Category Archives: Song of the Dead

If Blood be the Price of Admiralty: God Rest You, Peaceful Gentlemen

  • The End is Nigh: We have reached the twentieth century, a time once spoken of only in scientific romances; and modernity is upon us! The age of steam is coming to an end, electricity and internal combusion rule the day. It’ll be the loco-boiler next, and thirty mile an hour! Telephones, wireless transmission, even automobile carriages; surely Ragnarok and the Twilight of the Gods cannot be far off, for certainly there cannot be many inventions left to make.
  • The Fimbul War: The first sign of Ragnarok is said to be a three-year winter; and surely there is a winter in the affairs of men. For the powers of Eurasia are divided into two vast armed camps, and glare at each other from their ramparts that they recently rebuilt to support machine guns. But they dare not fire and make the war hot; for who knows what would happen, when armies of three million on a side clashed? So they wait, and build, and boast of their battleships and their bombs; and hope that something may break the stalemate.
  • Some Damn-Fool Thing in the Baltic: While I was away, and Scandinavia was in other hands, Bohemia attacked in alliance with Occitania, and gained Pommern and (for the first time in a hundred years) a Baltic coastline. I believe I have the power to take it back, now, if Bohemia and Occitania were all the powers involved. But Bohemia is allied to Khazaria, and Occitania is allied to Medina, and those two Great Powers are allied to each other. And I am allied to Leon and to the Latin Empire; and in Asia, Korea and China huddle together against the threat of Japan, which allies everyone and smiles like a crocodile; there are Japanese troops on the Rhine, and which way would they jump, if it came to a war? There are six hundred Yngling regiments in the Hird, and if it came to mass-mobilisation warfare the leidang musters another thousand… and Scandinavia’s is counted fifth among the world’s armies. If the Latin Empire went to war, four million men would get the callup – not counting the regulars already in uniform. To be the one who begins such a conflict is a dreadful responsibility. And yet there is Pommern, that was Yngling land for three hundred years… and after all, this cold war cannot last forever; something will be the spark that ignites the flame.
  • Ride of the Valkyries: Meanwhile, we occasionally grind a minor power to dust, mostly for something to do, and to blood our armies and test our new weapons. Ayutthaya has been partitioned, and the red wolf’s-head on black flies over Pegu and the Shan States. And yet in spite of three large European powers, with the current-maximum 20 army techs, attacking an AI minor with 14, there just seems to be something about those jungles that makes for grinding, attritional warfare. The Ayutthayan AI had somehow acquired a general with 5 attack – I didn’t know that was even a thing in Vicky, they must have added some good traits in a recent patch – and their 150 regiments maintained their resistance far beyond what sanity would indicate was possible. Were I inspired, I would write a narrative segment about the tall blonde Norse regiments, sweating in their heavy wool uniforms, treading carefully through the jungle paths, expecting any moment to trip over a wire connected to a black-powder grenade, or for a hail of heavy musket balls to come crashing through the foliage to be answered by the snapping crack of smokeless-powder rifles.
  • We Want to Believe: Alas, with these humongous armies and immense industrial establishments, the creaky old Clausewitz engine is being strained to its limits. We currently have about one crash a year, and the latest crisis hung fire and had to be edited. Next year in V3!
  • From Berserker to Battleship: The Nordsjøflåte currently has 32 battleships, and is therewith one of the smallest navies among the powers that actually have a navy.

Some ledger statistics, presented more or less without comment.

Europe; note the Bohemian occupation of Pommern.

Asia; note the European partition of Ayutthaya.


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If Blood Be the Price of Admiralty: Let Nothing You Dismay

As the first session of Victoria wasn’t very eventful, I shall combine my AAR with some notes on the last EU4 session.

  • The Vistula War: There are three Big Powers in this game: The Latin Empire, Medina, and Khazaria. As is the custom, there have been rumblings that the Great Powers are too powerful, that the balance of power has become an excuse for stasis, and that we may as well declare a winner and start over from Crusader Kings; and as is also the custom, a coalition formed to test these claims, and attempt to end the stasis by force. In particular, Bohemia, also known as the Holy Roman Empire, bravely led the Ynglings, the Chinese, and the Koreans to attack Khazaria, the Yellow Colossus of the East. Khazaria was joined by its ally Medina, making two of the Three Greats on one side of the war; the Latin Empire stayed neutral, although the threat of the tercios marching from Anatolia to the Caucasus was an important part of the diplomacy surrounding the peace treaty. Occitania was also supposed to join the coalition, but like the treacherous surrender monkeys they are, stayed home to maintain their protective alliance with Medina; on the other hand Leon joined at a late point – too late, as it turned out, for the hordes of mercenaries to stay the tide.

