Tag Archives: Song of the Dead

We Must Feed Our Sea: The Last Post

  • 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.


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We Must Feed Our Sea: Tribal Wars

Events of the third session:

  • Hornet’s Nest: In search of moral authority, money, and priests to sacrifice to Odin, I raided into Vaniver’s lands. Apparently this reduced his utility function below a satisficing threshold, for he raised a really immense amount of men for such a small incursion; really, I think it might have been cheaper just to let me loot the place. I retreated my raiders into Sweden, and Vaniver besieged Holstein for a month, until he realised that he was only hostile with my army, not my provinces – and also he was taking 20% attrition.
  • Years of Wolf and Raven: Like me in earlier campaigns, Clonefusion has found that it’s one thing to conquer Scandinavia, and quite another to keep the fractious Norse united. We had two savage civil wars ripping through the peninsula, in addition to the wars of conquest all across the Baltic; the wolves and ravens have no cause to complain.
  • Conquest of Pommerania: With much levying of tribal armies, I was finally able to bring Pommerania to heel.
  • Schrödinger’s Courage: King Arni, leading his army in battles against Pommeranians, Saxons, Norsemen, Poles, and Bavarians, had much opportunity to meditate on what happens to a human body when sharp metal is stuck through it; twice, in the heat of battle, he found his courage fading and gained the Craven trait. But, through focus on war and prayers to Odin, he also lost the trait twice, and was again leading the army in the epic Relief of Holstein and the ensuing Baltic March.
  • Gå Fjæra Hjem: There is a joke, which is in Norwegian and relies on cultural knowledge; it is probably not very funny to people who didn’t grow up in Norway in the second half of the twentieth century. In truth, even I, born a generation and a half later than its originator, and in a different area of the country, don’t find it that amusing. But although I don’t expect anyone to laugh, it may give some freshness to my tired old slogan about jokes and winter in Norway; so I’m translating it anyway as context. The story goes that, during the war (incidentally, even after two generations and much fighting, there is still exactly one “the war” in Norway, and I think in most of Europe as well), some men are sitting in a boat-hut in northern Norway, sharing a bottle and cursing the occupying Germans, as one does. Buoyed by liquid courage and camaraderie, each one details the vengeance they’ll take when the war is over, each one more dreadful than the last. At last the word comes around to Fridtjof, who has been quiet, and his friends egg him on to see what awful fate he can come up with to top Vegard’s blood eagle. Fridtjof moves his chaw around in his mouth, spits thoughtfully, and slowly drawls, “Waal, ah don’t care so all-fired mich about it. But ah do think, when the war is over, Jerry should kindly hafta walk the beach home”.From this we can infer, presumably, that it’s no joke to walk a Norwegian beach, filled as it is with treacherous sinkholes, flotsam, jetsam, laggan, and derelict, hardy little thornbush scrubs that clutch at your ankles and tear up your shins, and vicious seabirds that will defend their nests to the death. And, of course, the fiords make the trip vastly longer than it would be if you could just take a damn boat. In actual fact, the Wehrmacht garrison went home by train and then took ship across the Kattegat. In this respect they were luckier than my army. After my glorious victory in the Relief of Holstein, where each side mustered more than five thousand men, the shattered remnants of the army of the false “Kingdom of Saxony” retreated north across the Sound, with my tribal levies in hot pursuit. Unfortunately I had overestimated the stopping power of the defenses in the core of my overlord’s kingdom – Clone was, at this time, engaged in some fairly serious fighting against the wild Finns and against his own rebellious vassals – and the Saxons walked right through, crossed the Baltic at Åland, and got home to their Estonian capital unharmed. My own army was, of course, still in hot pursuit, and by now considerably bigger; so the Saxons, not particularly wanting to fight, marched south – towards Holstein. And that’s how my tribal levies came to complete a walking tour of the Baltic beaches.

Player map, 849. Note James and Hadogei both moved to Anatolia, and Hoonter quit from Catalonia, leaving a much less colourful western Europe; Vaniver and Dragoon have both released kingdoms in accordance with our realm-size limit, so that in terms of dynasties the coverage is more complete than it looks. Note also Clonefusion not in control of Norway, whose fractious lords are on their third revolt of the session.

