Summer hiatus

Will last until early August.

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The Sons of Raghnall: When the Revolution Comes

The game events: The Spanish counteroffensive eventually petered out with vast casualties – almost matching what happened in the Winter of the Faith, though with rather more fighting in place of attrition.

Spanish Exhaustion

leading to the fall of their defensive position in the Atlas range and the occupation of almost all of Africa:

Taking the Atlas

I feel the need to give myself some credit here; oddman and Fivoin, playing Russia and England respectively, apparently felt content with taking up positions in the foothills of the Atlas again. It was Norwegian troops who blasted a path through the passes, as you can see from the occupation colours, and led the alliance to the Pillars of Hercules. From there we rolled up the Spanish line going east. This was too late, however, to force a peace in Victoria.

The heavy fighting drew in all my armies from Europe, and I had nothing on the spot when yet another Communist rebellion came up – this time with a stack in my capital. Leading to this:

Stryk kristenkorset

Dreadful-looking thing, isn’t it? At any rate this did give me the opportunity to share the little joke I put in the localization files when we converted from EU3. What else would a Communist dictatorship in Norway call itself?

Landsorganisasjonen Noreg

Nonetheless, I wasn’t very happy at converting Communist; the MacRaghnalls are the only dynasty from CK times that are still around and in power, and it was a pity to lose them just to the horrible Victoria rebels. So I was excited when the Counter-Revolution, a Jacobin revolt, started in late 1935. The question was, would they be in time?


The hour was very late, but it had not yet struck. The 15th of December, two weeks before conversion time, saw the success of the counter-coup:


Republic of Norway

I thought I was going to write a narrative of the fighting in the streets of Copenhagen here; but it’s been a day of interruptions, and I haven’t been able to get properly started. I’ll mark it as “I owe you one narrative” and go write an intro to the HoI section instead.

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The Sons of Raghnall: More War Reporting

Some kind of spring flu has got me down, so it’ll have to be screenshots and game narrative today.

The Great War continues. The antagonists are the Northern Alliance, consisting of Russia, England, Norway, France, Bavaria, and Italy; versus what left of the Southern Coalition. Of the latter, only Inca and Spain are still actively fighting; Greece has been overrun and occupied, while India and China, recognising that the costs of continuing the war are no longer proportionate to the possible benefits, have asked for cease-fires. Some metagaming with respect to the conversion may be involved, here: India’s industrial production has dropped something like 25% due to war exhaustion, and HoI starting IC is based on Vicky industrial output. Anyone who has such a sneaky plan in mind, however, should please observe that in the latest version of the converter, WE suppression is accounted for and India’s formerly-missing IC converts as damaged.

The struggle for control of the Atlantic is not yet finished, but the advantage is, I think, slightly with the traditional naval powers, Norway and England, as against newcomer Inca:

Gibraltar Again

On land, most of the active fighting is in Africa. The Pyrenees front remains deadlocked for all the obvious reasons:

Pyrenees Again

In Arabia, the Incans have been driven back almost to their colonial ports, but as no decision is to be had on this secondary front, few troops have been committed by either side and the lines are thoroughly static:

Arabian Front

The south African front, stretching from Lake Victoria to the mouth of the Congo (which incidentally must make it about the size of the Eastern Front in the historical world wars, and through desperately difficult terrain at that), is no longer active after the Indian ceasefire request.

That leaves the north African front, from Tunis to Morocco. (Ignoring the very minor theatre of the Caribbean – Cuba is occupied by Norway, but then again, who cares?) The problem with fighting Spain is that you can occupy vast tracts of land, and overstretch your armies in mere garrison duty, without much damaging the Sultan’s war-fighting capacity; to do so requires an invasion of the Iberian peninsula, where the factories and soldiers are. Which has, for sure, been tried! Breaking through the Pyrenees has been quite thoroughly demonstrated to be impossible; and naval landings have the problem that the Spanish can move their reserves to the threatened spot faster than reinforcements can be brought in by sea. (Not to mention the ever-present threat of those 600 Incan warships – it’s not as though we have full control of the Atlantic.) So, we drove the Spanish back and back across the Sahel, deadly fighting in one of the most inhospitable climes on the Earth, and eventually ground to a halt on the Atlas range:

Desert fighting

The Atlas Line

Note the Spanish holding the high ground, and the Russians and Norwegians digging in miserably in the foothills! This was a chosen halt-line, not a random outcome of the fighting but a deliberate strategy by the Spaniards, to hold us at bay where they could still protect their industrial heartland. A redoubt, if you like; the armies of Islam retreating to their mountain fortresses, abandoning what could not be held, but never abandoning the struggle itself.

