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Rising Sun

Tue May 12, 2020 2:36 pm

Hi all. As you may have guessed from the title, this will be an AAR of a grand campaign I'm currently playing as Japan. I did not plan to write a report at first and I've already played over half the game : current year is 1886 as I start ! Before going on I'll write a short summary of what has taken place during the first 36 years of the campaign.

Also, I should mention that I made a few mods to the base game as, after the initial build-up, I was getting tired of waiting for the event chain leading to the Meiji restoration to move forward : Think of it as an alternate reality exploring what might have happened if emperor Meiji had become emperor about 5 years earlier !!

In the long run I think that this decision did not too much unbalance the game. PON is not at all like Victoria : There is no real tech race and your power doesn't grow exponentially as time passes. In PON you are limited by your Force Pool ( both for military units and structures ) and by the fact that new techs can't be researched before a set date. So, after the initial boost of the Meiji restoration, japan quickly reached a point where progress abruptly stalled : by 1870 the backbone of the army and navy had been built and would not change significantly for many years to come. Same was true for industry which was limited by coal availability and waiting for new techs to fire. As for reasearch, Japan was going so fast that I usually ran out of techs to research much before a new tier was available !!

This means that a few years difference don't account for much : it is very easy to catch up in PON !! I'm quite certain that by 1876 at the latest Japan would have been in pretty much the same state wether restoration took place in 1863 or 1868 !!

Only big difference would have been the diplomatic situtation (5 more years of diplomatic dealings with other countries) and the colonial expansion (more unclaimed territories left). However, the AI is so bad at colonizing that even as late as 1885 there were still many colonies unclaimed and ripe for the taking and, anyway, as Japan you're not really into the colonial game since you've got negative SOI nearly everywhere !

So, to summarize, I think that this alternate AAR should not be much different of what you might have expected from Japan after 1876. It just goes a little faster in the beginning.
Last edited by jccoluz on Wed May 13, 2020 7:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 28
Joined: Sun May 06, 2018 2:44 pm
Location: France

Re: Rising Sun

Tue May 12, 2020 4:28 pm

1850-1860 : Bakumatsu ( The opening )

For more than two hundred years Japan, under the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate, had been nearly closed to any western influence due to the isolationist policy and the strict control of trade and foreign affairs imposed by the Shoguns.
The Satsuma and Tsushima domains were the only ones allowed to conduct any trade and merchants, anyway, were social outcasts excluded from the social hierarchy. Only inbound ships allowed in Japan were chinese, Korean and dutch !

To many westerners, Japan in 1850 was considered a backward underdevelopped country, with feudal institutions, led by a ruthless dictator ! While mostly true, this, however, wasn't quite the whole picture : At the end of the Edo period japan was well organized and prosperous country with a large urbanized and literate population and a small but healthy economy.

While direct dealings with western foreigners was mostly prohibited, demand for goods like tea, rice or silk was steadily increasing and were exported through chinese merchants toward europe and the united states : production was slowly increasing throughout Japan to meet the demand while a new class of businessmen was emerging (mainly out of the Satsuma and tsushima traders).

So, things were moving slowly and smoothly in Japan and would certainly have continued at the same pace for quite a while were it not for one particular event that took place in july 1853 : The arrival in the bay of Edo of four black ships led by commodore Perry of the US navy !

Perry 2.jpg
Landing of the US Delegation
Perry 2.jpg (12.56 KiB) Viewed 293 times
Commodore Matthiew Perry
Perry.jpg (9.66 KiB) Viewed 293 times

Perry, using gunboat diplomacy, delivered a letter from US president Fillmore asking for Japan to end its isolation policy and open Japanese ports to american trade. Perry promised to return later for an answer.

After Perry's departure debate ensued on how to respond to the american's implied threats but the shogunal court was unable to reach any conclusion. . Attempting to legitimize any decision taken, the shogunate polled all of the daimyōs for their opinions. This was the first time that the Tokugawa shogunate had allowed its decision-making to be a matter of public debate, and had the unforeseen consequence of portraying the Shogunate as weak and indecisive.

Finally, as Commodore Perry returned in february 1854 with a squadron of ten ships and 1600 men , threatening to bring 100 more ships within 20 days (which was more than the actual size of the US navy at the time !), the japanese gave in to all american demands. This decision would have rippling effect in the japanese society and ultimately brings an end to the shogunate and propels Japan into a new era !

Now, let's look at all this from the game perspective :

Japan in 1850 is a backward feudal state ruled by shogun Tokugawa Ieyoshi and Emperor Komei both of them having abysmal stats !! It has an isolationist policy with closed trade and no external projection of power.

Jap F1 1850.png
Jap F1 1850.png (991.11 KiB) Viewed 289 times

This means that for quite a long time Japan will have pretty much no available diplomatic options, no useful colonial decisions to play, can't lower tariffs under 33% which may hurt its trade and relations rating with other countries, and will have very very slow tech progress !! Besides, it has pretty much no navy (one war junk) and no trade ships yet. The small feudal army is mainly composed of Samouraï which are quite disciplined and well trained but are no match against western troops.

All in all not a very good prospect for the immediate future. However, let's look at some of the advantages of the country if any :

For a starter, Japan has quite a large urbanized population with an outstanding average litteracy rate of 94 % !! Besides, the population is pretty happy and the starting japanese production can satisfy nearly all their needs appart from luxury goods which means there is no impending risk of revolt or strikes. The litteracy rate of the population will somehow mitigates the effect of the backward ressearch of the country (and indeed even before the Meiji Restoration Japan was slowly and steadily catching up with Russia and Austria in regard to Technology !).

Then, economically japan is in quite a good shape : with 29 agricultural sites (mainly rice, tea and fish), 8 mines and quarries and 8 industries ( 2 textiles, 3 Mfg, 1 luxury and 2 military supplies ) Japan is already ranked as the 5th economy in the world just behind the USA !! Looking at the ressource map Japan is blessed with access to some very lucrative goods : there is lots of silk and tea as well as some tobacco which all sell very well and for a nice profit on the home and international market ! More of a concern for later, though, there are at the moment only 7 coal ressources on Japan mainland (though more can be discovered on the long run) and this means that to develop further Japan will have to invest abroad or conquer some more coal producing region.

