The Thistle Of Kongo

A Civ 6 Story

Nearly five millennia ago, green shoots of life began to grow from the lush continent of Kalaharia. In the West, the cunning Cyrus founded Pasargadae, the first city of the Persian Empire. In the East, the ambitious Mvemba A Nzinga laid down the first stones of Kinchassa, Capital of the Empire of Kongo. In the North, Robert the Bruce, who Historians suggest just wanted to have nice, peaceful fucking time on Civ 6, formed Stirling, the cornerstone of the Scottish Empire. The three civilisations were in place. The centuries that followed were full of expansion and primitive wars against native barbarians. Before the trio had even met, the land was essentially sliced into thirds, with Cyrus taking the West, Nzinga the East and Robert, typically, the North.

Robert was the Champion of the civilised World, as even finding himself and Stirling wedged between 2 barbarian camps, with a little help from the nearby independent state of Kabul, the barbarians were easily vanquished. Scotland flourished across their conquered lands, establishing the Cities of Roxburgh, Edinburgh, Ayr and Scone. The other leaders enjoyed similar, but probably lesser, success and the three nations, once acquainted, traded jovially with one another. The central State of Auckland and South-Eastern state of Muscat also benefited from the prosperity of the three flourishing civilisations. Nzinga became suzerain of both Auckland and Muscat, while Robert continued his relationship with Kabul, the neighbours with whom he’d shared so many victories, as their suzerain.

But when there was no more room in Kalaharia for expansion, friction developed by the two Southern powers. You see, splitting the continent straight down the dividing line between the Persian and Kongolese Empires was a mountain range. It stretched all the way down the centre of the Southern half of the land, from Auckland almost down to the Southern coast. The problem was that this thin sliver of land between the end of the mountain range and the Southern coast was neither East nor West. Neither side had a natural claim. Nzinga wanted to take this land for himself, but Cyrus acted faster, founding the Persian City of Hagmatana, a name that would echo down through the centuries. The City that would start a War lasting longer than a thousand years.

In roughly 750 AD, the furious Nzinga waged war on Cyrus. With Kongo’s superior military might, he laid siege to Hagmatana with crossbowmen, catapults and swordsmen. This was when Cyrus called out to the North for help. Now, Robert was pretty new to Civ 6 and Historians suggest that he hadn’t even realised that a War was happening until this point. While the Southern nations had built up militaries fit for battle, Robert had been investing heavily in the future of Scotland by building Campuses and ships with which to study and explore the seas and the faraway lands beyond. He was said to be initially torn on which of his friends to side with, but it didn’t take him long to decide. Nzinga had brought war to a peaceful land and was trying to bully Cyrus into getting his own way. Robert did not respond kindly to bullies. As Hagmatana was incorporated into the Empire of Kongo, Scotland joined Persia in a recovery mission.

Well, sort of. You see, the fact that Robert was at the very North of Kalaharia with a few swordsmen and archers, while a war was waging at the Southern tip, meant that there wasn’t an awful lot that he could do. Time was precious. He had a choice between travelling his merry band of units down the Western side of the Persian/Kongolese mountain range and incurring the wrath of Auckland, who were sided with Nzinga, while traversing thick rainforests, steep hills and narrow choke points between the mountains and the sea, or travelling down the Eastern side, through literally the entire Empire of Kongo. He chose the West; the path of least resistance. By the time Robert’s “army” arrived at Hagmatana, the Persian forces were thin and resigned to defeat and Auckland had halved Robert’s numbers with crossbow bombardments. Sickeningly, just as the Scots arrived, Persia threw in the towel. Cyrus ceded Hagmatana and he and Nzinga made peace. The South belonged to the East. It was over.

Robert’s army travelled back to Scotland the long way round, up the Western Coast, in order to avoid more contact with Auckland, as the North and East were still technically at War, although Scotland and Kongo were yet to meet in battle. They got back to their native land to see that Kongo had expanded again, but this time it was right on their doorstep. The City of Mbumbi had just been founded right on the border of The Scottish Capital of Stirling. This was a problem. Robert now knew Nzinga’s gameplan. He’d expand and expand and expand, but when he couldn’t expand any further, he’d merely take the next City along. He was arrogant. He was greedy. He was a no-good bully and Robert would not roll over in the face of bullying, the way Cyrus had. The North didn’t have the military clout of their opponents, but they had spirit and they had tenacity. Scotland would fight.

The age of Scottish Science was over, at least for now. As Nzinga’s army marched North towards Stirling, Scotland went into full defensive lockdown, scrambling for defensive and offensive improvements. When the Kongolese arrived in Stirling however, the only thing that stood between them and it was a single catapult and a single group of archers. The archers were swiftly dealt with by the Ngao Mbeba, a terrifying group of Kongolese fighters who carried huge shields as well as their swords, but the catapult did enough to deter them from moving any closer to the city centre for now. When the Ngao Mbeba returned later on, they found that Stirling had been fortified with primitive walls from which the Scots could attack back with both arrows and hurled stone, but the city was still by no means impregnable.

