Our Doom and Our Pride: Baltic Drama

This session, which ran from 1485 to 1511, had considerable Events and much Drama; my AAR is in part a report on action which is still ongoing in the forums, and whose outcome is not yet fully decided.

  • Finnish Knives: The relentless expansion of the False Empire continued with a demand for the two French vassals of mine that were left over from the Second Baltic Crusade. At the same time Ireland demanded the return of its naval bases in Iceland, and Novgorod decided to take the opportunity to round out its Finnish border. With Varingia supporting its allies, the war was clearly hopeless, and Saarland was persuaded at knife’s-point to break its historic alliance with the Ynglings and switch its protecting Great Power to Novgorod – and incidentally pick up Sjaelland to add to its collection of islands. Against such a coalition resistance was clearly futile in the long term. Fearing worse terms if I extended the fight, I acceded after some brief fighting in Germany.
  • Rough Trade: With the alliance broken, Saarland was free to raid me, and vice versa. We had some discussion in TeamSpeak of whether raiding is actually harmful; we eventually figured out that yes, it does give you devastation, same as other kinds of looting. Still, this is not that damaging; and for a while I thought it was just free money. Now if that were true, then in some sense mutual raids are just trade: Both of us get more money. Of course, it would be a very rough trade, what with the whips, chains, slaves… But as they say in Finland, rough trade is best trade!
  • Spanish Intervention: Searching for allies, my eye fell on the two very small player realms in the West, Leon and Poitou. After Leon lost to AI (!) Andalusia, and Poitou was beaten by AI Aquitaine, these countries have not been significant factors in player diplomacy; but there wasn’t any reason they couldn’t be restored. I accordingly offered Leon an alliance, and sent troops to Iberia to help it defeat Navarra and invade Galicia. We had some success with this, and Leon has made a modest recovery; however, until it decisively beats Andalusia and recovers its cores in Spain, it will be a very minor power. Andalusia, showing unusual good sense for the AI, is currently allied to Ireland and to the HRE.
  • Unbalance of Power: Indeed, the size of the neon-blue Empire has not gone unnoticed. At the end of the session, what we had was an alliance between Mark, by far the largest player, with more than 1500 development, and Dragoon, third-largest with about 700. Additionally Gollevainen, second-largest player, was allied to Dragoon. Further, Mark and Dragoon had recently been at war with Yami and taken territory, and were fairly open about their plan to eventually partition him. It was therefore clearly necessary to put together a coalition against Mark, ideally one which included Dragoon. Negotiations for this, however, broke down, as Dragoon refused to backstab Mark, preferring if necessary to end the game.
  • Terms of Surrender: Dragoon offered the following terms to the European powers, as a modus vivendi to continue the game:
    <quote=Dragoon>Me and Mark are resolved to Win the game in Eu4 if that becomes an option. All Terms War or Otherwise are Rejected, I’m with the Holy Roman Empire. I hope I don’t have to see any of you against us on the battlefield.Here are our Terms.1. Great Moravia is to be Partitioned, This is unavoidable. I can see about bringing Mark around to apologize for being a Dick to Yami once we are all on friendlier terms.
    2. King of Men’s Territories in Germany split between Mark and Myself at our discretion.
    3. France and Spain are Mark’s spheres, and Players there are considered under his protection. Foreign Colonies in these regions are not to be tolerated.
    4. All Lands East of the Elbe and Carpathian Mountains are dictated to by my Area of Influence, The Remains of Lithuania, Pomerania and Poland shall go to me, and my Current Border Deal with Golle I will honor.
    5. An End to All Piracy and Coastal Raiding in Europe.
    6. Ireland and Saarland is are not to be attacked, over their Northern Islands and Territories, and they will be allowed to take Southern England unhindered. Do as you wish in regards to America and beyond.
    7. The Establishment of a Permanent European Diplomacy Room of a similar vein to the one the Asians have where Disputes, Trade agreements, Border Swaps, Institution Development and such will be discussed.
  • The End is Not Yet: In view of this dominant alliance, I called a vote on whether to end the campaign and return to Crusader Kings for another go. The vote is very close, still hanging in the balance in fact; it will depend, I think, on the outcome of this session, which may be the last.
  • The False Emperor: During the vote, Vaniver pointed out that Mark had been well over the realm-size limit at conversion, with 289 baronies as against the limit of 150. Although Mark says he openly bragged about this, and mentioned it twice to Dragoon, both GMs somehow managed to miss it, and to think that the 800 development the HRE had in 1444 was merely a quirk of the converter. Some discussion ensued on how to handle this. A rollback to 1444 with the HRE split in two was one possibility, but nobody liked it. Mark pointed out that, if he had released a large nation before conversion in order to get under the realm-size limit, he could then have bid for a personal union with it and gotten the development that way; against this, it’s not clear that he would have won that bid. I eventually ended up with a compromise which I am sure will please nobody: The HRE returns many of its recent gains to Germany, France, dez Neigh, Aquitaine, and Serbia, and its remaining northern territories are split off as a vassal.
  • No Man Knows the Day or the Hour: We will play this session; it is not clear whether there will be a next one.

