Grand Strategy

I am currently struggling. Not with writing, though I am doing that as well… I am struggling with North Africa. Specifically, Tunis.


In case you aren’t “in the know”, this is a screenshot from one of my favorite two (video) games: Europa Universalis IV. EU IV is an example of my favorite genre of (video) games, specifically the one mentioned in the blog title. I like it because it is challenging, always different, and not reliant on ‘twitch’ gaming, like First Person Shooters or Platformers (I have horrible nerves [it comes with having multiple anxiety disorders, I suspect] and terrible reflexes.) Also, it involves geography (which I love), history (which I love), and alternate history (which I like sometimes in fiction, but all the time in this.)

20180904221223_1In case you aren’t familiar with the particulars of the Middle Eastern history (I am not, past 600 AD or East of Damascus) this is a perfect example of the emergent stories that come from the random number generators (I like to call them johans.) In this case, Hisn Kayfa, the remnants of a previous dynasty of a Middle Eastern empire have conquered, with the help of their ally Dulkadir, a significantly larger nation (Aq Qoyunlu) and divided it between them. Tiny Hisn Kayfa, a tiny little one-province minor grew four sizes that day! I only wish I had been the one to manage it, rather than the AI.

What I am doing is trying to conquer all of Africa with the moderately-sized country of Tunis, and unfortunately I am on my… fourth restart? I play in Ironman (a game mode that only allows you one unalterable save file that auto-saves), so each time a run goes south, I have to start over from square one.

The worst part, for me, is that I know what keeps happening, I just don’t know how I can do better, except to “get good” as they say. My problem is that, in trying to take advantage of golden opportunities, I rush unprepared into situations that ultimately spell doom for my alliances, my agendas, and my country. I am doing reasonably well with my current run. I have expanded by subjugating Mzab, a Berber nation inland from me, and giving land I don’t want in the area to them rather than waste points annexing it myself. The only lands I have taken myself have been in Iberia, where I grabbed some land from first Granada and then Portugal.

I just wish that, having invested 850+ hours into playing various runs of this game (I started on one of the first patches after release 5+ years ago), I would be better than to make such simple mistakes. My only consolations are that: the game has changed drastically since I started playing, I have undergone some dramatic (and often quite bad) changes in mental architecture myself, and I have gone sometimes six months without booting up the game. I am now doing better on the medication I am on, so when I need downtime from work/family life/writing I have the option of pulling up a game and playing for a couple of hours, but I am still not the same person I was when this game came out (2013.)

I know that is true of everyone… but anti-psychotics have, on me, made even more dramatic changes than I think are normal… which is a good thing, but not one that is without cost. Though, really, being impulsive in games is the least of the side effects they have presented me with.

Even with my troubles in handling myself in-game, and the fact that it has a high learning curve… is incredibly in-depth and punishing to play at times… and is best played with the numerous expansions (I have played it both ways, and both are fun… but one is definitely better, though you can ignore all of the cosmetic add-ons without losing a thing), I heartily recommend it, and you can expect to see a few After Action Reports from time to time; I use typing up such things as AARs (and these blog posts, at least for now) as a warm up for more important writing.


Like I said earlier, you can expect to see another post or two this week, perhaps one on my other favorite video game (Stellaris), and then a post or two with more background for the Knights of the Lion of Judah story-world. I am currently at 19,000+ words overall, and made good progress today–I hope to do more of that in the coming days of this week, and rather less of the struggling I have done for the last few days.

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