This was when Robert decided to use Nzinga’s own arrogance against him. As Mbumbi had been set up right on the Scottish border, Scotland could erect defensive fortifications close enough that Mbumbi could be attacked by catapult from a fortified location without the under-developed city being able to attack back. So for decades, Mbumbi was bombarded time and time again, while always managing to keep itself afloat by repairing the damage. Counter attacks would come both to Stirling and to Edinburgh, just South of the River Forth, in the form of the Ngao Mbeba and of cavalry and catapults. The Scottish cities were becoming ever more fortified with taller walls and better technology though and were now easily able to pick off these troops, who were defenceless out in the open.

Through the decades of stalemate, Nzinga asked countless times for peace, but he was always met with the same response from Robert: “Are you ready to give me Mbumbi?”, to which the answer was always predictably “No.” So the fighting continued. Nzinga was becoming increasingly unsettled with the fact that he was losing his advantage though and this only escalated when Robert became suzerain of both Auckland and Muscat, turning Kongo’s city states and only allies against them in the war effort.

In 1450 AD the turning point came, turning what had been a stalemate into a checkmate. Scotland discovered metal casting, meaning that they could upgrade their single remaining catapult, turning it into a bombard, a large cannon with the potential to rip through buildings. Since it’s birth, Mbumbi’s resources had been spent entirely on trying to defend against the enslaught of attacks from the North and they hadn’t been able to progress whatsoever. They still didn’t even have walls. The bombard laid waste to the meager defenses of Mbumbi and within a few years Scotland had claimed it for themselves, retaking the land on which the Northernmost Kongolese city should never have been built. The heroic single bombard that took the city was celebrated by the Scots and even earned itself a title. They named it “The Thistle of Kongo”; The tiny pin that had burst the balloon of the enemy’s expansion.

By this point, Scotland had founded the cities of Aberdeen, Cullen and Dumfries and so with Mbumbi, they occupied the whole Northern landmass. Well, almost all of it. You see, nestled snugly on the boundary where Auckland met Edinburgh was a huge city named Mbwila. Robert didn’t like that his still hostile enemy had such an advantageous position from which to attack and so set about planning it’s capture. Right on the border of Mbwila and Mbumbi sat a Kongolese encampment, a strategic defensive location that the Scots could not go near. Lucky for Robert then that The Thistle of Kongo out-ranged any defensive fortifications in the World. The bombard obliterated the encampment, after which Mbumbi set up one of their own, right on the border and in range of Mbwila.

Kongolese troops flocked to the border, only for Scotland’s growing forces to wipe them out one by one. All the while The Thistle of Kongo sunk it’s prickles deeper and deeper into Mbwila’s defences. In roughly 1750 and with far less resistance than Mbumbi, Mbwila fell to The Thistle and became the second city occupied by Robert’s army.

That, as far as Robert was concerned, was that. The bully got bullied. The stealer of cities had two of his cities stolen. That was enough. Scotland stopped building walls around it’s cities and stopped rolling cannons towards the border. Instead, universities were built, industry flourished and the country bloomed. Friendships were made with Canada and Hungary, empires from across the sea on the continent of Atlantis. Friendships were not made with Genghis Khan and his Mongolian empire though, as historians suggest he was pretty standoffish towards the Scots. All the while however, an eye had to be kept on the Kongolese border. Although Robert thought that Nzinga and his people had suffered enough and didn’t want to press them any more than was necessary, still more troops came. Still more cavalry charged into not only into the occupied land, but Auckland too, only to be turned around by The Thistle’s mighty blasts. While Scotland blossomed and Global relationships grew, for Kongo, the war was far from done.

In 1878, a small Kongolese city named Mbanza Mpangu, just south of Hagmatana, rebelled against the Kongo. Stuck in that contested central Southern area of Kalaharia, the people had become disillusioned with the war as they could see peacetime just miles away in Persia. Mbanza Mpangu became a free city and was widely expected to be incorporated into the Persian empire. Fair payback for Hagmatana, you’d think, but Nzinga had other ideas. His armies attacked the rebels to the South in an attempt to force them back under the thumb, but Cyrus was not going to let this happen again. After over a millennium on the sidelines, Persia declared war on Kongo. North and West were united once more.

However, the North at this point had not made any moves towards Kongo in over a hundred years and Robert was certainly not going to step in now. Even with Auckland now onside, the voyage down to the Southern tip of Kalaharia would still be treacherous and slow. And who’s to say that the second he got there, Persia wouldn’t just wave the white flag and leave them hanging again? No, Scotland were not prepared to play an active part in the war again yet. They were once again investing heavily in Science, playing the long game. They even invented flight. However, Robert was cunning enough to know that quashing another Kongolese invasion would be helpful in the long run. He invited Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier and Hungarian ruler Matthias Cornivus to help in the war against Nzinga, of whom both men already held poor opinions. Hungary and Canada, along with Canada’s city states Mitla and Granada, joined Scotland, Kabul, Auckland, Muscat, Persia and their city-state Babylon in the war effort against Kongo and it’s newest city states Preslav and Mohenjo-Daro. Soon afterwards, Robert took suzerainty of Preslav too and they switched sides. Nzinga began to see a pattern emerging.

