An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

If this is how this timeline is going to progress from here on out - stupid Romans facing perfect enemies who only lose because of things out of their control - then I may need to re-evaluate my Patreon status. If I want to read about dumb Byzantines getting their asses kicked by awesome leadership I'll just re-read Jonathan Harris rather than spend my money on this.

Jesus, ease off mate. First off, no one is forcing you to spend anything on this. It's literally posted in its entirety on a free forum. And giving a voluntary contribution doesn't entitle you to twist the story in a direction more to your liking.

Secondly, I think you are vastly exaggerating. Sure, the Romans haven't been blessed by military genius in recent decades. But at the same time, you could complain that the Germans are lead by a buffoon of an Emperor, who is stubbornly leading his house and nation into ruin when all the rest of Europe can see it for the folly it is. All the while the Romans have an administrative genius at the helm, who comes up with stuff like progressive tax brackets to field twice the number of soldiers as all his opponents combined on a much smaller population basis. I don't really see how you can talk of "dumb Byzantines" in this scenario.
 
Yet another Mary Sue character is facing the Romans...two if you count the Archbishop. Iskander Sue was one thing and I thought it was a one-off but now neither Blucher nor the Archbishop make any major mistakes and they are facing semi-competent Romans ("semi-competent" at best mind you) who can't hold a candle to their brilliant leadership. Been that way for a century, I guess it isn't changing anytime soon if this last update is to be believed.

Only the Romans can appoint a leader who is too stupid to realize that he inflicted TWICE as many casualties as he took and "victory goes to the Allies" as a result of his stupidity. Was he holding the Idiot Ball in his hands when surveying the battlefield? How come Rome has dumbass generals and her enemies ALWAYS have perfect ones? How come Roman coalitions fail in battle and enemy ones always succeed? How come despite being buoyed by the morale of devastating the supply lines Rome doesn't defeat Blucher in battle and lets conduct a fighting retreat? So much for "Morale is to material as three is to one." I guess that rule is only hard and fast when used against Rome, never for her? Ok, sure.

Shit, Blucher even has that textbook hallmark of a Sue where other people talk about how perfect he is.


Blucher's only "flaw" is a terrible supply situation, which isn't a personal/professional shortcoming as much as it is reality of the time and place. The guy even knows how to retreat properly! There's nothing he can't do.

I mean, if David Weber was reading this he'd probably tell you to ease off a little bit in how you characterize Blucher.

If this is how this timeline is going to progress from here on out - stupid Romans facing perfect enemies who only lose because of things out of their control - then I may need to re-evaluate my Patreon status. If I want to read about dumb Byzantines getting their asses kicked by awesome leadership I'll just re-read Jonathan Harris rather than spend my money on this.

Are you going to provide something constructive or just waggle patreon as a threat to make B444 pander to you?

The allied army did suffer from issues as being allied, there have been several mentions of fights and hangings and reprisals, not just in this update, and now Templars and Inquisitors are hurting any sense of local stability in allied-occupied territory which seems to be directly resulting increased partisan activity. All because of the allied nature of the army. These aren't things that turn the tide of a war but even then such a thing is rare IOTL.

If you're going to provide these sorts of criticisms you need to provide ways you think it could be improved, because all this looks like is you whining. How about suggesting Blucher get a PoV segment (either from him or from an observer) so we can learn more about him personally?
 
InMediasRes --> It is clear this isn't a war between states or Emperors, as the fact that D3 is far better at his job than Theodor is at his is negated by the fact that Blucher is unbeatable and Laskaris is pretty dumb. If the fact that D3 is great mattered this war would have been won by now handily, but in this world tactics > strategy so Blucher carries the day.

Evilprodigy --> I've offered constructive criticism before about Iskander (the clearest example of an overpowered Sue in this timeline to date) and the fact that he was complete perfection detracted from the story as it was implausible. People agreed with me at the time. So don't act like I'm coming in cold here, I've voiced similar issues before only to have them fall on deaf ears. Our author agreed with me that a lack of characterization weakened Iskander, but instead of rectifying that he doubled down with conjuring another anti-Roman general who can do no wrong.
 
