If you follow this blog in any regular sense, which I think is about two or three people (and I do appreciate those two or three people!), you might have noticed that I added a link to the links area on the left. This is the site for the Paradox forums. Paradox has developed the most amazing computer games. For anyone who has ever played Risk, and more importantly Axis and Allies (oh, we are all such geeks aren't we?) these games are brilliant.
The original Europa Universalis was a game that allowed one to play any country in existance in the years between 1492 and 1792. The game involved warfare, religion, diplomacy, economy and trade, and just about anything else that might have been part of running a kingdom during the period. I recall many a night kicking butt as England or attempting to form Prussia from medieval Brandenburg. Very fun stuff.
But then Europa Universalis 2 came out. Increasing the date range to 1419 to 1819, you could take up France as it attempted to regain control of her continental possessions from the English during the last stages of the 100 Years War, or attempt to hold off the final demise of the Byzantium Empire. Adding a few new tweaks and making what we were occustomed too even better, the folks at Paradox outdid themselves.
It was during this time that I discovered their forums. I have never played any game, be it computer or otherwise, that had the kind of support this company provides. Further, the community that developed there is astounding. Many began writing what is referred to as AARs or After Action Reports. Initially these were simply write ups of games people had played. They were invaluable for anyone trying to learn the game and it's ins and outs, many of which took hours of playing time to figure out. Eventually, however, these AARs became more involved. I remember one fella that went by the handle Ariel that wrote an incredible AAR for both EU1 and EU2 dealing with England. He wrote fantastic alternate historical fiction and even encouraged audience participation. Several other members began doing the same and eventually, this became the sole reason to visit the forums. There was a lot to read there. I even started my own, though it flamed out eventually due to time constraints and other real life issues.
Recently, this company has released another game using similar mechanics. It's called Victoria and allows the player take control of any country alive between the years 1836 and 1920. So far I have played 4 games, my latest being Persia. It was such a blast, that I had to write up another AAR and you can find it here if you are so inclined. In case you are not sure, I go by coz1 at these forums.
If you like playing historical strategy games (and have the time obviously), do yourself a favor and check out these games. They are unequaled in the industry. Forget Civilization or Imperialism, you need to play Europa Universalis and Victoria. If you like alternate history, you will be blown away by the creations written by some of the forum members there. Either way, these folks have developed an incredible game and given many of us hours upon hours of entertainment and a wonderful creative outlet for writing. If you enjoy that sort of thing, you should go there (check link for Paradox to the left to go to the main forum registry) and see for yourself. You will thank me. That is all.