Our Doom and Our Pride: Calm Amidst its Raj Did Sleep

The ninth session was not without events of interest, but no major player drama:

  • France Is Away, Post Cheese-Eating Memes: Khan was absent and subbed by new player Mike The Knight, who – since Khan has gone silent in all forms of communication known to man with the possible exception of smoke signals – will be taking over Occitania. He is, clearly, perfectly suited to do so by virtue of his name, for Occitania must necessarily be the centerpiece of any anti-Dragoon coalition; and for this task there can be no more auspicious name than ‘Michael’, who cast the Dragon out of Heaven:

    And there was war in Heaven, and Michael fought, and his angels; and the Dragon fought, and his angels; and prevailed not! Neither was their place found any more, in Heaven.

    The only possible improvement would be ‘Thor’, who once pulled the Midgard Serpent out of the sea, and who on Vigrid field will fight the monster, kill it, and be killed in turn by its venom. But as much as I despise the religion of slaves, one must be practical: Most of Europe is Christians of one stripe or another; the one exception outside Scandinavia worships the pansy Greek versions of the Indo-European pantheon, and both sexes shave. Sadly, Michael will probably inspire more courage on the field of battle against the finest army in Europe than Thor, even though Thor has a much better beard. All of which being said, if you’re reading this between me posting it and game time on the 22nd, and your name is Thor or a reasonable variant, feel free to pop up in our Discord and claim your free Occitanian player slot.

  • Raj Against the Dying of the Right: The off-limits rule for India expired in 1700, and all of Europe descended like the wolf on the fold; in fall of 1699 the waters around the subcontinent were filled with two-deckers and merchantment, waiting for January when they could offload their soldiers and begin the conquest. The actual fighting was over by March or so, when it became a question of who would occupy what, and how the various alliances could maneuver to maximise their share and get reasonably contiguous borders. The Ynglings came out of it with four provinces, but good ones, around Coromandel; the major winners were Dragoon, who got the southern tip (including Ceylon) as a vassal and territory up the spine, and Hadogei, who got most of the Ganges valley and the central region. Some salt was shed here, Hadogei feeling that his long patience as an Indian power entitled him to dominate the subcontinent, and everyone else feeling that if he thought so, he was welcome to bring an army to back it up, or even better, reliably show up every week to build that army.

    Vultures waiting for the word.

  • Oh Why, Oh?: In 1720 the Ohio trade node opened, but the land rush was less noticeable since it had to be conducted with colonists. Aside from the African interior which won’t open until Vicky, that leaves only Hudson Bay and the Plains region, both of which open in 1744. The off-limits mechanic has, I think, worked well to give everyone a chance to colonise and shoot natives; there’s been much more competition, less of a first-mover advantage, and less monopolisation of the colonial game than I’ve seen in previous Great Games. Nevertheless we might move up the schedule a bit next time.

    Eurasia, 1720; India is partitioned among the outside powers.

    Americas, 1720; note new player Astat in the 13 Colonies.

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    Our Doom and Our Pride: Angry Tumult Cease

