I couldn't decide if this is an AAR or general post... so general it is
Today I (almost) completed my first GC, as Russia. I started this experience in May, with little to no idea what was going on (I was an average at best player of AACW, did some tinkering and tutorials, and then dove in.) I'll break up this summary into four parts: The course of events, the good, the bad and the ugly. The ground rules for my exercise were normal settings (except extended claims for the first 25 years or so, along with the modifying of leaders per the excel file), and I only used scripts three times (I wanted to test out Vanilla and not let my whims change too much). Also keep in mind I don't have too many notes, so this is mostly what I recall unless I deemed it worth a note.
Course of Events:
My primary strategy was three fold:
1. Ensure security (via dipolmacy or war) on my European borders
2. Industrialize Russia
3. Link my borders via rail in case of attack (Specifically, Poland<->Moscow, Black Sea<-> Moscow, Afghanastan<->Moscow, Pacific<-> Moscow)
1850's- The first 10 years saw peace, and empire building. Colonially, I went hard after a link to the Indian Ocean (Bachulastan) and Afghanastan. The British didn't really fight me there, so a clear link to the Indian Ocean gave me a peace of mind for supplies, and gave me my second year round Port (remember, St. Pete and Vladivostok both freeze in the winter, and at the time I wasn't sure how well the Turks could keep my fleets in the Black Sea).
I also diplomatically worked toward alliances with Sweden, Prussia and Austria to secure my western borders and allow me to focus on a land war in Asia.
1860's-1870's- in no particular order
Ottoman wars: In three wars, I took Costanaza into my empire, beat the Ottomans and realized the warscore for anything useful was through the roof, fought them again out of boredom, and then scripted the freedom of the Balkan States as my plunder from the two drubbings. Up until the Second Balkan War, I focused on buying every single good from these countries at a premium, with hopes of giving me a strong buffer from the Turks (should they ever rise again from the ashes).
Persian War: Sheer boredom and an objective of Tabriz lead me to beat up the Persians, and after that, I left them alone.
Chinese Wars: This may have been later, but I know prior to 1885 or so, the Chinese were my military testing ground. I know I took over their whole country at least four times, pulling off Uzebistan, Xinjang, Xizang, Mongolia and Manchuria, while 'liberating' the Tibetian people (They have remained in some state of war or territory changing actions with China since). I could not find a way (I occupied China for 3 years once, and they had no army left) to take Korea off their hands.
1880's-1900- boredom sets in, and the UK almost wins
British Wars: To be fair, this may have been earlier as well, but at one point the British Empire was above 90% of winning, and I launched into a desperate attack to stop that. Turns out by accident, I also burned all of India down the first time as well! After stopping their victory, I struck a short time later to ensure they would never win, with aims of liberating Scotland and Ireland (which succeeded, but it didn't rip off any of the territory I expected, left Ireland constantly under rebellion, and wasn't the knockout blow to British industries that I hoped for.) The final British was was a war for resources. The US was catching up, and I decided Canada had nice resources and a nice land front to fight the Americans if need be. Sadly, I only took BC and Alberta from the British, even though I had burned down all of their Canadian friends (again, by accident, discussed later). This ended the British hopes of victory, but didn't leave them as the full shell I had hoped for.
I also went resource hunting for colonies: The Russian Empire started to grow so fast in population that I couldn't keep up with their needs, and had no more cards to play on many goods. So, I searched for those goods I still had cards for, and went for those colonies. In time, I took Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai, Yemen, Eritea, Abyssinia, Burma, Laos, Fiji and much much later (about 1910, but I still had most of the Rice resources) Tonkin. This kept me busy with Colonials and developing the infrastructure to succeed there. I had a flirtation with Nepal to link Moscow to Mandalay, but the Chinese territory of Lhandak and British Tawang stopped those efforts.
