That's a good question, and not only for the Romans. For that matter, how is the propaganda war going? Has TTL reached the stage of public opinion emerging as a political force to be reckoned with yet? I was reading about the War of the Spanish Succession and the masses of pamphlets and treatises produced for domestic and foreign consumption (with flowery phrases like the "liberty of Europe" being threatened by Louis XIV) some time ago, and I think this conflict has some analogies to that. I can definitely see the Romans flooding the neutral and even hostile but not-so-enthusiastic states with material stoking fears of Theodor seeking a universal monarchy (somewhat ironic, coming from the heirs of the Caesars, but still...). The message "If Constantinople falls, how long do you think until your turn comes?" could encourage some of the minor potentates siding with Theodor to back off, or pursue their part of the war with less than full vigour...What's literacy and education like for Roman commoners these days?
But the forces involved in Java pale in comparison to those active in India. The main Roman territory in the east, Taprobane, is here, as is the main Triune territory, the Viceroyalty of Sutanuti (Bengal).
The situation was edited to be worse so that the group is suffering desperate starvation before resorting to cannibalism. Before the edit the group dug into the corpses a little too eagerly.I'm late to the party, what did I miss out on with the original update? Looks like there's still some cannibalism, but it's now a supplement?
Are there any sizeable forces marshaling in Greece/Macedonia? I understand that the Army of the Danube is the priority but the Allies supply chain is far too vulnerable when they're away from their captured fortresses/the Danube. Instead of bleeding troops skirmishing with the main Allied army, would it be better to spread them thin covering their rear?And as you pointed out, the focus on their POV tends to exaggerate their exploits since we’re not seeing the other bands (big enough to have their own petty domains) or the raids by Roman trapezites. The partisans are a flea nibbling on the forearm while Michael Laskaris and the Army of the Danube is an angry bull elephant.
Boa: About that amount. Taprobane can field one tagma and the various Katepanoi in Island Asia between them can field about one tagma’s worth as well. Ships are the main weapon though. Taprobane builds them and Pahang with its copper and tin mines arms them, with Pyrgos trailing. New Constantinople brings in a lot of money because it controls the Banda Islands but doesn’t have much in the way of manpower; samurai mercenaries help make up for that though.
“It’s a proposal to import a bunch of piranhas from Brazil, feed them a bunch of German sausage so they get big and like the taste of Germans, then release them in the Danube which they’ll swim up, eating every German in sight.”
Yah he practically a god once you look at the whole pictureBinged this timeline over the course of the past week or so (three cheers to multiple monitors at work!) and WOW is it incredible! It is the reason I signed up for this site, and becoming a Patreon was an easy call. Keep up the incredible work!
All that being said, and apologies for being late to the party, but there are more than a few problems with Iskander The Great, namely how perfect at everything he is. He's flawless and invincible while his enemies are inept and ignorant and it detracts from the otherwise masterful story you've told.
He wins two big battles at Dojama-Al Khalis and Astara. But at the first the Romans were divided and at the second he was facing a Roman-Georgian coalition with all the problems that multi-national coalitions have in battle, so having Iskander win those is very plausible, even likely.
Then he goes campaigning in India. At Bahawalpur, 35,000 Persians beat between 50,000 and 150,000 men. Let's split the difference and say it is 100,000 men. Iskander beats an army three times larger. Ohhhhhkay. After that he gets reinforcements so he has 50,000 men. Facing him is an army so massive "not even Xerxes in all his glory could summon" a greater one. (All quotes from here on out are quotes taken straight from Basileus444 in these threads.). At Thermopylae Xerxes had between 100,000 and 150,000 men (I'm ignoring Herodutus and his million-man estimate obviously) and at Plataea he had about 100,000 men. So a force greater than Xerxes could summon is what, 150,000 men? 200,000 men? More? Let's say 150,000, but that's just guessing. Either way Iskander is heavily outnumbered...again.
He wins a battle so convincingly that all he faces is "a moment of concern" then Iskander "has routed another great armament." Huh.
Let's talk about First Nineveh. He and the Romans are more or less equal - each side has about 97,000 men, the Romans have slightly more cannons - 222 to 199. Let's talk about the incredible string of astonishing luck Iskander has during the battle itself.
1 - The wind just happens to blow into the Roman lines exactly when Iskander needs it to see where to counterattack, or it is "more neutral." The wind never hampers Iskander. Hey, maybe Storm was hanging out in Iskander's command tent?
