Ask me about LOOM
- Aug 20, 2011
Ottoman Empire – A multiplayer gameplay-driven AARForeword:
I know the main topic of this session is story-based AARs. Personally, I’m not much interested in writing one, but I do enjoy reading them from time to time. I’m writing this because I’ve wanted to do some sort of educational post or video on multiplayer (both strategies, thought processes, and what multiplayer even looks like for people who haven’t played it before) for a while, and up until recently have mostly just taught individual people by subbing them/cooping them/speaking to them outside of the game, and it’s been rather uncoordinated and involved a lot of repetition. Recently, someone private messaged me and asked me to do an AAR or video, which reminded me that I had always intended to do one anyways, so here we are. This will focus on my journey through the Clash of Kings campaign as the Ottoman Empire (because it happened to start a few days after I was asked to do this), from the perspective of playing well rather than roleplaying. The game is played weekly, and the lineup is a mixture of regulars and players who are new to MP, or at least who I have not seen before. Like most campaigns, this is played for four hours per week (usually constituting 25-30 ingame years), and I’ll try to update this at some point each week between sessions. I’ll try to expose my thought process as much as possible, but may have to withhold information until later weeks if I can’t afford for other players in the game knowing what I’m thinking and planning about a particular subject. I’m not sure how interesting and/or useful this will turn out to be for people, but there’s only one way to find out!
I’ll try to accompany this with screenshots when I remember to and think they help. I forgot I wasn’t running this through steam for part of session 1, so the first bit of the first session is lacking in screenshots (since I was pressing F12 instead of F11 to try to take them), and they as good as they could be for the rest of it.
This is very much a work in progress and I’m open to suggestions of what to add, remove, or do differently for future installments, as well as how interesting and/or useful people find it.
I’ve been playing EU3 multiplayer for around a year and a half now, varying between no or almost no active campaigns for months on end, to heavy schedules. I’m a big proponent of MP as some of you may have seen on the main EU3 forums, on reddit EU3, or elsewhere. I have a very personal style and often sacrifices the absolute best decision for the decision I find most fun or interesting, although I do work towards keeping my nation alive and strong and am consistently a major power soon into my campaigns. I rarely make long-term deals with other players unless they are largely in my favour, and am happy to fight a devastating war with someone and then turn around and work with them later as long as they haven’t broken deals they’ve agreed on (and thus my trust) at some point in recent memory.
Session 1Different people tend to have very different approaches in session 1. Some players (myself included) like to strike out boldly and establish themselves, while others like to play conservatively and build up their power by killing uncontested AIs or colonizing for a few sessions before they think about interacting much with other players. Usually what happens in this session will determine the course of the next few sessions, with people acting on or reacting to the way this shapes out. This is one of the most likely times to see people crippled or killed, both because people are still quite vulnerable and because many people feel bad about killing off a player who has invested a lot of time in their nation (starting a few sessions from now).
My starting position:
The Ottomans start as one of the most powerful countries in 1399, if you know how to use them effectively. You start with an abundance of cores on decent land, the most powerful infantry in the early game, easy access to the most powerful cavalry in the early game (Charge Cavalry from Muslim-tech group provinces), a national idea, a few land tech level on your European neighbours, and countless other advantages. In 5.1 you are somewhat threatened by the Golden Horde if Poland is not a player nation, since they have such an abundance of troops where there are situations where they can have 30 troops on each one of your Balkan provinces at once, but this campaign both is in 5.2 (with much weaker hordes) and with a played Poland, so GH won’t be a threat. The Timurids is never a threat if you make effective use of mountains, although they are a minor annoyance in the first few years and prevent you from doing anything too ballsy until you’ve secured that front.
The typical strategy for Ottoman players in multiplayer is to rush to place the various Arabian nations and especially the Mamlukes under Personal Unions, since you will inherit a wealth of buildings and a fair few decent provinces, and then colonize your way eastwards to India and northwards around the Black Sea. Personally, I dislike that strategy since there is little player interaction for quite a while, both meaning it’s rather boring and it squanders the Ottomans’ huge early game strength, so I’ll be mostly or completely ignoring it unless I’m left with no alternative to stay viable.
