1419, among the Mongol hordes. And I had gotten off on a terribly bad start.

“My friend,” said the monk carefully, “whether you be a devil or sorcerer or indeed a man from the future… we have much to discuss.” He shouted to the throned man. To his credit, the barbarian king shook off his stupor almost immediately and shouted a command. The room cleared, and thus began my first audience with On Khan, the man who would set me upon my destiny, and whose destiny I would set as well.
 

unmerged(6777)

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An excellent beginning. I like the premise and one can certainly spot the *proper education* in the undercurrents.;)

Hope you've got lots of batteries for your torch.:D

I played the Sibir for about a hundred years once and then gave up since I just couldn't seem to get anywhere. It seems like it's forever before you can start exploring the Siberian corridor and most of your neighbours can eat you alive in the early game (until the revolt events start to lay low the Golden Horde. I'll be interested to see how you fare in this.
 

Prufrock451

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The Great Game Redux- The Battle of Turgai

I should like, at this point, to correct myself in stating that I was 91 years old on that terrible day in Tunguska. I was, in fact, 89. I think I may be forgiven this slight error, considering that those events happened several centuries ago, or, depending on one’s point of view, over a century into the future. *long icy glare* Thank you.

On, the Khan of Sibir, was a decent, courageous, and openminded chap, limited as he was by the lack of a proper Anglican upbringing. (3-3-4) I was able to impress him sufficiently in that first audience (with my Capuchin savior, Brother Gerhard, acting as interpreter) to be made a Special Advisor to the court. My first action was to encourage the Khan to hire more scribes and start interviewing traveling merchants, in the hopes of promoting scientific development. This created some grumbling among the nobles, who exercised almost complete control over their fiefs, but On Khan agreed and orders were sent by horse to the corners of the Khanate. On Khan also sent a horseman with the news to his feudal lord, the Khan of the powerful Golden Horde. I resolved to wean On Khan of his obesiance to that incompetent churl as quickly as possible.

Sibir in 1419- I have devised a sort of “Domestic Index”, which sums up at a glance the state of Sibir’s society along a number of scales running from zero to ten.
9 Aristocratic- Those damnable nobles.
0 Decentralized- Those damnable nobles.
2 Narrowminded- Those thrice-damned Mohammedan priests. (First move: to 3 Narrowminded)
8 Mercantilism- Understandable, given the lack of a harbor or literate merchants.
6 Offensive- Our lads were spoiling for a good fight, but again the damnable nobles urged caution in any situation which might lose horsemen, as they would have a harder time terrorizing the countryside.
6 Land- As Sibir was a landlocked nation, I can only give one reason for its half-hearted naval ambitions: the machinations of the “Duke” of Sadrinsk, Mulugh Ulunai, whose ancestors had been involved in the Mongol invasion of Japan. We shall hear more of the erstwhile Admiral of Sibir and his incompetent seed as we progress.
2 Quantity- At this time, the training of a Siberian horseman consisted largely of ensuring he did not die of some fever during childhood. He was then given a bow and sword and huzzah! An elite soldier.
10 Serfdom- Those damnable nobles again.

The nobles, jealous of my new influence and hoping to rid themselves of me at once, urged me to lead an expedition to the east. I was hesitant, but Brother Gerhard urged me to accept with alacrity, as I would gain time to survey the Khanate and develop my own plans. So, I accepted, and accompanied by five thousand horsemen, traveled east to the plains of Turgai to accept tribute from the shepherd tribes there.