At the start of the game Japan gets a positive PC income of about +155 without tweaking anything on the F4 screen. After shutting a few useless mines and selling ammunition and supplies to the world market it is quite easy to get about +200 PC per turn right from the beginning. Japan has then quite enough private wealth to further develop its economy.

Finally, and not the least of Japan's advantages, it is an island quite far from Europe and any immediate threats ( The russian don't yet have any sort of fleet in the Pacific ) : it would be a major endeavour and nearly impossible for most countries to invade japan and overcome its well organized army ! Being safe the country can fully focus on internal affairs and development of its economy .

So, while Japanese gameplay at the beginning of the game is quite limited indeed, it has quite some nice potential and the situation is not so dire as it look at first.

Now, let's have a look at Japan's main objectives at gamestart ( more will be added later ) : Well, most of them are in the hands of the Chinese ( Korea, Manchuria, Formosa etc...) some are disputed with the Russian (Kuriles, Sakhalin ...) and there is a bunch of worthless pacific islands where Japan can't yet play any colonial decision.

The Chinese empire has, at gamestart, more than ten times the military might of Japan ( this will change soon enough ) so, even if Komei had enough diplomatic skill to declare a war ( which is not the case ), these seem pretty impossible to acquire in the foreseeable future !!

So, keeping all this in mind, gameplay for Japan during the first few years is pretty staightforward : there isn't much to do appart micromanaging the economy and prepare for the future while waiting for the events to unfold.

My goals were simple : develop silk production ASAP ( At first I needed about 6/7 turn income to build one silk farm ) then tobacco, tea and rice ( being the largest producer of rice is one of Japan's starting mission). Later I'll want to build a few more luxury, textile and Mfg manufactures but I haven't yet access to those structures yet ( will get the tech within a couple years )

I also wanted to build a few trade fleet to ease my access to some exotic ressources ( these are not too expensive : 600 PC and 12 Mfg for one fleet is just about 3/4 turns income for Japan )

I spent the first few years managing my ressources, monitoring prices of good, shutting and opening industries as needed and investing some state funds into research when possible....

By 1853, just before Perry's expedition Japan's economy was in good shape : 5 merchant fleets were now trading all over the globe ( mediterranean, Carribean, Northern Asia, La Plata and Cheasepeake ), PC income and Mfg production had more than doubled and thanks to the import of foreign goods ( Wine, Rum, Sugar, exotic fruits, fruits, gold...) population was pretty satisfied, with an average of 95% contentment, increasing even more the overall production of ressources.

In july of the same year, commodore Perry visited Japan bringing an ultimatum from president Fillmore asking Japan to open its ports to US tradeships. He promised to come back within a year for an answer.

The shogunal court, quite impressed by the american demonstration of strength but at the same time reluctant to comply with Fillmore's demand was unable to reach a decison before Perry's return by february 1854 with even more ships and men. Finally after some more threats and clever use of ship gunfire, the americans were able to persuade the Shogun to sign an agreement with the USA and to end for good the isolation policy that prevailed untill now.

At last Japan was open to foreign trade and goods !! And soon enough, as was predictable, same demands were made by the other Western powers in the following years ( Russia, GB, France ....)

Of course, even if those treaties were unequal and were far more advantageous to the evil westerners, Japanese new businessmen did benefit somehow from their dealings with the foreigners and were even able to import some new technologies : by 1855 japan opened its first railway between Edo and Yokohama, soon extended as far as Kyoto the imperial capital !

japan railway 1855.png
japan railway 1855.png (1.73 MiB) Viewed 274 times

An institute of western studies was created in Edo and monetary reforms were made. Several frienship treaties were signed with the western powers, increasing relations with France, GB and the US. With the help of french engineers a new modern naval base was built in Yokohama while model factories were erected to serve as exemple for Japanese businessmen?

However, most of the population resented the injustice of the treaties and the presence of the foreigners. Furthermore, by accepting without conditions the terms proposed by the americans, the Tokugawa shogunate had lost a lot of prestige and greatly weakened its position as the ruling clan !

Komei's advisors, at the imperial court, seeing an opportunity to restore some kind of imperial authority pushed the emperor to take sides and denounce the unequal treaties and the shogun policy !!

During the next few years, the situation quickly deteriorated and the population became more and more rebelious. Several incidents ( attack of the brittish consulate, Namamugi incident, ... ) soured the relations with the western powers and even prompted the brittish to retaliate by bombarding the port of Kagoshima.

The new shogun, Tokugawa Iesada proved as incompetent as his predecessor and was unable to restore the situation : loyalty to the government was so low throughout the country that it had become impossible to build any unit anywhere in Japan !!

By the end of the decade, Japan had undergone its industrial revolution, had increased its economic output fivefold and nearly finished building its railway network all over the country but at a huge societal and political cost !!

Also, Japan succeeded at one of his initial mission and had become the largest producer of rice on the planet
Last edited by jccoluz on Fri May 15, 2020 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 28
Joined: Sun May 06, 2018 2:44 pm
Location: France

Re: Rising Sun

Thu May 14, 2020 9:59 am

1860-1870: A new era

As a new decade started GB was still ranked n°1, far ahead in PP. They were fighting lots of colonial war in their colonies.

In Continental Europe Austria had emerged as a superpower crushing France and SP in a bloody war while fighting and winning against the Russian on another front : It was by far the n°1 military power in the world ( This was due to a bug as I later discovered after switching faction for a few turns : Units on map had not been upgraded with the last Tech and the forcepool had been completely refreshed. Austria had 76 infantry corps on the map not accounted for in the forcepool which was still nearly untouched. Besides it had a monstruous reserve pool when mobilizing : 8 reserve corps for each subnations for a grand total of 64 ).

The US were having trouble with the indians and the ACW had not yet started. China was in the middle of a civil war fighting to suppress the Heavenly Kingdom and the ottoman empire was just recovering after being steamrolled by Russia which was now fighting the Austrian and losing territories. Prussia had been very quiet for the last ten years.

Japan was still ruled by the same incompetent bunch and was far behind everyone else as PP goes (even behind China at this point in game !).

This is Japan in 1861 :

Japan 1861 PP.png
Japan 1861 PP.png (1.71 MiB) Viewed 260 times

The rail network is now complete and after 10 years of economic growth development is now stalling : All interesting agricultural sites ( cash crops : Silk, Tea, Tobacco and rice ) have been exploited, I reached my forcepool limit of 5 luxury and 5 textile shops, I have enough Mfg for my present needs and am selling excess on the international market. I have still a few shipyards to build though to get some prestige every turn. I'm not building a lot of mines since most ressources are readily available on the market.

