• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Beginning.

[Pa-ti-yen. The Walled City in Which the King Resides. Capital of the Hephthalite Kingdom.]

[The territorial control exercised by Hephthal was extensive. The king of the Hephthalites, Khingila I, could make no mistake about that.]


[However, though his conquests to create such an expanse and ensuring his influence over the Khwarezmites to the west were not enough for Khingila. Of course, he was aware of the possibilities for expansion to sate his desire for greater power. There were the Persians to the west, who were unfortunately sandwiched between the Hephthalites and the Christian powers to the west. To the south lay the Gupta Empire, with its rich Indian holdings. Finally, to the east there were the small nations of the Tarim basin, ripe for the picking.]

Khingila: Choices...

Khingila's Wife: It is a shame that we lack the allies to make those choices easier.

Khingila: You speak of Khwarezm.

Khingila's Wife: I do not think our alliance with them would hold up in the face of war with stronger neighbors.

[Relation with Khwarezm: -200. Though they are the vassal and military ally of the Hephthalites.]

Khingila: I would go so far as to say they hate us. Not that we need their help, they would be capable of doing little. Regardless, the point stands... We need better allies.

Khingila's Wife: Perhaps to the north...

Khingila: I shall call for my advisors.

[Three men enter. They had the favor of the king's ear, having come close to him through their marriage to the sister of the king's wife. The king of the Hephthalites smiles upon their entry.]

Khingila: First things first. One of you shall travel north, to the Rouran, and tell them that I offer one of my children's hand in marriage to one of Shou-Lo-Pu Chen's own. I'm sure the gesture would cause them to look to us more favorably.

[One man leaves.]

Khingila: Now, for the rest of you. I must begin my warpath once again. To where do you believe our troops should march?

Advisor: If I may so, my lord. According to our merchants in the Tian Shan, we already control the Silk Road trade so we may leave the lords of the Tarim basin for a more appropriate time. Persia should also be left alone, but only because they are not busy with a serious war that directs enough of their forces west to leave us with an opening. Therefore, that leaves us with fighting Kumaragupta to the south. I am sure that you will emerge victorious from a conflict with him.

Khingila: This is sound advice. Inform the men that we are to move. If we are not to enter a war with Gupta immediately, at least the positioning of the troops should be adjusted.

[Another advisor leaves.]

Khingila: Have you more to tell me?

Advisor: Yes, my lord. If I may discuss domestic issues?

Khingila: You may.

Advisor: We need a better system with which to tax those under our dominion. Look to improving the infrastructure.

Khingila: Hmmm...

Advisor: At the risk of endangering local customs, perhaps we should create more ordinances to emphasize the strength of your kingship. This would improve our efficiency, I think.

Khingila: Right...

Advisor: We also need to know more of our world. Therefore, we should look to gain maps from other lords. I believe that attempting to become friendlier with the Rouran is a step in the right direction for that.

Khingila: I see. You shall handle this and report back to me.

[The third advisor leaves.]

[+1 Centralization. -1 Stability.]
[Set Technology Sliders to Infrastructure, improving it to Classical, which allows all bailiffs in the country to be promoted to Tax collectors.]
[Entered a royal marriage with the Rouran/Juan-Juan on February 21, 477.]
[Shared explorations with the Rouran/Juan-Juan on May 8, 477, allowing us to know more of lands farther east.]
 
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I.

[Quetta. Province near the border between the Hephthalites and the Gupta Empire.]

[The year is 483.]

[Although Khingila I sent out the orders with clear goals, he was not exactly able to achieve them as he believed he'd do. Indeed, he'd managed to arrange a marriage between one of his daughters and a son of the Rouran chieftain, he'd failed to integrate the northern tribes into the alliance. Indeed, the Rouran Confederacy, by their own volition, formed an alliance with the Tarim basin state of Gaochang.]

[The war that Khingila desired against the Gupta to the south would also have to wait. The empire was spared by Khingila's realization that, after having focused on his infrastructure, he had no real economy in place that would support the possibility of a protracted war.]

[To that end, the Hephthalites spent the next few years without war, hiring tax officials for many of the provinces in the kingdom. Additionally, Khingila would have to search for an alternative ally, and decided to curry favor with the Avars in the north. This eventually culminated into an alliance with them.]

