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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Peter Ebbesen

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WARNING! This beta AAR was written far in advance of the demo version that you have got your hands on. Certain things I take advantage of in this AAR are no longer advisable due to bug fixes and game balancing in the beta since then. My “teacheable moments”, which generally gave good advice for players a bit shaky on game mechanics for the state the game was in in the beta at that time, should not be considered gospel truth for the release version of the game. (They are retained in the move to the public forum for historical reasons and even where the conclusions might not apply to the release version, they still reveal the sort of thinking that is necessary to master a game like Victoria 2... or perhaps I am merely flattering myself, here.)

The game got its title due to a lack of fruit in the world in the beta patch where I launched the game, which had significant effects on the world and the capabilities available to the player of an uncivilized nation, who could figure out how to exploit it, and the first few chapters go on and on about this lack of fruit because, well, if I have to be honest I mostly did it to tease the developers and cheer up their drab wretched lives. A humanist with a heart of gold, that's me. I also filed a bug report. Rest assured, before you storm off to pen posts commiserating with the lowly Japanese fruit seller, that the global fruit shortage was FIXED.

- Peter Ebbesen



Index:
Chapter Zero: Dawn of the Fruit Seller
Chapter One: War in Korea
Chapter Two: The Shogun and the Emperor
Chapter Three: The Komei Era
Chapter Four: The Korean Issue
Chapter Five: Manchuria
Chapter Six: And what then?
Chapter Seven: Epilogue



There is a comment thread for this AAR in the main forum and the link is right here. Please keep discussion to the comment thread and not in this AAR thread.
 
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Peter Ebbesen

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Fruitcake, the Musical
Chapter Zero: Dawn of the Fruit Seller



Japan, 1836
chapter00japan.jpg


There are those who believe that life follows a narrative conveniently laid down by a universal force, possibly a benevolent creator or just possibly a madman with eternity on his hands and a bad scriptwriter, which would go some way to explain why it so often resembles a blooper reel.

I am not one of those.

I used to be a humble fruit seller in downtown Edo until I gained national prominence through a series of events so outrageous that even the aforementioned madman would hand in his certificate of lunacy and go surfing and if there is one thing that I have learned in my long life, apart from self-defense against fresh fruit, it is that nothing was meant to be.

As an example, take a look of the Japan of my youth. An ancient society stagnating with the best of intentions while the Europeans were busy carving up the world and writing 'Who's my bitch?' on the remains. The British were getting ready to kick the Chinese around as they had already done the Indians, the Spanish and Dutch were eying isolated spots in eastern Asia that hadn't already fallen to bayonet or bribes, and at home the Shogunate was reinventing navel-gazing as the national sport.

With an adult male population in excess of seven million people, that's a lot of navel-gazing, I tell you, and it was hurting my fruit sales. Then as now, the sale of fruit is the pinnacle of salesmanship in Japan since, as is well known, we have to import all our fruit from abroad, which makes fresh fruit something of a rarity. This divine food, so necessary to satisfy even the most basic life needs of the humble farmer, does not grow anywhere in the home isles.

Oh, I know, there are those who claim to have seen fruit grown in the occasional walled garden environment, growing on trees of all things, but the learned man knows that trees are much too valuable to grow fruit on. The few forests remaining are a strategic resource that cannot be wasted on frivolities such as food production. As such, any tree actually observed bearing fruit must be considered a statistical outlier and, hence, does not exist. The same goes for its fruit.

Be that as it may, there were troubling signs of things to come in early 1836. The world was entering a global fruit shortage due to the selfish hoarding of fruit by the Chinese, British, and Spanish, and while there was still some fruit on the market, a fruitless future loomed. I was chosen by the association of fruit sellers of Edo to head up a delegation to present our worries to the Shogun. We didn't get to meet the Shogun himself, naturally, but the low-ranking bureaucrat whom it was my honour to present our petition to assured me that he had the Shogun's ear.

Thus it came as no surprise when the Shogunate wisely decided to loosen trade restrictions a bit and instructed the wise men to learn about the phenomenon called “Freedom of Trade”, which would apparently make our tea and grain producing peasants much better at exporting these basic goods. While not mentioning the impending fruit shortage with a word so as to not unduly alarm the public, it was obvious to the members of the fruit sellers association that this was a long-term measure intended for the primary purpose of enriching the country such that fruit could be afforded and we were pleased.


We want Freedom of Trade!
chapter00freedomoftrade.jpg


Now, then as now Japan was ruled by the Emperor and so it will ever be, but in practice the Shogun took care of day to day affairs such that the Emperor didn't have to trouble his pointy little head. The Emperor could appoint anybody he wanted to run daily affairs, it goes without saying; As the supreme divine leader the choice was his and his alone and he could choose the reactionary forces of the Shogunate, the spineless conservative forces of the court party, who had exactly the same policies as the Shogunate as far as I could tell, or the traitorous liberal scum whose continued existence was a clear sign of the Emperor's divine compassion for even the most wrong-headed. Not surprisingly, he chose to stay with the Shogun.


Japanese Factions
chapter00parties.jpg


Now, it so happened that the Emperor, despite having supreme executive power, wouldn't mind just a bit more power, and he dreamed up the idea of gaining more power than any Emperor had had in living memory via the expedient of competiting with the westeners and outmaneuvering his appointed Shogun. Why would he do this? Why not just instruct the Shogun to do it or get the chop? The Emperor's will is ineffable. Ours not to question why, ours but to do or die!

To achieve this would require the Shogun to act mostly in his own interests as the Emperor's requirements were:


Meiji Restoration Decision
chapter00meijireq.jpg


While the cultural progress might not be entirely the Shogun's cup of tea and the Emperor's will to enact a national focus on encouraging more people to enter the clergy in Osaka, Japan's most populous region, for purposes of stimulating progressive research most definitely was not, building up the military and gaining prestige were – especially when he was advised that beating up the Koreans would surely be both prestigious and profitable.


We want more research!
chapter00research.jpg


This would necessitate an army reform, getting rid of the old-style irregular armies of the Daimyos in favour of soldiers in the national service responding to a command structure ultimately commanded by the Shogun himself, under the Emperor, goes without saying, as well as a larger number of soldiers. Shamefully, only one percent of the adult male population was in the army support structure, and that would have to change.


Population overview, 1836
chapter00japanpopulatio.jpg


The artisans of Japan could cope with small scale weapons and munitions manufacture but the envisioned expansion of the army would strain their capabilities and require substantial imports. A transport fleet was needed as well, since the Imperial Fleet, much run down and neglected, consisted of one (1) Clipper transport. To afford these purchases, a lenient 100% tariff was imposed on importing foreign goods for private use, and the surplus used to expand the administration, the clergy, and the military.

A few people were militantly unhappy with this and more were conscious of the imposed limitations on their opportunities for wasteful spending but there are always troublemakers and they should be happy with Japanese products in the first place without relying on foreign manufacture.

With the exception of fruit, of course. Even the best Japanese artisans cannot make fruit out of coal, fish, and grain – though they have have tried – and as such the only fruit is the forbidden one, the import-fruit.


The gold rush of 1837 in Kobe significantly aided the struggling finances of the Shogunate, burdened by the raising of the new army, but even so 1837 saw the reduction of funding for the clergy to 50% and the military to 60%

The years 1836-1840 did untold damage to us honest fruit sellers. The global fruit trade nearly collapsed with the most prestigious western nations snapping up almost every fruit on the market. I was nearly impoverished and was reduced to smuggling oranges and several of my best friends were reduced to begging for lemons. Those were truly terrible days, only brightened by such news as the official announcement in 1838 that the Shogunate had taken notice of the tall ships, which had been plying our waters for, oh, the last two centuries or so, give or take a century.

Much respectful and subdued fun was had on the Shogun's behalf and the theatrical performance of “Goodbye, Edo!” was the talk of the season, but we in the know knew that this was merely figurative language underlying a deeper truth. The real message was that the Emperor was positioning the Shogun for a fall, which naturally led to the obvious question: How would this affect the fruit-futures market?


Westernisation, December 1838
chapter00westernisation.jpg


Only with the official announcement that Freedom of Trade was here to stay of 1840 did Japan see relief. Money was on everybody's hands but fruit, alas, were still far off on the horizon, so to speak. The extra cash did allow for a very brisk trade in fruit-futures, however, and some canny dealing saved me from my nearly impoverished state.