I spent most of the trip observing and planning. Sibir was a young country, barely settled by its Mongol lords. (All of Sibir’s provinces are still colonial cities.) Fully half the population were not Mongol at all, but of the Altai tribe. The Altai were, if possible, even less civilised than my Mongol hosts, worshipping trees and rivers as gods and wasting perfectly good sheep on a host of sacrifices, which ate considerably into the economy. (Over the objections of Duke Mulugh, a number of Moslem priests were sent to Sadrinsk as missionaries while I was setting out). As Brother Gerhard and I passed through the towns and villages, making notes and interviewing the populace, we slowly moved from the vanguard to the rear of the column. A rider from On Khan arrived in mid-February with the news that he had concluded an alliance with the Golden Horde. I was distressed, but had little time to dwell on the situation. Passing into Turgai, I was struck with horror. The Siberian brutes had laid waste to the entire province! Riding as furiously as my aching back would allow, I caught up to the head of the column, to find Duke Mulugh’s men happily slaughtering the last of the tribesmen.

“What have you done, you ignorant savages? You brutes, fiends, infidels! What is the meaning of this outrage?” To this day, I do believe that Brother Gerhard softened this considerably in the translation. Duke Mulugh of Sadrinsk trotted up and offered some tripe about “Mongol destiny” and “peace with honor”. Infuriated with his smirking self-satisfaction and that of his lieutenants, I determined then and there that I would brook no further meddling from him. I drew my revolver and pointed it at his aide-de-camp.

“Listen well,” I said. “From this day forward, my word is law. Sibir will be a great nation, but under my tutelage. Nothing is to be done without my order, and no one shall oppose my will. You shall give up the command of your armies, and you will swear obesiance to me under our Khan. If you do not, I shall strike you down with the lightning and the thunder which I command.” Brother Gerhard translated slowly, staring at me with growing confusion. As he reached the end, the Duke burst into laughter, as did his men. Gesturing at the hordes behind him, his smirk grew wider.

“Old man, if you were not so amusing, I would put an arrow through your head this moment for your insolence. Get off that horse, bow down to me, and I shall allow you to live here as Khan of Turgai, Lord of the Corpses.” I waited calmly for the renewed laughter to die down. I then shot his aide-de-camp dead. Without waiting for the last echoes to die, I shot five more men, who fell from their saddles like stones.

“Now,” I said. “This is your last chance. Release your men from their oaths, go home to Sadrinsk, and never disobey me again.” A long silent moment passed, and I prayed that my fear did not show. This bluff was madness, but only I knew that my revolver was empty. The Duke raised his hand, and I waited in terror for his next words.

“Listen to me, men of Sibir! Go to your homes. You are no longer my soldiers, and I am no longer your commander. This man says he shall lead us to glory. We shall see.” In silence, the Mongols began to disperse. Head held high, Duke Mulugh trotted past. As he did, he hissed to me, “I cannot fight you in the sunlight, old man. But never sleep easy again.” I had destroyed an army of five thousand men with six pistol shots and seized control of a nation, but I had made a terrible enemy. It was, all in all, a very long day.
 

Prufrock451

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The Great Game Redux- Cry Havoc!

I returned to Tobolsk to find the Khan’s court in an uproar. The news of Turgai had preceded me. On Khan, overcome with fury, forgot his dignity and strode from his throne to meet me in the street.

“What is the meaning of this? You have destroyed a third of my army!”

“My Khan, we could not afford those men in the first place. And surely, a third of your power is a small price to pay… considering that it comes from the strength of the nobles. From this day forward, you are Khan in fact as well as name. Were I you, I would welcome half a dozen such disasters, as each shall only leave you stronger.” The Khan considered, and slowly nodded.

“Very well, old man. I shall heed your advice and quiet the nobles. But they will never listen to a mere commoner. I will give you a title and lands, and a seat at my table.” There was only one title that an Englishman in these circumstances could accept.

“My Khan, I shall be content with one title; Sahib.”

The year of 1420 was spent in feverish activity, and Brother Gerhard (who, I learned, had been sent to Sibir as a missionary after an indiscretion involving a German count’s daughter) worried constantly over my health. I dismissed his worries, conscious of how much should be done before my death. The first and most important step was to gather a number of orphans into my new Tobolsk Academy, staffed by scribes taken from Duke Mulugh’s ludicrous naval projects. I set them to work learning arithmetics and Latin. The first thing any nation needs is a corps of bright young lads with a decent education. There would be time enough later, I thought, for the Anglican Creed.

