An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

That was great :) Genuinely really interesting turn of events to see the rise of a counter to the war hawks rising at the right moment. It'll be interesting to see the further evolution of the influence of public writings going forward.

That is a solid peace considering what was considered - I wonder what ideas will be born in the aftermath of Genoa - I don't think that particular conflict is over, I think it will return, and could be the hotbed of anti-oligarchal thought, some sort of popular or even communal/communist republic doesn't seem outlandish to me. Hardly the Soviet Union but an interesting note alongside OTL idea of the Levellers in the UK for sure.

I am interested in the size of Roman... Rome. Roman Latium? Handing over a swathe to Sicily was a good call but it'll be interesting to see how feasible the city will be in terms of growth. I can't imagine it'll suffer for Sicily next door, but it might have issues if it tries to expand beyond the Roman limits. That'll be an interesting scenario for sure.

I am surprised at the results of the war games though, I'd have expected a fortified Italy to frankly do better, but that might be simply an assumption of the fortifications. I do like how that was broken down - and it really starts to sell a not-just-anti-latin justification for the general siege mentality for the Romans in the future. Its the geopolitical realities of it.

That diplomatic reform is gooooooood, I like how its essentially 5+1, that could be really interesting. I'm curious as to the split for the West that took it from 4+1 to 5+1 - was that to accommodate the New World? I appreciate that it isn't that important for the Romans, but last I checked the Mexicans were a Roman ally in the New World, and that's a very different field to the rest of the world diplomatically.

All in all, it's great to see things appearing to return to some sense of calm, Spain and Arles being more on side is good, and I'm genuinely shocked that Henri didn't try to stir the pot in some way to prevent that outcome. Sure he has an ally/partner in Genoa, and probably Lombardy I expect in the longer-term, but letting those relationships return to normal isn't really in his interest. Perhaps we've seen via omission Henri actually not get what he wants in diplomacy?

I do hope at some point Ody and Chapuys (or maybe Athena and Chapuys) can have a nice session to patch things up though. It'd be funny if "No More Chapuys" becomes a byword in the Roman Foreign Office, for never creating that situation, ever again. Maybe a small statue.

What are the paths for Rhomania to integrate Sicily and Egypt permanently and do away with this despotate system?

This kinda shows that even Rhomania's buddies are fair weather friends.

Federalization. Have the Imperial government give up power and give autonomy to various provinces, give them limited taxation powers, and give their representatives authority to influence imperial policy.

I like the idea of federalisation personally - I endorse it, but my concern would be why - especially for Sicily. Short of an economic crisis that, like in Egypt, effectively forces Sicily to come to the Romans for help, I'm not sure what advantages it gives. I can see Egypt more easily,

The main approach I could see which COULD work would be dependent on how it worked for Egypt - if its essentially that Egypt becomes a subservient state, I doubt it'd be useful - but if you had some sort of structure where Egypt isn't so much a vassal as an equal partner, but that the Emperor resolves ties, that might have legs - crisis in Sicily that the price tag is membership of this structure? Crisis in Serbia might open the door as well for them.

But I'll admit I'm not entirely sure at the moment what powers the Romans have in Sicily. The idea of enforcing dual-language schools is a good idea for it, but I think the first aspect would be to push a sort of SuperCulture - As British is to English and Scottish, Roman becomes to Sicilian, Greek, Melkite, etc. Now that is easier to do via simple propaganda, and has precedent with the concept of Romanitas. Now I'm unsure how that has evolved in the Empire but if we assume that it could, "independently" of the Emperor push that idea, but as the concept of a Federation Romanitas with the Empire as a member, alongside Egypt, Sicily, Serbia, Vlachia (feel free to cross out any), that serves as a way to formalise the idea as a political entity.