InMediasRes --> It is clear this isn't a war between states or Emperors, as the fact that D3 is far better at his job than Theodor is at his is negated by the fact that Blucher is unbeatable and Laskaris is pretty dumb. If the fact that D3 is great mattered this war would have been won by now handily, but in this world tactics > strategy so Blucher carries the day.

Evilprodigy --> I've offered constructive criticism before about Iskander (the clearest example of an overpowered Sue in this timeline to date) and the fact that he was complete perfection detracted from the story as it was implausible. People agreed with me at the time. So don't act like I'm coming in cold here, I've voiced similar issues before only to have them fall on deaf ears. Our author agreed with me that a lack of characterization weakened Iskander, but instead of rectifying that he doubled down with conjuring another anti-Roman general who can do no wrong.

Mate, seriously. I don't know how you get that impression from the update. I loved it.

Blucher is a good general, and outclassed, not by pure tactics, but blessedly by strategy (one that I'm quite happy was the case) and the use of resources, logistics and the like. All things that show that Laskaris isn't dumb (dumb would be just launching full force into the enemies guns) but playing the game differently, by making it untenable to fight. If anything Blucher is a great general with awful orders and a terrible situation (much like the Roman people caught in the middle) but Laskaris is certainly if not a great general, a damn good one whose strategic situation is superior, and has the support of an Emperor whose letting him fight as he needs to.

The point is, the Romans are winning, not through some great avalanche, but by what they're the best at - Logistics, Planning, Diplomacy. It isn't a sexy charge to crush the enemy in one fell swoop, but this is a great victory.

In constrast, I can agree with it on Iskandar, he got to be rather uncharacterised and brilliant, but he wasn't the main character. Ibrahim isn't as great, but gets some more breaks IMO. But I think we're on the cusp of seeing the Romans explode into precisely what you want - a storming victory - in the East by letting Ibrahim isolate himself, and in the West by taking control of the Danube from the Germans, and restoring their frontier whilst having the initiative and bleeding their enemies.

Its classic defence-in-depth and whilst it isn't sexy, or pretty - it's brilliant nonetheless. I'd personally be disappointed if it became cartoonish, even if I want to see great Roman victories more often. But I just did, through Roman Strength rather than Hollywood Bravado.
 
How are the Romans winning? Half the Balkans is a smoldering crater that will take years to rebuild/repopulate, Syria is in open revolt, and Ibrahim is rampaging his way through huge chunks of Roman territory. If that's "winning" I'd hate to see losing!

Laskaris is not a good general. A good general doesn't string out his men on the march to let them get defeated in detail by the Archbishop's men. A good general doesn't retreat despite inflicting 2.5x as many casualties, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory for no reason. A good general doesn't squander the imitative with cautious feints when the Allies besiege Ruse. A good general pursues Blucher after Third Ruse when the latter withdraws. Sometimes you gotta roll the dice after all, and a pursuit could have ravaged Blucher's under-supplied army. Instead he waits a week, lets Blucher fortify his position, and launches a "full-fledged assault on the Allied lines" only to get bailed out when the naval action works perfectly.

Laskaris, while better than the drooling idiot who commanded at First Nineveh, is only better by default. Meanwhile Rome faces yet another brilliant general. It has become almost parody at this point.
 
I have mixed feelings about this. While defensive actions have certainly impacted the allied army to a large extent, the German is still managing to keep his army together despite supply linef difficulties, divisions in the army, and low moral.
Overall a good update though.
Romans are winning at a massive cost, as always
 
How are the Romans winning? Half the Balkans is a smoldering crater that will take years to rebuild/repopulate, Syria is in open revolt, and Ibrahim is rampaging his way through huge chunks of Roman territory. If that's "winning" I'd hate to see losing!

Laskaris is not a good general. A good general doesn't string out his men on the march to let them get defeated in detail by the Archbishop's men. A good general doesn't retreat despite inflicting 2.5x as many casualties, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory for no reason. A good general doesn't squander the imitative with cautious feints when the Allies besiege Ruse. A good general pursues Blucher after Third Ruse when the latter withdraws. Sometimes you gotta roll the dice after all, and a pursuit could have ravaged Blucher's under-supplied army. Instead he waits a week, lets Blucher fortify his position, and launches a "full-fledged assault on the Allied lines" only to get bailed out when the naval action works perfectly.