I have to say I admire Vaniver’s coolness under fire; abandoned by his allies and forced to retreat across all of Africa, still, he kept fighting and, apparently, built up his reserves for the eventual counterattack. Which was, I’m forced to admit, quite effective. He punched at the weakest spot in our lines, at the Moroccan coast, with a huge weight of artillery; even on defense, the mobilised conscripts there – no artillery support – couldn’t deal with it, and were forced south halfway to the Ivory Coast – and we’re still retreating. Of course, now the point about vast tracts of Africa cuts the other way: The fact is that we can lose the whole Sahel and indeed all of occupied Greece, and not be particularly discomfited as far as real fighting strength goes. At this rate Eurasia may always be at war with Oceania.

Sahel Counterattack

I’m actually reasonably pleased with the Vicky war model here – not the combat model, but the strategic level; this war has felt like the kind of thing that actually could reasonably happen. It begins with the Great Powers stumbling into war because of some damn silly thing in the Languedoc, and then locked into it for reasons of prestige. Then there are years of deadlock on a short front, and both sides trying to find a way around, to force primary concessions out of victories on secondary fronts. Then the swaying struggle across Africa, with one side driven back to its a defensible redoubt, but eventually rebounding after gathering its strength – I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t see that particular development in EU3, and perhaps not in HoI3 either.

It’ll come down to either who is less willing to accept the financial burden of continuing the war, or alternatively who is better at HoI. I think, once we get to HoI3, the Pyrenees will prove a bit less impenetrable than they are under the Vicky combat model. Which said, to be honest I hope we don’t convert while at war; my troop-redistribution algorithm is really not meant for it, and won’t stand the strain. I’d have to tweak it in a hurry.

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The Sons of Raghnall: Images of the Great War

I’ve just had a root canal and am still slightly loopy from painkillers, so no narrative today. Instead you get some screenshots from the Great War, by some called the War of North and South. The Northern powers are Russia, England, Rome, Norway, plucky little France, and perfidious Bavaria, ready as always to rush to the aid of the victors, especially in exchange for some long-coveted provinces. The Southern powers are led by the Caliphate of Spain, after four hundred years still not reconciled to the ending of the House of Submission at the border of France; but behind the straightforward enmity of Mussulman for Christian, Moor for Crusader, lie darker Powers and subtler motivations. Here is India, smarting from defeat in the Short Victorious War. Still the world’s foremost industrial power in the older technologies of textiles and metals, but beginning to wane, outstripped in the new wealth of chemicals and electrics, India seeks to restore its pre-eminence by victories in foreign lands. Here is poor Greece, seduced by bright promises of easy victory; alas for the small peoples that are ground between the millstones of the Great Powers. Here is dark Inca, the maws of its temples ever open for great sacrifices; the death of a million disposable peasants is of no moment to the ruling Jaguar Knights, who merely replace those conscripts that would in peacetime have gone directly to the obsidian knives, with prisoners brought in from overseas – or at a pinch, choose to regard the trenches as a suitable temple for Huitzilopochtli. And who can think them wrong in that?

And then there is China. Perhaps the Shadow knows the evil that moves in the hearts of men; but no living man knows the motives of the oldest of the world’s states.

Not technically the largest naval battle in this history, by number of hulls; but considering that each of the cruisers could individually blow away all 1800 ships and four navies of the Battle of the Cape, surely a contender. Unlike the Cape, though, the Battle of the Gibraltar Strait did not settle the war. Notice the lopsided casualty ratio; true, the Anglo-Norse fleet eventually retreated (having accomplished its strategic goal of disrupting Inca troop convoys to Iberia), but it remains a fleet in being and, if anything, it is the Incan navy which disputes control of the Atlantic, while the Northern powers move troops around with relative freedom.


Earlier engagements, ending rather more disastrously for the Southern powers:

Quiberon Bay
Moroccan Coast
Canarian Sea

This, of course, is where a true naval nation’s emphasis on logistics, support, and depth of tradition will give a telling advantage over a flash johnny-come-lately’s hankering for throw weights, big hulls, and enormous yearly budgets. Norwegian shipyards are already making good the losses of Gibraltar; we shall see whether the Inca and the Spaniards can do the same.