Akhshunwar: We can still opt to attack the Persians instead.

[Akhshunwar is one of Khingila's best generals. He is also ironically from Khwarezm.]

Khingila: It is best to fight them when they become embroiled in a fight with the west, as is often their habit. Furthermore, Gupta is a simpler target, as our border with them is much smaller and they have no commanders as great as you or I on their side. The only problem is crossing the Indus River into Thar province, but I do not think their troops are situated close enough to move against us fast enough. Furthermore, they may be busying themselves with that revolt in Chandigarh. This is our best opportunity to fight them.

Akhshunwar: And the Khwarezmites and the Avars? Shall I tell them to join us in the coming conflict?

Khingila: Yes, but we don't need their help.

Akhshunwar: Then what was the point of gaining their allegiance?

Khingila: The possibility of having to fight three nations at once will give other enemies, like Persia, pause before they consider moving against us. Persia especially should be careful about provoking the Hephthalites. Their best ally is the Alanes to the north, who likely only allied with Persia as a measure against the Romans. Alanes is sympathetic to us, and borders the Avars, who are much larger than they are. Except for that minor power to their south, the Persians would more or less be alone in a battle against us, and that kind of threat is too much for Peroz.

Akhshunwar: But once we declare war...

[Akhshunwar pauses.]

Akhshunwar: ... Khwarezm--

Khingila: Would abandon us. Certainly.

Akhshunwar: What do you mean by three nations, then, if you know Khwarezm will leave our alliance?

Khingila: I still seek to bring Rouran into the fold.

Akhshunwar: Do you forsee something happening between the Rouran and their Gaochang vassal?

Khingila: Perhaps, but we should be focusing on Gupta. I shall have the declaration of war sent out before the month is out. Go to the men and prepare them for battle.

[Tax collectors everywhere! It probably would've been a better idea to just DoW Gupta's face immediately, but I don't like fighting without a good tax base in place. I must've played Interregnum too much before taking a hiatus on EUII, where everyone had tax collectors in place already. ;)]
 

Jan Skrzetuski

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Good luck with your AAR. I will deffinitely subscribe it :)
 

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Thanks for reading so far, everyone!

Lofman: I sure hope so. It really has been a while since I've played this game.

Duke of Wellington: That's exactly what I thought. What attracted me most to them is that there's so little historical information about them, which, while not utterly lacking, leaves enough to the imagination for me to work with and twist around.

Jan Skrzetuski: Thank you! :D

thrashing mad: I'm actually surprised I didn't know about Lofman's 476 scenario before. Too much Int/Abe and AGCEEP I guess :(
 
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II.​

[Pratalipudra. Capital of the Gupta Empire. The imperial court.]

[Kumaragupta II had been a good ruler. He'd proved himself to be a capable administrator and been moderately successful at foreign affairs. At the very least, he had managed to avoid being attacked by the Hephthal king to the northwest. Not so for his successor, his son Budhagupta, who rose to the throne far before Khingila's troops swarmed into the Gupta territory. In the time that he had ruled, he had shown that he was not exactly an idiot...]

Budhagupta: Where is General Agra!? WHERE IS HE!??

[He simply lacked a certain amount of tact that did not endear him to the bureaucracy and the military of his country. It is ironic that diplomacy is his "best" trait.]

Agra: Emperor, I am here.

[The emperor of the Gupta Empire was seated at a table, and slammed his fist on it, nearly breaking it. At least he was a powerful man.]

Budhagupta: Where were you at this critical juncture?

Agra: I had been waiting at the city gates for word on the revolt in Chandigarh. Good news, Emperor, the weaklings have been dealt with--

Budhagupta: Who cares!?

Agra: My emperor, I--

Budhagupta: I tell you, Agra, who CARES!?

[The emperor spits, an action to which the general is silent. There is murmuring among the court, but Budhagupta does not skip a beat.]

Budhagupta: I have little concern for a bunch of peasants who by your own admittance are weaklings! Do you mind telling me what you planned to do against Huna in the northwest, or were you going to twiddle your fingers around the city looking for Untouchables to bully, since all you can deal with are "weaklings"?

Agra: I... am sorry.