Basic model as I'd see it - headed by the Emperor of the Romans. It has it's own budget and obligations to its members, and in effect would serve as a significant reform of the relationship between the Romans and the Despotates and maybe even other allies - nothing says that a FR needs to be single-tiered structure

I'd expect the Romans to be T1, with the most obligations, benefits, and restrictions.
T2 would be Egypt - essentially where foreign policies get deeply restricted.
T3 Sicily (T2 after a crisis perhaps), and Carthage (it actually makes sense unless Africa changes for the Carthaginians to have relative freedom diplomatically on the ground at least)
T4 being allies who want to be a little closer - something like Serbia, or Vlachia.

General model - closer to the top tier, more power in decisions, lower tier, less restrictions on their own actions.

The big question for me is where do the various parts of the Exarchate in the East fall in this? Sure they aren't a Depotate, and in real terms are part of the Empire proper, but I can see in such a system it could be reorganised into a T2+. Essentially a T2 member, but it doesn't have any potential rights of withdrawal. It raises questions as to whether that is enough.

That's a model I can see, and for a good while the Romans would essentially dominate it but at the same time there are benefits - see Vlachia for example, probably the best example for why someone might choose to join. A T4 relationship could involve subsidies, not something that'll happen TODAY (and with the Roman economy as it is, that entire issue may end for Vlachia) but if the economic pattern continues, a pattern of subsidies and free movement could be of benefit for them, partly to reflect reality, but also to ensure they can take those subsidies to change that pattern without indebting themselves to anyone.

On the topic of Vlachia, I can't recall - who is dominating merchant activity on the Danube at the moment? Are the Vlachs in a position to take advantage of that quiet in the next decade or so?
 
Another great update B444! If only those War Room Strategists had been available to Justinian! Perhaps, he would have left the great general alone then.

The War Room games also remind me of the previous Rhoman wars against the Caliphate during the 'dark' ages (for the Anatolian theater, not the Italian). I believe that at one point (pre-Caliphate) the Persians did besiege Western Anatolia and got aid from the Bulgarians in a siege on Konstantinipolis, so I'd say that War Game was fairly well thought out for Rhomania. Perhaps, their strategists have minors in history!

Overall, glad that Italy has finally been successfully peace'd out and now we can move onto our more savory desert to the East... Can't wait to see Ody go rogue on the Ottoblob.
 
I am interested in the size of Roman... Rome. Roman Latium? Handing over a swathe to Sicily was a good call but it'll be interesting to see how feasible the city will be in terms of growth. I can't imagine it'll suffer for Sicily next door, but it might have issues if it tries to expand beyond the Roman limits. That'll be an interesting scenario for sure.
Rome the city will probably remain mediocre-sized: in OTL, Rome did not expand beyond its walls until after Italian unification, when Rome became Italian capital and began to benefit from the immigration that tends to occur in any capital.

It will certainly grow from its current TTL size though: the Romans will probably encourage Roman and Sicilian emigration to Lation to lock it down for the Romans, and Rome is a natural supplying station for the string of fortresses that the Romans would like to build across central Italy right about now.

Maybe Roman proto-archaeologists might start documenting the ancient buildings and statues that still stand in Rome, and start the first major calls for the preservation of cultural heritage? That would be nice, especially since many Roman monuments are probably in better shape, since the Papacy in Rome TTL probably didn't have a lot money to hire architects for new buildings... who used old buildings as quarries.

I don't think there will be much to count of Roman suburbs in Sicily, depending on how exactly the border is drawn: east of Rome are hills, and south of Rome are the Pomptine Marshes, which are still a hotbed of malaria.
Maybe some Sicilian grain merchants might finance the draining of the marshes: would be good for them and for Rome the city.
 
That diplomatic reform is gooooooood, I like how its essentially 5+1, that could be really interesting. I'm curious as to the split for the West that took it from 4+1 to 5+1 - was that to accommodate the New World? I appreciate that it isn't that important for the Romans, but last I checked the Mexicans were a Roman ally in the New World, and that's a very different field to the rest of the world diplomatically.
I think it is meant to split Europe in two: maybe the Italians, Germany, Prussia and Hungary in the Nearer Latin sphere, and the Triunes, Arles, Spain, Scandinavia and Mexico in the Further Latin sphere.
 
