Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Dark Man

There is a dark man in the ward. He lurks in the doorways of the surgery and at the bedsides of dying men. Flecks of blood from their coughing touch him and disappear into black. Their final breaths are drawn up into him.

The dark man speaks in the rattling wheels of a gurney, in the scream of an amputee. His voice is unintelligible, but it is full of meaning. I've been listening to it, waiting for him to say my name.

He is the only real person here. The men in the beds, with their bloody stumps and their shit-streaked pajamas, pitching in fever and shouting in terror, they only exist in parts. The dark man follows them in from the front, and gets in their lungs, choking them. They try to spew his name in wet bloody gasps. He gathers their exploded flesh from the mud of the trenches, and if I could see him, I think he would be made up of their discarded bits. I think he has my rotting foot, because the soft footsteps in the corridor sometimes sound like mine.

There were two of us there, huddling against the rain of shells. Nothing at all was real in that place. The grenade was small, smaller than an orange, and my comrade held it up as if it were a rock. I could see the dark man sillhouetted against the flash before he put his hand over my eyes. I can still smell his fingers. They reek of gore.

The dark man will be back. Whatever else he needs from me, I will give it to him. I wait.

Nearly forgot I'd written that one. Cheery stuff.

Sorry the game went south--contingencies for the loss of a player should have been established at the beginning, and I could have handled it better. But it was getting tiring of handling emergencies and shit.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Charlie Trenchboot

[Stories about Charlie Trenchboot were popular among American soldiers during the Second Great War. They originated with the French soldiers, however, whom the Americans joined to support the Soviet insurgency of 1940, and it may have not originated with them either. Below is the first known story (translated from the Italian) of Charlie Trenchboot (Charles D'armée), from 1905, during what was already known as the Great War.]

The second-worst three words that a soldier can hear are "up the line." The base camp isn't so bad really. There are the injured men moaning about, but not on the line like dying dogs, and here, there are nurses. Every Galician spinster aunt hovers around the camp, and those wrikled, stingy faces couldn't be lovelier. There are shells booming in the distance--they'd hit us if they could--but not so loudly or so deadly as on the front. Most of us lounge, eat local fare (pork and boiled cabbage), and furiously scribble at our memoirs, convinced that each of them will be of immeasurable value to untold future generations. It keeps most of us content, but we quake when the next round of filthy, wounded, and frightened men come straggling in to camp, and the rest of us waited for the three words to come. The only person that couldn't get there soon enough was Charlie Trenchboot.

The first-worst three words that a soldier can hear hardly need to be said. They are "over the top." Charlie would be the first one to jump the wire, and smart men would sometimes run behind him, because Charlie knew where the bullets weren't and the land mines got out of the way of his feet. But other he had to get pretty close to teh flying metal, and only Charlie was fast and smart enough to run between 'em, which wasn't good for the men behind. Those times, Charlie had to pick up and carry a man to keep him safe. One time, Charlie caught a flying shell and threw it right back into trench it came from. We made a lot of progress that day, but couldn't move forward much past that part of the Austrian line, because the rest of us were so exhausted. Somehow the base camp moved up a mile behind us that day, and, I guess the Ausies' must have done the same in the other direction. Nothing changed at all during that spring, but somehow we moved through Galicia, crossed the tops of the Carpathian mountains, and went straight on into the heart of Rumania by the fall, and the line looked exactly the same every single day.

It's hard for us foot-soldiers to guess when it turned, but Charlie was there the second it did. We'd been friends with the Emperor for years, good enough to "help" him govern two-thirds of his own country since the fighting started. Some said it was inevitable, but the truth is we didn't really know what was going on up there, and we were all surprised when we turned south, but then everything is a surprise to a fighting man. The day the orders came through, here comes this man, eight feet tall if he was an inch, and with shoulders as broad as a rifle, and a smile as big as the sun. Before we knew it, we were digging in and going over the top going south, right into a new country.

One time...

MAP OF SPRING 1905 MOVES (click)

Austria: Army Budapest SUPPORT Army Rumania
Austria: Army Bulgaria -> Serbia
Austria: Fleet Constantinople -> Black Sea
Austria: Army Rumania SUPPORT Italian Army Galicia -> Ukraine (*void, dislodged*)

France: Army Gascony HOLD
France: Fleet Gulf of Lyon CONVOY Army Spain -> Piedmont
France: Army London -> Yorkshire
France: Fleet Marseilles SUPPORT Army Spain -> Piedmont
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean -> North Africa
France: Army Spain -> Piedmont via convoy
France: Fleet Western Mediterranean -> Tunis (*bounce*)

Germany: Army Belgium -> Picardy
Germany: Army Berlin -> Prussia
Germany: Fleet Denmark -> Baltic Sea
Germany: Fleet Helgoland Bight -> North Sea
Germany: Army Kiel -> Ruhr
Germany: Army Moscow HOLD
Germany: Army Munich -> Silesia
Germany: Fleet Sweden -> Norway
Germany: Army Warsaw SUPPORT Army Moscow

Italy: Fleet Aegean Sea -> Greece
Italy: Army Ankara -> Constantinople
Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean -> Aegean Sea
Italy: Army Galicia SUPPORT Russian Army Sevastopol -> Rumania
Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea HOLD
Italy: Army Rome -> Marseilles via convoy (*no convoy*)
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea -> Tunis (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Venice -> Tuscany

Russia: Fleet Livonia -> Gulf of Bothnia
Russia: Army Sevastopol -> Rumania
Russia: Army St Petersburg HOLD
Russia: Army Ukraine SUPPORT Army Sevastopol -> Rumania


Austria: Army Rumania -> Bulgaria (only option)

FALL 1905 MAP (click)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Winter Builds

Austria: WAIVE (*no available center*)
Austria: WAIVE (*no available center*)

England: REMOVE Fleet North Sea
England: REMOVE Fleet Yorkshire

France: BUILD Fleet Marseilles

Germany: BUILD Army Berlin
Germany: BUILD Army Munich

Italy: BUILD Army Rome

Russia: REMOVE Fleet Norway

Turkey: REMOVE Fleet Black Sea

SPRING 1905 MAP (click)

Saturday, November 10, 2007


[From the Personal Diary of Oberst Wilhelm Soldat]

There is inconstant news here on the front, even with the wireless telegraphs constantly screeching in their signals, and with a regiment of men dedicated to their maintenance and interpretation. The wires that have been destroyed by the advancing or retreating armies have not been rebuilt in any case, and I suspect that the Russian organization was as inefficient and stagnant as anything else those people construct. But still, there is news. The English king has been siezed, and has babbled about betrayal within an inept Russian alliance.

