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Europa Universalis IV

I haven’t posted for a week or so now, because I was desperately trying to both wrap up me EU4 Russia game before Art of War goes live tomorrow, and also complete the TOGtober missions in World of Tanks. Along with non-gaming life this hasn’t really left me with much time for writing.

The last time I wrote about EU4 I have about 90 years left to go. It was 1727, and I was re-focusing my goals in the game to facilitate speedier gameplay. This meant, apart from anything else, generally not picking fights with major European powers. Meanwhile I was to concentrate my efforts against the coalition on my southern borders which consisted, at that time, of The Mamluks, Timurids, Khorasan, Oirat, and Brunei. I was also intending to take aim at a surging Japan who had seized all the Korean peninsular and the northern coast of the China Sea.

Well, I am not going to recount a blow-by-blow stories of all the various wars, because that would be rather boring. Broadly speaking these goals did determine most of what I did for the remaining course of the game. Primarily my foreign policy had a natural rhythm informed by my wars with the Southern Coalition. The truce period was 15 years, and each war tended to take 3-5 years, meaning my wars had roughly a twenty year cycle to them. During the periods of truce I would sometimes look to other ventures. The fact of the matter is by this time these wars had long since ceased to be competitive. Whilst The Mamluks (who turned into Egypt sometime around 1750) and Khorasan could sometimes offer strong local resistance neither had the manpower to sustain such resistance for long.

My first war with the Coalition took a slightly surprising turn however when I realised I had enough warscore to vassalise the Ottomans. Given that Constantinople is a very high-tax province I had not expected this, even in the Ottoman’s somewhat fallen state. I leapt at the opportunity, otherwise only taking a single province from The Mamluks, and another from Brunei. This meant I now have a land connection to both of Persia’s provinces. Persia was a minor nation, whose two non-contiguous provinces were leftovers from when the Timurids had dominated the Middle East, which had revolted away. After signing a peace with the Coalition I immediately declared war on Persia and vassalised them. This was because Persia has quite a larger number of cores, so I figured I would feed them the provinces they wanted and then diplo-annex.

This was also an idea I had with the Ottomans, as The Mamluks had a number of provinces still in Asia Minor which again, the Ottomans had cores to. At this time I had also thought about vassaling the Timurids and Oirat in turn as well, but with the Ottomans I suddenly realised a flaw in this plan: the aggressive expansion penalty to my relations. With the Ottomans this was just over a hundred, as I had only taken a handful of provinces directly from them across the years. With the other two it was around 400 – which meant there would be basically no chance of getting the +190 relations necessary for diplo-annexation during the time remaining the game. So I realised I would have to conquer them, so altogether it was a good thing to vassalise the Ottomans when I did. I immediately set about working to repair what relations I could, by setting up a subsidy and improving relations. My hope was that by returning the provinces I would get a significant enough boost to overcome the malus of my AE.

Meanwhile I had other targets. The first of these was Japan. This was logistically a slightly difficult war, as it required moving a whole army across to the Japanese islands before hostilities. It also took a while to prepare as it simply took time to march the other armies necessary across Siberia. The war itself though proved relatively easy. The hardest fighting was on Honshu, but the technological disparity was telling and I took four ex-Chinese provinces, as well as one in the north-east of the Korean peninsular – all the ones on the mainland I had been able to claim. This made Japan ineligible to be my rival, but Egypt (the reformed Mamluks) had become valid rivals again, so I immediately selected them. My next step was to diplo-annex Serbia, which left me with a spur of provinces in the western Balkans.

The next war against the Southern Coalition was simple enough. The victory was easy, and overall the war easier to manager with the Ottomans on my side. The end result was I took Judaea and Aleppo, the Ottomans got all their cores in Asia Minor, and Persia got about half their cores. Importantly this provided a very big boost to my relations with the Ottomans, and with a diplomatic gift I was able to get the relations over the necessary threshold to begin a very lengthy diplo-annex. My attentions next turned to Ukraine.