By 1841 the global fruit market was dead. Nobody in Japan, no matter how rich, was getting any fruit. From the humblest of farmers (and they can be very humble) to the noblest of nobles (and let's not go there), not a single fruit was available. Nobody's life needs were completely met and everybody was busy demoting to lower classes due to only partially meeting their life needs. Particularly hard hit were the farmers and labourers, many of whom joined the military in the hope of acquiring fruit in foreign campaigns. Together with the generous military funding, there were now more than twice as many soldiers in Japan as there had been a mere five years earlier.


Life Needs, 1841
chapter00nofruit.jpg



No fruit for even the richest of nobles
chapter00richestnoble.jpg


By late 1841, the new army and the new fleet were ready, the nation's finances were capable of supporting extended operations, and the Shogun prepared to invade Korea. Three questions were on everybody's minds: What would be his justification, what would be his war goals, and with Korea so lacking in fruit of its own, just how would this bring us the fruit we so desperately lacked?


A New Beginning
chapter00beforekorea.jpg




Writer's note: This is a beta AAR. Do not expect exploits, balance issues, or truly weird behaviour that arise during this AAR to be present in the final game with the launch day update applied. Prove responsible and don't jump to premature conclusions – things change during a beta and everything looks wonky at one time or another. I don't know how the final product will play and neither do you after reading this.
 
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Peter Ebbesen

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Fruitcake, the Musical
Chapter One: War in Korea


The Shogun declared war upon Korea in November 1841. His war goal no less than the control of the southernmost state of Korea, Kwanju, home to half the trees in Korea, or at least the trees worth mentioning, as war spoils. As all men knew, Koreans were a lesser race without inherent rights of their own, so this would be acquisition by eminent domain and should the spineless Koreans contest this claim, well, then they'd feel the might of the Japanese war machine. Such a glorious victory would no doubt cause a brief stink of infamy but as is well known, infamy is but another word for success in international politics.


Declaration of war, November 1841
chapter01koreawardec.jpg


Three armies thirty thousand strong each were tasked with the invasion of Korea, inspiringly named the Imperial Fist, the Imperial Shield, and the 1st Korean Occupation Army and led by the ablest of the Japanese officer corps. The Imperial Fleet provided transport and the Imperial Fist made the initial landfall in Kwanju province itself. The landing was contested by twelve thousand Koreans, whose battle skills were nothing to write home about.


Battle of Kwanju, November 1841
chapter01koreainvasion.jpg


With the immediate area clear of organised resistance, the Imperial Fist began the process of taking control of the province while the Imperial Fleet ferried the 1st Occupation Army to Pusan and, following that, bringing the Imperial Shield north in a daring gambit to land in Inchon, next to Seoul province itself. Meanwhile, the Korean navy, though naming it that is gracing it with more glory than it deserved, evaded the Imperial Fleet to strike Japan in its soft back and brought a small Korean expeditionary force of 6,000 men to Bonin, population 15 men, 12 women, 24 children, and a cow.

Hastening to the rescue, the Imperial Fleet brought the 24,000 men of the Osaka guard to Bonin where the perfidious invaders were wiped out in one battle after the destruction of their transport ships.


Occupation, Spring 1842
chapter01koreasieges.jpg


Scraping together an army from the north of their country, the Koreans made a desperate attempt at dislodging the Imperial Fist but to no avail. Mitsue Araki stood his ground and destroyed them to the last man save for a few artillerymen too scared of his just retribution to fight.


Attemped relief of Kwanju, Spring 1842
chapter01koreakwanju2.jpg


By April 1842 Korea was ready to surrender and offered peace in exchange for Kwanju state. All of Japan rejoiced when the Shogun rejected the offer. The Koreans had chosen to contest the just Japanese claim and under such circumstances he had promised to make them pay. He would no longer be satisfied merely with Kwanju, no, Korea itself would have to be cut down to size.


Expanding wargoals, April 1842
chapter01koreawargoals2.jpg


The last great battle of the Korean war took place in Inchon in May, 1842. With Inchon about to fall making Seoul itself vulnerable to attack, the bedraggled remnants of the Korean armies stiffened by twelve thousand new recruits threw themselves against the defenders of the Imperial Shield and were rebuffed. Not for reasons of nepotism had its commander been appointed, though he was the Shogun's cousin, but because he was recognized as the greatest defensive tactician Japan had seen in generations.

The Imperial Fist was ordered to march on Seoul and in an act of supreme arrogance, the Shogun declared an expansion of the wargoals. Not only would Japan require Kwanju state and the cutting down to size of the post-war Korean military, he demanded the utter humiliation of Korea itself as well.

A few liberal traitors objected to such necessary measures but they were generally ignored..


We'll stop for no less than the humiliation of the enemy, June 1842
chapter01koreawargoals3.jpg


As the summer passed ever more of Korea fell under the sway of the Japanese armies and people began wondering just when the war would end. While everybody supported the war effort it was becoming obvious that the fruit situation remained unchanged. What little fruit could be purchased was used to make canned food for the armies, but this trickle had become so low that the Shogunate was forced to import canned food as well as arms and ammunition to keep the armies in fighting trim. In Edo's summer heat philosophers studied the Rights of Man and found them wanting but pronounced between heatwaves that they would definitely have a handle on them in 1843, or 1844 by the latest if the weather didn't improve.

Even for philosophers, the Rights of Man come second to eating, for is it not said that “Let he who is hungry eat the first stone?” Indeed it is so and the priests agreed and thus an alliance of the priesthoods and the bureaucracy arranged great days of prayer in the temples where the populace could implore the gods to make the world more fruitful, to make others eat less fruit, or for a miracle of economics to convert the many fruit futures into present fruit, but to little avail.

On behalf of the Edo association of fruit sellers I led a delegation to distant India where we attempted to negotiate a greater share of the fruit quota. This mission was doomed from the start, as it turned out, as the British merchants preferred selling to European nations over all others but we did not leave empty-handed. The British governor had heard of our Korean war and was much interested in the changing balance of power in eastern Asia. He proposed that I bring an offer of a British military mission to Japan back to the Shogun, which I did.

The Shogun grasped the opportunity with both hands, setting aside land to establish a temporary mission in rural Shizuoka, and my influence grew significantly as a result.


Military Mission, October 1842
chapter01militarymissio.jpg


It has been said that if you extend a devil a fingernail, he'll gleefully manicure it and present you the bill, and that goes for both greater and lesser devils. As a case in point, the Ottoman Empire, one of the Great Powers of Europe, sought to use the pretext of the British military mission as justification for the establishing a permanent diplomatic presence on sacred Japanese soil and they sought it not just for themselves, no, they sought it for all the European Great Powers for the benefit of all or so they said.

In this they overestimated their own strength and misunderstood Japan fundamentally. Granting foreign powers a permanent presence in Japan was quite simply not up for negotiation, not even on a limited scale in a single legation quarter. This would not be!


All Japanese say NO to a Legation Quarter! December, 1843
chapter01legationquarte.jpg


In the midst of winter, the Shogun ordered the city of Seoul reduced to rubble and had a platform raised high in the midst of the ruins. Travelling to Seoul with his closets retainers and the most powerful members of the bureaucracy, he seated himself in a throne on top of the platform and uttered the immortal words to the gathered Korean nobles waiting in the rubble: “I can see your house from up here”. The humiliation of Korea was complete.


Peace, March 1843
chapter01koreapeace.jpg


As the Shogun had predicted, Japan was viewed as an infamous but successful nation as a result of the Korean war but more importantly, the Emperor's goal of raising the prestige of Japan in the eyes of the world had been a complete success. The infamy would be forgotten soon enough but glory, now, that is for ever.

A Healthy dose of infamy
chapter01infamy.jpg


With the victorious Imperial Fist and Shield armies returning home and further Korean Occupation armies settling down to the day to day task of crushing Korean militancy in its cradle, 1843 seemed to speed up after the war's end, one day following another in rapid succession. To start with the Koreans kept their heads down, but everybody knew it was only a matter of time before rebellion against Imperial authority would rear its ugly head.

With the Imperial government just looking for an excuse to order a crack down, troublemakers in Taegu provided the pretext already in December 1843. What started out as just another fruit-rally such as most Asian countries save China had gotten used to turned violent when the local prefect was beaten to death, peeled, and carved up in small portions, which were thrown at the Japanese soldiers hastening to the scene.

The crack down was immediate, brutal, and efficient. Taegu would remain a hotbed of insurrection for many years but most people learned the lesson our Imperial Master taught: Keep your head down or lose it.


Kulturkampf in Taegu, December 1843
chapter01kulturkampf.jpg




----------​


Teacheable moment: Rebels in Victoria 2 range from minor annoyances to major threats. The most dangerous rebels are in the long run the liberal traitor hordes grown mighty due to high consciousness, liberal tendencies, and/or unemployment, who won't be happy with anything but a full democracy but with the eyes of 1843 that is far off in the future and can be dealt with using non-democratic means if one is prepared (or succumbing to democracy and liberalism oneself, but that is a pretty wimpy solution).