    • Wait on Thee to Trouble It: Obviously there was going to be a coalition against Dragoon; I mean, why wouldn’t there be a coalition against Dragoon? He’s the biggest power, he’s recently fought against most of the secondary powers surrounding him, and his name is ‘Dragoon’, which is a very weak disguise for the fact that he is, in fact, the Dragon, that is to say, the Serpent, the tempter, the one who prevailed not against Michael when there was war in Heaven. Alas, this world is given into his power until the Second Coming, and he goes to and fro in the Earth, and walks up and down in it, his wicked works to accomplish. And this week he breathed temptation and fear into the heart of some weak player, and was told of the plot against him; and Took Steps. And Khan was called away from the game, and could not attend; and without the two hundred regiments of Occitania, the coalition dared not fight. And Dragoon went to each of the allies alone, and spoke of his terrible wrath; but spoke also soothingly, saying that for a mere token, not half the tribute he would extract in a true war, he would sign peace. And behold it was so; and the remains of Yngling Mexico were given over to Zirotron, and some other tributes also were paid; and there was peace in Europe, where the Dragon prevailed.
    • Internal Narrative Dissonance: I just realised that the severely Christian metaphors of the previous paragraphs don’t match my usual narrative point-of-view in which the Norse religion is taken as obviously true and I refer to the White Christ and the religion of slaves. That’s because I’m immensely tired as I write this, having been run ragged by the Children of Men, and have gotten a Christian slave intern to write my AAR.
    • Matter of Spain: I said there was peace in Europe, which wasn’t entirely accurate; Dragoon allied with Leon to extract a price from Khan (ably subbed by Vaniver), and took the bit of Occitania that stuck out into Iberia. Thus Leon has its Pyrenees border.
    • Pivot to Hardware: I disgustedly gave up on war and diplomacy, and turned to more peaceful matters; I finally managed to get a good exponential manufactory growth going, and now have manus all over Scandinavia, where they feed my English Channel trade. I also built a large number of universities.
    • Promo Process Reform: I changed the internal promotion procedures of Yngl, Inc, allowing people into the management track (for satellite offices) even if they don’t speak Norse. Thus I gained the Splendor bonus from having multiple promoted cultures.
    • Comoro War: I tried to participate in the partition of Kilwa, I really did. I bought a South African colony from Atlassia (subbed by Gutrage) for the range, and declared war even before my claim fabrication procced. I still wasn’t fast enough; Tazzzo and Vaniver split the whole coastline, and I ended up taking the utterly useless Comoro islands – and to get even that much I had to march an army overland from the Kongo, since both of them refused to give me mil-access. (The Kilwan interior will remain off-limits until Victoria). I suppose I got a little closer to India, but what I actually wanted was gold, ivory, and interns.
    • Pacific War: Yes, that’s a contradiction in terms, I can’t help what they named the ocean. The Asian powers conspired against Khan, and declared war for his colonies in the Pacific (including on the best coast of America); Vaniver sent his fleet and the largest army allowed by the rules, somewhere around 50-60 regiments – but he was fighting the whole of Asia, several hundred regiments total. Incensed at this treatment of our ally, who’d already had a rough session what with being attacked by Dragoon, Golle and I entered the war on Occitania’s side. (In terms of Realpolitik, honestly, we might have been better off joining the other side, and snapping up Occitania’s Atlantic colonies. But we were somewhat annoyed at the gangbang of five players against one, the one being subbed, and the five being an Asian hugbox.) We sent our respective fleets – mine, unfortunately, still in the process of rebuilding after the disastrous War of the Appointed Limits last session; I had held off until Dip 23, so as not to build ships that would quickly need upgrading – and I sent 40 regiments, not quite the maximum allowed by my force limit of slightly over 200. There were several successive naval battles off Sarawak, in which the Ynglinga Leidangsflåte blazed its old glory by defeating successive waves of lightly-armed Asian ships before finally succumbing to the sheer immense numbers of them; then the Royal Navy came in and blew the Asians out of the water. Meanwhile my 40 regiments had landed in Malaya, where they proceeded to fight a classic colonial campaign – that is to say, machine guns against muskets, or very nearly; Malaya somehow manages to be five tech levels behind Europe, and didn’t put up any more resistance than so many spear-chucking savages. However, having said I was entering the war to save Khan’s colonies, I stuck to terms that wouldn’t get me into renewed conflict with Dragoon (who has said he’ll protect Malaya against aggression), and peaced out for nothing more than the coalition peacing Occitania, plus Christmas Island. A convenient naval base in Asia will surely come in handy, and enabled me to activate the Ynglinga Øst-Indiske Handelskompani, the East Indian trade company decision.

    Some battles of the Pacific War. Note the immense numbers of tiny little Asian vessels, three men and a dog to each boat.

    Eurasian player map, 1694.

    Americas, 1694. Note Zirotron in all of Central America.

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    Our Doom and Our Pride: Appointed Limits Keep

