- Corporate Rebranding: In order to demonstrate our commitment to a forward-looking, up-to-date policy for meeting the challenges of the eleventh century, the “Ynglinga Rike” will henceforth be known as “Yngl, Inc” – a lean, modern look for a lean, modern corporation!
- Diversity Initiative: Yngl, Inc is passionate about strengthening diversity and inclusion in our workforce. In token of that commitment, we have sent a strong recruiting taskforce to the Iberian peninsula, an area which (due to a deplorable bias for which we accept full responsibility) had never yet paid the sea-scot. We’re pleased to report that our ships came home full-laden with hard-working, committed, and above all diverse interns, ready for lengthy careers in our farms and workshops.
- No-Score Winner: This session saw some major wars against Italy, or the “Latin Empire” if you prefer, as people decided that Dragoon was way too powerful and should be cut down a notch or two. The Norwegian army covered itself in glory in both these wars by managing not to get killed, which sounds like sarcasm but was actually a fairly uncommon achievement on the coalition side.
- Class Interest: There was some sort of rebellion in Venice, which wouldn’t have been a problem for Blayne except that Dragoon decided he could be doing with some of the rebel lands, apparently not so much for the land as to give Blayne an added incentive to move out of Venice upon conversion. I did not get the full story, but there seems to have been a ‘negotiation’ which took the form of Dragoon gently suggesting that Venice is not viable in the long run and that the Chinese climate is much more conducive to health, Blayne objecting, and Dragoon deciding to demonstrate the truth of his thesis – by attacking the rebels. Now, clearly the inevitable workings of the dialectic will eventually lead to these feudal lords, who can currently throw their weight around against the capitalists, being relegated to the ash-heap of history; but the dialectic works by individuals asserting their class interests, and so I decided to intervene on the side of my fellow merchants. This worked splendidly, between my 14k troops and Blayne’s largish army we actually had more soldiers in the field than Dragoon did. (Which is not to say that anyone was necessarily 100% mobilised. ) Indeed, we quickly reached 100% warscore, and found that we could not finish the rebellion because Dragoon was occupying the area he had attacked for. So we decided we’d have to destroy the Italian army, and joined forces to do so, and meanwhile Dragoon finished his war against the rebels.
- Coalition Warfare: The acquisition of a whole duchy evidently put Dragoon well over his human badboy limit, for a coalition immediately formed to fight him. It was led by Khan, playing the Abbasid (formerly Ivering, and presumably a tale hangs thereby, but I don’t know what it is) state in southern France, the soi-disant “Gaulbasids”. I, being allied to Blayne and not to Khan, could not directly join this war, but there was nothing stopping me from raiding southern Italy to become hostile to Dragoon, and then joining the coalition armies – with which I would not be hostile as long as I stayed out of their territory – for the inevitable climactic battle. Unfortunately, the coalition was entirely unable to coordinate its armies; Dragoon, working on interior lines and with sealift capacity to move quickly around the shores of the Gulf of Lyon, was able to first meet Vaniver’s Bretonnian knights innocently marching down an Alpine pass and crush them in detail, then turn to counter-invade Gaul. I could not help with that, as if I had landed in Gaul I would have been hostile to them! Additionally, I was somewhat paranoid about Dragoon suddenly landing his 20k on my 14k stack and crushing it, so that my army spent most of its time in its boats, trying to figure out where the Italians were, not to mention where the dang coalition army was. Answer, it wasn’t. Vaniver, seeing that his heir was drastically superior to his emperor, committed suicide with the intent of increasing his realm levies by several thousand men; that worked so far as it went, but also threw him out of the war. A rebellion erupted in Atlassia (the other Mediterranean republic) and Dragoon was able to defeat the damaged pike retinue by the skin of his teeth. I’m not sure what happened to the Gaulish army but presumably it wasn’t good; we finally compromised on a white peace. The one bright spot was that the Ynglinga Hird once again covered itself in glory, being the only one of the four coalition armies not defeated by the Italians.
- Ill Met in Italia: Two separate Fylkirs, leading their troops on Italian soil, were badly wounded, one of them so badly that he died. There is no luck in attacking Italy, apparently.
- Conversion! We reached fifty years since the last conversion vote, and this time nobody had any projects they wanted to complete in CK2, nor was anyone in the middle of a civil war. The conversion passed, seven votes to two, and we will now enter the second part of the campaign, Our Doom and Our Pride.
Europe before the conversion, with realm-size enforcement in a few places – for example Kurland was released to reduce Yngl, Inc to the accepted size.
Player slots at conversion.