Japan is staunchly conservative in leadership and population. At this point in time the two greatest sources of rebellion Japan may face are reactionary rebels – those who fundamentally don't think Japan is conservative enough and Korean nationalist rebels.

Every single Korean nationality pop in Japan will be contributing members to the underground nationalist movement on a monthly basis depending on its militancy and there is absolutely nothing to do about that. As such, my policy when playing a conquest oriented game is to crush militancy wherever I can even if it allows consciousness to increase. High consciousness non national culture pops carry their own dangers but those are long term dangers. I'll also happily choose options that kill off vast numbers of foreign cultured people on the grounds that, hey, at least it reduces the odds of unemployment becoming a problem in the affected areas. The only time I will choose a militancy increase over a consciousness increase in an event dealing with foreign culture pops is when choosing the militancy increase will kill off a substantial number of people, I would rather be without (and yes, there are such events – not many, but some).

Well, and when they make a better story, but that goes without saying.

Note that killing off the rebels that do eventually spawn means there are fewer rebels left in the underground movement so it is possibly to kill off rebel movements or keep them at a manageable size the hard way so long as you kill them faster than the movement grows. In practice, however, it is better to avoid that micromanagement hell and choke rebel movements of recruits by providing reasonable living conditions, employment, and every militancy limiting incentive you can bring to bear. Well, everything save giving in to their unreasonable demands.

You don't have to play Victoria 2 as a ruthless despot but for the right nation it can be rather fun. :)



Writer's note: This is a beta AAR. Do not expect exploits, balance issues, or truly weird behaviour that arise during this AAR to be present in the final game with the launch day update applied. Prove responsible and don't jump to premature conclusions – things change during a beta and everything looks wonky at one time or another. I don't know how the final product will play and neither do you after reading this.
 
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Peter Ebbesen

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Fruitcake, the Musical
Chapter Two: The Shogun and the Emperor

Japan settled down to a time of peace. There were skirmishes with rebels in Korea and a few clashes with high-spirited reactionaries but overall it was a time of peace in which only the cries of of the poor to disturb us all from considering the one thing that truly mattered.

I refer here not to the endemic lack of fruit, but to the order of the Shogun. With the possession of overseas Korea it was time for Japan to take its rightful place on the oceans of the world. Gone were the days when only an invasion fleet was needed and only part-time, to be a true power in the modern world required a professional navy.

The construction of such a navy would be a severe strain on the nation's finances but without it Japan would remain at the mercy of any foreign power with one and that was intolerable.

The wisest captains of Japan had been consulted and as a result the Shogun declared the construction of a frigate navy to be a national priority. Strong enough to fight any foe but the mightiest and nimble enough to evade those it could not beat, the Japanese frigates would be the envy of the world and the beginning of Japanese naval dominance in its neighbourhood. Every coastal province in Japan was ordered to construct two frigates for the new frigate navy.


A navy's humble beginnings, 1845
chapter02frigates.jpg


In terms of spiritual national development, the philosophers had run over time and over budget but finally delivered a report on the Rights of Man by the end of 1844 and promptly settled down to a debate on what to get a handle on next. Their discussion was cut short by an edict from court: The emperor, may he live forever, wanted to bring the Japanese military into the 19th century and with nearly half of it gone, it was time to get cracking. If absolutely necessary the philosophers were allowed to learn from the Europeans, who were known to be masters of the art, in order to provide an updated and improved theory. Thus the study of Post-Napoleonic Thought began and well that it were so.

With an increase in national focus, the opportunity had arisen to improve the dismal literacy of the mostly illiterate koreans of Kwanju by focusing on Kwanju's clergy. It was by nature of an experiement: Could Koreans become real people? Could some of them even become, eventually, Japanese, or would they be doomed to be Koreans forever? And even if they could not, could they become nearly as good as the Ainu? Could they become worthy secondary subjects of his imperial majesty? Was it worth teaching them to read or a waste of time and effort? Kwanju would be the experiment and only time would tell!

1846 was an important year to me, not only did it mark the beginning of the reign of emperor Komei upon the death of emperor Ninko, I also nearly lost my head.

I had enjoyed some local prominence since the successful voyage that led to the establishment of the military mission in Shizuoka and in the way that these things often work I was considered to be partly responsible for its success without having any actual influence on its performance or its circumstances.

My arrest was prompt, however, when certain disgruntled traitors amongst the populace of Shizuoka began harassing the mission, and I only escaped death by the narrowest of margins when the imperial command to restore order went into effect.


Population of Shizuoka before order is restored, 1846
chapter02beforeexecutio.jpg


Restoring order the imperial way, 1846
chapter02badbadbad.jpg


It is possible that some low level scribe had made a trifling error of notation, for killing half of the slightly disgruntled adult male population was draconian even for the Shogunate where 5% would surely have been enough to impress the foreigners. Nevertheless, an order was an order, it carried the imperial seal, there were always more peasants where they came from, and it certainly did send a clear signal that the imperial policy on national development was only to be opposed at the utmost of risks bordering on insanity.

Fully 46,000 of the adult male population of 112,000 were condemned and killed and the province became a magnet for destitute bachelors from all over Japan. There were prime farmlands to be had and experienced farmers' wives to go with them without any of the hassle that starvation, drought, earthquakes, or epidemics brought with them.

When the police interrogated me to measure my militancy I managed to maintain perfect tranquility by reciting koans devoted to fruit, something that has always been close to my heart. My ribs took a long time to heal and my fingers were never the same again but they deemed me, ultimately, to be only 2.7 militant and, as such, they wouldn't have to cut me in half, their small minds having concluded that I was the entire population of a population group of one and thus, if guilty, eligible for the same treatment as the silent, now screaming, majority.

That was a close call and I began currying political favour with the careful gifting of fruit-futures to certain susceptible bureaucrats to avoid such dangers in the future. I was thus warned well in advance when five years after the end of the Korean war the empire invaded Korea for the second time in a decade.

Some obnoxious Korean idiots had provoked a border incident in 1846 and the Shogun seized on that as his excuse for sending our troops across the border the moment the truce expired. It is said that he waited in a small palace constructed for his convenience on the very border of Pohang province with his army arrayed before him while his lieutenants cried out the hours until invasion, ensuring that this was the world's best announced and least secret invasion, ever.

Humbled five years before in March 1843, Korea had been unable to reestablish its army to anywhere near the strength that failed to stop the first invasion. As such enthusiasm for this war was rather low as it was considered a pushover with few opportunities to seek true glory.

This turned out to be an entirely accurate prediction as the war was over only one and a half year after it was launched. Korea was humbled, cut down to size, and this time the Shogun took the northernmost state of Pyongyang


North Korea is best Korea, 1849
chapter02endofsecondkor.jpg


Of greater interest to those of us with the long view, the philosophers had finished their dissertations on Post-Napoleonic Thought and were now for the first time looking forwards rather than backwards. It was known that the Europeans were experimenting with the ancient and noble art and science of mechanics and ways by which machines could be used to improve the mining industry. As this was still experimental, here was for the first time in living memory the opportunity to be a first mover and so the study of Mechanized Mining was begun.

Of greater interest, do I say? Only if we ignore one detail, one very important detail. To be fair, the Tokugawa Shogun himself had overlooked that detail, but even as he was building thrones, trampling Koreans, and sending back messages of victory from northern Korea, the emperor made his move.

The army with the Shogun in Pyongyang was loyal to him, but the leaders of the southern army holding down Kwanju had been suborned by allies of emperor Komei. The new frigate navy was loyal to its captains and they were loyal to the court.

It began to dawn on us that the infamous “fifty percent” execution order back in 1846 might not have been a scribe's error after all but the first clear sign of a decisive imperial leadership that emperor Ninko cold only have dreamt of.

The ancient Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyoshi, who was in his 56th year, chose to put his prerogatives at the emperor's disposal and resigned gracefully within the month and the rest, as they say, is history.


The Komei Restoration, 1849!
chapter02meiji.jpg







----------​


Teacheable moment: As you can see I heavily abused the wargoals system in order to gain enough prestige to trigger the Meiji restoration early. It could have been triggered even earlier, though not all that much earlier due to the required tech research. Abusing the wargoals system in this way by stacking humiliation on cutting down to size and seizing a province is fun when you play a nation that, by Jingo, has no objections to such a policy, but it carries a significant cost.

