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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

DensleyBlair

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That little strip of yours by the Ptolemaic Empire doesn't look too defensible. Perhaps you should conquer Leptis Magna to solve that?

Also, I would greatly appreciate seeing an in-game map. Really helps me get my bearings – especially when I don't know the game.
 

Fernan

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That little strip of yours by the Ptolemaic Empire doesn't look too defensible. Perhaps you should conquer Leptis Magna to solve that?

Also, I would greatly appreciate seeing an in-game map. Really helps me get my bearings – especially when I don't know the game.
Of course. I hope to have the next update ready this weekend, but for now it might be a good idea to go over the gameplay situation.


So, the current hotspots look like this:


This is Northern Europe. Belgica has been expanding as much as it has been able without warring since I guaranteed the rest of the celtic tribes, but it is getting to a point where they will be forced to actually attack someone. Since the Helveti and the Mediomatrici (in the orange-colored province of Turones) are vassals of theirs, they are out of the question. Both the Parisii and Catuvellani would make sense. If they go for the Parisii I will probably get into the war, not so sure about the Catuvellani. Germania is slowly uniting under the Cheruschii (only one tribe not allied or vassalized, and that was the war taking place at the moment of the screenshot) and may be too much for the Belgae to handle.

Oh, and notice how there is a barbarian province between the Chatti and the ex-Roman province of Raetia. That was a declaration of war that surprised me greatly. I had seen the AI declaring war against countries without land borders, but then they were always connected by sea. I guess the weird situation in Rome (they stubbornly refused to disband any of their fleet, which was eating away at their income and keeping them from building any army at all) might have tipped some scale somewhere.


And this is eastern Africa. Egypt is right now the most powerful country bar none. They have the biggest standing army, at least while I recover from the wars with Rome and change the culture of some key provinces, and they are the most technologically advanced in the world. Their navy is a thing of nightmares. They only have slightly worse income than me. Scary. The Lysimachids, Antigonids and Seleucids are all in one happy alliance since the beginning of the game, which has made for a peaceful hellenistic world. Not even the Parthians are stirring trouble.

Leptis Magna gives me military access and there is no reason for taking them out yet. I hope they eventually accept to be my tributaries and end up like the Ruteni. If Egypt DoWs me I will probably leave the eastern provinces alone and concentrate on defending the bottleneck at Corniclanum.


Lastly, the Balkans. Yes, that is Egypt in Escithia, so now the Dacians need to worry about a possible Egyptian invasion from the north and we might see a Pharaoh controlled Baltic Sea before the game is over. Fun times. On the other hand, you can see how the Roman rebels systematically defected to either the Lysimachids or the Dacians until there was no Roman presence in the area.

My current goal is to get into that hellenistic alliance to dissuade the Ptolemaics from attacking me. If possible, I'd like to avoid going to war in the north, but I'm not letting the Belgae get any stronger in my backyard and if they give me the mission to reclaim my core in Aquitani, the stability hit for failing it might force me into action. If the next years can be peaceful, manpower reserves replenished and infamy reduced, it will be time to transition into a Federal Kingdom.

By the way, technology is still firmly at zero. Ironically, the best thing that could happen for this to improve is a civil war, since rebel provinces don't count when calculating technology costs. Changing the government can trigger one rather easily, and since it would fit both gameplay and roleplay wise, I may make it happen. With my level of income, I will be able to build a whole lot the moment my wise citizens discover how to tie some trunks together.
 

Fernan

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There are good news and bad news. The bad news are that the game has suddenly become extremely unstable and prone to crashing so I might end the AAR a bit sooner than I hoped. The good news are that if that comes to happen, I would leave it at a point that would make for an apt ending. At least I have material for some new updates, four or five including this one.

Chapter 21: Winds of change

After the wars with Rome, Aratid II did his best to maintain peace and order in the Confederation. It was not an easy task, and every passing year new problems seemed to appear while the old ones stubbornly resisted a definitive solution.


Having renounced to compete with the more advanced eastern fleets, Celtiberian shipyards focused on mass production.​

Celtiberia's standing among the hellenistic kingdoms was very bad. After more than a century of continuous wars and expansionism, the Celts were seen in the east more as a barbarian tidal wave that threatened to engulf them like it had done with Carthage and Rome than as a possible ally or an equal. In fact, many kingdoms tried to establish diplomatic relations with the more civilized members of the Confederation and did not bother to send even a single envoy to Ulaca. Even Leptis, a country which counted with a history of cooperation with Celtiberia, left unambiguously clear that it was cooperation out of fear, not out of respect or friendliness.

