Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you had to rely solely on mercenaries to outfit your armies? Would you still be able to rampage across europe and conquer the world? Well I'm not going to try a world conquest but I decided to see just what I could accomplish with the concept. I'm playing on Hard/Furious. Shied away from VHard purely because I hate BB wars and knew they would kill a game such as this stone dead.
I first tried the concept a few weeks ago playing France, I ended up driving the English off the continent easily enough and then went on to successfully invade Aragon and Castile at which point the game crashed and I realised I didn't have auto-save set - so scrub that game. Well this time I picked the other side in the HYW and made a stab at playing the English.
You'd think the English should be easier right? Wrong. All those small French minors recruit like crazy so that it doesn't matter how good your starting armies are, eventually you get worn down. Also you don't begin with any tax collectors so you've got to choose between minting coin to buy mercenaries or minting coin to build tax collectors. I went with the latter so not a single new soldier was added to the army during the whole of the war against France. I also stuck with my very first try, I'm sure if I'd restarted I could have done better.
The initial French armies are all defeated without any real problems, Henry got himself killed whilst sieging Paris which was a real bummer but I still soon had control of Paris, Champagne, Guyenne and a couple more provinces well on the way to being captured. Scotland took Northumberland early on, driving out my army, but then they left it vacant so we moved back in and eventually retook it with 14k men whilst a 30k Scottish army sat in Strathcyde twiddling its thumbs. The ai is an idiot sometimes, ok not just sometimes.
So it was all going huncky dorry then? If only. Firstly I failed to get Picardie under siege and France managed to assemble a 10k army there which defeated my repeated attacks even though I had a leader. Burgundy bailed out of the war early on and Orleans saved the French Kings ass by retaking Paris just when I was getting ready to make a decent peace demand. So time for plan B. My northern army had been whittled down to a mere 7k whilst around 12 survive in the south of France under Bedford and 13k were up in Northumberland. Cevennes and Lyonnais were now put under siege whilst the 7k from the north return to Paris after finally capturing Picardie. This proved to be a bad move when a returning French force of similar size lifted the siege and completely wipped out my army. So now we were left with the south. Provence had nearly retaken Languedoc when they offered to make peace for our remaining treasury which consisted of something like 22d - we accepted! This allowed us to take Lyonnais and Cevennes and move on to Auvergne. France kept offering 3 province deals, Picardie, Guyenne and Languedoc being the most attractive but we turned them down hoping Auvergne would fall soon and we could peace them out first and then get a similar deal. By the time Auvergne did fall France had retaken Champagne and Picardie and was in no mood to give more than two provinces. They also now fielded an army in the region of 50k to my remaining 10k in France and I had no money yet to buy reinforcements. Time to cut our losses and make peace for Guyenne and Lyonnais, a peace deal that effectively cut France in two.
I really began to fear the arrival of Richmonte at this point, after nearly 3 years of fighting France and another year minting coin, I finally had tax collectors in every provinces giving me a year end tax income of about 160d. Enough to allow me one mercenary company approximately every 18 months or so but not enough to build up a decent force before the truce period expired and certainly not enough to take on a Richmonte led France anytime soon. When a royal hunt gave me +50% relations with France I quickly signed a royal marriage to prevent an immediate dow at end of truce and breathed a hearty sigh of relief.
Amazingly Brittany hadn't broken vassalage during all the fighting but they soon remembered they didn't really like me and broke the chains in early 1426. Time to dow Brittany. Time for Lorraine to also dow Burgundy straight afterwards with the backing of the full French alliance. Time for me to abandon Burgundy . Useless allies anyway, always getting into wars I don't want.
Armour and Bretagne were duly taken from Brittany and the rump re-vassalised only for France to annex it a few months later. I now looked around for protection, someone who could make a difference if France ever came my way and decided to enter the Aragon/Castile alliance just in time for Navarre to dow me in November 1429. Bad move on Navarre's part when exactly three years later Bearn was added to the English realm and Navarre made a vassal.
All is now peaceful, France and her allies decimated Burgundy, adding Flandern, Artois and Franch-comte to the French realm, a very bad result for me. Soon there will have to be a showdown with France and therein lies my greatest danger.
Inflation sits at 3.4%
Yearly census income whilst at -3 stability is 168.55d - yep stab is currently -3
DP sliders are:
Centralisation 4 (+1 dp move)
Innovative 4 (+1 via event)
Surfdom 6 (-1 dp move)
Current Map of Europe: