Darknes: The Darkest Hour Francis Ferdinand- arguably one of the most important pawns in the history of the world. The man who rode down an infamous street leading to his death by one seeking self-determination for his people. The arch-duke of Austria, a man of little importance to the powers that be, had served just one purpose in his life- a pretense for war. Despite the fact that the evidence suggested otherwise, Emperor Francis Joseph personally held the Serbians responsible for his nephew’s death and demanded the Serbian government be held responsible for such. The result if terms weren’t met, Joseph warned, would be the destruction of Serbia. The Serbians could not afford the terms that Joseph offered and thusly had no choice but to reject the Austro-Hungarian peace offering. While Joseph was extremely confident in his nation’s ability to defeat the much smaller Serbia, he was not too arrogant to seek allies. He naturally turned to the only other state who would listen to his outrageous demands: Germany. Recently united under Wilhelm I, the Germans were now under the rule of their Kaiser Wilhelm II. Since it would be just a benefit for Germany’s, closer to Wilhelm’s, plans for Europe, the German Kaiser agreed. The basics of the Central Powers had been born. We turn south to Bulgaria now. Formed during a revolution in the decaying Ottoman Empire, Tsar Ferdinand I declared his state to be “completely independent and free from Ottoman rule.” The state joined in the fray and quickly entered the Balkan wars, initially going against the Ottomans with the rest of the peninsula. The coalition of states easily defeated their foes and Bulgaria grew in size- only to lose it in another ensuing war after it sought more land. Now, after some reluctance on Ferdinand’s part and hours of conferences with the Germans, Bulgaria enters the fray once more to reclaim old land. Oddly enough, the final core member of the Central powers turned out not be a German ally, but rather a common friend- the Ottomans. After losing much territory during the Balkan wars and various wars with Russia, the Ottomans were now determined to take the old lands back. She quickly entered the war against Russia, eager to regain her role in Caucasia. Through now she gathers the attention of the pro-Slavic Balkan states; the Ottomans can once again rise to greatness if they don’t spoil their shot. Now we turn our business elsewhere- father east. Ever since her humiliating defeat to Japan in the Russo-Japanese war, Tsar Nicholas II was eagerly looking for a way to regain face in Europe. So when some Slavic nationalists demanded that he defend the smaller Serbia, he still was reluctant to take action. But the man, after man hours of consort, finally came to Serbia’s defense after it was concluded that it was the only way to prevent German domination of the continent. Thus, like a mother bear swaying forth to protect her cubs, the giant Russia declared war on the Austro-Hungarians and their allies. Now we discuss Serbia and the other Balkan states. While, as of now, Serbia is the only one to have officially declared war, everyone knows it is only a matter of time before they step in. Serbia, having won the various wars it has waged, is at the epitome of regional power. Not even the recently independent Greece can hold a torch to the success of the Serbs. But there is one shadow lingering on the sidelines- Austria-Hungary. A war with the Central powers would be without a doubt fought time after time in the Serbian battlefields. While she may have some powerful allies on her side, the only question Serbia must answer is whether or not she can outlast her enemies. The French, as much anti-German as the Germans are anti-French, will also see many battles waged in their home. France, after decades of isolation imposed by Bismarck, has finally gained an unlikely ally in the world: Russia. Ironically the one nation that dashed all hopes the French had is now the principle ally. There is one more piece of good news for France also- the British are not as bad as they seem. A recent breakthrough in relationships has the French and British entitled to a Entente Cordiale . The French are also have one prospect sitting on their plate: the British have promised to protect Belgium if they are invaded, a boon to the French as they know the war-lusting Germans. While the French have a number of advantages on their side, only time will tell if they are strong enough to stave off a German victory. Recent actions do not forebode well for British neutrality. The Germans have begun to mass the forces, not only along the French borders, but also with the Belgian borders. British Prime Minister Henry Asquith officially issues another warning on August 2. But, five days later, Belgian scouts report massive movements of German troops, leaving the United Kingdom no choice but to defend its ally. The rest or Europe does not lie idle. At any moment they could be persuaded to join into the fray by old allies, or by encouraging promises. These nations will undoubtly influence the war in their own way indeed. With nearly a hundred years since the last major war, the concept of what it can do is nearly foreign to the Europeans- but in the coming years they will learn the true meaning of war. This war will be paid with the blood of millions in the years to come, not mention the significant cost that will be bundled to their economies. This will truly become the most costly war ever imagined or dreamt up. But very few in Europe realize this. The Princes, Kaisers, Tsars, Emperors all send their armies marching off confident in their ability to win a quick war. But that will not come. Too many men have been mobilized, too many called up to serve their kings, too many for a war of this magnitude to ever be finished in a matter of weeks. Perhaps one of the few too see this proclaimed “All across Europe the streetlights are being turned off. I dare say that we won’t see them turn back on for a long while.” Rules Basically rules have been taken from Stalin's old Toukon NES, with a few things modified here and there by me. Offficial credit goes to Stalin as I've yet to hear back from him. Things that I have changed will be bolded. Don't post yet please.