Letter from the Editor
This week we feature two reviews of Viking Prince's concept; the Battle Report, or BR for short. These are great one post stories that seem to have found a home in the Empire section of our favoured forum. Having dabbled myself in these, I find that they are great for writing short stories that couldn't command the attention of an audience over an entire AAR. They also seems to be a good introduction to AAR writing for beginner writers. With Hesus de Bodemloze considering adding another AAR competition to the stable, this time a biannual BR competition, I have no doubt that this format will continue to grow from strength to strength.
As well as these reviews, we have some great ones on other AARs, this time focusing on Rome and it's mods. An interview with Santini, the creator of the CRPG 'Kampf um Europa' rounds off this issue, and it is very enlightening. I won't keep you further from this trove I have previewed for you.
Table of Contents
∑The Fall of Crimea Review
∑Alea Iacta Est: A Tale of the Romans Review
∑The Illyrian Empire Review
∑The Bunker Hill Epilogue, American Revolution Review
∑An Interview with Santini of Kampf um Europa
The Fall of Crimea
The Fall of Crimea by [user]Captain C[/user]
Captain Cís first AAR is not an AAR at all; rather it is a Battle Report (BR). You may remember Viking Prince talking about his new idea some issues ago, and his concept has seemed to have taken off, primarily in the Empire AAR section. This BR follows the fall of Crimea, in their last stronghold, an unnamed town. However, it does not just follow one side of this story, instead there are two separate chapters to it.
The first focuses on the old General Bakahasab, the last Crimean commander left. The second chapter follows the action through the view of the young Corporal Alesky as he storms the city. This is an interesting concept, something that could not really be achieved in a longer AAR, but sits well in the shorter story of a BR. I have to commend Captain C for his interesting take on the story, and the bravery to write about a defeat. The introduction which sets the scene is a little light for my liking, but it is a solid piece to get the reader caught up on the events.
One major thing which bugged me throughout reading this is the repetition of certain phrases which plague the writing. An example:
The general charged his own cavalry forward to join the fray. The tides seemed to be turning in favor of the Crimean defenders, but a second unit of Russian cavalry joined the fray to even the tide.
Ed note: Emphasis added.
The reuse of odd words, well uncommon words, and phrases such as Ďjoin the fray/joined the frayí and Ďtideí really take away from the flow, and it produces a slight unease in the readerís mind when read to oneself. This type of repetition happens throughout the second chapter. Nearly every paragraph starts with ĎAleksy [verb]í. I know it can be hard to come up with different ways of phrasing things, but again, it just doesnít read well.
The continual referral to the first person, which happens throughout both chapters, produces a very intimate, well intimate for an AAR/BR, relationship between the main characters and the reader. Aleksy is a character that we have felt to come to know, and he is seen to develop over the course of the story. General Bakahasab also feels like a believable character, and Captain C does drum a sense of sadness in the reader over the death of a character we met only a few paragraphs ago. This is the main strength of this AAR; the characterization that Captain C produces. It adds something to the relatively unnuanced and simple style that he writes in.
Spoiler Alert, click show to read: The pictures are chosen well, and they highlight key areas of the battle. They do not become the centre piece of the story, but are nice additions. They are edited well, and are sparingly used. I caught Captain C referring to the picture in the text, Ďthe farmhouse on the leftí, which, like some other things, does not read too well, and detracts a little from the general good quality of the story.
This is a good first effort. There is certainly room for improvement, the repetitive text been my main issue, and I hope that Captain C does develop his style. That is something that comes with practice and writing more AARs and BRs. It is short, interesting and enjoyable. The BR format works well in this instance, and Captain C plays to its strengths. I suggest that you read this, if only to see the interesting take on the fall of a nation, and the two different angles that Captain C writes for the story.
Alea Iacta Est; A Tale of the Romans Review
Alea Iacta Est: A Tale of the Romans by [user]Theodotos I[/user]
Alea Iacta Est; A Tale of the Romans Review
Those who donít know [user]Theodotos I[/user] should be ashamed of themselves! He has penned the beautiful novel 'Sword of Albion' where he showed with every update what a great author he is. When he announced his latest work, the one that Iím going to review now, I was overjoyed, I thought that with a new story written by a great author my mind is in for another treat. And boy was I glad that my presumptions were right.