I am surprised the Russians could be possessed of such cunning, thought their treachery is without bound. It is a nation best met with the jack-boot. Every one of the innumerable peasants in this land fights like a tiger, and, it seems can live only on snow and leaves. We have marched east toward Moscow, racing the harbingers of a brutal winter, leaves swirling redly, and winds that howl across the Belarussian steppes. We marched town to town, torching houses, and shooting the dogs into submission. Each looked the same after a time, and the drama repeated itself until it became empty of meaning. It was as if the very land rose against us at times, but we kept discipline in our ranks, and fired without mercy.

For months, it seemed we found ourselves forever in this camp, bloodier, angrier and colder. It grew up like a city. The Eastern generals quartered themselves in Warsaw, issuing orders by wireless and by courier, while we field commanders inhabited the countryside. In those backwoods south of Bialystok, it was like a city of tents and huts. We commandeered the town hall, which was the only brick building for miles. The surrounding wooden edifices were commandeered for officers' barracks, and the constant movement of soldiers, motors, and artillery turned the streets to mud. The surviving townsfolk either scattered or worked as our servants. Some attempted to go about their businesses, and the profiteers of various sorts--food-sellers, clothiers distributing furs and the like, servants, whores--they haunted our camp like ghosts, offering servile smiles at the infantry, and chattering at us in their unintelligible slurring tongue. A few have learned some German words and act as untrustworthy interpreters. Some have even followed us east. They are inches from the gibbet, each of them.

The first town on the march is as good as all of them--it was always the same. One or two shaking men greet us at a crossroads or a bend. By that point, we had already distributed scouts and riflemen to secure whatever meager vantages their flat environs provide. We stated our intentions. Some would accede, but most did not. We shot them as they fled. We marched, and if there is an organized front, we spread, shooting. The real army lurking to the east loomed over us, and we close on them now. But I believe I will never forget the peasants unfit for combat that fell in profusion to our guns and blades, biding time for the Russian resistance. We would walk to the center of town to the whining of the women, children, and old men. We shot anyone who seemed capable of malice until they gave up their stores. Then we marched on, eternally waylaid by incompetent ambush and by all sorts of civilian malice, smelling the dense Russian snows that always felt days away. Some of the German men may have thought of their wives and sons as they subdueed the populace, but we are all harder from this march. Under the iron will of the Chancellor, the army will not be stopped for long, and not by rabble.

Have we enough time to siege the city? Have they the strength to withstand us? Thus are the annals of history written. Moscow awaits.

MAP OF FALL 1904 MOVES (click)Austria: Army Budapest SUPPORT Army Bulgaria -> Rumania
Austria: Army Bulgaria -> Rumania
Austria: Fleet Constantinople SUPPORT Italian Army Smyrna -> Ankara
Austria: Army Serbia -> Bulgaria

England: Fleet North Sea HOLD
England: Fleet Yorkshire SUPPORT Fleet North Sea

France: Army Brest -> Gascony
France: Fleet English Channel -> Mid-Atlantic Ocean
France: Army Gascony -> Spain
France: Fleet Gulf of Lyon SUPPORT Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean -> Western Mediterranean
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean -> Western Mediterranean
France: Army Wales -> London

Germany: Fleet Baltic Sea -> Sweden
Germany: Army Belgium -> Holland (*bounce*)
Germany: Fleet Denmark SUPPORT Fleet Baltic Sea -> Sweden
Germany: Fleet Helgoland Bight -> North Sea (*bounce*)
Germany: Army Kiel -> Holland (*bounce*)
Germany: Army Livonia -> Moscow
Germany: Army Warsaw SUPPORT Army Livonia -> Moscow

Italy: Fleet Aegean Sea SUPPORT Austrian Fleet Constantinople
Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean -> Ionian Sea (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Galicia -> Ukraine (*bounce*)
Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea -> Tyrrhenian Sea (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Smyrna -> Ankara
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea -> Western Mediterranean (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Venice HOLD

Russia: Army Ankara -> Constantinople (*bounce, dislodged*)
Russia: Fleet Gulf of Bothnia -> Livonia
Russia: Army Moscow -> Warsaw (*bounce, dislodged*)
Russia: Army Norway -> St Petersburg
Russia: Fleet Norwegian Sea -> Norway
Russia: Fleet Rumania -> Bulgaria (east coast) (*bounce, dislodged*)
Russia: Army Ukraine -> Galicia (*bounce*)

Turkey: Fleet Black Sea SUPPORT Russian Army Ankara -> Constantinople

Russia: Army Ankara DISBAND
Russia: Army Moscow -> Sevastopol
Russia: Fleet Rumania DISBAND

WINTER 1904 MAP (click)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Soldier's Duty

[...from rare manuscript-in-progress of Ziya Gökalp's, from the Historical Society of New Istanbul (their translation). Although the penmanship is similar, the ink used for most of the edits appears to be of a modern composition, and there has been much controversy over the actual authorship.]

Standing at the gates of mighty Istanbul
I hold my rifle in my hands
Powder charged, its barrel stiff against my shoulder.
I stand with the city at my back.
Flags from the minarets snap.
The wind with its sighing does not move me.
My back is tall.

Duty calls the Ottoman soldier.
I keep my body chaste and strong
My will is ready to heed orders
My heart is ready to follow
My life is for the country
My faith is in the Almighty.
For Him I stand without fear.