Laskaris, while better than the drooling idiot who commanded at First Nineveh, is only better by default. Meanwhile Rome faces yet another brilliant general. It has become almost parody at this point.

A good General doesn't sacrifice his entire army when he knows logistics will be their downfall.

A good General is not prescient.

A good General does not over-commit his forces recklessly, especially when he is outnumbered in the theatre.

A good General successfully defeated a much larger force than he had, through defence in depth. You wouldn't call a boxer who lets his opponent tire out before knocking him out BAD.

In some ways I think you're expecting Laskaris to have perfect information and almost Alexandrian Skill. The reality is that this is a victory and the tide has turned, the Allies, instead of marching forward, are being pushed back. The initiative is now the Romans, and they're the ones advancing. Have the won the war? No. But they're in the process of doing so in Europe.
 
--SNIP--

In some ways I think you're expecting Laskaris to have perfect information and almost Alexandrian Skill.

I'm only expecting that because we've seen at least three generals in this narrative show such skill: Andreas Niketas, Iskander, and now Blucher. One of them had his considerable tactical and strategic brilliance tempered by his personal shortcomings and PTSD from the Black Day. That's why he's (IMO) the best character in this entire timeline (and that's saying a lot, as there have been dozens of great characters). Andreas Niketas is human, for good and for ill. That humanness, combined with superb writing, makes him shine.

The other two have no such personal or professional flaws. They are perfect characters, and that's both A - implausible and B - boring. They're caricatures of humans, not humans.
 
I'm only expecting that because we've seen at least three generals in this narrative show such skill: Andreas Niketas, Iskander, and now Blucher. One of them had his considerable tactical and strategic brilliance tempered by his personal shortcomings and PTSD from the Black Day. That's why he's (IMO) the best character in this entire timeline (and that's saying a lot, as there have been dozens of great characters). Andreas Niketas is human, for good and for ill. That humanness, combined with superb writing, makes him shine.

The other two have no such personal or professional flaws. They are perfect characters, and that's both A - implausible and B - boring. They're caricatures of humans, not humans.

I'd agree with the description of Andreas - he is my current fav character in pretty much anything. His tomb quote still makes me shiver thinking about it.

But you've also got to remember, he was LITERALLY the main character. Highly skilled non-main characters aren't flawless. Iskandar is already a noted point by B444. Blucher, isn't actually perfect. He's very good, but he's making mistakes, otherwise the Romans wouldn't be where they are. He's failed to make any effort to win the Roman people over (which considering the state goal of the war, is pretty poor) he's frustrated by internal divisions in his huge army - allowed a Roman fleet to sneak past him in the dark. Just to name a few obvious ones. I expect we're going to see more mistakes in time, because he's already made a few.

I'd LIKE to see some more Blucher perspective, personally I'd love to see him defect to the Romans - after all, its a war of Roman Succession after all, he's just changing who he sees as the rightful Emperor (oh, to see that event). But just like I'd like to (and saw) some Kataphractoi badassery, I have no right to demand it.
 
I'd agree with the description of Andreas - he is my current fav character in pretty much anything. His tomb quote still makes me shiver thinking about it.

But you've also got to remember, he was LITERALLY the main character. Highly skilled non-main characters aren't flawless. Iskandar is already a noted point by B444. Blucher, isn't actually perfect. He's very good, but he's making mistakes, otherwise the Romans wouldn't be where they are. He's failed to make any effort to win the Roman people over (which considering the state goal of the war, is pretty poor) he's frustrated by internal divisions in his huge army - allowed a Roman fleet to sneak past him in the dark. Just to name a few obvious ones. I expect we're going to see more mistakes in time, because he's already made a few.

I'd LIKE to see some more Blucher perspective, personally I'd love to see him defect to the Romans - after all, its a war of Roman Succession after all, he's just changing who he sees as the rightful Emperor (oh, to see that event). But just like I'd like to (and saw) some Kataphractoi badassery, I have no right to demand it.

Blucher defecting seems very unlikely. He's just a general doing his job, doesn't have much personal skin in the game to get him to defect IMO. But we'll see I suppose, stranger things have happened both ITTL and OTL of course.