[Of course General Agra didn't really mean it. He was rather angry by this point, and tried to hide it. It was obvious to all but the Emperor, who didn't even care.]

Budhagupta: You dare apologize to me? Even while the Huna King Khingila has already marched past the river, unopposed?? While his subordinate Akhshunwar has already dispatched one of our lesser forces? ... Leave me, I do not want to see you again until after the war is over. If you do not return with victory, do not come back at all!

[The emperor dismissed Agra with a wave of his hand. The general stormed out.]

[Among those present to see this was a man from the state of Vakataka. He... did not like what he saw. As the rest watched the general leave, he took his leave from the court through another exit, and then sighed when he knew he was alone.]

Vakatakan Envoy: ... It seems that the emperor has quite a temper. That bodes ill.

[Kumaragupta II has Diplomacy/Admin/Military stats of 5/6/4, while Budhagupta has 5/2/3. Ran with that perhaps a little too much.]
 

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Duke of Wellington: Or they might have a good response ready. ;)
 

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III.

[Indus Province. The camp of General Akhshunwar.]

[General Akhshunwar silently laments what has happened to the alliance with Khwarezm.]

[The Hephthal forces had been quick to move into Gupta territory. Akhshunwar himself led a battle against a Gupta army in Indus, which consisted of little more than three thousand men. The victory was easy for his own force of eleven thousand men, the majority of which were cavalry. He told himself it was a good omen to win the first battle of the war, despite how swiftly the Empire’s troops were routed. He was cautiously sure there would only be more victory, as his king was busy conducting a siege against another city whose surrounding territory was suitable for cavalry warfare. In fact, Khingila was being supported by a contingent sent by the Avars, who wished to share in the loot despite not being in command of the siege. Though going further into Gupta’s territory was cause for concern as there were many mountains, not at all advantageous for the Hephthal’s cavalry-heavy army, the Khwarzemite general even set that aside from his thoughts.]

[Soon after Akhshunwar had proceeded to set up camp for beginning his own siege, a messenger had arrived from Pa-ti-yen. Considering the news he brought, another messenger had likely been sent to his king.]

[Khwarezm had refused to join the war against the Hindi nation, disconnecting itself from an already-flimsy alliance. But they brought things even further… Casting away their vassalage to the Hephthal Dynasty.]

[Had Khingila also expected that?]

???: General!! May I enter??

[Akhshunwar turned his head to the direction of his tent’s entrance.]

Akhshunwar: Come in.

[This man was from the reconnaissance out in the field. It seemed he was out of breath.]

Reconnaissance: General Akhshunwar… Gupta forces are mobilizing against us.

[Of course. The king was backed by a much larger force. Despite needing to cross the Indus River, Akhshunwar looked like a better target.]

Reconnaissance: The enemy… Is three times our size!

[This was worrisome. Hopefully the majority of their composition was infantry.]

Akhshunwar: Who leads them?

Reconnaissance: General Agra, sir.

[He was a competent leader… But nothing special, he hoped.]

Akhshunwar: I’ve asked for reinforcements from the capital, and they should be arriving soon. Before Agra’s legion arrives, I want you to mobilize the men. We’ll have to halt the siege and defeat them. Now go!

Reconnaissance: As you command!





[It really was a lot of men they were sending after Akhshunwar. :wacko:]
 

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Duke of Wellington: I'm trying to make him out to be a little wishy-washy. I think I've succeeded :p
 

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IV.

[The Indus River.]

[It had been a good thing that Akhshunwar's agent out in the field had discovered the enemy's movements before they'd crossed the river. Otherwise, Akhshunwar would've had to kill that agent, and that would've been unfortunate. Akhshunwar was not a cruel man, but he'd made an example of a previous scout before the war. An earlier campaign against rebels had been an initial failure due to misleading reports about the rebel camp and supply lines.]

[The scout in question also ended up being a demonstration of Akhshunwar's skills as a warrior. As punishment, the scout was given a simple sword with which to defend himself. Surrounded on all sides by elite Hephthal warriors in the desert plains before Pa-ti-yen, he was to fight in a battle to the death with the general.]

[Of course, the scout had no chance, and perished in the ensuing combat. He did not last for more than a minute. Afterwards, his body was dragged by horses to the city gates.]