Extensive land fighting in the initial stages of the war; la belle France bloodily demonstrates that you don’t need mountains to stop a 1920s offensive in its tracks, you just need machine guns, men, and the willingness to heap up enemy corpses by the thousands:

French Front

That does cut two ways. The Hungarian Holdouts, trapped at the beginning of the war in territory that was about to switch from allied to enemy, still have not been rooted out of their mountain fastnesses:


Spanish troops advancing into the hell of La Rochelle.


Death to Spain.

La Rochelle

For lack of progress on the Pyrenees front, the Middle East has become the theatre of possible decision:

Middle East

I was not fast enough to get a screenshot of the Greek army holed up in Tobruk, which had resonance; here they are after an attempted breakout and some Spanish reinforcements. (Spanish flag notwithstanding, this stack is basically what’s left of the Greek armed forces.)


There is heavy fighting along the Nile, where Indian troops have rushed to the rescue of their beleaguered ally.

Nile Fighting

Now, there are those who claim that the vastly larger resources of the Southern powers make their victory inevitable in the long run. Perhaps! Interior lines and control of the seas also count for something. But in any case, what can one say of a nation that, so late as 1925, still has not managed to supply its much-vaunted millions with gas masks?

Wheres The Gas?

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The Sons of Raghnall: The Last Breaths

March 1st, 1921
A house in Copenhagen, Norway

And now has every city sent up her tale of men… The windows were opened for the sea breeze, which carried the tap-tap-tap of regimental drums and the underlying tramp-tramp-tramp of thousands of booted feet, marching to the railway station, into Geir’s bedchamber. At this distance the jangle of harness and creaking of leather were not audible, but sometimes the deep rumble of an artillery battery going over cobblestones would break the monotony. Otherwise only the ticking of the grandfather clock in the next room over, and Geir’s own laboured breathing, broke the hush of waiting. At last Geir spoke into the silence, mostly for something to do other than listen to the poem being read by some echo of his student days at the back of his head:

“They call the month,” – he had to pause and gasp for breath – “March, for good reason.”

“And that’s Socialism, is it?” his son Bård asked; irony twisted his mouth. Bård was pushing sixty and in no danger of conscription himself, but his youngest son Amund was twenty and in the army, and the others not impossibly old if the war went badly enough.

It was an old argument between them, and Geir spared enough breath for a sigh. “No,” he said, glad of anything to take his mind off his lungs even if they had beaten the subject to death a dozen times, “that’s imperialism. Spanish imperialism. And coalition politics,” he had to add in fairness. He was too sick to be in the government, but he knew well how it had been formed: MacRaghnall nobles in charge of the armed forces and foreign policy – the guarantees of their power, as they saw it – and a smattering of Socialists for domestic issues, to keep the streets quiet. Class traitors, the lot of them, Geir thought ironically; the charge had been leveled at him, often enough, in and after the negotiations that ended the Troubles in 1912.

“A new Crusade, they’re calling it now,” his son remarked, abandoning the argument; he’d wandered over to the window and was looking abstractedly out it, hands behind his back.

“God wills it,” Geir quoted. The Københavns Tidning had managed to actually use that literal phrase, though at least they’d had the good taste not to print the death to Spain that was being bandied about the streets. Sometimes he thought Socialism was just hopeless, as doomed as Christianity by the plain nature of the beast called ‘human’; did these people just find peace and prosperity boring? Thousands, tens of thousands, of boys, with their blood seeping into their lungs from the gas… the doctors called pneumonia the “old man’s friend”, but just then Geir could have done well without a friend that sat on his chest and squeezed his ribcage; and gas was supposed to be worse.

“To be fair, the Spanish do feed their people a different flavour of opium,” Bård said. He left off staring out the window and returned to his chair by Geir’s bed. Geir closed his eyes, exhausted by their brief exchange; then a fresh thought – the first in a long time – came to the surface of his mind, and brought a spark of energy with it.

“What if it were a Crusade, though? Not over some minor difference of theology, but against exploitation, imperialism, against war itself?”

“A war to end wars?” Bård smiled wryly. “Maybe Russia could do it, or China. Some country with the manpower to make a bunch of greedy imperialist exploiters say uncle, and make it stick. Establish once and for all who is boss, and make the rest stop fighting over it… But Norway? I’ll count us lucky if we come out of this with an African hellhole to put a naval base in.”

“But Russia is in it,” Geir wheezed. “And there are workers and farmers in Russia, aren’t there? Give them the good word: This can be the last war, if we do it right.”