Ukraine was my creation, but its continued existence was more because I misunderstand some rules of the game earlier on than by design. Having been allied several times, but have kept being dragged into ridiculous wars, I had decided enough was enough and had cut all ties with Ukraine, and even laid claim to some provinces. I did not expect to be able to vassalise in one go, so I thought to snap up a few provinces and have another go later. In particular I was interested in Muntenia, which Ukraine itself had recently taken from Hungary, and Memel, which was held by Ukraine’s ally Pomerania. The war again was easy enough, though I required three armies at one point to defeat the Brandeburgian army that got involved. The end result was a reduced, but not crippled Ukraine and Memel taken.

France became a revolutionary country not long after 1750. I wasn’t following these events terribly closely, but I believe the French ended up over-reaching themselves and got into a series of wars with Bohemia, Aragon, Castile, and England. The end result was the lose of several provinces, and ultimate revolution. Shortly thereafter I realised that Egypt had reformed the alliance with France. Somewhat reluctantly I reformed my alliance with England in preparation for my next war with the coalition, but in the event it was un-necessary as France didn’t join to support Egypt and her coalition allies. Meanwhile the process of annexing the Ottomans reached completion. This war – in the 1760s –  saw Persia reclaim the majority of her remaining provinces. I also took the remaining provinces in Iraq, and advanced down the Mediterranean coast and into the Nile Delta. Finally Oirat become a single-province country, and the Timurids were reduced to two non-contiguous provinces. Surprisingly Egypt remained a valid rival. I immediately started the process of diplo-annexing Persia.

The next thing that happened was something of a surprise. Aragon had gotten into a war with Castile and Venice, and in the peace was forced to release most of their western Balkan provinces in a new country called Serbia. Well, I couldn’t have that, so I declared war on this new state almost immediately. The war was a total cakewalk as they hadn’t had a chance to build any armies yet, and I forced them to change their religion to Orthodox. I was going to vassalise them, but I realised this was going to give me a large AE penalty, so I decided to force-change their religion and then pursue diplomatic means instead. Immediately I began a diplomatic charm offensive to enable a diplo-vassalisaton, which I managed after a few years. One way that helped my relationship gain was with another war. Bulgaria and Albania were both Catholic one-province minors, and Serbia had a core on Albania. They were allied with each other and The Knights Hospitaller, but had no other allies. I declared war on Bulgaria, Serbia joined me as a military ally (not yet vassal) and their alliance held true. They were also joined by the Netherlands in the role of Defender of the Catholic Faith. The actual war in the Balkans was naturally very easy. I basically ignored The Knights on Rhodes, conquered Bulgaria and waited for Serbia to deal with Albania. Also I took the opportunity to land on the Dutch Samoan islands (whilst I was dominant in the South Pacific, towards the end other nations had snuck in some colonies). In the peace I gave Albania to Serbia, took Samoa, and also force-vassalised Bulgaria, and changed their religion to Orthodox.

Whilst this was going on Ukraine had fought a war with Hungary, and taken two provinces from them. I feared this would take them over the force-vassalisation threshold, and so it proved when I next went to war with them. Another quick war, this mostly consisted of giving back to Hungary the recent conquests and taking a couple more provinces. This also removed Ukraine’s land borders with everyone apart from myself and Bohemia, which I hoped would prevent any more annoyances.

Then it was time for the next war with the southern coalition. Whilst there was no serious resistance, there was an amusing set of interludes whereby one Egyptian army and another of mine kept marching up and down the length of their remaining holdings on the Mediterranean coast. I won a battle, they fled to the other end of the coast, my army followed them, defeated them, rinse and repeat. I think it took five or six battles before the army was finally annihilated. In the peace Oirat were wiped out, the Timurids reduced to just their capital province, I took a few provinces from Khorasan and technically gained a province on the Indian coast, and I also too the rest of the Nile Delta and Sinai, including Alexandria, and began to spread into Arabia along the southern Gulf Coast.

About this time I started to think seriously about taking on the Pentarchy mission. This would mean taking the five ancient patriarchates of the church: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandra, and Jerusalem; and converting them to Orthodoxy. The recent peace meant that five of them were now in my possession, and would soon all be converted. Actually Constantinople proved a somewhat tricky target for conversation thanks to its very high tax value, and it became the only case when the +0.1% missionary strength bonus each level of fortification give you became useful in this game. An Inquisitor advisor came along shortly after its conquest though to make conversion easier. Anyway, this meant I had to consider whether or not to try for Rome, which was controlled by Aragon. Aragon was no doubt the weakest of the major powers in Europe. In a revenge war against Venice they had managed to take several Venetian provinces in Greece.