I will lay for my commander whom I obey without question.
I will lay for my Sultan, whose word is law
I will lay for the Almighty, and in the Almighty I place my faith
The gates of Istanbul will remain fast
Unmovable beneath the piled bodies of martyrs.
The rivers will run with our blood.

MAP OF SPRING 1904 MOVES (click)Austria: Army Budapest -> Rumania (*bounce*)
Austria: Fleet Bulgaria (south coast) -> Constantinople
Austria: Army Greece -> Bulgaria
Austria: Army Serbia SUPPORT Army Greece -> Bulgaria

England: Fleet London -> Yorkshire
England: Fleet North Sea CONVOY Russian Army Denmark -> Norway

France: Army Brest HOLD
France: Army Gascony HOLD
France: Fleet Irish Sea -> English Channel
France: Army Liverpool -> Wales
France: Fleet Marseilles -> Gulf of Lyon
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean SUPPORT Fleet Irish Sea -> English Channel

Germany: Fleet Baltic Sea SUPPORT Fleet Sweden -> Denmark
Germany: Army Belgium HOLD
Germany: Army Holland -> Kiel
Germany: Fleet Kiel -> Helgoland Bight
Germany: Army Prussia -> Livonia
Germany: Fleet Sweden -> Denmark
Germany: Army Warsaw SUPPORT Army Prussia -> Livonia

Italy: Fleet Aegean Sea SUPPORT Austrian Fleet Bulgaria (south coast) -> Constantinople
Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean -> Aegean Sea (*oops*)
Italy: Fleet Naples -> Ionian Sea
Italy: Army Smyrna SUPPORT Austrian Fleet Bulgaria (south coast) -> Constantinople
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea HOLD
Italy: Army Venice HOLD
Italy: Army Vienna -> Galicia

Russia: Army Ankara SUPPORT Turkish Fleet Black Sea -> Constantinople
Russia: Army Denmark -> Norway via convoy
Russia: Fleet Edinburgh -> Norwegian Sea
Russia: Fleet Gulf of Bothnia HOLD
Russia: Fleet Rumania -> Bulgaria (east coast) (*bounce*)
Russia: Army Sevastopol -> Moscow
Russia: Army Ukraine SUPPORT Army Sevastopol -> Moscow

Turkey: Fleet Black Sea -> Constantinople (*bounce*)


Monday, November 5, 2007

Winter Builds

No story today, I know you're all deeply disappointed. Here are the winter builds. I am going to remain fairly useless until Wednesday, but I should be able to work OK from then.
England: REMOVE Fleet Clyde
England: REMOVE Fleet English Channel
France: BUILD Fleet Marseilles
Germany: BUILD Fleet Kiel
Italy: BUILD Fleet Naples
Russia: BUILD Army Sevastopol
Turkey: REMOVE Army Constantinople

SPRING 1904 MAP (click)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Captain's Log (II)

[From the diary of Cock Turlington...]

Nov. 2, 1903
Command remains a grim duty, had I once thought it glorious? Such childish sentiment. I have watched my brothers die on the shores of Belgium, unable to flee to safety of the seas, sprinting heedless into the bloody foam under the hail of guns and bombs. We rowed to them, some we even saved. It mattered little. They looked behind them as they ran, not out to their would-be rescuers, fleeing the wave of gray uniforms that stormed the crests. We fired our guns. They landed everhwhere, strewing broken earth and bodies. The bodies, sailing unnaturally through the air. I can't rid them from my mind.

What since then? I have attacked the French fleet. The Evitable, Lord bless her, is still a mightier vessel than any of them, neglecting the "secret weapon" I've seen written in my correspondences to Headquarters. The very project is likely in danger. Regardless, we are faster, stronger than they, but by the dark of night, the French were indistinguishable from any other ships. I fear we gunned some of our own--more flying bodies, shudder the thought--but the greater defeat is the loss of the ports of Albion. It's been nearly a thousand years since the Normans gained our shores! And though we engaged many of their gunships, we couldn't sink their ferries. To hell with them, the hated French have bested us with their mean wiles. They fight with no honor, fleeting past us under the moon, our great English guns splashing into the drink. What is the use?

We troll the Channel, my men and I, but the mood could not be worse. Fishing boats sail past us. Will the Frogs swim past again? I quiz my sailors with reports. 'Who goes there?' 'Which King do you serve?' as though to trick them. It is ridiculous. I fear the eyes of my hands, I've thrown men in the brig for rakish looks. Who can feign confidence in these times? I fear I am going mad.

My Mum, if she's still alive, considers cooperation with alien forces, or else flees to the interior of our island. The heart of the British Empire has never seemed so small. Did we feel so when the Saxon reavers sailed on us? Does it matter? I hope she has pursued the latter course, but I hear nothing here on the ocean, nor in our few hours in port. The Channel is too perilous to abandon at once. We fire our guns with futility on the French shores. Everywhere, the king loses ground, and I fear our supplies will soon wear thin.
MAP OF MOVES (click)Austria: Fleet Aegean Sea -> Bulgaria (south coast)
Austria: Army Budapest -> Rumania (*bounce*)
Austria: Army Greece SUPPORT Fleet Aegean Sea -> Bulgaria (south coast)
Austria: Army Serbia SUPPORT Fleet Aegean Sea -> Bulgaria (south coast)

England: Fleet English Channel -> Brest (*bounce*)
England: Fleet London HOLD
England: Fleet North Atlantic Ocean -> Clyde
England: Fleet North Sea CONVOY Russian Army Norway -> Denmark

France: Army Brest HOLD
France: Army Gascony HOLD
France: Fleet Irish Sea SUPPORT Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean
France: Army Liverpool HOLD
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean SUPPORT Fleet Irish Sea

Germany: Fleet Baltic Sea SUPPORT Fleet Sweden
Germany: Army Belgium -> Holland
Germany: Army Burgundy -> Belgium
Germany: Army Prussia SUPPORT Army Silesia -> Warsaw
Germany: Army Silesia -> Warsaw
Germany: Fleet Sweden HOLD

Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean HOLD
Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea -> Aegean Sea
Italy: Army Smyrna -> Constantinople (*bounce*)
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea HOLD
Italy: Army Venice HOLD
Italy: Army Vienna HOLD

Russia: Army Armenia -> Ankara
Russia: Fleet Gulf of Bothnia -> Sweden (*bounce*)
Russia: Army Norway -> Denmark via convoy
Russia: Fleet Norwegian Sea -> Edinburgh
Russia: Fleet Rumania SUPPORT Turkish Army Bulgaria (*cut*)
Russia: Army Ukraine SUPPORT Fleet Rumania

Turkey: Army Ankara -> Constantinople
Turkey: Fleet Black Sea SUPPORT Army Ankara -> Constantinople
Turkey: Army Bulgaria SUPPORT Army Ankara -> Constantinople (*cut, destroyed*)
England: Removes 2 units
France: Builds 1 unit
Germany: Builds 1 unit
Italy: Builds 1 unit
Russia: Builds 1 unit
Turkey: Removes 1 unit

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Examiner's Office

[excerpt from the personal diary of Eric Buchhalter, Chief Examiner at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property in Bern, Switzerland 1884-1912.]

May 2, 1903

11. Laterally Configured Universal Electromagnetic Dynamo for Powering a Rotary Engine. Sachs et al.
Summary: Mod. of Schliemann's design (see entry Dec 14, '99), with new orientation. Given to Albert to examine. Thoughts: Although idea has tech. merit, does not add sig. impr. on older model. Needs of universal motors may be imp. in future as alt. curr. generators grow in popularity. Reviewing more machine tech. good for Albert's training.

12. Heat Engine Based on Coal Oil Combustion. Leone et al.
Summary: Var. on Stirling eng. using coal oil as heat source. Rejected. Thoughts: Too similar to other designs (notably Stirling, 1820) and only var. is heat src. However, predict that heat eng. will prove more reliable than elec. engines over time.

Today's General Thoughts: Satisfying career watching human knowledge culminate, however today's appls. demonstrate how little left to discover. Spoke to Albert about this thought at lunch. His response troubling.

In brief, told Alb. thoughts re. scientfc. achievement. He replied that Ger./Fr. aggression toward Eng. and Ital. vs. Turkey have slowed research.

Granted his point: recent events across Eng. Channel and Skagerrak indeed troubling. (Ever-changing alliances of Eur. always confuse me. It is as if history means nothing. Did not mention this to Alb.) Still, science has uncovered all mysteries of energetics and balance of celestial forces. More, war efforts employ reschrs. (not slow them), but pat. appls. becoming more redundant than ever. What is left to invent, I asked him.

What holds spheres together he asked. What is light really.

aka the photoelectric effectGot angry and told him that Newton explained the spheres well enough. And what he didn't know about light, Maxwell figured out. Maybe someone will explain Hertz effect, but can hardly see the point.

Alb. gave most enigmatic look at this.

Go on to question wars on the continent that always rage around us. What's the importance of all that w.r.t. science?

It's all relative, Alb. said cryptically. Such an infuriating young man.
Austria: Fleet Aegean Sea -> Constantinople (*bounce*)
Austria: Army Albania -> Greece
Austria: Army Budapest -> Rumania (*bounce*)
Austria: Army Serbia SUPPORT Army Albania -> Greece

England: Fleet English Channel -> Irish Sea (*bounce*)
England: Fleet North Sea -> London
England: Fleet Norway -> North Sea
England: Fleet Norwegian Sea -> North Atlantic Ocean

France: Army Brest -> Liverpool via convoy
France: Army Burgundy -> Gascony
France: Fleet Irish Sea CONVOY Army Brest -> Liverpool
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean CONVOY Army Brest -> Liverpool
France: Army Picardy -> Brest

Germany: Army Belgium -> Burgundy
Germany: Fleet Denmark -> Sweden
Germany: Army Holland -> Belgium
Germany: Fleet Kiel -> Baltic Sea
Germany: Army Munich -> Silesia
Germany: Army Silesia -> Prussia

Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean SUPPORT Army Smyrna
Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea -> Aegean Sea (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Smyrna SUPPORT Austrian Fleet Aegean Sea -> Constantinople
Italy: Army Trieste -> Vienna
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea HOLD
Italy: Army Venice HOLD

Russia: Fleet Barents Sea -> Norwegian Sea
Russia: Fleet Rumania SUPPORT Turkish Army Bulgaria (*cut*)
Russia: Army Sevastopol -> Armenia
Russia: Fleet St Petersburg (south coast) -> Gulf of Bothnia
Russia: Army Sweden -> Norway
Russia: Army Ukraine SUPPORT Fleet Rumania

Turkey: Army Armenia -> Ankara
Turkey: Fleet Black Sea -> Constantinople (*bounce*)
Turkey: Army Bulgaria SUPPORT Fleet Black Sea -> Constantinople

FALL 1903 MAP (click)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Letters from the Front (II)

[From the letters of Hazavágyódó Miklos...]

Dear Miklos,

Thank you for the last letter. The money you send does help, but the prices here are growing much faster than your salary can provide. They have been recruiting for a new Army all over the country, and I have been helping at the offices in Gyula for a small salary. It is only a little more than what is required to pay the nurse, and the rest, with what you send, is almost enough to keep Janos and I fed. László--you remember the yellow-haired officer here--says there may be other work available at the headquarters, and I look forward to the opportunity.

We get much military news here. I am sorry to hear of your terrible retreat, but I am glad that you are well. László says that you should not include information of your location in your letter, as it might reveal tactics to our enemies. Please stay unhurt, Miklos, and stay warm.

Your wife,


Germany: BUILD Army Munich
Italy: BUILD Army Venice

SPRING 1903 MAP (click)

Saturday, October 27, 2007


[From L'Académie , by Aimee Ecrivain]

...It has been a most unusual year! Giselle has grown an inch over the summer, and has somehow grown hips enough to hold up her dreary limp outfits, and the boys--stupid things--turn their heads when they'd utterly ignored her not three months ago. When we skipped into the classroom together, hand-in-hand, there was Madame Lebeque, glaring at us and as immovable as ever. All you could see of her was a great pile of scraggly curls piled up over an ever-sinking scowl. I could have sworn that last spring, you could see her nose too. I imagine she was in that same chair thirty years ago, the mound of hair--brown or gold instead of dishwater gray, and maybe not even much out of fashion--staring down the students coming in. Maybe her chin even showed above the desk back then.