“Worker, peasant, our armies / the greatest are, that now march forth…” Bård’s singing voice cracked a little, but his eyes were thoughtful. “Perhaps it could be done. It might make this thing worthwhile, if it were the last one. But – ” he spread his hands. “You’re the famous organiser, leader of Landsorganisasjonen, Statsminister even; I’m just a worker. What am I going to do about it?”

Geir looked at his son levelly, and – sick old man that his father was – Bård flinched. “You’ll go down to Arbeidernes Hus today, and you’ll bring them word from Geir Randall. His dying word, it may be; that’s not important. You’ll tell them to reach out to their brothers in Russia, in England, even in France. You’ll tell them that this is our chance. That they’ll fight, and win this war; and more important, they’ll win the peace. They’ll not let Spain off with the loss of a province, or an African hellhole. They’ll conquer the peninsula, and free Africa. They’ll unite Europe under the Russian banner – and then, if need be, they’ll bring the war to Asia. Europe has slumbered long; let the West awake. The workers have shed enough blood; let there be one more outpouring, to unite the world, and then an end to war, and even to the rumour of war.”

Geir’s old skill with words, that had carried him through fifty years of politics, had returned to him briefly and carried him through his speech; now he slumped back down into the bed, exhausted and unable to get his breath back. But, he was pleased to see, he had at least managed to fire up Bård – so that makes once in sixty years, he couldn’t help but gibe.

“I’ll go right away,” his son said.

“Yes – go,” Geir gasped. His lungs were full of some horrible liquid, and he couldn’t breathe; but it wasn’t as though Bård could do anything about it. He went out the door with as much speed as a sixty-year-old factory worker was likely to manage; a minute later his wife came in to replace him in the chair. Geir acknowledged her with a nod, but couldn’t manage words; he was too busy breathing. Instead he listened to the sounds of marching boots, still drifting in through the open window along with the scent of spring. Spring, and men were going out to kill, as they always had; but perhaps, just perhaps, this time it could be different. Or perhaps – more likely, even – the dream of a Final Peace would turn out like all the other dreams of Socialism, a cruel mirage; perhaps the crusade Geir had just invented – even if it happened – would be the last gasp of the labour movement, a last desperate throw at the forces of oppression. It was, in any case, out of Geir’s hands; his radius of action had shrunk down, down, collapsing in even past the walls of this tiny room, to his own body and the desperate struggle for the next breath. It couldn’t be long now, he knew dimly.

The sound of the guns going past was the same; but now it was a sound of hope.

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The Sons of Raghnall: Fox and Wolf

December 7th, 1912
A cheap apartment in Copenhagen, Norway
Some time after midnight

Geir had expected that they would break down the door, or at least wake half the building with a thunderous fusillade of night-sticks on lintel; that was how these Things Were Done, after all. In fact, the knock was quite polite, almost apologetic, as if his visitors were just neighbours coming by for some emergency and sorry to roust him out of bed. Nonetheless, he opened the door on no less than five constables in the sky-blue uniforms of the police. He had been expecting them – that was why he’d stayed up; at least they hadn’t got him blinking muzzily out of bed, as they liked to do on these midnight arrests – but he felt his heart sink in spite of that. Prison reform was among the many causes he’d fought for, in a long life in the Movement, and one of the few where he’d had some success; but he was older than Gjest had been when he went in, and feeling every year of it. He did not expect to breathe free air again.

He nodded politely at the constables anyway; a life of politics had taught him, if nothing else, how to put on a brave face. “Good evening.” He raised an eyebrow. “Not the Kongelige Sikkerhetstjeneste?” He wasn’t quite sure whether to be insulted or relieved; true, he was no longer leader of Landsorganisasjonen, but still, you’d think he was well-known enough to rate a visit by the infamous greyshirts. On the other hand, the regular police were known to be much less rough on their prisoners, which his old bones welcomed.

The man in front, presumably their leader, made no comment, but merely said, “You’d better come with us, sir.” Geir blinked a bit; since when did police say ‘sir’ to notorious agitators while arresting them? But he supposed that, as a political prisoner, he’d better learn to be grateful for anything he got; so he nodded, grabbed the bag he’d made ready earlier, and closed the door behind him. No rushing around the apartment for him, trying to prepare his one bag while the pigs shouted at him to hurry and rooted through his bookshelves; and the bag contained cigarettes, canned hams, and a little money as well as clothes. By prisoner standards he’d be rich – irony! – if they let him keep it; it was worth a try, at any rate.

