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26-06-2012, 10:57 PM #1
Milan and On: A Medieval II Total War AAR
I've been having a lot of fun playing this Medieval II campaign I started on a whim, and when a strategy campaign gets long enough you will inevitably want to talk about it. There's nothing unusual going on here - normal settings, normal difficulty, no mods - but I hope the tale winds up having been worth telling.
This is also done in loving memory of Fumarole's lost Napoleon: Total War AAR.
The Story So Far
In the late 11th century, the powerful Rossi family of Milan waged a series of campaigns against the independent city-states of northern Italy, hoping to create a united front against further Imperial intrusion into the area by consolidating power under one rule - theirs. Their rapid expansion was first checked not by the emperor but by the Republic of Venice; Venetian envoys suggested, under threat of war, a union in which the Republic would have been the dominant partner. Talks fizzled, and within two decades Venice and all of its territories abroad had been conquered and incorporated into a burgeoning Milanese empire. With an unprepared Sicily the sole power willing to militarily oppose further expansion, Milan flourished, the city itself growing into one of the biggest and richest in Europe. Nothern Italy, already a natural crossroads, became a hotbed of cultural and commercial exchange.
Yet as the Rossis grew more powerful, Imperial meddling grew more hostile. Extortion, sabotage, and the occasional assassination were a sign of worse things to come. 1168 saw the election, with Imperial backing, of a Sicilian pope. The King of Castile, having pacified the Moorish invaders, colluded with Sicily to invade Corsica, briefly taking Ajaccio. The Byzantine Empire, under great pressure from the Seljuk Turks and looking to expand westward, attacked the Milanese in the Balkans. Unpleasantries came to a head in 1194 when Pope Pagenellus excommunicated Duke Catelano Rossi for fighting back against the "righteous" Spanish and ignoring his call to the Holy Land. Soon after, Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich and King Louis of the French, with the blessing of the pontiff, invaded Lombardy and laid siege to Venice and Milan. Both parties were repelled - Duke Catelano himself led the daring victory over the French outside Milan - but many more troops were on the march, and the German-held city of Bologna provided a haven for the enemy right in the heart of Milanese territory.
The year is 1198. The empire's current holdings, helpfully marked on this period-inappropiate map, are Milan, Genoa, Florence, Venice, and Naples on the Italian mainland; Corsica via the fortress of Ajaccio and Sardinia by way of Cagliari; Zagreb, Ragusa, and Durazzo in the Balkans; and Iraklion on the island of Crete. Its enemies come from every direction and its allies are far away. It was the cryptic goal of late, lamented patriarch Giorgio Rossi to "hold 45 regions, including Constantinople." Can his descendants survive to realize this beautiful dream? Can they forge a new Roman Empire on the ruins of the one that, irritatingly, continues to exist? Can they build a civilization to stand the test of...wait, wrong game.
26-06-2012, 11:40 PM #2
27-06-2012, 01:47 AM #3
Thanks. Weaseling my way into the papacy might be off the table, since I have no priests and my only cardinal died. With luck, one my assassins will get skilled enough (I've been boosting their stats by offing princesses and minor diplomats - I disgust myself) to kill the current pope and wipe the slate clean.
02-07-2012, 06:25 PM #4
How Many Divisions Has the Pope?
(1198 - 1218)
The War of the Holy League
What began as encouragement turned to full-fledged participation with the formation in 1199 of the Holy League, or the League of Rome, a triple alliance between Pope Pagenellus, Emperor Heinrich, and Louis of France. Its stated aim was the removal of the Rossi clan from power; in the long term, it meant to divide up all Milanese holdings between the three allies, including those taken from the increasingly-isolated Byzantine Empire. The Papacy held claim on Florence, and it was there that men were sent the following year to lay siege, nearly capturing it in a hasty assault.
That same year, Louis himself rode into Italy, invigorated by and basking in the glory of his successful capture of Antioch. For the better part of a decade, his French knights and an Imperial army under the command of the Bavarian count Otto von Kassel would keep a strong hold on most of northern Italy. While battles would rarely amount to amount to more skirmishes, the countryside suffered terribly, and the Milanese treasury dwindled steadily for lack of trade and need of soldiers. A foray into eastern Imperial territory in 1206 failed to draw von Kassel's forces out of Italy, but it did accomplish something unexpected: the capture of Vienna.
A major change in the Rossis' fortunes came in 1208 when, at the Battle of Alessandria, Louis himself was killed during a failed cavalry charge. This death (as well as the crushing defeat it inspired) would mark the end of major French activity in Italy; within a year, Louis' son Philip would have to fight a defensive war against the English for the very crown of France. Emperor Heinrich, to his credit, wouldn't relent from the war on Milan. In 1210 he sent men to retake Vienna; rather than endure an attack, the small Milanese garrison, which had been bleeding the citizens dry with war taxes, put the city to the torch and abandoned it to an anarchic rabble. Several thousand died and most of Vienna's infrastructure was destroyed. When the Imperial forces arrived, it was not to a Milanese stronghold but to a destroyed city under the control of a peasant mob.
After the Burning of Vienna, the war in Italy largely returned to the status quo. Von Kassel kept his army stationed in and around the Po Valley, while the Papacy kept alive the threat of a second, stronger attack on Florence. After strengthening the garrison at Genoa, Duke Catelano took a risky move and ordered its governor, his younger brother Amero Rossi, to march westward to Marseille and take it from a weakened France. He did his duty, and in 1216 Milanese territory covered another long stretch of Mediterranean coastline. Milanese diplomats would later make a failed bid to convince the Duke of Toulouse to betray his King; further advancement into France, it seemed, would have to remain military.