An update for the public release of the beta AAR: Yes, this was too good to last. The heavy abuse of the wargoals system and speculation on how it could be exploited even further may have been what got infamy revamped for expanding wargoals (without CB). These days I would probably go for a full annexation of Korea instead. You can still demonstrate your might to the world and rack up a bit of prestige by beating up uncivilized nations in order to humiliate them at a small infamy cost, but it isn't anywhere near as profitable as it used to be when you could add cutting down to size (and if you were civilized, take their states too) with only a minor increase in infamy. A very good change in my opinion.


To take the most obvious one, I could have conquered and annexed all four states of Korea in just one war for 20 points of infamy (just shy of the 25 BB limit) – instead I spent two wars and 20 points of infamy on gaining only two of Korea's states. A civilized nation wouldn't get that much infamy from beating up an uncivilized or annexing it but hey, that's life in the big league for you.

Infamy in Victoria 2 is no joke. Whether you like badboy wars or not, and Victoria 2 has a wargoal especially made for them (the “War of Containment”), which is at least an interesting change from the usual approach, they are a reality and it is hard to get rid of infamy in Victoria 2 compared to many other Paradox games.

You lose a bit of infamy each month, but the amount you lose is much less when you are at war. Thus you can get rid of small amounts of infamy easily enough and it is entirely possible to never become truly infamous despite frequently fighting small wars for limited gains (especially if you are a civilized nation beating up the uncivilized ones) so long as you keep breathing spaces of peace in between wars. Go all out and outright annex a nation and you may need upwards of two decades of complete peace to get rid of the infamy if you don't have a really good casus belli or a type of conquest war goal that people accept and respect (such as unifying your cores or beating up the uncivilized as a civilized nation).

Thus, by my strategic approach I have gained the minimal possible land for the infamy it cost me and by doing it in two wars that together took more time than one war to annexation would have taken I have furthermore gained less of an infamy reduction during the same time period. But I did get to fire the Meiji restoration really, really, early, and perhaps it is time for a bit of peace and quiet and industrialisation while I watch my sky-high infamy bleed away. :)

To be honest, if I were to play Japan again I would probably approach the build up to the Meiji restoration differently, but the reasons for that will become abundantly obvious in future chapters so there's no reason for me to whine about them now. Sometimes things just don't work out the way you expect or hope for them to do.




Writer's note: This is a beta AAR. Do not expect exploits, balance issues, or truly weird behaviour that arise during this AAR to be present in the final game with the launch day update applied. Prove responsible and don't jump to premature conclusions – things change during a beta and everything looks wonky at one time or another. I don't know how the final product will play and neither do you after reading this.
 
Last edited:

Peter Ebbesen

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Fruitcake, the Musical
Chapter Three: The Komei Era


Japan's stunning success on the world stage and great technological progress proved too important for the western world to deny or ignore and Japan was acknowledged as not only a civilized nation and hence protected from the ruthless exploitation that Europeans subjected what they considered lesser people to, but a secondary power and “definitely one to watch – preferably from a safe distance” as Lord Palmerston put it. While Japan was far from the most prestigious nation in the eyes of the world and had no industry, its standing military and its military potential was roughly estimated to be the third best in the world, which gave Japan an unofficial rank of 5th greatest nation, seriously challenging the eight acknowledged great nations.

Internally the Komei Era brought a new sense of destiny. It was time, past time, to show the world that Japan was second to none in the invention of new paradigms, business models, and small useless thing to pacify the middle classes. The philosophers united with industry and began seriously delving into matters that man might not, strictly speaking, be meant to know, but which would give Japan an edge over the opposition.


Research as a secondary power, January 1849
chapter03researchjan184.jpg


Of the greatest importance to Japan was the new opportunities in trade. No longer would Japan get a raw deal when competing for scarce resources, and many an eye watered when the first fruit shipments began to arrive with the first fresh fruit since 1836. There weren't enough fruit for everybody, so the poorest had to go without, but nobody at that time cared about the poor. Scurvy was good for them. It built character.

Many a banker had tears in the eye, and not just from the smell, when he could finally empty his vaults of dried and rotten fruit hoarded by the aristocracy as even the meanest noble had fresh fruit on his table.


FRUIT! WE HAVE FRUIT!
chapter03fruitjan1849.jpg


As emperor Komei's policies swept all before him a few Tokugawa era holdouts rose in reactionary rebellion but they were mercilessly put down by the army. Amongst the people as a whole there was a joyous feeling of devotion to the emperor and his new way and his policy of industrialisation.

While the imperial court had the greatest of respect for the artisans, it was past time to start mass production of items of lesser importance and not worthy of the attention of the master artisans. Towards that goal massive factories would be constructed. The armaments industry would be centralized in Edo, daily goods in Osaka, and all other Japanese states would start out with a cement factory since cement would be, if you'll pardon the play on words, the foundation on which the future of Japan would be built.

Japan's two Korean states, Kwanju and Pyongyang, would receive no manufactoring. Their role in the destiny of the empire of Japan was as a producer of raw materials.


Be wise - industrialize!
chapter03industrializat.jpg


When the Tokugawa Shogunate failed to make a comeback, by July it 1849 it could no longer be denied. Amongst all the world's nations, Japan was truly one of the great ones.


BANZAI!
chapter03banzai.jpg


The deep cooperation of industry and the arts and sciences that was to become the hallmark of Japanese scientific effort was classified decades later in S. Freud's seminal works. At the time none of us really thought in these terms, but thinking back on the Japan of my youth it was remarkably precise. The emperor Komei and his successor emperor Meiji had a fascination with all things new and shiny, but especially with those things that worked. As Mr. Freud put it, the Emperor had a complex.


Emperor Komei has a Military-Industrial Complex
chapter03militaryindust.jpg


During early 1850 the HaIshenwai islands were colonized for no better reason, or so it seemed at the time, than to colour the map and, possibly, to preempt Russian colonization. Russia had been on a slow but relentless expansion in Asia ever since the time she first arrived and showed no signs of stopping. Be that as it may, soon our flag flew over a few desolate hovels in both the north and the south of the island and a few hundred optimists emigrated there each month starting new lives. With the colony established, imperial attention wandered elsewhere and the colony was mostly ignored. The new national focus was to encourage craftsmen in Edo and Osaka, which was by many considered an amazing display of optimism and vision given that the factories hadn't finished building yet.


All was progressing with tranquility when terribly news came from the west. Russia had attacked
China in order to wrest Mongolia for China's feeble grip, and Russia's allies had agreed to help – morally, if nothing else. What was worse, the remnants of Korea had signed an alliance of mutual defense with China and was, as a result, fighting Russia as well.


War in China and Korea, October 1850
chapter03warofmongolia.jpg


To be more precise, Korea would be fighting Russia if it had a fleet to move armies to Russia, but since Korea lacked both a fleet and an army, such was not to be. The reverse, alas, could not be said to be true.

Even so, China was a mighty nation! Surely it could defend itself against Russian aggression. Thus, while attention was paid to the war in the west, the nation's focus remained inwards where it belonged, a focus on rapid industrialization. The supreme value of supporting the divinely established order was perhaps best expressed by the powerful speech of daimyo Shimazu when he last spoke as daimyo and first as a member of the new aristocracy, the kazoku.

Address to the new aristocracy, December 1851
chapter03addresstoparli.jpg


Indeed, if it hadn't been for the terrible end of the Russian war, the path to peace and prosperity might have had the nation's grateful attention for many decades to come, but that was not to be. Russia beat China and Korea decisively and not only stripped China of Mongolia, the Tsar took Sariwon state from Korea as a colonial possession.


Russian Sariwon, May 1852
chapter03russiansariwon.jpg


Korea's four states were now in turn, going south to north, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and finally Japanese again. Not only was this in the long term an unmanageable construction, it also gave Russia a foothold much too close to Japan itself. Something would have to be done, and as only those most divorced from reality saw profit in a war with Russia in our current situation, the choice became obvious: Containment, preventing further Russian expansion and removing temptation.

The debate amongst the kozuko as to how the upcoming war with Korea was to be managed finally ended after more than a year with an imperial order: Japan wouldn't be invading Korea for the purpose of conquest, no we would come as saviours, protecting them from the Russians and establishing a protectorate – and so we did, come summer 1854.


Third Korean War, May 1854
chapter03koreawardec.jpg


Needless to say, the war was over in only a few months and the Koreans breathed a wary sigh as they remained masters in their own house, or as much masters as you can be with an imperial overlord breathing down the neck and his bureaucracy observing and influencing your every action. Korea's capital state had, for all practical purposes, been turned into a Japanese colony in which good Japanese were urged to settle.


