Victoria 2: Alabama gotaway

, | Game diaries

You know the old maxim about “when a butterfly flaps its wings something something something, Ashton Kutcher makes a surprisingly decent movie in Hollywood”? I had one of those happen to me in Victoria 2. My variation went something like this:

“When a battle goes badly in Tuscaloosa, the people in Java need a stiff drink.”

After the jump, this will all make sense

The Confederate States of America continue to hold out as late as 1858 (American Civil Wars seem to always start on 1850 in Victoria 2). Their hands are full, since they’re still dealing with the American War of Reintegration, and by this time their military score is on par with mine. And mine is nothing to write home about. I’m the Netherlands. We don’t do that whole French/Austrian/Prussian thing of building up huge armies. So when a random event pops up — a border faux-pas! — that gives me to option to claim a casus belli against the CSA, I figure now is the perfect time to bite off a piece of America for the Dutch. The piece in question is no less than Florida. Think of the favor I’ll be doing future America if I appropriate Florida to be part of Greater Holland! No extended Cuban embargo, no Anita Bryant anti-gay shenanigans, no Elian Gonzalez, no place for OJ Simpson to lurk, no Bush Administration in 2000!

When I declare war and set my goals, I have the option to invite my allies. I’ve got plenty of allies. Everyone loves Holland. So I check the box and I’m pleased to see French and British armies gallivanting around CSA territory while I grab Tampa, St. Augustine, and Tallahassee. The eventual result is that Georgia becomes part of the United Kingdom and Florida becomes part of the Netherlands. High five, UK! The screenshot above is what future children will learn in their schoolrooms. Since the game has decided that Dutch territory shall be skin-colored, Florida looks more than ever like America’s weird penis.

A few years later, in another random event, the CSA commits another border faux-pas. Apparently rednecks can’t read maps. So I’ll seize the opportunity again. This time, I’ll grab Alabama! You can thank me later, future America, for sparing you the travails of, uh, hmm… The band Alabama? That Lynyrd Skynyrd song, Sweet Home Alabama? Maybe I can use Alabama to get to Arkansas so future America doesn’t have to deal with Orville Faubus, Mike Huckabee, and Gil Gerard’s Buck Rogers series that will run on NBC in about a century. Bee-dee, bee-dee, bee-dee.

But this time, the CSA manages to defend Alabama with an army twice the size of my Dutch army. It’s pretty embarrassing to show up for a war with 15,000 men — I’m sure this will be plenty, right? — only to see a force of 30,000 enemies come charging out of the fog of war. Rednecks may not be able to read maps, but they sure can muster an army. Fortunately, the British have joined me again, and they’ve got a healthy sized army lumbering out of English Georgia. So by tagging along with them, I find myself in a grand battle in Tuscaloosa. It’s 15,000 Brits and 15,000 Dutch against 30,000 CSA troops.

I let the battle go on far too long, hoping the British will wear them down, and no such thing happens. Here’s where I’m brutally punished by a combination of inadequate supply, underdeveloped military tech, inexperienced troops, poorly arranged generals, and harsh retreat rules. The end result is that I lose 15,000 Dutch troops. One moment they’re here. The next they’re gone. It’s like losing your car keys, except they’re obviously not under the sofa cushions.

Okay, fine, if the CSA is going to make such a fuss, they can just keep Alabama.

But now I have no army. Time to train more dudes back in the Netherlands, right?

Wrong.

Victoria 2 is based on a unique population model. The people are divided into groups by profession, religion, culture, and location. And none of the provinces in the Netherlands have much population left in the soldier group. I don’t have the manpower to recruit so much as a single regiment. I basically have to wait until more of the population shifts into the soldier category, either through changing jobs or being born. It’s going to take a while.

After nearly a decade of waiting army-less and nervously eyeing the militancy rate and hoping no one rises up and enjoys unchecked rebellion, I decide it’s time to outsource the Dutch army. Hey, Indonesia, can I talk to you a sec?

Victoria 2 begins in 1835 with the Netherlands holding large swathes of territory in Java, Bali, Sumatra, and Borneo. These territories are flush with men, and since I’ve been paying decent wages to my soldier sub-population, many of the men in those countries count themselves among the soldier population, even if they’ve not technically drafted into regiments. Tim to change that. The newly recruited army of Holland now consists entirely of Javans, Moluccans, and Melanesians. I train them up and ship about 20,000 troops back to Holland. Germany and its Hessians have nothing on us. Welcome to the Netherlands, boys! Sorry for the lousy weather.

But the problem is that I’ve also queued up some artillery brigades. When you train regular troops, you just need guns and canned food, which are plentiful enough on the world market. But when you train artillery, you need big guns and liquor. The big guns are easy enough to get, but I can’t score any liqour to save my life. It’s my high school years all over again. Liquor is in short supply and high demand, and I don’t have the geopolitical chops to get any, much less the industrial might to make my own. I’ve got coffee coming out my ears, but that won’t do for the men manning the artillery pieces. They need liquor. I’ve got the fruit and glass that a liquor factory needs, but since I’m pushing for progressive laissez-faire economics, I can’t make that call as the Dutch head of state. That’s for my capitalists to decide, and they can’t even keep a simple paper mill from going bankrupt. So here I am, the Netherlands, with my own slice of Florida, a country full of immigrant soldiers, and a jammed up training queue back in Java where I can’t get enough men drunk enough to convince them to join the Royal Dutch Atrillery Corps.

Victoria 2 can be such a wonderfully weird game.

Click here for the previous Victoria 2 entry.

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