Meanwhile, the situation in Gaul was reaching a critical point. The Belgae were growing restless and relations between them and the Parisii were at an all time low. The High Chief, turning a deaf ear to the voices in the Council that claimed for an all-out war, tried to tackle the situation by allying the Parisii. That way he made the threat of a Celtiberian intervention a much more certain reality than with the verbal warning Hannid had given but, at the same time, he broke the neutrality in Gaulish affairs that had allowed for the long peace the region had enjoyed and tied his fate to that of the Parisii.

Domestic affairs were not going that well either. It was true that unprecedented wealth made its way to Ulaca regularly, but the amounts of bribes, sacrifices, festivities and public works that had to be financed in order to make the populace content and the country stable was huge. The paper thin strenght of Celtiberian administration, which in many places existed only to collect taxes making itself rather unpopular, did not help at all since everything had to be organized ad hoc.

And the diverse nature of the people that formed the Confederation made for its own myriad of little problems. The Romans refused to coin drachmas and kept the denary, what prompted Carthage to pressure the Council into allowing for coining of new shekels, thus breaking monetary uniformity. The Italiote League and the Sicilian League got in a squarrel over the Aeolian Islands that the newborn judiciary Celtiberian system proved unable to settle. The Arvernians were unhappy with what they called priviledged treatment of the Ruteni and campaigned for full annexation of the tributary republic. Tensions between Phoecians grew as the Celtiberized members pushed for new ways of worshipping and the building of new temples dedicated to some celtic deities. The long distance between the Balearic Islands and Corsica and Sardinia made the islanders grow apart of each other. Resistance to Celtiberian rule was present almost everywhere outside of the Iberian Peninsula.

The end result of all of this was that there was always some small scale conflict or rebellion to suffocate. Slave revolts were less frequent , but still happened from time to time and migrants from the less organized areas of Central Europe sometimes tried to invade the Confederation to forcefully take a share of some of its much talked about riches.

But the most pressing concern that Aratid II had to face lied in the nobility. Celtiberian had inherited not just one, but many different elites that added to its own to create a complex tapestry of interests, ambitions and clientelar relations. Operating in the world of the Late Confederation politics required a lot of subtlety and charisma, things that Aratid lacked. Corruption and hunger for power were rampant among the possible candidates for any given position that the High Chief had to cover, be it a regional chiefdom, a generalship or a position in the Ulacan central administration. Many had to be showered with gifts to ensure that they would at the very least remain loyal to the Confederation.


A territorial reform helped with some of the lesser problems. While the Ruteni are represented as part of the Confederation, they were not formally annexed until much later
1. Vettonia 2. Turdetania 3.Iberia 4. Phoecian League 5. Arvernia 6. Massaesyli 7. Numidia 8. Carthage 9. Central Islands 10. Sicilian League 11. Senonia 12. Italiote League 13. Latin League 14. Lybia​

Only with the help of Culchid and Mandonid could Aratid manage to give Celtiberia some years of relative peace and stability in such an environment. Things seemed like they were going reasonably well: opinions of the Lysimachids and Antigonids improved and relations between these kingdoms and the Confederation were formally established, with the Seleucids not far behind. The Dacians turned into trade partners and friends and Leptis remained docile. Many old politicians died and the new generation of statemen seemed much more trustworthy than the last. Young men filled the Celtiberian fields again and the size of the army increased again.

But some things were unavoidable. Belgica attacked the Parisii without warning and, in doing so, started a conflict that would get out of control and bring an end to the Confederation.

 

DensleyBlair

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Shame to here this will end sooner than planned, but at least we'll get a neat ending.

An interesting overview of confederational politics. Something about the tone of the update gave me the impression that we can expect some sort of rebellion in the future – thoough I can't quite explain why. Perhaps it was the somewhat ominous suggestion that Aratid can't deal with the later variety of peoples over whom he rules?

In any case, another solid update. Looking forward to more.
 

Hiryuu

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Great chapters! Too bad you having crash problems... But I hope you can give the AAR a decent ending
 

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I hope it's not dead, even if you can't finish it all the way it would be nice to have a conclusion.
 

Fernan

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Yes, this is definitely not dead. I plan to finish it, but this month has been extremely busy IRL and I will most probably not be able to update until the next weekend. Apologies for the radio silence.
 

Fernan

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Alright, here we are. Let's do this.

Aw, shame that happened to your game. Are you planning to work on any other future AAR's?

Also how do you make your maps?
Yes, though next AAR will probably be more gameplay focused, with the Reign of the Ancients mod.