Seul, a Japanese colony
chapter03seulcolony.jpg


It must be admitted that tranquility was not completely universal. There were always a few troublemakers amongst the rabble ready to join the first charlatan with a cause, but they never amounted to anything. A sure hand and a showing of the clenched fist was enough to curb their impulsive actions, such as when the poor of Kwanju demanded unemployment subsidies. As the prefect of the district said dismissively: “They are called poor people for a reason”.

Unemployed, December 1854
chapter03unemployed.jpg


With the Korean threat ended and a growing Russian imperial power in the north, the decision was reached to being a major fortification program in northern Korea – both to keep the Chinese and, hypothetically, the Russians out should they march south and to keep the Russians already in Korea in. Every province in the north would be heavily fortified and garrisoned to the best of Japan's ability – an ever vigilant guard against a dangerous world.


North Korea fortification program begins, 1855
chapter03northkoreafort.jpg



----------​


Teacheable moment: I am not sure there is one in this chapter, really, apart from the dangers of outsmarting yourself. When I saw Russia seizing Sariwon, I deeply regretted my choice not to annex all of Korea in one go and spend a somewhat longer time building up to the Meiji restoration decision – or leaving Korea all unconquered until after Meiji when I could come in and establish a protectorate at a severely reduced cost as a civilized nation. It isn't as if I did not know other ways to get the required prestige with little infamy – the obvious choice would be to sail to Indochina and start beating small independents up to humiliate them or cut them down in size rather than going for territorial expansion. It would have been more work and it would probably have delayed the restoration but it would have avoided the rather silly situation I ended up in.

That incidentally might count as good advice in itself. You don't need to conquer anything as Japan to get the prestige needed for Meiji – you can limit yourself to beating up weaker neighbours. You won't gain the extra people and resources that way, of course, but you won't expand your population with low-literacy pops with limited clergy either, so you will be able to gain a substantially better research curve by not doing as I did. With full funding for the clergy and a national focus on clergy in my most populous state for the first many years, I am still 2% down in average literacy from 1836 to 1854 and have only slightly increased my percentage of clergy over the same time – the main cause of this miserable performance is the Korean conquests increasing my population by a third.

Is a technologically more advanced Japan that is limited to the resource base of the home islands more threatening than one rampaging through targets of opportunity or less? That is the sort of thing that we will only know the answer to once the game has been released and many people have played out the different variations – whatever turns out to be the most dangerous in the hands of an average player will end up the dominant MP playing style for Japan. :)



Writer's note: This is a beta AAR. Do not expect exploits, balance issues, or truly weird behaviour that arise during this AAR to be present in the final game with the launch day update applied. Prove responsible and don't jump to premature conclusions – things change during a beta and everything looks wonky at one time or another. I don't know how the final product will play and neither do you after reading this.
 
Last edited:

Peter Ebbesen

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Fruitcake, the Musical
Chapter Four: The Korean Issue

It must be said that of the various issues that excited the people during the Komei era, the question of what to do with the vexing Koreans was probably the one that caused the most heated discussions. It was a problem that Japan was entirely unprepared for. In the end the court decided that in this, as in so many other things, it was more important that the policy be consistent than that it be ideal for the specific case on hand.

To highlight some typical episodes, consider the shooting of a Korean boy during the dispersal of an illegal crowd. With the emperor's law being absolute, such an incident would have to be investigated no matter the cost, even for one so worthless as a Korean boy, since official violence was to remain strictly under control at all times.


Korean boy shot, July 1849
chapter03koreanboyshot.jpg


On the other hand, guilty Korean children were harshly treated as they deserved, and no insult to our glorious armies or its officers could be allowed to stand, be the officers Japanese or indeed Korean, for the emperor in his wisdom allowed Korean officers to serve while the Korean commoners who had served in the Korean armies remained constrained to civilian life.


Officer insulted, December 1850
chapter03officerinsulte.jpg


The Korean officers were carefully watched, however, and even the faintest traces of separatism or nationalism were crushed with an iron fist. The officers had been granted an extraordinary favour by the emperor and anybody who proved himself unworthy of it deserved nothing but death.

Korean Nationalist Officers, May 1850
chapter03nationalistoff.jpg


When the common people banded together speaking subversion, however, unlike in the military the empire's policy was to let sleeping dogs lie. In this the policy for Korean commoners was the same as for us Japanese – so long as all you did was talk, you were unlikely to lose your head over it.


First Farmers Bank, July 1855
chapter03firstfarmersba.jpg


Finally, there was the vexing question of assimilation. The emperor's proclaimed policy was assimilation of any Korean who could learn the language and act Japanese as well as the Ainu, which policy did not sit well with many people. Nevertheless, the cleverest minds did their best to turn this into a working policy. One of the ideas they came up with was to implement harsh minority building restrictions, a policy of “tough love”.


Minority Building Restrictions, January 1850
chapter03minoritybuildi.jpg


There were many other issues, of course. Discriminatory school systems got the official seal of approval and every other measure that would show the Koreans just how bad a life the could have if they didn't shape up and accept the new world order. Frequently rising in rebellion, entire districts were depopulated. It was all for the greater good and in time the Korean people grew content if not happy and some of them did assimilate. Not a lot in those early years, but coming generations that had been under Japanese guidance from birth were to prove less difficult.


Teacheable moment: None. A comment, though. I went directly counter to my general strategy of “keep MIL low at all costs” in the Korean officer's event. This isn't because it is objectively the best choice or because there is any in-game benefit to killing off a minority officer corps, it is because I cannot accept disobedience in my officer corps for any reason. They may only be digital POPs, but that is no excuse for disobedience or sedition amongst trusted officers.

Okay, I tell a lie. There is a fringe benefit to killing off a minority officer corps that does apply in this case, but that is happenstance rather than design. Since there's an optimum percentage of officers needed to gain leadership/month, all officers in excess of that percentage are essentially parasites or, if you will, backup. This event is one of the few that allows you to drastically reduce a specific officer POP in size.



Writer's note: This is a beta AAR. Do not expect exploits, balance issues, or truly weird behaviour that arise during this AAR to be present in the final game with the launch day update applied. Prove responsible and don't jump to premature conclusions – things change during a beta and everything looks wonky at one time or another. I don't know how the final product will play and neither do you after reading this.
 
Last edited:

Peter Ebbesen

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Fruitcake, the Musical
Chapter Five: Manchuria

It came as a surprise. One day the papers were bursting with the importance of the northern fortresses in Pyongyang, the next day they were agitating for war against China as a weak and decadent relic of bygone times.

Manchuria, we were told, was sparsely occupied by Chinese standards and yet they were hogging valuable resources and only selling them at extortionate prices. The neighbourly thing of them to do would surely be share their bounty with their good Japanese neighbours, but the Chinese court declared both land and resources much too valuable to share.

In the end the emperor decided to teach the Chinese monarch a lesson and gain the wide swathes of Manchuria for Japanese expansion. It would be the first serious test of his new modern army.

Nobody but the most deluded wanted to conquer China itself, of course. Conquering China and taking the throne was something that several invaders had managed in the course of history, but without exception China had swallowed them up and, while they had kept their own quaint customs, the truth was that conquering China changed them more than it changed China.

No, for Japan to remain Japanese, expansion had to be kept strictly under control and not incorporate too many foreigners, and that kept the war goals to a minimum. The emperor decreed a short victorious war.


Modest wargoals
chapter05wargoals.jpg


The invasion began February 26, 1856.


Invasion of Manchuria, February 1856
chapter05invasion.jpg


The Great Blockade
chapter05blockade.jpg


While battles raged in Manchuria, the main Japanese fleet lay in wait for the Chinese fleet to leave port and engage one of the minor blockading fleets stationed along the coast of China from the furthest south to the farthest north. When it did, our fleet swooped in!

The fate of the Chinese fleet
chapter05chinesefleetsu.jpg


The initial battles demonstrated the superior skills of the Japanese generals and the martial prowess of our soldiers but China is big and its reserves large. Even so, only the most base of men did not rejoice in hearing the first reports from the battlefields!


Initial victories, March 1856
chapter05initialbattles.jpg


Having been shown the heavy stick, the Chinese refused to see sense and give in to the emperor's just demands. The innumerable armies of China began arriving to reinforce Manchuria and what started as a trickle soon turned into a flood and soon rumours of tactical withdrawals and even outright defeats of imperial armies were commonplace. This defeatism, so obviously nurtured by traitors and Chinese sympathizers, was rewarded with the scorn it deserved by all educated men.

The conditions in Manchuria were deplorable. Many of the greatest military minds of Japan perished on the field of battle or from disease and infection. As the old saw has it, the biggest causes of promotion in the military are bloody wars and sickly seasons, but this was too much. It was past time to revolutionize medicine and bring it firmly into the 19th century!

