• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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I've been reading through alot of the threads in the forums and through a few AARs lately...And I've gleaned a few new play styles and strategies. I also figure with all the forum traffic there have to be more than a few of us neophytes fighting our way through a game arguably based on our second worst subject after Math.

Instead of the usual trial and error, I thought maybe I can try an AAR... that way I can get input along the way, and others can use it to learn too...

So here goes. A learning AAR... " A shot of (at) tAquileia"

So why Aquileia? In short it presents a few unique challenges that fit like a glove with the strategies and styles I want to learn to use. It has 3 major differences from the average 2 or 3 province minor.

1st: No RM's. That means no Diplo-Annex, at least not the easy kind. For me specifically, it means no crutch. It was always a priority to get at least one minor incorporated ASAP. That won't be the case this time.

2nd: No Army. Aquileia has almost NO manpower. It will be a total departure from SOP concerning NI's and relations with other nations, particularly Big Boys like Austria and France.

3rd: No owned COT, no tax income and an initial production income of .2 ducats thanks to a PE of 17%. That's with 2 Gold mines folks...

I have played and documented the first 80 years already, and will be posting these as the server permits... After that I will be asking for input/suggestions before I continue.

Comments are always welcome. I do ask if you want to debate a topic of interest you start a separate thread for it. Please feel free to link to it from here.

Just as a side note: I have previously started this map twice before. In the first two, 1 was unsuccessful and 1 was OK. I did this to get a feel for what I was in for and to enable me to be a little familiar with the opening 30 to 40 years so I didn't end up with the shortest AAR in Paradox history... Both games were stopped then and not saved, so I couldn't use them to cheat should something go horribly wrong.

What follows is a shot at survival...

T
 

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The Opening Act:​

First off, The start parameters.

1399 start year, everything set to normal EXCEPT:

Spread of land and sea discoveries set to 100 years. I'm curious to see what happens to colonization...

No Lucky Nations. I don't know how far this will go, but I'm not sure I want to go all the way to the end here. It's more a survival test for the first 200 years for me. Depending on how it goes and whether there is interest will determine the ending time...

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Here is our start location, nestled in what is arguably one of the hotter spots on the map between the factions of Italy, Austria and Hungary and just to the NW of the Ottomans and Byzantines.

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If you get 5 advisers at game start, you are doing well. As you can see, we got some real "cherry" lads to get off the ground. I don't worry too much now. On Oct 14th 1400 we'll visit the job fair, and usually we can find a few decent helpers.

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The Opening Act... Cont...

A shot at the financials... 2 things are priority, Stab and the first NI. It's a toss up between the two, but I choose to get Govt tech going, as my Stab cost is a whopping 107...

After the year is up, nothing really changes except I get new advisers. I forgot the screen shot, but we now have a few good discipline and force limit guys, as well as a Stab guy to get us going.

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Bohemia is the HRE... until this. I would have liked to get allied with him as a hedge against Austria. One thing to note early on is alliances with anyone of consequence are few and far between. Even if you get a lucky alliance, you'll be hard pressed to get anything out of the war before they declare peace on you.

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Because of this, everything I do will be geared towards ManPower (MP) and ForceLimits (FLs)...

I guess it's a good time to settle on some early strategy and short term goals.

Trade is the first option to consider... It will net some nice coin if I can gear up for it, but it's a long haul to get there. I will not pursue a trader strategy for a few reasons. The biggest is the fact that even with a compete chance adviser and NI the highest you'll get is a 50-60% chance on placement. Venezia is 5d merchant and a quick turnaround, so I do send 5 there but after that it's alot of ducats for alot of tries to get anything going. I went this route in the first 2 attempts, as some of the early missions are COT placement, but I went broke trying to get there. With a huge prestige boost you may be successful, but getting high without an army means burning your first NI on Patron of the Arts and trying to bribe cardinals. Realistically, trade will be a factor later on, but for right now you just don't have the cash to burn.

I WILL however pursue setting up a COT. Venezia is over the 400d threshold, so all I need is the 500d to get it going. I will put it in Istria... why? I have a Capital, 2 gold provinces and a duck. By putting the COT there I have 4 good provinces all turning good coin. It also ticks off Venice if you put it too close to them. It ticks them off ALOT. I don't want the five merchants I have there being embargoed, and I don't want relations with Venice to deteriorate. They are one chance at an ally down the road, at least for a short time until I can build up.
 

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Looking at the map this looks like one game that Hungary won't be a power house. Bohemia was able to retain itself, although Cleves took the HRE. Milan is being a pain, but that's a good thing... for me anyways.