I decided to keep my options open, and in doing so I chose to ditch my long-held rivalry with Bohemia. Given that I had long-ago effectively given up trying to prevent Bohemia forming the united Holy Roman Empire (which was now only one decision away from doing) there just didn’t seem much point keeping the rivalry up. I had already let my claims against Bohemian provinces lapse. Their other major ally was Scandinavia (Sweden on steroids), and I had let those claims lapse too. Instead I started actively trying to work for Bohemian friendship, and I was so close to getting enough reputation for an alliance – except someone was sabotaging their reputation. Well, I would just have to wait them out, so I kept a diplomat maintaining high relations, and kept checking back to see if the situation had changed.

Meanwhile it was time to have another go at Ukraine, and it was not a difficult war, which ended in a quick vassalisation. Then I realised the Sabotage reputation malus had gone away, and I worked out it was probably Ukraine that had been responsible. I quickly formed an alliance with Bohemia, and thus with Bohemia as the linchpin Russia, Bohemia, and Scandinavia formed a truly monstrous alliance block. I also now diplo-annexed Serbia, giving me most of the Balkans. Bohemia also about this time formed the united Holy Roman Empire, making our alliance even more powerful.

The new Empire did not take long to flex its muscles, declaring war on Aragon in 1796 with myself and Scandinavia joining in. Aragon was joined by England and Portugal. Their alliance though was already in a war with both Revolutionary France (which was going generally poorly in the Americas for them, but about equal elsewhere) and Algiers (where Aragon had the advantage). This had the potential to turn into a many-front war, and indeed my troops were involved in several theatres. Firstly there was the invasion of the Aragonese provinces in Greece, four in total (three of which I had claims too). I was readying an attack on Italy too, but the Bohemian juggernaught made that un-necessary. Then there was the East Indies, where the single province remnant of Brunei had been annexed earlier by Portugal. This was a simple matter of marching an army in. I then took my fleet and transported a 40k army from the Far East to Alaska to help the fight against Portuguese California. My intention was then to move the fleet back to the Indies to move the army there into Luzon, but in the event it proved necessary to keep it on the Pacific North-West as a small Portuguese fleet blocked the movement of my army. It proved something of a trap, because the main Portuguese navy then showed up.

My fleet was pretty good though. I had constructed entirely form the most advanced warships, containing almost 50 three-deckers and 30 Great Frigates, plus forty transports. The Portuguese navy was about 2/3 the size. They also had the better naval ideas and leader, but a few of their ships were slightly less advanced. When all was done, Russia had announced herself as a major naval power. The entire Portuguese fleet was sunk with the loss of only a handful of ships, though many were badly damaged. By the time the fleet was repaired the war was almost over, but not before my army was taking Portuguese and Californian provinces.

Bohemia proved very generous in the peace. As well as taking a number of northern Italian provinces from Aragon themselves (and the two remaining Aragonese provinces in the western Balkans) they gifted me the three Greek provinces I had claims on, plus Brunei, plus giving my colonial nation Alaska the remaining Alaskan provinces, and me two provinces from California. I decided to leave my army in these provinces, but I moved my fleet back.

It was time for what would be my final war with the Southern coalition. Another cakewalk, the most interesting thing here was simply the massive haul of provinces I managed to take. This included the entire Gulf coast of Arabia up to and including Muscat, the Red Sea coast of Arabia up to and including Mecca, another province in North Africa, Samarkand (thereby eliminating the Timurids), and a swathe of provinces from Khorasan.

The game was very much now winding down, with less than twenty years to go. On a whim I decided to build the Suez canal. If I was still playing very seriously I wouldn’t have done this, as it ended up taking several hundred Diplomatic and Administration monarch points I could probably have used elsewhere, but mostly I was just winging through these last decades. I did have two further foreign ventures. After the Aragonese war Aragon ceased to be a valid rival, so I choose Ming China instead. I claimed a select number of provinces – just five – and declared war. The war itself was quite short and I ended up with all the provinces as well as forcing China to give its trade power to me.

