With regards to Rise of Kings, I was wondering if any one of you would like a new poll.
You see, recently we have been receiving complaints over how Eastern European history has been represented in Rise of Kings, and of late I've been having some creative urges to return back and revisit this mod. And also, I need to clear up the air on one faction that has been causing some bad blood between me and some people here.
You guessed it right. Bulgaria.
When I first started changing the factions for Bulgaria, I felt that I really wanted to add Bulgaria. Especially since one of my distant pen-pals works with the Bulgarian foreign affairs ministry, and so I thought of creating a Bulgarian faction which could serve as a buffer between the northern Slavic factions and the Byzantines. I even had the following drawn up for Bulgaria too:
- Religion: Orthodox - so it gets lots of powerful buildings. Perhaps a unique building too,
Although the Bulgars are actually descended from the Indo-Iranian tribes of western Central Asia, by the onset of their possible appearance in Rise of Kings: Chronicles, they would have been effectively Slavicised. Proximity to Byzantium and a couple of decades in the Mongol vassalage system would also have resulted in some interesting cultural cross-pollination too, which is evident from Bulgaria's religion even today resulted in the potential tech tree below:
- Cavalry: Druzhina  => boyars 
- Medium cavalry: Mongol/Turkish Baatur and Tarkhans???
Bulgaria would have received missile units similar to the setup for Armenia - both light and medium cavalry, but no crossbows or Palace Gamekeepers (this is fitting especially in explaining how Bulgaria is currently being treated in Rise of Kings).
Here it gets very interesting, because of the following:
As a Slavicised nation, Bulgaria would have probably had Slavic levies. Potential units for medium infantry would have included either one of these:
- Med inf: Slavic Wojaky or "Wojow" - tough but slow-training like Poland
- Merc light inf: Slavic Raiders
- Kopienostzi (+attack)  => Retinue Kopienostzi (++attack, but slower to train)
- Archers => Composite Bowmen (similar to Byzantium)
But here is the problem. In the case of Bulgaria, it would've received only 2 unique units, whereas Serbia claims 3, and Armenia roughly about 4+. Some factions in Rise of Kings had only 2 notable unique units (like Portugal, and the previous Bohemian faction which has had its War Wagons sent off to China, Russia, Hungary, Poland and Germany). Moreover, like Serbia and Armenia, Bulgaria had an existence which was more or less coterminous with these factions whenever Byzantine power waned. Additionally, the architectural style of Bulgarian buildings - similar to that of Byzantium or Venice - left me feeling cold.
So there are many reasons why I had doubts of inserting Bulgaria into Rise of Kings. Consider these dates as well:
Status as of the commencement of Rise of Chivalry campaign for Rise of Kings (c 10th century)
- Raskia: Petty city-state, probably annexed by Bulgaria although influenced by Byzantium
- Armenia: Petty kingdom, consolidating power
- Bulgaria: Independent kingdom, consolidating power
It is easy to be seduced into considering keeping Bulgaria in. However,
Status as of the commencement of Renovatio Europam campaign for Rise of Kings (c 1350)
- Vukanovic Serbia: Independent kingdom, stable
- Cilician Armenia: Petty kingdom, but with strong ties to Lusignan Cyprus - many Armenians, both highborn and of the bourgeousie and peasantry were either married to Cypriot nobility and/or migrated there, with control of Sis on the Cilician coast.
- Bulgaria: Politically fractured and weakened
As you can see it was a problematic toss-up, all 3 factions - Serbia, Armenia and Bulgaria had equal chances of being picked if we considered CtW-worthiness alone. This then boiled down to the regional and unique units of all 3 factions. After thinking for a while, I felt that Armenia had the best chance to go in, it had an interesting culture which was a blend of western, Asian and Orthodox cultures - this allowed Armenia to support an interesting plethora of unique units which would've allowed it to be distinguished from other factions.
Next on the list was Serbia. It was not easy picking between Serbia and Bulgaria, but Serbia won because in contrast with Bulgaria which had to borrow unique units from other factions, Serbia could lay claim to being next by its unique military. I decided to let them in.
Don't get me wrong. Those who say that Bulgaria has a valid right to be in the game are speaking the truth and I agree with them. But we sadly have run out of faction slots, and after having replaced the Swedes (subsumed after the Kalmar Union) and Bohemians (occassional rulers of the HRE and extremely Germanised). However, if people can provide good reasons to cannibalise another faction, I don't mind opening up to them. BUT, I also have another plan for my own....
If lack of unique units is not a barrier to being selected to becoming a Rise of Kings faction, then what of the Indians? especially moreso if we base them off the Mediaeval Tamil civilisations of Southern India?
Let's consider the following:
- Navy: India gets a unique mix of warships: tower ships and war junks replace the heavy ship line, which in turn are replaced either by brigantines and lanternas later on (carracks would be adopted only by the early modern Vijayanagara)
- No  infantrymen for India - because of the varna system, India only gets archers and spearmen.
- No  cavalry, because southern India is not known for cavalry. Only scout cavalry, lancers and javelin cavalry are available.
- Nobles' Court trains war elephants and kshatriyas - expert swordsmen (2 unique units)
As if that wasn't enough, we also have the following statistics:
- Pandyan empire: 0.34% of world landmass (c1200s)
- Vijayanagara empire: 0.4% (c1530s)
- Bulgarian empire: 0.4% (c900s)
- Bulgars, Serbs - primarily land-based armies. Mostly influenced by other cultures
- Indians - land and sea-based, with a bias towards the latter with extensive cultural influence, possibly throughout all of Southeast Asia.
- Bulgar architecture: Italo-Roman (based on Byzantium and Venice)
- Indian architecture: unique (based off Dark Age Asian architecture)
Currently there is no place for the Indians in CtW, apart from being a sub-faction like the Bulgars, but I believe that if anyone thinks we ought to have a new faction in Rise of Kings, the Indians have greater feasibility here. But I'd rather leave it to a vote to see what people say. My preference is to have the Bulgars appear as a NPC faction in the 1st Rise of Kings campaign to replace the Serbs, but if anyone has better arguments to best mine, I am happy to consider them.