[General Akhshunwar asserted that he did not tolerate failure, and neither would their king.]

[Thus has information come swiftly to the general. As the majority of his forces left the siege, leaving behind only a few thousand to watch the garrison, messengers were in a constant flow to him. Agra's troops consisted mostly of infantry. The reinforcements were expedient and to arrive soon. The walls of Lahari Bandar would soon fall.]

[As would Agra himself. The enemy general's legion moved slower compared to the Hephthalites under Akhshunwar's command. It was very likely they would reach the river before the Empire did. Clearly, the current forces of Gupta were not like the grand forces of old, whose martial strength was without question before the time of Skandagupta.]




[General Agra was not of the same opinion. Unaware of how fast his foe was moving, he arrogantly marched his troops out of the city of Hyderabad. Indra would shower him with the favor provided to the commanders of yore, he was sure.]

[For he was part of a long line of decorated leaders. A patent fool like Budhagupta or an upstart like Akhshunwar would not deter his inevitable success.]

[He assured himself that fortune was on his side the moment he spotted an elephant along the river banks, soon to enter the waters. To him, it was a sign of good luck. He was to fulfill his role as the warrior who subjugated the Hunas. Quickly, he ushered his troops to traverse the river.]




[Akhshunwar saw the elephant as an entirely different omen. Such beasts were not native to the region. The elephant was a creature that was out of its element, and would probably not survive in this environment. It would succumb to an even greater animal.]

[The moment he saw the Gupta infantry crossing the river, he took in his hands a steel bow-- a fine piece of weaponry taken from the dead body of the previous Imperial force that had occupied the province. Grasping an arrow from a quill, he armed the bow and held the string taut.]




[Agra, in his delusion, did not notice the projectile until it was halfway to its target. Among the crossing Gupta forces, it hit its mark.]

[The elephant collapsed into the water, the arrow having pierced its skin. Agra's good luck spilled into the river, corrupting it with a crimson red.]

[It was too late for him to call his troops back. From out of their careful hiding spots swarmed the Hunas, sweeping over them like a horrific tide.]




[Akhshunwar's got a movement rating of 3 while regular generals have a movement rating of 2. ;)]
 

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Duke of Wellington: I'd once heard that an elephant is a symbol of power, or good luck, or something. I enjoyed typing up Akhshunwar's harsher, more predatory idea on the elephant's presence.
 

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V.

[Thar Province. The plains between the city of Multan and the province border.]

[Khingila rode out from Multan, leading a force of ten thousand cavalry and leaving a small contingent that stayed behind. Anything that was even remotely valuable had been taken from the newly-garrisoned city, and if there was anything left to be found, the remaining troops there would be sure to take it. He and the Hephthal Elite, meanwhile, rode to Bikaner. According to his scouts, there would be a force of similar size waiting for them there.]

[They were not ten miles from the city when they encountered a messenger from Lahari Bandar.]

Agent: My king, I have good news for you!

[His voice could barely be made out over the stampeding feet of the Hephthalites' steeds. Of course Khingila would not stop for him, the grand army of The Walled City was a raging wind that halted for no one. If the messenger had something to say to the king, he would have to make it quick. Luckily, he had been trained as such, and strained his lungs to overcome the cavalry.]

Agent: General Akhshunwar has taken the city, and General Agra has been driven off!! He escapes to Sindh with little more than eight thousand men, while our forces have suffered few losses!!!

[Khingila would've said that was agreeable news. He even thought so. But trivial praises were for a different time. He was at the forefront of a war, and so was Akhshunwar. The messenger would have to be sent away quickly. Every moment Akhshunwar had to himself was time to brood, a distraction from his duties as Khingila's best general.]

Khingila: Tell General Akhshunwar to give chase. Before the month is out, you will tell me he has arrived at the gates of Hyderabad. If you arrive with Agra's head, the better! Hah!

[The king did not wait for a response, as the Hephthal Elites suddenly gained speed. The messenger broke off so that he was not left in the dust, and reared his horse to ride for Sindh province...]




[Two provinces taken and Gupta took a real beating on the field. Lofman seems to be right so far, not that I'm surprised. He made the [frigging awesome] scenario. :D]
 
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Duke of Wellington: Ask and ye shall receive. Maybe. [Cough.]