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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Jestor

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I gave in.

I vowed that I wouldn't, that I would just sit home all night playing CK2, and to hell with what was sure to be a disappointment, but the flush of success gave me the courage to get my ever-expanding ass (now 215 pounds) out of the chair and to the gas station, trembling my jelly belly and spindly shoulders in hope and anticipation.

I passed out of the night and into the bright, too-honest fluorescent light of the station's interior. Empty, save for Barry, the beefy black middle-aged man with three kids and two mortgages who gets by mainly on his wife's administrative assistant salary and wins on selective football bets.

"Hey man, you seen a girl with pink hair today?"

Barry scratched his cheek, peering up at the ceiling in thought.

"Nawh. Why?"

I shrugged and walked over to the chips aisle, where I stared at the red, blue, and burgundy bags of Doritos regular, cool ranch, and spicy nacho. It's funny, when you stare at a stationary object long enough, you begin to see the flash-bright outlines of it moving to another area. It's as if your eyes and brain can't tolerate stillness and needs motion, change to prevent going into hysterics. I could sense Barry looking at me, so I picked up a half-filled bag of Spicy and turned it over to read the nutrition facts and ingredients list with pretend intensity. I read somewhere recently that Doritos cause cancer, but what the hell doesn't these days?

This is what my life has been reduced to - melancholy meditations on snack chips I'm not even hungry for. For all my unhappiness about not having a girlfriend, hence why Pink Pixie Girl set my scarred, frozen heart just ever so slightly aflutter, the stark truth of the matter is, I don't even have friends. I mean, even the worst kinds of nerds have at least somebody they can talk to or hang out with even on a semi-regular basis. But I rank lower than that - my limited human contact is defined by cashier interactions that could just as easily be done by a machine. In every sense of the word, I am completely expendable and unworthy of notice. When I die, at most I will have a two line obituary in the death notices, and the only grave I will be buried in is a pauper's plot, unmarked and unvisited.

It's the reason why I still smoke, despite the very real knowledge that it will give me cancer long before any level of Doritos consumption. It's one of the last pleasures left to me, and while one could argue it's a form of long-term suicide, the truth of the matter is, I simply have no reason to want to prolong my life. It just doesn't matter. And maybe I've said this before. When you live as a recluse, time has no meaning, and with only yourself to talk to, repetition is a natural habit and consequence. After all, there's only so much you can say to yourself after a while, without fresh new experiences, and even though I save all my money for travel, I'm not able to leave often enough for it to be constantly refreshing.

And that leads me to another thought, as I squeeze the top half of the bag to verify that yes, it's just air, empty as my existence. As much as I genuinely enjoy traveling, there's the constant awareness that I'm doing this alone, that I've been doing it alone ever since the days of family vacations ended (when I went off to undergraduate). Even in a sea of millions of people, such as London or Istanbul, I am Lone Fish in my own Lonely Planet.

Yet, some part of me refuses to give up entirely, which is why I'm still standing here in this stupid aisle, holding this stupidly overpriced and underfilled Doritos bag. I'm hoping she'll stumble through that door, that she'll be more than a one-off event.

Half an hour later, during which I've examined in great detail the same doughnuts, ice cream treats, and sodas that I see every night, I buy two Mountain Dews and trudge home. Barry doesn't ask. I don't volunteer.

Stupid thing to get Mountain Dew. Now I'll just be awake and alone longer with my thoughts, and I'm too depressed now, too dispirited by Pink Pixie Girl's failure to come sprinkling her vibrant hereness dust, to want to bother with video games.

Guess I'll just watch The Office, the US version. There's comfort in shared misery and humor with mundanity as its source.

CSI: Miami? Death, death, death. Monotony, monotony, monotony. Too dangerous for so grim a mood.
 

Stuyvesant

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Wow, that is a depressing non-life. It makes my own office-bound work life seem like an exciting adventure in comparison. ;)
 

Athalcor

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Pessimistic update :/.
 

unmerged(58610)

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Valdemar was midas touched 6 stewardship, gained an extra 2 making 8, yet the game gave him 11. No wonder he was midas touched, no one thought he could do anything but say whatever someone said to him. He could name any sum and still succeed -even his failed raid succeeded.

I did take this to be a sequel to TBG and THC . Sadly, it isn't. Of course this passage is dark. An ermber of hope snuffed out. 35's a bit young to be in quite this bad a state. Perhaps 35 seems old to you.
Examination of the title lead me via google to Douglas Hofstadter and his 1979 book and its sequel. I think your style of writing could be described as anti0hero meets Japanese game shows of the let's stuff ants down your pants variety.
You like your young spoilt little rich girls, I think.
 