About the maps, I found a blank map in the forums and just edit it to suit the specific need of the moment. The only skill involved is that of the maker of the map. Here it is.

s. Something about the tone of the update gave me the impression that we can expect some sort of rebellion in the future – thoough I can't quite explain why. Perhaps it was the somewhat ominous suggestion that Aratid can't deal with the later variety of peoples over whom he rules?
Yes, there is no way a political system as shallow as the Tribal Confederation can last for long without a common enemy to unite its people, even more so if it has gotten this big. Aratid is in for a wild ride. :cool:



Chapter 22: Victory and defeat


The Belgian War

From the start, the Belgian War was not a popular war. Unlike previous foes, they were celtic people and did not pose a significant threat to Celtiberia's existence. Many even thought that having one strong northern ally was preferible to keeping a status quo that just made Gaul more vulnerable to Germanic invasions. The fact that this war had come to be was, in fact, the best proof that the old Celtiberian policy towards Gaul did not work. The target of the criticism was not that Aratid had decided to honor the pact of mutual protection with the Parisii was, but the fact that such a pact had been sworn in the first place.

The war also served to put the spotlight in the duplicities that had led the Confederated foreign policy until then, many of which could be no longer sustained. The ideals of celticity had served to build the Celtiberian identity in contrast with the rest of the Mediterranean people, but now it was precisely this Mediterranean influence that separated Celtiberians from Belgians, which were regarded as followers of older celtic traditions. The military ethos was trapped between the ferocity and personal comitment of the tribal warrior and the discipline and pragmatism of the professional soldier and even if they had a wealth of different units at their disposal there was no clear idea of how the Celtiberian army should fight and there had been no attempt to establish coherent standardized tactics. For all its extension and diversity, the Confederation still had the political institutions of a much smaller state and was unprepared to maintain its own sphere of influence in an estable manner.

When word arrived to Ulaca of the Belgae aggression, Aratid knew that time was of the essence. The Parisii would not be able to withstand the might of the Belgian proto-state for long and if they fell he would probably be forced by the Council to stop the war and pursue new diplomatic ties with the Belgae. Dumnorix, the rival leader, knew this well and had spared no able man in the invasion, hoping for a quick victory. He even forced the Helvetii and Mediomatrici to assist him in the western front even though that would leave their homelands undefended against Celtiberian forces.

Therefore, Aratid parted to Gaul immediately with the two armies stationed in the vicinity of Ulaca without even waiting for the traditional druidic blessing. Already on the road, he sent a messenger to Culchid, who was stationed with in Rome, to march north, unite with another army stationed in Luna and invade the lands of the Belgian allies. Most of the troops garrisoned across the Mediterranean were left on standby, and Mandonid was hastily left in charge of peacekeeping in Africa and Italy.

The Helvetian Campaign

To get into Helvetian territory Culchid had to flank the Alps and, to do that without having to go through unknown territory in the east or to venture deep into hostile territory in the west, the only possible route was through the town of Genava. The town was located just where the Rodonos river was born from the Geneva lake, and controlled one of the few bridges built over it. It was founded by the Allobroges, one of the Arvernian tribes, and the years of peace and trade had allowed it to grow and prosper.

But when Culchid arrived to Genava with his troops he found that the Helvetii, just before leaving for western Gaul, had attacked the city. While there was only a handful of casualties, the bridge was destroyed and no army could pass the Rodonos from there. Culchid faced a dilemma: the locals told him of a pass to the west, between the Jura Mountains and the river, that he could use to get into Helvetian territory. This pass was difficult, though, and he would have to venture into Belgae territory to get to it. An ambush there could mean total annihilation.

Instead, he decided to cross the Alps. Leaving enough soldiers to rebuild the bridge, he turned back to Sennonia and there took the St. Bernard Pass across the mountains. Even in summer it was a perilous and time-consuming task, one that claimed a price in animal and human lives before the army could get to the other side.


The crossing of the Alps

But it proved a succesfull move, since the Helvetians had been counting on the invasion to come from the west and had prepared accordingly, leaving a small contingent to set an ambush in the L'Etoile pass. Culchid suddently appeared on their rear and attacked before they had time to react, destroying in one single stroke the core of Helvetian resistance. Once there he set camp in the northern shore of lake Neuchatel and divided his forces to cover all the land of the Belgian allies.

Pacification took some time, though. Without a reliable source of supplies, the Celtiberians had to be extremely careful with their provisions and their movements depended more on the possibility of finding food than on military concerns. That is, until the makeshift bridge in construction in Genava was finished. Once a steady supply route was established, things accelerated and the Helvetians and Mediomatrici claudicated at last.

With the Helvetian and Mediomatrici surrender, Culchid took his troops into the land of the Aedui, members of the Belgian confederation, in order to take Bibracte and eliminate any possibility of a surprise invasion of Arvernia.