Despite the title the story isnít situated at the end of the Roman Republic, where Julius Caesar begins his Civil War. Instead, it takes place in another dark episode of Roman history, the wars with the Epirote King Pyrrhus of the 3rd century B.C.. In this story we follow the Roman General Valerius Licinius Murena, who is tasked with reconquering Southern Italy from the Epirotes.
The story is introduced with a number of defeats inflicted against Pyrrhus and basically sums up why the main character is doing what he is doing, giving us, the reader, a detailed look at the situation in Southern Italy and the thoughts of Valerius of it all.
The biggest pillar of this AAR is that Theodotos does what he does best: writing. He doesnít go from struggle to struggle giving us a repetitive battle AAR, but he carefully describes everything between battles and thatís exactly what I like.
An example of what I mean:
And so we set out, our entire force, along the western road, on the tenth day of December. An army of grim-faced men, determined to defend the Republic against all comers, yea eíen against Pyrrhus himself.
Some could say that this phrase holds to much information, but I say that this makes the difference between a good AAR and a bad one. Of course it isnít necessary, but it gives the story an extra touch and makes it much better as a whole.
The only downside of this AAR are the screenshots, but thatís not Theodotosí fault but a fault of the game. Furthermore the screenshots do what they should do, they support the text, but if I may I would like to give Theodotos a test, we know that he excels at writing stories for pictures, so if you could Theodotos, find a beautiful angle with a beautiful scenery and write one update about that. Iíve seen you do it in the Sword of Albion.
It is to early to compare this AAR with Theodotosí magnus but I think that we are again looking at a jewel, despite the fact that I know the outcome, I want to read more about the Pyrrhic Wars, especially those tales told by Theodotosí pen. So if you havenít go read this AAR, I assure you that you wonít be disappointed.
The Illyrian Empire Review
The Illyrian Empire, by Imperial Eagle
Reviewed by [user]SonOfAlexander[/user]
This is the first AAR of Imperial Eagle, a budding new AARtist on TWC. The IE is one of the more underestimated AARs, which I think is a big shame. The Illyrian Empire has much to recommend it to the average RTW AAR reader. Though itís true that those who stay away from it do so for valid reasons, and I will have to be fair in my review.
Anyway, the beginning. Imperial Eagle doesnít mess about, just what I like, and launches straight into it. He dedicates the AAR to Antiochos VII Sidetes - a charming touch I feel, but no matter, itís the AAR Iím here to review! The choice of the Illyrian faction does give Imperial Eagle something unique to write about; some of us know of the reputation the Illyrians held as fierce warriors. Should be good then!
Instantly, we can see the first problem of this AAR; the chapters are really short, more a quick blast than an actual section of a story, and this has lost Imperial Eagle many readers. It can be frustrating, wanting to get stuck into the tale but only being able to read small parts. This problem of longevity certainly shows through in the plot as well. Yes, there are characters and there is a storyline, but for me it just feels too short-lived. Itís hard to feel for a character thatís just been killed off if you knew very little about him, and that is the main problem of this AAR: thereís no depth. Not in the characters, story, plot or indeed in the length.
Thatís a shame really, because Imperial Eagleís writing itself is actually very good. Take, for instance the opening sentence:
There was a great, frightened, disturbing silence in Scodra, the capital of Illyria.
Personally, this gets me interested, and I know that Imperial Eagle fills his speech with this sort of thing. There is some dialogue, which is quite realistic too. The story is rather good too - a new king rises to take over the Illyrians, and he tries to unite them as a people.
So what do we want? More Imperial Eagle, thatís for sure - but more of him, and more overall! MORE! I suggest that Imperial Eagle could improve this by stepping up the length and depth of his AAR. With some more in depth characters, he could create some real interest in this AAR, and get plenty more readers to add to those who already read the Illyrian Empire!
The Bunker Hill Epilogue; American Revolution
AAR Review : The Bunker Hill Epilogue, American Revolution.
Hello you esteemed readers, Iím back to bring you another review of a promising AAR. Today I will be reviewing an AAR about Empire : Total War which is not what you would expect of me because of my hate for the game. However Dignan did a mighty fine job and thus he lured my attention to his AAR. However as always, itís not perfect. But that is ok since nothing is. The AAR revolves around the aftermath of the battle of Bunker Hill, a battle between the English and the militia forces of the United States. My first thoughts were that an AAR with only one entry and that would not continue was not the best idea. Now I think differently.
We start off on a morning in June 1775, in the Massachusetts countryside. The British under the command of General William Tory slightly outnumbered the American militia forces. After a three day pursuit that followed from the Bunker Hill battle the British were catching up to the colonists. General Thomas Scott knew that they could not keep running away, so he set a plan in motion to ambush the pursuers.
If you want to know how this battle played out I suggest you go and have a look at Dignanís AAR because I canít tell you everything of course, that'd be ruining the story for you.
The tale is told from the view-point of a storyteller. A little note about the quality of the writing; I was not able to find a misspelled word, nor a grammatical error. Because this is only a single update story that is to be expected in my opinion. But nonetheless Dignan succeeded at taking you into the fight as if you were there, fighting in the countryside of Massachusetts. The only bad thing I can say about it is that it sometimes goes too fast and could use a little more detail (but only a little).
This took the British cavalry by surprise but did not completely break their morale. The clanging of metal and drone of battle cries filled the air. The American cavalry officer in charge yelled to the militiamen, ďGO! FALL BACK!Ē They required no more convincing, broke their formation and ran across the open ground to the cover of the main American line. The American cavalry put up a good fight, losing only a small percentage of their force. This also allowed for the militiamen to escape their ambush site. After another British cavalry unit joined the fight, the American cavalry also retreated. This was not where they would make their stand, only where they would inflict the first blow.
As for the graphical part of the story I would have to say .. EXSQUISITE! There is an excellent balance between text and screenshots. They donít take over and draw attention away from the story. The screenshot are nicely edited and give a feeling as if they were paintings, done by artists who witnessed the battle.
All in all, this is quite a gem, a must-read for all. It isnít a long AAR but certainly a good one and Iím hoping Dignan will do more of these. There isnít really much I give in the ay of pointers, except maybe he could expand the characters a little more, make them a tad deeper. Of course, this is hard with a single battle, but if he could accomplish this it would be almost perfect.
An Interview with Santini
An Interview with Santini, creator of Kampf um Europa II
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, Iím a 5th year Senior about-to-be Graduate Physics Major, hailing from Bend, Oregon. Iíve always had an interest in history, particularly the bits involving large groups of people conspiring to kill one- another, and Iíve been an avid fan of the Total War, Close Combat and Hearts of Iron brands. Iíve played all the Total Warís, and Iíve enjoyed most of them.
Tell us about the origins and history of Kampf um Europa II
Well, tracing the long lineage of Kampf um Europa II, and my own interest in RPGs / AARís, takes me back to around July of 2008. I had recently read an excellent AAR about the Byzantines (Forgotten the nameÖ), and I had just finished the book ďCaeserís LegionĒ and the excellent series ďRomeĒ when I realized that most AARís did a poor job of capturing the feel of strategic deployment and movement of the Era. So, my first AAR was born.
A Tale of Two Legions came out July 22nd, 2008, and boy was it a stinker. It did, however, capture the essence of an ancient campaign, and so, in November, I tried again. Picking up the Pieces was important, because even though it too was a terrible AAR, it was the first time I drafted up Operational Plans, then presented them for public discussion. However, I quickly tired of just how difficult it was to coax any sort of response out of a passive audience, so I gave up rather quickly.
The next iteration was the first to use ETW: Prussia uber Alles. Prussia uber Alles was pretty much just the Prussian equivalent of Picking up the Pieces, and collapsed rather quickly under the weight of Darth Modís taxing graphics. However, it was here that I first met Plank of Wood, an astonishingly rational and thoughtful individual, who was to stick with me (Or perhaps I with him) all the way up to Kampf um Europa II.