The narrative device of "brilliant, unstoppable enemy leader/general vs Roman leader/general who can't get out of his own way leading to Rome losing yet again" has been in this timeline for what, a century? It is not only tiring, but the odds that Rome's enemies get "dealt" (for lack of a better word) all the smart generals while Rome gets all the dumb ones stretches this timeline into incredulity. It would be one thing if it was a short-term lull (like the British having good-to-great generals in the Seven Years War and Napoleonic War, but not during the American Revolution) but it has been going on for a while and sadly shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
 
So I re-read the update and don't really see how the allies are being led by Mary Sue supermen while the Romans are incompetent idiots. The Romans are winning outright in Italy, have turned the tide in the Balkans and have prevented utter catastrophe in the Levant. The Romans are also gaining new allies and increasing in strength while their opponents are all slowly losing strength. This despite fighting a multi-front war where due to circumstances they had to spend the first year merely reacting to their opponents while each of their opponents are able to concentrate on a single front.

But lets look more closely at each front:
Italy: Utter disaster for the Lombards. The Roman navy and Sicily have completely gutted the offensive power of Lombardy and are advancing with minimal organized opposition outside of forts and cities.

The Levant: Despite having complete strategic surprise the Ottomans have failed to break the Romans in the Levant. The major defeats have been to for the most part Roman allies trying to co-ordinate rather than the Romans themselves. As of the end of the last update the Romans are raiding heavily into Northern Mesopotamia and the Ottomans have at best numerical equality; Roman allies in Egypt and Ethiopia are now properly preparing for the war; and the great uprising, though annoying, has failed to force a general Roman withdrawal.
Aside from the defeats of the Ethiopian columns and the Annizah the Ottomans have not had any great victories. This despite the Romans treating the Levant as a secondary theatre. Though I would be interested to see where the levies of 1633 have gone since they clearly have not gone entirely to the Balkans. The Ottomans have for the most part completely shot their bolt already and it still wasn't enough.

The Balkans: Here is where the allies have their greatest success but once again its more due to greater preparation than Mary Sue. The allies could work out the kinks in their alliance structure before they departed while the Romans were still making it up as they went along. Even still the battles of 1632 though Ally Tactical victories were not strategic in any sense of the word. They forced the Romans back and inflicted greater casualties but the Roman army remained intact and in the field. The only great luck they had was the powder explosion in Belgrade forcing the Romans to act more quickly than they planned; which while frustrating isn't anywhere near close to story breaking. Now in 1633 we have:

1st Ruse: Allied victory but inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. We also learn that German veterans are generally better than fresh Roman conscripts. This is not surprising. Notice that the 2 veteran Roman tourmai were avoided and merely pinned in place

2nd Ruse: Allied tactical victory. They "win" because they carried the field but were outsmarted twice during the battle. Once with the hidden artillery and they nearly lost the Polish king to a hit squad. They did lose a high ranking Polish noble. Laskaris CHOOSES to withdraw not because he has to but because he knows he can safely. Romans retire in good order and unmolested.

3rd Ruse: Roman tactical victory. More or less the opposite of 2nd Ruse but without any subterfuge. The Romans "win" only because they carry the field. Blucher CHOOSES to withdraw.

4th Ruse: Allied tactical victory. With hindsight Roman strategic victory. The Romans are thrown back and take more casualties but the point of the attack wasn't to win merely to distract the Allies. In this lens the Roman attack was brilliant and worked flawlessy.

5th Ruse and Aftermath: Roman Strategic Victory! Seriously in just a few days the Romans and Vlachs seize complete control of Danube from Ruse to Nikopolis and completely destroy the logistics of the Allied Army. Blucher FORCED to withdraw while abandoning most of his artillery. Allied army partially disintegrates with newer conscripts deserting and becoming brigands. Vlach blocking force is insufficient to stop an entire army which is again not surprising. Laskcaris tries to pursue as best he can but moves slowly to collect artillery and supply wagons, deal with brigands, and render humanitarian aid to ROMAN subjects. As a result Blucher reaches the safety of Nikopolis. The Romans now have to build a supply line from scratch along the length of a recently ravaged area which they do.