In the early 1900s, fighting continued on the borders as Mbanza Mpangu was indeed incorporated into the Persian Empire, as expected. Matthias Cornivus took suzerainty of Mohenjo-Daro too. The Kongolese Empire was shrinking and enemies were on all sides… Except, he did have one friend on the Global stage. In 1916, Genghis Khan, Nzinga’s only ally, conquered the city state of Mitla. the landmass of the Mongolian Empire was now growing large enough to make the 4 allied civilisations uncomfortable. He wasn’t involved in the war, but if he was to step in, it would be on the side of Kongo and it would be a huge problem.

For the first quarter of the decade though, that was about all that happened. The Thistle Of Kongo got a new coat of paint too, upgrading to an artillery weapon. In 1925, Robert decided to bring TTOK into play once again. The Scots were amongst the most technically progressive civilisations in the world and had a couple of airports, one of which was stationed on the border of Mbwila and was an excellent place to send bombers and fighters out from if Kongo ever tried to move in again. The problem was that to build these planes, he’d need a source of aluminium and as large as Scotland’s landmass was, not a single scrap of the stuff was available to him.

Scotland identifies aluminium sources around Bakavu, circa 1925 (Colourised)

The next City down the coast from Mbumbi and Mbwila was named Bakavu and it had access to as yet untapped sources of aluminium beneath the ground. Robert saw it as the final piece in the Scottish puzzle. With Bakavu under his stewardship, he’d be ready for whatever Nzinga or Khan could throw at him. Bakavu looked to be quite unguarded, so Robert knew that the time was now. He rushed bombardment units, including TTOK, into the city and began to chip away at Kongo’s now considerable defences. Whether Nzinga knew of this forthcoming attack was unknown, but the fact was that he was more than ready for it. Forces poured out from the heart of Kongo and Machine gun fire rained down upon the Scotsmen, wiping out virtually the entire small force that Robert had thought sufficient to take the city. The Thistle of Kongo was hurried back to Mbwila, where it took up a defensive position in the encampment. Kongo’s counter attack was swift and almost brutal, but Scotland just barely clung on thanks to their towering walls and TTOK’s advanced weaponry.

The Thistle of Kongo fires on Bakavu, circa 1925 (Colourised)

Both civilisations retreated to lick their wounds, to mourn their losses and to further build their empires. During the 30’s, Robert became suzerain of Mexico City, while Granada fell into Kongolese hands. The 40’s though, signalled the start of a Scottish Golden Age. Once again, science was King. The technological steps forward that Scotland took over the next couple of decades left the likes of Nzinga in the dust. And it was just as well, because in 1961, they went back for Bakavu.

Until now, Robert had been happy to bide his time once again, building his forces and his resources for an eventual second push. But in 1961, Canada, Hungary and Persia all pulled out of the war. Only Scotland and it’s city states remained united against Kongo. Scotland had just produced the first tank in the World and Robert knew that now, as his allies began to distance themselves and as his technological advantage reached it’s peak, was the time to strike. A single heroic tank, along of course with TTOK, moved towards the Scottish/Kongolese border once again to begin their assault on Bakavu. If this attack failed, Robert could be secure in the knowledge that most of his cities were now ready to pump out these new deadly tanks for as long as it took.

Just 4 years later however, Bakavu fell. The first tank was lost, but that didn’t matter. Bakavu was incorporated into the growing Scottish Empire. TTOK was celebrated across the land for his involvement in the capture of 3 crucial cities and was upgraded shortly afterwards to a modern armour unit. But Scotland might not have had need of The Thistle again. In 1966, after roughly 1200 years of war, a peace treaty was finally drawn up. Kongo would cede Mbumbi, Mbwila and Bakavu to Scotland and the 2 nations could finally go forwards into the future without having to look over their shoulder.

World Map, circa 1968

One thing still niggled at Robert though. You might think it was the city of Hagmatana, but no, Robert reasoned that Persia had got their own back with the acquisition of Mbanza Mpangu. It was the city of Mitla, over on the continent of Atlantis. The one that had been captured by the Mongolian Empire. It was Genghis Khan and his behaviour that threatened to follow in the footsteps of his ally Mvemba A Nzinga. If he’d happily take that free city state for himself, what else would Khan do? The Mongolian Empire shared borders with Canada, Granada, Mohenjo-Daro and Persia and Robert didn’t much want to find out who’d be next. The World still had a bully, and Robert didn’t respond well to bullies.

The Scottish Empire, circa 1968
The Thistle of Kongo occupies the city of Bakavu as it begins to rebuild as a city of Scotland, circa 1968 (Colourised)

Author: DOgames

Amateur Game Designer, Writer, Artist, Musician

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