    Various diplomatic delays had, unfortunately, given Khazaria fair warning, and by the time we attacked Siberia was completely, continuously fortified from Lake Bajkal to the Urals. The war’s strategy therefore resolved itself into two parts: On the eastern front Khazaria would stand on the defensive against China and Korea, while those two powers blasted a path through the immense fortresses in some of the world’s worst terrain. Meanwhile, in the west, two Great Powers would fling their immense armies at Scandinavia and at the Holy Roman Empire, trying to knock them out of the war before the Asian armies could reach the Urals. For the Ynglings, therefore, the war was very simple: All we had to do was stand off two powers each of which was twice our size, while our allies sieged their way through Siberia.

    Simple is not the same as easy.

    The war opened with Khazaria’s armies swarming across Bohemia’s eastern border:

    The “Battle” of Mazyr – dignified by that name mainly because it was the first engagement of the war; fighting on this scale, if it had occurred in 1806 or 1807, would have been labeled an “action” or a “skirmish”.

    The battle of Mazyr immediately showed the pattern of the war: The Yngling armies could inflict more casualties, but lacked staying power relative to the Khazarian armies with their modifier upon modifier for morale; the Imperial armies, especially the Vassal Swarm, were useless except as cannon fodder. However, the easterners had to attack, as the coalition was on the defensive in Europe; so after the initial hard-fought border battles, in which we turned back the invaders but were unable to pursue them into the depths of Russia, we formed a vast defensive line, and the war became attritional:

    Polish Front, 1806.

    Then, every so often, the easterners would win a siege, and move to attack one of our armies; we would move our surrounding stacks into the defense, the whole Khazarian and Medinan army would be drawn in, which in turn would draw in the entire coalition side, and we would have a battle with half a million men on a side:

    The defense of Warsaw.

    Depending on who won, the front would move one fortress either east or west; but because of their morale advantage, the easterners would win slightly more often than they lost in spite of taking more casualties – which their greater manpower reserves allowed them to absorb. (“That’s why they’re called Great Powers.”) Nevertheless, while the front was yielding it was by no means collapsing; and meanwhile the Asians were taking one fortress after another.

    Spring counteroffensive, 1807, after the Khazarian retreat from the walls of Warsaw.

    Rearguard action at Braslaw.

    After the failure of their spring attack in 1807, the easterners changed tactics slightly: Instead of pushing into Poland they began to probe north, towards the Yngling domains. I naturally shifted my army north to ward them off, and inflicted vast casualties:

    Kovno, 1811; the Medinan army has reached the Baltic coast and is striving to widen the breach by driving the Ynglings north into Finland.

    However, by sheer weight of metal the Medinans forced their way to the Baltic coast, splitting off my army from the Imperial one. Here I made a mistake: Obviously I had full control of the Baltic, and thus in effect could operate on interior lines even with the enemy controlling Konigsberg. However, believing that they would next attack Finland, I moved to defend the Fortress City of Viborg. The eastern alliance, however, kept their eyes on the ball; realising that without a Bohemian front I could be isolated and made irrelevant, they struck hard for the Oder, and drove back the Imperial Guard fortress by fortress. It was at this point that Leon joined and that Occitania’s betrayal became clear. Both Leon’s army, and my belated shift to the Polish front – which was rapidly becoming a German front! – were too late.

    German front, 1812; the eastern alliance marches on Prague.

    Even a series of brilliant Yngling victories, and the advance of the Asian armies halfway to the Urals:

    The Ynglinga Hird, striking at the exposed northern flank of the Prague salient, inflicted immense damage – but too late.

    The Asian armies’ advance. While it does not look too impressive on the map, note that each and every one of these provinces had a level-8 fortress, and many of them are mountains.

    could not stop the Russian steamroller in its drive on Prague. With the Emperor’s capital in enemy hands he had no choice but to sign their diktat. The peace, admittedly, was generous, since the victorious easterners had still taken well over a million casualties each and were perforce looking nervously towards the Alps, wondering whether half a million Latin Dragoons might be riding to the relief of Prague; the very polite presence of Latin “observers” at the conference assured a rapid convergence on a treaty without annexations.