I was discomfited under the basilisk stare, and when it turned toward me, I slowed down and dramatically froze, which caused Giselle to giggle on cue. Even with her new womanly strut, the giggle saves our Giselle. She has a plain, though not ugly, face and her expression is quite often serious, as though she is focusing on the deeper philosophical meaning in conversation, the finer geometries in our playground and so forth. But it is an easy matter to light up that mouth and those eyes in mirth, and quite worth it. Mme. Lebeque's stare on me grew colder with my performance. She hardly seemed her normal, evil and dull self. She was agitated in some way. I really must know.

"Sit down children," she grumbled. Giselle nudged me, and I made as if shaking off a witch's spell. In our seats, we looked at each other. Something was up, clearly. Giselle hissed at me. "The new men in town, I bet you anything." When the English army left the city, it affected the villages towns only a little. Some men disappeared, sometimes new ones strutted about in one uniform or another. All the old men say it was always this way, even here in the south. They forever fight over our little villages and fields.

Medusa snarled from the front of the room. "There will be some changes this fall," she said. She produced a stack of fat pamphlets and placed them on her desk so as to obscure half of her visible head. "Please each of you take one of these. Calmly, now. They are your German primers" German? Giselle pushed me along.

When we were quite assembled back in our seats, Madame Lebeque spoke again. "You will have a new language teacher this fall." The situation seemed to demand a little more explanation. "With Monsieur Marceux..." (filthy garlic-breathed little lech) "...taken sick." She turned her head, and, to our collective amazement, stood up. The upper half of her body somehow looked exactly like the upper half of her face, all a pile of something or other. "Stefan?"

Now, I have seen boys in uniforms for school, for work, and, like I said, the English soldiers that until recently wandered through the center of town, they were very nice in their earnest, awkward way, but when Stefan (he wants us to call him Herr Gruber, even though he is very nearly our age) stepped in, you couldn't see his pink boy's face for all the polished boots, pressed trousers, crisp jacket that hung as neatly as though it were on the back of a statue. Even his...

MAP OF FALL 1902 MOVES (click)

Austria: Fleet Aegean Sea SUPPORT Italian Army Tunis -> Smyrna
Austria: Army Albania -> Greece (*bounce*)
Austria: Army Budapest -> Serbia (*bounce*)
Austria: Army Serbia -> Bulgaria (*bounce*)

England: Army Belgium HOLD (*no order, destroyed*)
England: Fleet English Channel SUPPORT Army Belgium
England: Fleet North Sea SUPPORT Fleet Norwegian Sea -> Norway
England: Fleet Norway -> St Petersburg (north coast) (*bounce*)
England: Fleet Norwegian Sea -> Norway (*bounce*)

France: Fleet Brest -> Mid-Atlantic Ocean
France: Army Burgundy SUPPORT German Army Ruhr -> Belgium
France: Army Gascony -> Brest
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean -> Irish Sea
France: Army Picardy SUPPORT German Army Ruhr -> Belgium

Germany: Fleet Denmark HOLD
Germany: Army Holland SUPPORT Army Ruhr -> Belgium
Germany: Fleet Kiel SUPPORT Fleet Denmark
Germany: Army Ruhr -> Belgium
Germany: Army Silesia -> Warsaw (*bounce*)

Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean CONVOY Army Tunis -> Smyrna
Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea CONVOY Army Tunis -> Smyrna
Italy: Army Trieste HOLD
Italy: Army Tunis -> Smyrna via convoy
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea HOLD

Russia: Fleet Barents Sea SUPPORT Fleet Gulf of Bothnia -> St Petersburg (south coast)
Russia: Fleet Gulf of Bothnia -> St Petersburg (south coast)
Russia: Fleet Rumania SUPPORT Turkish Fleet Black Sea -> Bulgaria (east coast)
Russia: Army Sevastopol -> Ukraine (*bounce*)
Russia: Army Sweden -> Denmark (*bounce*)
Russia: Army Ukraine -> Warsaw (*bounce*)

Turkey: Army Armenia -> Smyrna (*bounce*)
Turkey: Fleet Black Sea -> Bulgaria (east coast) (*bounce*)
Turkey: Army Bulgaria -> Greece (*bounce*)

Germany: Builds 1 unit
Italy: Builds 1 unit


Austria: 4
England: 4
France: 5
Germany: 6
Italy: 6
Russia: 6
Turkey: 3

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Captain's Log

actually the HMS Cornwallis
[From the diary of Capt. Richard "Cock" Turlington, recovered from the North Sea wreck of The HMS Evitable in 1992]

April 12, 1902
At last I sail again! It's with a deep and abundant pleasure that I captain His Majesty's fine steamship Evitable, of the new Duncan class, all 14,000 tons of her, with 82 able British hands on deck and below, and some dozen or so faithful negroes that have followed me from the dreadful camps of the Transvaal. Together, we pilot the Royal fleet through the waters of the Channel to face down the powers of the European continent. It is a job fit for an English man.

This was a lovely morning to mount the deck and breathe the air as it has snapped from the winter chill. A fine sea spray, and, at last, healthful northern air, neither oppressed with the salty heat of the southern continents, nor, worse for it, the fetid indoor air of an English study, all of musty books and hissing steam-pipes. All worth the wait, worth even the endless tiresome wheedling and letter-writing, and very nearly worth the trials of shipping two hundred Boer scum across the equator in a wooden tub, so that Admiral Fisher would offer command of this mighty vessel. It is a good time to be a captain, with war afoot and glory awaiting. May a portrait of a Turlington in battle can finally hang in our family halls after decades of, dare I say it, unremarkable commands.

