No-update-week update

Sorry, I’ve been preoccupied with my upcoming move, but mostly just lazy and easily distracted. (I know I said I was excited to get to the bits of the story ahead of where I am now, and I still am. Next week.) Scheduling-wise, we’ll likely have two weeks of updates, then I’ll be off until late June for the move, the wedding, the honeymoon, and the other half of the move.

In the interim, Parvusimperator (primarily) and I have some content up at the Fish Bowl, and I’ll try to schedule it evenly over my break so that you have something to peruse while I’m gone.

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The Long Retreat No. 22

The cold, gray light of dawn persisted into the mid-morning, before the fog began to burn away. They’d made passable time, by Falthejn’s estimation, though he had hoped for better. The army had a full day’s head start now, and if they were indeed taking the straighter, cross-country route, his little band of survivors would be hard-pressed to reach the fort at Flodsvadgard before the army marched the refugees further north.

He looked over his shoulder. Sif kept pace with him, a respectful step or two behind. She had kept her own counsel since they’d set out. Deep in thought, she missed his scrutiny.

Behind her, Alfhilde carried Jakob, his swaddling tied over her shoulder. Hrothgar brought up the rear, head swiveling at the slightest of forest noises off the sides of the road. They made an odd pair, Falthejn thought. He turned his eyes forward again, as the road sloped gently toward the crest of a slight rise. Hrothgar Hrafnssen still had no trust for him, but his wife would keep him in line. She had evidently been impressed by some diviner in the past, a rare enough happening that Falthejn resolved to ask for his name.

Hrafnssen and his family would thrive after this ordeal, Falthejn decided. Hrothgar could find work anywhere in mankind’s territory, and Alfhilde’s army days would have cut any roots she’d put down. Refugees though they were, they seemed sturdy and reliable, and Alfhilde, at least, had faced greater dangerous and worse uncertainties before. Falthejn decided to check on them in a few years. When next he had the chance to peer that far ahead, he would see for sure.

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The Long Retreat No. 21

Sif looked at her feet. The boots were leather, fur-lined, and the nicest thing she owned. “I bought them,” she said, then froze.

To her surprise, he didn’t ask the obvious question. “That was responsible of you.”

She tried not to show her relief. She may have been a beggar and a thief, but she didn’t have to be proud of it. “My feet kept getting cold,” she said, covering for herself.

His amusement didn’t go so far as a laugh, but she saw it in his eyes. “As good a reason as any,” he said. He stood, lifted his pack as if to check its weight, and nodded to himself.

Sif watched for a moment, then ventured, “Why are we taking the road?”

“You disagree?” he said. The words might have made a rebuke, but Sif didn’t think his tone carried one.

“I don’t have an opinion,” she said. “I just want to know.”

“Diplomatic of you.” Falthejn set his pack down. “One: the army will be off of the road, though I can’t guess at their reasons. Regardless, we don’t want to be between our army and the ontr. Two: we may be able to rest at the lodges along the way. If we need not set up camp at night and break it in the morning, we’ll save some time. Three: during the campaign to defend the city, we used a great deal of magic. To those animals which use magic by nature, we set off a signal fire a league high. The road is safer.”

“Why?”

“Because people believe the roads are safer.”

Sif frowned. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“It does, when you know how the world fits together,” Falthejn said. She must still have looked puzzled, because he added, “Once we’re on the way, I’ll explain.”

“Okay.”

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Commentary, The Long Retreat No. 21

I’m excited to type the next few pages—they contain the most cogent explanation of magic in this universe I’ve ever produced. I’m very clear on the concept; I’ve just never managed to get it to paper with anything like the same clarity.

You may have noticed a lack of consistency with contractions. If you’re more observant, you might have figured out my meaning already—fewer contractions is an indicator of greater formality, and the language here cares about formality. Use of name and patronym is another marker you can look for, if that’s your thing.

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The Long Retreat No. 20

“You think he is above making mistakes?”

“I think he will make fewer mistakes than either of us. I have—”

“—worked with them before, yes.” Hrothgar shook his head. “I wonder how closely, if you take his side over mine so readily.”

“Hrothgar Hrafnssen!” Alfhilde replied, abandoning any attempt at quiet. Jakob stirred, sniffled, and began to cry.

