Empire: Total War & the London Plan #Ldnplan #Ldnpoli #Ldnont

So I was playing Empire: Total War the other day and as usual another army attacked me for besieging their city. To be fair I rarely start the wars, I just spend lots of gold redeveloping the newly captured territories so they make me slightly richer. At the start of each battle a loading screen pops up with a quote, here’s a list if you’re interested. The screen that made me reevaluate my view of the London Plan is here:

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 2.30.40 PM

I confess I thought the London Plan was timid because I was looking for perfection, which with humans is never going to happen. There are components of the plan that need to be reexamined but as a whole it should just be allowed to evolve. Many of my own assumptions regarding the plan were not based on London’s reality but on the city I desire to live in. London lacks the location, the history and the culture I seek. Most of North America does in fact.

One of the aspects that must be managed in playing Empire: Total War is change, after all it takes place in the Eighteenth Century, a time of great changes. If change isn’t managed well the people rise up and your armies that are off having a splendid little colonial war need to be recalled to protect the capital. Reform is slow, face it humanity for the most part is slow, but if things are to slow either you face a revolution or conquest. In London’s context this is the future, change to fast and the establishment of the developer-construction-automotive complex will revolt, but change to slow and London will merely be a series of bumps under farm fields in a 100 years.

The reason developers and their friends have so much power over London and its residents is there are too few of them. Maybe it is time to encourage more competition and diversify the choices in London. Bring them in from other parts of Canada or from anywhere in the world if they will follow the plan. An example of this is when one Empire controls sugar supply, then I start flooding the markets by annexing the game’s sugar producing pirate regions. London will never be a condopolis like Vancouver or downtown Toronto but this doesn’t mean we need to be bungalowville either, there needs to be a middle path and the supporting developers to take us there.

Normally by the end of an Empire: Total War game I am rich enough to buy a few small regions, say like Spain or France, from whomever has conquered them. Even with low taxes, a massive land and sea forces, and throwing money away on buying provinces I still have more money than I can spend. This is because I trade with anyone who will let me, grab commodity producing regions that give me the bulk of the supply, and have the latest technologies for transportation and communications. In the Eighteenth Century the latest land transit innovation was the asphalt road, today it is not asphalt roads but the return of rail. In this the London Plan and the Provinces budget will give us a tentative start, but both are still betting on those primitive road networks. Gas prices might put those plans in jeopardy if they get high enough to cripple the economy.

If you read more from Carl von Clausewitz you find out having no plan is not conducive to success. It should not be up to the unelected developers or construction contractors to govern London and decide upon the future. Other principles London should adopt from the military realm are awareness, flexibility, keeping the initiative, and consolidating successes. Far too often in London I see people only sticking to their silo and not venturing beyond, this will lead to bad decisions if done by councilors.

I’d recommend those on, or running for, council to spend more time on the buses, to many are in their cars. Here’s a test; get from Argyle to the 401/ Exeter Road industrial area with enough time to start an 8:30 shift. It is only doable if you catch the first bus and every transfer, the buses aren’t delayed and traffic isn’t bad, if someone needs to go in earlier they will lose the job or need a car. In Empire: Total War when I need to move around quickly I don’t follow traditional routes, use prepared roads or converge forces in bottlenecks, something the city and LTC could learn.

As a history nerd I know the conventions and traditions that are in Empire: Total War, I also know when to dismiss them. Hopefully going forward London hears less of “this is the way it’s always been done”, “this is how it is done”, and other, similar tired cliches. I like “stealing a march” on my enemies bypassing their strength and annexing the poorly defended region in the rear, London could try something similar with its competitors and those holding it back. I’m usually planning several turns ahead and replanning every turn as I’m taking it, the key is I am usually ready to pounce on opportunity and exploit it. It helps to have balanced, highly trained forces capable of beating ten times their strength with minimal effort. The London Plan needs politicians who understand this in London’s context.

Dead generals or admirals are common with my forces, lead from the front or be buried in the rear is the leadership I respect. Leaders who think they’re above it all, immune from accountability, or anyway different from others are not leaders but megalomaniacs using the position to aggrandize or enrich themselves. A great tweet from Coleen McCauley shows what true leadership entails: Leadership is not born from ego, narcissism, arrogance or desire to dominate any other; it is born from the desire to be of service to all.

I’ve decided to step back from local politics for a bit, it cuts into gaming time, oh and writing. Sadly those novel ideas in my head won’t jump into my hard drive and send themselves to an editor. I might pay attention again closer to the election, unless I get an offer to move to European city with great transit, mountains and forests.

The greatest enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan

Carl von Clausewitz


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