So far this has been an excellent post, where Demetrios III has managed to save the situation from blowing over into all out war, or more specifically his wife and his daughter hahahaha. Regardless, they've managed to score a major victory for the Romans diplomatically, managing to maintain control over Rome and Latium while also keeping relations with the Latin West relatively cool for now with their concessions. While losing Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, and even Genoa does hurt, this is the price that the Roman Empire has to pay in order to keep the peace for a bit longer, especially with the Ottomans on the horizon. However, D3 isn't a robot and he does make mistakes, even ones of this caliber: it's just simply how humans are.

Sadly, I reckon that this sort of diplomatic victory wouldn't be very popular or even well liked with the general Roman populace, as I see the warhawks successfully downplaying this entire thing and emphasizing how D3 failed to capitalize on expanding on Italy against the Latins, even if it wasn't beneficial for Rhomania in the slightest. I think only the die-hard Romanophiles, historians, and diplomats would even try to analyze the Italian crisis in great detail to recognize the real importance in D3, Jahzara, and Athena's efforts in pacifying Italy, but we'll see.

As for the diplomatic reform, I love it. The Romans are definitely trying to patch up their Foreign Office for the failure that was the Italian Crisis, which was the lack of expertise in dealing with Latin matters among the higher ups. With the Foreign Office being split up into separate branches based on region, with a senior officer well versed with the people living there, it's highly unlikely we will ever see this sort of mistake happen again for Rhomania. I definitely think the Western split is going to refer to Europe and the New World since they're both far to the West relative to Rhomania's position. If so, I seriously can't wait to see the Mexican Empire becoming a major player in future installments, especially as the POV slowly shifts to the Triunes.
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Im curious as to what the results of the Algers expedition will be. If it succeeds could this be the birth of Spanish Algeria?
No, because unlike OTL, the Marinids are still a pretty powerful state that can put in significant resistance against any sort of deep Christian incursion into the region. Any type of colonization would be resisted pretty harshly by the native Amazigh and Arab peoples there and the technology gap probably isn't wide enough to give the expedition a prohibitive advantage against them.

I'd say that the best parallel would be the Barbary Wars, where each expedition cuts down on the pirates while further advances in naval technology from the Spanish, the Triunes, Arletians or the Romans would make piracy undesirable as a profession. In fact, since technology is more advanced in this timeline than OTL and there's probably less pirates due to no excursion of Jews or Muslims from Spain, I'd say that this decline would be more pronounced once the expedition wins. They'll accomplish their task, but I don't think they will have aspirations for anything further than that.

What are the paths for Rhomania to integrate Sicily and Egypt permanently and do away with this despotate system?

This kinda shows that even Rhomania's buddies are fair weather friends.
I tend to agree with others that further cross-cultural contact, propaganda, and migration of Romans towards Sicily and Egypt could lend pretty well towards federalization. In fact, the Romans are probably most suited towards this governmental model in the future, since the Antiquity Romans historically have accepted foreigners into their ranks as citizens as long as they embrace Roman culture and customs, especially during the Imperial period. We can see this happen again with the Roman Empire once again on a larger scale. Roman identity ITTL probably is less of a distinct Greek identity but more of an umbrella term that encompasses a lot of different ethnic groups as long as they generally share the same language, religion, and culture. If they reinforce that kind of identity as an ethnically plural nationality, then it's possible for Egypt or even Sicily to consider being part of Rhomania.

Mind you, a handful amount of Roman characters (either from Rhomania or their allies) were not of Greek stock, but in fact either Latin, Turk, Vlach, Russian, or some other kind of ethnicity. Even the Sideroi were descended from the Timurids, once considered to be the biggest threat to the Roman Empire very early into the timeline, and now they control the Roman Empire. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a Japanese person considered themselves as Roman in the future, actually, which would be an interesting thing to think about later on during the Modern period.
 