As my new projects gestated, the country grew quiet, and I decided the time had come for the first test of the new order. On my 91st birthday, New Year’s Day of 1421, I called upon On Khan.

“We must break the oath that binds us to the Golden Horde. Half of our taxes flow west, when they could do immeasurable good furthering our own projects.” On Khan stared in astonishment.

“But the nobles! They would never accept this dishonorable deed! It would cause chaos throughout the realm, and ruin my relations with the other Khans! I cannot agree to this, Sahib.”

“Simply point out that they shall be twice as rich as well, my Khan. I think you will find the nobles surprisingly agreeable. The Khan of the Golden Horde, simpleminded as he is, would surely not break the vow of alliance to punish us at a time when he is hamstrung by rebellion. And as for the other Khans to the east, they will not attack while we are allies of the Golden Horde.” On Khan withdrew to think on this. Two hours later, a messenger came out of his chamber carrying a blank parchment with the Khan’s seal at the bottom. Elated, Gerhard and I wrote out a sufficiently insulting letter and sent it by rider to Samara. When news spread of this, the uproar was immediate and fierce, but I was right; the nobles did not rise in rebellion, and no declarations of war came from the Golden Horde or the southern Khans. The Khan of Nogai, however, did send notice that he had concluded an alliance with the Uzbek Kagan and the Khan of the Khazaks, a man whose irritability far exceeded the strength of his army. On Khan’s respect for me grew immensely, and he was satisfied enough to order the execution of a number of priests who protested my actions in 1422. I spent the next two years in ceaseless activity, taking over instruction at the Academy, learning the Mongol tongue, and forming my Grand Design.

At Tunguska, I had dreaded the power of the Czar and his control over Eurasia’s Heartland. Well, I was now the lord of the Heartland, five hundred years earlier! I had a chance to rewrite history, to break the Czar’s power, and to guarantee the endless ascent of English power throughout Asia. I resolved to grasp the nettle. I would form a new Mongol Empire, and reduce Russia to vassalage again. Inspired, I had a makeshift Union Jack sewn up and placed above the door to the Academy. In a fit of high spirits, I had a number of Duke Mulugh’s malcontented followers sent to establish a new colony in Turgai on St. Patrick’s Day of 1424. “Except that our Ireland,” I muttered, “will be considerably quieter.”

This new colony sent shocks of alarm through the Khazak court, as it extended Sibir’s borders to within easy striking distance of their capital of Karsak. Rumours of my sorcerous power prevented them from protesting immediately, but the Khazak Khan eventually screwed up his courage enough to send On Khan a message demanding a number of ludicrous things, including the dismantling of our new colony, an annual tribute, and the head of Duke Mulugh on a platter. As pleasant as that would have been, the Khan and I agreed to reject the note in its entirety, and throw a sop to the nobles. We would have a war! The nobles, summoned to Tobolsk, roared with disgust at hearing Karsak’s terms, and readily agreed to offer a loan and build up a new army of infantry, trained in siegecraft. The spring was given over to military preparation, and I convinced the Khan to strike first against Nogai, as their Mongol population would be more easily ruled. In the middle of summer, our preparations were completed. On July 15, 1425, a joint declaration of war from the Khans of Sibir and the Golden Horde was sent to Karsak, and our forces streamed south against the Khazak Alliance. For the first time in decades, battle was joined and the first die in my Grand Design was cast.
 

Prufrock451

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The Great Game Redux- The First Eastern War

The Khan was at the forefront of the forces, participating in the Battle of Irgiz, where the entire army of Nogai was shattered. I myself was outside the walls of Orsk, organizing the siege there, when a message came from On Khan.

“The Khazaks have overrun Turgai and besieged Tenghiz. You had better be right, Sahib.”

