This is the account by Siblesz, a former admin of TWC, where he retells his time at the forums.
I got my teachings in politics and philosophy from this forum. I am indebted to it for the rest of my life. I arrived to TWC as an immature child of fourteen years of age, and I have aged and matured to my current age and level of intelligence because of the experiences that I lived through in TWC. Some claim that these are just forums, but they are more than just forums. In a place of gathering where the written word is valued more than what is spoken without previous thought, one will find more truth in these forums than in life. I do not claim to know the truth, and neither do I claim that my way is the right way, but I do claim that these forums reflect the World around us like a mirror, and that by analyzing the history of this forum one also learns about humanity in general.
I am but a man between billions others. I am but a spot of dirt in the universe. I know this… I know that my life is meaningless, and that your lives, too, are meaningless. This forum represents this philosophy. All of us can agree that this forum is a waste of time, and that it is meaningless to our purpose in life. We don’t need it to survive, and we could use the time wasted on this forum on more important things, like work, or studying, or having fun in life. But there is one thing that holds us back from leaving the forums and working on more important things: the search for truth. We, as humans, all have this basic need deep within our souls. We desire truth. Some desire more limited truth, while others strive to seek truths that can never be found. But most of us leave with nothing. Quoting Voltaire:
I have consumed about forty years of my pilgrimage in two or three corners of the world, seeking the philosopher's stone called truth. I have consulted all the adepts of antiquity, Epicurus and Augustine, Plato and Malebranche, and I still remain in ignorance. In all the crucibles of philosophers, there are perhaps two or three ounces of gold, but all the rest is caput moyuum, insipid mire, from which nothing can he extracted.
Voltaire was more of a genius than all of us put together, yet not even he has found this “truth”. So what kept him looking for this philosopher’s stone, even after all of his failures to find it? The basic human instinct to search for it did so. Voltaire searched for his philosopher’s stone until his death, and he did so by reading the works of other brilliant men, as well as by creating his own. I do so by staying in this forum. I know that I will never find truth, and that neither will any of you. If this instinct to find truth ends up destroying me from the inside out, then I will be honored to be a part of the experience, for once you search for it, you will never stop.
This is the basic philosophical purpose of this forum. This is not a Total War forum for PC gaming, it is a meeting place of different conflicting ideas and points of view that are created by different individuals that create different forms of logic and realities, and all of these different individuals are all involved in the same instinct for the search of truth. Truth is what makes this forum stay alive, and the lack of it will be what will eventually destroy it.
The Rise of TWC
That said, I will begin to talk about “Mi Lucha”. First of all, “Mi Lucha” means “My Struggle” in English. If you still haven’t caught the jest of it, it’s also “Mein Kampf” in German. I named this document “Mi Lucha” to make the name a parody of my history in TWC. Do not prejudge these writings because of the name, and analyze the name strictly in terms of parody and comedic interest. In other words, do not associate or compare these writings with Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
I found TWC in September of 2002 under the URL of mtw.gamercastle.com, and joined it with the intention of staying in it. I soon made TWC into my home away from home. I was full of naïve hope when I joined it, and what drew me to the site was the level of intelligence and uncommon ingenuity in the different conversations of the forums. In my real life, I had never been in the same intellectual level of my friends and companions. I would prefer talking to an adult about politics and philosophy than to a child like me about Nintendo and Dragonball Z. I desired knowledge, and found it in TWC. From that moment on, I made it my mission to join the community, which by the time I joined only had 5 members. Yes, the forums were hardly anything to look at back then, but a month later it gathered an influx of incredibly smart and intellectual members, including the Iron Duke, Carolus XII, and Morble. I stood and admired the debates that these new members had, and I learned the subtle art of debating from them. Although I believe that I have yet not reached the level of mastery that these intellectuals have in the art of debating, I have matured because of them, and hopefully one day I will consider myself one of their equals.