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Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
No, because unlike OTL, the Marinids are still a pretty powerful state that can put in significant resistance against any sort of deep Christian incursion into the region. Any type of colonization would be resisted pretty harshly by the native Amazigh and Arab peoples there and the technology gap probably isn't wide enough to give the expedition a prohibitive advantage against them.

I'd say that the best parallel would be the Barbary Wars, where each expedition cuts down on the pirates while further advances in naval technology from the Spanish, the Triunes, Arletians or the Romans would make piracy undesirable as a profession. In fact, since technology is more advanced in this timeline than OTL and there's probably less pirates due to no excursion of Jews or Muslims from Spain, I'd say that this decline would be more pronounced once the expedition wins. They'll accomplish their task, but I don't think they will have aspirations for anything further than that.


I tend to agree with others that further cross-cultural contact, propaganda, and migration of Romans towards Sicily and Egypt could lend pretty well towards federalization. In fact, the Romans are probably most suited towards this governmental model in the future, since the Antiquity Romans historically have accepted foreigners into their ranks as citizens as long as they embrace Roman culture and customs, especially during the Imperial period. We can see this happen again with the Roman Empire once again on a larger scale. Roman identity ITTL probably is less of a distinct Greek identity but more of an umbrella term that encompasses a lot of different ethnic groups as long as they generally share the same language, religion, and culture. If they reinforce that kind of identity as an ethnically plural nationality, then it's possible for Egypt or even Sicily to consider being part of Rhomania.

Mind you, a handful amount of Roman characters (either from Rhomania or their allies) were not of Greek stock, but in fact either Latin, Turk, Vlach, Russian, or some other kind of ethnicity. Even the Sideroi were descended from the Timurids, once considered to be the biggest threat to the Roman Empire very early into the timeline, and now they control the Roman Empire. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a Japanese person considered themselves as Roman in the future, actually, which would be an interesting thing to think about later on during the Modern period.
I agree that the Marinids are going nowhere at the moment. They are still a peer realm and at parity tech wise while also having an overwhelming advantage in terms of local manpower.

As to a Japanese person considering themselves Rhoman that wouldn't be surprising. There is a good chance that at least one imperial princess from both Rhomania and Japan marry into the other dynasty considering their relationship and shared interests.
 
In the northwest, Genoa and its Ligurian territory will be ceded back to an independent commune that is also notably separate from its former Lombard overlord.
Why couldn't D3 argue for literally any alternative (e.g. Arletian/Spanish protection, neutral noble appointment? Even giving the city back to the Lombards would have lessened the scale of the atrocities committed there.

In every single game, the Roman team loses Italy. If the Romans put enough troops into Italy to reliably defend it against the Latins, the Ottomans aren’t effectively opposed, eventually chew through the fortress belt, and start running wild in Asia until troops are rushed from Italy to stop them, at which point the Italian front collapses. If the Romans put enough troops in Asia to keep the Ottomans from making any headway in the first place, the outnumbered Italian front gets overrun.
I wonder what the results of future editions would look like once shorter borders and more fronts are accounted for (Russians, Treaty of Belgrade members, Ethiopia, Vijayanagar...)

I am interested in the size of Roman... Rome. Roman Latium? Handing over a swathe to Sicily was a good call but it'll be interesting to see how feasible the city will be in terms of growth. I can't imagine it'll suffer for Sicily next door, but it might have issues if it tries to expand beyond the Roman limits. That'll be an interesting scenario for sure.
The limits probably won't extend very far considering it's intended as more of a prestige inclusion rather than a land grab. City growth probably won't be an issue for centuries until the industrial revolution rolls in. I would put the agreed upon borders as the city plus a few km outside the Aurelian walls and Civitavecchia, a few hundred metres outside the road connecting them. City expansion depends how much Sicily cares and how much the Empire has federalized by then. If they're really touchy, we'll see a situation similar to Tijuana-San Diego and El Paso-Ciudad Juarez developing.