Because loyalty sank very low throughout Japan I can't build any more units (Though I researched some techs that give me new modern land and naval units as well as more and better trade fleets ).

I also increased my colonial penetration to 35% in Okinawa and the Kuriles but can't yet go over that Threshold.

Bottom line is that from that point Japan gameplay started to be very boring : Manage trade, invest in research (was waiting for mechanized silk industry to fire as this would be a real boon to my home production ) and then hit end turn !!

This is why, as I explained in the first part of this AAR, I decided to speed things up and see what would have happened if events in Japan had unfolded a few years earlier !!

Japan at this time was in turmoil : Tension between the Shogunate and the Imperial court, which was now openly supporting the anti foreigners factions, had reached its peak. In February of 1862, emperor Komei edicted an "order to expel the barbarians " which of course the shogunate had no intention to enforce but nevertheless led to more troubles and inspired attacks against the foreigners and the Shogunate itself.

In september of the same year emperor Komei died of a sudden illness and, as young emperor Meiji ascended to the throne, the shogunate faction hoped that order might be restored and the situation brought back under control. But they were to be disappointed : The new emperor was pursuing even more fiercely the same policy as his predecessor.

Emperor Meiji.jpg
Emperor Meiji.jpg (6.55 KiB) Viewed 258 times

Finally, now fearing for his own life, Shogun Tokugawa Iesada decided, in a last attempt to preserve his clan and what remained of its political power, to relinquish all decisional power to the imperial court, promising to remain forever a faithfull and obediant servant of the emperor and agreeing to "be the instrument for carrying out" imperial orders.

However, pushed by the most extremist of the anti shogunate factions at the court, Meiji declared his own restoration to full power and his intention of abolishing the title "shōgun" and ordering the confiscation of Iesada's lands.

This inacceptable decision was the last straw : Iesada declared that he would not be bound by the Restoration proclamation and called for its rescission while seizing Edo fortress and preparing his armed force. What was to be known as " The Boshin war " had started !

Satsuma Samourai Boshin War.jpg
Satsuma Samourai Boshin War.jpg (11.28 KiB) Viewed 258 times

The war lasted from February to August 1863 : The shogun's army of about 40 000 men was well drilled and disciplined with some units trained by french advisors and equiped with modern weapons. However they were badly outnumbered by the Imperial forces as most daimyos had joined under the imperial banners.

By april, after a few skirmishes, the imperial troops had retaken Nagoya, Nagano and Toyama and were threatening Edo were the bulk of the Shogunate army was entrenched. A small detachment had been sailed north to Hokkaido ,were support to the shogunate faction was still strong, in order to prevent any further trouble.

The first real battle between the two factions took place in early May to the advantage of the well prepared and entrenched rebel force. However, the arrival of a second column a few days later turned the tide in favor of the imperial Force : Iesada's troops were repelled and had to take refuge inside the fortification of the city.

Without a fleet to blockade the harbour there was no other option than to breach the city walls and assault the defenders. The siege lasted for a few month as the imperial artillery pounded the strong fortress walls day and night. At last, at the end of july a first assault was launched which ended in a bloody defeat for the imperial forces who failed to take the city but were able to maintain the siege.

Finally, on august the 18th, after a day long assault the citadel of Edo fell and Iesada and his daimyos, with no hope left, surrendered to the emperor : The boshin war was at an end and a new era for Japan was about to begin !

First political act by the new uncontested ruler of Japan was to move the imperial court to Edo a few weeks later. It was then urgent to restore order but also to reform the country.

On the 16th of october 1863, The emperor promulgated the Charter Oath that outlined the main aims and the course of action to be followed during Meiji's reign : It was revolutionary for the time and is still considered as the first attempt at democracy in Japan. The old feudal and status-class system was abolished and every citizen given equal rights and opportunities, the former rebels were pardonned and every faction invited to be part of the new regime.

But the most astonishing features of the chart was the fifth and last point : "Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundation of imperial rule "!
A few month earlier a war had been fought to the cries of " Revere the emperor, expel the barbarians ! " and now the new policy was to seek western knowledge and embrace fully foreign ways and cultures !!!

This reversal of ideology had been brought by the sudden realization that the only way for Japan to denounce the unequal treaties and be accepted as equals among the nations of the world was to modernize the country and catch up with the westerners !!

In a move critical for the consolidation of the new regime, most daimyo voluntarily surrendered their land and census records to the emperor, symbolizing that the land and people were under the emperor's jurisdiction. Confirmed in their hereditary positions, the daimyo became governors, and the central government assumed their administrative expenses and paid samurai stipends. The han were replaced with prefectures.

In game terms Japan new governement and administration looked like this :

Meiji Era.png
Meiji Era.png (1.2 MiB) Viewed 249 times

Japan is no longer a closed country, has regional power projection and standard research among other good things ! Besides the stats are now 8 8 9 which is pretty good and means that Japan productivity has been boosted overnight by about 25% and that I can now make full use of all the diplo options !!

With standard research rate, high education and still a very high litteracy among the population, Japan should now easily catch up with the western powers in the technology race.

Now that loyalty and trust in the government had been restored, the first priority was to modernize the army, build a Navy to be able to project japanese forces abroad and continue economic and trade development.

It was also very important for Japan to make use of diplomacy to increase relations with foreign countries and sign trade agreements in order to be able to acquires some needed ressources by investing abroad.

It was a very busy period for Japan : building of the first Battleships and frigates squadrons were started in the three main naval bases of the countries ( Yokohama, Nagasaki and Hiroshima ) as well as numerous transports. New trade fleet (steamers) were being built every years.

The first modern Japanese army was created and trained in Edo in the first months of 1864. It was based around a main force of 3 infantry corps ( including guards ) with Cavalry divisions and artillery as support plus specialized units like engineers and signal regiments.

To help with all the expenses needed for such development, production of manufactured goods had been doubled again. Japan had discovered how to mechanize its silk industry and had discovered some new sites for the exploitation of silk orchards and was getting a lot of wealth out of it.

