1571... peace, healthy economy, healthy army, healthy manpower...
But then, the devil lies in the detail:
It seems that animosity between Burgundy and Austria has escalated, so I'll have to tread carefully. I release Genoa -again-, I send warnings to Sicily and Aragon, I'm just about to fabricate claims in Apulia but...
Crete thought wise to attack the Ottomans knowing I would be supporting. Life is so easy for AI controlled minors! Oh well, I guess Sicily can wait for a few months. I send 15k men to Bulgaria; it falls. Then Thrace; it falls. By May 1572 the OE is willing to sign peace releasing Bulgaria, and of course Crete (they got annexed pretty quickly after DoWing, all that fuss to go to war and they couldn't even hold their own fort!).
With this annoying little business over, I start weighing the chances of Burgundy DoWing if I attack Sicily... tricky. I check the military stats:
Too close for comfort I'd say, I have a slightly bigger army but they have more manpower. I decide to wait a bit longer. I send more colonists to Brazil, I build some more level 2 forts, I lavish money on some HRE electors. Sadly the only country larger than one province I can get an alliance with is Modena.
In the east Hungary DoWs Kazan, with Crimea duly joining, finally the AI doing something sensible! Not that it is of much profit in the end, Poland gets the spoils of Crimea and despite Hungary taking Georgia the whole affair ends in a mere exchange of ducats.
In 1573 I gain core in Venezia, finally I can start doing some trade. I see that Sicilians and Aragonese are monopolising the centre, yet another good reason to DoW them. I manage to get 1 merchant, the second never makes it, time maybe to get a trade advisor... none available.
In August of the same year all hell breaks loose...
No, not that one, although I'm sure Gotland is somehow responsible...
19 August, 1573 Sweden declared war upon Gotland.
20 August, 1573 Sweden has started collecting War Taxes.
20 August, 1573 Gotland has started collecting War Taxes.
Of course they ALL start collecting war taxes For once I'm glad not to be involved in the chain of events. A useless war between Lithuania and Burgundy suits me just fine. I start making preparations to DoW Sicily, I release Sardinia -islands tend to be a liability- but in December I get two calls to arms, one unexpected, one very welcome:
20 August, 1573 Lithuania declared war upon Muscowy.
20 August, 1573 Burgundy joined Muscowy in a war against Lithuania.
20 August, 1573 Hamburg joined Lithuania in a war against Burgundy, Muscowy.
20 August, 1573 The Papal State joined Lithuania in a war against Burgundy, Muscowy.
20 August, 1573 Novgorod joined Lithuania in a war against Burgundy, Muscowy.
20 August, 1573 Dulkadir joined Lithuania in a war against Burgundy, Muscowy.
21 August, 1573 Sweden joined Muscowy in a war against Lithuania, Hamburg, The Papal State, Novgorod, Dulkadir.
21 August, 1573 Poland joined Lithuania in a war against Burgundy, Muscowy, Sweden.
So Candar joins the long tradition of suicidal OPMs. And suddenly having Modena as ally seems to be worthwhile, I have my war with Sicily and Aragon for free! Well, not totally free, I still lose 1 stab due to same religion.
5 December, 1573 Candar declared war upon Qara Koyunlu.
11 December, 1573 Modena declared war upon Sicily.
12 December, 1573 Aragon joined Sicily in a war against Modena.
13 December, 1573 We joined Candar in a war against Qara Koyunlu.
13 December, 1573 We assumed leadership in the war against Qara Koyunlu.
13 December, 1573 Our stability has dropped.
13 December, 1573 We joined Modena in a war against Aragon, Sicily.
13 December, 1573 We assumed leadership in the war against Aragon, Sicily.
Once passed the initial excitement I waste no time in embargoing the living daylights out of Sicily and Aragon, 9 merchants kicked out of my CoT!
My troops storm Roma, Parma, Napoli, Apulia and Roussillon. Modena takes Mantua and Baleares. I'm surprised to find little opposition from Aragon, particularly on the naval side, I was expecting a much larger fleet.
In the middle of this glorious war Joseph I dies, his son takes over and the war continues.
Sicily is eventually persuaded to part with Apulia and release Mantua.
I keep on fighting Aragon in the hope of getting enough warscore to obtain Roma. Then in Jaunuary 1575 the Shawnee ask for help against the Castillian aggressor. Who says you need to DoW to have fun, when you can just warn half of Europe and wait for the wars to come to you?!
Another free war with Castille, too good to miss. I accept and start to pursue peace with Aragon. Roma bing 48% warscore, I have to settle for Roussillon, the Baleares for my ally Modena and 25 ducats.
That peace doesn't come a second too soon, the war with Castille requires all my resources.
Things get a bit messy at first, the Castillians have two very good generals. Joseph II probably dies of the shock (and I didn't even put him in the battlefield!)
I slowly recover my provinces and chase one of the main Castillian armies all the way to Italy, where I finally get my revenge on Ponce de Leon.
But like in the previous war with them, the price in manpower is high. After two years I've just managed to get half of their French holdings. 30% warscore is the result.
I settle for Bearn and Limousine (42%). Evicting the Spaniards from France is hard work.
At least it leaves me 3 months to do some housekeeping before the end of the turn. A tolerance edict event boosts my stability a bit, which is a nice compensation for the 2 National Declines I got in the last two years.
Then I never expected this, in October:
Which of course I accept since I'd rather play it safe leaving Austria to the AI for the next 7 years. By the way, the monster war between Burgundy and Lithuania ended with little changes, Burgundy annexed Hamburg but signed a white peace with Lithuania.
So I build more ships, more level 2 forts, send more colonists to Brazil, and I even get 5 merchants in Venice...
That is, until a merchant of Hesse spoils the fun on December 30 (reminder for next turn: sign trade agreement with Hesse.)