Trade had been something I neglected for most of the game, or only interacted in a casual way. My last Idea Group though was the Trade group, and with the three extra merchants it ended up giving me I was able to much better manage all the trade flowing through my Empire. I set up one merchant to start collecting taxes at Constantinople, and used the other two to help divert trade to my lands. I did work in that Trade’s proportion of my income increased by about 50%. Along a similar vein I also declared war on Venice. I didn’t take any provinces, just vassalised them in the peace. This further cemented my position in the Mediterranean.

Towards the very end of the game the Holy Roman Empire suddenly turned hostile and broke my alliance. I couldn’t work out why at first, but then I realised it was because they had a mission to get a presence in the Spice Islands. Given they had also just entered a regency I put this down to factional disagreements in the Imperial court since generally I think it was a stupid thing to do. Whilst a fight with Bohemia would be very long and hard, my manpower was by then over 1000k. As it was no war broke out, so we will never know.

The year 1820 comes to an end, and Russia stands probably the pre-eminent nation on Earth. Probably future expansions would see the elimination of Egypt, the subjugation of China and opportunities in East Africa and India. Control of Suez allows great strategic flexibility. Diplomatic efforts would probably concentrate on restoring the alliance with the Empire. I am well pleased. It was a very enjoyable game, even if I rushed myself at the end. It also proved a valuable learning experience in my aspects of EU4. I am going to do a few short-term other projects now, but I easily see myself getting the Art of War DLC soon and starting another game. The attraction of this game series remains.

Now for some screenshots below the fold, hopefully showing how things went this last century or so. I am very bad at taking screenshots, so my apologies for the gaps.

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I had thought I was going to try and maintain my alliance with England for most of the rest of my game. How quickly things change. I really should have seen it coming however, and I think it probably underscores the problem of being in a tech group beneath that of one’s alliance partners.

I was all ready to have another war The Mamluks, when I realised two things. Firstly that when England made peace with them they must have forced The Mamluks to break the alliance with France. I had somehow missed that at the time, but The Mamluks were now not allied to France. Secondly they had formed an alliance with Khorasan. The great thing about this was that Khorasan was not yet part of the Coalition against me. So if I declared war on Khorasan it would probably bring The Mamluks in – but it would not bring in the rest of the Coalition. Then after I was ready I could declare war against another Coalition member, and have a second chew at The Mamluks.

It took me a little while to reposition my forces to better reflect my new plans, but war was declared fairly quickly. In truth this was a much easier war, mostly because I stuck to plan. Namely, hunt down the opposition armies, and keep chasing them to destroy them utterly, following up with some smaller forces to conduct the actual sieges. It still took a few years to build up a 99% warscore, which gave me a large haul of provinces. In particular I took a further province in Asia Minor, two provinces in Afghanistan from Khorasan, and then a number in the Levant, meaning the Judea is now a border province my next target. Immediately thereafter I got a message that The Mamluks were no longer a valid rival. Apparently this was just too much too quickly for The Mamluks to sustain their standing. While I suppose it is not impossible that they can regain some of their ability, given I intend several more rounds with the coalition I rather doubt it.

So then it came time to choose another rival, and I had two options – Sweden and Japan. Sweden was unexpected, having just reduced Denmark (in another war) to a two province nation. My earlier war appears to have only arrested their decline, which to be honest was probably the best I could hope for. Japan was something of a surprise, but perhaps it should not have been given they managed to hoover up most of Korea, and even take a couple of provinces from Ming China. After thinking it over I decided to take Japan on as the new rival. This was frankly because they would be an easier fight. Not only are they technologically my inferior, they also have no allies. I hope to be able to get an outlet to the China Sea from their recent conquests. I will probably avoid taking any provinces from the main island itself, if only to make it easier to keep track of rebels.

My victory over The Mamluks did come at a considerable cost however – I became very over-extended, which means quite a bit of rebel activity. Inevitably this starts to take a toll on my armies, a cost I try to spread over several different armies if at all possible. I was a few months into this when a new war broke out. The Hansa declared war on Denmark, who had recently re-formed the alliance with England. The Hansa were allied to Sweden, France and Bohemia. England and Denmark had Aragon and a handful of German minors. I looked at the odds, and decided this was simply not a fight I wanted to get involved in. I was fairly sure I would be unable to defend my vassal Serbia, and I really didn’t want to have to deal with high-quality armies from the three major enemies marching into my borders, whilst also at the same time I was dealing with rebellions.