Also I got an increase of my structure forcepool which allowed me to resume building of new textiles and luxury shops : the japanese economy was doing exceedingly well and was soon ahead of the United states (though, they were fighting a civil war at the time !).

On the diplomatic front, Japan sought to increase relations with the USA ( Who,by the way, had lost their war against the confederates !! ) and France as well as several countries of south and central America ( Brazil, Dominican Republic, Venezuela etc...). Of course, in order to improve the effect of our diplomatic actions, tariffs had been kept at the minimum while we made sure to buy as much goods as possible from our future trading partner.

Soon it paid off and Japan businessmen were able to invest in a few american vineyards as well as two more tobacco fields. A bit later we exploited our first sugar fields in Brazil and the dominican Republic as well as exotic fruits plantation in central america.

Things were moving nicely !!

Now that the country was on its way to become a regional power many thought, especially among the right wing extremists and the military, that it was high time for Japan to expand abroad and sought to build its own colonial empire like all the other western power !

But the imperial court was still reluctant and hesitating by fear of antagonizing such powers as France or Great britain who might not accept easily some new competition in Asia.

However, in december 1867, the massacre of 54 japanese sailors shipwrecked on the Island of Formosa (Taiwan ) by Paiwan natives led the Japanese government, under much popular pressure, to send, a few months later, a punitive expedition after the Chinese Qing Dynasty had refused to pay any compensation.

This marked the first overseas deployment of the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy , revealed the weakness of the Qing dynasty and the fragility of its hold on Taiwan. Diplomatically, Japan's embroilment with China was eventually resolved by a British arbitration under which Qing China agreed to compensate Japan for property damage.

Ryujo, Flagship of the Taiwan Expedition.
Ryujo.jpg (5.32 KiB) Viewed 233 times

Some ambiguous wording in the agreed terms were later argued by Japan to be confirmation of Chinese renunciation of suzerainty over the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa ) wich were soon to be claimed as a protectorate !

The success of the expedition was acclaimed by the population at large throughout Japan and encouraged further Japanese adventurism abroad : The court at Edo finally gave in and several expeditions to the pacific islands were authorized and even encouraged !!

In game terms this meant that Japan was now ( september 1868 )officialy entering the colonial race with a full set of colonial decision !!

First decision was to make Okinawa an official Japanese protectorate then a full colony a year later. At the same time, merchants and missionaries were sent to the Gilberts and solomons Island in the pacific as well as in the northern part of Borneo in the area known as Sarawak and Brunei ( Kushing was now a Japanese objective) which soon led to the first Japanese embroilment in a colonial war : An expeditionary force had to be sent to secure Kushing after the natives ( led by a 3 3 3 general ) burned down the mission and the tradepost in Brunei. The war lasted over most of a year in terrible conditions ( jungle, monsoon...) and finally necessitated the dispatch of a full Regular Infantry corp with Artillery and Cavalry supports to bring the situation back under control !

As for the Kuriles Islands, it was quite a delicate problem : Japan had to be careful not to antagonize the Russian who had some colonial presence there ( 20%) as The imperial court doubted they had the means yet to wage a war against the Russian Bear ! Though after the creation of a military outpost and much later a school for the natives, Russian influence had been diminished enough that Japan could eventually claim the area without fear of an international crisis !

All in all, by the end of the decade Japan transformation was astounding :

Japan was now the 4th economic power in the world just ahead of the USA, had the second trade fleet in the world and commercial agreements with over a dozen countries worldwide (especially in south and central america but also with the US, Siam, Persia and the Ottoman empire ) as well as many foreign investments ( American Sugar and Rum, Siamese and Turkish opium fields, US wine and tobacco ...)

Technology was now ahead of Russia and Austria and among the best in Europe (Japan was in fact already running out of techs to research in many fields appart Naval Techs )

Land Army was slightly behind France and China in strength and number and the Imperial Navy was the strongest in Asia with 12 frigates Squadrons, 6 Battleships squadrons and a few Gunboats for harbour defence. Slightly over 20 transport squadrons enabled Japan to project a significant part of its armed force should the need arise.

But Japanese force had never really been put to the test, appart from a few colonial skirmishes, and most western countries still refused to acknowledge Japan's rise to power and were still far from accepting the Empire of the Rising Sun as an equal amidst them.

This, though, was about to change in the next few years !
Last edited by jccoluz on Sat May 16, 2020 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 28
Joined: Sun May 06, 2018 2:44 pm
Location: France

Re: Rising Sun

Fri May 15, 2020 1:06 pm

1870-1880 : Rise to power !

Now, a lot of things happened to Japan during this time period and I think it would be difficult to recount it all in chronological order especially since I lost several of the backup saves I used to keep for that period ( That's also why I can' provide any 1870 screenshots ! ). I'll rather give you a summary of the main events separated into different categories ( Economy, colonial expansion, Etc...).

Economy :

Economic growth continued smoothly in Japan for a few years with many technological advances that increased productivity of many industries ( And Japan started to get prestige out of its level 2 factories ). However, with the advent of new agricultural techniques (Steam Tractors) demand for coal suddenly soared worldwide and led to the first shortages and a global coal crisis for which the empire was ill prepared !

The coal mining sector had been quite neglected these past few years since the ressource was easily available on the world market. Besides, Japan did not have too many coal sites and most of them were already being exploited when the crisis struck !

Despite many trade agreements with coal producing countries, and agreeing to pay a premium price, coal was still extremely difficult to acquire and soon factories where shutting by lack of supplies.

The only way out would be heavy investments abroad (esp in the US but also in France and Colombia ) which was extremely expensive although as early as 1871 money, both state funds and private capital, had ceased to be a concern for the Japanese empire.

Coal 1875.png
Coal 1875.png (1.22 MiB) Viewed 223 times

Here is the coal production situation in 1875. In white you can see the coal mines being built. Many industries like steel and military gear productions have been shut down to help !

While the situation eased a little by 1876, it took the whole decade to completely solve the problem especially as level 3 factories started to replace older ones and the country started to build more and more steam powered ships and developped its railway further.

Here is the coal situation in 1880 :

Coal 1880.png
Coal 1880.png (1.18 MiB) Viewed 223 times

By the end of the period Japan owned 36 coal mines out of which 24 in the USA !!
There were other shortages of goods throughout the period ( Mechanical parts, wood , chemicals ...) but all of these were much easier to manage.

