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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

fabiolundiense

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Greetings, dear readers/fellow-gamers,


welcome to my second EU IV AAR writing project : The Tales of Torrid Tunisian Nights Aar, ( The TTTUNA for short).

My first one isn’t finished yet, but it was time for something completely different.

This will be ordinary gameplay, not Ironman mode. No mods.

I have no clue where this might take me, I’ve only played a few decades, and since I haven’t been slaughtered yet, I thought I’d start writing.

As the title suggests, I play as Tunis. Looking at the AAR’s in this forum, I see lots of European realms, the Far East, Ottomans, Byzantium, but almost no underdog Sunni realms. So, here goes something different, and hopefully challenging.

Writing style : first-person gameplay commentary, mingled with third-person role-playing — I slip from one style to the other and back without transition. Humorous, deliberately cheeky because I just can’t take myself (or anyone, or this life) too seriously.

Goals :

— survive and grow until 1821
— become as advanced in tech as most European realms (I cannot believe I could ever become a superpower)
— control a good portion of the Western Mediterranean
— have colonies


This list will be subject to revision maybe every 80 years or so.

I wish you a good chuckle.
 

fabiolundiense

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Chapter One

A Symphony Of Treacheries

November 1444 - November 1459



So here we are, playing EU IV as Tunis.

Not only is this different, it is complicated.

After staring at the map for a while, I decide that my long-term goal will be to make Tunis a fairly prosperous economic power in the Western Mediterranean. A power that the Europeans must respect, maybe even ally with.

The first complication is my home region, North Africa. It is a mosaic of weak sultanates up to the Cyrene, which is Mamluk land. Obviously, my first objective must be to absorb Tlemcen, Mzab, Touggourt, Djerid and Fezzan. (I’m supposed to be guaranteeing the independence of the latter, but I do not feel bound to honour a contract I did not dictate.) As for Morocco — we shall see. I wouldn’t object to its surviving, as long as it agreed with me in everything and kept Portugal out of my hair.






The second complication, as I discover within a week, is that having a common culture (Berber) does not endear these sultanates to each other. Tlemcen and Morocco maintain a cool neutrality with me and with each other. I’m going to have to get the others on my side, even though I want to eat them. I manage to get two royal marriages — Fezzan and Touggourt — before the AI throws me its first punch in the groin : Tunis’ economy is a ruin for the first five years of game-play.

Third complication : three of my provinces, led by Djerba, have the gall to hold heretic Islamic doctrines. Which of course means the possibility of civil strife.








I’m guessing that the AI will use every trick in the book to keep me below the poverty level for the next 400 years. But I did want a challenge, after all.

Morocco, Mamluks, Ottomans — none of these powerful despots will marry or ally me. Granada would, but what’s the point ? They would drag me into a war with Castile. No thank you. We Barbaresque lot are on our own.

I decide to go to war. First objective : annex Djerid. Which is when I notice the servant grovelling at my feet.

“What do you want ?”

“From His Highness the Sultan of Touggourt, o Exalted One !” The boy holds out a thin scroll.

A request to honour our alliance, because Touggourt has declared war on... Djerid. What a coincidence ! Sorry, but the answer is no. I declare my own war. Alliance shattered. I don’t ask Fezzan to help, their army is insignificant.

Djerid has two provinces. Touggourt has already invaded the northern one. So I head south. There ensues a bloodbath.







But what’s happening up in the northern province ? Touggourt was defeated ! I am happy to be rid of such a useless ally. My men rush forward. Resistance is virtually nil, the Djeridians have exhausted themselves wrecking the first invader.

Within sixteen months, my vision of the future begins to come true. Djerid is no longer an independent sultanate, it is a region of the Sultanate of Tunis.






Okay, so far so good !

Touggourt, needless to say, is furious. “Your messenger came too late, I started my own war on Djerid first,” I try to explain. They refuse to believe me.

However, my little coup makes the other realms around the Mediterranean sit up and take notice. The Europeans in particular. The Doge of Genoa declares the Republic an enemy of Tunis, as do the kings of Aragon and Portugal.

“Tlemcen is justifiably aggrieved,” I say to my viziers, “he wants to be me ! But the Doge of Genoa ? The king of mighty Aragon ? You know what that means ? They are afraid of us !”

Neighbouring Tlemcen has sworn enmity. Morocco, on the other hand, decides that it likes me. Lo, even mighty Egypt condescends to notice me. I get a royal marriage with the Mamluk, but am given to understand that I’ll have to work harder in order to get a military alliance.

Meanwhile, the economy improves with the annexation of Djerid.