By November of 2002 I had become TWC’s highest poster, with a mere 200 posts. The Iron Duke matched my post count pretty evenly, having 150 posts himself, and sometimes he surpassed me in his post count, but we saw this as strictly for fun. Never did we resort to spam, for that was not what TWC stood for. Every post mattered, and every member made it his duty to post responsibly and intelligently. Back then, this could be monitored, but as the forums grew, maintaining intelligence and quality of information within the bounds of the forum became increasingly difficult. This has been our most difficult belief to uphold.
By about the same time, I had also made a name for myself in the site. Paul, the administrator and founder of our first site, hired me to write some Medieval: Total War strategy articles for the site, and I complied. This got me into the inner circle of TWC society for the first time. I got to meet the co-founder, Knight 2100, a member who still visits these forums, yet is not as active as before, and whose friendship I still share to this day. I also got to meet Paul, the site’s founder and the real brains behind the first and second versions of TWC. Then in December of that same year I was given limited moderator powers over three or four sections of the site. This was my first position of power in TWC, and it would not be my last. I soon also met and debated with other members that would eventually shape my mentality for years to come, including people such as Mehmed II, GodEmperor Nicholas, Trobalov, Frood, Gondor, Henry V, lawngnome, and the Black Prince. The latter member, “the Black Prince”, would turn out to be the most influential of all these in regards to changing TWC, both for the good and for the bad. We both shared similar goals, but our conflicting (or similar?) personalities would fiercely clash over different issues, and this conflict of personalities would peak in February of 2004 when TWC experienced a civil war (of sorts).
Before the end of the 2002 year, I became increasingly involved with another game, Age of Mythology. I soon lost interest in Medieval: Total War, so I temporarily resigned my position of power in TWC, left the forums for a month, and joined a new community named AOMC, or Age of Mythology Center. In this AOMC community I met an administrator that would eventually lead us to the Ogres net Network in which we are currently located. DR, or Disturbed Roach, better known in TWC as “Besim”, was that member that I got to meet in AOMC. Besim is one of the leaders of the Ogres net community, and he was the one responsible for creating the current site and forum skins, as well as for organizing our move into the Ogres net servers.
But the community in AOMC was different. Although it was bigger than TWC, AOMC was not was not as intellectual or as personal as TWC was to me. By February of 2003, I came back to TWC, and found myself competing with other members for my old position of power. At first I struggled to get on the good side of Paul and Knight 2100, but soon after that, I managed to convince them of my duty and honor to TWC, and I was made into a moderator once again. This time, I was there to stay.
In the first half of 2003 the site experienced a golden age of learning and philosophy. Rarely did one find spam or flames, and members made my moderating job very easy. It was also during this time that I started to change my native-born philosophies with new ones that had been molded in the forums. Being born in a conservative high class family, I looked up to my dad for questions on politics, philosophy, and religion. But by interacting with members of the forums that had been open to more Worldly things than I ever knew imaginable or possible, I started to compound revolutionary ideals in my mind like those of atheism, anarchism, communism, anti-Americanism, socialism, and everything in between. Back then, I was still naïve, yet this upsurge in learning made me discover a whole new side of myself, and I was very happily involved with this new side. Because of my naiveté, I also fell subject to some false ideologies, including anti-Semitism, generalizations against Americans, and a general hate against everything that the United States stood for. I guess that this way of thinking came with the age. But these false ideologies passed away with my increasing age and maturity, and soon I learned to accept that not only was I was wrong about many things in life, but probably wrong about all or most of them.
It was also during this time of dramatic change in me that I started competing with the Black Prince in anything and everything. At first we were companions, buddies, and brothers, but that would quickly change when our conflicting personalities met daily. The Black Prince soon became one of the top level members in the site, and with this came his rise in power. He was soon also helping out with writing articles in the site, and he was later given moderator powers that nearly matched mine.
End of the First Golden Age and a New Beginning
After a time of golden age, tragedy happened in April of 2003. The server crashed, and along with the server crash came all of our posts, threads, and discussions about philosophy, politics, and religion, crashing down with it. Nearly a year’s worth of information, were all gone. It was all vanished. We could do nothing about it, for Paul had forgotten to back the server up. A feeling of immense depression entered my heart and mind when it happened, and although I knew that it was just a forum, I feared never seeing the members that comprised that great forum and that taught me so much about life again. But once the site was reborn when Paul created a new forum and site in another address, the www.legiontotalwar.com one, I lead the Renaissance of the site. It is my belief that I headed the birth of TWC as a forum in September-December of 2002, and it is my belief that I lead the rebirth of TWC again in May-October of 2003. But I do not claim to have done this by myself, for TWC would have been caput without the support of the loyal members that followed us to our death and through our resurrection.
When overseeing the Renaissance of the site, I was offered with the charge of becoming co-admin with Paul and the Knight 2100 sometime in August. I accepted this charge, but I did so under one condition: that a triumvirate would be formed between the staff members. It was me who proposed the formation of the first triumvirate, a triumvirate in which Paul would rule over us, but in which 3 admins of the forums would share power equally and under the bounds of the rules of TWC. Paul then questioned me as to who would be included this so-called 'triumvirate'? I answered by naming the Black Prince as the third member of the triumvirate, although Paul refused at first. But after further discussion, I got my way, and Paul made the Black Prince into an admin, henceforth creating TWC’s first ruling power of triumvirates. Alas… the irony of this event cost me a whole heap of trouble in the coming months.
The destruction of our first forums made this revival take lots of time and effort. The Black Prince and I then started to confer on ways in which we could attract members to the site so that we could restore TWC’s former glory. By now, the announcement of Rome: Total War had long been given to the Total War community, and the show Time Commanders began being aired in the UK by September. But there was one problem: Time Commanders was only showcased in the UK, and the international crowd of R:TW fans needed to see the awesome game that was R:TW. And so, the Black Prince and I came up with the idea of transferring these Time Commander episodes into our computers, and then uploading them into the servers, to make them available to the community for download. We thought that this would not make us enemies of the Creative Assembly, since it would not hinder any CA sales or merchandize, for those who would watch these downloadable episodes were all non-Brits and those in Britain would prefer to watch them on TV rather than in the computer. Besides, the videos would also attract more fans to R:TW, so we went along with the plan and started uploading and offering several Time Commander episodes to the community. The plan was a resounding success, and because of it, hundreds of members registered, and TWC’s former glory was restored.
With this influx of new members from the Time Commander explosion, we started to see fresh new faces in the site. The member that caught my attention, though, was borispavlovgrozny. Although boris was already a member in the first site, he rarely posted, and I never got to personally meet him. But when boris started to actively post in the resurrected forum of TWC, we started to know each other better, and we eventually became partners. We talked about everything in life. He was my second great teacher, and his presence made me the man that I am today. He soon even surpassed the Black Prince in his post count in only a short amount of months, yet his posts were of outstanding quality. This made him become respected in the “elite” of TWC. He soon became very influential in matters of the forums, and he would later become the center of a complot that would shake the grounds of TWC in the following months to come.
By mid September of 2003, both the Black Prince and I were tired to see the apathetic attitude that Knight 2100 was showing in regards to his moderating and admin powers and responsibilities. We tried giving his warnings so that he could shape up, but to no avail. The Knight 2100 was and still is an incredible human being, but unfortunately steps needed to be taken to make the site and forums more effective, so both the me and the Black Prince decided that it was in the best interest of the forums that the Knight 2100 was honorably discharged from the staff of TWC. The Knight 2100 at first took the news badly, and although he wasn’t very active before the event, he decided to leave the community (he later returned, though).
By October, the real authorities in the forum where the Black Prince and I. Paul was busy with college and didn’t really focus on TWC, so he left both of us in charge. There was a period of relative peace in TWC, and then another period of enlightenment took place. Many of the former members of the first version of TWC had found their way back into TWC, and soon the site reached a zenith of philosophy, politics, and learning. But the peace was short lived. Soon, both the Black Prince and I began having small feuds between differences of opinions in the site and forums, the most notable of these being the Quotes topic feud.
In early October, I created a topic in the Fingerprints of the Past section called “Quotes”. I designated the topic in the history forum because I believed that quotes were part of our human past. The topic went along fine at first, until a member known as Eothain began posting dozens of quotes on Lord of the Rings. At first, I didn’t mind, but when the quotes continued being posted, and the discussion of quotes turned from history, to the fantasy that is LOTR, I began to become irritated. I warned Eothain of his misbehavior in my topic, and he didn’t listen. He continued posting them. Finally, I lost patience, and threatened him with validation. But this didn't deter Eothain. The event soon turned for the worse. My co-admin disagreed with me on the action that I had taken. He wanted the LOTR quotes, and defied my authority in the topic, even after I had warned everyone not to post LOTR quotes, by posting LOTR quotes himself. So we got into a dispute, and after repeated talks, he finally agreed to make his own LOTR quotes topic. The dispute was settled, but forum peace was destroyed. Eothain had left because of the issue, and from then on tBP and I disputed about idiotic issues like this daily.
The disputes continued. Every time that I logged on to the computer, the Black Prince was there ready to complain to me about something. There were fears between the both of us that a civil war would erupt, so after repeated arguments between me and tBP, I decided to quit my job as admin, and remain just as a moderator. After a week of my temporary retirement, Paul, seeing what I had done, decided that my action was nonsense. He told tBP to reinstate me. TBP agreed, but he told Paul that in order to maintain forum stability, he needed to place limits on me, and I needed to place limits on him. We then had a staff meeting and decided to choose another admin in order to start the second triumvirate that would hopefully be more stable than the two-person rule of the forums. In November of 2003, Boris was chosen for the position. It was perfect for my political interests. Boris and I happened to be comrades, both because of our similarities in culture and language, and because of our political and philosophical affiliations. But Boris wasn't admin yet, and neither was I reinstated as one. We came to the conclusion that to formalize the new rules and authority of our triumvirate, a forum constitution had to be drafted and then voted upon. So after several talks on how to maintain forum stability, the three of us met in MSN as usual, and started to form our government.
TBP's main issue with my powers in the forum were concerned with the way that I handled moderating. He thought I was too aggressive as a moderator, and that I should stick to web mastering. Although I disagreed with tBP, I agreed to disagree, and told tBP that I was willing to give up my moderating powers in order to maintain forum stability. I then devised the first draft of the constitution. It was simple, yet effective. My first idea was accepted by the three of us, but Boris wanted to expand upon it. Boris happened to be interested in government making, so he took it upon himself to create the expanded forum constitution. He finally designed TWC's first constitution, the Syntagma, and then made it into a vote. But the process of government making was not so smooth… As history has persistently taught us, there are always disputes between parties on the sovereignty and authority of the ideas worked upon during the creation of a government. The Black Prince disagreed on many segments of the Sytnagma, and he never did approve of it, he just abstained on its vote. The populace, however, went against his motives, and voted overwhelmingly for the Sytagma to pass. The people expressed the power of democracy for the first time, and the Syntagma was effectively passed. After the success of the Sytagma, tBP reinstated me and made Boris into an admin. The second triumvirate was officially started.
There were some political strides made during the rule of the second triumvirate. The first was the establishment of a plan between a gaming site called Revolution Gaming and TWC that would basically merge TWC into the Rev Gaming’s orbit. This merge would ensure a safe server for TWC at no cost and with no change to our system of government. Professional graphic designers from Rev Games would also work hard to better the image of TWC in the community if the merge were to come into effect. Other strides, such as new amendments in the Curia that made the Syntagma more effective and clearer in its purpose, also took place. The forums also grew considerably in size during the Second Triumvirate, yet TWC still managed to keep its original identity and caliber of intelligence intact. The conflicts were no longer external. No threats came about from the supreme sovereignty of the Org in the community or from the spread of Barbarians into the empire. The problems shifted into internal struggles and strife and the civil war that continued them.
