The game starts with an imported file from CK (otherwise Bulgaria would be start the game owned by the Ottomans, and this AAR would be short) which takes some serious editing to make workable. The policy settings in particular are a mess... for non-CK players, or people who just hated my CK AAR, here's how the history books might write about 14th Century Bulgaria:
The decline of Bulgaria continued until 1330, the nadir reached when the Tsar Mihail Shishman was killed by the Serbs at the Battle of Velbuzhd. Bulgaria lost control of Macedonia to the Serbian ruler Stefan Dushan, and Serbia became the dominant power in Balkans until his death. The death of Mihail's successor, Aleksander Shishman in 1361, fighting the Turks, appeared to signal the complete disintegration of Bulgaria. Invading Turks had first fallen on the remnants of the Byzantine Empire, besieging and capturing Constantinople in 1359 before turning their attention to Bulgaria and this had prompted the Pope to proclaim a crusade aimed at recapturing the city. The dead Tsar's son, Mihail II, however rallied the Bulgarians to his cause and aided by the formidable commander Tomislav Tikh, defeated both the Turks and the rebellious nobility at the Battles of Ulstrem and Gramada respectively. Fearing the arrival of crusading armies who had landed in Albania and with the Emperor fled to Thessaly, the Greek population of Constantinople turned on their Turkish governor and opened the gates to Mihail's army. The Crusaders, when they arrived found themselves low on supplies and confronted by a formidable force fresh from victory already in occupation of the city. Mihail might still have been hard pressed to defeat them, but he was able to persuade their leaders that he would assist them instead in carrying the war to the Turks in Anatolia. Bulgaria remained in control, with the Byzantine Emperor permanently exiled from his capital.
Fighting against the Turks continued sporadically, but Mihail overreached himself in attempting, in alliance with Georgia, to launch an expedition against Trebizond. The Peace of Preslav ended the wars with Bulgaria agreeing to recognise Turkish rule beyond Constantinople. Despite further success in regaining most of the land lost to Serbia from the weak successors to Stefan Dushan, the latter half of Mihail II's reign was characterised by his descent into mental and physical feebleness, leaving the governance of Bulgaria to his Georgian wife Gulchara until the accession of their son as Tsar Aleksandar in 1387. His victory over Vlad Basarab brought Wallachia under Bulgarian control.
So, with a new Monarchs file and a small Leaders file for Bulgaria, the imported game starts. The first thing to do is split up Germany that CK imports feature so as to allow the usual EU2 events to run properly. I do this by event 94001ing several times and then waiting for the rebels to take a German province. Once they have done this, I save, cut all the rest of the German controlled provinces out and paste them to the rebels controlled provinces. The government falls. Here's how the 1419 starting positions are different from the usual:
-England is weaker: it has no territory in France apart from Normandy, and furthermore Lancaster and Cornwall aren't under the king's control. This won't be a problem in the long term, I shouldn't have thought.
-France looks stronger and has more territory at start, plus there's no Burgundy to worry about. However, I think France will be weaker in the end, because the French minors aren't all the same, so they're going to have to re-unify the country the hard way without handy events; also some Southern provinces, linked to Italy in the CK game, think of themselves as Italian rather than French.
-Turkey is totally different; because there was no Ottoman expansion into the Balkans, the tide turned the other way and Crusaders who had arrived to "liberate" Constantinople in 1360 were diverted into Anatolia. It's now a weird patchwork of various Christians and Muslims, with Portugal and Bohemia owning chunks, as well as the exiled rulers of Sienna claiming a portion from their stronghold in Rhodes. The Knights are clinging on in Samaria.
- No Aragon. No Aragon at all, but there is an independent Valencia. A strange Arab Christian kingdom has the Balearic Islands. Andalusia is Portuguese. Granada and Toledo are owned by Cordoba, but curiously it isn't Muslim, it's Catholic.
- The Mongols in Russia have been more successful. Only Moscow, Pskov and Kiev remain independent - even Novgorod is in the hands of the Khan of Kazan and Turkic rulers are occupying the Polish border. The Teutonic Knights have control of Lithuania and Belarus and it looks like interesting times are about to begin here. The Horde also control Moldavia, Georgia and Armenia for now.
- Hungary is split: the bulk of it was inherited by the King of Naples, but resistance to rule by Italians is stiffening, in particular an independent Hungary in the shape of the Duke of Pest, a nominal vassal, has a couple of provinces and Transylvania has broken away.
- The Maghreb is currently held Spanish and Portuguese, with the rest of North Africa under the Mameluks apart from Morocco. Hmm, who'll win this one?
- Last but not least, Bulgaria owns Bulgaria, Rumelia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Thrace, Wallachia and Dobrudja. Byzantium clings on in Hellas and owns Sardinia as well. Serbia owns Croatia and Ragusa and has Bosnia as a vassal - for now.
More to follow!