And so, the final AAR was born: Thunder in the East. Thunder in the East is probably the most important of the stepping stones, as, for the first time, I had created a staff working within a set of codified rules to help direct the Prussian Landheer. Plank of Wood, GrinningManianc, Xomiak, Metzgershund, gord86, RolocÖ a crop of people more than willing to work together to help create a true community AAR.
And so, about 25 years into the TitE AAR, me, Plank and a couple of the other figures, sat down to derive a rule set that would allow the creation of a realm through which 20 or more people could work together to run one ETW Prussian Empire.
The result was Kampf um Europa, and it was hell. Hellishly fun to play, hellishly difficult to run, and hellishly difficult to let go of. Kampf um Europa was a disaster in the making, because far to many players were overworked and taxed, some of them playing up to 5 different characters, all struggling to make a variable rate campaign work. Thatís right, variable. We would play the turns in as little time as to took to make the decisions and fight the battles. 2, 3 turns a day- involving 10 to 20 people working desperately across all sorts of mediums to crank out the decisions, make the diplomacy and economy work, and fight the battles. It wasÖ intense. It was also, however, doomed to failure. Eventually we realized that Russia, the end all objective, was pathetically mismanaged by the 1.3 AI, and the RPG eventually ground to a halt.
Enter patch 1.4. Within 5 minutes of playing the new patch, I knew we had a chance. With an enemy worthy of our efforts, a new and awesome mod to play (APE:TI), and a weekly schedule, Kampf um Europa 2 is set to be the best ETW RPG/AAR yet.
How do RPGs work?
Ha! I have no idea. Most RPGís seem to be utter chaos unless you know where to look and how to read it. This RPG works by pitting the creative and competitive wills of a staff of TWCírs against one another, spitting out, in the end, a collective will ready to kick ass.
What are the most important qualities of an RPG in your opinion?
The most important quality, I suspect, is reward.
Recognition, power, medals, respect- all as rewards for dedication, devotion and ability, are what helps suck RPGírs into the mindset of an RPG.
How closely to you stick to the rules?
With the understanding that the ruleset is entirely fluid and up to debate at any time-
Absolutely. If you break the rules in Kampf um Europa, you had better have flat out miraculous results. Standing in front of a Court Martial and telling your peers ďOoops, my badĒ just isnít going to cut it.
How do you keep players in line?
Between the Collective Will and the Carrot and Stick, there is plenty of incentive to stick the straight and narrow where it is proven, and to think outside the box where necessary.
To what extent do you guide the story?
Not one bit, this time around: Iím no longer the King, or the Chief of Staff. The CM (Campaign Master) is there not to do what he wants, but to make sure that everyone can do what THEY want.
Has anything ever surprised you about the way a campaign developed?
Well, gee. In the last campaign, my bastard child collaborated with a Russian to kill me, resulting in the death of the Russian, and a double suicide. Is that a big enough surprise?
What are your ambitions for Kampf um Europa II?
As the Campaign Master, I want us to hit 1725.
As the character Klaus von Santini, I want to see all of Poland and Russia on their knees.
Have you decided on your next project?
Nope! This is the big one.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Well, certainly! Thanks a ton for taking the time to interview, and I hope that anyone reading this might consider joining! Itís plenty of fun, even if you lose! Hell, especially if you lose.
(Klaus and Karl von) Santini
Field Marshall, I. Armee, Tactical Chief; Marshall, Chief of Finance
Thank you Santini for your valuable insights. Any readers interested in looking at Kampf um Europa more closely will find it here.
From the Editor's Desk
Next issue we celebrate our half year anniversary, or there abouts. There have been many writers over that time that have made the CQ what it is, a popular, informative publication that continues to entertain. I cannot name them all here now, that can wait for one issue at least, but they know who they are, and they know that they have my eternal thanks. For this specific issue I have to thank Juvenal, Kallum SonofAlexander and Ratbag. They are great writers who continue to produce great work, the CQ couldn't exist without them. Calvin and jimkatalanos also deserve thanks, as do all the writers featured, and the others who make the AAR boards such a great place.
If you would like your AAR featured, or an interview with yourself, or just have any suggestions that you think will make the CQ even better, please don't be afraid to PM me. For now, until next time,
Last edited by Juvenal; March 31, 2010 at 08:10 AM.
Reason: changed thread title
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