The Evitable is no mere conveyance! No mere carrier of armies! She can ship at 19 knots, faster than all battlecruisers before her, and aim and fire all 28 of her cannon in unison. She's equipped with torpedo tubes to sink the wretched wine-drinkers and especially the Huns. A behemoth of steel plate, fire, coal, steam, and speed. None can match her and none can catch her.

She's a better ship than those ponderous German vessels, and should avail herself better than they have, if the King's intelligence is accurate, off the eastern coast of Denmark last month against the barely civilized Russians. Or that is what we have heard from Norway. A thousand years of history have reduced the primitive northmen to spies and proxies. I daresay we owe them as much. Our scouts on the channel have reported that the Normans stir themselves too, and, if they're to be believed, seek to float their hulks surreptiously off of our south coast. Not if King Edward disallows it! Let them taste our cannon!

I must address the crew.

MAP OF MOVES (click)

Austria: Army Albania -> Trieste (*bounce*)
Austria: Army Budapest -> Rumania (*bounce*)
Austria: Army Bulgaria SUPPORT Army Budapest -> Rumania (*cut, dislodged*)
Austria: Fleet Greece -> Aegean Sea

England: Army Belgium HOLD
England: Fleet Edinburgh -> Norwegian Sea
England: Fleet London -> English Channel
England: Fleet North Sea SUPPORT Fleet London -> English Channel
England: Fleet Norway HOLD

France: Fleet Brest -> English Channel (*bounce*)
France: Army Burgundy SUPPORT Army Paris -> Picardy
France: Army Paris -> Picardy
France: Fleet Portugal -> Mid-Atlantic Ocean
France: Army Spain -> Gascony

Germany: Fleet Denmark SUPPORT Fleet Kiel -> Baltic Sea (*cut*)
Germany: Army Holland SUPPORT Army Ruhr
Germany: Fleet Kiel -> Baltic Sea (*bounce*)
Germany: Army Munich -> Silesia
Germany: Army Ruhr HOLD

Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea -> Eastern Mediterranean
Italy: Fleet Naples -> Ionian Sea
Italy: Fleet Rome -> Tyrrhenian Sea
Italy: Army Trieste -> Budapest (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Tunis HOLD

Russia: Fleet Gulf of Bothnia -> Baltic Sea (*bounce*)
Russia: Army Moscow -> Ukraine
Russia: Fleet Rumania SUPPORT Turkish Army Constantinople -> Bulgaria (*cut*)
Russia: Army Sevastopol SUPPORT Fleet Rumania
Russia: Fleet St Petersburg (north coast) -> Barents Sea
Russia: Army Sweden -> Denmark (*bounce*)

Turkey: Fleet Black Sea SUPPORT Army Constantinople -> Bulgaria
Turkey: Army Constantinople -> Bulgaria
Turkey: Army Smyrna -> Armenia

Austria: Army Bulgaria -> Serbia
FALL 1902 MAP (click)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Letters from the Front

[Selection from the collected letters from Hazavágyódó Miklos (family name unknown), discovered during an apartment renovation in 1954. Courtesy of the Magyar-Slovenian National Archive.]

My dearest Anna,

Oh, how I have missed you! The men here have taken to calling me Homesick Miklos in the old fashion, I pine for you so. 'Homesick Miklos,' they say, 'crying after his little wife and son.' There are four of us Miklos in my regiment alone, so we need the extra names. Barrel-Chested Miklos is the man I told you about in my last letter, the man who was whipped for drunkenness in front of everyone. I do not know if he was really drunk, but he is very big and I suspect the Szakaszvezető wished to make an example of him. There are many such examples, but the food is not bad this far south, and they pay us. Even though it is cold, it is not as cold as in Gyula, and we soldiers are warm enough here. I hope that the meager salary you find within can help feed little Janos, he is such a fair little boy.

I tell you about Barrel-Chested Miklos because we have grown to be good friends. It is good to have a man so strong as your friend. He has not caused trouble since his beating, and I have done my best to be an obedient Honvéd. We are the Gyula 4 Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment, and even though they have moved us to southern lands, (as you know, becuase it has been nearly eight months since we could see each other, my dear) we all still call it the Gyula regiment.

Dear, we have marched and marched, and I have seen battle! This, at least, is what Szakaszvezető Scőlz has told us. Battle seems little danger, my love, but it is very exhausting. We have marched eastward many miles along a fine, wide river, and then many more miles south. The Gyula regiment is nearly in the middle of our Empire's army, and the leading units surprised a contingent of Moors that had wandered into the country, and were making their way to the capital, which for some reason they call Zsofia, as though the city were a wife. They fought, I am told, and the Turks ran. No one knows where they ran to.

Barrel-chested Miklos says that our army chased the Turks clear into the channel, however the Szakaszvezető told our small batallion not to be too sure of ourselves, because there are Russians on the waters, and the boats were shooting big guns on teh Turkish army to make them afraid. Szakaszvezető Scőlz says we would be fighting them ourselves and maybe even have retreated if they'd received support from their capital, or if the Turkish fleet had occupied the Russian one. He says we are very lucky, and I think he mistrusts the Russians too. He has made many unsavory comments about foreign generals (even the ones in our glorious empire) and the ability of all commanders everywhere. Barrel-chested Miklos laughs at all of this, and says we were just too mighty for them, that nothing can stop the empire of the dual monarchy.

I do not know if I agree with either, Anna. The purpose of the Army appears to be to threaten and posture. I think I prefer this to actually fighting other men, but I know that fighting has happened too and not far away. I don't know if I could stand to kill another man. Barrel-Chested Miklos talks as if he would like to do this, but I think he is as afraid as I am.

I miss you dearly my love.

--Hazavágyódó Miklos

Austria: BUILD Army Budapest
England: BUILD Fleet Edinburgh
England: BUILD Fleet London
France: BUILD Fleet Brest
France: BUILD Army Paris
Germany: BUILD Fleet Kiel
Germany: BUILD Army Munich
Italy: BUILD Fleet Naples
Italy: BUILD Fleet Rome
Russia: BUILD Army Moscow
Russia: BUILD Fleet St Petersburg (north coast)
Turkey: BUILD Army Smyrna

NEW MAP (click)

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Soldier

[Excerpt from the short story The Soldier by Pavel Avtorsky, (1903, Anatoly Perevodchik, trans.)]