    Final result of the war: We ran through the int32 casualty limit, in fact we likely did so twice, but no provinces changed hands.

  • Weak Piping Times of Peace: With no great dramas to occupy our attention, we whiled away the last few years of EU4 by trying to develop our provinces for Great-Power status; in this contest I was defeated by the barest of margins by those cheese-eating traitors in Occitania:

    Great-Power rankings. So close!

  • Truce of God: For the first ten years of Victoria no player can attack anyone; this is to ensure that everyone gets a chance to have their army in order after the conversion.

Eurasia, 1821.

Americas, 1821 – missing the Vast Green Blob that is Brazil.

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Our Doom and Our Pride: Hear us, when we cry to Thee!

March 19th, 1814
East of Poznan, Bohemia (OTL Poland)
Late afternoon

They were an even dozen, one officer and eleven men remaining of the hundred that had begun the day – or a little less than twelve; one of the soldiers had lost two fingers parrying a slash that would have taken his head off, and half the rest bore the marks of sabres in one place or another. No serious wounds, for those who couldn’t walk were lying where the Russian cavalry had caught them, midway between the lines; or had been carted off to the rear, hopefully to join the rest of the company, wherever they were. It was beyond belief that Ulf’s eleven could be all that was left of it; he’d been out on the left flank, that was all, and the Russians had gotten between him and his brother officers. Bad luck, but the sort of thing that would happen in battles; they were all veterans and knew the chaos well, and would laugh about it tomorrow, when they’d found each other and the terror and adrenaline began to seem like a dream. Companies of a hundred men were not wiped out in three minutes, not even by Cossacks that appeared out of nowhere when they were advancing to the attack… Ulf abandoned the line of thought as unfruitful. Marek, the lowest-ranking officer of the Bohemian company they’d attached themselves to, was approaching; and there was a stirring in the blue-and-white mass, shouts of command and men moving, loading muskets, fixing bayonets; it did not take an experienced soldier’s eye to see something happening.

“Herr Løytnant,” Marek greeted him; his arm twitched reflexively, but he withheld the salute, as was proper when in sight of the enemy. “We are ordered to attack.” He spoke a guttural, accented German, the common language of the officers of northern Europe; Ulf answered in the same tongue.

“Very well,” he said. He wasn’t, technically, obliged to take Bohemian orders; but having lost his own superior officers and attached himself to these allies, it would look ill, after the battle, if he insisted on that piece of protocol. Besides, it was obviously the right thing to do; if they did not break the Russian line soon, the Medinan army would be on their flank and there would be no holding anything east of the Oder. “Our target?”

“Those banners,” Marek said, pointing ahead and to the right. “We will form column for the charge. How will you deploy to support us?”

The battle of Poznan, showing the immense scale and confusion of the fighting.

Ulf considered it briefly. The Bohemians, courteous to a fault, were treating him as an officer of an allied sovereign, not giving orders but asking him to support their attack as he thought best; but just then he would rather have preferred to be told “go there, shoot that way, keep your men in order” and not have to think about the problem. However, it wasn’t that difficult:

“I will form a flank guard for your rightmost company,” he said. Twelve men were about the right number for that, and would free up a dozen Bohemians to lend weight to their column’s charge; and it was work that Norsemen could do better than scrawny conscript Bohemians, even these elite conscripts of the Imperial Guard, calling for weight and size as much as cohesion.

Marek had clearly been expecting it, and nodded sharply. “The drums will beat to signal the advance,” he said, then turned back towards his countrymen without further words, ending the conversation. Ulf looked again at the banners that were their target, and frowned; they would have to march obliquely, exposing them to fire from the walled farmhouse that protected the center of the Russian line for much longer than was strictly necessary. It would have been better to march straight across, as fast as possible. But there was nothing to be done about it. The Imperial Guard wasn’t going to change its line of attack for one Løytnant of an allied power, and anyway there wasn’t time. Out on the right flank, Ulf had, of course, been the last to get the word, and formations of eight thousand men did not change their line of attack in less than half an hour. It would take five minutes just to get to the center… Ulf shook himself; he was getting distracted by things he could not change.

“All right, you men,” he said instead, addressing the tiny part of 3rd Company, Fourth Bergenhus Line Infantry, that he still commanded. “We’re going to form up, and advance when the drums sound. Head for those banners over there” – he pointed – “take the ridge, shoot any Russians that come near, wait for our friends to bring up their guns and pound the enemy line to scrap. We’re the flank guard.”