This was a very difficult decision, but eventually I just felt I had to say no. Being rather cold about it, I decided that England was basically going to be too much hassle for my aims. Or perhaps I should say my new aims, because some of my aims for the game have changed. You see, the new DLC Art of War has had its release date announced as 30th October. This DLC includes revising large portions of the map, which will make it save-game incompatible. Whilst Paradox do put older versions of the game out via the Steam Beta program I would prefer to avoid the hassle if I can. Constant European wars would slow down my playing time considerably.

Instead I am going to focus on my generally southward expansion. This means getting Judaea and Aleppo (and thus Antioch and Jerusalem), and also getting an outlet to the Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean, and ultimately seeing that the Ottomans, Timurids, and Oirat do not exist by game end. A little Oriental expansion against Japan as well, though probably not Ming China since I think they would make dealing with the coalition awkward. I also had an eye for expansion in South-East Asia, building on my colonial Empire.

My colonising phase is coming to an end. Almost all the places I might colonise are now being colonised, apart from a few provinces in Australia, which even if I do colonise them will revert to my Colonial nation. There remain possibilities for expansion however, and the first of these was Makassar, the one-province nation in the Celebes. I had already placed a claim on the province some decades earlier, but it had lapsed as I kept having other things to do. Whilst the war extension resolved itself I now re-claimed the province, and also two province of Brunei on Borneo. Brunei had just declared itself Defender of the Sunni Faith, so I hope they would come to Makassar’s defence.

They did. The war was quite easy. I had built up a 20k army that was more than capable of dealing with Makassar. My fleet, filled with new Threedeckers and Archipelago frigates, was superior to the Brunei fleet. They easily oversaw the transport of my army to Borneo – a campaign made easier by the fact Brunei had sent two small armies to Hokkaido. They were easily dealt with. I was able to bottle up the Brunei fleet in their capitol, which I proceeded to siege. At this point Brunei sent me a peace offer, willing to give up Makassar and both of their provinces I had claims to. I declined however until I took the capitol, forcing the Brunei fleet out to face my own. Not a single Brunei ship survived, and I figured this would make things easier for me down the road as I doubt that they would be able to rebuild any time soon.

After the war, both Brunei and Khorasan joined the Coalition against me. I am getting the impression that Sunni Muslims are feeling rather aggrieved. 🙂 Certainly within a couple of years I hope to have another war with the Coalition. This one will really be a focus on just whittling down the Ottomans, Oirat, and Timurids so they become targets for vassalisation later. The year is 1727, I have just over 90 years left to play. Game on.

One of the challenges of maintaining alliances in Europa Universalis IV is that allies can and will drag you into their wars. Some years ago I basically broke my alliance with Ukraine because they kept picking fights with Poland, and later Bohemia, at times that were rarely convenient. Eventually I decided it was not worth the hassle. The scenario with England is rather different – England is very much an ally I want to keep. So England launches another war on Scotland. England is allied with Denmark, Aragon, Mali, and myself (and, of course, it colonial nations). Scotland immediately calls France into the war, and France brings in The Hansa and The Mamluks (and its own colonial nations as well). I should mention that in this game Aragon is basically an Italian power, maintaining only two provinces in Iberia, but controlling almost all of Italy apart from some of the northernmost states, and a fair bit of the Adriatic coast in what we used to call Yugoslavia. I kind of imagine that the two major Iberian colonial powers – Portugal and Castille – and rather amused, and generally benefiting from a very prolonged period of peace.

This war quickly broke down into a number of separate theatres. In the New World English Mexico slowly became over-run from French Mexico and Colombia – something that seems to happen with some regularity. On the other hand the French colonial national Nouvelle-Flandre (essentially French USA) itself was over-run – again a somewhat frequent occurrence. Meanwhile in Britain itself Scotland folded to English pressure, and therefore the warscore started to build. I concentrated on fighting The Mamluks, and France concentrated on dealing with first Denmark, and then Aragon.

Actually I was quite impressed with the French basic strategy. Relatively secure in their own homeland they first concentrated on Denmark, successfully knocking it out of the war relatively early on. They then concentrated on Aragon, flooding Italy with troops. It took a little longer, but Aragon basically had no chance by itself and suffered defeat, being forced to release Sicily. This left England, Russia, and Mali in the war.