Jestor

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Stuyvesant: Pretty much. :D

Athalcor: That it is.

Chief Ragusa: Nice to see you back. And yes, Valdemar's successes were surprising, to say the least.

Is 35 old to me? Good question - I'm 34 myself. Hadn't heard of that author before, but I'll jot it down. You're certainly hitting on something with my non-CK2 writing there. I do tend to have protagonists who are marginalized in some fashion or another, though Nick was an Everyman character, and I very much delve in comedic absurdities, often through playing with stereotypes, but I've been told that I should push the comedy more than I do.

Re: the young, rich girls - Yeah, a lot of my fiction explores socio-economic dynamics and relationships, and beautiful, well-to-do young girls of varying degrees of wealth have a habit of recurring, but then, the same was true of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who I consider one of my three literary inspirations and mentors along with Vladimir Nabokov and Haruki Murakami. Granted, I do much different things with the subject material than Fitz did.
 

DensleyBlair

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Well, I'm all caught up.

Seems we have a good and heady mix of entertaining gameplay and morose meditations on the meaninglessness of life... You're certainly pushing the boundaries of the AAR as we know it. Maybe... ;)

I for kne can't wait for you to take all of Lithuania. What? Can a man not be optimistic? ;)
 

Jestor

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Can't breathe. Can't breathe. Panicking. Must retreat to CK2.



Having successfully changed my ambition to Lithuania, I start expanding my territory by bullying this guy. It's a very easy victory at this point, which allows me to do this:



Very important for keeping that beautiful capital of Riga as my capital. I learned my lesson well from the last inheritance.



I have no idea why I decided to marry such a lowly person. I'm betting stats played into this, but I don't remember why now, as I write this the day after.

I do know why I did this next marriage though.



Building those fatty alliances and friends in CK2 life! If only it was so easy as this in real life. Curse the lack of arranged marriages.

Now that we have all the weddings sorted out...



TIME FOR MOAR WAR!



Sadly, I'm not the only one trying to horn in on this territory.



But in the end, it doesn't even matter, because when I put my trust in me, pushing as far as I can go works beautifully in CK2.

So another easy conquest, and then...



Mmm... titles. Let's go usurp that bad boy.



OH NO YOU DIDN'T!



Fine. We'll just take it by force then.

But then something terrible happens.



...Yep. Ruler died and now this old ass is in charge, negating all my war efforts. To say I'm pissed would be an understatement.



Screw going for the single county. Now we're taking the whole damned thing! Revenge, MFer.



Yay, marriage. Nevermind that I'm a totes gay brilliant military strategist.

Speaking of, remember an earlier marriage?



REAPING DIVIDENDS, LIKE A BOSS!



War is going smooth as Skippy Creamy Reduced Fat peanut butter. Which, by the way, has not succeeded in reducing my fat at all.



On what? You stepping up to me, boy?! Homo don't play that!



I WILL END YOU, SCRUBBY MAYOR!



...Shit.
 

Athalcor

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This chapter has fulfilled the general facepalm quota of this AAR 100%ly.
 

unmerged(58610)

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Not the ending of the chapter I was expecting. I had expected him to be killed by the Lithuanian king not some palace mayor. Not learnt from the French mayors of Paris the Carolingians who challenged the Merovingian rulers.

Never accept the challenge of a mayor: assassinate instead.

It did add to the pathos of the main character. Just when you think he might achieve something great or meet a glorious end, he fails. Done in by a mayor.

Long live Sverker. Sorry, but he sounds like a total loser.
 

Stuyvesant

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If I looked at the right portraits, then Sverker has a preference for fetish-like face garb. This could either result in a very interesting reign, or in a very worrying one. Now, if the man turns out to be duller than a drive through the endless plains of Kansas, I will be sorely disappointed.

"Mad Dog Mayor Baldr" has a nice ring to it, I must say. At least Bjorn fell in combat, even if it wasn't fruitful in any way.
 

Jestor

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DensleyBlair: Indeed, optimism is apparently the wrong course to take in this AAR. :D

Athalcor: Seriously. When the results of that duel came back I literally said out loud, "You have *GOT* to fucking be kidding me."

