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Thread: Dialectics in EB

  1. #1

    Default Dialectics in EB

    I've been playing the game now for about 4 years; it's been about 1 year since I broke the chains of my weakness and learned how to win at battles, emancipating myself from the fate of losing every previous campaign on Medium/Medium. To cut a long story short, I was put in a do-or-die situation as a petty Sweboz king trying to invade Italy from Raetia with 3 stacks (I'm told this is not even possible anymore). My initial conquests in Raetia and at Mediolanum were bloody meatgrinders with my low-ranking FM and I advanced into the area of Bononia in the face of stiff Roman resistance. I forced myself to innovate both strategically and on the campaign map, basically dividing my stacks in creative ways to lay sieges and fight field battles simultaneously in a single turn - basically a divide and conquer principle. Though I enslaved the people of Cisalpine Gaul, I was faced with an unprecedented problem as I began taking over the large urban communities of Etruria, Latium, and then Campania. I despaired of establishing client states since I believed that this would set me up for failure in the long run, nevermind that it was my intention to make these urban-dwelling peoples a kingdom of my own - so I only sacked them. I could only remain in Italy for a few years, establishing the highest possible level of factional government, before - at the behest of a kinsman - I had to race back through the Alps and invade Gaul by way of the lower Rhine, ultimately luring the majority of their forces into a decisive clash at Vesontio where their race was thrown down and enfeoffed to myself. But when I finished taking the allegiance of all the Gaulish oppida and returned in triumph to Rome I noticed that the PO in Italy was on the verge of disaster. Basically with no other option I repealed my harsh policies and instituted allied governments in all of the Italian cities, anyway I had to as I needed more forces to continue with my ambition to become also the King of Greece.

    Since that game, I've played a few other barbarian campaigns, and now in each one I always seem to make the main plotline an invasion of the civilized Mediterranean world which gives rise to a new hybrid civilization based on the synthesis of barbarian and civilized elements. I've done it a few different ways, using a mixture of many different government types and family members (as Dacia) or trying to use the migration feature (as Aedui). In the case of Sweboz, I had to just use client rulers outside of Cisalpine Gaul which I could make into a Germanic realm. But this new playstyle has really made me wonder - is there any way to give barbarian factions more government options for their interactions with the Mediterranean states? And what would some of the historical source material be?

    What about you guys, what do you think about the allure of the rich Mediterranean world for a starving barbarian faction, or do you prefer to keep the lifestyles separate and form barbarian federations?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Dialectics in EB

    I know what you mean - seeing my empire develop over time into new and exciting forms is part of the joy of a campaign for me.

    Mostly this seems to be communicated in EBII via reforms - if you experience enough historical changes or take over new lands with new customs that then blend with yours, your faction changes. These tend to be my favourite campaigns (Parthia, Hayastan, etc.) - alongside the other kind of change, where you colonise and take over other cultures, Borg-style (Rome, any Hellenistic faction). This dialectic approach to factions evolving through reforms and area of recruitment units is imo one of EBII's great strengths.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Dialectics in EB

    Agreed, and I would submit, that the need to account for other cultures once your empire expands beyond your cultural core region is integral both to the theme of the mod and the major new feature added as the primary contribution of the Medieval II engine. To take Rome as the historical example, every cultural region they came into contact with led to unique relationships - on an individual basis, they admired and compared themselves to the Hellenistic political life of the East just as they feared the Gauls or brutalized the rival Carthaginians. The Thracians and Dacians are known to have emulated Greek culture, and Achaemenid Persian culture left its imprint on Greek forms of imperialism long after the reign of Alexander. These are only the historical, canonical transmissions of cultural concepts from conquered to conquerer attested in the Ancient World - but ahistorical or anachronistic ones, such as Gaulish and Germanic conquest of the Mediterranean, are not only perfectly plausible but even necessary to getting to a nuanced depiction of the interaction that enables plausible empire-building rather than pure 'white superman' invader fantasy in terms of factional governments. Galatia, in fact, although not ultimately a true cipher to the hypothetical Mediterranean scenario, is an actual historical case that could offer certain insights into the cultural transmission process.

    Though the imagination can fill in these gaps, if anything the player has it easier in the current setup, where they can claim a considerable degree of direct assimilation over a conquered region without suffering essentially any side-effects except a small boost to public order, and having no need to reiterate the choice of government and build on it further. Incorporating a more complete picture of imperialism-type conquest would probably require the player to make more difficult decisions...

  4. #4

    Default Re: Dialectics in EB

    Elaborating on your mention a Germanic/Gaulish conquest of the Mediterranean, I would actually love for there to be some sort of ahistorical-but-plausible options for empires to develop that go beyond the "local recruitment" mechanic - perhaps allowing a "barbarian" faction that conquers Rome to become a more directly imperial power, for example. The Goths and Vandals of later centuries would build bona fide empires on the bones of the Roman one - it would be interesting to have an EBII mechanic to simulate this sort of Hegelian synthesis.

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