Northern Beholder

Where history and gaming collide.

Month: October, 2012

Historical Game Spotlight: Crusader Kings II

I think it’s about time to ease back into some history on this poor old history blog.  Baby steps, though – let’s wean ourselves off the recent gaming binge slowly.  What better way than to talk about a game that is about history?  I say absolutely none, mostly because I want to talk about Crusader Kings II.

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Easier Said than Done: The Ascalonian Catacombs, IV

Welcome to the final part of this guide to the Ascalonian Catacombs explorable mode, and say hello to Nymera Frostpaw, a level 80 Charr thief.  She’s joining us for this final leg as Orbixitron was sadly unable to make it; the rest of the team remains the same. Nymera is the thief who inspired that tip on stealthily retrieving the scepter pieces in Hodgins’ path.

So! Tzark’s leg of the dungeon. There’s much fire and furor over this particular leg on both the offical GW2 forums and the internet at large.  Let’s find out why!

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Easier Said than Done: The Ascalonian Catacombs, III

Detha’s path is done, and now there are only two more remaining.  This explorable stuff isn’t so unbeatable, right?  Now it’s time to work with the human researcher, Hodgins.  His plan is … somewhat less sensible than Detha’s “Let’s blow it up with heavy artillery” scheme.

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Easier Said than Done: The Ascalonian Catacombs, II

We’ve met the team, now let’s meet the dungeon.  The Ascalonian Catacombs’ explorable mode offers three paths, each of which involves assisting an NPC on their harebrained scheme to keep the gravelings at bay while they work on excavating ancient relics.  Each path is fairly short, and can be completed much faster than the story mode dungeon – but then, that’s why there’s three of them. Today we’ll be covering the path of Detha, the Charr.

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Easier Said than Done: The Ascalonian Catacombs, I

So, you’re feeling like you’ve got this Guild Wars 2 thing under control. You’ve played through most of your race’s PvE zones.  You’ve conquered story mode in several dungeons – maybe all of them!  You’re confident in your skill selection, your traits, and your gear.  You think it’s time for explorable mode – and then you die.

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Project Eternity

Project Eternity is the new old RPG being made by Obsidian Entertainment.  If you follow Kickstarter, or Obsidian, you already know about it – an isometric party-based game in the style of the old classics such as Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate.  Between Kickstarter and their Paypal donations, Obsidian raised just over four million dollars for their project, far more than the $1.1 million they were aiming for. As a result, they have added a truly staggering amount of extra content into the features list of the game thanks to the “stretch goals” meant to entice potential donations beyond their original asking price.  Despite this, as of the time of writing they are still aiming for the original release date 18 months from now.

And this is where I start to get concerned.

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Political Masterclass: Alexander, Liberator of the Greeks V

For all Alexander’s speeches about liberating the Greeks of Asia, for all his promises of freedom from tyranny, his actual record is sorry indeed. Far from freeing the Greeks, he merely replaced a Persian king with one of Macedon. The League of Corinth was not an alliance of equals, but a tool to promote Macedonian hegemony. The “liberated” Greek cities of Asia often found themselves subject to tribute, at the command of Macedonian satraps, and with Macedonian garrisons occupying their citadels. The lucky few that found Alexander’s favour were still treated as subjects by the king, their freedom continuing only upon his sufferance. There was no equality to be found, no mutual alliance to be had, for the Greeks belonged to Alexander as surely as they had belonged to Darius before him. The introduction of the Exiles Decree threatened the political, social and economic fabric of every Greek city, and serves only to highlight the truth behind Alexander’s propaganda. There would be no freedom, no liberty for the Greek cities of Europe or Asia, but only servitude to the man whose armies swept all before him. Long live the king.

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Political Masterclass: Alexander, Liberator of the Greeks IV

The cities of Greece and Anatolia already groaned beneath the rule of Alexander and his governors, the populations incensed and resentful at the burdens of foreign rule, military garrisons and tributary taxations, yet that was not the worst they would face. The true crux of Alexander’s insults towards the Greeks, the final measure of his control and autocratic rule over the allegedly free and liberated cities of Europe and Asia, was a measure that threatened to destabilize the very society of the city-states and minor nations that made up the Greek world. The date when it was implemented is in debate, with some scholars placing in 324 BCE, scarcely a year before Alexander’s death, while others date it earlier, to approximately 332 BCE, when Alexander’s conquest of Asia Minor was complete and the Greeks of both Europe and Asia were united under his hegemony. Whatever the true date is, the reaction of the Greeks was the same: outrage.

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Political Masterclass: Alexander, Liberator of the Greeks III

Alexander is storming across the Persian empire, leaving cities in his wake occupied and under the command of military governors.  In Europe, the city-states of Greece proper seethe with discontent, forced into a allegedly collaborative alliance that serves only to bind them under Macedonian rule. Meanwhile, in Anatolia, the situation is even worse.  The situation of Rhodes serves as an example of the sort of treatment those cities received.

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Political Masterclass: Alexander, Liberator of the Greeks II

For purposes of this series, the details of Alexander’s campaign itself aren’t really relevant.  We all know how it goes: Alexander invades the Achaemenid Persian Empire, inflicts a series of devastating defeats on the Persian army and gradually overruns their territory, turning it into his own empire which he then expands into Bactria (modern Afghanistan) and the borders of India before turning back and dying without an heir, leaving his generals to fight amongst themselves over possession of the vast territories he had conquered.  What we are going to concern ourselves with is Alexander’s rule once a region was under his control.

Following Alexander’s final victory over the Persian king Darius, he issued a proclamation declaring that the Greek cities were finally free of tyranny. However, the cities of Greece and Anatolia were free only in name, being in truth merely subordinated to a new ruler. The simple reality was that the Greeks were powerless to resist the might of Alexander’s armies. The traditional Greek citizen-militias, though heavily armed and armoured, lacked the discipline, numbers and coordination of the professional Macedonian soldiers, leaving the cities open to the whims and dictates of their military superior. As well, the resources of any one city-state were woefully inadequate when set against the reserves that Alexander had at his command, just as they had been against the vast ranks of the Achaemenid armies that had come before him.

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