At first, Boris decided to be very fair in handling issues between TBP and me. He acted as a mediator. Whenever some dispute erupted between the two of us, Boris was always ready to give sense to our arguments. But as I lost patience with the Black Prince yet again, Boris’s faith in tBP faded as well. He found himself in the same position that I had been in a couple of months earlier in regards to tBP. He could no longer stand tBP’s manner of governance and rhetoric. The situation quickly spiraled down and conflict after conflict took place between the three of us. No consensus could be reached with our radically different points of view. Neither of us could keep up with tBP’s nuisances. TBP seemed to disagree with every single position that either me or boris took, and was effectively isolating himself from any sort of compromise. The tensions continued to escalate until Boris became so agitated by the antics of forum politics that he could not tolerate any more of it. He took a rather radical way out. It was during this time of agitation that Boris resigned his position of power and then deleted his own account. Trobalov, a non-partisan member of TWC, substituted boris as triumvirate, but his coming to power did nothing to stop the conflicts between each party. Unfortunately, it was just me and tBP again. Old enmities were lit ablaze once again.
Escalating Conflict and the Second Fall
I was outraged at the manner in which Boris had fled from the scene into the comforts of his own reality, but after contacting him shortly after his resignation, we came to realize how to manipulate his action in order to bring about the fall of tBP. By January of 2004, Boris and I started to work together against tBP. We figured that the deletion of Boris’ account would benefit us in the long-term by further radicalizing the state of instability within the forums. We intended to create instability so that in effect, the populace of the forums would be disappointed by tBP’s handling of power, and therefore in the future, Boris would victoriously return to bring order and stability back to the forums by removing the despot of the Black Prince from any presence of power in TWC. After the unfortunate event, a new group of rebels was born out of the desperation.
The group of revolutionaries that were working together to depose tBP consisted of the following members: borispavlovgrozny, a former triumvirate who had now taken self-exile and would later become the charismatic Trotsky of the bunch, GodEmperor Nicholas, a high ranking and respected praetor who managed to bring many members to the cause by his use of infallible logic and argument, and me, the 3rd founder of TWC, the spearhead of the operation behind the scenes, and the most influential leader of the three. Another band of members would also join in the effort, but not until the revolution was well into effect. These members included all of the staff of TWC except Lord Tomyris, who would eventually side with tBP, and Trobalov, who would pledge neutrality on the issue. Wild Bill Kelso, Mehmed II, Morble, and Frood would comprise the second phase of the revolution. All of these were men of extraordinary ability and status in the forum.
With the group of rebels convening and conspiring, the push towards revolution and reform was becoming a more realistic goal. At first, I was intrigued by our Machiavellian politics. The plans that we were creating were still in their infancy and we were carefully sorting out their details. Boris and I knew very well that if we attempted a coup against tBP at that present time, it would be opposed by at least half of the forum and it would in effect create an enduring civil war that would tear the forum in half along lines of loyalty and eventually cause the disintegration of the power base and structure of TWC. Our intent was not to harm TWC, but to depose tBP and to consolidate the power base in order to create a united and stable forum. So with this in mind, we went on to carefully devise a daring plan that would be both cost-effective and efficient in deposing tBP.
