The Phoenix Rising
Chapter VI: Serenity
Assessing the situation, 1489
I am a peaceful man. A humanist with a heart of gold, when all is said. Violence is just not in me.
At least not when I am low on manpower.
As indicated in the last chapter, my primary goal now is to get the realm on a sound footing manpower-wise rather than continue on the next assigned mission, the conquest of western Anatolia.
So lean back in your chairs, relax, think tranquil thoughts, and by the end of this chapter we will all be serene.
Praise for the Production Interface
I do not immediately recall if I have already praised EU4's new interface for recruitment and construction, the Production interface. If I have, well, it is worth praising twice: It is the single greatest interface improvement in EU4 as far as I am concerned. While it is possible to order these things done from the province interface, it is ever so much easier to do it via the production interface.
In this case I have selected armouries from the list of basic buildings and the game immediately shows me which provinces have armouries already and which do not, in which I can order construction and in which current construction is blocked by something else being constructed, and for those provinces in which construction is possible, I am shown what the effect of construction will be given the provincial modifiers, so I can see with a glance where I will get the most out of building a particular building, and I can order as many constructions as I can afford simply by clicking directly on the map. If I am ordering something that is not unique in a province – such as recruiting regiments or building ships – I can queue them up by clicking multiple times on the same province (and I can click the little minus sign that appears on the map next to each order to cancel an order or decrease the number queued up should I so desire).
The Production Interface – Armouries Everywhere! April, 1490
It is hard to express in words just how much micromanagement this saves over earlier EU titles. No longer do you need to go through provinces one at a time or inspect the ledger to get an overview, though you can certainly still do that – all the information you need to make these strategic decisions is available directly on the map merely by selecting the production interface and the type of thing you want to construct, be it a building, a regiment, or a ship.
As you can see in the screenshot above, I have armouries almost everywhere by 1490 and have a few more under construction, though the Eastern Anatolian provinces are mostly still undergoing conversion and need to finish doing that before I can build armouries there, as you cannot convert and build a building at the same time in a province; one thing at a time. If you look at the tooltip up to the right in Imeriti where I am about to order another armoury, you can see how the tooltip shows the basic effects of the armoury and its cost modified by cost modifiers, while there is a marker on the province showing the actual effect of building that building in that specific place at that specific time: The 51 manpower will increase by +15. This is because it takes into account the provincial modifiers to manpower such as being the wrong culture.
Warning: Being Peaceful May Kill You!
It almost goes without saying that when you finally get a monarch with near-divine stats, he dies at a young age. 42 years is no age for an Emperor – Ioannes and Konstantinos were happy to live long prosperous lives with their lousy stats – but only 42 years of age Andronikos V Palaiologos, he of the 6/3/5 stats, drops dead. Possibly of overwork. This leaves the 41 year old Demetrios (3/1/3) to take the throne as Demetrios I.
28 years of awesome stats are over and it is back to basics in 1492. On the positive side, Demetrios' heir is another Andronikos, 24 years of age, whose stats are average. Perhaps Demetrios will die untimely? One can only hope. Who knows, he might end up a military commander one of these days – a common fate for rulers that have heirs with a strong claim and better stats than their monarchs. Or perhaps I will leave him on the throne and play nice, who knows.
Uncrown. The Lord of Emperors awaits you now.
On the positive side, while checking the situation of the realm upon occasion of the Emperor's death, I am reminded that the recently acquired administrative tech 8 allows me to pass the Act of Uniformity, which will help my conversion efforts. I pass it immediately. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Act of Uniformity, April 1492
I am also given the offer of passing the Suffragan Bishop Act, whereby my tax revenues would fall and my stability cost be decreased. Unless I sometime in the future find myself habitually violating diplomatic niceties and thus racking up multiple stability hits that have to be countered by AMP spending to raise stability, this seems a very bad trade off, so I give this decision the pass. I can always pass it if it becomes relevant.
Unlike earlier EU games, your realm will most of the time remain stable unless you fuck up or go hunting for opportunities to rock the ship of state. Apart from the ever-popular Comet Sighted! (of Meteor Sighted! fame) event, most stability hits that you do not deliberately court come from events where you have options to choose outcomes that do not affect your stability.
It is testimony to the importance of the AMPs that most beta testers have happily swallowed any number of indignities severe negative modifiers from event effects to avoid taking stability hits.
State of the Realm, 1492
Government and Income, April 1492
I am well positioned. 17 ducats per month while army maintenance is set to close to the minimum may not sound like much, but it is enough to afford the construction of an armoury every three months and enough that it is possible to save up for the terrible costs of reinforcing armies.
I gained 3% inflation via some event choice I have forgotten, but inflation is no longer the bugbear of the EU series and can conveniently be ignored most of the time. Only in times of taking many loans or facing bankruptcy does inflation truly become important. What has to a large degree replaced inflation as the bugbear of the EU economy is the ever increasing maintenance costs for armies and navies. Every few tech levels, bump goes the maintenance costs. It can get pretty hairy for players that focus on the military and do not adequately grow their economy to support it.