    It was not a good session for me; I lost my victory card in the Rhineland to Khan, who also took Utrecht and Gelre to fill out his own VC; and then Dragoon attacked me for Mexico. Apparently I had annoyed him more than I realised when I invaded Kiche at the same time he did and took the gold provinces. There wasn’t any question of me fighting both Occitania and the Latin Empire on land, so I surrendered the Rhineland without combat, just as Khan did when Dragoon and I attacked him – you may be seeing a pattern here. However, the war for Mexico was colonial, meaning it couldn’t be fought in Europe, and I thought I might be able to win the naval war and wear down Dragoon’s expeditionary force, or otherwise force a stalemate; the more so as I was allied to Great Britain and between us we had a much larger navy than the Latin Empire. Unfortunately, a mere doomstack with 50% numerical superiority is apparently no longer sufficient to win a naval battle in this EU4 of early 2018. It is somewhat unclear to me what precisely went wrong; but the fact remains that Golle’s and my combined fleets were twice defeated by Dragoon’s. Theories for the cause include a series of very lucky die rolls; a better admiral (with 2 extra points of maneuver giving one or two extra heavies in the front line, and the Naval Gunner trait giving 10% combat ability); and considerably higher naval morale due to completing a mission, Defender of the Faith, Fervor, prestige, and power projection, in that order of importance. I also wonder if the old habit of just putting all one’s ships in a doomstack and seeking out the enemy doomstack to win or die is now bad tactics? Since you can’t fight with the whole doomstack all at once anyway, most of your ships will be wasted whether you win or lose; if you had several smaller stacks, then if you lost you could put in fresh ships against the enemy’s damaged ones. Against this is the risk of having your ships captured when you lose. It is not clear to me what the answer is.

    Eurasia, 1667. Note the closing up of Africa and the continued absence of Korea; happily, longtime peanut BootOnFace has volunteered to play this crucial slot.

    Atlantic, 1667. Mexico in Latin orange, a dramatic entry into the colonial game and a very visible loss of prestige for the Ynglings, not to mention those yearly shipments of gold.

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    Our Doom and Our Pride: The Yngling Main

    • How Many is a Brazilian?: To speak the utter and absolute truth, I had in fact intended to fight a war with Brazil this session, for the sake of the three provinces that would have turned Yngling Guyana into a fully-useful ten-province colonial nation. What I had not intended to do was to be attacked by Brazil, allied with Atlassia and also with the Latin Empire. With thirty Brazilian regiments, thirty Atlassian regiments, and thirty Space Marine Chapters Latin regiments on the South American mainland, there was evidently no way for me to win the land war, even with English support. My war goal, therefore, became to get out of the war without losing my Caribbean islands, which were also demanded; for this purpose I could at least use my fleet – which, however, was numerically superior to Ranger’s or Dragoon’s, but not both. I was, therefore, very happy but somewhat surprised by the battle of Cape Orange, in which my 55 heavy ships engaged 114 (!) enemy ones supported by 30 galleys, and emerged victorious. This was partly due to my highly superior admiral, who by my calculations should get 11 heavies into the line of battle against my opponents’ 9 – which by Lanchester’s Laws works out to a 50% advantage – and partly from Ranger neglecting to upgrade his fleet, so that his ancient carracks were facing my galleons. Even so, it seems possible that Dragoon might have won the battle if he had kept his nerve; but seeing Ranger’s ships sink like so many stones, he concluded that I had some policy or other advantage which was making my ships impossibly superior, and retreated, losing – in his own words – “only 4 ships, the rest escaped” from fighting a force half the size of his own. With the resulting sea control, I was able to seize James’s Caribbean islands (which I had intended to colonise myself, so I was quite satisfied to get them after all) and repulse two attempts to get troops into Cuba by stealth. The net result was that I lost Yngling Guyana, but gained exactly the two provinces I needed to turn my Caribbean colonies into a ten-province CN. I may actually have come out of the war stronger, in spite of technically losing, since I went from having two colonial nations short of the ten-province limit, to having one that was just over it.
    • Brokehemia: Already deep in debt from dealing with a disaster and the resulting rebellions, Yami decided to lean into it; he maximised his loans, spent the money on productive assets, and declared bankruptcy – trusting in his status as the Designated Buffer Zone of Europe to protect him from attack; to be fair, it’s not as though his armies could have fought off any of his neighbours even without the crippling morale penalty. This immoral defrauding of the investors who had in good faith bought Bohemian government bonds worked, of course, perfectly; for questions of right arise only between equals in power, and the strong do what they can, while the weak suffer what they must. Bohemia, it is true, is counted the least of the Powers of Europe; but its investors are – more accurately, they were – only wealthy men, merchants and nobles and perhaps even some capitalists, and they can no more fight Prague than they can fight Rome. Nevertheless, for this evil act there must be, sooner or later – and I choose my words with care – an accounting and a reckoning. How can men do business, if sovereigns can merely break their sworn word, and go unpunished?
    • Bohemoth: Yami also finally managed to integrate Poland into Bohemia, making him vastly stronger; Bohemia matters to the balance of power in Europe, now. It is still, I’d say, least among the powers; but it is no longer negligible.
    • Yue’re Fired: There was a war in China, when Blayne moved against his former tributary in Yue, which is somewhat similar to me moving against Bohemia – that is to say, the war was nasty, brutal, and short. Blayne claims that he originally intended only to take a few border provinces, and was goaded into the
      actually-applied crippling peace by the Discord chatter, in which
      several people did assert that he could either make the peace
      crippling, or face a coalition when the truce was over. The
      traditional cry of “Death to China” may also have been raised by
      some veteran players. At any rate Gutrage did not care to continue
      playing what was left of Yue.