I'd say that the best parallel would be the Barbary Wars
I think the Spanish-Barbary wars would be good too as the Spanish successfully took many coastal enclaves all the way from Morocco to Tripoli in the 16th century. Depending on how well the allies collaborate, I could see them achieving their most important goals.
1. Reducing Marinid naval capacity.
2. Capturing/razing rich coastal cities for trade (Algiers, Ceuta etc)
3. Securing a coastal strip which they would be able to secure with their navies.
4. Looting inland cities like Fez or Qusantinah (they would have little desire or military capacity to hold on to those barring maybe Carthage who already has a solid base with their coastal strip. Maybe Tunisia for them)

Also, were any "subsidies" paid to the Triunes? If so would they also be taking part in the expedition?
 
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So far this has been an excellent post, where Demetrios III has managed to save the situation from blowing over into all out war, or more specifically his wife and his daughter hahahaha. Regardless, they've managed to score a major victory for the Romans diplomatically, managing to maintain control over Rome and Latium while also keeping relations with the Latin West relatively cool for now with their concessions. While losing Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, and even Genoa does hurt, this is the price that the Roman Empire has to pay in order to keep the peace for a bit longer, especially with the Ottomans on the horizon. However, D3 isn't a robot and he does make mistakes, even ones of this caliber: it's just simply how humans are.

Sadly, I reckon that this sort of diplomatic victory wouldn't be very popular or even well liked with the general Roman populace, as I see the warhawks successfully downplaying this entire thing and emphasizing how D3 failed to capitalize on expanding on Italy against the Latins, even if it wasn't beneficial for Rhomania in the slightest. I think only the die-hard Romanophiles, historians, and diplomats would even try to analyze the Italian crisis in great detail to recognize the real importance in D3, Jahzara, and Athena's efforts in pacifying Italy, but we'll see.

As for the diplomatic reform, I love it. The Romans are definitely trying to patch up their Foreign Office for the failure that was the Italian Crisis, which was the lack of expertise in dealing with Latin matters among the higher ups. With the Foreign Office being split up into separate branches based on region, with a senior officer well versed with the people living there, it's highly unlikely we will ever see this sort of mistake happen again for Rhomania. I definitely think the Western split is going to refer to Europe and the New World since they're both far to the West relative to Rhomania's position. If so, I seriously can't wait to see the Mexican Empire becoming a major player in future installments, especially as the POV slowly shifts to the Triunes.
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No, because unlike OTL, the Marinids are still a pretty powerful state that can put in significant resistance against any sort of deep Christian incursion into the region. Any type of colonization would be resisted pretty harshly by the native Amazigh and Arab peoples there and the technology gap probably isn't wide enough to give the expedition a prohibitive advantage against them.

I'd say that the best parallel would be the Barbary Wars, where each expedition cuts down on the pirates while further advances in naval technology from the Spanish, the Triunes, Arletians or the Romans would make piracy undesirable as a profession. In fact, since technology is more advanced in this timeline than OTL and there's probably less pirates due to no excursion of Jews or Muslims from Spain, I'd say that this decline would be more pronounced once the expedition wins. They'll accomplish their task, but I don't think they will have aspirations for anything further than that.


I tend to agree with others that further cross-cultural contact, propaganda, and migration of Romans towards Sicily and Egypt could lend pretty well towards federalization. In fact, the Romans are probably most suited towards this governmental model in the future, since the Antiquity Romans historically have accepted foreigners into their ranks as citizens as long as they embrace Roman culture and customs, especially during the Imperial period. We can see this happen again with the Roman Empire once again on a larger scale. Roman identity ITTL probably is less of a distinct Greek identity but more of an umbrella term that encompasses a lot of different ethnic groups as long as they generally share the same language, religion, and culture. If they reinforce that kind of identity as an ethnically plural nationality, then it's possible for Egypt or even Sicily to consider being part of Rhomania.

Mind you, a handful amount of Roman characters (either from Rhomania or their allies) were not of Greek stock, but in fact either Latin, Turk, Vlach, Russian, or some other kind of ethnicity. Even the Sideroi were descended from the Timurids, once considered to be the biggest threat to the Roman Empire very early into the timeline, and now they control the Roman Empire. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a Japanese person considered themselves as Roman in the future, actually, which would be an interesting thing to think about later on during the Modern period.
How Roman is Egypt and Sicily? Does the Empire have enough people to Romanize them and Syria?
 
