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Greater Persia never rose again.
It is the turn of the 18th century. Once one of the largest empires in history, Persia is in acute decline. Her armies are weak and outmoded, her leaders incompetent, and she is constantly losing ground to the neighbouring Ottoman Turks. To make matters worse, the Afghan tribes are on the brink of revolt, and Esfahan is too crippled by corruption and political intrigue to do anything. It seems Persia is stuck on the path to redundancy - a forgotten empire of ages past. Or so it seems.
In the early 1700s, Mustafa Setarezhad becomes Grand Vizier, and the empire receives a shake-up. In the interests of maintaining peace in the fragile country, the army is nationalised and expanded. The reforms soon prove prudent, after Persia annexes neighbouring Georgia and gains access to the Black Sea. A surprise conflict with the Ottomans soon turns from diaster to success, as the Persians score victory after victory against the Turks, until Constantinople itself has fallen. Persia enters a new Golden Age - the Safavids head an empire that spans from Herat to Alexandria. What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, apparently. The new empire finds itself beset on all sides: by the Poles in the west, Russia in the north and the Indians in the east. The fall of Afghanistan to the Maratha Empire prompts Mustafa's resignation, while the Persian Generals struggle to crush the last pockets of Ottoman resistance in the Balkans while fending off periodic Polish-Lithuanian invasions. Far from entering a new period of global dominance, Persia now struggles to survive.
Can be read here.
This work provides examples of:
- After Action Report
- Alas, Poor Villain: The fate of General Wlodzimierz Banaszak, after fleeing from the Battle of Constantinople, is certainly not nice.
- Alternate History: Wherein Persia, rather than becoming the perpetual Butt Monkey for the Ottoman Empire and losing its Afghan territories, decisively crushes the Turks, conquers Anatolia and the Balkans and soon stands at its greatest extent since the Achaemenid dynasty. Ultimately subverted, since the downfall of the empire leaves history more-or-less unchanged.
- Artificial Stupidity: Essentially saved the Battle of Constantinople for the Persians. The Poles moved their artillery too close to the front line, so when the Persians charged the Polish lines, the Poles had to move forward to defend the artillery. Justified in the AAR by explaining that General Banaszak was a General Failure.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Averted. Several new Shahs arise over the course of the campaign, but there are no particular mentions of their coronation ceremonies.
- Badass Army: After Mustapha's reforms, the Persian Qizilbash become this, successfully sweeping aside the Turks and conquering most of their territory. Soon leads to Badass Decay, as Persian armies are massacred in confrontations with the Indians, and are severely tried by the advanced European armies.
- Can't Stay Normal: Subverted by Mustapha. He had no plans to retire from Persian politics, and dominates the Imperial Government for decades. Eventually, he is forced to stand down, and is later killed in mysterious circumstances.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: The Battle of Constantinople, where the Persians - outclassed and outgunned by the Europeans - not only prevail over Poland-Lithuania, but massacre their armies until only a dozen or so men are left.
- Downer Ending: Persia loses in its war against the Indians, accepts a punitive peace treaty and the empire collapses by the turn of the next century. To quote the final paragraph: "Greater Persia never rose again."
- The Empire: At the beginning, Persia is wedged in between three of these: Russia, Turkey and the Mughals. The latter two soon fall, and Persia herself becomes one after her victory over the Turks.
- Expy: Mustapha is essentially Otto von Bismarck in Persia.
- Hit and Run Tactics: The cause of Persia's military weakness in the latter stages of the game. Her camel-mounted units are more suited for flanking the enemy or launching quick attacks against them, but were being employed with the same tactics used for normal line infantry. It didn't go well.
- The Horde: Persia, since most of her armies are composed of cheap Bedouin mercenaries and militias.
- Last Stand: The Battle of Esfahan. Something of an anticlimax, since the Persian army consisted of peasant militias while the Maratha army consisted of elite Indian units. The follow up battle, in which the Marathas attacked a Persian army besieging Esfahan, was less one-sided but still ultimately a failure.
- Leave No Survivors: Or - in the case of the Battle of Istanbul - leave fourteen survivors.
- Magnificent Bastard: Mustapha Setarezhad, who leads Persia from ruin to redemption, all over the course of three decades. His lucks runs out, however, and he spends the last years of his life in self-imposed exile in Russia.
- Status Quo Is God: All Persia's gains are reversed by the end of the story, allowing history to proceed as normal.
- Unfortunate Implications: The title, due to a certain country. Land of the Aryans is the literal translation of Eran (Iran), and is in fact the origins of the word, which was adopted by the Nazis.
- Vestigial Empire: Persia at the start - and by the end - of the game. Turkey and the Mughals become this half-way through, but the former recovers.