    • Hermit Kingdom: The word ‘hermit’ comes from the Greek ‘eremites’, “of the desert”; hence it means to be alone, to inhabit uninhabited lands. We have unfortunately lost Vaniver to the pressures of Real Life ™, and thus Korea is now in truth eremitic, uninhabited.
    • Chili Con Khanage: I want to be clear that this is entirely Dragoon’s fault; obviously, left to my own devices, I would never dream of attacking someone with whom I have a land border and who has a bigger army than me. But Dragoon – whose chosen gamer name, you will observe, is cognate with ‘Dragon’, as in, “and the Dragon fought, and his angels” – Dragoon, I say, tempted me with an alliance, and there was the victory card, just inside Khan’s border, right on the Rhine… So I mustered the black-clad army of the Ynglings on the North German plain, and marched, as I have done before, upon Eindhoven. But, although the mercantile Ynglings of this timeline are hardly a match for the grim warrior nation that the pressure of constant defeat created in the first Great Game, it is also true that the Occitanians are no Burgundians. Khan, clearly overawed by the immense fleet of dragon-headed ships blockading his English Channel coast, surrendered as soon as he realised what he was up against, and Westphalia and the North Rhineland came into my possession without a shot fired.
    • How Many is a Mexican?: The Mexican trade node opened, and the wolves descended like Assyrians on Jerusalem; I was fortunate enough to end up with most of the gold provinces. However, in my preoccupation with chasing the spear-chucking savages out of their fortresses, I utterly forgot that South Africa had opened as well, and neglected to get a colony that would give me a stepping stone towards India.

    Cape Orange in non-Wiki form.

    Europe and the Americas, 1641. Note the Yngling blue in Mexico, and the disappearance of Yngling Guyana.

    Asia, 1641, showing the crippling loss of Vaniver.

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    Our Doom and Our Pride: The Road to Mandalay

    I continue my tour East of Suez, where the placeholder states await the coming of European administrations to drag them into the seventeenth century, replace slavery and burning widows with internships and hanging people of all marital statuses from oak trees, and generally speaking give the place a good tidying-up. This week, the powers surrounding the Bay of Bengal (and its reach), where the dawn comes up like thunder:

    • Ma, Alla Us!: Hadogei, defeated in Japan by a mighty fate beyond the power of man or god to withstand, to wit, being subbed in the first session, has cravenly quit the Sunrise Islands and sought refuge in the Ganges Delta, in the renamed country Mahavalos. He brings with him his Viking ideas and Manchu Banners bonus, and (presumably) a devouring, soul-eating determination to run still further into India if Korea looks at him funny. Fighting to the bitter end, evidently, is not in it.
    • Ayuh, They, Yah: New player Stiefellecker has taken Ayutthaya and given it the defensive Switzerland idea set and the Oligarchic Republic government; he has unified the Malay peninsula and much of Indochina, and with fort defense, enemy attrition, cheap WE reduction, and (if all else should fail) hostile core creation cost in his ideas he is ready to make anyone fighting in Vietnam have an extremely thematic experience. The Asian powers seem united in their determination not to give Europeans a foothold on their continent, however, which raises the question of where this defenively-oriented power can expand. It does however have the right colour, as well as ideas, for a turtle.
    • Brown, Ey?: Brunei is played by new player LaxSpartan, who demonstrated his Spartan-ness in the first couple of sessions by trying to support Mahavalos (then named Bihar and played by a transient whose name I forget) against a powerful AI; he then demonstrated his laxness by losing the war and plunging Brunei into immense economic trouble, which it has only recently climbed out of. It is now renamed Malaya, and is in the process of uniting Indonesia; it is not a very military power, having Friendly Colonist ideas (not to be confused with Golle’s Peaceful Colonist, they are not the same) and Swedish Recruitment as its only bonus, and Feudal Theocracy government.
    • Literary Device: Yue are clearly relying on linguistic confusion for yuer survival. Already there have been several classic comedy moments when somebody would say “Yue did (something bad)”, and the other fourteen players respond “Who, me?” “No, Yue!” “I didn’t, what are you even on about?” “Not you, Yue!” Meanwhile Yue are quietly cleaning the blood off yuer knife and looking for another kidney. Probably the solution will be to impose a roleplaying requirement and make everyone call each other “thou”; incidentally, authors who write novels in the second person will be up against the wall right after we’re done with the lawyers. Yue are a Chinese tributary and had probably better remain so; Yue have the early-peaking Racehorse ideas, and already we are past the peak effectiveness of cavalry.
    • Fine Print: I was finally able to embrace the printing press and restore my Great Power position, and thereby gained the ability to print some very fine letters, indeed. The Yngling position is that the Treaty of Tangiers rectified the colonial borders in South America as a matter of convenience for the Contracting Powers, making contiguous regions that are easy to administer and defend, with everyone getting lands or other considerations of equivalent value to what they gave up. No agreement was reached, or even suggested, as to the future inviolability of the new borders any more than the old ones; no treaty organisation was created to arbitrate colonial matters. To the extent that the colonial powers wish to dispute the borders of their settlements, they are free to do so without any violation of treaty or compact; pacta sunt servanda, by all means, but first pacta facta esse – agreements must be made.
    • No Peace Beyond the Atlantic: Golle and I attempted to dispute the colonial border of Elysium, the Atlassic colonial nation, in two ways: Golle wished to restore British Columbia, and I wanted to add three provinces to what will become Yngling Venezuela when I fully core it, so as to make a ten-province colonial nation that would give me all the bonuses. Our navies were able to close the Atlantic, leaving Elysium isolated from its motherland and, in principle, helpless even against just 25% of our respective force limits, since one-fourth of a European Great Power is about equivalent to one uppity colonial nation being generously subsidised by its overlord. Unfortunately, we had neglected to consider that Ranger could recruit directly in his colony, and so there was an Atlassic army as well as the Elysian one to contend with; the numbers were therefore about equal – and Ranger had a general of semi-divine ancestry, as shown in the screenshot. The result was a long-drawn-out war of attrition, in which we were able to win battles and inflict casualties but not to finish the deal; when Dragoon threatened to intervene just to have the war end, we gave up and offered the white peace.

      War of Columbian Restoration. Note the half-divine general on the Elysian side – the one thing that prevented us from enforcing our will. Even so we inflicted more casualties than we took; but we could not break an army commanded by a godling.

    • Vår Ære og Vår Makt: Having completed Maritime ideas, I was able to get Thalassocracy. As the Baltic is an Yngling lake it was no trick to be the strongest trade power in Novgorod, Lubeck, and the Baltic Sea; but to get the North Sea and the English Channel at the same time required some careful juggling of my light ships, a couple of Protect Trade edicts, and – as a last resort – asking Khan nicely to drop his retaliatory embargo on me for a few months.
    • Initial Colonial Offering: In 1594 another tier of trade zones opened for colonisation, namely the Caribbean, La Plata, and Australia, and there was a bit of a land rush. Golle and I have split the Caribbean islands between us, while Khan has got Florida. James, in Elysium, declared independence from Atlassia specifically so he could colonise without being adjacent to the target, and has managed to get the bits of the Caribbean trade zone that are on the South American mainland. Leon, AI this session, has done some colonising in La Plata, without making a great go of it.
    • Released from Reformatory: The end of the Reformation will arrive a few months into the next session. My accomplishments here were not so great as those of the First Age; the Wheel spins as the Wheel wills, but there are Ages yet to come in which my Splendor will surely grow.

    Splendor bonuses in the Age of Reformation.

    Europe and colonies, 1607.

    Asia, 1607, with the other half of the Khazarian Military Highway.