For the next two years, I hoard ducats in prevision for the next war. (Not easy to do, my income is around 1/300th of a ducat/month.) Touggourt, it turns out, is ruled by unstable emotion rather than cunning. They ally with Tlemcen. They then attempt to force their ally’s hand by declaring another war of conquest, this time on tiny Mzab.

Tlemcen decides to commit itself with Touggourt in this foolish enterprise. I hesitate not an instant. This is my cue to invade Tlemcen. (I have fabricated a claim on the province of Dahra.)

The Battle of Titteri more than halves Tlemcen’s capacity for defence. In September 1449, with myself again in command of my army, we annihilate the Algerian forces at the Battle of Dahra.







“Long life to Sultan ’Uthman !”

What happens next ? The AI has a burst of genius. The Sultan of Touggourt suddenly loses his mind completely. He agrees to a hasty peace with Mzab, and then turns around to stab his ally in the back.

“Touggourt has declared war on Tlemcen, Exalted One !” my spies inform me.

I am horrified. What sort of person would stab an old friend in the back, and then kick him in the groin when he was already more than half dead ? Those two deserve each other.

I waste no time before running amok in Tlemcen, pillaging, raping, burning. Touggourt tries to imitate me. Not a pretty sight. In the spring of 1450, Tlemcen sues for peace. They agree to surrender not one but two provinces, and to pay tribute for seven years. Goodbye, poverty !







Four provinces have been annexed since the start of this game. What does the proud Mamluk think about that ? An embassy is despatched to Cairo with a suitably voluminous boatload of presents, mostly booty taken from Tlemcen. The Sultan of Egypt, duly grateful and impressed, agrees then and there to an alliance.






I am now allied with Morocco and the Mamluk, and little Fezzan. It’s a start. But my army can stand improvement. Over the next three years, spurred on by exhortations to grandeur, my sword-wielding fighting men transform themselves into a body capable of measuring arms with the likes of Castile or Portugal.

During this time, Touggourt tries desperately to expand. They manage to gain control of Mzab, only to lose a portion of their gains when Tlemcen in turn takes a share of what Touggourt had conquered.








I scatter my spies from one end of the Mediterranean to the other, to sow what disorder they can, and to steal gold and political secrets. The artistic revolution that is taking Europe by storm is infuriating. I will have to try hard to catch up. In the meantime, rounding up a few Europeans living in Tunis — Venetians, Greeks, Castilians, Aragonese — and maltreating them makes everybody feel superior. Only Castile makes a fuss.

“Our loyalty shall never fail you, Exalted One,” the imams vow. “As long as you remember that we are above common laws and petty actions such as taxation.”










I dare not tell them what I really think. I claim the right to tax every man alive, imams and non-imams. What I do not necessarily have is the power to do so. But I will, one day.

The conquest of North Africa must, however, go on. Tlemcen probably thinks they should rule over all of the Maghreb. I need to beef up my fighting force. That requires ducats. So I also need to build trade. With a few more infantry and war-camels, I can claim more territory from Tlemcen.

Somehow, the AI figures out my plan. So it cheats.






Allied with Castile. Thank you, AI. We good-for-nothing Sunnis all get a -1000 hit when we try to ally with a Christian monarch, but Tlemcen is special. I understand.

Tlemcen must die.

Attacking Tlemcen being out of the question for the present, another target must be chosen. Well, there is only one : pathetic Touggourt. I am, however, having so much success at home that I fail to notice just how pathetic Touggourt is.








Others, Allah be praised, do not fail to notice.

“Insurrection in Touggourt, Exalted One !” my Second Vizier announces. “The tribes of Mzab are murdering their overlord !”

Music to my ears. Before we know it, Mzab rises from its ashes.






