There is a war in the North. The highly trained and disciplined Swedish army, proud of its tradition of victory, marches through the lands of western Russia, seeking out the foe. Until one morning out of the fog comes the spectre of three separate Russian armies, each one the same size as the Swedish one. The Swedish soldiers, brave and capable, are trapped. Superior though they are to their Russian counterparts there is no overcoming the sheer numbers of the Russian horde. By the end of the battle tens of thousands are dead, but the army of Sweden is no more, either slain on the field or surrendered. It is the turning point in the war, and nothing now can prevent the Russian behemoth from over-running the North.
Okay, a little dramatic, but in broad strokes the above describes both the historical campaign that led to the Battle of Poltava, and the next stage in my game as Russia. I had not intended to tackle Sweden quite so early, but Sweden itself wished to further beat up on Denmark. Denmark has become a minor power, having lost Skåne, Bornholm, and most of Jylland. Now Sweden had laid claim to Fyn. Denmark turned to their English allies, and England asked for aid from my Russia. Deciding I had to keep my English alliance with an eye to further showdowns with France I accepted the call, and was made the alliance leader. For their own part Sweden called in The Hansa (a regional power in northern Germany) and The Huron (who are now westernised and becoming a regional power in eastern North America).
The war began without me really having any aims – I had no claims over Swedish lands. As it happened though within a few months of the beginning I had a random event which gave me a claim to one of Sweden’s provinces in Estonia. Meanwhile I was slowly gathering my forces. I only had one army in the vicinity, which I was to invade defenceless Estonia, and I began to send two further armies to the border, plus recruiting a bunch of mercenaries. I did get an initial scare when the 45k Swedish stack looked like it was going to march through Neva to defend Estonia, but in the event they turned back into Finland, and across to destroy the Danish army. At sea the Swedish fleet was also initially victorious against my allies, and The Huron were having some successes in America.
I cautiously began an invasion of Finland and northern Norway, and then that Swedish army appeared in my back yard. Clearly it had marched across Bohemia. It was too late however, I had managed to gather my armies, and I now smashed the sole hope of Sweden on the banks of the Narva. After this victory in a sense the war became somewhat boring – it was mostly a case of building up a significant warscore to achieve the desired peace. Whilst there were further battles Sweden never managed to amass a significant enough army to cause any trouble, and The Hansa stayed mostly out of it.
In the peace treaty I took Reval, I gave the Orkneys to England, and returned Jylland and Bornholm to Denmark. Indeed the value of the peace treaty was rather higher than the warscore – I can only think the AI desperately wanted out of the war.
This war feels very significant. There was never really any significant chance of losing the war – my manpower advantage was simply too huge – but it is my first proper full-scale war directly with a western power, and I think probably marks the start of a time when I am likely to be more active in Europe again. For a very long time my western frontier has mostly been dormant – ever since the duo of Poland and Lithuania was broken in the late 1500s. That is going to change.