...Alina was a pretty girl with an inquisitive birdlike face but with the blocky body and ragged dress of a peasant. Her mother worked for low wages in the cold buildings of the Kurosky factory that were arrayed in a dusky expanse behind the family manor, where she threaded the great bolts of cloth onto the printing machines. The daughter assisted lazily among the domestic staff, preferring to daringly flutter her eyelashes at the Kurosky sons, and chatter with the other workers than focus on her chores. When she heard Captain Pyotr coming down with the men, she sweetly looked up from the basin at Marya Andreyvna, pulling her brush behind her back.

'We must finish the laundry, Alinka,' the old woman said sternly. 'Please, grab that ladle.' When Marya spoke, the wrinkling flesh on her chin danced lightly. Although she had buried three sons and a husband early in her life and had not remarried, she had developed the demeanor of a doting relative. Alina frequently called her Grandmother. She had been working at the estate since she herself was a girl, and was known to treat the young people as indulgently as she could. She winked at the girl. 'You can look at the handsome young man on the way back from the stream. Please now, don't rush so.'

Blushing, Alina returned to her task, falling to the routine of brushing and scrubbing in the hot water with her thick, red hands. When the basket was nearly full, she looked up expectantly at Marya. 'Yes, yes,' the old woman said, 'I can finish the rest.'

The day was bright, the grass soft, and upstream from the factory, the water was still clear and blue. Alina dropped the basket from her hip, and hurriedly plunged the shirts and trousers into the cool water, a stream of foam trailing lazily back toward the rocks, dappling the surface of the water with little rainbows. She had nearly finished when she heard the voices of men nearby. A smile dotted Alina's face, a sharp line underlining ruddy cheeks. She moved to the stream's edge and began deliberately laying out several shirts on a rock, listening.

The rheumy voice of Ivan Ilyavitch, she realized, was speaking to the young captain. She craned her neck toward the sound, and went even more slowly at the appearance of work. She could feel the flush on her face, but the men did not appear to be getting much closer. Ivan Ilyavitch did not move quickly.

'Tell me Captain...' The old man coughed, deep and wet. 'Tell me of the Army. Is there to be war?'

'Your hospitality is appreciated, Colonel. I don't know the extent to which you still follow the greater affairs of Russia in your retirement.'

Alina could make out a slow grumble. '... not greatly aware of movements south--we harry the Turks these days, yes?--but local events concern me greatly.' He paused for breath. 'You march to Riga, and then, I assume you sail to Sweden, yes?'

' guard the capital against the English, of all the races of Europe! They are sailing east, and the Germans and Austrians are consolidating territories too. They have made no action on us--we have even worked with Franz Kyu--but I fear the worst!'

'I have heard this as well. It is probably nothing, these European affairs. Tell me Captain, has the Tsar provisioned you for tents and uniforms? How are your men clothed? Perhaps we should discuss with Boris Ivanitch...'

The men rounded the corner to see Alina, clothes quite neglected, standing in the sun by the rock, attending their words. Recovering herself, she straightened her skirt and color suffused her brow and cheeks and she curtseyed to the two of them. She was aware of Captain Pyotr's broad shoulders, and how the sun glinted off of his flaxen hair and close-cropped beard.

The young man turned to the old, and chuckled: 'these mean serving folk never know their place, do they?' Ivan Ilyavitch wheezed.

Alina felt suddenly aware of her rags, her ruddy face, her raw hands and wet knees. She spoke no more and when the men continued on, she plunged the shirts in the stream with vigor, hit them with rocks and grunted at them, as though they held the good birth and fair hair that she did not.

Note: Turkish Army had no unoccupied center to which to retreat from Bulgaria and was necessarily disbanded.


Austria: Fleet Albania -> Greece
Austria: Army Serbia -> Bulgaria
Austria: Army Trieste -> Albania

England: Fleet North Sea CONVOY Army Yorkshire -> Belgium
England: Fleet Norwegian Sea -> Norway
England: Army Yorkshire -> Belgium via convoy

France: Army Gascony -> Burgundy
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean -> Portugal
France: Army Spain HOLD

Germany: Fleet Denmark HOLD
Germany: Army Kiel -> Holland
Germany: Army Munich -> Ruhr

Italy: Army Apulia -> Tunis via convoy
Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea CONVOY Army Apulia -> Tunis
Italy: Army Venice -> Trieste

Russia: Fleet Gulf of Bothnia CONVOY Army Livonia -> Sweden
Russia: Army Livonia -> Sweden via convoy
Russia: Fleet Rumania SUPPORT Austrian Army Serbia -> Bulgaria
Russia: Army Sevastopol SUPPORT Fleet Rumania

Turkey: Fleet Black Sea HOLD
Turkey: Army Bulgaria HOLD (*destroyed*)
Turkey: Army Constantinople HOLD

Austria: 4
England: 5
France: 5
Germany: 5
Italy: 5
Russia: 6
Turkey: 3

For Winter:
Austria: Builds 1 unit
England: Builds 2 units
France: Builds 2 units
Germany: Builds 2 units
Italy: Builds 2 units
Russia: Builds 2 units
Turkey: Builds 1 unit


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Old Country

[from an interview with Carmine "Fingers" Berette, San Quentin, CA, 1970]

The old country? Yeah, I remember the old country. Long time ago, some good times, some bad. I was a little boy there, runnin' around my brothers and cousins, doin' a little 'you know'. You don't know? Yeah, like we get in trouble maybe sometimes. Not much money in those days, not in the family, so we go get some. That's why we finally come here, you know? Land of opportunity and all that shit.

