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Monday, April 19, 2021

European Super League

Yoda by elycefeliz from flickr (CC-NC-ND)

There's been a lull in politics recently, fortunately there's new entertainment from the football world. Not the matches, I never watch those, that's 90 minute snoozefest, but these's fun drama involving creation of European Super League.

It look like 15 clubs (12 publicly known, 3 weirdly still secret) announced that they're dumping existing UEFA league, and creating their own league.

As far as I can tell, the main motivations seems to be that:

  • it's under control of the big clubs, not the greedy and corrupt UEFA and FIFA and (somehow) Qatar
  • it will provide more predictable income streams to the big clubs, without risk of losing tens of millions due to a bad match or two and failing to qualify
  • it will just make a lot more money, as big clubs won't have to waste time playing weak clubs few people care to watch
Now the most interesting thing is predicting who's going to win, Super League or UEFA.

For this I checked UEFA's club rankings. Members of the new league are rated 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 26, and 53. So 10 out of top 15 clubs, plus two baffling additions.

To make sure this isn't some artifact of weird storing, I also checked 538's global rankings, and clubs in the Super League are ranked 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 28, 36. So again 10 of top 15, plus two baffling additions.

The low ranked outliers are not even the same - it's AC Milan and Tottenham by 538's ranking; and AC Milan and Inter Milan by UEFA's.

Interestingly 538's global ranking shows total dominance of European teams. The only non-European club in top 50 is a Brazilian one at 41.

So it looks like if Super League plans go ahead, it will likely completely dominate European and global football.

Greedy and corrupt UEFA and FIFA threatened every club and every player involved in the Super League with a ban from participating in everything else including the World Cup, to which the Super League responded in hilariously ballsy way that if that's so, they'll just create their own World Cup.

And according to rankings, Super League's World Cup will be far higher level event than one by what's left of UEFA and FIFA.

Of course supporters of smaller teams, as well as supporters of greedy and corrupt UEFA and FIFA, are really hating on this development, and trying to use all their corrupt politician friends like Boris Johnson to stop it. But right now I'd bet on the Super League winning.

And as a final aside, the very fact that Boris Johnson is on UEFA's side clearly shows that the Super League are the good guys here.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Review of Vanilla Beyond mod for Medieval 2 Total War

sweet baby by Neticola from flickr (CC-ND)

Vanilla Beyond is my favorite kind of mod, one that tries to improve the base game without turning it into a kitchen sink of every cool feature modders possible.

The mod changes world map - extending the map a bit to the East, squeezing the Atlantic (probably to avoid game engine limitations on max campaign size), adding a bunch of extra factions (some from Kingdoms campaigns).

The new map is definitely a great improvement.

The mod changes how New World and Mongols are implemented. New World colonization is open from day one, and you'll see Norwegians, Portuguese and so on colonize right away, which feels a bit off, but the way it works in vanilla where they might as well not be in the game is also a bit off. Maybe it would be best to actually remove them from the game completely instead?

Mongols start on-map, and instead of a lot of free doom stack they get a bit of gold, troops, and king's purse every time they conquer new settlement, with the idea of creating a huge snowball. I didn't play long enough to see if it works properly or not. They seem to have long range missiles (including horse archers), which feels a bit bs in terms of both gameplay and historical accuracy, but game gives long range missiles and effective against armor effect quite generously to everyone.

These seem like sensible changes.

I played a quick game as Armenia on normal, as that faction wasn't available in any previous campaign. I got from 1 to 8 regions by turn 13, defeating Emirate of Damascus and getting some rebel lands.

AI was extremely passive, and nobody declared any wars against anyone else. In vanilla there's a 10 turn timer for AI, maybe it's much longer here? It felt like I can do a lot before AI wakes up. I guess I could have been more aggressive, in Empire I usually get 3 declaration of war on me turn one, and I got used to that a bit.

The biggest change in the came is in recruitment buildings. Basic city/castle tier has no recruitment slots at all - that means city or castle cannot recruit any units at all just by existing. That's an especially huge nerf to castles (which in vanilla can already recruit Mailed Knights or equivalent even at low level). You need to build a bunch of recruitment buildings to do any recruiting, so early game you'll be mostly relying on mercenaries and your starting army.

The related change is that higher tier buildings can only recruit higher tier units, and cannot recruit anything low tier. This is annoying for garrison logic, and sometimes you just don't have any units at all in the pool to recruit because of this. I suspect after a while (like 20-50 turns), it all starts working properly, but very early game is extremely awkward due to these changes.

There's a bit less difference between cities and castles - castles get some trade buildings, some low tier units overlap between both instead of having completely separate chains, and some castle garrison is upkeep free.

There's also a bunch of unique buildings in various settlements, which make sense I guess.

Merchant income got deservedly increased, as it was just way too low in vanilla.

Overall the mod has very awkward early game, so I don't think it's suitable for quick campaigns, but it could work better for something longer.