Europe in 1511, after editing the HRE. Loon is an HRE vassal.


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Our Doom and Our Pride: The German War

As my sinuses are clogged, preventing my narrative genius from coming out of my brain, I return to the events-of-the-session format.

  • Naval Superiority: At the end of the previous session I was out of manpower and at war with a coalition of three semi-powerful AI states: Germany, France, and Alsace. Between them these countries had forty thousand men in the field, while my army was down to fourteen thousand – and as noted, no manpower. However, of those forty thousand, thirty thousand had decided to besiege the capital of my vassal Bornholm, in Fyn; presumably the plan after that was to enter unfortified Sjælland, then Skåne and my economic heartland and force me to the peace table. This excellent plan foundered on the splendid Yngling navy, although in truth it would have foundered on any navy whatsoever, since Germany and Alsace are landlocked and France hadn’t built any ships. My otherwise-useless galleys from the conversion sat in Öresund and blocked both straits from Fyn, leaving my heavy ships free to finance the war by raiding the North Sea coast. With thirty thousand men trapped on Fyn, my army could fight on reasonably even terms with the Alsatian stack still on the loose, and with the various rebel militias that Germany mustered to the defense of its homeland. I ended the war by taking Lauenburg, connecting my Baltic with my North Sea coastlines.
  • Baltic Disagreement: I had a claim on Kønigsberg, left over from a random inheritance in Crusader Kings; as the city was held by AI Lithuania, I shrugged and said “why not”? Unfortunately there turned out to be a good reason why not: Dragoon considered the whole of the Baltic states, even to the coast, to lie within his sphere of influence. “Stay on your side of the Baltic”, quoth he, and was not impressed when I rejoined that that is my side of the Baltic. (I observe that the Baltic shore, being continuous, doesn’t in fact have ‘sides’; you can walk dry-shod from Stockholm to Kønigsberg, if you’re patient.) I was not prepared to tangle with Varingia at the present time, and backed down, taking money but no territory.
  • End of the Long Night: The First Baltic Crusade, at the beginning of the century, prospered much better than the Second, and seized Norway for the religion of slaves. I had gone some way towards rectifying that in Crusader Kings, retaking Norway’s economic heartland (I mean, such as it is) in the eastern valleys, and its military and cultural core in Trøndelag, in successive Holy Wars. However, the Second Baltic Crusade did manage to prevent me from a full reconquest, or from declaring a Great Holy War to plant the oaken groves in Christian territory. Now, with Leon and the von Britannia dynasty in collapse, I was able to attack a diplomatically isolated Norway and force it to its knees in a single swift campaign, seizing the Faeroes as a naval base and imposing my sovereignty over the whole of Scandinavia once again. Incidentally this brought me to four vassals: Bornholm, Dauphine, Kotivarsa, and Norway – just one away from the Splendor objective of five.
  • Naval Supremacy: With my manpower recovered, I turned my eyes west. The same First Baltic Crusade had delivered strategically-important Iceland to Eire, which presumably intended it as a base for colonising North America. This would place them in competition with my ally Saarland, and – now that I had the Faeroes as a base – also with myself. Moreover, James had several times tried to bully Saarland into giving up the colonisation project, demanding the handover of Shetland, and later of the Canaries. It seemed to me that it might be an auspicious time to demonstrate that I will not stand for this sort of treatment of my allies; and besides, Iceland is anciently a possession of the Norwegian crown, and thus my rightful clay. (And having Norway as a vassal gave me a conquest CB.) I built up my army and navy slightly, then looked for the correct moment; it came when the Irish navy tried to occupy the same spot of ocean that the Yngling Navy was, at that moment, upholding my sovereign rights in. I should note that Yngling custom and international law differ slightly on this point. International law (as practiced by Christian countries) holds that waters more than three sea-miles from the coast are open to all; Yngling custom holds that our navy extends our sovereignty wherever it goes. There are some other differences of a similar nature; for example international law recognises property rights for Christians, while Yngling custom recognises only temporary rights of management, to end when we find it convenient to come and get our stuff. But I digress. The dragon-headed ships beat the coracles like a drum, first driving them into an Icelandic port and blockading them there, then – when my army arrived to take possession – following them to the Orkneys and sinking the last Irish ships when they were again driven out of port by my army. With complete naval supremacy I could split Ireland into its constituent islands and fight each one separately, and I was getting ticking warscore from Iceland. However, there was no need. James tried once to throw my army back into the sea; failing, he cold-bloodedly cut his losses and offered me Iceland in a peace treaty. Not wanting to be perceived as greedy, and having made my point, I accepted.

