"I am not a man of blood; and God is my witness that in all my wars I have never been the aggressor, and that my enemies have always been the authors of their own calamity
." - Tamerlane
By the end of 1399, Christians were still reeling from their failure at the Battle of Nicopolis. Their loss could be attributed to the pride of a fading aristocratic warrior elite, who put their personal glory above the needs of the field. History, it seemed, would belong to the might of the Ottoman Empire.
And yet, their power is not yet secure, nor is their ascendancy assured. To the east they face the threat of Tamerlane; to the west, the kingdoms of Hungary and Austria; to the North, the ever-expanding principality of Muscowy. And of course, right off their coasts, the brave souls of the Knights of St. John.
Will the Knights be able to adapt to the changing tides of history, and succeed in their holy mission? I certainly hope so; otherwise, this will be a short AAR!
The Knights face a daunting geopolitical situation at the opening of the game. They own one province that shares neither their state religion nor their state culture. The closest Catholic province is in Beirut, held by the Mamluk Sultanate. And of course, there aren't actually any provinces in the game that hold a majority of the Hospitaller culture, nor will there ever be. And of course, the ever-present danger of the Barbary pirates; their raids will prove to be quite damaging over the course of the game, and as an organized Christian response, the KoSJ can only hope to give as good as they get.
Oh yeah, and the Ottoman Empire. Let's not forget them. Throughout the majority of the game the Ottomans will only get stronger, as they consolidate their control over Asia Minor and the Balkans. Whereas in Victoria's timeline they will be the 'sick man of Europe,' in EU3 they are one of the strongest countries in the game. Somewhat curiously, they rarely expand as they did historically: by the opening decades of the 16th century the Ottomans under Selim the Grim ringed the Eastern and Southern edges of the Mediterranean and dominated the Middle East; in the game, the Mamluks often remain a viable regional power right up to the end. You're more likely to see the Ottomans in Finland then in Alexandria (no joke).
As the game begins, the Ottomans are at their weakest, and are engaged in a war with Tamerlane, leading the eponymous Timurid empire. Historically, Timur ravaged Asia Minor and captured the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I, who died in captivity (possibly by suicide). In the games this rarely occurs; Tamerlane (a ridiculously fantastic general) dies very early, and the Timurids suffer a bunch of debilitating events that lead to their eventual dissolution into several successor states. The Ottomans typically come away with a bit of territory, marking the beginning of their expansion. And of course they are an administrative kingdom, and a historical 'lucky' nation. Simply put, the longer you wait to take them down a notch, the worse off you will be.
Compared to their truly dismal opening state in vanilla EU3, the Knights of MMP2 begin will several unique bonuses designed to reflect their history. They definitely punched above their weight; maintaining one of the most powerful navies in the Mediterranean as well as good relations with most of the Christian world, even after the Protestant Reformation. Again, this rarely happens in the game, as the AI sucks at keeping their navies alive.
The opening mission statement of the KoSJ:
... and its effects:
Grand Priories are provincial decisions that can be made by countries with 25 ducats and sufficient relations with The Knights. The provinces receive a special 'KOSJ Priory' flag that remains even if the province switches hands, and if the conquering AI country has sufficient relationship requirements, they WILL (with 100 certainty) maintain the Priory. More Priories allows the Knights to establish more 'Langues' or (as they are known in the game) 'Tongues,' the greater number of which will confer special tax and manpower bonuses upon their capital province. The members of each Langue were associated with a different region of Europe, though things were changed around as the fragmented kingdoms of the Middle Ages consolidated into the countries we know and love today.
Another historical note: the official languages of the Knights were Latin and French, thus 'Langue' being the name of their organizational unit (meaning both 'language' and 'tongue' in French). Of course, everyone spoke Greek, and the Knights typically maintained good relations with the populations over which held sovereignty.
Impressive, isn't it? This does highlight one distinct advantage of the KoSJ: they are in the Western European tech group, and will thus maintain research at a pretty good clip with the neighbor bona. Unit-wise, the Muslim tech group holds a pretty distinct advantage in the first part of the game, though things even out at tech level 16.
The Knights' opening NIs are geared to winning battles, with a superior military on a unit-to-unit basis. Of course, this doesn't matter for much land-wise through the beginning of the game, when 3 Knights infantry units will be up against an Ottoman military ten times its size; but with the right advisers they can maintain a distinct naval advantage, which will be key to their success. I made my opening slider move toward centralization, with the 'social discontent' event firing (-10 prestige and a hit in faction relations, though none have formed yet)
... wait a minute, what is he doing?
WAIT A MINUTE, WHAT IS HE DOING?!?!?!?!