On the Horrors of War

My army died on the beach.

The battleground was the Carolinas—a sandy, swampy land of broad beaches, surf, and room to maneuver. My town was situated along the shore, too close to the shore for my comfort, but I had no say in the matter. As my ally I had the Turks; Suleiman the Magnificent may be many things—a talker, mainly—but a powerful ally in battle he is not. Arrayed against me were two enemies I knew to respect, if not exactly fear—Napoleon and Frederick the Great. This could be a battle for the ages, as my battles against Napoleon often were.

I decided, almost immediately, upon my strategy. Deliver an early blow to either Napoleon or Frederick and destabilize that colony, then use the time that quick strike would afford me to build the economy to then deliver an overwhelming strike against both colonies, thus ending the war and, once again, assuring my dominance in the New World.

Treasures were plentiful in the early going and were to my advantage. Two Native scouts were rescued from bears, wolves, and pirates, and several caches of food were discovered. My supplies of wood, though not great, were adequate for me to place a trading post early, and food and gold were my priorities. By the ten minute mark I had built a small army of musketeers and grenadiers, and I was ready to strike at one of my enemies.

Napoleon. It had to be Napoleon. Strategically, the reason was simple—Napoleon’s colony, like mine, was built on the coastline, while Frederick’s colony, like my ally Suleiman’s, was inland. Attacking the colony along the water seemed the more prudent approach—there wasn’t anywhere for Napoleon to go if the battle went badly for him.

My army was on the move. I struck at a wood-chopping party and sent them into retreat. Then I decided I’d swing along the shoreline, take out any docks Napoleon might’ve built and, once those were down, move inland in my raid.

This was a mistake.

The destruction of Napoleon’s dock went as I’d hoped. The dock burned on the water, and it was good. But then, French galleons came within sight of land, and French cavalry stormed out of Napoleon’s village. My army was caught between the galleon’s cannons and the cold steel of bayonets. They stood their ground, unable to effect a strategic retreat. Within moments, my army was dead on the beachs of the Carolinas.

I had not achieved my objectives. The French colony wasn’t destabilized. Mine, however, was. I had poured my resources into building an army to deliver an early blow, and now I was on the defensive, needing to catch up.

First Frederick raided my outlying gatherers, attacking my lumber parties and my hunting parties. Reinforcements from my Home City, and a group of Black Watch Highlanders helped to turn the tide before my losses were too great. Then, Napoleon struck at the trading posts I had built. While he did not succeed in destroying any of the trading posts he attacked, he did keep my army, such as it was, on the move.

At this point I decided on a different strategy. One of the trading posts that Napoleon had attacked was roughly in the center of the map, in the midst of a fairly open field. It seemed to me that this would be the ideal place to give battle—draw the enemies here, I reasoned, and then fight them on my terms. One thing I had going for me was I had much gold at my disposal, so I bought a mercenary army and another detachment of Black Watch Highlanders, while also building up my musketeer and grenadier ranks.

So, here was my plan.

First, I would deploy my current army, plus musketeers and grenadiers, to the trading post in the rough center, there to draw out the French.

Two, I would deploy my mercenary and Highlander army down the shoreline.

Three, I would deploy a frigate down the shoreline as well, to draw off any French ships on the seas. Preventing a repeat of my army dying on the beach would be worth the risk.

Four, as the mercenary/Highlander army swept down the shoreline, I would put my center army in motion, to strike at the west side of the French colony at roughly the same time that the mercenary army struck from the east. Thus, I would catch the French in a vice and force Napoleon to his knees.

Five, to prevent Frederick from coming to Napoleon’s aid, I would use native armies taken from allied Cherokee and Seminole tribes to harass Frederick’s colony.

Armies were on the move. Napoleon took the bait, and he attacked my army on the field of my choosing. His force was soundly defeated, and then my army moved to the southeast, to catch Napoleon’s colony from the west. It swept through a thick forest where the French were logging, and a desperate battle was waged among the trees, but eventually the French colonists were in flight.

Meanwhile, along the coast my frigate swept down the coastline, and along the beach an army marched. To my surprise I discovered that Napoleon had built another Town Center, this one to the north of his original Town Center and much closer to the waterline. My grenadiers made short work of it. As for the battle at sea, the French galleons were no match for a ship of the line.

My two armies converged, and the French colony was razed to the ground in the matter of mere moments.

Meanwhile, my Seminole and Cherokee allies were effective in holding Frederick’s forces at bay, and I used them to draw Frederick’s armies toward Suleiman’s colony. I had two hopes—one, to draw Suleiman into the conflict; and two, to leave the eastern side of Frederick’s colony undefended, allowing my armies, now victorious in the smouldering ruin of Napoleon’s colony, an open shot as they marched in from the east.

I made a discovery. Frederick had built a fort about halfway between his colony and Suleiman’s. I called up congrieve rockets from my Home City, I had a group of musketeers arriving when I reached the next age, and my plan was for this force—musketeers and rockets—to take down the Prussian fort. Once that was destroyed, then I would march my army into the eastern flank of Frederick’s colony. Frederick had lost; he just didn’t know it yet.

With my musketeers defending the rockets, the Prussian fort was quickly dispatched. I moved this force closer to the Prussian colony, and my large army to the east moved in for the kill.

Was it a matter of mere moments? It seemed like the waiting was the longest part. Did Frederick even try to make a defense? His colony fell, and I stood as the undisputed master of the field of battle.

I’d had my doubts—watching as one army died on the beaches of the Carolinas had me doubting that I would emerge triumphant, and then having my own colony harried by the French and Prussians had put me on the defensive. But once I’d rethought my strategy, put the pieces into play, and forced the battle on my terms, victory was at hand.

And as a bonus, this was the battle that finally put my British Home City—named Edinburgh, not London—to Level 106. Bravo!

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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