Battle of Sutherland, the only major clash of the armies. Note the difference in tactics and discipline.

European players at the end of the session. Hadogei was absent and is not shown in Leon.

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Song of the Dead: Our Doom and Our Pride

Song of the Dead in the South – in the sun by their skeleton horses,
Where the warrigal whimpers and bays through the dust
of the sere river-courses.

We Must Feed Our Sea, the first part of Song of the Dead, is at an end; here begins the second part, Our Doom and Our Pride. At such a time I customarily have a look at the geostrategic situation, with a particularly sharp eye out for who is exposing a kidney and can be usefully stabbed in the back attacked.


Here then is the map of Europe in this year that the Christians call 1444:

Note the splendid wolf’s-head banner of the Ynglings, courtesy of Blayne, “The Professor” on these forums, who played Lazuli in CK but has now moved to China. “Sable a wolf’s head gules”, a blazon to strike fear anywhere within a day’s ride of the high-tide mark; “a wolf’s head” is also an expression meaning an outlaw, an enemy of all mankind, who may be slain without paying any were-gild and who in consequence kills and robs for his living. It is a suitable banner for the Ynglings, and for the only surviving Norse power in Christian Europe; in the high north we have nothing but contempt for the religion of slaves.

Limiting the map to player realms:

In addition we have two players in China, plus Kongo, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan; but they fall outside the saga for the present. There is, incidentally, room for more over in Asia, and if the large AI realms (Mali, Rajputana, Samanids, Telingana, Lazuli) survive, we will open them to players in 1550. I’ve left out Varingia’s personal union with Alania; Great Moravia (about where Austria-Hungary was in OTL) has a personal union with Serbia. Finally, the AI powers in western Europe have been put into the Empire:

This is intended to give them a little more defensive power against the rapacious humans surrounding them. Observe that Europe is not fully divided between the players, and that the largest player realms are roughly equal; that’s because we had a realm-size limit in Crusader Kings, which more or less accomplished its purpose of preventing runaway blobbing and one player or alliance bloc becoming dominant in the first part of the game.