1st Nikopolis: Minor engagement. Honours about even.

2nd Nikopolis: Draw. The Romans inflict more casualties DESPITE ATTACKED AN ENCAMPED ARMY AROUND A FORTRESS but are unable to break the Allied Army.

Post 2nd Nikopolis: Roman Strategic Victory. The allied army must once again retreat this time all the way to Vidin. The Romans are now besieging Nikopolis.

Alamus: Roman strategic victory. Despite being outnumbered the Roman army holds and forces Allied army to retire. As a result all teh Danube fortresses east of Vidin surrender securing Roman control of the Danube.

Keep in mind that all of this Roman success was DESPITE BEING OUTNUMBERED IN EVERY MAJOR ENGAGEMENT. So the incompetent Laskaris was able to completely reverse the tide of the war while rolling up all the allied gains despite being outnumbered and new to the position while the "genius" Blucher and Bonebreaker couldn't take a numerical advantage in men and a qualitative and numerical advantage in artillery and deliver a single strategic victory.

As for the ally unity it should be obvious without being pointed out that one of the reasons for Roman success despite being outnumbered was the breakdown in relations between the Poles and Germans and the increasing influence of the Pope. Where in 1632 the Roman command structure was figuring out how to integrate allies by 1633 they seem to have worked out the kinks. Meanwhile the allies have gone from fairly united in 1632 to no less than 4 major factions (Poles, Templars, Imperials, and Archbishops) having increasingly violent conflicts amongst themselves.

Did I also mention that with the near total loss of the artillery train that means that the Triunes have now lost a major investment in this war despite doing everything they could to insulate themselves.

And I also forgot that the Carribean will be going from Triune Lake to battlefield.

So in short we have Romans fighting in multiple theatres and in every single theatre the Romans have frustrated their opponents at worst (Levant and Caucausus) and have crushed their opponents at best. (Italy)
 
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Suffering military blunders has been the Roman stereotype for millennia. Their enemies tend to have better leaders but the Romans outlast them anyway.

Also I don't see Blucher defecting at all unless under some extraordinary circumstances. The man's a dutiful general just doing his job whose loyalty is to the HRE as it is to his Kaiser. Unless said Kaiser goes crazy and starts lashing out at people who "ruined" his chance to acquire "his" inheritance, Blucher isn't going anywhere.

@Basileus444 what are the Romans doing in regards to the City of Rome? Are they planning to ramp up the pressure and actually siege it?
 
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How are the Romans winning? Half the Balkans is a smoldering crater that will take years to rebuild/repopulate, Syria is in open revolt, and Ibrahim is rampaging his way through huge chunks of Roman territory. If that's "winning" I'd hate to see losing!

Laskaris is not a good general. A good general doesn't string out his men on the march to let them get defeated in detail by the Archbishop's men. A good general doesn't retreat despite inflicting 2.5x as many casualties, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory for no reason. A good general doesn't squander the imitative with cautious feints when the Allies besiege Ruse. A good general pursues Blucher after Third Ruse when the latter withdraws. Sometimes you gotta roll the dice after all, and a pursuit could have ravaged Blucher's under-supplied army. Instead he waits a week, lets Blucher fortify his position, and launches a "full-fledged assault on the Allied lines" only to get bailed out when the naval action works perfectly.

Laskaris, while better than the drooling idiot who commanded at First Nineveh, is only better by default. Meanwhile Rome faces yet another brilliant general. It has become almost parody at this point.

First of all, you only listed two brilliant general who faces Rome, its hardly a parody.. .

And in my opinion, Laskaris is a good general, he is just very cautious. His great use of fabian tactic and only engaging when needed is what turned the tide in the balkan. This is like the second Punic war where Blucher outclassed the Roman generals (though not at the degree of Hannibal vs roman consuls). Chances are, if the people in charge of Rome demanded laskaris to stop being a coward and just destroy Blucher, It probably will end in disaster.

And while Blucher is good, he is not yet at Niketas or Iskander level. If Andreas Niketas is in charge, he probably magic his way to engage Laskaris, destroy him in a cavalry charge that somehow snuck behind him and then march on Constantinople. Afterall, thats what happened in the 10th crusade.
 