They didn’t handcuff him, but then, five hulking young officers should be quite enough to deal with a man who wouldn’t see seventy again; Geir didn’t bother with the formality of trying to fight, though he did spare a wistful thought for the constant escort of Strike Guards he’d commanded as leader of Landsorganisasjonen. He rather suspected that young Gerhardsen wasn’t huddling in an apartment somewhere, waiting to be arrested; not, at any rate, by less force than a battalion.

The ride in the black maria was silent. Geir had nothing to say to the pigs, and it seemed they didn’t have anything to say to a rabble-rouser, either. It did occur to him that he might ask why they weren’t in the Army – but why should he court a beating? Instead he huddled down in his good woollen jacket against the draft from the barred window, and cultivated patience; no doubt he’d need it. The ancient nag of a horse, at least, couldn’t be accused of shirking; clearly the Army had taken a look at it and said “no thanks, we’ve got all the glue we need”. But it wasn’t just the slow pace that made the ride seem to take forever.

Geir was half dozing when the wagon finally stopped; one of the policemen poked him in the ribs – not very hard – to make him get out. He did so, and looked around in confusion. The street lights, running on rationed gas, were burning very low; but still, he was clearly nowhere near Kastellet, the old fortress that the government were using to store their politicals. In the dark he couldn’t make out details, but the houses surrounding him weren’t just houses, they were mansions, villas, estates even – the homes of the wealthy. Had he been brought here to make some kind of taunt? Or was he going to be “shot while trying to break-and-enter”? But no, even this wartime Norway of 1912 had more law than that, surely – arrests in the middle of the night, yes, but at least the fig leaf of a trial.

“This way, sir,” one of the policemen said, and led him to the door of one of the mansions; they were expected, for a servant opened the door without any knock and ushered them inside. The room he led them to was furnished in marble and aged teak; Geir was happy to find it was also warm and well lit. Two men stood at one end, where a vast fireplace crackled cheerfully – there was no rationing of wood, the one thing Norway would never be short on. Not waiting to be prodded, Geir approached, then nearly stumbled as the younger man turned around. Tormod MacRaghnall, no less; Duke of Jæmtland, leader of conservative Høyre and of the governing coalition, and Statsminister by 45 percent of the vote and the King’s nod.

They had met, and clashed, before, in Storting and in the back rooms where the real work of politics was done; but it was the first time Geir had been in the other man’s home. He nodded icily, indicating the furnishings; being unsure of what was going on, he might as well take the offensive. “I see it pays well, being at the top of an unjust society.”

If the insult fazed Tormod, he didn’t let it show; in fairness to the man, although he’d been born into the top five percent he hadn’t got to the very pinnacle of power by knowing the right fork to use and mentioning his name at every opportunity. “What’s the point of exploiting the working man, if not to afford nice things?”

Of course he didn’t actually believe himself an exploiter; it was a rhetorical device to defuse the accusation, a subtle way to indicate that their axioms were too different for sensible discussion. Having been down that path before, Geir didn’t pursue it; besides, he was up past his bedtime.

“What do you want, Tormod?” he asked bluntly. “And don’t the police have better things to do than roust old men out of bed in the middle of the night?”

“You would have preferred an engraved invitation, perhaps, with ‘requests the pleasure of your company’? We’re at war, Randall; time is precious.” No first names from the Duke, Geir noticed; no ‘Herr’ either.

“Well then, if it’s not for the pleasure of my conversation you had me arrested, why not spit it out? I’m an old man, I need my sleep.”

“Quite so.” The other man, who had been standing with his back turned, now entered the conversation. “How would you like to join a government of national unity, Herr Randall?”

That was not what Geir had expected when the police came to his door in the middle of the night, and he struggled to adjust to the new situation. But there was the reddish-blonde beard, streaked with silver; the somewhat lumpy nose; the famous grey-blue eyes – the second man was, in fact, Olav MacRaghnall, King of Denmark and Emperor of the North Sea, and in principle he had the power to appoint his dog as head of government.

“Perhaps you’re not familiar with the inner workings of Landsorganisasjonen,” Geir said, buying time while his thoughts whirled, “but I no longer lead it.” Bitterness welled up in him again; fifty years of loyal service to the Cause, and what did he get? A vote of thanks and a suggestion that “new ideas were needed”. And now young men would be shot like dogs in the street because Gerhardsen had been hungry for power and had chosen the issue of armed revolution as his wedge to get Geir out of the top spot… he returned his attention to the King; no use fretting over old conflicts.

