The Great Game: Literary Discussion

Discussion with my readers of how the gameplay situation matches the AAR; as always, there’s a certain amount of Separation of Story and Gameplay going on. In particular, my domestic-policy sliders allowed rather more freedom (low serfdom) than last week’s stril-baiting post would imply. My excuse is that the sliders apply to free men; who cares what sorts of freedom those parts of the population that don’t count, might have? By construction, they don’t count!

I really don’t think that’s how it works. With serfdom 2, you’re probably looking a bit like 18th century England or Norway during one of the periods of weak danish control.

Well, basically, the problem is that the kind of state I’m creating in my backstory doesn’t really exist in the EU2 timeframe, so the DP sliders (which I set for game advantage, rather than matching the AAR – I’m not fighting the AI here, after all!) can’t really reflect it properly. The thing is, I don’t think there ever has been this kind of state, with a really vast ruling class of a few million people, and the underclass being only a factor three or four larger.

I admit to a certain amount of inspiration from Stirling’s Domination of the Draka series, but the Draka had the advantage that the author was on their side, so they could conquer all of Africa and have a good hundred serfs for every free Citizen. Norway, even with the American colonies, just doesn’t have that kind of population imbalance.

So, has Ear given up? It’s pretty brutal to see a player country mercilessly ground into the dust by other players, but if the other great powers really wanted to hand all that land to Spain, my guess is they got something in return for it?

Yes, well, Burgundy threatened war if I interfered. Which was probably a mistake by Abs, considering how powerful Spain is now, but there you go. I’m sorry to see Ear go; I hope we can get another player to restore Persia’s greatness. They’re not that far down, after all; they could easily expand into Mughal and Bengalese lands, and be fantastically wealthy in Vicky.

How many Ynglings should you have now anyway KoM?

Well, that’s an interesting question. Consider : At the end of CK, in 1419, I had about 700 living, male Ynglings. I estimated the doubling time as 25 years, since this is a well-fed upper class which accepts bastards – male ones, anyway – and marries for fertility. So by 1600, there is something in excess of 100k male Ynglings. I don’t recall exactly when I introduced my safety valve of letting soldiers marry into the family, but let’s say it was 1600; then the population doubles at a stroke, since we can now consider the females also. Further, the doubling time would go down a bit, since female Ynglings are no longer lost – obviously, their husbands take the family name. (This gives the effect of ‘immigration’ into the Yngling family, so we’re no longer limited to the biological means of increasing the numbers.) So with all that, we can probably take the doubling time down as far as fifteen (!) years, which means we’ve had seven doublings since 1600, in addition to the doubling from adding females. Total, 2.7 million. Something should be chopped off that for military casualties, though, since there have been some very bloody wars lately, and the Ynglings are increasingly fighting as regular infantry and not just officers, so the casualties are getting to them. And with the losses of 3 to 5% from military training, doubling time is going to increase a bit again. So I’m going to say 2 million Ynglings (male and female), with a doubling time of twenty years.

Well, that’s a really large ruling class! However, there are some natural brakes here. First, the number of stril soldiers is going to be decreasing, since there are more Ynglings who can fight, so the need for auxiliaries decreases. Second, the ruling class is now so large that we can no longer consider all of it ‘well-fed’, so that increases the doubling time quite a bit. Third, as the polarisation between rulers and ruled increases, there’s going to be more uprisings – killing off some Ynglings – and perhaps fewer marriages also. (After all, the soldiers only have permission to marry into the ruling class; nobody is going to be forcing the women to marry a smelly stril, if they don’t want to!) And, as long as I keep losing wars, the Yngling population will decrease a bit every time; not just from casualties, but also because the Ynglings living in lands lost to other countries will pretty soon cease to be Ynglings. First, it’s going to be an extremely unpopular name, and second, the class is by now defined basically by being rulers with an extremely militaristic sort of upbringing – children living in barracks from age 5, hours of drill every day, and so on. That kind of thing takes a lot of effort and surplus to sustain; it just can’t be done without a fairly major state pushing it. Just for one thing, a landowner who no longer has State resources keeping his tenants down simply can’t treat them as the Ynglings are used to doing, and that means he has to put considerable effort into managing his own lands – which takes time away from drill and exercise. And he certainly can’t afford to keep up barracks for his children, at his own expense! So even if the lands are reconquered, the Ynglings that still live there will have degenerated (as my Norwegian ones would see it) and be soft strils, suitable only for subjugation.

So basically, the answer is, I have however many I need for story purposes, subject to the restriction that it is somewhere in the range of ‘a few million’.

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