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    Our Doom and Our Pride: The Yellow Sea

    From the cool blue waters of the west I turn my attention eastwards, where the Yellow Peril lurks around its eponymous sea:

    • Lazuli Dragon: Blayne’s choice of Venice in CK was notoriously a placeholder; now that the map allows it he has returned to his beloved China and set about unifying All Under Heaven. He is playing the aptly-named Large idea set, optimised for wide play with bonuses to state number, force limit, and coring. He also has Mughal Artillery, Guns of Urban, Polish Crown, and Danish Subject Loyalty Splendor bonuses. With that build he almost has no choice but to expand, and already every other player in the region is his tributary – although I note that Korea does not, in fact, pay any actual tribute, and it may be worth asking the extent to which that particular tail may not only wag, but actually comprise, the dragon. Whatever the case there, Blayne clearly has no intention of suffering any Unequal Treaties or Great Occupations in this timeline.
    • Permit Kingdom: Vaniver, playing the Ivering dynasty and the Bretonnian kingdom, scored by far the highest in CK achievement points, but chose to move to Korea rather than build Bretonnia into the Big Blue Blob it by right should have been. He has taken the Scholar idea set, focused on cost reductions; he also has the Prussian Monarchy government, and no less than three late-game Splendor bonuses: French Musketeers, Prussian Discipline, and Dutch Officials. Vaniver’s Korea scares the hell out of skilled players in European Great Powers; this country is the reason Khazaria has snaked its way across Asia, to get in touch and be able to intervene before it becomes unstoppable. Such panic is, however, uncalled for; the scholar-bureaucrats of Korea are already choking on the mountains of paper they generate, and have not even been able to muster the aggression to take their victory card from Jinshi. It appears that they require their generals to get permission before invading people who have good land; presumably also to fill out form P-33 in triplicate before digging a slit trench. Such a country will never be dangerous to a commercially-minded people exposed to the bracing wind of competition, who must innovate just to survive.
    • Fallen Cherry Blossoms: At conversion, Hadogei intended to play Japan, or more particularly Oda; he got the Viking idea set for it, giving it the ability to raid and a strong naval theme; he then added Manchu Banners for extra armies. To allow Japan time to unify, we apply the Divine Wind to it until 1500, by which mainland players may not send armies to the islands unless first attacked. Unfortunately, Hadogei wasn’t able to attend the first session, and Oda was subbed by a player of slightly lesser skill, who found it necessary to raid Korea – breaking the protection of the Divine Wind, and letting the Koreans into the islands before they unified. Hadogei’s move to Hosokawa for the second session came too late; Japan is now a Korean protectorate, and unplayed.

    The Yellow Sea in 1576.

    It was another quiet session with much colonising, some sort of internal theological dispute in the religion of slaves, and many complaints about the spawn location of the printing press:

    • Small Colonial Wars: James Craig has taken over Atlassia’s colony of Elysium and equipped it with the Imperialist idea set and the Dutch Republic government; he soon demonstrated the aptness of the idea set by attacking Golle’s colonial nation British Columbia and managing to annex it fully before Golle could master the game interface sufficiently to interfere. Ranger’s other colonial nation, Mu, was apparently inspired by this success into attacking both my CN Vinland and Golle’s other colony, Canada; however, in these cases no player intervention was necessary, since both these two colonies had three times the army of the Greek colony. Mu’s core in Newfoundland has been annexed to Canada, with the island Anticosti going to Vinland.
    • Probe Majorem: The followers of the White Christ appear to have gotten themselves into a dispute about how many angels can pass through the eye of a needle, or possibly it was how many rich men can dance on a camel? To be honest it was a bit abstruse to me, but anyway, the upshot seems to be that Occitania, Britain, Khazaria, and Medina are in the faction holding that camels are valuable for their works alone; the Latin Empire has formed its own splinter faction which asserts that people become rich by the grace of God, and Leon and Bohemia remain firm in their old-school belief that churches should be built out of rocks.

      Religious map of Europe, 1576. Note the pagan north and south, and Druze Persia!