Eight months after the invasion, yet another general bites the dust
chapter05eightmonths.jpg


A year after the invasion
chapter05ayearlater.jpg


Sixteen months after the invasion
chapter05sixteenmonths.jpg


In the end, the Chinese court had to concede defeat. With Aigun and Haishenwai under Japanese control, with Chinese Tainan falling to a surprise naval invasion in the south, and with its capital under control by Japanese forces, China had had enough. It remained the largest and most populous Asian empire but following this war nobody would mistake it for the mightiest.

Japan had gained four million people who could, at best, be described as Chinese. Their integration into civilized society would take a long time.


We are 14 million adult men and we shake the foundations of the the world!
chapter05fourmillionpeo.jpg



Teacheable moment: If you attack China when she hasn't recently been attacked by somebody else, expect to see many armies. This is not a big problem for the great power with decent army techs, but if you have tech parity with China things get a bit harder. The AI is fairly good at using the armies it has (for an AI) but it is incomparably weaker than a human player in one crucial aspect: It does not deliberately overstack its armies beyond the supply limit for key attacks or defences. It will overstack armies during wartime, and it will happily send untold numbers into the meatgrinder of a huge battle, but it will not overstack in anticipation of killing a smaller stack or holding a key province. Fundamentally, if you can lay the smack down on it while its armies are still close to peace-time sizes, it may never manage to concentrate forces in time since it doesn't properly understand the principle of trading land for time – time to put together proper armies that can win a war. To be fair, the same inability affects many players of Paradox games, including in multi-player, and I cannot think of any game AI I have ever fought in any game that comes close to being good at using defence in depth, trading land for time, and concentration of forces, so this did not come as a big surprise. :)

This gives the human player, assuming it is a human player with a nation that can afford taking significant attritional casualties, that is, a very significant advantage.

More of an amusing note. With the assimilation rate in THIS beta patch (it was reduced later on and many other factors tweaked) I should probably have gone for all of China seen from a long-time perspective. If I had wanted to deal with 130 million angry people on a regular basis, that is, and the risk of invasion by Russia and the UK during a war that would have taken considerably longer time.



Writer's note: This is a beta AAR. Do not expect exploits, balance issues, or truly weird behaviour that arise during this AAR to be present in the final game with the launch day update applied. Prove responsible and don't jump to premature conclusions – things change during a beta and everything looks wonky at one time or another. I don't know how the final product will play and neither do you after reading this.
 
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Peter Ebbesen

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Fruitcake, the Musical
Chapter Six: And what then?


What then, you ask? Did you not learn it in school, my boy?

Now that I have told you about the beginning of the Komei era that I saw in my youth, it would be fitting if you told me what you learned in school about the great deeds of your father and the history of Japan and China.

Tell me first of China.


Okay, great-grandpa. In 1857 with the magnificent victory over China fresh in memory, in which you played a key part by supplying the troops with fresh fruit, and don't try to deny it, it says so in my history book, Japan added the weak and decadent China to our Sphere of Influence. The diplomatic competition with Russia and the United Kingdom was fierce. China had fallen too far and too hard and the its restless masses, who had begun open rebellion during the war, beat the defeated Chinese armies. All of China entered a state of anarchy that was to last the next two decades as brother fought brother from the throne.


One year after the peace with Japan
chapter06chinainchaos.jpg


The perfidious Portuguese were quick to take advantage of the internal turmoil and it is to our everlasting disgrace that the reactionary holdouts in the military staff kept knowledge of the Portuguese actions from the emperor's ears until it was too late to intervene to maintain our rights in our own Sphere of Influence.


Two years after the peace with Japan
chapter06chinaportugal1.jpg


The subsequent British invasion and occupation of Western China came as little surprise for China had lost any sort of control with its outlying provinces by then, but when the Portuguese invaded again in 1864 the armies of Japan fought to contain them in their foothold and though the armies of Portugal were well equipped and lead by the mighty general Pascoal Correia, a merciless toady, we were ultimately victorious!


Defending China from Portugal, 1864-1867
chapter06fightingportug.jpg


The Merciless Toady, Pascoal Correia, defending Yizhou
chapter06portuguesegood.jpg


Following their defeat, anarchy remained the only order that most of China saw until the great Meiji emperor ordered in troops to restore order in all of China, causing the outbreak of the Great Uprising of 1876-1879. Emperor Meiji had solidified his hold on the throne in the Great Russian war, where Russia, the Netherlands, and Austria opposed our righteous claim to dominance in East Asia, by the conquest of Sariwon, uniting Korea under Japanese rule, and Guihua Tumed, but the liberal agitators failed to see this divine proof of his rule and demanded political reforms – reforms that would only have weakened Japan.


Japan following the war with the Russo-Tuliplover alliance
chapter06russiadefeated.jpg


The emperor refused any and all reforms and though the home islands bled copiously, the emperor remained adamant. The army, mostly loyal, fought the traitors and was increased to a hitherho unseen size to fight, since defence must come before opulence. Great Uprising was crushed. Ever since then the police have kept a strong watch on extreme liberal tendencies and the occasional student uprising has to be put down, when the students get too much sake, but they have never been a real threat since the early reign of Meiji.


The Final Act in the Great Liberal Rebellion, 1879
chapter06liberalrebelli.jpg


An update for the public release of the beta AAR: You lucky bastards are going to face significantly fewer and, just as importantly, smaller rebellions than I did in this test-game. The rebellion screenshot above is positively tame compared to those I got in the middle of the great liberal rebellion. As part of the ongoing balancing we were facing increased rebel activity for some time and, while I'll admit that I found it somewhat awesome (at least in the short run), the game is considerably better in the long run without it.


After the pacification of China and the end of the Great Uprising, the Meiji emperor annexed Xibei Xan Mei to forestall Portuguese and UK aggression and he made an Iron Alliance with China and its two southern splinter dictatorships, the Yunnan and Guangxi Clique.


That was well said, boy, though you need to study imperial politics in greater detail. Now, what can you tell me about Indochina?

Ahem. Following the war for the liberation of the Korean slaves, the great Komei emperor felt his heart go out, not just to his own people, but to all enslaved people in the world, for so strong was his love for humanity that even the lowliest received it, be he never so unworthy. Not as much as the emperor loved his own people, of course, but he had seen the scourge of the world and would not tolerate it.

Even as he studied the manifold ramifications of ideological thought, he prepared the Japanese armies for a mission of mercy. The campaign for the liberation of the enslaved began with the invasion of Dai Viet in 1862 and ended with the annexation of Johore in 1876 as the imperial armies defeated one antiquated monarchy after another. Only Siam, which was protected by the United States of America, put up a serious fight. US intervention was more symbolic than anything else and their pathetic attempt to interdict the Japanese navy ended active US participation.


The preparations for the mission of mercy, 1862
chapter06armiesofindoch.jpg


The climate in Indochia was harsh but our superior medicine saved many who would otherwise have died, and if one sixth of a generation were to die to liberate the slave it would still have been cheap at twice the price. Though some foreign observers have claimed that the liberation was done for pure political reasons of expansion, the refutation of this is as easy to make as it is true: The monarchies that did not hold slaves, those of Atjeh, Bali, Java, and Brunei, were spared and were, indeed, brought into the Japanese Sphere of Influence via diplomatic means against the opposition of the European great powers, sharing in our common market and able to rely on our benevolent protection.


Siam, 1864
chapter06indochinausa.jpg


While the fleet of the United States was pathetic, not all of the great powers suffered from that deficiency. The sneaky Spaniards joined the war on the side of Siam and the US and their mighty warships sank two three transports fleets, thankfully after they had landed their troops, before the imperial fleet was ordered to fall back and defend the home islands. But naval dominance availed them nothing in the face of boots on the ground and in the end, Siam fell.


Destruction of the first transport fleet, 1865
chapter06spainsinkstran.jpg


With the armies engaged in China, Manchuria, Korea, and Indochina, lesser nations might have stumbled, but the people rose in their multitudes in support of the emperor's policies! Political ideologies fell aside as conservative, liberal, and socialists all backed the divine struggle! Little did anybody expect the rot that had set in at the heart of the liberal movement at the time, it was a decade and more before the great uprising and it is possible that most of them were innocent of guilty thoughts at the time, but we will never know.