Deprived of battle, our lads settled into the tedious routine of siege. With the nobles at the front and the treasury empty, it was impossible to scrape up enough money and men to face the Khazak army, reinforced by a marauding Uzbek cavalry army. After a particularly bitter winter and a muddy spring, new came that Tenghiz had fallen. The Khazaks sent a crowing note to On Khan, noting that they now held one of our cities and that the Uzbeks were advancing on Ichim. They demanded a tribute and Turgai. On my advice, On Khan instead bought off the Uzbeks with 25 chests of gold, ending the threat from that front. Rumblings from the nobles were forestalled by the arrival of a large army from the Golden Horde, which joined our siege of Irgiz in early June. The following month, my boys took Orsk and I gathered the forces to move south and besiege Alga. As I arrived and took up position, word came that Irgiz had surrendered, and On Khan led his armies and those of the Golden Horde to join the siege at Alga. As the Khazaks led a raiding force across Sibir, losing half their men to the bitter winter, they settled into a siege of Kurgan while Alga fell shortly after the New Year of 1427. Our men moved on to Bouzatchi, while the Golden Horde’s forces joined an advance force they had already sent to Ust Urt. That city fell in March, and the Golden Horde moved east to battle the Khazaks outside Tenghiz.

It was at this time that news came of a revolt in Sadrinsk. The missionaries that On Khan had sent had been slaughtered, and the Altai were battering at the walls of Sadrinsk. Duke Mulugh seemed indifferent. “They’ll give up after a winter with no harvest.” For once, I agreed with him, and no forces were sent north. In January of 1428, as we were negotiating the surrender of Bouzatchi, news came that the Golden Horde had forced the Khazaks to fall back and initiated a siege of their trapped garrison in Tenghiz. The forces of Sibir marched to begin the siege of Nogai’s capital, Emba. Another nine months passed in stultifying boredom, until the electrifying news came that Tenghiz had been regained. Our allies had won the day! The celebrations were cut short by the arrival of a messenger from Kurgan: Muscowy had annexed Ryazan. I was put into a foul temper, which was not improved when the Khazaks annihilated the Golden Horde’s army outside Tenghiz and started their siege anew. In a fury, I lashed into On Khan, the nobles, and whatever hapless warriors happened to cross past my tent. My tongue-lashing had the desired result, and shortly before the end of the year, the Khan of Nogai came forth under terms of parley to discuss the surrender of his nation. Howling jubilantly, the Sibirian army gathered to hear the terms we demanded. Their delirium was increased when On Khan strode from the tent to announce them. The cities of Orsk, Irgiz, and Alga were ceded to Sibir outright, Ust Urt was given to the Golden Horde, and the rump Khanate of Nogai was made a tributary vassal. Singing and screaming war cries, the army set out immediately to meet the Khazaks, whose insolence had begun the war. Khazak armies in Orsk and Tenghiz were utterly annilhilated, and in March of 1429, our army gathered in Turgai to take the war onto the Khazak homeland. Wary of rebellion in the new territories, I persuaded On Khan to demand a tribute and end the war. We received fifty chests of gold, twice what we had paid the Uzbeks, and returned to Tobolsk in triumph.

We had destroyed the military power of the Khazaks, subjugated Nogai, and doubled the size of our economy. However, we were now saddled with the need to repay our nobles, with Orsk and Tenghiz still in flames. Thirty thousand horsemen had died, to say nothing of civilian losses. Our inflation had quadrupled to four percent. We had our first victory, but it was bittersweet, and, worst of all, Duke Mulugh was made military governor of the Nogai lands. “Better to have him there than Sadrinsk, Sahib,” argued On Khan. “It will keep him too busy to get into mischief.” I decided to let the matter lie, and went back to the Academy. There was work to be done.
 

Lord Durham

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Great work. I liked your take on the Domestic Index. :)
 

Prufrock451

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You like me! You really like me!

Thanks for all the positive feedback. I'll try and keep it coming. Look for Sir John to get more crotchety once he realizes he's in for the long haul.