Chief Ragusa: Yep, an ignoble end, to say the least. I half-wanted to go on a rant about mayors killing kings like that one girl in an episode of Bridezillas who rants about the doorman who won't let her into a club.

Stuyvesant: It totally does. In fact, I think somebody should add Mad Dog to the nicknames file.
 

Jestor

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The situation after coronation:



Ugliness abounds in our fractured realm. But we're still fighting a war, and we need to make sure we don't lose it. Royal portrait? Ain't nobody got time for that!







That's one way to make sure the whole of the Petty Kingdom is fighting against the enemy!

But wait, there's more!



Mercs. Always mercs.

Sadly, things can never be this simple...



Yeah, like I'm going to pay attention to that.



I am Jack's complete and utter lack of surprise.



Sverker, you are a kindred spirit.



More Eeyore news. No Marshal. No Chancellor. Poor me.



So, some upstart thinks he can just cut in on Kurland and add to the Danish control of Northern Europe. This means I'm going to have to divert resources from our Lithuanian theater to deal with this jackass.



Or not! BAM, MARIENBERG, YOU JUST GOT WHITE PEACED OUT YOUR GREEDY GURDINESS!

Now to deal with that traitor Falki...



...Of course.



Depression and strife leads to sickness. I feel even more like a stuffed blue donkey.

Then one of the prisoners I got in war has the temerity to complain.



Oh, you want out the dungeon, do you? Fine, I'll just make you my whore, whiny whore.



Well that's nice. Not that it matters all that much - Scandinavia is no longer an area of real interest or concern for us.



FINALLY! I didn't think that war was ever going to end.

A year later...



Yay! Hooray! Now time to take out the principality or whatever of Lithuania, which White Mustache Guy lost somewhere along the way and...



lolwut?



:mad::mad::mad:
 

Athalcor

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Oh yeah - rule by sword and die by it, it seems.

Btw: 'I name you a pretender, Falki of Kurland is the true ruler of Lithuania, as recognised by myself. Signed, Falki of Kurland.'
 

unmerged(58610)

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Sverker hates his life. No chancellor and no marshal suggest others share that opinion. He's now Duke of Livonia, so that's progress. These challengers though come along one after the other. Sverker needs to marry, if he's not already. Can't forget about Sweden, it's home.
 

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Sverker, you are a kindred spirit.
A thing of beauty. :) Overall, like real life, Sverker's rule is beset by ups and downs. More downs than ups, really, but it's promising he at least manages to overcome a decent proportion of the downs so far.

Btw: 'I name you a pretender, Falki of Kurland is the true ruler of Lithuania, as recognised by myself. Signed, Falki of Kurland.'
Logically consistent, I think, and it certainly speaks of Falki's self-confidence. :) Speaking of Falki, any progress on capturing (and quartering) that fugitive?
 

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It would seem we have returned to business as usual here. I hate vassal rebellions so much. If anything, they're just annoying – not even particularly challenging to put down. Just annoying.

Looking forward to more!
 

Gotya64

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Hiya Jestor, I've read through the whole thing and found it quite an amazing read, so I've nominated it for this week's AAR Showcase (not the first you've won, I know). Link
 

Avindian

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How I missed this in 2012 I've no idea, but you've got me hooked for the foreseeable future. Well done!
 

Jestor

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Athalcor: Pretty much. It's war-filled in these parts! Heh, well-played on Falki.

Chief Ragusa: Sverker got married a couple updates ago to some lowly Baroness, and there's children in the mix if I remember right. Have to look again. But yep, Everyone Hates Sverker, including himself.

Stuyvesant: It's the weirdest, and perhaps creepiest thing. My out of game narratives tend to parallel the in-game narratives and that's not deliberate on my part. It's like CK and CK2 *know* how the story is going. I won the war against Falki as you can see on one of the screens. I have to check to see what I did to the assfarmer, though.