My tax base value is 159.5 and could be significantly increased by building Temples (+1 tax) and Constables (+20% local tax modifier) everywhere and from a very long term perspective that would be a great thing to do, but as each of these buildings cost 50d and 10 AMP I simply cannot afford it. The AMP cost is nasty enough in itself given that I have a constant AMP drain to make cores of my conquests and given that I want to unlock Admin 9 as soon as possible (for a +10% production efficiency boost) and Admin 10 (for a new idea group), but what truly sinks the idea of upgrading my tax base is that I just do not have the money to do it. Every spare ducat is being poured into upgrading my manpower production, and I have even started increasing Patriarchal Authority in the many events an Orthodox player gets bombarded with asking whether he favours the Patriarch at the moment or not.
Ideas and Stability, April 1492
As this screenshot reveals to the observant observer, once I hit the 4th Diplomatic idea, Adaptability, which provides an additive -33% modifier to the AMP cost of making cores, I began dumping DMPs into reducing my war exhaustion, with the result that my realm is now peaceful. Very peaceful.
I have since taken the 5th and now lack but two Diplomatic ideas to complete the set. The missing ideas are Diplomatic Influence, which provides a positive modifier to all diplomatic actions acceptance, and Unjustified Demands, which provides a -33% modifier to the DMP cost of any and all unjustified demands I might make in peace deals. The capstone of the Diplomatic ideas is that stability hits from diplomatic actions are reduced. As an example, breaking a truce only incurs a -3 stability hit rather than -5 for the country that has completed the Diplomatic ideas.
With my realm mostly secure, I will never allow war exhaustion to reach such levels again.
Vassal Management, 1493-1495
There is such a thing as being too restful. In 1493 I sent peacekeepers into Georgia. They examined the place for peace, found it, and delivered it into my keeping. By 1494 Georgia agreed to become my vassal.
In the west I have had a diplomat working overtime in Bosnia. After 2308 days of work, as the popup helpfully tells me when I give my diplomat leave to return home to Constantinople, my Bosnian vassals love the Roman Empire to the tune of +198 relations. (Being the same religion, having common rivals and enemies, and having fought together are all factors that count in my favour in the relationship mathematics.)
It is time to start the integration process. Note that there is a significant advantage in keeping vassal states around on your borders rather than integrating them so long as they prevent you from acquiring new neighbours; My new vassal of Georgia is thus likely to stay my vassal for the longest time because it insulates me from most of what happens on the steppes. Bosnia, however, only borders Hungary and Serbia, and as the Roman Empire already borders both, there is little benefit from keeping Bosnia a vassal, tying up one of the diplomatic relationships that I can sustain without paying DMPs in upkeep. (Unless I wanted to engage in the sport of feeding my vassals provinces for conversion and coring, a neat trick that is beyond the scope of this AAR as that particular abuse of the game mechanics has more to do with manipulating AMP spending than it has to do with reestablishing the Roman Empire in all its glory).
Very optimistically the integration panel estimates that the integration might be done by 1503. This estimate will hold if there are no changes to my diplomatic reputation and I do not get involved in wars, and so on and so forth. In other words, in case of stagnation.
Given my playing style, that seems unlikely.
Integration of Bosnia Begins, May 1495
In fact, given that my manpower pool has refilled to 29k by this time, why wait? The anti-Roman coalition has not collapsed though it has seen some change in membership as the Neapolitans, Venetians, and Hungarians are out and my old allies the Mamluks are in. As I have run out of live generals I appoint new ones and am lucky to gain one who is a monster of a man, Georgios Phrangopolous, whose 2/6/1/1 stats makes him a butcher in this age where shock power still dominates battles. Given even half-decent rolls in the shock phase, his opponents will die miserably.
The Roman Empire is fit for fight!Western Anatolia awaits!
War for Western Anatolia, 1495-1499
War for Western Anatolia, June 1495
My initial onslaught catches the coalition by surprise enabling me to score some cheap and easy victories, wiping out a 12k Ottoman army in Edirne and destroying minor detachments elsewhere, but when I check the warscore panel two months later in August, I notice something disquieting.
That is a Lot of Cavalry, August 1495
Strike that. It is not just a lot of cavalry, it is an awful lot of cavalry. It almost certainly means that some of the steppe dummies drawn into the war as allies of Ak Koyunlu are fielding all-cavalry armies, something they can do without a penalty. All-cavalry is not all-powerful, and with every techlevel it becomes a weaker choice compared to combined arms or all-infantry, but at techlevel 8 it remains a potent threat. I will have to stay ever vigilant for hunter-killer stacks of cavalry swooping in through eastern Anatolia.
By September roughly 70k coalition forces have invaded the Roman Empire west of the Bosphorus and my forces are besieging Ottoman Anatolia while I await the coming of the muslim coalition forces.