Manufactured goods also ceased to be an economic bottleneck by the end of the same period thanks to heavy investments and technological progress in that domain.

Once the coal crisis was over, Japanese industry soared to an unprecedented level bringing huge amount of prestige to the empire ! Japan PP increased from about 17000 PP in 1875 to over 47000 PP in 1880 and was second in rank just behind GB !!

PP gain 1880.png
PP gain 1880.png (1.44 MiB) Viewed 223 times

Trade and diplomacy :

During the whole period, Japan continued to expand its commercial fleets with more and better ships in order to support both its trade and rapid colonial expansion. Soon japanese merchant fleets were active in every seas around the world and japan finally overtook the british becoming the world n°1 commercial power !

Japanese merchants were buying and reselling huge amounts of goods worldwide and the Japanese population had access to many diverse foreign wares in large quantities far superior to their own needs !

All this was helped by a very active diplomatic corp who was able to sign numerous deals and trade agreements worldwide.

However, the diplomatic focus changed somehow around 1875 : lots of efforts were made to secure the friendship of the USA and bring them to sign a defensive alliance with Japan ( needed to secure those coal mines !) and then it became also much more important for the admiralty to secure passage and supply rigths to allow recoaling of fleets worldwide as japan was becoming more and more entangled with the world at large.

By the end of the period such treaties signed with the USA, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, France, Siam, Columbia and a few other minors allowed the japanese navy to sail as far as Europe or West Africa without much problem. Only tricky part to navigate was the Indian ocean and the southern part of Africa but this was remediated by colonial expansion in that area.

Colonial expansion :

After the initial push in the Pacific and the claiming of Northern Borneo ( which did not please the Dutch at all ), Japanese admiralty came to the conclusion that it was a matter of national security that the empire gained the ability to recoal and ressuply ships, protect shipping lanes and securel all the maritime approaches to the mainland by taking control of strategicaly placed and well protected anchorages along an arc going from the solomons Islands and the coral sea to the Malayan peninsula in south east Asia.

Forays were made in Papua/New Guinea and Rabaul by Japanese exploratory parties while missionaries and traders activity increased in Borneo and Johore to the dismay of the Dutch !

Most of Papua/New Guinea would join the empire in 1876 while the declaration of protectorate status over Malaya ( Johore ) in 1873 led to the first conflict with an european nation : The indonesian war of 1873/74 !!

Here is a map of Japan's colonial expansion in 1875, just after the war with the dutch empire :

Colonial 1875.png
Colonial 1875.png (224.19 KiB) Viewed 216 times

After 1874 though, as Japan was facing an economical crisis due to coal shortages and was later drawn into another major war, interest in the colonies dwindled and no major endeavour in this area was undertaken until early 1880 when it bacame paramount to gain access to some harbour in the southern indian ocean and along the south western coast of Africa.

Military : Japan at war !

After the initial buildup and modernization of the Japanese armed forces not much had changed during the early years appart from the creation of a marine corp of 4 divisions and a few mountain specialists. In 1872 with the advent of the breech loaded rifles and some other technologies from the West the land force were once again trained in the use of their new equipment while new and better heavy artillery battalions were progressively introduced. The navy received its first screw driven frigates as well as new steam powered transport squadrons.

While the army and navy had been maintained up to date and trained following the counsels of the best French and German advisors it had never yet seen any real action, appart from a few petty colonial engagement in the Jungle of Borneo and later in Malaya, and the imperial general command was itching for some major conflict that would put its new toy to the test !!

Occasion arrose by the end of 1873 when a dispute with the Dutch over the ownership of Penang ( Part of the Malayan Peninsula ), which the Japanese intended to include in their protectorate over Johore kingdom, degenerated into a major crisis between the two countries : Japan remained inflexible, ultimatum were sent and by september 1873 war was unavoidable !

It was a pretty one sided affair as the dutch were fighting much farther from their home base than the Japanese imperial forces. Still, most of Europe had their eyes fixed on the conflict as interested observer : for the first time in the modern history an Asian nation was waging a war against a western power !!

As soon as october marines divisions landed in the Sulawesi archipelago while Japanese expeditionnary forces crossed the border from Sarawak and Kuching into southern Borneo.

Main japanese armies were to land in Sumatra, Java and the Celebes under cover of the 1st and 2nd imperial warfleet.

The first engagement of the war took place on the 11th of september 1873 when the 2nd fleet under command of Kaigun Kamawura Sumiyoshi intercepted an ennemy fleet of two frigates squadron in the strait of Sunda : The engagement was short and brutal and, after losing one of their frigates to the deadly fire of the Japanese warships, the dutch took refuge back inside Batavia harbour and were unable to interfere with the Japanese landing of the 4th army in Bandung !

Progress were exceedingly fast, despite the harsh conditions, as the Dutch had very little to oppose to the massive Japanese invasion force. With one notable exception though as the 4th army met stiff resistance around Batavia were the dutch had a strong and elusive army of mixed regulars and natives under leadership of a very able general ! However, after a few months and the dispatch of some reinforcements the dutch were finally cornered and crushed in a serie of battles near Malang and Bali.

By june of the next year, as the monsoon season was about to start again, most of the dutch east indies had fallen to the Japanese imperial forces just as the news of a war between Prussia and the Netherlands broke out !

The dutch had no other options than to sit at a table and start negociating for a peace deal out of the war : Japan had prevailed !!

In PON, the AI can sometimes be very stubborn and the warscore you need to get a colonial area is mostly dependent on the number of provinces rather than their real economic or strategic value? That's why the dutch kept on offering both Curaçao and Paramaribo, two very nice and rich colonies with a total of 7 sugar plantations, 4 exotic fruits and 3 tobacco (though quite far from Japan), but would not accept to let go of a barely inhabited large piece of jungle like Borneo where the only useful ressource at that time was a single coffee farm ( petroleum is useless in 1874 ). So I accepted their rather stupid offer and then scripted an exchange of provinces.

So, in july 1874 japan became the official owner of the totality of Borneo Island to the great joy of the Japanese high command who now had enough acres of prime untamed jungle to train the whole Japanese army in tropical warfare !!

In Japan, the population received the news of the swift victory with both pride and much satisfaction. Many were now urging the government for a new campaign and there were talk about an invasion of korea !