Player countries

I am playing the Ynglinga Rike, a Dutch Republic following the Norse faith and dominating most of Scandinavia. The first map is decorated with my custom ideas, known as the Viking; it is a fierce and aggressive set, suited for sea warfare and landing the long ships on enemy coasts to raid and pillage. My first act was to burn the Christian coasts from the Gulf of Finland to the mouth of the Thames; it’s true that this annoyed some of the other players, but I needed the money for mercenaries to fight off the people I’d annoyed. Immediately to my east is my ally the Peasant Republic of Saarland, with the somewhat similar Pirate ideas. East of them again is Great Novgorod, playing the Banker set and warily watching the Noble Republic of Varingia to their south, while preparing to expand east into the steppe. Novgorod is played by Gollevainen, a veteran of these megacampaigns; Varingia by Dragoon, the vice-GM and perhaps our strongest Crusader Kings player. He has got the immensely strong Artilleryman set, which will make him a land power to be feared once artillery becomes powerful. The idea sets were assigned by an auction, using achievement points acquired in Crusader Kings; Dragoon, with the highest score, had his choice of which to take and used them like a scalpel; hence the personal union with Alania and the French Musketeers splendor bonus, both of which were also auction benefits.

Moving west from Varingia we come to Great Moravia, with the Mongol ideas giving them very powerful cavalry – almost the opposite of Varingia, this makes them a powerful land power in the early years when cavalry dominates, but weaker later on. Moravia is also unfortunate in being squeezed between Varingia and the Holy Roman Empire, with the Samurai set encouraging them to be at war at all times. This ‘Holy Roman Empire’ is neither holy, Roman, imperial, or ingame; it is only the localisation text Mark chose for his nation. Indeed this alleged Empire is in fact an Ambrosian Republic. We also have the actual ingame HRE, which is AI. But whether accurately named or not, the Holy Republican Empire is the largest human power, and it seems likely that it will be necessary to resist its encroaching on High Germany. The Germans are the lawful prey of the Ynglings, and have been so from the first Great-Game timeline.

West again we find Leon, the second-ranked nation in CK, with the Globalist ideas making it a strong coloniser. It was apparently much damaged by the disastrous invasion of Sweden in CK, for Andalusia to its south – an AI nation, no less! – gave it a good and well-deserved kicking in the first session. Tiny Poitou in the southwest of France is played by Zirotron with the Colonizer ideas; although he was not very successful at Crusader Kings, in fact the only player who never became a kingdom, Leon’s troubles may be his opportunity – presumably they will both compete for American colonies. North of that, the British Isles are dominated by Eire, whose Guardsman ideas will give it excellent infantry in a few years. Eire is a Polish Monarchy, and has already taken over much of what is England in this 1444 map. They will be a major rival when the Scandinavian republics try to colonise our rightful clay across the Atlantic.

Finally we have two surviving Muslim powers, Aswad and Mordor, with Crusader (yes, irony!) and Merchant ideas respectively. Mordor of the burning-eye flag rejoices in the Ottoman form of government; isolated in the southeast part of the map, it interacted very little with any other player realm in Crusader Kings, but that will presumably change now.

These are the people who played the two hundred years of Crusader Kings (excepting Blayne of the Lazuli, who as noted moved to China). In addition Khan is playing Candravamsa over in India, with Mercenary ideas and the Prussian government form. We split Ming into its component warlords, and have two players there, Blayne playing Tianlan (renamed from Wu) with the Philosopher King ideas, and Hooonter playing Xi, so far without a custom idea set. Vaniver, eliminated early in CK (he was playing a Muslim nation in Andalusia) is returning is Korea with the Scholar idea set. The immensely skilled Ragatokk is joining us as Uesugi, again without custom ideas so far, and is well on his way to uniting Japan. Kuipy, well known for his plots spanning centuries, has taken Kongo, slightly buffed by edits; and finally we have FailedStrategy in Mongolia.