And I'm finding Sibir surprisingly playable so far. As a matter of fact... well... you'll find out. Oh, yes. :D
 

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Fantastic, Prufrock! I'm enjoying your characters immensely. I really like Sir John's goal for Sibir: to help make England dominant in Eurasia. I just fear that he'll die in a couple of years, far before he can complete his quest.
 

Prufrock451

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The Great Game Redux- The Second Eastern War

I had now been the chief advisor to On Khan for nearly ten years. Strangely enough, though I was now a man of nearly 100, I did not feel that much older. I put it down to the invigourating effects of power and outdoor living. On Khan’s faith in me was doubled and redoubled, and the preparations for my 100th birthday party sparked a protest among the nobles, forcing us to make scapegoats of a few researchers and setting back our research by years. I was displeased, although the first crop of youngsters from the Tobolsk Academy were setting to work. There were only a dozen lads, but they were top-notch, each of them.

In June of 1431, hoping to split the Khazak Alliance, we concluded a marriage with the daughter of the Uzbek Kagan. Unfortunately, On Khan became so smitten with the girl that he delegated much of his day-to-day responsibility to the Council of Nobles and its head, Duke Mulugh Ulunai. The Duke managed, over the course of the next four years, to nearly cause a war with our new Nogai vassals, provoke a revolt in Orsk, three in Irgiz, and nearly provoke a showdown between the nobles and On Khan that would have rocked the entire realm. Luckily, On Khan impregnated his wife about this time and took back the reins of state, just in time for me to pay off our loan to the nobles and announce the reorganization of the army (Land 1). Duke Mulugh vied for the court’s favor by announcing a few months later that he had set up his own naval research program and that he was ready to begin construction of warships as soon as we had any water to place them in (Naval 1). It was not hard to convince the Khan to send Duke Mulugh to personally oversee the construction of new barracks in Kurgan, as far away from any rivers or lakes as was manageable.

The remainder of the 1430s passed fairly quietly. Muscowy emerged as a growing power, annexing Pskov, while rebels in Ust Urt threw off their new masters in the Golden Horde and acknowledged Nogai’s Khan as their master. In March of 1439, the Khazak Alliance fell apart. Nogai’s Khan came to Tobolsk to commit his troops as well as himself to Sibir, and the Uzbek Kagan, delighted that On Khan had sent word of his grandchild’s birth, also joined the alliance. His return message:

”On Khan, Light of the North and Khan of the Sibir, I, Kagan of the Uzbeks greet you. I am pleased beyond words to hear of my grandchild’s birth and that my daughter is healthy. Allah be praised! Also, I have declared war on the Khazaks and I am marching troops to Kyzylkum. Please be so kind as to forward this note to the other Khans of our great alliance. See you in Karsak!” Sighing resignedly, we called up the troops and marched them along the road to Aralsk.

The first battles were won handily, as we and the Uzbeks brushed aside resistance and settled into sieges. The Khazaks, still wary of the “Siberian sorcerer”, focused their attacks on the Uzbeks. In September, Aralsk fell. The Khazaks had amassed a large army at Karsak, and we paused to see which direction the Khazaks would set off in. As expected, they marched south, and shortly after they defeated the Uzbeks at Kyzylkum and started a countersiege, we invested the city of Karsak. In October of 1440, Karsak fell, and I used some of the prestige I garnered to negotiate a move to open Sibir to foreign traders. The war was not going well for the Uzbeks, and as we opened a siege of Nura, I began to fear that they might conclude a treaty which would not benefit Sibir. An emissary was sent to demand Aralsk for peace, and we received the Khazak Khan’s agreement in January of 1441. Returning to Tobolsk a few months later, I found several of my Academy graduates waiting at the city gates, beaming.

“Uluuk, Maagram, Yuruul. What’s the excitement, lads?”

Maagram, the brightest of the lads, piped up. “Sahib, we’ve finally convinced the merchants to adopt your bookkeeping techniques. And On Khan has signed the new tax code you devised!” I laughed in delight. With trade and infrastructure brought up to speed, I could begin the next phase of my plan.