Europe after conversion. There will be some new slots, as well as five players in Asia; Vaniver (Bretonnia) and Blayne (Venice) are both moving, to Korea and China respectively. The humongous Khazaria will be played by Clonefusion – however, being overrun by nomads in CK2, it’s much less formidable than it looks, roughly half its provinces convert without holdings! Medina will be played by Tazzzo, Hooonter will return to play the Peasant Republic of Bavaria, and we have a promise of a player for Bretonnia. The AAR will continue here, where I’ll likely have a lot to say about the conversion, the auction, and custom national ideas.
Events of the eleventh session:
Player and political maps, 1082. Note the Ynglinga Rike stretching well down into Germany – sadly, most of this will have to be made independent again so as to comply with the realm size limit. Also note Khan in Gaul and Egypt. Hadogei missing again from Anatolia; sadly, we may be about to lose him, his presence has been very sporadic recently.
I am occasionally reminded that, although I am perhaps the most visible player of these megacampaigns, and so may be said to have something of a reputation, this does not come about because I’m actually any good; it’s all persistence, showing up every week, and writing AARs. This was one of those sessions:
- Not Yet Dead: With the excellent Sea King Thorsteinn on the wrong side of sixty and, alas, unlikely to reign much longer, I wanted to use some of his 15000 accumulated prestige on a few kingdom subjugations (a custom take-a-kingdom CB in our mod, 3000 prestige a pop). I therefore decided, as one does, to invade Poland; a subsidiary of Bohemia, spun out by Yami with a king of his dynasty (“von Borghest”) to satisfy the realm-size limit. Beating an AI kingdom is not difficult; I was confident in my ability to take on Yami as well, when he inevitably joined to protect his kinsman; unfortunately I had not reckoned with Dragoon deciding that he is the World Police, and sending 20000 men to protect the Catholic Succession in Poland. Consequently Poland is not yet dead.
- The Svithjod Crusade: It had to come: The thirty-year cooldown ran out, and the Pope declared a Crusade for Sweden. With fifty thousand men on the march, and technology sufficiently advanced that attrition wasn’t much of a factor, I had only one chance: Send my men south to Rome and convince the Pope himself that he was actually losing. Unfortunately Dragoon, though not part of the crusade, took exception to this and I had to retreat; after that there was nothing I could do to prevent the loss of my wealthy heartland.
Diplomatic situation at the beginning of the Crusade.
Not kidding about the fifty thousand.
- Gjenerobringen: Obviously I wasn’t going to let that stand. As soon as Vaniver had set up Sweden to his satisfaction, with Ivering Dukes and an Ivering King, I attacked. Vaniver, naturally, joined the war to defend his kinsman; my army was roughly equal to what he sent to Sweden, plus what the Ivering king could muster. However, his ability to maintain that level of mobilisation was superior. We fought back and forth for several years, during which I won three major battles but was unable to force Vaniver’s army to quit the field; and even with several gifts from various player helpers my reserve of money and men attrited. I was at one point up to 70 warscore, but couldn’t quite close the deal to make it 100; then Vaniver finally put all his knights on one flank and managed to actually win a battle, and I sued for a WP while I still had enough warscore that the AI would agree.
Some victorious but unfortunately not decisive battles of the reconquest.
- The Power of Balance: To his credit, Dragoon did apply the World-Police concept even-handedly; he invaded Sweden, beat the AI like a drum – in this case Vaniver didn’t bother to contest the outcome – and then invited me to retake it from him, which I did. Thanks Dragoon.
- Patches and Rags: While I was busy with all this, Scotland (subbed by Khan) snuck in an attack on my wholly-owned subsidiary, Nordriki, and had 80% warscore before I noticed. I joined the war, but not fast enough to prevent them getting to 100 – they were only two sieges away – and peacing out for Lappland. Now Lappland is actually an insult; the indigenous people who call themselves Sami were called ‘Lapps’, ‘patches’, from the alleged state of their clothing. And indeed those ten provinces are possibly the most worthless in the game. Nevertheless they make an unsightly hole in my tidy Scandinavian Empire and I fully intend that they shall be returned, and Scotland burned to the ground to pay the interest on the loan.
Player map, 1054. Not shown: Scotland and Spain, Castille, Iberia, whatever-the-devil that peninsula is called; both subbed by people who had to leave early.
Events of the ninth session:
- Monarch of the Ocean Sea: Having gotten the election as Doge in his twenties, Thorsteinn has had thirty years to spread the terror of his name; the black dragon-headed ships have drawn up on beaches from the Faeroes to the Crimea. In 1029 he was proclaimed Sea King by the acclamation of the leidang, giving him – in Yngling legal theory at least – the right to tax all ships that move upon the ocean sea, and all who live within three leagues of the coast. I celebrated by painstakingly raiding every coastal province in Scotland.
