Monday, October 25, 2004

1327 - My Response

The aim this season is to involve other's in my war, secure as much as possible of my reconquest, disrupt the Byzantine, maintain my gold supply. There are major diplomatic developments unfolding as we write this, so this may be updated.

Taking advantage of growing international hostility towards the Byzantine is the unifying link in the tactics used to attain the above objectives. Thus, we have surrendered Angora to the Hungarians, to give him a base to build from. It will also make Byzantium more paranoid. We have also ordered that, if we still control the province at year's end, Smyrna is to be given to the Venetian. We don't think he is at war with Byzantium, so his buffer status will be a surprising thorn in the Byzantine's side. Of course, Smyrna can be taken by the emporer this turn no matter what we or anyone else does, so we don't wish to invest resources into it. Giving it away would be making something out of nothing. It would also draw the Ventian into the conflict.

We invade Bythnia with raiders from Smyrna, if Byzantium concentrates totally on his west, he will become further restricted to the East. We march swordsmen from Smyrna to plunder Nicea. Once again, he can take this province so we are investing the minimum in it. The remaining cavalry in Smyrna march to Trezibond, staying out of reach of the Byzantine once they have passed Nicea.

The cavalry in Angora evacuate through Ankara, along with their attached skirmishing unit, to Edessa. The cavalry then ride to Antioch to be useful on the first phase next year to defend either or both of my cities (Edessa and Jerusalem). Some of my Edessan infantry march South to Jerusalem, the remainder form a basic garrison in the capital. The Guards in Edessa march to Ankara to escort the cavalry riding from Angora to Edessa. My Jerusalem cavalry hold the city before relocating to Antioch to join my strategic reserve of cavalry.

We recruit garrison troops in Edessa and Jerusalem, looking to hold them as long as possible. We hope that our allies will start taking up the slack in the fight against the empire this season. We can't expect to survive any longer in a meaningful way unless they do so.

A secret conspiracy now meets on a yahoo group site, and lays plots to further our chances of survival. Present members include ourselves, King Stan of Venice, King Georgio of Hungary and Khan Kilroy of the Golden Horde. The Mamluke Sultan is presently being considered by the membership for an invitation to join. This is an exiting and intersting development. More on it later.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

1327 - Situation

The war continues,with gains and losses on both sides. I occupied three population centres, Angora and Jerusalem, which were both neutral, and Smyrna, which had previously been annexed by Byzantium. All three involved battles. I lost a guard unit in Angora and another in Jerusalem, where I also lost four horse archers. Smyrna fell without loss to myself. The Byzantine landed his marines in Miletus. My raids on Tarsus and Iconium failed, with the loss of the raiders in each case.

My forces are scattered over a wide area, from Smyrna to Jerusalem. Edessa recruited a garrison of skirmishers, with a front guard unit.

The Byzantine left his large army standing in Tarsus, detatching three horse archers to protect Iconium. He concentrated his recruitment in Byzantium where there is now a moderate sized army. His small fleet remains in the Eastern Med, and his Black Sea fleet has returned to Byzantium.

The international situation is getting quite mirky. Hungary lost Transylvania to the Bavarian in what looks like a major battle. He also gave provinces in the Western Balkans to Venice to create a shield against further Bavarian aggression. On his Black Sea coast, he gave a Bessarabia to the Horde. The Hungarian took two provinces from the Byzantine in the North Balkans, and is one province away from Byzantium now. Sadly, the only population centre he presently controls is Serbia. The Horde Fleet in the Black Sea loaded a Hungarian force of light cavalry, but I accidentally gave permission for the Horde to land in Trebizond, so the Hungarians couldn’t be landed.

The Egyptian expanded West along the North African coast, and conquered Syria to the East of Jerusalem. His main force is in the Western part of his domain.

Hungary and Egypt granted me passage through their realms. Hungary and the Horde are working close together (with me as a third party). It appears that the Horde has also taken land from Lithuania. The Order is in deep trouble against Poland, who continues to take provinces from him. Thus, an increasing portion of the Eastern half of the map is a patchwork of ownership and conflict, with two blocks of nations seeking dominance. Venice and Egypt are tending towards assisting Hungary and myself, but still bide their time.