That was the plan, anyway, he noted to himself; plans, of course, rarely survived Russian drumfire. He scowled at the ridge while his men got ready, putting out their pipes, fixing bayonets. In truth it wasn’t much of an obstacle, a long, low rise, its top no more than five meters above the endless Polish plain. But the Russians had held it all day, had withstood cannonade and cavalry, had hunched over and dug in their heels and held with the endless bitter stubbornness of serf conscripts for whom nothing in their lives had ever gone right, and the massed fire of the Grand Battery of the Ynglinga Hird was just one more misfortune in a life of disasters… and now time was running out. The Medinans were no slugs; they marched to the sound of the guns, and if they reached the allied flank while the Russian army still held the field, the battle was lost and the campaign with it. All the careful work to get in between the two enemy forces, to engage the Russians on their own terms while the Medinans were distracted by the Leonese cavalry’s raid to the south, all wasted… if the Russians held. And so the Imperial Guard got ready for attack, one more charge across the stricken field to take the ridge, to break the Russians’ hearts and make them run. And on their right flank, a tiny unit of Norsemen, separated from their officers and their standard, running low on powder and shot, half of them wounded… but not defeated yet, Ulf thought defiantly, looking around at his men. They were enlisted, most of them half a step ahead of the thief-takers, the headsman, or the poverty that was worse than either, and couldn’t be relied upon to feel patriotism or duty in the same way that Ulf, the son and grandson of officers, did; nor to understand the bigger operational picture, the desperate importance of taking the ridge before the Medinans arrived. But they were veteran soldiers, of an army that had been in the field for a decade; they understood stubbornness, and courage, and putting your head down and advancing into the lead rain until the enemy ran away. Their own attack had failed, when the Cossacks surprised them, and they had lost the rest of their company in the scrambling retreat from the sabres. But they weren’t defeated yet.

The drums sounded at last, the slow dun-dun-dun of the Bohemians’ advance, and Ulf stepped out before his men, leading from the front as his honour required. There ought to be a sergeant to keep them in formation, but for twelve men it hardly mattered. The difference between a ‘square’ and a ‘clump’ wouldn’t be noticeable to anyone but an inspector general – certainly the Cossacks would not care, as long as the bayonets were sharp. The bullets wouldn’t care either, they never did.

Behind and to the right, the Grand Battery thundered, working its way up to the three rounds a minute that conserved ammunition and broke armies. They were mainly targeting the farmhouse, he saw, cannonballs crashing through the stone wall that had never been intended for a military fortification, turning the rocks into deadly projectiles; the sniping, galling fire from there slackened noticeably. So someone else had noticed the problem, and done something about it; Ulf spared a moment’s gratitude that he was on the side with Yngling artillery, the finest in the world. The Russian guns were firing back, but they were shooting at the densely-packed mass of the Imperial Guardsmen, wasting no powder on a tiny target like Ulf’s flank guard; for a long minute, as they advanced across the plain towards the ridge, Ulf walked as though in a charmed bubble, with the immense sound of the guns all around and the screams of men hurt beyond bearing assaulting his ears, but no shots coming near. Then they came within musket range, and green Russian uniforms were rising from the ridge; they had been lying down, Ulf realised with a jolt of near-panic, to make them less of a target for the artillery, and now they rose as though from dragon’s teeth and leveled their muskets, four lines deep. A shout of command, and the shattering sound of hundreds of muskets going off a hundred yards away – and again, and again; the Russians were firing by ranks – there was a clatter and rattle of the immense lead bullets striking musket barrels and bayonets, and the Guards bent and ducked in waves, like a field of corn in the wind, but kept advancing at their steady pace. The Russian infantry hadn’t fired on his little group any more than their artillery, Ulf realised with relief; a quick glance backwards confirmed that none of his men were hit.

The last, desperate charge of the Imperial Guard.