Here, not much happened. One careless crisis with France (I didn't choose the cards... completely missed it) led to a short war (during which, I completed Colonization of Tonkin since the French held the city of Hanoi, stopping me from getting enough CP to use the Colony card.), with a white peace. I watched a Balkan mess, where Bulgaria's army crushed the Ottomans, then again crushed any and all neighbors. I didn't have the updated scripts to fix the end of the Balkan Wars until 1915, so the Archduke lived a bit longer.
1916-1919 "World War I"
I'll go into detail under the 'bad', but WWI at first didn't happen, as Austria and I were still allies. I couldn't click away the alliance, and kept cancelling the wrong things, so I said screw it, and gave up until 1916. Then, again out of bordeom/duty to have a great war, I made my own WWI, based on the political landscape of my world.
First, the Noble Austrians and Bulgarians teamed up to stop Serbia, Montenegro and Greece from interfering with Russian interests (namely, allied buffer states). Two weeks later, the British realized their old enemies and game leader Russian cousins weren't going to stop this, and joined on the Serbian side. Following that, Prussia, S-P, Baden and Saxony decided the British should lay out of continental politics, which two weeks later led to rogue Hasse-Kassel joining the British, and Russia seeking a chance to end it all, going for India one last time.
Then things went crazy in my script world. Hanover, Ireland, Scotland join Russia/Austria/Prussia and Ottoman, Belgium, Oman, Armenia, USA and France join the British cause.
The final peripheral DOWs were as follows: China, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay on the Russian/Austrian/Prussian side, and Japan, Panama, Cuba, Morocco, Chile, Peru and Venezuela on the British/US/French side.
I now had my war, and it was... tame. I beat the British out of India, while our side attacked France from three directions, and were dining in Paris in 6 months. I was the first to go with peace on those two powers, leaving the British with 70% of their forces demilitarized, and the french with 65% (and still with Prussia, Austria, S-P and Italy hitting them). Over the next 12 months, the US took my southeast Asian holdings (as peace with the British actually cut my lines... whoops), France lost Alsace and colonies in treaties, and Mexico took back Texas and New Mexico.
Then, the US hit my Western Canadian 'force' and took the great white north, I mounted two failed sea invasions of California (both times, Alcatraz held, and thus my ability to every supply my army failed.), so I settled for giving the US my now abundant money for peace.
With a game lockup (see, 'ugly') I decided to go ahead and call it on the Late April 1919 turn. At this point, I had 72% of my prestige goal, the US 2nd with 12%, and France 3rd with 13%. (For humor, Bavaria has 251 prestige points... it's on my F10 screen!)
I loved playing the game, for the first 50 years or so. It was a challenge to keep Russia going, I had military disasters as I learned the system, and managing the economy was a great time.
Playing as Russia, I had unique challenges in the size of the empire (thus my quick push into railroads... if Japan got testy, I didn't have a big enough army or supply chain to leave a giant task force in Siberia all the time), the sheer number of people as a positive and negative (easy for conscription issues, I never came anywhere close to running out, but their needs became impossible the last 30 years or so to meet), and there was no question that the issues I faced were unique to my chosen side (unlike many games, where outside of a tactical decision or two, most countries play similarly).
The diplomacy system was easy to learn, as was the economical system once your really took the time to learn it (you can't just set it and forget it for the first 30 years or more.) Colonization had some frustrations, especially in determining why I can't play card X or Y, but on the whole, it was a great way to force calculated planning and effort and to simulate the race of the European powers to 'plant their flags'.
As a given, the AGE is great for war, as always known.
I love AGEOD games, and this list is simply things *I* would change if I had the unlimited resources and programing team to do it.
Diplomacy: It was irritating to say the least when countries were involved in C-B and crisis that weren't on the map. On the C-B subject, the fact that a C-B had the tendency to mean little (that I could see) on AI decisions (and rarely led to war) was disappointing. Also lacking was an alliance peace in war, which led to situations such that France lost Paris three separate times in my World War I, when in reality, there would've been one treaty. The diplomacy system, while neat, felt too rigid (I never again worried about Prussia, Sweden or Austria once I had an alliance), and the random rejection responses bothered me (I know it was a different age, but sometimes the reasons made no sense- when my military power was a 'problem' but I was 7th in the world, etc.).