It is time to pluck another petty sultanate for Glorious Tunis.



~~~​
 
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stnylan

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I did chuckle.

Castile and Tlemcen - the AI is probably out to get you. Its not paranoia if it is true :D
 

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Gosh another one! You (or we) are evidently a bit of a glutton for punishment

I'm in
 

fabiolundiense

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Tom D.

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Original way of telling a run, very interesting. Consider me subbed.
 

fabiolundiense

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subbed
 

fabiolundiense

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I read your guide to personal unions. Quite the analysis, thank you very much for doing that, and bravo ! What a shame sultans can't have them :(
 

fabiolundiense

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Chapter Two

On Sea Turtles, Frigate Birds and Chickens

December 1460 - December 1476



One can see horrible and instructive things in National Geographic’s wildlife documentaries. For instance, how newly hatched Green Turtles must climb out of the sand and race to the water before a watchful frigate bird swoops down and snatches it up for breakfast, or gets re-buried and munched on alive by a passing ghost crab. Exactly the situation laid out before me. Mzab is the baby turtle. I am the frigate bird.

“Let our fighters assemble — Biskra is ours !”

That was the plan. For it to happen, however, I would have to cross into the territory of that lunatic Lord of Touggourt. (See map in previous post.) Fortunately, he decided it was in his best interest to give me what I wanted.







I had been hoarding ducats for just such an occasion. A powerful army needs upkeep. Those ducats disappear like snow in the Sahara Desert. So when my spies inform me that the Sardinian rebels I’ve been sponsoring also need more coin, I need to reflect. They are this close to rising up against the arrogant Aragonese. Shall I take a bank loan or two ? Can I trust island people ? What will I get out of it ? The Baleares ! (I fabricate a claim on sandy Majorca.) The investment is worth the expense.

The conquest of Biskra needs another six months before Mzab surrenders in December 1461. They balk at full annexation. They’re only postponing the inevitable, so we don’t care. Our fighters can rest. Especially since, at precisely this time, our Sardinian venture is producing dividends.










“Great One, the island of Sardinia is in revolt !”

Keep calm, and carry on spying. The rebels did it ! But are they actually serious about shaking off the yoke of mighty Aragon ? In a few months, I see that Aragon has been caught napping. The king’s soldiers cannot organise. The rebels are my friends — for now. Because they are also excellent candidates to become the next newly hatched sea turtles.

The shipbuilders are put to work. Then, in December 1463, I declare war on Aragon.

The first step is to secure the Gulf of Lion. Aragon has an Admiral, I do not. Even so, we manage to sweep the seas clean of Aragonese vessels. The king’s men are trapped on their peninsula.

Step two : seize the Baleares. The garrison there too has been napping. July 1464 : the islands are seized. On to the peninsula !








Our rebel friends have preceded us. Not only the Sardinians, by the way. Castile has declared war on Aragon ! (The villains.) A couple of counties in the south are already under Castilian control. Why is my war score so low ? Because the king’s men are hiding in the Fortress of Roussillon. We march north with the rebels in tow, slipping behind the enemy, or underneath them, since they’re regrouping way up in the Pyrenees. We lay siege to Roussillon. It takes weeks, but Aragon is close to exhaustion. The Fortress opens its gates in December. The remainder of their Royal Fleet attempts to escape. My ships are there to destroy it.

The rebels have long since moved on. Aragon descends from the mountains and cuts us off from our friends. Their army does not outnumber mine. General Mustafa and I command as many men as they. And we have horses, not camels. I don’t trust the rebels to come to our aid. But I am the Sultan of Tunis.

“To Urgell, my people !” I roar to the excited soldiers. “Charge !”








Aragon’s fighting force is halved. They take flight, but the rebels lie in ambush. More dead bodies. Aragon will not admit defeat. I retire to Roussillon — no way will I allow them to sneak back into their fortress.

Finally, in early 1466, Aragon has had enough.







A month later, the beleaguered king grants independence to Sardinia. And several provinces around Valencia are surrendered to Castile.

“Long life to Sultan ’Uthman !”

Yeah, and you may tremble some more, rivals Portugal and Genoa. As for you, mighty Aragon, who shall defy me when I come with my myriad of soldiers to take your lands and your titles ? Mwaahaahaahaahaa !

Meanwhile, my loyal spies tell me, interesting developments elsewhere. Touggourt has declared war on Mzab. Maybe they’ll be able to hold on to it for six months. The Ottomans — not friendly with the Crimea. What diplomatic gaffe they committed I cannot say. But if they need a friend....







But for now, my European conquest requires civilising. Regretfully, I need to install a good portion of my army in Majorca to head off separatists and Infidel zealots. I am uneasy. What if Tlemcen chooses this hour to attack me ?

But no. Eighteen months of calm. Since I’m a complete idiot when it comes to admin, not until 1467 do I get to level 4 Admin Power. Aragon’s ducats have paid off my loan, so I can at least build my first mosque.

Then, in August, somebody persuades the Pope that I am public enemy numero uno.








A Crusade ??

I know this isn’t Crusader Kings II, but I can’t help it, I close my eyes and dive under the desk.

The month of September ticks by. No crusaders arrive.

October. Still no one. What a bunch of losers.

I’m sitting at my desk again. A baby turtle flaps helplessly before me. No time to recover complete manpower. I’ve got to snatch it up before someone else does. A last check... no ! They’ve already got an ally ! Who is it ? Bavaria. Bavaria ? ROFL. Brilliant.

In January 1468, I give the order to invade Sardinia.






The two provinces that make up the island resist in vain. It takes six months to occupy everything. But the AI has a trick up its sleeve, of course. One cannot win wars so quickly. Against the rules, it is. So I sit there in Sassari and wait. And wait. And wait.

September 1470. Two years and three months. Only then am I recognised as victor.








At least I recover the ducats I gave the rebels all those years ago.

And still no crusaders ! Time to celebrate.

“We shall build you a palace, Exalted One. The most magnificent palace in the world !”

By all means. But there are nicer things in this world than gilded prisons. Like a) free claims on my enemy’s territory ; b) military tech 6, just like the Europeans ; c) a European prince as a military ally ; d) a European rival scurrying away in terror ; e) a universal reputation for honour, valour, virility, piety, courage, strength, manhood, justice, intelligence, cunning, wealth, magnificence, studliness and immortality.

All these things fall right into my lap.














It’s almost too good to be true. The AI must be up to something. I mean, what more could anyone ask for ?

Paradise, of course.




’Uthman I Hafsid, Sultan of Tunis
1444 - 1475



