I'm currently about 40 years into my second attempt at playing an Austria GC. And this is the first time I've really felt challenged playing a major power. In fact, I had such a hard time early on that I couldn't resist going on a rampage when things started coming together.
After establishing the usual alliance with Hungary, I gobbled up Bohemia in a quick campaign, and married most of Europe. Rather surprisingly, England agreed to join our alliance, along with Bavaria and Saxony. But after 10 years, nothing has happened. Zip, zero. No moves on Christian Europe by the Turks. So I DOW on the Ottomans and call in allies. Everyone shows up, and we give the Turks a brutal hazing...for the first few months.
Soon giant Ottoman armies are materializing out of thin air, forcing my allies into separate peace and stranding Ferdinand behind enemy lines and surrounding by angry Turks. His army is eventually annihilated, leaving Austria with almost no military. OUCH!
Well, that was a disaster. I rebuild a small military and try to stick to diplomatic efforts, vassalizing Bavaria and Saxony but being repeatedly frustrated in my attempts to work out such an arrangement with Hungary. Grumble, grumble. A weak economy isn't helping me rebuild the armed forces at all, and right when I am at my weakest, my allies drag me into a war with France.
A huge mixed army of French and Helvetian troops lays siege to Tyrol, where I had upgraded the fortress anticipating such a move. Tens of thousands of them will die to attrition while my army waits for the perfect opportunity to strike. Hehe, the Helvetians are getting a taste of their own medicine. I hit them when they have been whittled away to nothing....and bounce right off them. AAARGH!
The relatively few survivors of the massive army initially sent to capture Tyrol is quickly destroyed as a Hungarian 30k army moves in, the only time my kindness to Hungary will be repaid in the 40+ years of my GC to date. I send my own troops in to secure the province, then march on Helvetia and take it quickly by assault.
And what do you know, it won't let me annex. The option isn't even available for some stupid reason. When ti rains, it pours. The only option I can select is to settle for the contents of their treasury, which was fortunately at well above 200 when their city fell into our hands. France eventually signs a white peace with the morons who pulled us all into this, and the war is over.
Well, twice our armies have ventured forth to defend or expand our kingdom, and we have two embarrassments and some tribute to show for it. And an economy in sad shape. Fortunately, the Reformation has taken place, and a number of states are turning Protestant, leaving them without allies. Hmm... When Thuringen converts, they seem to have a big, fat target painted on their heads, so I declare war. They fall very quickly, and I annex.
Now that I have an army close to their territory, I give diplo-annexing Bavaria a shot. BING! It works, and my jaw drops when I notice how many troops they've raised over the years. A 50k army and an 85k army at now at my command...drool. These guys immediately march on Saxony to help persuade my vassals to follow Bavaria's lead and be diplo-annexed. They accept, and a couple more 50k+ armies are under my control.
These guys are going to be used, I decide, and promptly DOW on Hessen, storm, and anenx, and do the same to Wurttemburg. Now we have a bloodbath and 42 badboy to show for our previous diplomatic efforts and exasperated return to good old military coercion.
I love this game more each time I play it.
BTW, wierdest thing I saw all game was Spain losing two wars back to back to minors. They paid out a 230d+ indemnity AND gave up Holland to Hessen, and paid Lorraine 150d+ for a truce later. Sheesh.