“Cities and Thrones and Powers,” Kipling claims, “last, in Time’s eye / almost as long as flowers, which daily die”; and this may be true. But men cannot see with the eyes of Time; we see with the eyes of mortals, and the Powers and Dominions of the world look, to us, long-lived indeed. And because this is so, it is occasionally useful to step back and consider them with a fresh eye, to reintroduce their concerns and positions as though we had not met before. A fresh perspective is valuable, and sometimes – it’s hard to remember this – there may be people who haven’t, for reasons now surpassing the understanding, closely followed history since 1204 and are lost amid the jargon of Wicked Wardenates, valorous (or vicious) Venetians, and Zombie Cossacks. Herewith, therefore, a look at a few of the Powers of the world in this year 1539.
Powers of the former English Empire, now at odds – thieves falling out over the loot, in one interpretation, or nations growing apart and realising they now longer have anything in common, in another. Except three hundred years of inbreeding, of course; but really, those particular kids are not a good reason to stay married, er, allied.
First, the Wardenate of the West, also known as England; the adjective ‘Wicked’ is customarily left off by vassal-allies, whose duties include courteous speech along with good advice and service in war. Still the foremost power in the world, as it has been since Bob ‘the Builder’ of Shrewsbury united the Isles under his rule in the thirteenth century. Exploration plus Expansion as the first two idea groups enabled the English to leap south along the African and South-American coasts, establishing trade posts that drive two continents’-worth of flow to the English Channel, where it is monopolised. This gives England a trade income over twice that of their nearest competitor. I don’t see a strong focus in its custom national ideas, but they are all reasonably powerful ones. Its current ambitions appear to be the conquest of Iberia, maintaining the alliances with Venice, Denmark, Byzantium, and Fox that keep its rule of the seas unthreatened, and mastering that supercilious lift of the aristocratic eyebrow that conveys without words that the Shrewsburys were sleeping their way to the top when your ancestors were still bending over just for a place to sleep out of the wind.
England’s main enemy, at present, is the Templar Republic, also known as Africa – a former vassal and ally which is now, no doubt, greatly regretting having helped the Shrewsburys rise to power. For, if they are still practicing getting those eyebrows just right, the Wardens of the West have most certainly mastered the noble art of the backstab; lands long promised to the Africans are currently painted English red, and there is no sign that this is going to change. The lucrative trade route around the African coast, solidly in the Templar sphere of interest, is firmly under the muscular thumbs of the English garrisons that guard it. The Templars have been poorly advised in their ideas; Exploration and Expansion are not very useful when a former ally turns around and takes away anything you explore and expand into. Defensive, on the other hand, seems like a fine choice for a state coming under such heavy and sustained attack. The custom national ideas are a curious hodgepodge; and really, diplomatic annexation cost? An ability that might be used three or four times in the whole game? Africa’s current ambition is to find some allies, any allies will do, to help it hold back the English.
Germany is another former ally of England’s that has become an enemy, though in this case the enmity goes back into CK days. Again with the diplo-annexation cost? True, Germany converted with many vassals, so it’s a little more defensible than in Africa’s case; but still a curious choice. Germany has been feeding its largish vassal Holstein, though, so perhaps there’s some deep-laid plan at work. If so, Influence is no doubt part of it. Administrative (and Patriotic Propaganda) goes with Germany’s vast expansion into Russia, which seems to have halted in recent sessions, perhaps due to Byzantine and Uzbek opposition – it’s certainly nothing to do with the Russian armies, which have declined drastically in effectiveness since everyone figured out that Zombie Cossacks cannot approach a crucifix held by an honest priest. Notice how everybody has latched on to Infantry Combat Ability as a substitute for Discipline, which we house-ruled into being much more expensive than usual. Germany’s ambition is to absorb its conquests in Russia and to master the trade system, for which purpose it recently became a republic.
A couple of months ago Blayne (playing Byzantium) suggested that I ought to make my converters multithreaded for added performance. This session demonstrated the wisdom of remaining single-threaded and concentrating on features instead of thread management: I got into three concurrent wars and lost all of them. Sequential execution for the win!
Counterattacking into mountains. There weren’t all those Indians there when the battle started, I swear.
The Indian Swarm tactic in progress. We attack what looks like a weak sieging army, but can’t defeat them before all their friends arrive to help. Then we end up fighting a humongous battle in bad terrain.
The wars were, in order of declaration, the Indochina War, the Indian Ocean War, and the Nile Delta War. In the first, I attempted (along with Uzbek) to defend Vietnam from invasion by the Indian alliance; unfortunately the Indians have had the infernal gall to have built a navy since I last fought them. They also managed to keep their various stacks within supporting distance of each other and in good terrain, so that every counterattack we made, even when the odds were initially favourable, was eventually fighting equal or superior numbers in jungle, hill, or mountain. Excellent army management there, I salute the Indian player. I am rather less pleased with my Vietnamese ally, who appears to have ragequit over the loss of five provinces.
Victory, but too late. Note the Pope’s army adorably besieging Rosetta for me!
The other two wars were opportunistic attacks by people who saw me get into a Vietnamese quagmire and decided to help themselves to some of my stuff; Japan took four islands and also burned some colonies, a war crime for which I will surely retaliate once I have nukes. Since I didn’t have a fighting navy left after that little miscalculation with the Indians, there was nothing I could do, so there wasn’t any actual combat; I just signed the peace treaty. Then Egypt decided that his dignity as “Ruler of Upper, Lower, Outer, and TransJordanese Egypt” required him to at least be seen to make an attempt to throw the foreigners out of the Nile Delta, and invaded accordingly. By this time I’d brought my army back from Vietnam, so there was some fighting, and I believe that in the long run my superior resources could have won; unfortunately Egypt had overrun Venezia-oltre-il-Mare by the time I had a stack together, and got enough ticking warscore to stab-hit and then to force-peace me for the Nile Delta and Sinai.
Europe, 1539. Note the largish bit of African coast now occupied by Byzantium, which is where Egypt paid him off when he declared a separate war to help me. I do have to admit that the borders look nicer with Egypt controlling the Nile Delta.