DenselyBlair: I *love* vassal rebellions. You know why? Because they're not frigging umpteen thousand peasants revolting in numbers greater than your entire army. I was playing an off-dynasty Hellenic game where I created the Kingdom of Ireland in a generation and in the next started expanding to Wales. Next thing I know, I'm getting slapped by peasant revolts because Hellenic conversion is at a slower rate. I start losing territory to the peasants and then the original Welsh guys rise up and kick me out of Wales. *Then* half the Kingdom revolts when a Queen inherits in favor of her aunt and the Queen is forced to capitulate to Auntie. An opportunistic war later, I get the throne back and start gradually trying to build the Kingdom back up... only to have ANOTHER DAMN PEASANT REVOLT, and this on I have no hope of beating back because I'm out of money so I switch to Catholic, all the while educating my heirs to switch to Hellenic... and then along comes the pagan Queen of Scotland, who annexes most of Ireland because I have no troops and the Welshmen who help me out can't do squat against Skotland's 10,000+ army in the late 890s. So now I'm stuck as a Duchess again (after recreating the damn Duchess title), and I've revoked all my vassals except my regent because everyone hates me, but I'm in damned prison so I can't revoke my regent and get clear to change the succession law since I'm Catholic, and what will most likely happen is Queen will croak in prison and the dukedom gets split up. RAWR. Because I have no money and am making a half-gold a month.

Gotya64: :eek: That... is something i was not expecting. To tell you the truth I was starting to wonder if I'd become too old fashioned a read for CK2, as the viewership counts were quite low compared to most other AARs. Glad to know that's not the case. Thank you very much. :) Really made my day.

Avindian: It kind of got off to a slow start, I think, because I was establishing the out of game narrative's terms and world before really plunging into the CK2 aspect, which is really just snark gameplay posting the like of which we've seen a lot of, going back even to the phargle CK1 days. Happy to hear you're following along, though. :)
 

Jestor

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I laugh every time I see Dear Valued Customer on a flier for a car dealership. While I know it's all part of a mass mailing, and they have neither the time nor the money to be more specific, I still get humor out of the fact that I, who possess no driver's license, still receive these advertisements for mediocre automobiles. But then, I live in a comparatively mediocre rent/month apartment, so why should it surprise me? I do wish somebody would send me a Lamborghini catalog, though. The Countach was my dream car as a kid in the '80s, though my friends preferred the Diablo or the Dodge Viper.

Yes, I had genuine friends once. I think the changeover happened in middle school - We moved to another part of town and instead of the middle school I was supposed to go to, it was a new one where I knew none. Factor in the metal mouth of braces that didn't work after I got them off, and face so splotchy I made a Pepperoni Lovers' pizza look empty by comparison, and you had all the hallmarks for being picked on, if not outright bullied. What made it worse was, back then I listened only to 1950s and '60s music, because I liked it and that's what my parents listened to. I'll never forget that day, third period, fourth day of school, when Mick Gustavsson, who weighed the 12 year old equivalent of a 400 pound adult, laughed scornfully at me.

"You don't know who M.C. Hammer is? Or Vanilla Ice?"

"...No."

The whole class laughed then, and though the cranky industrial arts teacher told us to knock it off and go back to sanding, it was already too late. I was marked forever, stained with the loser L that would follow me to high school, because even though I begged my parents to move again, they refused. And just as we stayed in the house, a ramshackle two story of no noteworthy architectural distinction, so I stayed ugly. Never took a girl to dance - not a middle school social, nor the 8th grade graduation dance. High school dances? Fellow white boy, please. The closest chance I had at getting to a dance with a girl was to grow my beard out and sneak out to a strip joint with a pack of singles in my hand. Which I never did even as a senior and legal. Too scared to.

Am I repeating myself again? I don't know. Recluses have only themselves to talk to (unless I want the pain of calling my mother or forcing myself into a Facebook conversation with people who could not possibly care less), and so the circles and the repetitions continue, continue, and continue, just as my pacings throughout the apartment continue, my only home respites either sitting at the computer or standing outside on the patio (I have to be on the second floor for it to be a balcony, apparently) for a smoke. And I've gotten so fast at smoking, that's only good for two minutes tops.

Sometimes I amuse myself by juggling an empty plastic Vons bag. But that never lasts very long. Even though it's slow and just one item, my dexterity-challenged fingers miss it too often, or they catch in the bag and accidentally throw it down on the perpetually dirty floor.

This is no American Beauty, where the bag is the most beautiful thing ever seen. After all, I don't have a pretty enough teen neighbor, and as for a lovely cheerleader blonde? Maybe the wrinkly, white-haired woman in 133 was during the Great Depression or something, but I don't think they had cheerleaders back in. There certainly isn't one in *my* Great Depression.

All these thoughts of pretty blondes makes me want to go watch Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23. Dreama Walker walkas ina mya dreamas, and her terrific acting in Compliance makes me anything but pliant. I could rail against the brevity of that delicious series whose plug was pulled too soon, but my mood would grow darker still, and so I shall simply trudge to the computer and try to deal with this fucking independence war.