Thorsteinn. Note the scars, the hook hand, the hard-learned caution with which he now approaches raiding.
- Strategic Debt-Equity Swap: A new Crusade being in the offing, I was naturally worried that it might come to the Baltic; although the Ynglinga Rike is now, probably, a match for either France, England, or Bohemia individually, I would have great difficulty fighting all three, the more so if Scotland and perhaps Castille joined. Fortunately the Pope is currently under the muscular thumb of the Lotharing state that dominates Italy; and I was able to reach an agreement with Dragoon whereby I would give him a gift, and he would direct the Crusade elsewhere. At least, that was my understanding at the time. Dragoon seems to think that he was asking for a loan, as he was at that particular moment being attacked by a coalition of four other players worried about his power to, among other things, direct Crusades, and in dire need of money. With my princely gift, he was indeed able to maintain the field against them, and drive them off; apparently they had difficulty coordinating their armies, and were defeated individually. In any case Dragoon both sent the Crusade to Mali, and later repaid the gift with a handsome interest. It must be admitted, however, that this brilliant stroke of diplomacy may have somewhat annoyed the players of France, Castille, Venice, and England.
- Jomsvikinga Saga: My very own Holy Order finally appeared, modded to be of a useful strength. (Let would-be Crusaders be warned.) I sent my third son Gudfrid to join them, hoping to bind this strong force to my family by making him its head. Alas, he slept with the wrong person, or possibly in the wrong position (the code of the Jomsvikings isn’t against homosexuality, per se, but you’d better not be the bottom) and they burned him at the stake.
Gudfrid. Obviously chastity and celibacy only applies to women.
- Vertical Integration: Using my de-jure claim, I recovered Jutland from the Saxon kingdom.
- Subcontractor Failure: One of my vassals attempted a Holy War for Holstein against the same Saxons; thinking that the war would be easy but I might as well help, I sent my raiders down to get some gold and take any opportunity they found to smash the Saxon armies. Unfortunately, as it was a Holy War, the Saxons had this time provided themselves with three Holy Orders, and any smashing went the other way. Holstein remains German and Christian.
- Conflicts of Interest: Thorsteinn has accumulated 15000 prestige, and is quite unlikely to be able to use all of it in Kingdom Subjugations before he dies. Alas, his sons are nowhere near as good.
- One Special Lion: Once again over the realm-size limit, I spun off Finland to a promising Yngling.
- Yule Break: We’ve had a two-week break for the midwinter blot; in between hanging thralls and laving the æsir-images with horse’s blood, I found some time to update my CK2 converter, which now works for the Japan patch and Cradle of Civilization – to include the new provinces, for which Paradox has not yet found time to update theirs.
Player map, 1031. Missing Gollevainen in England, Ziro in Scotland, and Hadogei in Jerusalem.
Political map, 1031. Note Finland released; I’ll edit them the remaining worthless Finnish provinces and make the Ynglinga Rike lean and hungry once more.
Events of the eighth session:
- Poison Pill: As the seventh session ended I was in the middle of a hostile takeover of Saxony, which at that time was going well. Unfortunately the Saxon board of directors rallied, and passed a poison-pill addendum to their charter, such that if any shareholder with more than ten percent of the shares attempted to acquire a controlling interest, the other shareholders would be issued new stock, drastically diluting the would-be acquirer. And additionally, Vaniver and Gollevainen both joined the war on Saxony’s side, and I could not siege quite fast enough to reach 100%; so I white-peaced.
- By-the-Numbers Sequel: I admit that you’ve probably seen this movie before, but that’s ok, you’re still going to pay for your ticket. I invaded England on a Kingdom Subjugation CB; Vaniver joined on the English side; I wasn’t able to destroy the gathered armies of Christianity, including their very annoying camp followers, the famous HOs.
- Late Fees: I’m told that Blayne had an arrangement with Clone whereby he would give one gift per session, and then Venice would not be raided. This insurance premium has not been paid since 935, in spite of several dunning letters, so I got some repo men together and set sail for the Med to collect the late fees. Unfortunately, it seems that the Adriatic neighborhood has really gone downhill lately; they’ve got a new landlord – Dragoon made Venice tributary – and he’s jacked up the rent and cut down maintenance. A really rough crowd has moved in; and Blayne has apparently spent money upgrading the siege hail, the immense catapults throwing a mix of rocks and incendiaries that protect Venice from intruders by sea. Long story short, my repo men ran into some Venetian backstreet gangs (back-canal?) and came home without the money they’d been sent for.