2 - The Ottomans just happen to fire a lucky shot and blow up a Roman powder cache (the same thing happened at Belgrade...Constantinople must be full of black cats huh?). Very plausible, but still lucky.
3 - The Romans, an army that prides itself on logistics to the point where they punish staff officers for war-gaming without accounting for them...have logistics issues. Iskander, despite waging war in locales as far apart as modern day Azerbaijan and India, never has logistics issues of his own. Logistics is a dual-bladed sword, but it only cuts the Romans, never Iskander.
4 - Iskander gets 10,000 reinforcements from the south at the exact time he needs to. They marched from Rumaithiya, modern-day Kuwait (the site of the battle where they slaughtered the Ethiopian sailors after the Triune fleet routed the Ethiopian one) to Nineveh in a week. That's roughly 1,100 kilometers marching in a week, over early modern roads. They marched one hundred miles a day or they took river transport (no mention of that and the mess that would entail) and managed to not only not drop dead from exhaustion, but remain in good enough order to fight and win at a crucial junction of the battle. No mention of how Iskander managed to co-ordinate these troops and have them march north without the benefit of modern communication either. This isn't Total War where you can just click a stack and have it move with no issues.
5 - Multiple Roman officers die on the field in droves. No such similar losses among the Ottoman officer corps is mentioned, despite you mentioning that many Ottoman officers were trained to fight from the front lines by Iskander himself. Maybe Iskander's aura protected them?
6 - You wrote that Gabras is "solidly competent, but not brilliant." You and I have far different definitions of "solidly competent." He somehow forgets that the Kaiser is attached to the unit he sends to guard the hill (which is criminally stupid) and then the only force he has linking the men on the hill with the rest of his army is a "screen of cavalry." This is when the wind fortuitously blows right when Iskander can scatter the screen. Where's Gabras's infantry linking the two forces? How's that "solidly competent?"
7 - Bartella, a village anchoring Iskander's line, catches fire, forcing the Romans to withdraw lest they be incinerated. Bahzani, a town anchoring the Roman line, doesn't catch fire despite "heavy cannon fire" which allows the Ottomans to establish a toehold. So one town was made of sterner stuff and it was the town that Iskander needed to bend the Roman line? Sure, whatever.
One or two or even three of these happening in a battle is plausible. All 7 of them happening at once is not plausible. It is amazing Iskander can even ride a horse given the horseshoes wedged up his ass at First Nineveh. No matter the losses taken, he still won when the Romans ceded the field.
But it gets better. The Romans outnumber the Ottomans (88 to 85 thousand) at Second Nineveh. It is a bloodbath, much like the first one. Gabras, instead of pressing his numerical advantage and the bravery of his troops, withdraws when the rescue attempt of the Kaiser fails, despite his army not breaking. So much for "solidly competent."
We're not done with Iskander yet. We've already shown he's a better general than his namesake, now let's make him a kick-ass diplomat too, because why not! Despite Roman troops occupying Mosul and parts of northern Mesopotamia it is Iskander who gains Roman land, not the opposite. So the Romans, despite having boots on the ground in enemy territory and despite occupying Mosul, are the ones ceded turf? What?
Others have touched on the wild implausibility of the Romans not knowing the Ottomans lost at Depalpur. You tried to handwave that away by having the chief Roman spymaster be corrupt. But corrupt isn't the same thing as stupid. So we're supposed to believe that the spymaster is smart enough to engage in proto-insider trading and market manipulation, but not smart enough to realize about Depalpur, despite his agents sending him a report? How's that possible?
But even setting aside the intelligence failure...the Romans had boots on the ground and not only gave up those hard-won gains, but gave up Roman land as well. Many others in these threads have pointed out how that just wouldn't happen, so I won't tread that ground again.
But maybe Iskander has a personal or moral shortcoming, something to humanize him? Nope. He's brilliant, charismatic, and has none of the "demons" Andreas Niketas has, or any other personal flaws for that matter. His only sin is dying relatively young.
In conclusion Iskander is a better general than Alexander/Julius Caesar, a better diplomat than Tallyrand, and a better person than Mother Teresa. You wrote that "writing Rhomania as an invincible juggernaut would be quite boring to write, and definitely would be very boring to read. And it would be extremely unrealistic." No one is doubting that (although a writer of your skill would make it anything but boring) but writing Iskander as a flawless Mary/Gary Sue isn't the way to counteract that, because it takes away from the plausibility of a brilliant timeline.