“I am aware,” the King said dryly. “Believe it or not, I read the newspapers on occasion. In particular, I read about your ouster by the champions of væpna revvolusjon. I thought you had rather the best of the argument, even as reported in Ny Dag.” The Party organ, quick to follow the changing winds of power, had not been kind to Geir’s attempt to stay in charge. “But then, I am perhaps more aware of just how much combat power the Army commands these days, than the average worker. Too bad you didn’t dance quickly enough to avoid the vote.”

“It would have happened anyway,” Geir sighed, the bitterness leaving him. “Young men are impatient; they want the Revolution now, today, or at least this year. And they don’t believe in statistics and throw weights. They get half a million rifles and they feel their own power to destroy, to bring down the regime; they can’t be convinced that battles are won and lost by a few hundred pieces of modern artillery.”

“Not until they’ve been on the sharp end of a barrage,” the King agreed. He’d been an officer in his youth, and fought in the war with India, Geir recalled; perhaps he was speaking from experience. “But they’re fighting street by street in Bergen; Oslo too, and Stockholm – well, all over the peninsula. And I’d really prefer not to destroy my kingdom in order to save it. Artillery is no respecter of property; even the MacRaghnalls can’t make money from renting out ruins.”

“I see,” Geir said; it was clear now what was happening. “And so you’re bringing in the fox to keep the wolf at bay; the gradualist to draw power away from the revolutionary.”

“As you say,” the King nodded.

“And you’re prepared, of course, to make some concessions,” Geir pursued, “to still the worst discontent and make people feel they can lay down their arms without dishonour.” That was why they’d brought him in a police wagon, he realised; they’d known there would be a negotiation, and had wanted him a little off-balance so they could get his assent as cheaply as possible. He snarled mentally, feeling his energy return. Try to rattle him, would they? With five policemen? There had been machine guns rattling in the streets, yesterday and the day before, to quell the riots. These rich men had no idea what off-balance meant; they were amateurs at negotiating when scared, where Geir was an old hand. He crossed his arms.

“You’ll release the political prisoners,” he stated, “and there’ll be no more midnight arrests. And no more greyshirts.”

“We can’t have agitators running loose in the streets!” Tormod objected. “There’s a war on, you know!”

“Anyone with strong convictions about bringing the Revolution while the army is busy is already on the barricades,” Geir countered. “You’re arresting half-literate pamphleteers who’ll print anything to make a shilling, hangers-on, people who attended three meetings to impress their girlfriend. I know these people, Tormod. You’re getting the wrong ones. Satan, you didn’t even arrest me, and I’m a lot more dangerous as agitation goes than the likes of Håvard Johannsen! You’re running scared, and it shows; it’s making you look weak. Let my people go.”

The MacRaghnalls looked at each other; the King nodded. “Very well.”

“You said, would I like to join a government of national unity,” Geir continued. “No, I wouldn’t. But I’m willing to form one.” He smiled nastily at Tormod. “I know just the man for Governor of Greenland.”

Tormod pressed his lips together, not appreciating the suggestion. “I’ll have the War Ministry, thanks. Or I’ll go into opposition.”

It was Geir’s turn to think a bit. It wasn’t as though the man was incompetent, and he’d been running the actual war effort anyway. The King could appoint whoever he liked, so he didn’t strictly speaking need Tormod’s support; but trying to govern without the support of half the Storting would be… difficult. Being appointed Statsminister was one thing, getting any laws passed was another; and he needed to reform the franchise, if nothing else, if there was going to be another Labour government.

“Oh, all right,” he said. “I think you’re making a mistake, though; Greenland’s got very good skiing.” The Duke was known to be a passionate skier. “There’ll be economic reforms,” he went on.

“Expropriations, you mean,” the Duke snarled.

Geir shrugged. “Justice by any other name smells just as sweet. Anyway, feel free to negotiate with the people barricading the streets of Bergen, if you prefer.”

The King held up a finger. “Well, that’s the nub, isn’t it? Beyond a certain point, Herr Randall, we genuinely do prefer to ‘negotiate’ with the rebels – using the final argument of kings as necessary. If we have to flatten Bergen, still, we’ll own the land and can rebuild; a sad loss and one we’d rather avoid, but not an irreparable one. We can crush this rebellion without your help; we merely think it will be more costly. But property lost to a legal government won’t be recovered. Be aware, then, of the limit: The moment it looks better to let the Navy blow Sandviken to rubble, we will do so. Honestly, the place is due for some urban renewal anyway; there’s warehouses there that were standing before I was born.”