The drumbeat changed, the steady one-per-two-seconds dun-dun-dun of ‘advance’ becoming a quick rattling drrrapp, drrrapp, and eight thousand Guards cheered as they broke into a run. “Storm!”, Ulf shouted, but his men hardly needed the order; he had to hustle to avoid getting a bayonet in the butt and to stay out in front where he belonged. It was only a hundred yards; ten seconds’ run, if you were an athlete on a hard track; forty, for soldiers carrying thirty pounds of gear across a muddy field. A hundred yards, or a hundred years; time enough for the Russians to fire three volleys, time enough for a thousand men to die. Time enough, also, for a wavering to run across the green-clad ranks on the ridge; and then, before the bayonets could sink into flesh, there was no Russian line in front of them, only the backs of fleeing men. There was a panting, hissing scream of disdain, and Ulf realised that he had joined it himself; a spatter of musketry from the front ranks of the Guard cut down a few fleeing Russians. They’d done it, they’d taken the ridge; all that remained was to bring up the Bohemian guns and batter the rest of the Russian line to scraps, and then turn to destroy the Medinan army and drive them back beyond the Vistula – and as he turned to grin in triumph at his men and get them into line, he saw them falling, like ninepins; two heads disappeared in immense splashes of blood, and the canister, liberally mixed with bone fragments, sliced into the Guards behind them. He snapped his head around and froze in horror; three batteries of horse artillery, nine guns, hidden behind the ridge and in the perfect spot for their fire to rip the Guards’ flank to shreds – and behind them, a formation of infantry, battalion strength at least, in fine order and advancing for the counter-attack that would shatter the disordered Guards formation and restore the Russian line. He drew a breath to give an order, unsure what the order would be or even if anyone was alive to obey it; and before he could speak the second battery fired, and he stared in horror at the stump of his wrist, where his blood poured out in a spurting, jetting stream. There was no pain, not yet, or the pain was too immense to register; even then, as he fell, he had time to think that a hand lost to enemy artillery was an honourable wound, and if he lived he could go home, and draw a pension, and fight no more. If he lived; he clamped his right hand down on his left stump, trying to stem the flow while his vision darkened.

Dimly he heard the shouts of “Stráž ustoupí!”, but could not find the attention to translate the Czech. He would have to save himself, if he could.

Slavibor Mikulas at the battle of Poznan; the exact timing of the painting is unclear, but the clouds of smoke and the ragged Hussars departing to the right suggest that it is after the defeat of the Imperial Guard’s charge, the last throw for victory, and that Mikulas is about to orchestrate the brilliant fighting retreat that capped his reputation.

The fearsome casualty statistics of “Bloody Poznan”, each individual death a dreadful tragedy.

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Our Doom And Our Pride: Dare the Eagle’s Flight

  • Memory Hole: There was no Third Bohemian War this session, so I created a purely fictional war for your edification and entertainment instead. I do encourage all the peanuts (and players!) to start writing fanfics of the war; no knowledge of any game events or mechanics required – if you want the Japanese fleet to show up off the coast of Norway, sure, why not? It’s a fanfic, no need for any sensible logistical constraints. Besides, nobody will read it anyway.

    Yngling fan-wank fanfic, entirely fictional.

    Bohemian fan-wank fanfic, which definitely did not happen.

    Accumulated casualty statistics in the “official” version of the fictional war, that is, using Þormondsen’s and Cilek’s accounts of the Baltic and Finnish campaigns, carefully collated by some total nerd. Note that everyone agrees that, defeated or not, the Ynglings inflict drastically heavier casualties than they suffer – in fact, this tendency may be even more pronounced in fiction than in real life, as authors tend to Flanderize and hyperbolize the traits of their characters, or in this case armies. Most of the dead in the Viborg War, it’s worth noting, died from frostbite and exposure, not from Yngling guns.

  • Stupid, Stupid Vassal Creatures: A recent trend in online fiction about the 3BW is to make a running joke of the stupidity of officers in the Imperial Vassal Swarm, for example having them send tiny ten-thousand-man armies (and in some cases even single regiments!) across the Øresund into the teeth of the well-prepared Yngling defenses, where they instantly die to the last man. Obviously this would never happen in a real war, and no serious publisher would allow such an event in their books, but, well, 90% of everything is dreck and this is even more obviously true online, where there are no gatekeepers and any idiot can just write whatever they want.
  • The End Is Not Yet: This will likely be our last session of EU4, after which we’ll have a break to polish the Victoria conversion; because of the importance of the last session we are taking a Mother’s Day break to accommodate several weaklings who prioritise their parents over the balance of power in Europe.

Eurasia, 1797, Ayutthaya absent.

Americas, 1797.