“Lads,” I said, “I do not know how much longer I have left upon the earth. But you’ve come far enough to carry on yourselves. It’s time to talk to On Khan. The Ten-Year Plan is afoot!”
 

Sharur

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That silly duke...

Any chance of a screenshot? I'm not too familiar with the layout of the area you're talking about.
 

Prufrock451

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My first screenie on the way soon. I'm currently dealing with the fact that my %$#!ing computer crashed hard and I had to reformat the c drive and reinstall Windows. Gotta get Photoshop reloaded. Thank God Europa was on the other drive... whew.
 

Prufrock451

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The Great Game Redux- The Ten Year Plan, pt. 1

Flanked by my Academy lads, I rode up to the royal palace, which had been somewhat improved over the last few years. I must admit that my taste in decoration went somewhat beyond the piling of gold in corners, but to each their own, I suppose. On Khan had grown shockingly older over the last twenty years. The stress of long campaigning and rulership had changed a vital man of forty into a stooped and laboring sixty-year old. I thought that he was ready to hear my suggestion.

“My Khan,” I said, bowing low. “We are both growing older.” To this, On Khan chuckled ruefully.

“I thought I would bury you a long time ago, Sahib. I do believe the life of a Siberian nobleman has made you younger.”

“I cannot deny, my Khan, that I am in extraordinary health for a man of 102. However, the shadow of death must needs approach, and there is much to be done before we pass the torch to a new generation. The Altai refuse to give up their old religion. The colony in Turgai must be made self-sufficient and fortified. Our army must be rebuilt, and we must convince the nobles to implement our new tax code.”

On Khan nodded wearily. “These things are all true, Sahib. But we have not the money. It will take generations to complete these tasks.”

“We have the money, my Khan, to complete them in a decade.” On Khan shot up from his throne. “Not on hand, my Khan. But if we temporarily shut down our research projects, we can divert manpower to the mints and to improvement projects which will increase our revenues vastly.” He peered at me.

“The more coins we make, the less they will be worth.”

“True, my lord, but I believe that the economic situation will be vastly improved regardless.” He grunted and thought for a while.

“Very well, Sahib. I shall trust you again.” I bowed low, and left. Outside, I turned to the Academy lads.

“Maagram, to the mints! Uluuk, you will gather up as many idle imams as you can find- it won’t be difficult- and set them to work forming a Missionary Guild. Yaruul, you will be in charge of appointing and training our new tax collectors. Hop to it, lads!” They bowed and ran from the palace. Brother Gerhard, my closest friend and faithful collaborator, approached from a nearby alcove.

“Well, Johann, this is a gamble. If your projects fail, then Sibir will be helpless.”

“It was helpless before, Jerry. I’m giving the Khanate a fighting chance.”

“A fighting chance? Against what?” After a hesitation, I poured out the entirety of my plan to Gerhard. His eyes grew steadily wider as I told of the Russian Czar’s relentless advance, of Napoleon, Bismarck, Gladstone… the entirety of European history. I decided, however, to leave out any mention yet of the Reformation.

“…And so you see, in 1908, with the French our allies and Victoria’s grandson as Kaiser, only Russia stands in the way of England’s destiny. If Sibir can thwart the eastern advance of Russia, then England’s empire will bring order and justice to every corner of the earth.” Gerhard thought a long while.

“Well, Johann. You have seen what I have not. I must needs agree with you. What part do I play in your Grand Design?”

“Gerhard, you will go to Samara. The Golden Horde is weak, and its Khan a fool. It should not be difficult to shatter it apart. Then Sibir will pick up the pieces.” He nodded.

“Well, I may not be a strapping lad of 102, but at fifty-five I still have some years left in me. I’ll pack up my things and ask the stable boy for a pony.” We embraced. “Goodbye for now, Johann. Let the Academy lads do some of the work, eh?” We shared a laugh and Gerhard was on his way.