However, the Tairo was still hesitating to engage so soon in another major conflict : the economy was in difficulty due to lack of coal and it had became the top priority. But most of all, China was much stronger than the Netherlands and, in case of a Japanese invasion, the chinese would be fighting to defend their homeland !!

China at the time was, at least on paper, the 7th world military power just ahead of Japan. Their land army was estimated to be slightly larger than the Japanese one. Of course, the imperial army, trained and equiped in the western fashion would certainly have some qualitative and technological edge but some advisors pointed out, not without reason, that after fighting for so many years a bloody civil war most of the Chinese banners would certainly be formed of a large number of battle hardened veterans !! Besides, The chinese had just a few years ago repelled a Russian invasion in Manchuria wich astonished the world at large !

In February 1877 though, the aftermath of the Satsuma Rebellion, led by dispirited former Samouraïs and some hardliners disappointed by the imperial policy, compelled the imperial court to radically change its view about the Chinese question : While the rebels were easily crushed, the imperial advisors aknowledged at last the great discontent among the military and many feared that such events could repeat themeselves in the future. At the same time the economic situation was much better and the coal shortages were nearly under control.

So, from March 1877 to early January 1878, secrets plans were made for a surprise invasion of Korea and China : Fleets were refitted in the main naval bases ( With the addition of a new class of Ironclad frigates and some modern light cruisers), troops were drilled and trained on a regular basis, Merchant capacity in Northen Asia maritime trade area was more than doubled in prevision of the need to supply future operations.

On March 23, 1878, under cover of the night, the 1st and 2nd Marine divisions were landed a few kilometers outside Seoul with the mission to secure Gyongbokgung Palace and "liberate" the Joseon royal family before morning.
The following day with the opening salvoes of the Fuji and the Yamato the first part of operation "Wakisashi" started officially : the 2nd Army group (over 400 000 men ) landed in Pyongyang, Kimchaek, Wonsan and Pusan with order to occupy Korea within a month and then set up a defensive line behind the Yalu river to await the chinese counterattack.

By the end of May, the first Chinese units were spotted on the other side of the Yalu river and a few cavalry units were even able to cross the Japanese defensive lines unimpeded (I hate inactive leaders ) to wreck havoc in the imperial supply lines obliging the 4th army to play a game of cat and mouse for over 2 months, while garrisoning the main cities, before the situation could be brought back under control.

Throughout July, after concentrating huge forces in the region of Liaoyang ( stack of about 13000 power ) the chinese launched a serie of bloody assaults against the entrenched japanese positions in Yalu : The 2nd army under command of general Arimoto and supported by elements of the 1st and 3rd armies was able to repel the chinese inflicting horrendous casualties to the assaillants but barely holding the position. Finally, in the first days of August the outnumbered remnants of Arimoto's troops were decimated by the chinese cavalry after breaking under a third and furious chinese all out attack : The Japanese defensive line had been overwhelmed !!

However, at this very moment, part two of operation "Wakisashi" was under way with the deployment of the 350 000 men of the first army group in the regions of Tianjin, Jinan and Liaoxi under command of general Saigo Takamori : The attack on Korea had been a large diversion to draw the main Chinese force away from Beijing !!

The 7th army, after taking Jinan and pushing back a second smaller chinese force was able to move quickly north to besiege Beijing while the 5th army in Liaoxi would provide support and try to hold and delay the main chinese army now retreating from Korea. Tianjin with its harbour and fortress was key to the supply of the whole Japanese army in the area and the siege was under direct supervision of Takamori himself while the 6th army was still able to support the troops besiegeing Beijing ?

The armies in Korea, now free to go back on the offensive poured on the chinese side of the Yalu river quickly taking Mukden and Harbin ( chinese strategic cities ) and moving west toward Beijing themselves.

The fortress in Tianjin surrendered to Takamori in early september allowing japanese supply vessels to use the harbour thus greatly increasing the situation of the imperial expeditionnary force. At the same time the chinese were repelled, with heavy losses on both sides, during the first battle of Liaoxi just as a second chinese army ( 8000 power ) appeared north of Beijing.

Further south, imperial marines after securing Tabei and Tainan were now occupying Canton. Chinese national morale was at its lowest since the beginning of the campaign especially after losing both Tianjin and Mukden and most battles were now turning to the advantage of the Japanese imperial army ( especially since I tried to stay entrenched and on the defensive to compensate for being badly outnumbered ).

Throughout the month of october the Chinese attacked both Beijing and Liaoxi in an attempt to relieve their besieged capital but were decimated and repelled by the concentrated fire of the Japanese heavy artillery.

Finally, after a lull in the chinese offensive, the 7th army lauched a decisive assault against Beijing taking the city on the last days of November. Chinese morale plummeted and the japanese armed forces launched a serie of deadly attacks despite the terrible weather conditions . The last battle of the war took place near Jirim, Manchouria, in early January, where the remnants of the chinese army had been surrounded !!

By the end of the war the chinese army had been completely anihilated : according to the F10 screen they had only 12% of our land force left when they had started with 110% of Japan's strength.

After such a complete victory, I felt I could script my own version of the treaty of shimonoseki especicially since Japan's international standing in game was much better than in the real world in 1895 ! The chinese were proposing to lease us Lushun ( Port Arthur ) and to abandon any claim on Korea which would become a Japanese protectorate.

Of course the Russian tried to interfere but being quite isolated on te diplomatic scene and in the middle of another endless war with the Austrian empire it just amounted to a lot of empty threats ! Anyway, since the japanese occupation of the Kuriles Islands, Russo Japanese relations had never been good to say the least !!

Japan was now at peace, or so thought the Imperial court as in April of 1879 the emperor received a peace offer from Prussia ! :blink: . Nobody in the empire could even tell why and how we were now at war with the german but it was a fact ! (I sometimes don't read completely the turn log and we had been at war with Prussia for several turns without me noticing !).

We were losing the war because the Prussian who also had passage rights in France had been capturing our assets there ( coal mines, wine farms etc...). Not sure this is really WAD but it felt pretty unrealistic for the french to allow the Prussian to roam their territory at will capturing Japanese investments.

It didn't take long for the Japanese to retaliate by capturing the whole Prussian oversea empire which only amounted to a few provinces gained over the French but it was far from sufficient to get any positive warscore.