Well this is quite a nice outcome for Rome. I doubt income Tuscany, Romagna and Verona would outweigh military expenses needed to secure them, and central and southern Italy (parts that Rome cares about) are now protected by neutral buffer states guaranteed by several adjoining states. So in essence those co-guarantees lightening the weight of Italian security on imperial coffers.

I wish they did not have to pay "tribute", but using it to fund anti corsair operation might mean that benefits in the end outweigh the costs.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
I wish they did not have to pay "tribute", but using it to fund anti corsair operation might mean that benefits in the end outweigh the costs.
It's actually brilliant since it will help improve the profitability and competitiveness of the Mediterranean Sea trade and push the pirates elsewhere. Maybe the Maghrebi pirates move to West Africa, with some push by the Marinids, where the force projection of Europe still isn't that great, especially since Rhomania, and to a lesser extent Arles and Aragon, has little interest helping secure that particular route. The Marinids might decide pissing off Lotharingian, Triune, and Spanish merchants is better for long term safety than doing the same with the local powerhouses.
 

Arrix85

Donor
Given the mistakes made by the romans this situation is beyond ideal. Coupled with the deal in the Balkans the point of friction in Europe are reduced to almost zero. The roman withdrawal now from European affairs will pick up its pace by a lot (as foreshadowed multiple times). Could I ask about the situation of Dalmatia? I kinda forgot.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
Given the mistakes made by the romans this situation is beyond ideal. Coupled with the deal in the Balkans the point of friction in Europe are reduced to almost zero. The roman withdrawal now from European affairs will pick up its pace by a lot (as foreshadowed multiple times). Could I ask about the situation of Dalmatia? I kinda forgot.
A semi independent vassal of Rhomania under one of the Emperor's relatives, similar to Emilia-Romagna.

And you are right, this pretty much makes the western frontier secure for a good two or three generations since any threat would have to go through all of Italy or the Balkans to even get to Rhomania.
 
A semi independent vassal of Rhomania under one of the Emperor's relatives, similar to Emilia-Romagna.

And you are right, this pretty much makes the western frontier secure for a good two or three generations since any threat would have to go through all of Italy or the Balkans to even get to Rhomania.
Wait does that mean. The Romagna is currently a Roman vassal? I thought it was a fully independent state that just had a Roman king
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
Wait does that mean. The Romagna is currently a Roman vassal? I thought it was a fully independent state that just had a Roman king
No Emilia-Romagna is fully independent but with a Roman king and its location it will be in the Rhoman orbit and likely be all but a vassal or satellite duchy.
 
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Emilia-Romagna's independence reminds me of Greece's IOTL in that it was given a Germanic King post-independence because all European Royal Families were Germanically related, just like how Romagna's king is a member of the Rhoman elite.
 
Emilia-Romagna's independence reminds me of Greece's IOTL in that it was given a Germanic King post-independence because all European Royal Families were Germanically related, just like how Romagna's king is a member of the Rhoman elite.
I wonder how having an orthodox king will go over with the population of the region
 
I wonder how having an orthodox king will go over with the population of the region
I think the Latin population there will be distrustful at first, since the king is Roman, but as long he provides for the people and manages the realm competently, they probably will continue with their normal lives.

How Roman is Egypt and Sicily? Does the Empire have enough people to Romanize them and Syria?
I'd say Egypt is significantly more Romanized than Sicily as there's a likely incentive to integrate them closer to the Empire due to their vital position as a trade hub and a food exporter, so it's highly likely for a lot of Romans to migrate there just as they did with Syria by the central government. Sicily is far more independent, but it's inevitable that they will move closer to the Roman sphere of influence akin to Vlachia or the Russian states both at a political and cultural level.

For Sicily, the pendulum is going to point back to the Orthodox/Roman side, and I'm fairly confident that Italo-Greek culture could be revived once again with Rhomania under its wing.
 