Session events

I began at war with no less than three player realms, namely Eire, Leon, and Varingia; although allied to Saarland in this Second Baltic Crusade, my situation would be quite bad if those players had intended to press home their attack. Fortunately the gods are with me; in Crusader Kings they sent the Great Plague which, in combination with the snow and the mountains – it is never a joke to fight in Norway in winter, and all the less so for the plague – melted away the Leonese armies that invaded Sweden. Having failed of their purpose in that game, the Crusaders (prompted no doubt by the real gods whispering in their ears, perhaps when they thought themselves closest in prayer to the false White Christ) appear to have simply given up; all three player realms offered me peace without concessions within a year of the game start, leaving me to snap up their minor AI allies as vassals.

I was, unfortunately, somewhat less successful in the First Baltic Crusade back in CK, which is why Norway to my west is currently an independent nation; I was unable to complete the reconquest in CK, but as long as no player protects it, it doesn’t look too difficult here. However, the project will have to wait until my current war is over; the multiple vassalisations seem to have made the AI nervous, for Germany, France, and Alsace formed a coalition against me. Between them they have about three times my army; fortunately they marched three-fourths of it into Fyn, where my superior fleet is keeping it bottled up while I conquer their homelands. Their defense now consists mainly of the rebels infesting their homelands. Unhappily a large rebel stack surprised my army as I was besieging Paris, which is why I’m out of manpower as the second session begins.

Finally, here is the map of Europe at the end of the first session:

Note the smoothing out of Varingia, the HRE, and Novgorod; Eire expanding into England; the drastic reduction of Leon; and Candravamsas absorbing the neighboring minors.

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Not an AAR: Tenth Session

Much delayed events of what turned out to be the final Crusader Kings session:

  • Reconquest: It was slow work as I had to do it one duchy at a time, but I managed to reconquer about half of Norway.
  • The Black Death: It didn’t reach quite everywhere, but as shown in the map, the rats from the east were well on their way to the Bay of Biscay when their advance was interrupted by session’s end.
  • Second Baltic Crusade: When Heaven demonstrates Its wrath, men become desperate; the brain-addled Christians, in particular, decided that the Plague was their god’s way of telling them to spread their faith at the sword’s point. (Admittedly this is very consistent with the rest of their dogma. Our scholars of comparative religion have yet to find a stimulus that they do [i]not[/i] interpret in this fashion.) They therefore declared the Crusade for Svea Rike; for complicated theological reasons this came precisely thirty years after the end of the Crusade for Norway.
  • The White Death: For reasons best known to themselves (perhaps they were complicated theological ones), the Crusaders launched their invasion of Scandinavia just as winter was beginning, which was also just as the plague was arriving. This is evidence that the disease is a blessing sent by Hel, to cleanse the human race of stupidity; the Norse armies did not need to lift a finger in actual defense, per se. It’s no joke to fight in Norway (or Sweden) in winter in any year, but in combination with the plague it turned out to be ludicrously deadly. I merely parked my levies on my fleet, out of range of the attrition, and occasionally landed for long enough to mop up a stack that had started fifteen or twenty thousand strong. This did have the unfortunate side effect of giving my king scurvy, from being at sea for months on end, but that was basically our only casualty in this war. We were, however, interrupted by the session’s end before I could reach 100% warscore, so the crusade will convert into EU4, with perhaps slightly unfortunate effects on the defensibility of Scandinavia. Nevertheless I remain optimistic; the peninsula is also well suited for defense by a strong fleet, which I have, and decades of investing the income from raiding have given me forts in mountain and forest provinces which suffer from hard winters.
  • Vox Popoli, Vox Diaboli: We had decided to start voting on whether to convert to EU4 after 200 years, and this session we passed that threshold. This incident actually demonstrates one of the ways that games allow us to explore unlikely corners of theory space. Game theorists and social scientists have demonstrated mathematically that democracy needn’t always have optimal outcomes, but of course this is just airy theorising with no application in the real world – until you start playing games, that is; then you can tweak the rules to construct the weirdest imaginable coalitions, preferences, and utility functions. Our rules had apparently created one of those corner cases in the parameter space of democracy that you can obviously never get in real politics, and there was a majority for the wrong decision: We are converting to EU4. Hence my silence for the last few weeks, I’ve been frantically upgrading the converter to deal with the latest DLCs. Incidentally, when I get rich I’m going to buy a large amount of Paradox stock, get myself onto its board, and make it my mission in life to fire the idiot who changed all the savegame keywords. Failing that, I hope he at least had to hunt down a bunch of hardcoded string literals in half a dozen different source files.