The early years (1399-1404):
I started off the usual way for the Ottomans: declare war on the various Turkish minors before the game unpauses, move troops eastwards, etc. I quickly annexed all of the Turkish minors and Trebizond, and declared war on the Byzantines, leading to a frustratingly long (>3 year) siege of Constantinople, slowing down my plans to release Trebizond as a vassal since the land is relatively poor, out of the way, and uncored. Nothing much interesting happened here; various players worked in the ways you’d expect their nations to work, although England decided to follow history and fight the Hundred Years War (rare in Multiplayer, where most Englands tend to sell their continental provinces to France for a few hundred ducats each), and with Castille’s support retook Normandy. My only particularly unorthodox move here was to seek a 25 year NAP with Poland; normally, this is not in the Ottomans’ interest, since they are much stronger than Poland as well as less of a threat to other players, but given my intention to fight other players and move westwards I chose to minimize the number of people who were a threat to me, and given Polands’ vulnerable position at the start of the game they were all too happy to agree to it.
War with Venice and aftermath (1404-1406):
Most Ottoman players would buy Athens and possibly Albania from Venice for a very minor sum and move to PU the Mamluks, but this is where I diverged. Over the last few years I had been building galleys until I had easily the strongest fleet in Europe, and after a bit of confirmation that Venice would find no friends in the various naval powers of the early game (England and Castille mostly), I moved to cripple or annex them. Venice quickly realized the situation was hopeless and surrendered much quicker than I expected, ceding all of their provinces except Venezia and Treviso, as well as all of their vassals, and a guarantee that they would not expand into mainland Italy or any Greek territories (including Cyprus). They were much more reasonable about the whole affair than I expected, so I don’t expect to be annexing them fully after all, especially given my upcoming tense relations with Castille, one of the nations which would benefit most from their destruction.
On the home front, the game remained relatively boring; Ottomans’ level 5 starting tech (along with all the associated buildings) means there is little you can do to improve your infrastructure. I converted a few provinces, moved my capital to Constantinople, switched to an Empire (I’ll be making use of the expanded Holy War casus belli), and built a few Armouries, Churches, and Constables. I moved towards Centralization in anticipation of Westernization, and teched Land for the extremely powerful Azab Infantry.
Italian Expansion and war with Castille (1406-1412):
One of my favourite approaches to the Ottomans in the early game is rushing into Italy, so I began to do that by declaring war on Naples and on Sicily, with the intent to annex both. After occupying them, Castille informed me that he had ambitions in southern Italy as well, and asked that I leave in exchange for some minor compensation. After much arguing back and forth and Castille being unable to offer me a concrete explanation of what he promised, I chose war and annexed Naples as well as took Messina from Sicily (I hadn’t yet occupied Malta and didn’t feel it was worth bothering with when war was on the horizon). It soon became apparent that Portugal supported Castille, and after contacting England I learned that I was on my own.
My earlier war against Venice (and, more importantly, preparation for it) turned out to pay off hugely here: Castille and Portugal charged forward with their fleets in an attempt to wrest control of the Mediterranean from me. They were somewhat surprised when I defeated their combined fleets with my large Galley-based force (~3 Carack, 45 Galleys and 15 Cogs vs ~25 Carracks) defeated theirs, and retreated to regroup. After contacting Portugal and discovering there was little chance of this being anything else than a sustained 1v2, and being aware that Castille was an experienced and long-term EU3 player, I decided that an agreement was in both of our interests rather than a bloody war which would devastate both our economies if we turned it into a ship-building race, not to mention distract my larger goal of conquering Europe, so I decided that an agreement was in order.
Both Castille and I were somewhat annoyed at the situation, and accusations were exchanged.
Castille was open to negotiations after taking a blow to his confidence when losing the initial naval battles, and we quickly reached an agreement: I would cede my Neapolitan and Sicilian provinces and promise not to attempt to take the rest of Sicily, Sardinia, or Corsica, and in return Castille would not attempt to venture further into mainland Italy until 1500 at the very least, recognized my control over the Greek islands, would not intervene in any war with Austria for a similar amount of time, as well as some other minor concessions which I can’t make public at this time. I was relatively happy with the agreement; although owning Naples would be nice, this provided me an opportunity to move uncontested through the Balkans instead by guaranteeing some degree of non-intervention from Castille in my plans.