“Gradualism, yes,” Geir sighed. He wasn’t immune to the romance of bringing the Red Revolution and tearing down the unjust structure of capitalism in one fell swoop; but that wasn’t the opportunity he had before him. The MacRaghnalls had too many guns, too many loyal soldiers; the bravery of the comrades on the barricades would come to nothing, in the end, against the sheer weight of metal. But he’d spent long years thinking about what was possible, and had the plan ready. “No tax on capital; no levy on property. But I’ll increase the income tax, and use the money to build State-owned factories, that’ll pay fair wages.”

Tormod relaxed, and the King nodded. “I can agree to that,” he said. “Especially if they produce war materiel. The way silver flows out of this country every time someone rattles a sabre is amazing.”

“Fine,” Geir said; as long as there were jobs he didn’t much care what the factories built. They could dig holes and fill them up again for all it mattered to him. “Then I think we have a deal.”

“One more thing,” the King said. “No peace with France without annexations.” His face became still, and Geir thought of men by the hundreds of thousands, marching into the trenches; thought of the thunder of tens of thousands of guns. “We helped them against Spain, and this is their thanks? I won’t have it; make your reforms, but leave the peace to me. I’ll have the Baltic coast for this.”

Geir looked down. The King had a point, but it was easy for him to be angry; it wasn’t his sons that would be dying in the trenches. Not Geir’s sons, either, but his grandsons were near fighting age; and anyway, there was such a thing as class solidarity. The labour movement had always been against wars, and for good reason. Not for nothing were cannon called the final argument of kings. The King’s demand was not unreasonable… but it was one more compromise with the ideal of the Revolution; one more strike against the dream of a truly socialist government, one that would create a brotherhood of man.

And yet – after all, the damn Frogs had started the thing, and for no better reason than sheer imperialist aggression. A socialist government still had to survive in a world of empires and international competition; if the word got out that Norway could be attacked with impunity, wouldn’t even more men die? And the French armies had not been gentle in their invasion of Denmark; they had learned to fight in the hard school of the Pyrenees War, against the infidel that had been pressing on their border for centuries, and it showed. Geir didn’t trust the atrocity stories in the papers; but he’d heard things from men he trusted, who’d gotten out of Denmark after the occupation began, that made his hair stand on end. There was a slow burn of anger in him, matching the King’s, when he looked up again; brotherhood of man be damned.

“Yes,” he said. “No peace without land.”


Some screenshots. This will be the new government of Norway after I install the Socialists:

Norwegian Politics, 1913

Here is the rising that gives Geir his chance, and against which he argued:

Communist Rising

Notice there’s a war with France going on… damn sneaky commies, trying to topple the government when it’s busy! However, the war was actually going pretty well at this stage, after some early setbacks; of course, Norwegian policy in these Baltic spats – I think this one will be the Fifth Baltic War – has always been that Jutland and the German coast can be abandoned in the first year or so. In Vicky, which has ticking warscore, that doesn’t work as well as it did in EU3, but it remains true that I needn’t defend the imperial marches; as long as the navy holds the Baltic I can gather my strength, and allies, and come back in force. In particular, I can land at the “base” of Denmark and cut off the French forces occupying the north of it. Unfortunately I didn’t take the screenie until those stacks had already rushed south to try to break out of the pocket I’d just created:

Denmark Pocket

In fact, the French attempt to rescue that pocket became the twin battles of Flensburg and Kiel, possibly the decisive clashes of the war, drawing in well over a million men:

Denmark Campaign

Notice that in both provinces France is attacking, and there are prewar fortifications. In Kiel, I’m rushing in men as fast as I can from all over the Baltic – mostly freshly mobilised stacks, recently blooded in the Great Rebel Hunt of 1912. Two closer views of Flensburg:

More Flensburg

Finally, a quick look at an earlier war, the War of the Spanish Ooops:

Spanish Mistake

Quote of the Decade: “That’s what I get for trusting Russia”. And in my own case, I guess this is what I get for helping France.

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Azure Three Bezants: The Madagascar Campaign

Ok, so this is the week HoI4 came out. I am therefore going to write up the session events first, and if I have time not taken up by recreating the Great War on the Belgian front, there will be a narrative section. If you are reading this without any in-character narrative, you’ll know what my priorities turned out to be. Incidentally, does it seem to anyone else that the German AI is kind of timid? Sure, the Maginot Line is pretty impenetrable, but once you’ve overrun the Low Countries it shouldn’t be that difficult to get ten panzer divisions together and blow through a line of only infantry. DOWing Switzerland in an apparent attempt to find a weakness in a line that covers frickin’ Belgium is really not called for. Especially when you have to thin out the Belgian line to deal with the resulting thirty Swiss divisions, and give France an opportunity to drive for the Ruhr!