Sif lost interest in the tableau, stood, and stretched. She’d slept better, on winter nights when she’d judged the cold too biting to sleep outside, but then, she’d also slept outside in the winter. A cave was nice, by that standard.

Falthejn wrapped up his bedroll a yard or two away, and Sif went over.

“Good morning,” the magiker said, tying the bedroll in its place atop his pack. “How are you?”

Sif blinked. She wasn’t sure how she was, but she could tell from the way her mind danced away from the question that she couldn’t afford to ask herself. She answered along those lines, though she lost track of the words as she pulled herself together.

Falthejn gave her a close look, concerned, but pushed her no further. For a moment, he put his mind to his work. “I put together a pack for you,” he said, cinching down a strap on his own, then pointing.

Sif followed his finger. He had changed the pack to fit her better—ropes bound the straps so that they were shorter and nearer, a better fit for her back, and it looked smaller than the others. “Thank you,” she said, meaning it. People didn’t often remember that she existed.

Falthejn cracked a smile. “Tell me that after you’ve carried it for a week. You have room for your bedroll, two days of food for us all, and a cloak, should the weather turn cold.” He glanced down for a moment. “I’m glad you have boots. I didn’t think to bring extra.”

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The Long Retreat No. 19

Sif gradually became aware of voices. It sounded like an argument, insistent but quiet. She opened her eyes. Falthejn’s trinket still filled the cavern with a hard-edged light, but she could see the early dawn’s light filling in shadows toward the cave’s mouth.

“Madness,” said Hrothgar. “Twelve’s eyes, they’ll kill us before the day is out.”

Patiently, Falthejn explained, “They will not. If they will, we will leave the road, but today we are safe.”

“Not half a day ago you told us you do not see in sure things!” Hrothgar’s voice rose.

Falthejn sighed. “I cannot be completely sure,” he said. “I can come very, very close.” It sounded to Sif as though he’d said the very same thing before.

She sat up. Alfhilde showed her a smile. The feeling was genuine, but Alfhilde looked tense, like a bowstring pulled taut. If she were standing, she would have been pacing. As it was, Jakob took some of her attention, and her contribution to the conversation seemed limited to exasperated looks.

“You would risk our safety on—”

“Hrothgar,” Alfhilde said warningly. She motioned him over. She spoke softly, but Sif had always been keen of hearing, and it was no effort to overhear: “Falthejn Arnarsson is a magiker.”

“And?” Hrothgar replied.

“And he is better prepared than anyone here to tell us what is best to do.”

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Monday update

Happy Monday, readers. I’m off from work today, thanks to a long working Friday, so I’ve been powering through a few things. Unfortunately, Breaking Fortress Holland’s save broke sometime before midnight, Day 3, so for the next iteration, at the end of summer, we’ll be starting ‘clean slate’, as though we’d ended in a draw.

Over the past few days, my Hitbox channel and my Youtube channel have featured some flight sim videos, which include my actual voice giving occasional commentary, as opposed to the Youtube annotations I’ve been doing. See the incompetent flying! Hear the author use his words aloud, and feel better about your own public-speaking prowess! (You also get to hear Parvusimperator shoot the breeze with me, every now and again.)

This afternoon, I’m spending some time typing up The Long Retreat updates, so as to be prepared through the end of the week. I have a roadmap to the end of the story, so it’s a simple (heh) matter of actually doing the writing.

Finally, there’s a new tafl post on the Fish Bowl, on the basics of AI.

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Command Ops – Breaking Fortress Holland – Disaster Strikes!

I’m very sorry to report that I’ve run into a critical issue with my saved game in Breaking Fortress Holland—the game crashes when I try to progress past about 0200, Day 3.

Where does that leave us? Well, not in the best of places, I’ll freely admit. Whatever happens, I’ll have to ditch the current update. It’s possible that the combination of conditions causing the crash snuck into my save file after 0000, so next weekend, I’m going to try going back to midnight and running through the save game again from there. If I miss the crash, I’ll have an update for you then. If not, well, I guess that brings this chapter of Breaking Fortress Holland to a close.