Advance of the Black Death; also showing the successes of Norse arms in our reconquest of Norway and defense of Sweden.

Final political situation. Note the many remaining strong AI realms, due to our strict realm-size limits; the player realms are Eire, Aquitaine, Leon, Nordriki, Saarland, Africa, Great Moravia (the Hungary-ish brown blob), Rus, Lazuli (the Balkan realm in imperial purple), Varingia (grey Ukrainian power, south of Rus), Hedarabia (south of Egypt), and Mordor (into which one does not simply walk). Some of the dynasties have outlier kingdoms granted to brothers or younger sons, which count for custom score and may in some cases convert as personal unions, but even so there are multiple power vacuums in this map. Presumably they will be rapidly filled in EU4.

The corresponding starting situation in EU4 – the conversion may get some final tweaks but the borders won’t change much, if at all.

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Not An AAR: Ninth Session

  • Another Such Victory: At the beginning of the session I was at war with three players in a Crusade for Norway, and the warscore stood at 74% against me. Two crusader armies (Ukrainian and Italian) were besieging southern Norway, and a third (Leonese) was skulking about the east side of the Jotunheim (the mountain range that divides western and eastern Norway; in Crusader Kings it is impassable to military units), apparently not quite sure whether to go for my capital and accept the attrition (it’s no joke to fight in Norway in winter), or to go east into Sweden and return in the summer. However, I had secured support from several people, and sufficient money poured in that I was able to hire more mercenaries. At the same time Hadogei made up his mind and the Leonese army, seven thousand men, came north towards Nidaros, challenging my main stack – five thousand strong – to fight. Since I had three thousand men offshore in boats, where I had been getting ready to sail south to recapture some of the occupied land, and since Nidaros attacked from the south is a strong defensive position – mountains and a river – I decided to accept battle. That was a mistake. Not because I lost; on the contrary I was well on my way to beating the Leonian army. However, that took time, and the crusading players, realising that they were about to lose a large amount of warscore, Took Steps; in particular they ordered their armies to assault the sieges they were in. That cost them heavily, but the occupation of Akershus tipped the warscore to 100%, mainly by losing me the “holds Norway” ticking warscore. The AI, for once, was on the ball, and the Pope forced the peace through before I could finish trouncing the Leonese. For reasons entirely unclear, the Pope also awarded the victory to Leon, which had fought one and a half battles with me, rather than Italy, which had occupied several of my provinces.
  • The Forty-Year Night: Norway now languishes under colonial rule, a Christian “King” of the von Britannia family. Of course, such a person has only the form, not the substance, of kingship; submitting, as they necessarily must, to the Pope on Earth and to their god in Heaven, they are not true sovereigns, but subordinates – servants, not masters. A king of the Norse faith is genuinely sovereign, admitting no superior; even Odin, the giver of victory, is only first among equals in the host of brave men who will meet the ice-giants on Vigrid field. However, theology aside, it is a fact that Norway is now a colony; I trust that in this timeline the liberation will require only forty years, and not four hundred as in ours. (Note for those not familiar with Norwegian history: During the national-romantic revival of the 1850s some historians began to refer to the union with Denmark, from 1397 to 1814, as the “four-hundred-year night”; I don’t think you would find anyone doing so unironically these days, but ironic or not it is an expression I think most Norwegians would recognise.)
  • The Viking War: I was left with a claim to Norway; since Hadogei didn’t keep the kingdom as part of his played realm, but handed it out to a relative, I was able to press the claim almost immediately with a good chance of success, since I’d be fighting the AI. Indeed this came very close to working. However, the AI, being under attack by a character of the true faith, was able to attract one of the Hel-damned Holy Orders that infest the Christian world like lice; with ten thousand fighting men, and the mountains of Norway for a bastion, they were able to draw out the fight for a considerable time. I did eventually manage to bait them into attacking me across a river into a mountain, with reasonably equal numbers and good commanders on my side. But my shout of “Victoglory” was premature; I won the battle but ran out of money before I could complete the sieges I needed. My mercenaries promptly deserted, and I accepted a white peace.
  • The Nidaros War: King Anlaufr, “The Sword of the Allfather”, died of cancer before I could renew the war against the colonial regime. His son Snorre (named “the Sword of Frey” for his successful wars against the breakaway lords in Sweden) had only a weak claim, which I could not press; I perforce fell back on a Holy War for Nidaros, which is not yet over. Nidaros is my traditional capital in this timeline, and also contains the third holy site, which I need to make myself Fylkir. Unfortunately, while I’m superior to the Norwegian kingdom on its own, the entire von Britannia family seems to have joined the wars in High Germany, and to have combined their armies under Norwegian command – which, upon my declaration of war, promptly brought home all eighteen thousand men from whatever they were doing in Germany. Some testing in single player reveals that this is a mistake on the AI’s part; my armies are sea-mobile and don’t have to fight if I don’t want to, and it’s no joke to wander around above the supply limit in Norwegian winter. But attriting them down is going to take a while, and meanwhile the risk of Leonese or Irish intervention looms.