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Our Doom and Our Pride: Eternal Fortress, Strong to Save

  • Second Bohemian War: Fought basically as outlined above, including the hyperbolic initial demands (Vinland and a list of states (not provinces!) that took up three lines of the chat), attack while I was busy in the Americas, defeat in and occupation of Germany, and incredibly lopsided defense of Finland at the Fortress City of Viborg, which by the way is now a thing.
  • Rocky Mountains War: The reason I was “busy in the Americas”, this was Golle’s and my misguided attempt to take some of Korea’s colonies. It turned out that not only does Korea have Space Marines – my troops could handle them, I believe – but also that Korea’s ally Occitania, which also has pretty good troops, had its entire allowed colonial force already in the Americas when we attacked. Between me and Golle we could obviously isolate France from the Americas, but that doesn’t really help when they’ve already shipped their troops across; and while my army is a match for either Korea’s or Occitania’s, I was outnumbered by the two of them together and the British Army seems unaccountably to have issued its units flashlights and T-shirts instead of proper smoothbore muskets and heavy woolen uniforms. Even so, we might have made a go of it if not for the treacherous very well-timed attack by Bohemia, supported by Leon. I lost my Hudson Bay colonies in the peace treaty.
  • Imperial Vassal Swarm: It turns out that there was, actually, some method to Yami’s apparent madness with the HRE: When you stack that many member states together, you can get a force limit nearing the full million – noting that Dragoon, the first power of Europe, has about half a million – plus something like 300k vassal troops; I confess it was a bit disheartening to see a Great Power’s worth of regiments descending on Finland in addition to Bohemia’s army and Leon’s mercenaries. I did recover a bit when it turned out that the Imperial vassals had the same military contractor as Britain, though – the lowest bidder, no doubt.
  • Viipuri kestää: I’ll just put up some screenies. Have a look at the casualties.

First Viborg, in which I smashed the Leonese field force.

Second Viborg, in which the Emperor led the siege personally to see that it was done right. And to give him his due the approach trenches were very professionally dug; my troops were immensely jealous of the splendid graves the Imperial troops were getting, with the nice straight walls and seven-foot depth!

Third Viborg, in which one of my stacks was caught without support by the entire Imperial army. Note the casualties in spite of this. And fear not, the ensuing siege lasted only the couple of weeks until I could bring up some other stacks; Viborg holds!

The Battle of Lauenburg (early in the war), in which the Leonese expeditionary force drove off my German garrison with no more than 2-to-1 odds (well, three to one in infantry) – their finest moment of the war.

A small counterattack out of Viborg.

Final result of the war. I assume that Yami’s corresponding popup was also labeled ‘Defeat’ in spite of the territories he gained.

Eurasia, 1772. Bohemia’s two new states form horns on a man (troll?) walking northwards, that mountain range is his arm and his nose points towards the Baltic.

Americas, 1772. Note the expansion of Korea.

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Our Doom and Our Pride: Brother’s Shield in Danger’s Hour

  • Not a Numerous People, and Nobody Loves Us: The history of the Ynglings, in the original Great Game timeline, is of course a completely logical extrapolation from the ingame events, devoid of authorial intent and merely following the dialectic in its inevitable working; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. But some unkind people have suggested that it is not completely irrelevant that I was reading the Draka series at the time. Whatever the truth of that, it seems to be the case that the Ynglings, like the Draka, have a gift for making themselves unpopular wherever they go. In this game year 1746 we have 17 players, of whom 16 are not me; and of these, exactly half, eight people, have me as one of their rivals. And even this is somewhat down from the peak, when I had thirteen enemies – surely an unlucky number, in itself entirely sufficient to account for the Yngling Rike’s low position in the ranks of the Great Powers.

    Diplomatic position of the Ynglinga Rike.

  • The Dragon Wakes: It is generally good, in these megacampaigns, to have one or two loose-cannon players who will attack anyone, break up hugboxes, and stab any carelessly-exposed kidneys, just to shake things up a bit. Our Japanese player, Mark, is just such a one. In this particular week his greedy, beady little eyes happened to land on the Dragon of the East, China, then fifth of the Great Powers of the world, but first among the Asians; but this is random. Like the excellent loose cannon that he is, Mark might have chosen anyone for his target – any Asian, at least; our force-projection rules probably prevent any really efficient stabbing across the world oceans. Be that as it may, the chosen target was China, and the stabbers were Japan, Korea, Malaya, England – and the mercenary soldiers of the Latin Empire, a hundred thousand strong, probably the finest infantry in the world; but to the nations of Asia, an outside force, the first time that Europeans have been brought in to settle Asian disputes. Empires have ended thus; civilisations too; once the barbarians pass the border, “allies” or no allies, it is only a question of time before they tread the jeweled thrones under their sandalled feet.