Only solution would be to send an expeditionary force to Europe and recapture our french investments : this proved the difficulty to transport large force to the European theatre without harbours in which to recoal the fleets along the way. This was the main reason why colonial and diplomatic focus changed around this time period.

After a few skirmishes with the Prussian, Japan was finally able to recapture its french industries and quickly signed a peace deal before the german could overwhelm the japanese expeditionnary forces in France. We accepted to pay them reparations for a few years despite being ourselves the actual winner of the war and they agreed on the second attempt !!

As a bonus though we were able to build 3 new coal mines while the Prussian were occupying our french ones and , since we were able to get back all our french investments at the end of the war, we had just increased our coal mines total to 39 ( 3 over the forcepool limit for Japan at the time ).

The rest of the world :

GB was still number one but not for long as Japan and the US were catching fast. After coexisting with the confederates states for a few years, the USA had finally reunited. Austria and Germany were the dominant states in Europe. France and Italy were only secondary powers after being humiliated several times by Austria and Germany. The Russians were mainly concentrating their efforts in Siberia and Central Asia but had regular fits with the Austrian and the Ottoman Empire which had been pretty much locked in perpetual war either with the Russian or the Austrian.

Summary : By the end of the period, Japan, at last, had succeeded at becoming one of the greatest power in the world, second in industrial capacity and overtaking France in military might ! Many of the western countries had accepted to renegociate the unequal treaties and accepted the empire as an equal !

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Location: France

Re: Rising Sun

Mon May 18, 2020 11:06 am

1880 to the present game year (1887) :

After the war with China (and Prussia), Japan enjoyed a few years of peace and focused on internal affairs and colonial expansion.

The steel production was greatly increased during the first few years and new technologies were developped allowing Japan to build its first automobile factories and increase its production of oil and rubber. Rail network was also modernized which increased again global industrial output : Japan became the largest economy in the world and finally overtook the brittish becoming the most prestigious nation. However, coal production remained the main industrial bottleneck, and despite the huge increase in overall mining output, the growth of the japanese economy was halted again around 1885.

In order to acquire recoaling facilities for the imperial navy, Japan focused its colonial efforts in south west Africa, acquiring Namibia in early 1881 ( to the great dismay of the german !) and Madagascar in 1883 ( which didn't really please our french friends !). Further forays were made in Bechuanaland and Rhodesia in the following years.

In 1884/85 Japan fought only two small and easy war : a second conflict against the Dutch which ended with the acquisition of the Island of Curaçao and another one against the spanish empire in support of our US ally. The invasion of the Phillipines, the spanish pacific islands and their colonies around Africa led the spanish government to cede Puerto Rico, Guam and the Marianas to Japan in february 1885 after a seven months war. (this peace offer was quite surprising since my warscore was just about 28 and the Marianas alone had a cost of 24. The spanish had refused all the deal I had proposed and suddenly made this amazing offer. Most strange is that Guam was not even available in the list of possible province for a peace deal !).

With Puerto Rico and Curaçao Japan was now a major producer of sugar and rum !

The army was slightly strengthened ( 9 armies now plus the troops needed to garrison the new colonial possessions ) while the Navy launched a vast programm of modernization with the building of 12 modern battleships and several protected cruisers.

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Re: Rising Sun

Mon May 18, 2020 12:40 pm

Hello, would you like to take part in our grand PON MP campaign? We have Japan vacant right now.
We now have 15 players, the pace of the game is a maximum of a week, and the end of 1851.
We conduct a very extensive diplomatic correspondence between the players, so the week is barely enough for a turn.

Posts: 28
Joined: Sun May 06, 2018 2:44 pm
Location: France

Re: Rising Sun

Mon May 18, 2020 1:00 pm


Thank you for your offer : playing PON with real opponents must be great !

However, confinement because of the virus is about to end in France and I'll soon be back at work : being a skipper I may spend long period of times at sea ( weeks, sometimes months ! ) without any possibility to connect on the net ! I wouldn't like to start and then spoil your game because I could not answer for a long time !

I just hope I'll be able to finish this AAR before going back to sea sometimes in June or July.

bye !

Posts: 28
Joined: Sun May 06, 2018 2:44 pm
Location: France

Re: Rising Sun

Mon May 18, 2020 1:26 pm

Before I go on with this AAR, this is the Japanese situation in december1886 :

Japan still has an amazing government :

Jap F1 1886.png
Jap F1 1886.png (1.29 MiB) Viewed 159 times

The conomy is first rate : Japan produces and exchanges huge amounts of every kind of goods and population needs are fully satisfied (including luxuries !!

Organic goods : I'm currently building fruits and wine exploitations in France and Spain after losing my Ottoman Empire production sites due to another War. Should get "the sugar cane nobilization" tech very soon which should greatly increase sugar and rum production.

Organic Prod.png
Organic Prod.png (1.31 MiB) Viewed 159 times

Unorganic good : New automobile factories in line soon. Coal is at its maximum production capacity for now as I have no other coal mines in my forcepool : I won't be able to develop much more until I can upgrade those mines to level 3 !! Note that I'm wasting some Mfg goods so I'll either shut down a few of these industries or sell a bit more on the market !

Unorganic 1886.png
Unorganic 1886.png (1.38 MiB) Viewed 159 times

Japan is now number one in Prestige with 100341 PP ( 47000 in late 1880 ). Industries alone produce 350 PP per turn !!

PP 1886.png
PP 1886.png (1.59 MiB) Viewed 158 times

The Imperial Navy is waiting for new toys with impatience :

F3 1886.png
F3 1886.png (1.14 MiB) Viewed 158 times
Last edited by jccoluz on Mon May 18, 2020 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 28
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Location: France

Re: Rising Sun

Mon May 18, 2020 2:00 pm

Here is the Japanese colonial expansion in 1886 including the latest territories gained from the Spanish and the Dutch :

Colonial Expansion 1886.png
Colonial Expansion 1886.png (1.4 MiB) Viewed 156 times

New colonial forays in Western Africa : We don't really need those gold mines but we couldn't resist the temptation !!

Gold Coast.png
Gold Coast.png (1.46 MiB) Viewed 156 times

We also absolutely need more sand reserves :

Kalahari.png (2.01 MiB) Viewed 156 times

This is the Objectives screen : Japan is now overall rank 2 but should soon be n°1 !! The empire is ranked as the 1st economic power, the 4th military and n°1 in technology !! Japanese overall losses ( 364 000 ) is very low compared to other great powers of the time most of these were taken during the sino-Japanese war of 78/79.