- Subsidiary: In order to concentrate on my principal areas of focus, and also because I was over the realm-size limit, I have spun off the Kingdom of Nordriki, giving the shareholders a one-for-one share dividend. The initial stock market response has been very positive – the two companies have a combined market capitalisation about 10% over what they did as a single company – indicating that the investors agree with me that this will enable both companies to concentrate on their strengths.
- Empire Building: My middle managers, to their credit, keep trying to expand my market share; this session saw, among others, the Fourth Vestfoldian and Fifth Alfheimr Conquests of Insee Orc. Admittedly Insee Orc remains under Scottish sovereignty, but you have to give some points for identifying the most-synergistic strategy and then committing whole-heartedly to it.
- Aggregate Demand Shortfall: The Black Death washed over Europe, drastically reducing the number of consumers for my products and hence my revenues.
- The Gathering Storm: While nothing definite has been decided, no infallible edict has been handed down from the throne of St Peter, still there is a strong sense in the air that the next Crusade must be in the Baltic.
Europe at the height of the recession.
Players, 996. Notice Finland released, Pruthenia conquered, and new player ‘Gamechanger’ on my eastern flank. Golle suffered a rebellion and was reduced to a kingdom within the British Empire, but the rebel was a kinsman and he’ll switch to playing him when the new session starts, so no permanent damage. Hadogei absent this session, and Jerusalem collapsed as a result.
Political map of Europe, with two interesting characters. Top is my current Doge, whom I managed (at last!) to get elected in his twenties, and who is also Quick. With, I hope, a thirty-year career ahead of him, I hope to make him a Sea King; so far I’ve never gotten higher than Ravager with something like sixty raids. This current one has five raids so far (after the dozen-or-so it took to get Viking, which is MTTH rather than deterministic), but they do accumulate. The second character is an old Yngling battleaxe: A scarred, one-handed Shieldmaiden who has survived two husbands. This by way of warning for anyone considering a crusade in the Baltic: This is the sort of opposition you’ll be facing.
For the seventh session, I abandoned the sinking ship of Holstein and took over Scandinavia from Clonefusion, who had left in frustration at his unending bad luck with rulers. The sensation was somewhat like getting out of an ancient Honda from the second millennium, and pushing down the accelerator on a Tesla; the feeling of immense power under your command is intoxicating. Scandinavia has 3000 men just in retinues, and can call up another 6000 from the demesne; that’s before considering vassals. I don’t think Holstein ever had 9000 men in the field at any time in its 180-year history, to include the invasion of Scotland and the Great Holy War for England.
- Corporate Raiding: Naturally, with all this leverage, I immediately went looking for distressed assets to liquidate. Fortunately, in the current business environment, it wasn’t at all difficult to find some; in fact, it appears that when you park 9000 men in a province, any local assets become distressed remarkably quickly. Across the session, as I acquired new equity, I held fire sales, wrote down goodwill, and took money out of pension plans – in this primitive age, with index funds yet to be invented, most people’s pension plan is their children, and they are surprisingly reluctant to consider that they can just acquire some more. In this manner I acquired several thousand ducats, which I immediately reinvested in the business, ie my demesne. Shareholder value increased considerably.
- Loot Boxes: While looking through the assets of my newly-acquired companies, deciding what to liquidate first, I came across no less than three keys to the Strange Chest you occasionally acquire. Two with gold, one with ancient, useless parchments. (I mean, for all I know they contained the vital information that the DNA of the herb moly is twisted into configurations that channel the fundamental force, and blunt the mental powers of the Jackal… but as Kuipy isn’t playing in this campaign, that would still be useless.) Anyway, I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that Paradox allows gambling in these games.
- Agent-Principal Problems: I made independent several counts who held land directly of me, in an effort to keep below 150 realm size; they were promptly reconquered by my
vassals empire-building middle managers.
- Activist Investing: Noticing that Scotland was having a revolt, I headed over there to help out Zirotron by
raiding the rebels voting my shares for the incumbent Board. Unfortunately I hadn’t paid close enough attention; it turned out that Ziro was the rebels. My bad! I apologised and started raiding voting against the usurper king instead, but to be honest I don’t think I’m going to be very popular in Scotland for a while. However that may be, I do have to salute Ziro’s ability to play tall; in Scotland the baronies would consistently yield 60, 70, even 80 ducats – immensely satisfying after spending years sieging buying distressed real estate in Eastern Europe for shillings on the ducat, and getting a measly 8-12 ducats apiece.