In the West, the situation is not so confused on the ground, although it is just as conflict ridden. France is a unified block, but appears to be facing off England and Arles. Castile continues to expand in Iberia. Aquitane falls to the English, and Aragon is being chewed up by its neighbors. Sicily builds castles and stays silent.

Thus, though still dire, the overall situation is increasingly pregnant with possibility. My original strategy of trying to suck others into my conflict with Byzantium is working. The trick is to now convert this momentum into a killing blow before the Byzantium receives reinforcements from his allies. The telling factor will be how Hungary and myself can coordinate our assaults to keep him off balance (as he could defeat either one of us without too much difficulty). To this end, we will rely upon our allies.

Monday, October 18, 2004

1326 - International Update

A brief reprise on recent developments internationally. What follows doesn't affect what I intend to do. Conversely, it gives me more reason to do it.

All of my allies are now corresponding. The Horde and Venice are going to take over buffer states offered by Hungary. Hungary is preparing to abandon provinces to either Bavaria or his allies in order to survive. He then agrees that the Byzantine should be cracked as the more vulnerable in the enemy alliance. Accordingly, he is seeking future permission to land a force on my black sea coast (with the Horde providing a fleet), and even a promise to cede him Angora as a base from which to build if he loses his European cities. We have agreed with these ideas.

Venice has confirmed that he and the Horde will receive Hungarian border provinces. The Horde has confirmed plans for shipping the Hungarian army if necessary. Hungary has implied that he will fight to the death. And best of all, the Mamluke appears ready to march West, and take to the seas with a navy strong enough to take on Byzantium.

In other words, the net is closing on the emporer. I should survive if my allies are not corrupted. And the Emporer should be ground to dust! I'll let the others fight over Constantinople (though I've told Hungary I won't mind if he takes it). As long as we have enough provinces between Byzantium and our heartland the owner of the metropolis won't be a great threat.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

1326 - My Response

I have gone for the more conservative option. My Nicean army will retake Smyrna, leaving only a pillaging unit behind. Foot units in Ankara and Trebizond will combine with cavalry from Edessa to take Angora. My main cavalry force rides from Edessa through Antioch, to meet up with a guard seige unit, to assault Jerusalem. Edessa will be abandoned, its garrison moving to Antioch. Single raiding units will depart from Edessa, striking towards Iconium and Tarsus on the off chance that one or both of these provinces will be abandoned.

The gamble is that he won’t march on Edessa with his cavalry this turn. Secondarily, I gamble also that he won’t seize Ankara or Nicea. He should probably wait one more season before adjudging the Tarsus army invincible, my raiding units gamble against his patience. He might use his navy to ferry troops to either Trebizond or our mediteranean coast. He might march his Tarsus army into Armenia. If he succeeds at these objectives I will be caught with three recruitment centres, a divided army, and a rapidly diminishing resource base. If that occurred, I could only go down fighting.

To give me the greatest chance of keeping Edessa next season, I have recruited five skirmishers and a guard unit in Edessa.
Diplomatically, peace motions are made towards Bavaria, encouragement to plot given to the Horde, Hungary, the Mamlukes and Venice. With life, hope…

1326 - Situation

War continues with Byzantium. Bavaria declares war upon us and helps sink our fleet. Internationally, Poland and Lithuania have mixed results against the Teutonic Order. Bavaria takes Buda from Hungary. We ourselves fought three land battles, one major victory, two minor defeats. No provinces lost, one gained. Income increased by 146%. Present geostrategic position contains interesting possibilities.

Our liberation of Nicea had no opposition. Our amphibious horse archers in Miletus moved against Smyrna, but were eliminated following their narrow defeat by Byantine heavy cavalry riding from Byzantium itself. Our armies successfully repelled a Byzantine invasion of Trebizond, eradicating the invaders with few losses before returning to Edessa. Sadly, our fleet was sunk by a combined Bavarian / Byzantine navy, causing minor losses in return. Our only gamble almost payed off. Our Trebizond horse archers sadly died of wounds after pushing the Emporer’s cavalry out of Iconium.