Balkan conquest (1412-1415):
Up to this point, my conquest of the various minors had been slowed down by the 10 year truces in the most recent patch, since they were all allied to one another. With Castille dealt with and Austria engaged in fighting in yet another eruption of the Hundred Years War, there was little stopping me from seizing Hungary; I declared war on Hungary and soon after Wallachia, and after occupying everything found myself in control of Croatia, Wallachia, and Transylvania as vassals, providing me a direct route of friendly territory to the Holy Roman Empire. This went largely according to plan, although Hungary acquired control of the cardinals and called a crusade on me partway through, providing some aid to any players I attacked in the near future, albeit a move which was probably inevitably going to happen to me regardless. With Austria still caught in the Hundred Years’ War, I built up my forces to around 40 men and prepared to invade.
Borders after the conquest of the Balkans and the conclusion of my agreement with Castille.
Invasion of Austria and sack of Vienna (1416-1419):
After quickly contacting England to confirm the war was still going strong in the west (I didn’t fancy fighting a coalition of France, Switzerland, and Austria on my own if I could avoid it), I recruited a 5-shock general with my excellent military tradition left over from my conquests up to this point and moved into Austria.
I chat with England as my troops move in.
Although initially surprised, Austria and her allies had a surprising number of troops nearby, and combined with the intervention of a dumb but powerful AI Bohemia I was forced to seize no more than a few provinces for the opening stages of the war. On the other hand, they were relatively new to multiplayer warfare, and at first I decisively won a few battles with the aid of superior generals and terrain. That said, eventually I was forced out of Austria by overwhelming troop numbers and a bad roll on AI General Roulette; one of my vassals got their general as leader of a defensive battle vs Austria, meaning that I was fighting on the side of a 0 shock general rather than a 5 shock general, and I chose to give up ground rather than take larger casualties to win the battle. My stacks were getting more and more depleted by that point regardless, offering me a chance to retreat to Venice’s vassal of Aquilea and reinforce.
Early setbacks cause me to briefly leave Austria. I attempted to get France to leave the war since his presence was slowing me down, but he stood by Austria.
Soon thereafter, contacting England made it clear that France was out of manpower and losing ground in the west, prompting another invasion by me. After wiping a number of Austrian vassal armies as well as Austrian armies, I was able to wrest control of several provinces. Bohemia’s exit from the war in exchange for a concession of defeat soon thereafter left me in control of all of Austria east of the mountains, and after a few bad maneuvers by Austria and sheer strength of numbers I brought the war to a close.
With his allies having abandoned him and his country occupied, Austria capitulates. Meanwhile, France is convinced at the existence of some sort of larger conspiracy between myself, England, and Castille.
While vassalizing Aquilea, Venice agreed to cede the two gold provinces to me (they did no good for Venice, who merely wanted the vassal for sphere of influence, and allowed me to better connect Croatia to my Austrian holdings), so now I took the opportunity to take that as well as Salzburg and Augsburg given Austria was in little position to object. The rest of the session was relatively bland conversion of provinces, building of Constables/Armouries/Temples (the best level 1 buildings given the lack of exciting trade goods on provinces I have acquired this far), and destruction of rebels; I centralized further, was able to get a move towards Free Subjects thanks to some Peasant rebels, and invested in my absurdly high-costing stability due to a serious of bad events (one of the downsides of aggressive European expansion as the Ottomans is stupidly high stability cost until you manage to convert some of the provinces). Meanwhile, in the west, France was torn apart by England, Castille, and Switzerland (who switched sides when the writing was on the wall), and with Poland expanding rapidly in the east the major European powers to come have been largely established. By the end of the session, Venice’s navy began to rival mine, ending 25 years of Turkish naval supremacy, and while I could reclaim it were I particularly interested I’m not sure there’s much point with Castille pacified. Achaea and Morea are still independent due to joining a number of wars against me and thus being under constant truce (I’m not willing to pay x4 infamy to annex them quicker), but they should hopefully be annexed early next session.
Player borders in 1424
Stats and save for the session
This session was relatively bland on gameplay mechanics, thanks to Ottomans starting with nearly everything you could ask for. Hopefully future sessions should pick those up further in terms of what to build, etc. I’ll also try to remember to take more and better screenshots, especially in wartime. Once again, this is an experiment and I look forward to any feedback and criticism people have!