    And then, having carefully arranged the war with overwhelming force and subtle treachery, Mark did not show up for the session.

    The remaining allies went ahead anyway: China stood alone, and they had the finest infantry in the world on their side; how difficult could it be? The demands were for nine provinces, carefully chosen to make a hundred percent of warscore. The invasion crossed the Luan He river, half a million strong, and were met by Chinese and Ayutthayan troops, also half a million strong; for China did not stand alone, and the allied war plan had not survived even to reach contact with the enemy. With Japan, the invaders might still have been sufficient to crush the Chinese armies swiftly and dictate their peace; as it was, there were three years of grinding, attritional war, and no end in sight.

    Until now I have been relating consensus history, dry agreed-upon facts. We now come to points of contention, areas where there is no consensus even of fact, much less law or morality. One side claims that the war was a gangbang, and the offered terms of peace crippling, that they would have made China helpless against the inevitable next war, and would necessarily end with one fewer Power in Asia. The other side claims that (without Japan) the war was even, and that there were no plans for another war and, moreover, in the next one the Latin Empire with its invincible Janissaries would stay out, leaving the fight as a purely Asian affair which even a reduced China would be well able to handle. You must form your own judgement of these competing claims, making note that one is presented by a Dragon Throne which is not noted for its attention even to verisimilitude, much less truth, when there is propaganda to be had; and the other is the work of the literal Prince of Lies, the Dragon that was hurled down from Heaven. At any rate, we in Europe who are of old acquainted with the work of our local Dragon, we believed – in the fog of war, and with time pressing – that a war of five players against two was indeed a gangbang, and that if the terms were not of themselves crippling they were certainly a good start at a cascading takedown. We intervened.

    Four nations of Europe declared their intention to defend China from partition and the Long Night: The Ynglinga Rike, Occitania, Leon, and Atlassia. We declared war on Malaya, bringing in its ally Korea and avoiding direct war with the Latin Empire; which was a mistake, as Dragoon simply turned about and allied himself directly with Malaya, then invaded Iberia across the Pyrenees, forcing the much-vaunted Roncesvaux Line (three layers of level-8 fortresses, mostly in mountains) in a year of blood and bombardment. Meanwhile, however, the invasion of the Malayan home islands had forced that reluctant conscript from the ranks of the invaders, and the combined Leonese and Yngling navies had gained control of the Indian and Chinese seas. The Yngling troops that had reduced Malaya to asking for an armistice were marching up the Yellow River, and meanwhile the Eight Banner Armies stood, as they had stood for four years, close to the prewar border, now drawn in blood, where the northern capital had changed hands five times.

    The facts remained, nonetheless, that the Janissaries of the Latin Empire are the finest infantry in the world, and that China’s casualties had run well into the millions. The Legions stood in Barcelona, and without the Leonese navy control of the seas might be lost. When the Koreans offered improved terms, the Chiense accepted, ending the greatest war this history has seen. Macau is a Treaty Port, and the Korean border has moved a few dozen miles southwards, towards Beijing; the total territorial changes might, or then again they might not, be sufficient to give each of the dead six feet of land. But were they tall men and needed seven, they would be out of luck.

  • Border Rectification Agreement: There were some states on my border with Bohemia that were, annoyingly, incomplete; a matter of six provinces. I decided to fix them. In addition to my territorial demands, I required Bohemia to build an army capable of fighting me seriously; Yami assured me – and I could hear the sincerity in his voice – that he would definitely do so. I have altered our borders; pray I do not alter them further.

    Two selected battles of the session – one immense attritional slaughter that would not look out of place in the twentieth century, involving the finest infantry in the world; one cuddly little border skirmish against some random Germans.

  • Copyrighted Unit Types: This isn’t an ingame tech, but it should be; when our player Dragoon is commanding the Latin Empire, then anyone else who uses the “Latin Dragoon” cavalry is clearly in breach of copyright, or at least trademark, and anyone found doing so will be required to pay reparations.

Eurasian players, 1746 – Korea missing although it was in fact subbed during the session.

Americas, 1746.

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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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