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"How much does terrain factor in..." Topic

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noimtheotherguy Inactive Member04 Feb 2012 9:59 p.m. PST

…to a nation becoming a world power.

Three good examples:

Great Britain: Develops the world's largest navy mostly because it is already protected by the sea. Once it has the troubles with the Scots and its own dynastic worries ironed out, it concentrates on building a navy which no European nation can touch. Why? Because they all have land borders with other European nations, and so have to spend the majority of their military budget on armies, not fleets.

The cool thing about having a big fleet, however, is that it gives you access to trade and/or plunder, in a way that big armies cannot.

Switzerland: Not a world power, you say? Who else managed to remain in the brawling pit that was Europe since 1386, send mercenaries all over the landscape, and then become the world's bankers, even avoiding the horrors of WW2?

Situation is interestingly different and yet the same as England's. The Alps, like the Atlantic and the English Channel, keep the enemy out, but don't let the Swiss expand, just roam around a bit, conquering with insidious chocolate and cuckoo clocks. Eventually, they use this, combined with their central position in Europe to become a state that no one would dare to touch, as it is the only place where an escaping tyrant can run to and still come out with funds for a comfortable retirement.

Spain: A good example of "almost England, but not quite enough" their seas and mountains are almost enough to keep them walled in, and they almost work out their problems with the Portuguese, but not quite. Thus, a great empire that lasts a short time, but is overwhelmed when its monetary policies and constant European wars allow its maritime rival (England) to assume dominance.

"No, no, no. This is far too simplistic! You've got it all wrong…"

Probably. Tell me how.

Mako11 Inactive Member04 Feb 2012 10:23 p.m. PST

Yep, probably quite a bit.

You can add in Japan too, with their large, natural moats, as well.

This is another reason why the New Zealanders will take over the world, one day. They are currently just biding their time, waiting for the right opportunity!

Personal logo flooglestreet Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member05 Feb 2012 12:56 a.m. PST

There is more to terrain then natural moats. Consider area, a nation with a lot of area should theoretically dominate. In Europe, that would be Scotland (once you flatten it out) yet they have never been a dominant power because the civilized world is revolted by bagpipes and haggis.

Grizzlymc Inactive Member05 Feb 2012 7:21 a.m. PST


If you think that the Kiwis are biding their time, try ordering a beer in a London pub. They are doing by stealth what the great colonial nations did by trade and force.

noimtheotherguy Inactive Member05 Feb 2012 9:14 a.m. PST

There is more to terrain then natural moats. Consider area, a nation with a lot of area should theoretically dominate.

I think that a good case can be made for the reverse. Take Poland, large area, high population and a tradition of military excellence. For all that, they had no natural boudaries, and got carved up after a brief period of expansion.

What about Russia, you say? General Winter was a natural force, which might roughly be equated to a terrain effect, though a seasonal one. He saved Russia a few times, though not without great cost to the Russian population.

Again, just my thoughts.

sillypoint05 Feb 2012 1:46 p.m. PST

Australia, play Risk.

Etranger Inactive Member05 Feb 2012 11:07 p.m. PST

One of the UKs natural advantages is that it sits astride the intercontinental trade routes for most of its rivals.

As the real estate guys have it, 'location, location, location.'

Angel Barracks Inactive Member06 Feb 2012 3:14 p.m. PST

Don't forget the tea drinking nations do well.

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