    • Trademark Litigation: In this iteration of the Great Games, the multiplayer megacampaigns that have been my principal hobby for lo these fifteen years – I wrote the first fan-made savegame converter, from Crusader Kings 1 to Europa Universalis 2, in 2004 (in Java, and because I didn’t understand parsing it sucked to maintain) – I am counted a Great Power, mainly due to inheriting the Scandinavian empire that Clone created. That hasn’t always been the case; I’ve usually played much more minor powers, and when I’ve come out on top it’s been due to persistence and luck more than skill. (Really, it’s amazing how much you can achieve by just showing up every session). So it has often happened that someone has declared war on me and taken half my land, or even all my land. These things will happen, and usually do not ruffle my good cheer or my steely determination to burn the offender’s capital to the ground. Likewise it is inevitable, over a long enough sequence of games, that one will occasionally be on the receiving end of the big battalions; such is the nature of wargames. And of course, in a wargame that includes nuclear weapons, I have sometimes commanded armies that quickly became radioactive dust; as a general rule I do not allow this to affect me, since splitting the atom is a game that two can play. But then, every so often, I will be playing a trading nation, and someone will interfere with my profits. And then, gentle readers; then I remember that I am, in fact, descended from men who gnawed the edges of their shields and made Europe tremble with the fear of their fury. So you will understand that, when for the second time I caught Bohemians selling cheap, shoddy knockoffs of my trademarked “Model Yngling Longship”, hand-carved by passionate interns from seasoned oak, with striped sail, separate mast, and detachable dragon figurehead, only three ducats, immensely popular with kids of all ages, order now to get yours in time for the midwinter gift-exchange of your choice… Ahem. Shoddy knockoffs, I say, of my trademarks, known ingame as “Slandering Merchants”; I have a memory of looking at the -10% trade power modifier, and then the next thing I recall is ordering the guns to bombard Bohemia’s capital. Looking at the map I see that I must have besieged at least two fortresses to get there, but I have no memory of doing so, and to the extent that any Bohemian armies were indiscriminately slaughtered to the last man, their officers hung from oaken trees in Odin’s honour, and the population of five provinces offered internships, I can only apologise, while noting that I was somewhat provoked. Once I came out of my rage I offered fairly lenient terms, taking only the three provinces that were missing to complete my Baltic shore; Bohemia is now landlocked, and the Baltic is an Yngling lake.
    • Am I Not A Man and A Brother: Between sessions, there has been some discussion of whether James will abolish slavery, and of what impact that might have on the global economy. I have no strong opinion on that, but wish to note that Yngl, Inc, is far too progressive and advanced to have any truck with these relics of the first millennium; there have been no slaves in the Ynglinga Rike since 983, when we invented the internship. And even before that, the long ships have been rowed by free men since as early as 925, when we first began granting athletic scholarship contracts.
    • Fire and the Sword: Further in offline discussion, there was a suggestion that the Dutch Republic would have been a more thematic government for the Ynglings than the English Monarchy I actually ended up with, which is true, but by the time it was up for auction James was able to bid more mana than I had left. However, in the ensuing discussion Vaniver noted, and I quote, that “Parliaments are basically a Norse thing”. Vaniver claims that this pun, or play on words, was in fact unintentional on his part. I say that, if so, it was reckless negligence and no less culpable than if he had planned it for a month, and that flattening Hanyeong in retaliation, with nukes if necessary, is nothing more than simple self-defense.

    European players, 1576, showing also the current Great Power ranking. I would be fourth if I could just get the pesky printing press into my Finnish and northern backwaters, but even allowing for that I have fallen somewhat behind the top three.

    Atlantic borders; blobbification is now sufficiently complete that the political map at least in Europe approximates pretty well to the player map, but they’re not yet identical. Also my final two national ideas, the powerful artillery kickers and the land fire damage ambition that complements it.

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    Our Doom and Our Pride: The Sea-Steed’s Road

    In the previous two installments I considered the powers surrounding the Old Grey Widow-Maker, the North Sea; and those circling Homer’s Wine-Dark Water, the Med. This week I will look at countries which Yngling raiders internship recruiting teams can reach by the Sea-Steed’s Road, the rivers and inland seas of Europe; ‘sea-steed’ is a traditional kenning for ‘ship’, and the dragon-headed long ships can go wherever there is water, whether salt or fresh.