~~~​
 
Last edited:

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I read your guide to personal unions. Quite the analysis, thank you very much for doing that, and bravo ! What a shame sultans can't have them :(
you could form andalusia and then go christian religion with rebels, then you can get unions :)
 

Vetgirig

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Im a bit late. But you missed a good opportunity in your first war. You should have made Djerid your vassal and then help your vassal against the attacker - and your former ally. Thus no need for a stern talk with your former ally for your refusal to help them in the war.
 

stnylan

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Nice games with Sardinia. Along with the Balaerics - nicely cementing your position in the Western Med.
 

fabiolundiense

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you could form andalusia and then go christian religion with rebels, then you can get unions :)
Well, I won't be going that route exactly. It was intentionally that I chose to play a Muslim nation, to see how well I could fare in dealing with advanced European nations. So, I plan to remain a sultan until the (bitter) end. However, form Andalusia -- I hadn't thought of that. Excellent idea ! At this point I was only dreaming of vassalising Aragon.

Im a bit late. But you missed a good opportunity in your first war. You should have made Djerid your vassal and then help your vassal against the attacker - and your former ally. Thus no need for a stern talk with your former ally for your refusal to help them in the war.
Hello, Vetgirig, one can never be late at any of my parties :D
I hadn't thought of that ; in any case, I was truly glad to be rid of Touggourt as an ally.

Nice games with Sardinia. Along with the Balaerics - nicely cementing your position in the Western Med.
Thanks, stnylan ! Now I'm trying to figure out the trade nodes. I've got fingers in the Tunis and Genoa nodes. The former isn't that wealthy, the latter is dominated by other powers. (Scratches head)
 

Tom D.

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Great victory over Aragon, you're not far away of the Carthage achievement.
 

Asantahene

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Some great victories there. Maybe a bit too easy?

What's next O Sultan? Corsica?
 

fabiolundiense

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Great victory over Aragon, you're not far away of the Carthage achievement.
Thanks, Tom ! After googling the Carthage achievement, it makes me rethink my goals for this game. Hmm....

Some great victories there. Maybe a bit too easy?
What's next O Sultan? Corsica?
Too easy ?!
Well, I suppose so, LOL. Aragon was caught napping, after all. But now I'm this close to bankruptcy, so time to save money and stay home.


I like where this is going.
Subbed!
Thank you and welcome aboard, oasdv ! The fun shall continue.
 

fabiolundiense

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Chapter Three
Tunis Consolidates

January 1476 - July 1492



So here we are with a new ruler. A lot like his father, except that he’s light years better when it comes to Admin Power. Long may he reign !

À propos : I feel it only fair to warn the reader that 1) he doesn’t reign very long, and 2) he is so good at Admin that Tunis makes strides in all kinds of development — resulting in a lot of pop-ups, but nothing very exciting actually happens.

For example, he immediately gets options his father didn’t have : honorific titles with gains for prestige, piety and missionary strength. The latter will come in most handy for our new Christian possessions. The thing is, they are good ”until the death of Damiano Pannocchieschi,” say the pop-ups. Who is this illustrious Damiano ? Haven’t a clue.

More importantly though, we need to recover manpower reserves. I make it our national mission. I am happy to sit back and watch the grass grow for a while. How clairvoyant of my father not to have allied with the Caliph of Granada, because he is now under siege from war-mongering Castile.