After a few days of convening, the council of rebels had engineered a plan. The plan that we agreed to work upon consisted of three steps. The first step was taunting tBP into making a misstep - an action in which I was very able in doing. All those months of arguing with tBP gave me a keen understanding over his character, behavior, and intent. The second was turning this misstep against him by exposing it to the people and therefore making the people turn against tBP. The misstep would in effect give us the incentive necessary to manipulate the situation towards our favor. Finally, the third step was to use this newly-acquired influence and popularity to legally and democratically depose tBP from the ladder of power. The plan was ingenious enough to work, yet we needed a misstep damaging enough to react upon in order for it to be successful in its original purpose. We would later learn that it would be very challenging to taunt tBP into making a misstep, for he had his hands firmly gripped around his seat of power and he would be watching over any set of bait placed near his precarious status in the forums.
With no early success over our plans, the morale was low within the ranks of the revolutionaries. But then, a cataclysmic event that would delay and later fuel the revolution took place in the forums. The site crashed. Everything was gone. As I saw all of the work that I had put in for nearly a year destroyed within the blink of an eye, I pretty much resigned all of my hopes for the future of the community, and isolated myself from everyone’s view. The forum and the site had disappeared for a second time. The cause of the crash was not apparent. At first, I thought the site had crashed because we had not paid the money necessary for the server to continue operating one further year. After all, that was the cause of the crash with TWC's first site, and I thought the same fate had befallen on us a second time. All causes aside, the crash completely obliterated any trace of motivation I had left in order to continue to serve as triumvirate of TWC.
TBP quickly moved forward to take advantage of my lack of morale in these troubled times to get me to state my temporary resignation from my position of power in TWC. I decided that I had done enough for the sake of TWC. Its second collapse was too much for me to bear, and because of this I declared my temporary resignation from TWC until it was brought back up to its own two feet. He took advantage of my statement of resignation in order to reign supreme in the new TWC based in Rev Gaming. With his proof in hand, he established himself as the imperator of the new forum and got rid of the Curia. The new forum was very depressing. It only had a couple hundred posts, and the members numbered only a few dozen. Clearly, everyone was saddened by the crash of TWC, yet tBP was determined to make this forum his new kingdom. Lord Elton stated that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and his reasoning applies as much to the members of TWC as it applied to Philip II of Spain, Gaius Julius Caesar, or Napoleon Bonaparte. TBP was quickly becoming corrupt with power, and everyone that was witness to his endeavors could testify to it. Whether his intentions were good or bad did not fit within the argument’s scope. It was an issue of destroying all that the Curia had stood for and replacing it with a dictatorship because it “suited the time”. TBP was not concerned with the soul of TWC. He ended killing it. But no one really attempted to retaliate at first, for the former forums, with all of its precious information and influence, had disappeared, and only a shadow of its glory was left in its place.
With all hopes diminished, I continued my retirement from the public’s eye. There was really nothing at all that I could do to better the situation, so I decided to return to an even more horrible reality: my real life. Yet on February 12, 2003, as I pondered over the “this page cannot be displayed” message on TWC’s former page, I had a breakthrough in thought. Paul was away and no one knew where to find him, so I took it upon myself to try and find answers as to why the server crashed. Hoping to at least draw an explanation for the cause of the crash, I emailed the web hosting company of TWC at ipowerweb.com stating that I was the webmaster of the site. After two days of waiting, I received a response from their technical crew. Apparently, a large portion of the Ipower Web servers had crashed due to technical difficulties and their crew was working 24/7 in order to try and restore the servers. It had never occurred to me that the crash had come about due to technical difficulties. With this response in hand, my pessimist state of mind was immediately transformed into one of optimism and hopefulness.
TWC was not gone. It was going to be restored to its original status and its original url without any loss of information or content. The technician from the company went on to tell me the date as to when they hoped to get the servers back in full gear. The date was specified as Monday, February 17th. After hearing this gleeful news, I hurried over to tell the rebel council. It was a magnificent moment. We were finally given the perfect opportunity to exert our plan. We applied the main structures of our idea to the situation and opportunity at hand and on February 15th and 16th, the rebel council convened for the last time and construed the famous plan of submission that would finally bring tBP to his knees.
To be continued...