We are in it to win! 1865
chapter06jingoism.jpg


From the very first liberation of the Indochinese wars, the grateful populace welcomed Japanese settlers with open arms. The best part of a generation of young men had fallen defending the entrenched tyrannies leaving a generation of unsupported young women struggling to get by in the world. The Japanese populace, willing to a man, took up the burden of uplifting the people of Indochina as their older brothers or fathers had done in Manchuria. Coupled with the massive immigration of settler families in a thinly populated region, and the rapid spread of the benefits of modern civilization such as modern medicine, Indochina experienced a massive population growth and quickly began majority Japanese.


End of the Indochinese wars, 1875
chapter06endofindochina.jpg


An update for the public release of the beta AAR: My mass annexation spree in Indochina without shadow of a CB would be considerably more dangerous and expensive to try to pull off these days and give you loads of infamy; This strategy fell victim of the big infamy revamp. This may sound paranoid to you, but sometimes I get the feeling that I am being watched by sinister forces out to prevent abuse of game mechanics.


Well said, well said indeed! But war is one thing, and it is a glorious thing, but it is not the only thing though it is an important tool to an end. Can you tell me about our great scientific victories?

Errr, well, yes, there was, err.

Hmm.

The great breakthrough in medicine, that saved my grandfather and many others in childhood, occurred in 1859.

And?

Our bold search for the source of the Nile began in 1868 but failed.

And?

Egyptian excavations in the Valley of Kings began 1871, no 1870, and has turned up funny mummies and it is still ongoing.


Mummies look out, we are coming for you!
chapter06egyptianexcava.jpg


Mummies are not funny! Respect the culture of others, my boy, even if they are silly. These thoughts are all very well and good, but is there anything we have done recently that is particularly great? Such as something that happened three years ago and made the world take note?

Well, some three years back there was a great hulla-baloo about “electricity” and how it was the next big thing, but what with the great Communist Uprising the stories died down quickly. Really, great-grandpa, electrical lighting may be very well and good for increasing the work hours in manufactories but, apart from that, it has no future.


Electricity
chapter06electricity.jpg


Start of Communist Uprising
chapter06communists.jpg


An update for the public release of the beta AAR: You won't get the joke, so let me explain it. A number of beta testers had had their realms, that survived the liberal revolution, swallowed by communism with the players ending up giving in to the rebels. Posting a screenshot with only a tiny amount of rebels and implying that overall the communists had been no big deal was just my little tease. To be fair, I probably did have less problems – due to my wise policy of not giving in to any AI faction, rebel or otherwise, and trying to set it up so I could play different factions and different ideologies against each other.


Show respect for your elders! I may be old and gray, but I am not too senile to see the possibilities in electricity. Why, if coupled with some of the advances in physics it might be able to suck the heat straight out of a room!

Why would we need that when we already have machine guns? I am not stupid, ancient one, we all know that there's a war coming to show the United Kingdom once and for all who is dominant in Asia and I look forwards to it, but that war will be won by our guards-brigades, not by wonder weapons.


Machine Guns. Attacking us just got a lot harder.
chapter06machineguns.jpg


The youth of today have no manners and less intellect. THINK, boy, THINK! You know that food lasts longer if it is kept cool or, even better, cold. Now, if the bright minds can make my dream come true with a technology to refrigerate food, just imagine the possibilities for the the whole-sale fruit industry! You do want to grow up to serve as manager in the family business like your father, and your father's father, and me, before you, don't you?

I want to be a soldier!

No, you don't.




Teachable moment: In the last chapter I agonized a bit about my decision not to go for all out annexation of China. As it was, I ended up fighting Portugal in China at the same time as I was busy conquering Indochina and dealing with the US fleet (successfully) and the Spanish fleet (badly) while having nationalist rebels and the first few liberals poking their heads up to get them chopped off and, let's face it, while more could certainly be accomplished if I had been willing to deal with the increase in micromanagement and slowing down the game speed, this was quite a mouthful already. I have absolutely no doubt that somebody will overrun all of China and annex it in an initial war in the release version, however. It only requires a combination of painstaking effort and not getting jumped by Russia or the UK during the conquest, both of which are unlikely to happen so long as one does not share a border with either of them while fighting China. :)

Let me take this moment to encourage players of single-player to, once in a while, play the game at a constant speed of 2 or 3 during wartime without pausing. Not only is this good training for multi-player should you ever decide to try it, it also tends to improve your critical skills in determining just what is important and what is not because you have to make snap decisions. It may be that this play-style is not for you but you'll never know until you give it a try. And you can still pause in the case of the very, very, very important events with half a screen of text and an effect list longer than your arm if you really need to. :)

I know I skipped over the whack-a-mole mini-game of SoI manipulation quickly. Rest assured that it did take very real work and dedication to kick out all the European Great Power competitors from the (remaining) independent nations of eastern Asia and maintain my stranglehold on our common market. To be fair, by 1890 I did not really need much from their markets, though the Chinese and Javan fruit production was much appreciated, but by then there was a certain pleasure in having them as independent nations under my protection. I wish I could have done it for Xibei San Mei too, but I was out of time and out of influence. The UK's infamy was close to zero, practically guaranteeing a new round of expansion, and the Portuguese were happily eating their way through rebel-torn China. An invasion was the only thing that could save them in time. :D


Writer's note: This is a beta AAR. Do not expect exploits, balance issues, or truly weird behaviour that arise during this AAR to be present in the final game with the launch day update applied. Prove responsible and don't jump to premature conclusions – things change during a beta and everything looks wonky at one time or another. I don't know how the final product will play and neither do you after reading this.
 
Last edited:

Peter Ebbesen

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Fruitcake, the Musical
Chapter Seven: Epilogue



Japan, July 11 1889
chapter07banner.jpg


Time for some hard data. Politics first.


Politics
chapter07political.jpg


As you can see I maintained my position as an absolute monarchy by not giving the liberals an inch despite the significant costs of handling domestic liberal agitation and rebellions. What I did instead was to do everything in my power to please the socialists as soon as socialism entered the ideological game to forge a socialist-conservative alliance against the liberals and (with foreknowledge) the communists I knew were to come.

Thus I was overjoyed when I got an event in the 1860'ies that allowed me to enact acceptable pensions despite my upper house still being conservative at the time and in opposition to any reform. I jumped on this and it worked just as I intended. Liberals wanting political reform maintained their high reform demands but the early socialists were happy and over time the socialists grew. In just a few more years after 1889 the socialists would be the biggest party in the upper house and I would be able to enact even more controlled social reforms to keep enough socialists content that they wouldn't become a serious threat. That would require higher taxes and even better industry but I had plenty of room for expansion of my economy to support it and was only running medium taxation the last few decades. Best of all, unlike some betas (hi!) with significant communist problems in their liberal social-democratic utopias, my focus on a social-conservative entrenched monarchy kept the communists from becoming a real threat.* (There's another reason too, see technology later one)

The greatest wishes of my people are more social reforms and support for the military, jingoism, and an interventionist political policy. That's not a bad situation to be in when you have focused on building up the military-industrial complex.

My government used to be run under state capitalism but at the beginning of the historic Meiji Period the party list changed and my pro-miliary state capitalist conservative court faction got changed to a jingoist interventionist conservative imperial faction. While I do like the detailed control I get under state capitalism, interventionism requires much less micromanagement and one can always close factories to redistribute their workers to other factories in the state (and the capitalists will then reopen them) or, if one really don't want to see a particular factory, one can close it down. The ability to kill off capitalist factory products if one disagrees with the capitalists' choices is pretty neat too.


Population
chapter07population.jpg


The Japanese population consists of 39.14 million adult males so figure a total population of ~156 million. The average literacy is 40.5% but this should be taken with a big grain of salt. The best educated parts of the empire – the home islands in particular – have 50-70% literacy as the norm and isolated POPs that have moved to other parts of the empire share that high level, but despite a high focus on education vast areas of the empire remains in the 10-30% literacy range. Assimilation has been high and quite likely rather higher than what any of you will find when you get the game in your hands due to changes in later beta patches. You can also see that I have ~1.1 million craftsmen. That is the results of having NF Craftsmen in my five most populous states ever since I got the NFs enabled. I have considerably fewer Clerks than needed for an optimal ratio for either production or research but they are slowly coming along. What was of utmost importance for me was to build a strong industry employing lots of people, so I wouldn't have significant problems once the RGOs of smaller provinces started filling up due to my tech focus on increased population growth rate.




Technology-wise there's been a clear focus on industry and building a strong army. I haven't needed better commerce techs since my vast production base allows me to afford just about anything without it just using the basic taxation. This is significantly helped by my ability to set whatever taxes and tariffs I want.