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We Must Feed Our Sea: Second Attempt

This is the second time we have started a megacampaign named “Song of the Dead”, and although I do not say we have become exceedingly efficient at it, still it went quite fast this time around. We did make some changes: We are starting in 769, and because of the realm-size limit we reached the conclusion that evening out the number of holdings per province, and forbidding tribal starts, was not really necessary. Additionally we have added a number of new achievements, from the bread-and-butter Little Mermaid – hold Sjaelland at designated checkpoints – to the crazily ambitious Zionist Occupation Government, requiring a Jewish dynasty from outside the Levant to form Israel.

I am playing as Holstein, part of Saxony; not quite my usual Norway, but close enough, and holding to the true faith. It may be worth pointing out that the tribe of Saxons is named for their characteristic weapon, the ‘seax’, a single-edged knife or short sword worn at the hip. The word survives into modern Norwegian as ‘saks’, meaning scissors; but in Charlemagne’s age of axe and wolf it retains its original meaning. The Indo-European root means “to cut”; so the demonym “Saxons”, meaningless to our ears, might be translated into modern English either as “Knifemen” or “Cutters”. Of course, I myself am a highly-civilised product of the twentieth century, and would never dream of anything so inefficient as killing my enemies one by one with quiet thrusts to the kidney; I mention the etymology merely as a point of interest.

Last time several people ended up playing in near-isolation due to the realm limit and some dropouts; this time we packed Western Europe with player slots, to ensure interaction. My immediate neighbours are Clonefusion in Sweden, Vaniver in Holland, Yami Phoenix in Bohemia, and Yami Fenrir (I have no idea how we ended up with two ‘Yami’ nicks; what are the odds?) in Bavaria. All expanded more rapidly than I did; I chose my ambition to become king of Saxony at an unfortunate time, just before Charlemagne declared war for the kingdom. However, as there is general agreement that the AI Karlings must go, there will likely be some opportunities.

Some events of the session:

  • The Burning Axe: We turned off diplomatic range so the players could all interact; this had the side effect of making every possible pagan form a defensive pact against the Franks, and mustering 18000 men when Karl tried to invade Saxony. He backed off.
  • Put Not Your Trust In Princes: Holstein starts with two count vassals, both of which, for inscrutable reasons, have the Duke as their heir. One of them was foolish enough (or perhaps foresighted enough) to plot to get a claim on my title; I didn’t bother with the oubliette but just executed, since my only other vassal of note was about to get the chop from my assassination plot. Thus I was able to rapidly get three counties under control, which with tribal levies is a fairly nice army this early in the game.
  • Dannebrog, Storm-Utslagen: Unfortunately, I used that largish army to seize, among other things, Slesvig from Denmark. Shortly thereafter, there was a new king of Denmark, he had a lot of prestige, and between tribal levies and the Tribal Army decision there were six thousand men coming to retake Slesvig. Not expecting this, I had put my levies in their way; thus I lost not only the war – easy come, easy go – but also most of my power base. It does recover, but this meant I was unable to help my liege in what followed.
  • The King Who Knelt: My AI liege decided to attack some minor one-province counts to expand Saxony, and was promptly faced with the same tribal armies that had just killed most of his main vassal’s levies. Saxony lost the war for Brandenburg to the one-province count of Lubusz, got beaten up by some other county with two hundred levies and 2500 tribals out of nowhere – and then Karl declared war for the kingdom, with his threat cooled sufficiently that we didn’t get half of Europe springing to our defense.
  • Baptism by Fire and Sword: The Karlings seem curiously eager to make us undergo that ritual where they pour water on your head; to the point of threatening war if we don’t. It may become necessary, as a tactical concession, to take the cross temporarily. I hear they at least give you a new set of clothes for it, so it won’t be a total loss.Players in 788 – most of them, anyway. Ignore the big white blob, we had Khan play as Karl since he didn’t want a permanent slot and he could keep the AI from doing anything egregiously stupid. A couple of players dropped out before I took the screenshot, but it shows at any rate the difficulty of my position, squeezed into northern Germany between several players who have expanded rapidly.

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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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Filed under Our Doom and Our Pride, Song of the Dead

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