Alliance was formed with the Teutonic Order. We are now allied to Kingdoms of Venice and Hungary, the Golden Horde, the Teutonic Order, and the Mamluke Sultanate. Khan Kilroy of the Horde is the most informative of correspondents.

The only immediate threat remains the Byzantine. Contrary to my expectations, he is concentrating his resources to build a large army in Tarsus. If it marches this turn, I could narrowly defeat it, but not the wave that would follow. One option is to gamble all and ride from Nicea, through Miletus, to Tarsus whilst simultaneously invading Iconium with everything else I can muster. My other option is to create options, capture scattered strongholds, lead him on a merry chase and hope for a miracle.

We can mount credible threats against Smyrna, Bythnia, Angora, Iconium, Jerusalem and the Eastern Desert. We can hold off invasion against any of our provinces. Sadly, we cannot do all these things at once.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

1325 - My response

The main aims in the coming season are to increase my income, preserve my armed force, weaken the Byzantine both militarily and psychologically, encourage and facilitate international support for my cause.

My Miletian raiding force will seize Smyrna, slightly less than even odds if Emporer rides with against it. My swordsmen and some horse archers from Ankara will seize Nicea. Both of these provinces will be pillaged, which will be a significant source of income. More importantly, their capture will start to make a dent in the Emporer's treasury and affect him psychologically.

The remaining cavalry in Ankara will ride to Trezibond, there to meet up with a large force of horses and Saracen Guard from Edessa. The purpose here is to crush any amphibious landing. The troops then disperse, with a core defense force returning to Edessa, the remainder riding first to Ankara before returning to the Capital. The point of these maneuvers is that the phase of the amphibious invasion is likely to be the first, in which case we will repel it. The first phase which massed cavalry can attack Ankara or Edessa is the second phase, and these possibilities are protected against. He can frustrate our coastal defense by landing in a later phase. He can frustrate our defensive measures by not attacking my provinces this turn and instead taking Armenia. At worst, these maneuvers will leave us with a strong force in Edessa, able to strike Jerusalem next season, and a moderate cavalry force in Nicea which can interfere with events by either strengthening Smyrna or taking Angora, and of causing Byzantine headaches generally!

The horse unit in Trebizond will stand the first phase, then head off through Ankara and invade Iconium on its own. This is probably a suicide mission, but might seize the province by coup de main if, for some reason, it is left unoccupied by the Byzantine. Worth a gamble.

A Guard detachment will march to Antioch, acting both as a pillaging resource, coastal defence, and available to support potential cavalry strike from Edessa to Jerusalem next season. The seige machine, alread in Antioch, remains poised to similar effect.

The two remaining guards and the skirmishers march from Edessa to Trebizond in the first phase. The skirmishers remain to pillage the province, and will be written off if the Byzantine attacks on a phase other than the first. One of the Guards then marches to Ankara, and the other returns to Edessa. Thus, there is a basic screen of Guard units able to concentrate or reinforce as needed next season.

The fleet remains in the Eastern Mediteranean, with no other options. There is a slighltly more powerful Byzantine fleet in the Gulf of Malta, so we have placed our merchant ships in front of the War galleons to enable them to cause maximum damage to any marines heading their way.

We have very limited recruitment, a Guard and a skirmisher unit in Edessa.

Diplomatically, alliance is offered to Sicily and the Teutonic Order, war continues against Byzantium. Hungary is getting very edgy about the Byzantine, who is begining to devote resources in that direction. Afterall, the fleet in the black sea could as easily land in Wallachia as Trebizond.

At worst, we will have intact army in Edessa and large harrassment forces on the Peninsula. Our fleet will have removed most of the threat posed by his. He can conceivably have large armies in Trebizond and Armenia. The road through Antioch would then be our only real option. In other words, there is hope.