- Hostile Takeover: The kingdom of Saxony is currently held by a branch of the Iverings, Vaniver’s dynasty; it is obviously the rightful clay of the Ynglings. With the prestige of my raiding, I was able to declare a Kingdom Subjugation war, which is currently going quite well – although who knows what will happen next session, when Vaniver returns and, perhaps, decides to defend his kinsman. Fighting a player is quite a different affair. But whatever the outcome I will have burned large parts of Saxony to the ground and extracted all movable goods and some that their owners thought were nailed down, and thus marked my displeasure with the annexation of Jutland, which I had given to an Yngling to keep below the realm size.
I don’t know, maybe people see this all the time? It was new to me, anyway.
Player map, 967. Vaniver missing this session, which is why France looks so empty; James (in Byzantium) dropped due to work changes. Notice Ranger expanding into Mali, and Ziro again in charge of Scotland. If anyone would like to join and pick up a slot, drop me a PM.
Events of the fifth session:
The Death of Princes: Having accumulated 1000 prestige, I converted Ulfr to Norse, and demanded the conversion of my heir, Bersi, who immediately agreed. This done, I was ready to get rid of Ulfr, whose Depression clearly arose from contemplating his stats. Unfortunately, I forgot to pump up my election fund before hitting the suicide button, and lost the Grand Princedom for a few years. Even aside from this, it was not a good session for the Ynglings; I lost two other Grand Princes, and in only one of these three deaths did I manage to win the election.
Deaths of Ulfr, Bersi, and Asbjørn. Note the lost titles for Ulfr and Asbjørn.
Ut! Ut! Ut!: Around 890, the British Isles were in their usual state of meltdown: Both England and Scotland were aflame with rebellion, which was interfering with trade. Despairing of restoring order only through raiding the rebel strongholds, I reluctantly decided that a firm hand was needed; if the kings of Britain could not keep sufficient order in their own houses that an honest merchant could make an honest profit without worrying about bandits, why then the honest merchant would have to keep it for them. I therefore fired up the Kingdom Subjugation CB that our mod adds, against Scotland. (This CB, we later learned, does not work as we thought – when used against the Scandinavian Empire, targeting the Kingdom of Denmark, it handed over the Empire title! Currently it looks like we’ll just remove it from the mod. But Scotland is only one king title anyway, so it wouldn’t have mattered. ) With mercenaries, my army came to four thousand; the Scots could muster three thousand and some random AI stacks of a few hundred, and the Scots rebels were also about three thousand. I had occupied the crown lands surrounding the Firth of Forth and was well on my way to victory when 8000 English troops jumped into the war, Golle having settled his own rebels and being for some reason unwilling to have Ynglings as neighbours. At the same time Bohemia declared war for a border county and crossed the Elbe with five thousand men. Shortly thereafter the English captured my capital and some of my relatives with it, and were able to force peace; the reparations put me in the red and my mercenaries deserted, and I signed over the disputed county to Bohemia and went off in a sulk to raid Livonia.
The Saxon Crusade: As soon as Crusades were enabled, before any human (including Dragoon, nominally Papal Controller) could react, the AI Pope sprang into action. Demonstrating all its usual fine understanding of geopolitics (in particular, it understood that a Norse ruler held the holy grove at Braunschweig), it immediately found the target that would do most do demonstrate the might of the White Christ and the God of Hosts: Saxony, land of the knife-men. I had lost the Dogeship for the second time in the session, but it could hardly have mattered; the Pope himself had fifteen thousand men, and Bretonnia and Leon both joined. Dragoon, perhaps annoyed at this opportunism, offered to excommunicate Vaniver and thus remove Bretonnia from the war; in hindsight this would not have mattered, but at the time I did not know of the army the Pope had raised. I paid him 400 gold, and the Breton emperor was duly excommunicated; but, forewarned, he had raised his own Pope from some random French bishop, and was able to remain in the field. There is currently a war to settle just who is Pope in this here religion anyway, but that does me little good: With the core Saxon lands gone, Denmark was broken and scattered to the four winds.
Call me a pessimist, but that doesn’t look very winnable.
A Broken, Scattered Band: Denmark is now a Republic – not a Merchant Republic, but the unplayable kind. I was relegated to my old title of Holstein, which did manage to survive as a Merchant Republic, but currently this power comprises Sjælland and Norfolk – and Norfolk is under siege by some random count who declared a Holy War for East Anglia against what’s left of Denmark.
What’s left of Denmark. Still, not all is lost: The Ynglings have been defeated and driven into exile before, and survived by their wits and readiness with a knife. Western Europe is divided among many rulers; and in the East is still land for the taking.