The situation with The Mamluks at the start of the war was a little more complicated, as The Mamluks were already in a war against the Timurids and Ottomans, in which they were allied with Oman and their new vassal Baluchistan. Therefore a strange two-way war started to take place, where myself and my vassals Khazakh and Serbia could fight The Mamluks and Baluchistan, and The Mamluks, Baluchistan, and Oman could fight the Ottomans and the Timurids. Unfortunately the Ottomans and Timurids were already on the back foot, and soon it was mostly a matter of waiting for sieges to end. Meanwhile I managed to push out The Mamluk armies out of Asia Minor with some hard-fought battles – but Oman continued to prosecute the Ottoman war. My way quickly devolved into three areas of action. Firstly there was Asia Minor, which was mostly a matter of sieges using mercenaries. Then there was Syria and Iran.

About this time The Mamluks made peace with the Ottomans and the Timurids, and took a number provinces from both. Meanwhile I was expecting The Mamluk armies to return to Syria to tackle my armies there, but I made a miscalculation – they went instead to Iran where my forces were substantially fewer. A hard-fought battle at Basra ended up with a defeat, but in the end it did not matter. I gave up most of the Syrian sieges and redeployed the armies eastward, and eventually defeated and destroyed most of the Mamlukian armies. Then mostly it was back to sieging, though with two armies I made a thrust to Cairo to keep my opponents armies dispersed. About this time I noticed that Mali had managed to get some forces into the other end of The Mamluk Empire in Tunisia and Libya.

I had allowed England to exchange my provinces in the war, and now that came to my benefit when England made a peace with The Mamluks, giving me four of their provinces in the peace, including an outlet to the Mediterranean.  This means there is now The Mamluks have several provinces in Asia Minor without a land connection to Cairo. Hopefully they should be easy to acquire in due course. It also got me slightly closer to me ultimate aim of Jerusalem.

Now the war looked to be in a but of an impasse. England controlled all of Scotland, the war in the North America was probably about all square when all things were considered, and no one was near anyone else. The war score stood at 27% in our favour – and that was sort of that. It looked like The Hansa were trying to make an expedition to Mali, but with Mali’s armies returning they were going to have a tough time. Meanwhile I had no viable way to get my armies to either France or The Hansa – and vice versa. I did consider a moment trying to get some troops from my colonial ventures in the Pacific to the French holdings in the Indian ocean (Gujarat, the Maldives, and the Andamans) but I just didn’t have the necessary fleet. I did start supporting some rebels in Gujarat, but that was more from lack of anything else immediate to do.

I got the premonition this is probably the future of my rivalry with France for quite a while – an inability of either of us to do anything about each other. In this particular case France had started to suffer from some war exhaustion, and a peace was declared after another 18 months or so with England taking all but one of Scotland’s remaining provinces. I imagine we will have a final round in this fight in another 15-20 years’ time.

Meanwhile I was left cooling my heels for a while as my King had died leaving me with a regency – meaning I could not declare war. On the whole though I am very happy the way things have turned out. Now I just need to somehow try to get England to have a province next to me, so I can benefit from Western Arms Trade. Precisely how I intend to go about that I am not yet sure, but a solution will probably present itself. Meanwhile I am readying for another round against what I think of the Southern Coalition – Ottomans, The Mamluks, Timurids, and Oirat. Then I intend to have a go at Khorasan, who are the power to have benefited the most from the constant beatings myself and The Mamluks have delivered to the Timurids. I am also almost ready to start rolling up some of the minor powers left in Indonesia, like Makassar and Brunei. I might also soon decide to had a go at Bohemia. Lots of possibilities.

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.

All in all though I couldn’t but smile at the way my game was echoing real life history and the Battle of Poltava during the Great Northern War.

 

When it comes to the EU series of games I have always found Russia to be quite entrancing. One of my most memorable games of EU2 was a Muscowy/Russian game, and after having a few trial starts as Portugal I opted for Muscowy/Russia for me first full play-through of EU4. It has indeed proven to be a fun game, containing some interesting elements of diplomacy, colonisation, and conquest – lots of conquest. It is now 1697, and the mighty Russian Empire stretches all the way from Lithuania and Moldova in the West to the Pacific in the East. Australia and Alaska both are being colonised, as are various other Pacific islands (including Taiwan). Manchuria has mostly been secured, and in Asia the Russian Bear is encroaching into Asia Minor, the Middle East, and Persia. Also Ukraine still exists as a sort of client-state, the result of a mis-understanding of EU4 game mechanics. In all honesty this is perhaps less impressive than it sounds, though there have been a couple of close moments along the way.