The martyrdom of Granada goes on for just over two years. During this time, our subjects in Cagliari receive instruction in the True Faith. Not only does it cool things down when the county converts, it also helps the Treasury.

When Castile’s thirst for blood has ebbed, and the king takes stock of his situation, he realises his folly in treating us as rivals. Tunis is much more civilised than Tlemcen, for instance. Alas, he can’t bring himself to be friendly.

Our quietude is interrupted in the fourth year of my reign when Siena desires assistance in her conquest of some quaint Italian pastureland.

“Send the Flotilla,” I tell the Second Vizier, the one in charge of army and navy, “let them blockade the ports unfriendly to Siena.”







Our sailors duly set out for the Ligurian Sea, where they sit starboard and stare at the French Riviera. This war too goes on for two years. Siena comes out victorious. Our naval and terrestrial army standards have improved, as has education in general for our populace. Construction projects in the capital city of Tunis actually attract more residents, thereby in creasing the number of persons paying tax. In only a few years, the Tunisian way of life has changed considerably.











It must be said that I inherited a financial situation that was unhealthy, to say the least. Eight provinces conquered during my father’s reign — he had to borrow ducats from everyone in order to pay the army’s and navy’s salary. These loans are slowly — slowly — being paid back. To do so, I have to keep construction work at a snail’s pace.

A good share of the country’s income goes to pay the missionary converting my Christian subjects. I keep reminding myself that it’s a good investment. If they stay Christian, they won’t pay taxes, and they’ll daydream uselessly about independence and/or rebellion. The missionary works well enough. Sassari converts in 1484. That’s Sardinia taken care of.

As mentioned above, education improves in general. In 1488 Tunis suddenly gets an influx of refugees from poor Granada. These Granadians, though, know things we Barbaresque folk don’t. The decision is made to settle them in our capital.

Since I’ve been exhorting the merchants to do everything possible to compete with Castilian, Portuguese and Algerian merchants, they get uppity and demand privileges. In one year alone (1488) I regress 100 Diplo Power and 25 Admin Power.

On the international scene, three developments, none of which I find to my liking. Castile, after a few years of civil war, gets close — not to say intimate — with rival Portugal. Next, Tlemcen does the same, even sealing a military alliance with Portugal. Lastly, the sneaky Mamluk has seduced my neighbour Fezzan. Military alliance there, and who knows what else.














Fezzan worries me. It used to like me. But we’re no longer related by marriage. And Fezzan has also allied itself with villainous Tlemcen and with Morocco. We cannot afford to become estranged from Fezzan. They seem to have an unlimited supply of unmarried offspring, so I send a proposal. A royal marriage plus alliance balances things out.

That same year (1489) I order the missionary to work on the heretics in the province of Zuwarah. Mission accomplished. I get a wave of devotion for 12 months. Off he goes next to Majorca, before said devotion expires.

Admin tech advances. We could build workshops, if we could afford it.









The year 1490 offers some distraction. The Mamluk sends us an ambassador.

“The cruel Ottoman has gone on a rampage against Islam !” I am told. Of course, that is this servant’s way of trying to panic me. The Ottoman is doing no such thing. He just covets a slice of Mamluk territory.






We sit together in the shade of a palm grove at a nearby oasis, as civilised people do, and sip a sweet concoction. We go over the notes that my own trusty spies read out to us. Tunis is trying to cosy up to the Ottoman. Without much success. He already has an alliance with two Infidel powers (a curse be upon them) : France and Lithuania. Tunis (yes, me) is also trying to cosy up to France. If we joined this war, there would be more pain than gain.

“I beg to differ, Great One,” the ambassador replies. He goes on to point out that both France and Lithuania have denounced the alliance. Iraq too, in fact. The Ottoman stands alone.

“A few of Your Munificence’s ships, in junction with ours, would certainly cause the enemy to rethink the viability of this war,” he concludes.

Nonsense, I think to myself. But, I smile engagingly at the ambassador. So be it. We shall fight together, Egypt and I.

The servant nearly throws himself to the ground. Sobbing with gratitude, he babbles on about my immense honourability, virtue, wisdom, etc. Such passions these people have.






As it happens, our flotilla barely has time to hoist the sails when the thing is called off. The Mamluk sues for peace, offering up the coveted province. (He has so much land that he probably doesn’t even know where Halab is.)

And that, dear reader, wraps up the story of Sultan Muhammad IV of Tunisia. He departs this world in July 1492, having reigned over Tunis sixteen and one-half years.




Muhammad IV Hafsid, Sultan of Tunis
1476 - 1492



~~~​
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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A shame in many respects - the chance to possibly limit the Ottomans early is not to be avoided.