I needed some money for the Nidaros War, and decided to go get it from my erstwhile enemies, the kings of Leon. It turns out that the cockpit of Europe is living up to its nickname at the moment; northern Germany is a chaos of contending armies – in the middle of which my raiding stack is quite calmly helping itself to a couple hundred ducats. My raid only makes me hostile to the Leonese, who apparently have other things to do with their main forces at the moment; so my army is sitting there in the middle of the war, besieging a random castle, with a dozen armies walking by giving friendly waves – “Oh hai, raiding the Leonese? Kk not my problem, thxbai”.

King Snorre, “the Sword of Frey”. A formidable character even with only half his rightful kingdom.

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Not An AAR: Eighth Session

  • Fall of the Island Fortress: My vassals, like moths seeking self-immolation in candle flames, kept flinging themselves at the Orkneys; three separate county conquests were declared against it this session! Despairing at the cost to my moral authority, and having gotten a respectable army together, I finally joined one of these wars. The Holy Order that has been faithfully defending the Island Fortress through these wars was thus decoyed out to attack my province of Caithness (the northern tip of Scotland), and I landed my army in the Orkneys to await their counterattack. It came, I won, and the Island Fortress is at last part of the Norwegian kingdom.

    The Island Fortress stands firm against the pagan hordes. This is just before I got tired of them tanking my moral authority.

  • Set England Ablaze: In search of moral authority (and gold) I systematically raided the entire east coast of England, from the Thames to the Ouse.
  • New Dawn of the Old Gods: A number of failed invasions and holy wars passed out of men’s memory in the 1010s, increasing Norse moral authority to the high thirties. By dint of much raiding of temples, intervening in the prepared invasion of one of Gollevainen’s Dukes against Denmark, and generally speaking doing my utmost to turn northern Europe into a smoking wasteland, I managed to raise this to fifty, and (as I already controlled three holy sites) was thus able to reform the Germanic faith. Triumph! Victory! Glory to the Allfather! It is said that the smoke of the Great Blot I ordered in Uppsala was visible from the Saar Tower in Finland, a hundred miles over the water; and men shivered at the sight, not knowing when the dragon-headed ships might pull up on their own beaches to disgorge bearded warriors in search of captives to burn for the glory of Odin.
  • The Sword of the Allfather: Anlaufr gained this illustrious title by descending on the jarl of Ostergotland, a heretic who preferred the old ways, and demonstrating that Odin’s favour is with the reformed religion.