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For the last fifty plus years however I have had no serious rival on my borders. Early on the Timurids (the now somewhat fragmented crimson state to the south) were a significant threat, but between myself, the Mamluks, Delhi, and internal rebellions they are a shadow of their former self. The Mamluks and I have been fighting on and off since the early 1500s, but their real rise to prominence itself early occurred in the last 50-70 years, and by the time we were sharing borders the Russian bear had become bloated enough to even somewhat disregard their now formidable strength. One way this can be seen is that their northern border used to be the Caucuses Mountains, whereas now Damascus is a border city. Lacking immediate rivals game mechanics have forced me to look farther afield to the old reliable enemy:France.

In the EU series of games France has always had a tendency, though not a certainty, to live up to its historical potential. In this game that is certainly true. It is the most dominant state in Western Europe, successfully dismembering any other continental state that became a threat. In the New World its Colonies cover the northern half of South America, and a goodly portion of North America too. Then they is their pernicious influence in Africa, and just recently they have seized a province in India. Perhaps it was inevitable, but there came a time when I could no longer select any neighbours as Rivals, but I could select France.

However, for the first fifty or so years of our Rivalry nothing much happened. We shared no borders, and no interests. I had basically stopped military endeavours in Europe proper against other Christian states, and they were fully diverted in various American adventures and sundry Western European wars. I was concentrating on southward expansion against the Islamic and Mongolion states – Crimea (now finally annexed), the Ottomans, the Timurids, the Oirat, and the Mamluks. In time all of those nations formed a Coalition against me, despite the Mamluks and the Timurids spending at least as much time fighting each other as me. Thus we pursued our differing expansions until, around 1670, I suddenly realised the diplomatic landscape had shifted: France and The Mamluks had become military allies.

This presented me with a practical problem: France is my only serious foe in land warfare. As Russia I have one tremendous advantage of almost everyone, and that is manpower. As someone is reputed to have said, quantity has a quality all of its own. However, the one other nation that also has a truly serious pool of manpower is France. It is not as massive as mine, indeed it is a bit under half of mine, but then France also has a significant other advantage terms of the quality of their army that to some of the Ideas they have selected, and their own National Ideas. To be fair it could be worse – there is one idea group they have not selected that I feared they would, but even so they have the idea advantage. Also as a Western nation they have a technological advantage in their units as well, one which will only become more prevalent over time (I am so large that Westernisation is something I am likely to avoid as it would be an excessively painful process).

Thus I went about the time-honoured route to deal with France – I sought out allies, the most obvious one being England. England has struggled a little this game, but it is still a respectable power with a significant colonial Empire. Whilst not the match of France, it can prove a significant distraction, and sometimes is able to hold its own. Of course, the thing with allies is sometimes they feel emboldened by alliances – and so England decided to continue its attempted takeover of Scotland. This war started in about 1690, and I honoured the call to arms, expecting nothing much to happen, except perhaps a naval landing up north. To my credit I did try to pressure on of France’s allies in the Baltic – but my fleet proved insufficient. It was with some surprise therefore I realised that France had managed to get the necessary access treaties to march a 45k army across Europe and end up on my borders.

There was no real surprise as to the outcome – I ensured I had a nearly 2:1 advantage in men in the battle, and after two engagements the French army was destroyed. This army’s destruction added significantly to our warscore, and helped the war result in victory. Meanwhile it marks the first time I have faced the French. I imagine it will be the first of many. Round one is over, an almost incidental affair in which ultimately on a single province changed hands. More significant confrontations will almost certainly occur in the remaining 120 years or so of gametime.

And this is why I love the Paradox series so much. This rivalry between myself and France began as an almost theoretical thing, an artefact of game mechanics. Over the course of fifty or so years it has become something different, something more real, something that is actively shaping the game and influencing my decisions. I am very much looking forward to the eighteenth century.