Notably Demetrios III has loans with 2% less interest then Henri II and 7% less than Theodor, with his interest rates going up a mere .15% between the first loan in January and the second in June.
I just noticed this while going over an older update. @Basileus444 what are the current credit ratings of the major combatants? I can't imagine the Roman Emperor's credit is in the single digits, so that must mean Theodor is going to suffer a debt crisis as soon as the war ends. Everyone is going to demand repayments once they realize that the Roman conquests (and access to Imperial Treasury & markets) aren't happening.

If Theodor impulsively decides to default on his mountain of debts (which isn't at all unlikely IMO given his irrational behaviours so far), he will trigger a wave of bankruptcies throughout the German economy. Note that German economy was growing well before this whole debacle, so it is likely rife with crisscrossing webs of speculative investments and loans. Once the banks that funded Theodor's war start collapsing, the few people that aren't ruined are going to hoard what wealth they have left and cause money circulation to dry up. And voila, the Great German Depression is born.

Henri is going to be so giddy. The anarchic bloodbath in Germany will be the perfect excuse for him to "restore order" and expand his empire.
 
Despite his numerical advantage Michael doesn’t try for a winter campaign. He’s burned through most of his supplies and it will take time for more to be brought up, especially as much of the Danube valley needs support if the inhabitants are not to starve over the winter. It is estimated that around 100,000 Roman civilians are killed over the course of the campaign, a quarter of the population, whether by direct Allied action or by the resulting famine despite the best efforts of the White Palace to get relief convoys sent as soon as possible.
100k civilians is a quarter of Bulgaria's population? It seems too small a number for Europe or the Empire. A blood due has not been extracted from the Latins so while the war is effectively over for the Latins, it is now time to take the fight to them, just one big knock out battle to open the way to Belgrade and henceforth Vienna.

Very little is known about these women. Those who evaded detection in their own time naturally are invisible to historians today. Women were less educated than men during this period and so the rich trove of surviving letters and journals that comprise this book is largely absent of female soldier authors.
Maybe some of these women would prove their valor in battle and more than distinguish themselves from their peers of the other gender, accompanied by a divine appearance of the virgin fighting alongside some of these Holy Warriors and pretty soon you'll have your own Rhoman Holy Order of Battle Nuns.

Having heard reports of Hungarian prisoners, who are already familiar with Orthodoxy, converting to Orthodoxy to get better treatment, he is concerned about more conversions to the ‘heretics’.
Depending on the outcome of this war and how fractured Hungary becomes, the religious demographics of Hungary looks set to be slightly different from OTL with a more powerful Orthodox world and autonomy allowing for religious freedom and the reformation?

Plus he assumes that the war is effectively over. Theodor’s great gambit has failed. Even if he is able to rebuild his army, there is no way he can force his way back down the Danube now. The Allies are in no position to challenge the reinvigorated Roman fleet, which by November is 10% stronger than it was at the beginning of Fifth Ruse. All that remains now is to expel the barbarians from the last patch of Roman soil they hold.
300km advancing of the frontline in 3 months. Slow but steady advance. Vidin looks set to make or break both sides.
 
100k civilians is a quarter of Bulgaria's population? It seems too small a number for Europe or the Empire. A blood due has not been extracted from the Latins so while the war is effectively over for the Latins, it is now time to take the fight to them, just one big knock out battle to open the way to Belgrade and henceforth Vienna.
I think 400,000 is the population of the occupied territory, from Vidin to Ruse. It doesn't include major cities like Varna or Philippopolis.
 
If Theodor impulsively decides to default on his mountain of debts (which isn't at all unlikely IMO given his irrational behaviours so far), he will trigger a wave of bankruptcies throughout the German economy.

I don’t think there’s any situation where Germany isn’t completely ruined. When the economy blows up it’s going to cause wide spread banditry and famine. Compounded with the wars that will come it’ll probably do as much damage as the OTL 30 years war.
 
I don’t think there’s any situation where Germany isn’t completely ruined. When the economy blows up it’s going to cause wide spread banditry and famine. Compounded with the wars that will come it’ll probably do as much damage as the OTL 30 years war.



All the better to watch from the walls of Sideropolis, Guardian of the Danube!
 
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