Do not despair, though. A third chapter remains. Breaking Fortress Holland will continue, with or without a satisfactory result to this scenario, in roughly August of this year, with the final, and biggest, scenario in Tukker’s pack.

In longer-term wargame-related plans, expect something big (I would go so far as to say epic) in December.

I plan on using this week to put in a few more hours on The Long Retreat. Whether or not I get a successful resolution to this scenario, expect a return to story updates on April 7th.

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Command Ops – Breaking Fortress Holland No. 10

Continuing…

1600

Paulus’ plan, at Den Bosch


Paulus’ plan, east of Dungen

Paulus wins with one vote (thanks, Rob!). Happily, I already had the 484th on the way at the end of last time, so it’s a simple matter to get them into the right disposition now.

I and II Battalions will take on the defense of Den Bosch, along with the regimental HQ. III Battalion will head south and secure the flank from crossings south of Dungen.

1730
Fighting at Dungen is looking pretty iffy at this point. 10 Schützen Regiment has taken a bruising—one of its companies is looking about ready to fall apart, at less than half of its starting strength.

On the west side of Den Bosch, III/SS Deutschland is on the way to seal off that bridge. The 484th Infanterie Regiment is only just now getting under way; infantry units are slower to respond to command than motorized ones.

1800

As the day wears on, III/SS Deutschland looks like it’ll reach its objective by sunset, and the 484th Infanterie are beginning to set up in the south of Den Bosch. Before long, we’ll be able to free the I/33 Panzers and Gruppe Apell.

1820

III/484th Infanterie engages a French tank company in an orchard east of Dungen. How World War II movie.

1900

We have a pretty solid hold on Den Bosch now. III/SS Deutschland is on its way, and 1/33 Panzer Battalion, relieved by the infantry, now has orders to attack west to Vlijmen, where it will be able to exert influence on the road to Waalwijk.

2000

The Dungen bridge position is beginning to look more and more tenuous. I may have to reinforce it, or pull back to the east bank of the river.

Sunset.

2100

Things are happening maddeningly slowly. Night falls, which will let the French maraud, no doubt. It will also take the pressure off of Dungen a little bit, and give me some time to think about how to deal with all these blasted tanks when I don’t have nearly enough of my own.

Twilight.

2145

For all my griping about having maybe sixty tanks to the oh, several hundred the French do, I’m making progress toward Vlijmen, and Dungen is still hanging on.

2200

Nighttime. Thirteen kilometers to go, against who knows what opposition. We’ll see what happens.

2245
I adjust the 484th Infanterie Regiment’s orders so that they cover the south of Den Bosch a little better. Gruppe Appel’s disposition for tomorrow is going to be an interesting question.

2330

With much sighing, I watch as a French tank company trundles over my position at the Dungen bridge. On the plus side, I/33 Panzer Regiment has made a hole at Vlijmen, and is proceeding through it, along with I/SS Deutschland.

0000, Day 3

Twelve hours to go.

Dungen bridge is looking safer now, but may have to withstand another six to eight hours of attack once the sun comes back up. We’re into the backfield in the west, but we need to keep moving there. Predawn twilight starts at about 4:00 a.m. I want to be past Vlijmen and on the way to Waalwijk by then. Den Bosch looks secure right now.

Please note that this is the last decision point in this edition of Breaking Fortress Holland. Four hours (the remainder after this period) isn’t enough to justify stopping and changing plans.

Guderian – The arrival of the infantry has freed Gruppe Apell to follow the mechanized forces west! We must exploit their breakthrough with all available force.

von Rundstedt – The position at Dungen is becoming more tenuous by the moment. Gruppe Apell must attack it immediately.

Paulus – I agree with von Rundstedt, but Grupe Apell has been fighting for thirty hours. They must first rest for a few hours before organizing for the flanking attack.

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Not-being-lazy voting update

I swear! I’ve been working on tafl things for the past two weeks pretty hardcore. I’ll have a blog post coming this weekend on that topic, I expect, and some more exciting tafl-related news at around the same time.

As for Breaking Fortress Holland, my intention is to play on Thursday and update on Friday evening or Saturday morning. Voting currently stands thus:

Paulus – 1

There’s still time and opportunity to make a difference.

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