In which the walls that have stood two thousand years finally crumble, and the barbarian hordes run laughing through the vineyards and the well-tended gardens.
I am not feeling my best, so no narrative this week. I will just note that Venice, at the moment, is being roiled by the politics of empire: There is a faction, largely older men who became wealthy in the traditional way, who want to rule as little as possible and make money off trade, as their fathers did before them. And there is a faction that believes this is no longer possible, and that wealth now requires vast tracts of land – the vaster, the better. My protagonists of last week are of this latter Expansionist faction, although their work in getting Byzantium out of Denmark’s sphere of interest obviously serves the purposes of both sides. You can’t trade through a tariff barrier thousands of percent high, and you can’t conquer someone else’s economic satellite without their taking exception. Notice, however, that I did not add Byzantium to my own sphere of interest, though I could easily have done so; instead I banish-blocked everybody else attempting to do so. (Denmark, Germany, Fox, to be specific. If all five Great Powers had been trying, I couldn’t have blocked them all.) This was caused by the internal faction fighting of my government, and not at all by the fact that I wanted to conquer Byzantium but it had AI protection: The Expansionists wanted to annex, the Traders wanted to sphere, neither side got what it wanted.
This session, however, things are different: To wit, Blayne moved to North Korea, and the vultures who had been hovering around the rich carcass dived in. (The causality may have gone the other way, to be sure. If any Great Power had decided to protect Byzantium, I think Blayne would have stayed around and fought it out.) When Denmark was seen to be justifying a claim on parts of Anatolia, well, the Traders couldn’t well argue for sphering after that. Annex the place before someone else does. So I dived in with a claim to Aydin, the highest-population state with the most coal. Unfortunately Denmark got out of the war first, with Aydin; so I stuck around to get most of eastern Anatolia. England took the Greek peninsula, and Germany grabbed some border states in the Caucasus. Russia, late to the party, got one state of three provinces. So after all that this was the state of the Middle East:
Notice the indomitable fortress city of Acre still holding out against the invader!
Naturally, acquiring all that had put me far over the infamy limit, which is irrelevant in a game with no independent AI states. (Excepting Byzantium, and, well.) Or so I thought. The Wicked Warden of the West now announced his intention to become the Wicked World Police of the West, and punish anyone who went over the infamy limit, so that people would be incentivised not to do that. (In sci-fi utopia, AIs simulate human beings. In Soviet England, human beings simulate AI!) The Foxy Empire joined in this mission; either one of these two nations has an army three times the size of Venice’s force limit. My German ally, currently subbed by oddman, kindly intervened, pointing out that Venice is not in any danger of becoming world hegemon whatever its infamy. Either this voice of gentle reason, or the threat of mobilising Europe from the Rhine to the Volga, had some effect; in the end a compromise was worked out, by which Russia received Tabriz (with the last of Byzantium’s coal, sigh) and Isfahan, but I was otherwise left alone. Easy come, easy go; of course, as I won’t be under the infamy limit until 1915 or so, I now cannot declare any offensive wars without England slapping my wrist. I must confess that this does somewhat put a damper on my foreign policy.
As of 1865, England is again justifying a war against what’s left of Byz; so is its ally Denmark. I notice that both these countries will be over the infamy limit if they take more than one state. It will be interesting to see whether the same rule applies to everyone.