Oh right. Europa Universalis, that’s the game we were playing.

A while ago I got annoyed at Korean pirates in the Adriatic, and DOWed to remove the Korean bases in the Med. I had won that war when Fox, bribed no doubt by copious amounts of firewater, allied itself to Korea and – give the devil his due – politely informed me that I could either stand down my blockade or lose my fleet, which would be the fourth time this game. I stood down the blockade and ceded Madagascar, gaining some Persian provinces in exchange. You would not know it from my cheerful demeanour and courteous chat, but I was actually a tiny bit annoyed. I therefore spent last week and some of this quietly building up my fleet, from fourth in the world to second; specifically, I went from 100 bigships to 250, narrowly beating out Fox’s 230. Then I declared war, and parked my navy off the American coast where the Foxy Fleet was sitting in mothballs. It was, unfortunately, a garrisoned location or I would have landed my marines on the mothballed fort and driven the unprepared ships out to fight and die. As it was, I had a stroke of luck when, shortly after the declaration, his light ships – presumably out shaking down peaceful merchants going about their lawful business protecting trade – blundered into my heavies and sank shortly thereafter.

With complete naval superiority assured, it is of course only a question of time before the continental hegemon suffers economic collapse and bows to the just and reasonable demands of the small yet plucky trading republic. However, on the way to the inevitable victory of capitalists over feudalists dictated by the laws of dialectical materialism, there may arise some small contretemps and setbacks due to the efforts of the doomed ruling class to retain its unjust privileges. In particular, it turns out the Foxy Army has a discipline of 138. Given what I did to his sealift capacity, that isn’t the crippling issue it would have been if, for example, he was free to invade Italy; but there were various Foxy forces kicking about hither and yon in Asia and Africa, ranging in size from one-third to two-thirds of the entire Venetian army, and even the smallest turned out to be an individually formidable problem.

Antananarivo, 1818

Check this out. Outnumbered four to one, the savages still kill three for every one they lose!

The Madagascar garrison is a case in point: Two 30k stacks guarding the war goal, on a three-province island. By the time I got around to them, I was feeling quite cautious about engaging Foxy forces on anything remotely approaching equal terms; I took my time. First I built some additional transports so I could sealift two 24k stacks simultaneously. Then I shipped most of my army to provinces close to Madagascar so I could land them all quickly. Then I landed 48k in Antananarivo, sieged it quickly while shipping in the rest of the army, and marched on one of the 30k stacks. I won the resulting 120k versus 60k battle, with a good general on my side, just barely, and wiped one of the stacks when it retreated to Antananarivo. So far so good. The other one retreated to Boina, where I could not pursue it because of the fort at Menabe. After the casualties I’d taken, it seemed unwise to try to attack it with a -2 landing penalty, so I unwisely left it alone while I sieged down the level-8 fort. Naturally I spread out my units a bit to try to reduce the attrition, including moving the worst-hit stacks across to Africa. That 30k stack, on its home territory, recovered to full strength much faster than my units; it went down to Menabe and killed my siege, boom. Then it turned around and zapped the reinforcements I had rushed into Antananarivo. The current situation is that there is one 30k stack guarding the three-province war goal… and if I take as many casualties reducing that to zero as I did in reducing it to one, I will be out of manpower.

Venetian Victoglory

The one major naval battle of the war; a glorious triumph for the Venetian Navy. I don’t know why Fox is still fighting; there’s no coming back from this sort of defeat.

Every theater is like this: A small Foxy army (in one case, a large Korean one), but with 138% discipline and enough combat modifiers to launch Poland into space. Nevertheless I persevere. The loss of Venezia-oltre-il-Mare is annoying but not decisive. Egypt is, as I well know, so fortified that it may take a decade to force anything on that front. Peshawar cannot add anything to my troubles on those two fronts; I’m not sure why they entered – I mean, yes, recover Girnar, but what damage do they expect to do so as to compel me to hand it over? Madagascar cannot stand against my full army forever, maneuvering difficulty or not; next time I won’t land in only one place and leave a retreating stack a sanctuary. And anyway history and naval superiority are on my side; the dialectic demonstrates it.

World, 1821.

World situation, 1821. Note the near destruction of Fandango and the occupation of the Middle East.

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Filed under Azure Three Bezants, Dominion over Palm and Pine, Recessional