Army Tech
chapter07techarmy.jpg


I started behind and had no intention of staying there. The early wars against Korea and China were fought without significant army advances, but after I got my industry up and running the army had priority. There are lots of good techs in the army tech tree but for the one playing catch-up it is important to focus on the killer techs. In this case better weapons for the grunts and leadership.


Navy Tech
chapter07technavy.jpg


The next big area for me when I had finished my current research was ship construction followed by some organisation boosting technologies. By 1889 my frigate navy had been obsolete by decades and my cheap-and-dirty commerce raiders (you are going to love those ships in the early game) that trump men of war due to speed and cost of construction and can fight Ironclads if you swamp them with numbers just don't come close to doing the job if the enemy has started using Cruisers. I really mean it. Cruisers are game-changers. In multi-player I would have taken more of the tier 1 naval techs rather than research so many high tier industry techs to give my fleet a fighting chance against a human enemy but against the computer a focus on numbers can compensate, especially when you intend to only use your navy for defence in your home waters with quick access to friendly ports.


Commerce Tech
chapter07techcommerce.jpg


The only thing of interest in the commerce tech is that I took Market Structure. The inventions associated with Market Structure help your factories, but I took it because it increased the efficiency of education. :) I was definitely planning on researching at least two more techs in commerce some time soon, Stock Exchange and Business Banks. Not because I needed the improved tax efficiency yet (though I very well might when I enacted more reforms) but because Business Banks is one of the five techs in the game that enable RGO spread events, in this case distribution channels. These are technologies that slowly spread throughout your realm and bring significant benefits to farmers or labourers (or both in the case of electricity).


Culture Tech
chapter07techculture.jpg


Nationalism and Imperialism is the holy grail of the culture tech class for the player that doesn't want to create a high-prestige liberal utopia. Not only is the road to N&I paved with more plurality boosting inventions than you can shake a stick at and enables you to have 5 national focuses, it encourages colonisation, reduces war weariness and, well, it is THE thing to get for an expansionist state in a hurry, even when saddled with a 10% penalty as I was due to my military-industrial complex academic tradition and I went for it as soon as my industry got going and my military was strong enough to defend myself. I did not, however, go for the fifth technology in political thought despite it being open since 1870 and giving another NF.

Revolution & Counterrevolution is an awesome technology with great inventions attached – for instance, who wouldn't an efficient secret police to retard the growth rate of of all types? There's just one minor issue. Communist growth increases significantly, so if you take R&C you may end up with fewer rebels and malcontents overall depending on what people hate about your state, but you will end up with a stronger communist rebel movement. As my play-style was chosen based on not giving in to any demands and forging a conservative-socialist alliance of convenience, I much preferred my disaffected not to have any one cause to rally around. R&C is, like its successor Mass Politics, a technology that one should not research without having considered its implications. For some nations it is awesome, for others... not so much.


Industry Tech
chapter07techindustry.jpg


My industry techs powered my rapid expansion and allowed me to keep people moderately happy at most times. There are four RGO spread events from industry, and they are enabled by Interchangeable Parts, Inorganic Chemistry, Electricity, and Combustion Engine. Common for all four of them is that the techs they are attached to are highly valuable by themselves and have highly valuable predecessors so I expect that they will have a very high priority for most players who play for long-term gain. I wish I had better railroads, for railroads truly are nice, but given my starting position I should be happy with what I have got. :)



My Mighty Factories
chapter07production.jpg


Aigun, Osaka (here disguising itself as Japanese Bonin), Yamaguchi, Nagoya, and Edo were my five big centres of production. Most other states had one or two factories and my colonial states had none, as you cannot build factories in colonial states. If you think to detect a focus on the production of things that sell only moderately well or makes a loss during peacetime but could be useful during wartime, you think right. While I certainly don't wish for my people to starve during wartime, that is an acceptable risk. The one thing I don't want to risk is supply shortages to my troops.


My Production. Yes, even the lowliest peasant can eat his fill of coal. :p
chapter07endproduction.jpg




Map of Asia
chapter07asiamap.jpg


With all the remaining east Asian minor powers in my Sphere of Influence, the bugbear in the room is easy to see. The United Kingdom. They played hard and, unlike other AI nations, didn't go down the drain due to rebel problems (since toned significantly down during testing) but survived to maintain their status as king of the hill.


Diplomacy
chapter07diplomacy.jpg

In order of ranking:
  1. The United Kingdom has the strongest prestige and industry and are in a deserved number one position.
  2. The USA suffered a civil war with the CSA and went through the rebel hell together with most other majors during which the CSA rose a second time after its initial defeat and Texas proclaimed its independence. but it recovered and began reclaiming lost lands and has built a formidable industry. It is in an entirely undeserved second position. :p
  3. Japan is the strongest nation in the world by far and takes third place due lesser prestige.
  4. France got tied up with rebels and a few European wars with Prussia, Austria, and Russia, and never really got going but didn't fall significantly behind either.
  5. Russia is doing quite well overall but has a very small army, presumably because the last army it needed in wartime got mauled (sorry!) and it hasn't needed a big army since then. It can raise a very large army, and that's without even considering mobilization, should it ever need it.
  6. Spain managed to stay out of wars (mostly) and maintained its small colonial empire.
  7. Portugal went on a conquest-spree in China, which apparently required so many resources that the AI didn't build a single manufactory. (This may also have to do with some capitalist-tweaking going on then, I don't know. Weird things happen during a beta. :) ). With millions of Chinese toiling such that the Portuguese don't have to lift a finger, we can safely assume that life home in Portugal is one of indulgence. Most of Portugal's considerable military was stationed in China keeping the locals in check and, from their heavily fortified positions, likely to make any invasion of Portuguese China a very expensive affair. Not that I suspect anybody of harbouring such intentions.
  8. Mexico has managed to thrive.

The secondary powers were, in order:
  1. Netherlands - 9th best prestige and 10th best industry just wasn't enough to stay in the big league when you only have the 12th best military.
  2. Austria – a good industry and a decent military but their prestige is nothing to phone home about makes it a strong regional power, but not a great power
  3. Colombia - it isn't Gran Colombia, but it is something better: stable. Having conquered most of Venezuela over the course of several wars, Colombia is building up a formidable industry and army while also keeping prestige high. It is the the strongest regional power in South America. It will no doubt retake Panama, which was lost during the great rebellions, any day.
  4. Switzerland – high prestige and a decent industry did the trick
  5. Prussia – much better military than Switzerland and decent industry, but they just didn't have enough prestige to climb the rankings
  6. Ottoman Empire – rebel hell, but a prestigious rebel hell
  7. Krakow – One might reasonably ask: Just how did a one-province minor end up a secondary power? By hook, crook, and a surprising strong showing in all three of military, industrial, and prestige scores, that's how! It apparently got some of the early culture inventions first and hence a huge prestige boost it has lived on since then, managed to avoid war by building up as large a military as it could, and lucked out with focusing on one of the most valuable factories first. By 1889 13% of the population are in Soldier POPs and no less than 22.6% are craftsmen. An interesting development.
  8. Sweden – is overpowered by definition in Paradox games, so hardly surprising. If they had more of a military they'd have rocked up to 12 place past Switzerland and Prussia but they don't.


Finally, the world map:


The world of 1889
chapter07worldmap.jpg



An update for the public release of the beta AAR: The game has changed a lot since the state it was in for this game, which took place over several beta patches a long time ago, and for the better. I loved the game then and I do so now but, for the love of god, please don't assume that your game as Japan in the release version will play out like mine. You'll have a starting position that does not suffer from a fruit shortage, game mechanics that in many cases have been changed in subtle ways (and a few not so subtle), a massively different and less generous economy, more streamlined tech effects, considerably less trouble with rebels, and much better game balance overall.

With that said, there's absolutely no doubt that any competent player will do well with Japan in the release version. It is set up for greatness and it would take a poor player to fail to make it if he tried, but it will be a different experience.

(I say you should still stick with the conservatives and form ranks around the emperor by supporting the court faction and later the imperialist faction rather than giving in to the liberals and their wimpy laissez-faire government. Giving in to the liberal movement may very well be profitable and useful in staving off a liberal revolution and arguably make for a smoother ride, but before you know of it you have started granting the populace voting rights and where would the empire be then, I ask you? Crush them! Show to the world that an absolute monarchy is the way of the future. :D)

Finally, this AAR is being taken public on sufferance since some players tend to overreact to beta AARs and I tend to write in a way that is, how shall we put it, very easy to overreact to. Especially when I find a fun thing to exploit or give helpful advice. I have tried to add disclaimers to the worst exploits I found and they were fixed, I repeat it, FIXED! Please don't make Paradox regret their decision not to keep this hidden in the bowels of the beta forum.


- Peter Ebbesen