The Parisian Campaign

When the invasion began, the Parisii did not shy from combat with a more numerous enemy. Instead, the whole population prepared for total war. Everyone capable of holding a sword or a spear, regardless of genre or age, banded together. In the border villages, the food that could not be carried away was burnt, as were many fields, and civilians fled westwards. Most impressively, they did all this before even knowing that Celtiberia was marching to help them.

The Belgians did not expect such a staunch resistance, and could not make any remarkable gain. The first clash took place in Cenabum (Orleans); both sides took heavy casualties and the Belgae had to desist from taking the city. The second, in Lutetia, ended in Belgian victory, but at the cost of many of their auxilliary troops.

Aratid arrived few days after the battle. Impressed by the courage of his allies, he swore that they would have the city back before the next full moon. He gave his men, exhausted after many days of foced march, one single day to rest and then marched to relief Cenabum, again under siege. Not expecting the Celtiberians so soon, the Belgians were taken by surprise and took a sound beating before fleeing.

Aratid then turned to Lutetia. It had become an enormous military camp brimming with Belgians and Helvetians and Mediomatrici, and was being used as Dumnorix' headquarters. The order was not besieging the place, but a direct assault. Aratid himself later would explain this risky decision as a “way to instill fear in the heart of the Belgians, let them know that no wall, no shield would keep them safe”.

The assault was succesful, but for every enemy slain two Celtiberians fell. It was a carnage of unprecedented proportions, one that left nobody indifferent. Dumnorix died fighting at the gates, the Belgians retreated to their own territory where the few allies they had left deserted them and returned to their lands after hearing that their elders had surrendered to Culchid. The Celtiberian army was left in shambles, disheartened, full of wounded and disorganised. The Parisii were exultant and, after this, became an extremely loyal ally until their eventual willing incorporation in Celtiberia almost a century later.


A map with the main tribes of Gaul and the movements of Culchid (red) and Aratid (green). The Parisii themselves inhabited the land around Lutetia.

The disaster of Armorica

The war was not over yet. Lugotorix, the new Belgian leader, sent his best men to every town and village in Belgica in order to replenish his strength. They promised lands, riches and glory. Since Culchid had already began the invasion of the southern tribes and with rumours of the bloody battle of Lutetia running amok, many enlisted fearing the Celtiberian conquest. Soon Lugotorix had an army as big as the one Dumnorix had lost, if not bigger.

Meanwhile, Aratid had asked Culchid half his forces and Mandonid to send an army to Massalia so that Culchid could replace the soldiers he was giving. A call to arms was also sent to the Bituriges asking them to join in the defense of a free Gaul. They responded by declaring the alliance null and void, citing the influx of Parisii refugees to their lands and saying that they had no problems with the Belgae. The High Chief, and this is again according to his version of the facts, just forwarded their response to the High Council. The Councilors, angered by this betrayal, publicly destroyed the bronze plaque that contained the agreements and oaths between them and the Bituriges, something that had not been done ever before.

In any case, both armies began to move. There was little room for subtleties this time: the main goal of each side was the destruction of the other. The Celtiberians wanted to make their foes to surrender southern Belgica as punishment for their trasgression. For the Belgae, this was a now or never deal: they entertained no illusions about their long term survival if they failed now that they had crossed Celtiberia.

The fated battle took place in an open field in Aremorica. During it everything that could go wrong, went wrong. The horsemen got much too close to the war elephants and lost the control of their rides, leaving them exposed to an attack from the enemy cavalry. The infantry found itself losing terrain against the fewer but more determined and disciplined Belgian infantry. Even the poor quality of the iron, brought upon by the standardization of chainmail and the enormous pressure it exerted over the ore supplies, played a role when the fatigued falcatas began breaking against the Belgian shieldwall.


There were several battles in game, most of them looking like this one. The Belgae had better techs, better generals and the same ideas and laws as me, but i didn't expect such a slaughter.

Aratid barely got out of the battle alive, and he did not do it in one piece. Due to wounds taken in the battlefield, the High Chief lost an one arm and one eye. Most of his men were not as lucky. The great Celtiberian army had just suffered the most painful defeat in its short but intense life. They did cause considerable damage in the Belgian files, but not enough to deter them from invading the Parisii again.

Nobody in the battlefield could know this but that day claimed yet another victim. The Confederation had given its last breath.

 

war1940

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Wow your doing good.
 

Mkoll13

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Oh my, what a dark hour for the young Celtiberian Nation.

I am certain you will beat back the Belgae and crush the traitorous scum in the end!
 

iisbroke

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Now that was a good read.