OK, this will be my second try with France (Got to 1856 first try and ran out of Generals and Admirals) so thought I'd try an AAR.
It's the Economy, stupid....
First thing is to get the Economy working. The colonies and the military can wait...
On the first turn, we need to shut down the unprofitable factories, and get some priorities straight...
Initially, the following are extremely unprofitable (Meaning they're using far more resources than they return):
Ecole Navale in Bretagne
Mechanical Shop in Franche Comte
Saint Cyr in Ile De France
Both Steel mills in Lorraine (Will become profitable once the already building Railroad is finished)
Shipbuilding in Provence
Shipbuilding in Vendee
To shut them down, we select the city in that province, select the appropriate industry and click on the lightning bolt and watch it become red(Orange?)
I've made up a cheat sheet showing all the French provinces, their resources, and their initial extraction sites and industries, including profitability info. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to attach that here so if anybody wants a copy (And I've done the same for Prussia also), just PM me.
Once we've shut those down, next thing is to go into the F4 tab, go to the manufactured goods section, down to the second from the bottom circle (Shows -13 to start) and Ctrl-Click it 3 times...Manufactured Goods are the biggest thing we're going to need, so this is a good way to maximize the amount available.
Next is to arrange trades of material.
The ones that are going to kill us initially and for a while to come are wood, cotton, and especially minerals.
At the start, our goal is to just break even with industry and accumulate as much of those three as possible. It won't be enough, trust me...
So, bringing up the B screen we see that we have an excess of steel (We'll keep that, we need steel in almost all cases to build new things do we need all that we can get a hold of, but since we already have a surplus, no need to import more).
Coal we are losing, despite already importing 24. We have to try to at least break even with coal since almost every single industry uses it, along with maintaining our military and colonies, so we need to import only one more to break even. Hovering the mouse over coal shows that the Low Countries have 7 to spare which no one else is trying for so lets scroll the map over Belgium and hit the T key. (BTW, I find that dragging the B screen over to the right of the screen right off the bat is very helpful as I can then view both the T and B screens simultaneously). Once we've got the T screen for the Low countries up, just find the Coal section and click on the Plus key to its' right bringing it up to 1. If you look at the B screen, you'll see Coal is no longer Red, but breaking even.
Supply is in the red, which is not good, but initially no one is selling Supply, so that will have to wait.
Ammo is breaking even so it's good.
Likewise with Iron.(Which we start with a buy order of 8)
Minerals is in deep trouble, showing a steeply dropping red line. As I said, we need to buy every mineral we can. Easiest way is just to click on the little mineral icon on the B screen a few times. We should now "only" be losing 1 mineral per turn.
However, keep in mind that the B screen at the start assumes that ALL trades will be successful, both buy and sell. This is rarely the case so in reality we're probably going to be losing more than one mineral a turn, but that right now is beyond our control.
Nitrates we're actually making a profit on, which is unnecessary so we'll cancel the buy order already established by going over to South Germany (BTW, I find it very helpful during this stage to have the Trade areas screen open by either using the Ctrl-3 keys or just clicking on the little button 3rd from the left under the mini map. This way you know the boundaries of the trade areas). We still have an excess of 1 Nitrate so lets sell that by going back to Northern France (Which is where all our sell trades should be controlled from. Easiest way in all cases to get back to home is to click on the National Flag in the upper left of the screen.) To shut the T screen from one area just hit the T key again. So open it for Northern France, select Nitrates and sell that one by clicking on the plus button to the right of the nitrates symbol (Button to the right in all the Trade screens means selling (To or from you). To the left is buying (To or from you.)
For cereals, we are actually in debt because we are already selling too many. So, still in the T box for Northern France, select the plus bar to the left of the cereals icon until the number to the right becomes 2 and the B screen shows we are breaking even)
Fish we can sell off 2.
Cattle we need to cancel the sell order, and buy one more.
Fruits we can sell 2.
Sugar, again, we cancel the sale and buy one more.
Preserved Food we've got 5 excess and we could try to sell but trust me, no one wants to buy those at the beginning so we'll let it pile up.
Cotton/Wool we follow the same procedure as Minerals. Can't have enough.
Same with Wood. (Which should show a massive excess once you max it out but again, you won't get them all and you need them. Later, we can throttle back. They're cheap.)
Dyes show an excess but we'll leave that as those become rarer. France can build enough Dye factories later, but right now we're importing.
We're going to go on an anti-smoking binge by cancelling our buy of Tobacco.
Also an anti-drinking campaign by stopping the buy of Rum.
The problem with Wines is that we're selling them from both North and South France which is too confusing, so go to South France and stop the sale by dropping the number to 0. Then go back to Northern France and increase the sale to 10 there. Much easier to keep things in one place.
Chemicals we can sell 3 of to break even.
Manufactured Goods again we max out on (and cancel the sale of the 4 we are currently selling)
Textiles, again, we make sure were not selling any from Southern France (Sometimes it shows up, sometimes it doesn't. Generally any sale not from a countries home area (Which really only applies to France and the USA (Chesapeake) should be ignored since it will immediately disappear.
Sell 15 textiles to break even.
Sell 6 Mechanical Parts.
And increase the sale of Luxury Goods to 6.
After the first few turns, we'll only go through all this every 3 months or so as I find once I have enough resources, things tend to run rather smoothly.
But, until then, we're going to have to accept that you're going to have a few factory shutdowns. Mostly the textile factories because of lack of cotton, and everything else because of lack of minerals. Once we get enough of those, things will run a lot more smoothly.
Ideally, we'd like to start immediately building extraction sites for those 2, since we have plenty of sites but remember that what we have on hand at the START of the turn is what matters, so if we use all our steel, Capital and Manufactured. Goods now, our factories will shut down immediately at the start of next turn so we need to build up a sufficient amount of those. Ideally, I find that keeping at least 100 steel, 1000 Capital and 100 Man. Goods around is sufficient. But we're a bit away from that right now.
The only other things we need to do this turn are to move our military units that are not properly supplied to supplied areas.
These are the French Asiatic squadron off of Indochina, (We'll just dock it in Saigon by dragging it there.) and the two southern army units in Algeria (The Constantine and Mostagnem Garrisons. We drag them respectively up to Annaba and Algeria.
Now we end the turn and see what happened....