Honestly, I’m glad Rhomania got pushed back. Frankly, it feels like they have never really lost and that all their suffering has been inconsequential. Get absolutely ravaged and attacked from all sides? Still rally back and hold on to all territory. Massive and qualitative enemy army marches down all the way to Thessaloniki and ravages the Balkan provinces? Absolutely smash the army, place the peninsula under a domination unseen since the days of Trajan, march into Germany and wreck its power while stealing a base across the Alps. Get invaded on multiple fronts while your heartland is threatened? Still smashes everything before them and is set up for a total victory a mere ten years in the future. Get caught with your pants down by a superior enemy fleet, sparking a war in Indonesia? That starving army and your allies will still manage to cripple Spanish allies. THE Great Power of East Asia invaded Korea? Your Orthodox Japanese allies, a goodwill fleet, and plucky Korean resistance will manage to win the day while also spreading your influence into fiercely traditional regions of the world.

Now that’s not to say these developments are ham-fisted and authorial fiat. Well, they are fiat, but then so is every story and fiat is not a bad thing, especially when it’s written in a way to be internally consistent. The problem comes when they just keep piling up back to back to back to back. We keep getting told about how the Rhomanoi are suffering terribly, but when all that suffering doesn’t matter and they still deliver a smashing victory, it feels a bit hollow. Rhomania finally has to deal with the consequences of its actions and makes conflicts it is involved in no longer a case of “So what if Constantinople itself got captured, the whole Imperial family rounded up, and the army smashed to bits, it’ll just end with them going King Alfred the Great and scoring an even greater victory.” Now that Rhomania can lose again, the narrative is much more exciting.
 
Honestly, I’m glad Rhomania got pushed back. Frankly, it feels like they have never really lost and that all their suffering has been inconsequential. Get absolutely ravaged and attacked from all sides? Still rally back and hold on to all territory. Massive and qualitative enemy army marches down all the way to Thessaloniki and ravages the Balkan provinces? Absolutely smash the army, place the peninsula under a domination unseen since the days of Trajan, march into Germany and wreck its power while stealing a base across the Alps. Get invaded on multiple fronts while your heartland is threatened? Still smashes everything before them and is set up for a total victory a mere ten years in the future. Get caught with your pants down by a superior enemy fleet, sparking a war in Indonesia? That starving army and your allies will still manage to cripple Spanish allies. THE Great Power of East Asia invaded Korea? Your Orthodox Japanese allies, a goodwill fleet, and plucky Korean resistance will manage to win the day while also spreading your influence into fiercely traditional regions of the world.

Now that’s not to say these developments are ham-fisted and authorial fiat. Well, they are fiat, but then so is every story and fiat is not a bad thing, especially when it’s written in a way to be internally consistent. The problem comes when they just keep piling up back to back to back to back. We keep getting told about how the Rhomanoi are suffering terribly, but when all that suffering doesn’t matter and they still deliver a smashing victory, it feels a bit hollow. Rhomania finally has to deal with the consequences of its actions and makes conflicts it is involved in no longer a case of “So what if Constantinople itself got captured, the whole Imperial family rounded up, and the army smashed to bits, it’ll just end with them going King Alfred the Great and scoring an even greater victory.” Now that Rhomania can lose again, the narrative is much more exciting.
I think while it's true that they usually win in the end, but other than in colonies (and that's not through war conquest) they don't expand at all and actually contract.

Despotates are nice, but I'd rather have full control of Andrean empire. Commonwealth is better that loosing everything, but in the end USA, USSR and China are global powers today and recently, not British Empire/Commonwealth. Even now in AoM Russia/Germany/Triunes all outweigh Romania in population, so it can't be said that Romans are dominating.

If Empire is to remain a modern global power on par with China/TTL Russia it needs despotates either fully integrated or really closely allied.

And I know that Basileos's plan is more of a middle-power like Germany, but I'm rooting for a united Empire that remains a first rate player.
 
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