Upgraded Farms: In hindsight, I'll never upgrade my food production again, as the reliance on coal for a coal-strapped world meant I had to cut food out. I'm not saying to provide the lower level version or a downgrade, but as a first play-through, there was no way I saw upgrading in 1865 meaning I'd have to shut it down in 1900.
Colonial Scorched Earth: When taking another countries Colonial lands, your troops (or their troops) involuntarily have a scorched earth mentality. I would rather see some sort of unrest production issue or small scale sabotage rather than India's industry being ground to dust.
Weather charts: Probably because I'm American, but it was frustrating to have no knowledge of when weather would go bad in specific areas: For example, I have no idea when the monsoon season occurs in Indochina, or when and which ports would freeze in the winter, so I simply had to take notes over several years. I would be nice if there was a way (in game) to see when these bad weathers are 'typical'.
Liberation of Countries: As has been stated, it's a shame that when a country is liberated, it's just the capital territory, and without even a peacekeeping army. I'd like to see different levels from peace terms, from releasing Dublin to the whole Island of Ireland, of course at different warscore costs.
Military Control of the City vs. Countryside: In peace, one country can control a colonial city, while another controls the territory. This was frustrating in planning movements (I am allies with the city and not the territory), colonial cards (France still owned Hanoi despite being in my protectorate, and then I couldn't play cards to get my CP up for a colony), or losing a city to an ally (my Prussian allies helped me in Africa against a rebellion... then owned my colonial capital the rest of the game)
General management: I wish there was a way to know a general would potentially be up for retirement, or have some sort of smooth transition. Nothing was worse than midwar in France or India, 1/3rd of my generals retire, their replacements spawn in St. Pete, and half my armies are underled or without a leader, while on the front. I don't have an elegant solution, but it got to the point I declared wars right after the yearly retirement, and then try to have peace before it hit again.
Free railroads: Are great... but in game there is no way to know which ones you'll get for free if you wait, or when.
Event descriptions: I have a rough idea what the First Duma and Second Duma were- but I have no idea how it impacts my current empire (even if it was a vague "Happiness increases" or something like that)
My preface here is I am no programmer and I don't even claim to be able to do better.
Game lockups/bugs: I believe three times my game crashed to a point I had to come here for help, I also couldn't offer peace within the game several times, I couldn't see/cancel the right treaties, and these were very frustrating as a player. (on the plus side, all of you here at the forums and aegod are very helpful when these things come up).
Event Chains vs. current situation: The immediate example was the WWI chain, where as a human, I couldn't even use my C-B against Austria without having to cancel treaties, and I wouldn't have cared if my Ally kept a Balkan uprising down. I also know I missed some Russo-Japanese wars along the line. While this didn't really bother me, I felt like I may have missed a lot of historic events since I had alliances or wars in the 'wrong' places at the wrong time.
AI Behaviors: Three stand out that drove me batty: Stack of Doom, Failure of German and Italian Unification and Switzerland. S-P owned Switzerland for roughly 50 years in my game, and in that time period, either A. the other powers would've brokered peace or B. It would have been annexed. I'm not sure how (if at all) I impacted those items, but the Stack of Doom made the destruction of France trivial (You defend Lorraine with your whole Army... I'll go through Belgium and take Paris, and you'll still stay there.)
I know this is a serious novel- but hey, it's feedback and thoughts from 8 months of play. I'm going to take a break for a month or so, then delve in again and try to keep an AAR to keep my interest up- I'm debating on France, Prussia or Austria and I'm open to suggestions. Keep up the VERY good work Aegod, and keep the forums fun everyone!