In a surprise attack that shocked and humiliated Milan, French ships sailed into the harbor at Marseille the following year and destroyed most of their navy at anchor. Ships could be and would be rebuilt, of course, but the timing of the attack could not have been worse. For in 1218, across clear seas and two decades overdue, a fleet of Spanish ships sailed to Corsica.
Last edited by Oak; 02-07-2012 at 06:31 PM.
02-07-2012, 06:30 PM #5
In the same year of Louis' death, a small contingent of soldiers set sail from Sardinia for the Sicilian-held fortress of Tunis in North Africa. The Kingdom of Sicily remained nominally at war with the Milanese; however, still not having recovered from the significant losses of the previous century, King Simon refrained from any risky military action. The Sardinian contingent was sent to make sure the King stayed in that habit. Forced to make landfall about 50 miles away from the city, they began a long march in the summer heat, stopped not far from the shore by forces sent up in advance of their arrival. Though little more than peasant spearmen, some mercenary crossbowmen, and a few men-at-arms, the Milanese routed the Sicilians with little loss to their own. This success was repeated, in what would later be seen as something of a miracle, during the eventual assault on the fortress. Victory was bloody and incredibly close-run, but it was still a victory: Tunis had been conquered by a little over 200 men.
The Balkan campaign came to a halt after the capture of Corinth from the Byzantines in 1210. It had so far been a success, but the plan was to use Corinth as a forward base for the eventual attack on Constantinople. Though the Rossis were keen to see the city captured, it would require more soldiers and more money, and both of those required time. As the war with the Holy League wore on, Constantinople seemed further and further away. The Council of Nobles wondered whether it was wise to send so many skilled soldiers even farther away on an offensive campaign when Milan itself was threatened. Duke Catelano agreed, and orders were sent to Corinth to strenghten the garrisons of the Greek territories and begin training troops to be sent to Italy.
Ominous Reports from the East
As years of war, social unrest, and economic uncertainty took their toll on the one-time trading hub, the merchants of Milan looked to farther shores for new opportunities - specifically, to the muslim kingdoms of Africa and the Levant. Trade delegations, with some canny diplomatic maneuvering, secured the right of Milanese ships to visit Arab and Turkish ports unmolested. It was in early 1212, in these bustling Turkish ports, that European traders first heard the strange rumors of a great army moving westward from as far as Cathay, an army of horsemen variously described as barbarians, devils, and the Wrath of God. In the passing years, news became clearer and more frequent. It was said that this army visited horrors upon any that opposed them; that they threatened the frontier provinces of the Turk; that they meant to conquer the great city of Baghdad.
What any of this really meant to the Christian world, it was thought, could not rightly be guessed.
02-07-2012, 07:22 PM #6
You should be far enough to the west to not be seriously threatened by Eastern barbarians, unless you capture Constantinople. I really dig the ominous screenie, extra style points for you!
04-07-2012, 04:48 PM #7
Victory conditions demand it, so it shall be done. The Mongols add a lot of spice to the story, anyway, which is why I kept the announcement in. Thanks for reading, by the way. While the concept may be a little self-indulgent and dorky, writing it is such a hoot.
Though editing it is hell.
01-08-2012, 10:24 PM #8
Just popping in to say I'm anxious to read the next installment.
Though editing it is hell.
01-08-2012, 10:54 PM #9
Oh boy, have I been slacking. Medieval 2, along with just about everything else taking up my free time, was sidelined a few weeks ago when I reinstalled TF2 and binged like a degenerate. That, along with the fact that I've been planning to build my very first Sweet Gaming Rig (the parts are supposed to arrive today) have kept this on the backburner, but it's still happening. Thank you for checking in.
Also laziness. I'm terribly lazy.
02-08-2012, 12:41 AM #10
Building a new rig is always fun, and you'll be able to turn everything up to 11! I built one in the middle of my AAR; it's quite noticeable in the quality of the screenies.
02-08-2012, 10:07 PM #11
Aaaaaaaah, been a while since I played MTW2 but as I recall holding those northern Italian provinces is a real pain in the ass. At least you don't have to face those fricking annoying Genoese crossbow militias. Impossibly to beat them without taking crippeling losses which mean they need to return to base to recharge. When playing as Venice the first time I eventually just ditced Venice and the rest of my Italian holdings to focus on my middl eastern empire I'd build on the back of the first crusade.
But yeah, please continue this AAR, and more maps please!
07-08-2012, 02:19 AM #12
RE: maps, it's a little difficult to get screenshots of the whole shebang since you can't zoom out too far and there isn't a dynamic mini-map thingy like in later games. I'll stop making excuses and work some more in, though.
Anyway, thanks for the kind words, guys. Medieval 2 has been installed, and once my honeymoon with Battlefield 3 is over it'll make its way back into the schedule.
21-09-2012, 10:32 PM #13
23-09-2012, 04:22 PM #14
Yes...but only because so many other games have been vying for my attention. A heartrending tale of woe, you'll agree.
What I think happened is my brain recategorized writing as Work, when once it was Fun, and now I'm semiconsciously trying to avoid it, even though I like it and want to finish it. Interesting stuff has happened in-game. I am still going to finish it. I just want to make clear the mental hoops I am (paradoxically) willing to jump through if it means I can avoid making an actual effort towards anything, even a silly story about a video game I'm playing. You're my psychologist now, by the way.