Up next is the sixth(!) installment of Make Love, Not Statecraft, a Faustian tale of love, war, and imaginary points. For late comers to this series and those who need a refresher, feel free to start from the beginning, check out last week’s episode or just get right in the thick of it.
Invasion was imminent. The good news was it wasn’t against us. The bad news was it wasn’t by us. All that mattered was that war was coming.
The moment I received the notification, I logged back into Statecraft. This had transpired a mere thirty minutes before midnight, the scheduled end of Turn 5. Whoever the attackers were, they’d picked an opportune time. The only people online were myself, Freuden (of course), and the President of Maldonia, Nicholas. Oh, and our lord and savior, Kyle.
“Who the hell was that guy?” I had wondered. Up to that point, Statecraft had been, for me, a rivalry between the Durendal Khanate and Styrkuria. Events of interest had revolved around our game of shadows. The DACT incident was just one notable instance of proxy conflict.
All of a sudden, there was a new power on the block. Maldonia had done the unthinkable: actually instigating warfare without even a casus belli. There had been one thing limiting war outside of pure balance of power: a cooperative goal to achieve world peace. If not a shot was fired (except at terrorists) during the game, all states would receive a hefty amount of points. It had served as a semi-useful deterrent from early Durendalian aggression, in fact.
Maldonia had popped the combat cherry. All bets were off and the only real cost to combat now was in human social lives.
But where exactly had they invaded? It wasn’t any sovereign, player-controlled state. No, they’d done something incredibly ballsy: they invaded Sapphire Island. Sapphire Island is a non-player controlled island in the middle of the ocean at the very center of the world map. It is incredibly rich in resources -- it provides 1000 of each resource per turn to whoever controls the puny isle. Of course, it’s also neutral territory that anyone can grab. To make matters more interesting, if the island is occupied by a player nation, the Sword of Amaru terrorist group would spawn, wreaking havoc across the globe.
So, the Maldonians had made a daring move. It was time for the Khanate to be daring too. We had already been planning to mobilize this turn -- now we had an excuse to justify it. We had entire squadrons of attack helicopters, a whole airwing of transport planes and a lovely array of cruise missiles queued up to be built by the start of the next turn. But we had something bigger up our sleeve. As a Military Dictatorship, the Khanate had a special, one-time use ability: “Mobilization.” Mobilization would grant the Khanate army divisions for free. These infantry divisions are powerful and are the only units capable of capturing territory.
The number of army divisions that Mobilization would grant was equal to the turn number times two. Since it was turn 5, utilizing that ability would grant us ten army divisions by the start of the following turn. Army divisions are normally quite expensive, if not prohibitively so, so getting them cheaply is nice. However, the true edge is that most nations can’t muster that many: Democracies are limited to building one per turn and Monarchies are limited to two. Dictatorships and Communist regimes could recruit as many as they wanted per turn, however.
Regardless, our military would be the strongest in the world by Turn 6. It was made all the more satisfying, seeing as we had had no military units for the first half of the game.
Before I did anything else, I called an emergency NOTO meeting. Rival or not, the Styrkuri needed to be present. Freuden was at the Durendalian HQ (cough, the Pioneer Log office, cough) within minutes. As the last minutes of the turn ticked down, we formulated our plans going forward to address this new rival.
First, Freuden would turn the public opinion against Maldonia. This was achieved through a few “Respected Colleagues” emails and the incitement of a full blown meme war.
Meanwhile, the Paladins and myself would prepare plans for a punitive war against Maldonia. The reasons for war and general public condemnation were straightforward: The Maldonians had cost us the World Peace award and incited the spread of the Sword of Amaru terrorist group.
Mind, I was really more pissed off that they had beaten us to it. Although, I took consolation in that the Durendalians weren’t the ones to draw first blood.
Over the following week, the usual flurry of memos, back room deals and tedious UN and IAEA meetings took place. I actually attended a meeting of all the leaders of the various states while these went on. Of course, the main item on the docket was Sapphire Island and terrorism. Oh, and a little bit about Durendalian aggression. Freuden took point as usual. Her concerns were regarding the island, yes, but also of the other terrorist group in the game: the Typhoon Pirates. These bastards happened to be camping out in two countries: Maldonia and, yes, Davy Jones’ Locker. Dealing with them would be obscenely difficult without the aid of their host countries.
Nicholas then blindsided us. We expected a hard fight. Instead, he made a clever offer: in return for giving him a pass on the Island, his country would personally eliminate the Typhoon Pirates in his nation and the Sword of Amaru itself. I was stunned. Mind, I didn’t really care about the Pirates--they hadn’t really pillaged my country yet. It was the effectiveness of his offer that surprised me. Folks accepted it quickly. Davy Jones’ Locker was cajoled into eliminating the Typhoon Pirate bases in their country as well -- all at the cost of some of Styrkuria’s ample resources.
I was a little pissed off however. Folks had gotten wind of our Mobilization, as expected, although the full extent of our army wasn’t necessarily public. They had also learned that Jeremiah had already made a bid on the Schwartzkopf War College, a big project that would make all military upkeep zero. Considering all of this, people were a tiny bit concerned.
I had planned on placating them by offering up the services of our new commandos. The technology (and it was the highest military technology too) required to access the War College also gave access to terrorist fighting commandos. The Khanate had been planning on justifying our technological development as a way to produce our personal SEAL Team Six.
However, Nicholas had taken that option away by offering to take out the terrorists himself. I managed to leave the meeting without being completely roasted alive, at least. Still, the actions of Maldonia during that meeting had tossed the Khanate back into the fire of public opinion. Not only that, their agreements and amicability made any punitive action against them moot. There went our one legitimate chance to test our newly massive military might.
Or so we thought. We’d received a spy report of incredible importance: DACT had built another nuke. I couldn’t believe our luck. They had clearly and unequivocally broken the IAEA treaty! Their one-nuke-limit had been shattered. Mind, due to the general impotence of the IAEA, punitive action through that IO would be minimal to nonexistent.
Thus, an application of the Khan Doctrine would be needed. The Khan Doctrine would be this: Any actor seeking nuclear weapons, in clear violation of the treaty, would receive punitive action by a coalition of the willing. Of course, that coalition of the willing would be limited to just the Khanate, but that was besides the point. As the only nuclear-immune country (due to the SDI we’d built the previous turn), we’d be the only ones who could safely stop a rogue, nuclear actor.
That’s how we justified our actions, anyway.
In the waning hours of the sixth turn, the members of Durendal Khanate christened our new horde. It would be called the Isten Kardja, the “sword of god,” which legend has it Attila the Hun wielded. We loaded the men of the Isten Kardja into transport planes, sent our helicopters into the air and primed our arsenal of cruise missiles for the imminent attack. War was coming.
There could be no mistakes. If we couldn’t take the country in one turn, a protracted quagmire would be soon to erupt. Not only that, DACT would still have access to their nukes and hold one of our allies, such as Styrkuria, hostage. We had to take them out in one fell swoop.
Operation TIMBER it was called.
To this day, I do not know whether or not it was my biggest mistake.