Friday, October 08, 2004

1325 - Situation

We had a successful campaigning season, seizing the Byzantine possession of Miletus, liberating Ankara, building a strong horsed army in Edessa. The Byzanitine would have got a shock when he first looked at the map! For his part, he has strengthened his garrison in Tarsus, and sailed a fleet across the Black Sea to threaten Trebizond with a large amphibious force of marines.

Further afield, a large war appears brewing in central Europe. At this stage, it looks like everyone else jumping against the Teutonic Order. Perhaps his size was threatening? England continues to take advantage of the vaccum in Saxony, expanding to the Baltic. In Iberia and North Africa, Castile continues to expand at Morocco's expense.

Diplomatically, we have now reached understanding with Venice, the Mamlukes, Hungary and the Golden Horde. In addition to entering an alliance, the Mamluke has given us 1 gold piece. This appears miserly but, considering our own income was only 10 gp, we were very thankful.

Thus, the clouds of war continue to obscure our land, but we appear to hold our own for a turn or two at least. Should the Byzantine continue to concentrate against us, he will crush us through sheer weight of numbers. No-one else is too keen to attack the Emporer, but if we continue to weaken him this might change.

Monday, October 04, 2004

1324 - My Response

Options are very limited, following the losses of provinces, recruitment and troops in the last campaign season. Byzantine armies, having taken our agricultural heartland, now threaten our last toeholds.

The fleet will mount a small amphibious invasion with cavalry forces from Antioch into Miletus, to create distractions in the rear of the Byzantine’s conquering army. The Byzantine fleet can’t interfere with this this season (except a small suicide mission of dromonds if he chooses). These cavalry, if they manage to land, will threaten Smyrna and Nicea, forcing the invader to detach security units from his main armies.

The Trezibond force shall invade Ankara, assisted by cavalry from Edessa. Unless the Emporer dedicates this turn to securing his possessions, they should take it back of him. An army of Saracens and horse archers are to be recruited in Edessa, to providing additional security to the horse archers which remain this season as a covering force, and to provide a possible expeditionary force if opportunity presents. Jerusalem, sadly, looks about to slip from our reach.

On the diplomatic front, we have send friendly diplomats to Hungary, the Hafsid, the Mamluke and the Order. There is something approachin a potential surrounding of Byzantium here. I have phrased accompanying email messages along the lines of, "is it worth it to anyone else if I put up a stubborn fight against the Empire?"

Best outcome, we take back Ankara and seize Miletus. Our navy survives to withdraw the amphibious forces if necessary. We disrupt plans to seize Edessa, and have a large enough army there to take advantage of any errors he might make.

1324 - Situation

The Sultan Moe, Caliph of Edessa, finds himself in dire straits in 1324. The Byzantine marched armies into Ankara, Iconium and Tarsus. Of the Sultan’s original provinces this leaves only the city of Edessa and the coastal province of Armenia still in his hands. Fortunately, to this were added the minor provinces of Trezibond (on the black sea) and Antioch, but these do not replace either the income nor the recruitment capacity of the lost provinces.

The fleet escaped from Tarsus into the Eastern Mediteranean before the Byzantines arrived. A grim battle occurred in Iconium between Byzantine cavalry advancing from Smyrna and a collection of Roum infantry and horse archers. The Turks were wiped out in the battle, but at great cost to the Emporer who was left with only a light cavalry out of his original force. His major field army is now in Tarsus.

Having lost Tarsus, the only recruitment occurred in Edessa, which now shelters ten horse archers within its walls. These are Roum’s only real strike force for the coming year, with small forces in Trezibond, Antioch and a siege engine in Armenia.

The Venetian sealed an alliance with Roum. This was our only diplomatic success, and is small beer when compared to the implications of Byzantium’s declaration of war.

On the wider front, England expands in Saxon territory, cementing its hold on Bremen. Poland and Lithuania prepare to turn north and take on the expansionist Teutonic Order, who appears about to knock Novogorod out of the game. The Horde also continues to take Novgorod provinves. The Byzantine appears unthreatened by any other, and is massing his forces to crush Roum. The Mamlukes remained quiet, and the Hafsids remain leaderless.

A very grim situation indeed.