The next few months passed in a blur of feverish activity as On Khan and I put finishing touches on our new laws, sending riders with messages back and forth, placating the nobles, and counting the wool, timber, and copper that served as taxes. The Khazak war petered out, and the Uzbeks annexed Kyzylkum. The Khan of Nogai sent a note asking what all this damned wool was being used for. We sent a reply telling him that was our own damned business, and his business was shipping wool to Tobolsk. In May of 1443, a note arrived from Gerhard.

“JOHANN- The Duke of Moskva has made Suzdal a vassal and seized half of the Republic of Novgorod. At the victory celebration, he announced a declaration of war on Tver. It appears you were right, and I’m having no trouble convincing the Khan here that Sibir is his only defense. Also, he has sacked several of his Russian advisors. Everything is unfolding as you predicted. Back to work, “Sahib!” FRA. GERHARD.”
 

Prufrock451

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The Great Game Redux- The Ten Year Plan, pt. 2

The next shock came in September of 1444, when Moscow annexed Tver. The Khan of the Golden Horde sent a fawning note to On Khan, groveling shamelessly that Sibir was his nation’s closest friend. As the specter of war loomed closer, we brought the Khazaks into our alliance, hoping to quiet the eastern front once and for all. Tobolsk was abuzz with activity, as the Academy churned out a stream of bureaucrats to implement the tax code and missionaries rooted out the Altai druids. Duke Mulugh remained quiet, as we had sent a steady stream of his loyalists east to reinforce the Turgai colony. Scarcely a month after the annexation of Tver, the Golden Horde declared war on Moscow and its allies in Suzdal. A note from Gerhard:

“JOHANN- All as predicted, yet again. I would recommend letting the Horde pull its own chestnuts out of the fire- 20,000 of its finest cavalry were just beaten by five thousand Suzdal peasants, and Moscow is moving its troops east. And winter is setting in. There are rumors of pogroms and rebellion. No sense putting our soldiers in harm’s way. FRA. GERHARD.”

The war dragged on for months, with no end in sight. Rebellions started to flare up in the Orthodox provinces on the Horde’s western frontier. In 1447, at the outset of what looked to be a grim winter, the long-expected news came.

“JOHANN- The Khan has gone mad. He has announced a pogrom against all the Christians. Rebellion everywhere. The soldiers in mutiny. I have taken the precaution of disguising myself as an Arab merchant. Will be in Tobolsk as soon as possible. FRA. MUHAMMAD IBN-FAROUK.”

Consternation spread throughout the Khanate, as rebellion after rebellion consumed the Horde. Our stability suffered as well, when the artisans of Tobolsk demanded relief from taxation and several ringleaders were executed. Khazak and Nogai warriors marched across the southern provinces to help in the jihad, only to be consumed by rioting peasants in Lugansk and Orenburg. Even as the violence grew to a crescendo, the Horde’s Khan refused to relent- his forces had taken Ryazan and Nizhgorod. “Victory is near! Send help for the final push!” read his last message. We shook our heads sadly.

In November of 1448, the Golden Horde’s government collapsed and peasants sacked Samara. Kazan, Astrakhan, and the Crimea declared themselves independent Khanates and the Ukraine also declared its independence. Moscow took advantage of the situation to declare war again on Novgorod. No word from Brother Gerhard had reached us yet. On Khan, haggard and trembling, called me into his presence.

“This is a disaster, Sahib. Did you not see this coming? The Mongol world is finished!”

“Not just yet, my Khan. The Golden Horde’s power may be broken, but that of Sibir will now be greater than ever. We must seize Astrakhan.” He gaped at me.

“War? Against a fellow Khan?”

“A Khan of two weeks’ standing. Astrakhan is richer than all the provinces of our realm combined. We must have it.” He never looked older than he did at that instant. Finally, his head bowed, On Khan simply nodded and waved me out of the room.

The next day, I sent our army across the border into Astrakhan. The curtain was about to rise on the last act of the Ten Year Plan.