Yeah, so the one of the things I remember best as a boy, in the old country, I remember the day when we got us a queen. It was spring, right? Birds chirpin' and all that shit, and my uncle Sal comes out of the front door and onto the little porch he had, and says to Aunt Eloida, "we got a queen now," just like that, and I remember the way she looked at him, like she didn't know what to say. One of my sisters squealed "a queen--" Yeah, that was my little girl voice, you got a problem with that? That's how little girls talk, pal, they talk just like that. That's what I thought. Anyway, she said "a queen" in her girl voice, way back then, and I smacked her in the head because you know, a man was talkin'. But all us kids were really listenin' anyway, even the ones that knew when to shut the fuck up, because, you know, what the fuck, the old country didn't have no queens before.

"The fuckin' rice-eaters up north," Uncle Sal was saying, and I could tell he was mad, "first they boss us around, and the families do ugatz to stop 'em. People getting hanged here, locked up there, sometimes shot. Now the king Umberto whats-his-name is offed, and now we got a Rundipi somthing-or-other. You know who shot him? Anarchists! What the fuck is that? We're the fucking anarchists, and we didn't do that!"

I remember that same spring, next I heard about that Queen Rundipi--La Regina, they called her--yeah, next I hear, she's calling up a navy and uncle Sal is putting out to the sea. Last time I see the old bastard. She's got a rice-eater army marching south toward us too, and even though they say it's all our army, L'esercito Italiano, I believe that shit about as much as you do. Yeah, that spring is when I knew I had to get the fuck out of the old country, but it took a couple more years before I ever did. That's another story though, maybe I tell you about it later. I sure ain't doing nothin' else.

Note on upkeep: Control of the provinces is evaluated in the winter. When you look at the Fall map (scroll down), please pay attention to the actual locations of the armies and fleets as well as what color the centers are.

Spring 1901 Movements [CLICK FOR MAP OF MOVES]:
Austria: Army Budapest -> Serbia
Austria: Fleet Trieste -> Albania
Austria: Army Vienna -> Trieste

England: Fleet Edinburgh -> Norwegian Sea
England: Army Liverpool -> Yorkshire
England: Fleet London -> North Sea

France: Fleet Brest -> Mid-Atlantic Ocean
France: Army Marseilles -> Spain
France: Army Paris -> Gascony

Germany: Army Berlin -> Kiel
Germany: Fleet Kiel -> Denmark
Germany: Army Munich -> Tyrolia (*bounce*)

Italy: Fleet Naples -> Ionian Sea
Italy: Army Rome -> Apulia
Italy: Army Venice -> Tyrolia (*bounce*)

Russia: Army Moscow -> Sevastopol
Russia: Fleet Sevastopol -> Rumania
Russia: Fleet St Petersburg (south coast) -> Gulf of Bothnia
Russia: Army Warsaw -> Livonia

Turkey: Fleet Ankara -> Black Sea
Turkey: Army Constantinople -> Bulgaria
Turkey: Army Smyrna -> Constantinople


Austria: 3
England: 3
France: 3
Germany: 3
Italy: 3
Russia: 4
Turkey: 3


Friday, October 5, 2007

The turn of the century

[Excerpt from The Seeds of European Decline, Preface, by Prof. Azra Cohen-Smith, Harvard Press, 2013.]

Near the turn of the twentieth century, the world was possessed with a certain eschatological fervor, characterized by feelings of a certain perfection of the species by some groups of people, and by feelings of impending Biblical doom among other groups. A sense of exceptionalism abounded in most western nations, which led, perhaps inevitably, to continent-spanning conquest and war. Here is an article fragment found in the desk of Percy J. LaKwit by his great-grandson Jerome in 1982. It is believed to have been intended for publication in the New York Morning Journal ca. June 1900, during LaKwit's employment as assistant editor.


The Maine remembered
Nearly two years after the events which brought royal Spain to its knees, and freed the Nations of Cuba and the Filipines from its swarthy grip, we can now report on the legacy of President McKinley's splendid little war. Indeed, that legacy is progress, both moral and technological. Unassailable Scientific and mechanical discoveries on these shores will usher in a century like no other. Our railroads will tie our coasts together forever, and even now horseless carriages roam the city streets, freed from the volatile dangers of coal and steam. The plantations of the South rest quiet and free, and unlike any other White country, the United States thrives under the banner of unity and pluralism. Northern and southern man together defended the oppressed people of our rightful territories from the savage depredations of the Spaniard.

A look across the oceans
A new era of world significance awaits us. Asia with her rich resources lies ripe across the pacific. With the president reasonably restricting the Chinese influx to these shores, we can rightly pursue these ancient empires through trade and diplomacy. As Secretary Hay suggests, we can invest in the East like gentlemen, leaving the backwards African nations to the Europeans and their vile colonial ambitions. We will surely keep the Chinese from settling our protected territories of Hawaii and the newly acquired Filipines too.

Across the Atlantic, a new balance of power has emerged among the European states, which have, according to their inclinaitons, forged their own ethnic unions, as these United States fought to preserve a Union of law and spirit. These balanced forces will assure against any action by the nation-states. Perhaps the Europeans can one day consolidate their ethnic divisions with the success we have in this country.

In the Italian penninsula, the northern states and Rome have newly united their southern neighbors the rule of King Hubert, and will surely form a stable nation for years under his hand, likewise containing the Sicilians in their native lands and out of our fair city. The Prussians are united, and have grown a fleet to quell any British temptation to expand into western Europe. In the near east, the Ottoman Turk is comfortable enough having released the Christian segments of his empire, and the Moors look across the east to European peoples and north to the might of the Tsar, weary of battle, each content to mind their own affairs. Even the French have clamped down--

It is likely that the section after the tear referred to the conclusion of the Dreyfus affair, one of many starting points from which LaKwit frequently launched into anti-Semitic rants. No record of publication for this article can be found.

In any case, LaKwit, blinded by his own present, and hampered by certain centennarian beliefs, could not have been more wrong. The states of Europe were by no means stable in 1900, but were already maneuvering toward a violent clash of theretofore unknown scope...


Austria: 3
England: 3
France: 3
Germany: 3
Italy: 3
Russia: 4
Turkey: 3

Current Map