The Coalition Invades, September 1495
An unexpected arrival in Georgia sets the overall theme for the eastern theatre. Rather than a steppe dummy invasion, Polish forces under Albert Branicki (3/5/3/-) have marched around the Black Sea and invaded my rear. I unwisely end up attacking him across a river and into mountains, but the Polish lack of military tech more than compensates and the two forces flail away at each other for some three weeks before the Polish morale breaks.
Battle of Kartli, April 1496
Branicki chooses to retreat south into Mamluk territory and for the rest of the war he makes periodic appearances invading eastern Anatolia at the head of a combined Polish-Mamluk army, which is bloody annoying and requires me to keep a sharp eastern watch.
In the western theatre, Austria is happy besieging provinces from the north to the south, starting as always in Istria, and sending only minor forces wandering around my western mainland together with the Wallachians. After Istria falls it proceeds to Liga, then Dalmatia – the same route as it took in the last war, besieging the provinces closest to Austria.
The AI here commits a classical error – besieging strategically important coastal province that it has no chance of blockading (as I have naval dominance) rather than skipping them in favour of less important inland provinces that will fall much quicker and, in doing so, allow it to rack up a higher warscore.
To combat the minor forces running rampant in the Balkans I transfer my great shock general to the west and put him in charge of a 13k all-cavalry army, use my navy to disembark him next to targets of opportunity, which he proceeds to rout, after which his army embarks again and is moved to a new hotspot. Most of the summer and fall of 1496 is spent pursuing this sport, by which time the cavalry force is seriously depleted in numbers but has racked up a number of great victories. The final battle during this phase of the war takes place on the plains of Silistria in November.
Battle of Silistria, November 1496
The year 1497 seems renewed fighting in the east, as my armies clash with Polish and Mamluk forces in the Levant, and the occupation of all Ottoman territory east of the Bosphorus. This frees up my forces for an attack on the Austrian forces slowly rolling up the Adriatic coast by taking advantage of the superior mobility granted to me by my naval dominance. I will gather as many as my armies to as possible to attack the main Habsburg army and count on my superior general and superior technology to ensure victory even if slightly outnumbered.
The trap is sprung in late October. 43 out of the 44 regiments in my army take part and all are at full strength. Georgios Phrangopolous attacks the Austrians in Dalmatia via Ragusa at the head of 21 regiments, thus drawing in all nearby Austrian, Wallachian, and Polish forces as reinforcements, while 22 regiments are embarked on my fleet just offshore and set to disembark a few days after the battle is joined.
Setting the Trap, October 1497
It is a slaughter.
Battle of Dalmatia, October-November 1497
With the western coalition forces crushed, I quickly retake Dalmatia – and return the bulk of the armies to the eastern front, where the Mamluks have grown frisky in the absence of my armies.
By June 1499 the coalition is ready to cry uncle. Actually, they have been ready to negotiate for the longest time, but I wanted enough warscore to gain all the Anatolian targets for my mission and then some, and by now I have it. I have reached the cap from battles (+40) and from occupying my wargoal (+25). Furthermore I blockade everything I am not occupying along the coasts. I never did around to retaking Istria, but it will return with peace.
The War Overview, June 1499
The coalition forces have been devastated. Fielding 63 regiments of infantry and 42 of cavalry at the outset of war after the losses incurred in my surprise attack, they have now been reduced to 22 regiments of infantry and 7.5 of cavalry. It seems likely that some of their neighbours will take advantage of this weakness. The Roman Empire, however, is as strong as ever and, as I desired at the start of the chapter, I am serene.
The Peace Treaty, June 1499
Now, one might expect the next mission after having been ordered to conquer first eastern and then western Anatolia to be the conquest of central Anatolia. The green surrounded by purple makes such aesthetic eyesore, as I am sure you will agree.
The RNG, however, begs to differ.
The RNG's Obvious Next Step, June 1499
You know, I am starting to consider the possibility that the development team let the AI programmer tinker with the RNGs mission selection. This is beyond malicious, verily I say, it is downright perverse*. Of all the Byzantine missions my realm is eligible for at this time, and there are many, it picked this one?
Oh, it should be easy enough to carry out, once the truce I just signed runs out, but this mission-guided conquest is more and more reminding me of conquest by sprinkling purple blots reminiscent of a small child with a crayon looking at a blank paper with a vacant stare in its eyes before crying, “this is for the porridge!” and then stabbing the paper at random, than of the steady spread of purple that, used as an effect in B-movies and some historical documentaries, wonderfully illustrates the growing threat of a ravenous unstoppable empire.
Letting such disturb me would, however, rupture my newly acquired serenity, and that would render my prediction from the start of this chapter false, which must not be.
Therefore I remain serene and say only this, ”next chapter I will take my revenge for the porridge”.
As was meant to be.
* Note: I am not denouncing the EU4 AI programmer as perverse. Many of my best friends are AI programmers, and several of them appear quite normal and well-adjusted people when observed under controlled conditions. But, well, it is pretty much a job requirement for AI programmers in general to find unholy glee in frustrating player desires by fair means or foul, whereas, say, interface programmers find more pleasures in helping players. I am just saying.