F10 1886.png
F10 1886.png (1.43 MiB) Viewed 156 times

All in all, the empire of the rising sun is in pretty good shape. I haven't yet decided my plans for the future !

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Location: France

Re: Rising Sun

Mon May 25, 2020 7:34 am


played for another 2 years and a half and it's now may 1889. As I said previously, I had no definite plan and wanted to simply manage my economy, finish building my modern navy and focus on my african expansion while waiting quietly for 1890 and a new batch of techs to research.

But, as early as January 1887, a general uprising of the natives in all my african territories obliged me to send troops in emergency as the few garrisons and natives troops I had in South West Africa were quickly overwhelmed !

The situation was easily brought back under control in Rhodesia and the Gold coast but in Bechuanaland the desert proved to be a greater foe than the natives themselves : After a serie of successful battles the imperial marines, supported by a cavalry corp, pursued the natives deep into the Kalahari desert but were unable to gain a decisive advantage.

Finally, after campaigning for a few months Japanese troops started to lack supplies and were obliged to fall back toward Gaborone, the colonial capital. At that moment, a force of 30 000 natives attacked the japanese expeditionnary force which was now out of food and ammunitions and inflicted an humiliating defeat to the imperial troops : out of 2 marines divisions and a cavalry corp only a handful survivors reached Walvis on the coast after a long retreat through the desert !!

Reinforcements were sent from Japan while troops engaged in Rhodesia were also freed as the situation improved there and soon the reconquest of Bechuanaland was under way : this time a serie of depots and forts in the northern area provided some limited supplies and the Japanese force were this time able to recapture and hold Gaborone long enough to declare a protectorate over the whole area.

Japanese exploration parties discovered two new provinces belonging to the gold coast area and the colonial capital of Rhodesia, Harare : At last Japan could increase further its colonial influences over these two areas.

By the end of 1887 the african revolts had been contained and gradually all these territories were brought under Japanese rule during the following year : Bechuanaland ( Protectorate, Jan 1888, colony, Feb 1889), Gold Coast ( protectorate, july 1888 ) and Rhodesia ( protectorate, Sept 1888 ).

In the world at large, 1888 saw some very interesting events :

For the first time since the beginning of the game Austria was defeated at war : Fighting France, Italy, Russia and the Ottoman all at the same time doesn't seem like a good idea even when you're a Behemoth !! I did not follow exactly what happened but there were a few consecutive messages indicating that Austria was signing peace deals as the loser of a war (first with France then Russia ).

The Austrian must have lost big time since they started the war with nearly 4 times the land power of France and now ( after demobilizing though ) they barely have 78% of the French military power !!!!

But something even more directly important for japan happened in november 1888 : a crisis between the British and the German over the possession of Lagos in which GB lost a big chunk of its PP !

Crisis 1888.png
Crisis 1888.png (2.14 MiB) Viewed 59 times

And then, came the sudden realization that Japan was now only 13000 PP away from winning a Major Victory by the sudden death rule !!!

From that point I decided to focus a lot more on PP than I had done before because I also realized that I could already have won the game if I had thought about it before and used all my prestige generating decisions a lot more often. for exemple, I have 4 naval demonstrations colonial decisions ( 20pp for 1 turn duration ) which could have generated 80pp per turn for the last 10 years or so if I had used them. Same with all the others Ethnographic or Geographic studies expeditions which I seldom used in the past !

I also decided to prioritize my PP generating industries by shutting some cash generating farms or mines ( which i don't need since I'm extremely wealthy ) and use the limited coal for prestige generating industries even if I don't really need their other output. Thankfully, I had already started the construction of a few shipyard complexes which should come online soon (each of these 3rd level shipyard generates 16pp/turn ). I ordered a few more shipyards and some more Mfg goods and arms factories. I also asked the government to vote for a few more sewers and universities decisions as all these also generate PP.

Here is the prestige gained in may 1889 ( my new industries are still not ready but I should have 2 or 3 new shipyards ready within 6 months ) when using my regional decisions to their fullest.

PP may 89.png
PP may 89.png (340.3 KiB) Viewed 56 times

And here is the Prestige summary of all nations. In november 1888 Japan needed 13 000 more PP to win the game. In May 1889 ( 6 months later ) I now need 9359 more PP. So, this means that I'm still getting more than twice GB's prestige every turn and closing on my objective. At this rate, Japan could very well win the game within the next two years !!

PP rank 1889.png
PP rank 1889.png (252.57 KiB) Viewed 55 times

But, many things could change in the space of two years (New crisis to the advantage of GB, sudden industrial growth of one of my competitor due to tech advance, prestige gained or lost in a war...) so I need to be a little more proactive.

Basically I could :

1) Increase my prestige from industrial output : I already started on this one but it takes a lot of time to build industries (800+ days for a shipyard).

2) Gamble for the victory by engineering a crisis with the British : GB regained some CP in Accra where I intend to declare formal colony status. Usually, I'd play decision like school, mil outpost and such to bring down British CP before going for colony but this time I could refrain on such decisions and hope GB will play "stake" leading to an international crisis. Of course, this is risky business since I could be the one losing a big chunk of PP.....quite tempting though !

3) Declare war on the British Empire : my modern Navy is now on par with GB and my colonial empire much smaller and easier to defend. Japan mainland and Korea are so well defended that any direct invasion would be suicide for any other power. However, GB still has more than twice my land power and from my own experience a war would not shift much prestige in my favor unless I could invade England and substancially interfere with british industrial production : Extremely riscky with the british isles so far from Japan !

4) Declare war on China and hope to gain a few more Japanese objectives there (Formosa, Manchuria, Shangaï, etc...) : possible but difficult (China won't let go of Manchuria unless I crush them utterly and script an event including a possible subsequent war with Russia...). I'd rather wait a few more years before lauching such a large scale operation : China is still quite powerful and had time to recover and close the technological gap since 1879. Land forces should get a new upgrade after 1890 which would give me a substantial advantage over china for a dew years. Besides, I'd rather have my navy completely upgraded and ready in case I should wage a war against the Russian bear !!

Of course, I'm open to any suggestion if anybody reads this AAR. For the time being, I'll wait for a while and see how things unfold in the next few turns.

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