    • The Alpine Jackal: In the political map of 1444, Bavaria looks rather like a gigantic wolf covering much of central Europe, with powerful German hind legs in the act of extending to send the shaggy Carpathian head surging for the Black Sea. Sadly, Hoonter has been MIA for two weeks, and the aggressive Bayerische Bayernrepublik he created has proved to be more of a jackal, losing territory to the Empires on its southern and northern borders that it was intended to topple; the country is no longer a player spot, and will no doubt disappear shortly, unless Yami keeps a rump state around to support him as Emperor. There just seems to be something about the Alps that attracts jackals. Bavaria has a peasant republic government and the Emperor idea set, which go very oddly together – the ideas are intended to synergise with being Holy Roman Emperor, which is not possible for a republic. But that enduring scourge of countries, a player losing interest, proved more devastating than an odd choice of auction strategy.
    • The Brave Free Men: In past campaigns I have variously fought Cossacks and recruited them, but there has not usually been a player slot centered on the Ukraine and commanded by a player of known skill. Clonefusion actually created the Scandinavian slot I am currently playing, before quitting CK in frustration at what the RNG did to his dynasty; he is not to be discounted whatever nation he plays, and all the more so in one that is clearly going to dominate All The Russias. Khazaria, or Tataria if you prefer, did convert dirt poor, and remains so on a per-province basis, but quantity has a quality all its own; it is counted a Great Power, and rightly so. However, Clone seems unwilling to meddle in Europe; instead he is driving east as fast as he can beat the AI, apparently in an effort to reach the border of Korea before the Hermit Kingdom becomes unstoppably powerful. This development pleases me greatly; although I have fortified my Finnish border I don’t care to defend it any more than I have to, and peace in the poverty-stricken east leaves me free to concentrate on the lucrative business of managing the Atlantic trade. Tataria has the Captain idea set, possibly the best naval-oriented ideas in the game; the irony is not lost on anyone, but that was what Clone could get, as he wasn’t present at the auction. The formidable Tatar navy will no doubt be dominating the Black Sea any century now.
    • The Medina Traders: Tazzzo joined this game in EU4, and has quickly shown his strength by extending Medina from its start on the coast of Arabia all the way up to Turkey, where his borders meet Dragoon’s and Clone’s, and into Egypt to the Fourth Cataract. Some may remember Tazzzo as the player who took Fox from a one-province native minor to a continent-spanning power that could fight Baron’s England on equal terms, which is one major reason why there are no American powers this time around; they tend to either die or become monstrosities. Medina wields the Byzantine idea set, an all-rounder intended for long-term resilience in war. His Persian neighbours will open up this session, and I have no doubt he intends to absorb a large amount of the Middle East unless stopped; if anyone would like to play Persia, we now have a First Punch rule to ensure that new players aren’t attacked until they’re ready. Meanwhile he will no doubt keep an eye on the Indian Ocean, ready to extend a gripping hand into it when the subcontinent opens in 1700.

    As for events, it was largely a peaceable session with much building and little action:

    • Vinlander Saga: My first colonial nation formed, and quickly grew to ten provinces in spite of the surprisingly effective resistance of the Mohicans, of whom we have now, however, seen the last.
    • Amazon Crime: The Amazonas trade zone opened, and was quickly split between no less than six colonisers – Leon, Atlassia, England, myself, Occitania, the Latin Empire – producing an amazing amount of border gore:

      The South Atlantic in 1536, showing the immense coastal bordergore of the Amazonas. From north to south Occitania, England, Ynglings, Afer, Ynglings, more Afer, more Ynglings, Occitania, Latins, and then we get into Brazil which is split between Afer and Leon but still pretty mixed.

    • Treaty of Tangiers: Not strictly an event of the session, but of between-session diplomacy; however I include it to soothe eyes scalded by the previous item. The three powers worst affected by the bordergore were able to reach an agreement and consolidate our settlements into reasonably contiguous colonies:

      Treaty for the Relief of Bordergore between the Ynglings, Leon, and Afer Ultima. Unfortunately it was not possible to get the Latin Empire or Occitania to sign, a crime against humanity for which they will surely face drastic international sanctions.

    • Founding Fathers: Two colonial nations will henceforth be played, namely Golle’s Canada by Ziro (formerly Scotland, which will no doubt be annexed) and Ranger’s Elysium, which will be taken over by James Craig. They’re just ten-province minors, what can possibly go wrong?

    North America, showing the immensity of my colonial nation Vinland as well as the pathetically tiny British and Atlassian colonies, and the interloping Occitanians in Greenland. Also my court, as a marginal improvement on unexplored bits of frozen wasteland. You’ll note that unlike some people I haven’t been able to run all level-3 advisors and five colonies at the same time.

    Player map, 1536; missing Khan because he dropped a moment early.

    Political map, showing the Yngling ideas I unlocked this session. Notice that ‘internal’ is a pun between “domestic” and “using interns”. Regarding the Triangle Trade, Yngl, Inc is much too progressive to participate in any such barbarous remnant, but we’ll note that our intern contracts are transferrable for compensation.

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    Filed under Our Doom and Our Pride, Song of the Dead