    Anlaufr, King of Norway, the Sword of the Allfather, pictured at the culmination of his career of fighting in Odin’s name.

  • The Cleansing Flame: Unfortunately I was not the only one with a cool nickname. With the pagan defensive attrition removed, a crusade to cleanse the North with fire and sword was declared almost immediately. Crusade for Norway! Obviously, the loss of my main kingdom – something over half my territory – would be a devastating blow to the true faith; for this reason I am confident Odin won’t let it happen. Nevertheless the position looks somewhat dire at the moment; no less than three powerful player kingdoms – Leon, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Ukraine – have large armies in my territory, and my levy is retreating towards Nidaros after a disastrous battle.
  • The West’s Awake: Ireland stands poised to send ten thousand screaming gallowglasses to my coast, to settle who is in charge of the British Isles once and for all.
  • No Joke to Fight in Norway in Winter: Although the extra-special pagan attrition is gone, I still have the regular winter/mountain attrition; I believe my enemies won’t be able to catch my retreating army without marching through inland, winter, mountain terrain and melting away as a result. So I have some breathing space.

    Diplomatic situation: War with three powerful kingdoms.

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Filed under Song of the Dead, We Must Feed Our Sea

Not An AAR: Seventh Session

  • Eclipse of the Old Gods: In spite of massive raiding against the target kingdoms, I failed to make my vassals’ invasions of Denmark and England succeed; as for the invasion of Dragoon’s vast Ukraine-Poland blob, forget it. Consequently the moral authority of Norse paganism was precisely zero for most of the session. These are dark times for the faith of fighting men.
  • Island Fortress: No, not Britain, nor England. For the second time, the Orkneys have held off a county conquest; and although they were nominally fighting one of my vassals, which might have been a fair match, I joined the war (since I had an army raised and nothing better to do with it), so the single-province Orkneys were facing the full might of Norway. It turns out that it’s really difficult to shift a Holy Order defending a hilly island. In truth the AI also had some difficulty; early in the war I managed to land in the Orkneys while the Holy Order was off besieging Caithness. That was before I knew what I faced; thinking I was fighting only the Orkneys, I just put a stack of 2000 men in, enough to siege the island down, and went off to look at what my raids in Sweden were doing. The next thing I know, I have a popup saying that my 2000 men just held off 5000. Unfortunately they took such damage in doing so that when the HO had recovered they managed to kick me off; and from then on I couldn’t win a single battle. (No doubt due to that zero moral authority – clearly, Odin was off in a sulk.) From here on, whenever I have occasion to refer to the Orkneys, it will be as “the Island Fortress of the Orkneys”.
  • Am I My Sweet Brother’s Keeper?: Sweden, under the rule of the Traitor-Kings, is succumbing to the internal rot that will eventually make all Christian kingdoms fail; the process is particularly fast here in the north, where the people have no painfully-acquired immunity to the worst excesses of the religion of slaves. No less than six of my vassals (not counting human-played Finland) declared war for various counties, and they all won, too – possibly with some involvement from the King’s armies, it’s true. There is not much left of Sweden, now.
  • Triple Telemark: Of the six vassals who declared war on Sweden, three did so for the single county of Telemark. It follows that two of their wars ended inconclusively. Fortunately this does not count as a failure for purposes of moral authority.
  • The Friend Zone: One of the more pernicious effects of the religion of slaves is that it forbids concubines. This makes it very difficult to get a proper Yngling breeding program going; I’ve been forced to select concubines more because they were available than because they had attractive traits. On the plus side, this does mean that my armies are full of horny teenagers taking out their frustrations on the rest of the world.
  • Sisu Transformation: The successful conquests put me over the realm limit of 150; at Ranger’s suggestion I cut Finland loose, and the Saars once more face the world without the protection of Odin. On the plus side I suspect that nobody wants to stick their army in crazy.
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    Filed under Song of the Dead, We Must Feed Our Sea