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The easier path to expansion lies east and south... I will attempt to pick off a province or two anytime there is an opportunity. If I can annex I will, up to around 20 BB but no higher. Depending on timing, I may have to sacrifice advisers to pick up those lovely BB reducing guys but that's the way it'll have to be for awhile. I need MP and I need FLs...

WE will be an issue. I'll spend alot of time at home hanging out to try to keep it down a little as I go. I'll also drag wars out a bit when I can. The lands to the east like to revolt alot, and I am hoping to use that to my advantage.

This is one of the first 3 or 4 missions every time. It's not difficult, but there's a quirk here...

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It says 99%... that means within 1% of my naval FL... except that it uses your LAND FL when it checks the mission. One game I had a 7 FL for naval and an 18 for land. I had to make 18 ships to get the mission gone...

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During the last 10 years I have been quietly building up my forces and raising my MP anyway I could. I got a Sheriff which was a nice boost on the Income front. I ran at max tax for 2 years, took out 2 loans and got the COT on Istria.

With initial slider settings, my manpower was just over a thousand. With the adviser help you can see I have almost doubled the cap, but the paltry 88 men a month makes fighting a dicey proposition at best. You simply don't get reinforced, it's like having your own Mercs... The cost of all these guys is hard
to balance too. I know I'm slipping in tech a little, but until I can catch a break It's the tightrope between going broke or getting eaten as someone's lunch...

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My first NI comes through and I choose Grand Army... yes, you read that right, Grand Army. It buys me 4K in FL, which cuts my maintenance by 3 ducats a year. Seeing is I make 4d in taxes a year, the 5% would be .2d. I could have taken compete chance, but I'm currently at 30% now, so the 10% wouldn't make for a reasonable compete chance... That 4d will allow me to carry another 5K men too, which I sorely need to maintain my world as an independent entity.

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Lady Luck smiles down on me, and my fortunes turn for the better. After 20 years of button pushing, a ray of hope shines down upon Aquileia when Bosnian rebels form their very own state. I quickly ask for and receive Military access from Hungary, who has rebounded quite well as you can see, and they
agree. I position my men for an assault and check for any alliances hoping I get to her before she has the chance to make any.

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As a side note, you can see I have managed to get some trade going... 3 merchant missions have come and gone. While one has to do something during these tedious times, the 50d you get for completing the mission pales to the hundreds spent getting them done...
 

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I get there too late. Bosnia has allied herself to the Ottomans of all people. This is a GREAT thing for me however. I am currently allied with the Byzantines... and by DoW-ing the Otts I get NO hits, Stab or otherwise.

First Check box on the newly learned stuff too, thanks to the Mantua WC thread...

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I DoW the Otts and take Bosnia quickly, Annexing it right away to get the MP and FL boost. Though the province is compromised a bit, No connection, different religion etc... it's still a helper to me at this stage in the game.

It also sets in motion the next target strategy wise... The triumvirate of Croatia, Slavonia and Osjtek... The thought of taking on Hungary isn't a bad one, it's the fact that they are allied with everybody and their uncle and are guaranteed by Bohemia (with 33K troops) that keep me from springing into action. I also need some time to heal up. My Paltry 88 troops a month just doesn't go very far when you need over 6K on the lines.

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One thing that bugs me is that I'm Chicken. I tried to correct that in the game I lost... but I still need to get to the point I can take on a country at or just over my size. I decide to let the Otts and their allies stay on the hook, taking the chance they put something together and come north. They give the Byzantines fits, but after a time the rebel cracks begin to show... It won't be long now. I expect the peace demands to start any time now.

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The Byzantines get bit first as Morea is raised from the ashes...

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Sure as shootin' as the year begins anew, the demands start to roll in. Of course I say No. I don't EVER pay for peace unless I absolutely have to.

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The Italian provinces strive to "just get along"... Truth is, Milan has been a real Bad-A** this game. Got herself some good allies, taken a few odd provinces and feels pretty good 'bout herself. Venice, on the other hand, hasn't faired so well. Once she's lost all the islands to the south, I will really
start to see the target sign on her back pretty clearly.

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A few months go by and The Mamlucks are out of luck as the next contestants on "Let's Make A Peace Deal"... I send them away with a home version of the game, which they can't play unless they learn a new language. I'm so mean... I know...

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I check my WE just to make sure I won't run into extra trouble playing the waiting game. As you can see, it's a non factor. Quick in, no troops hanging out in low Support Limit provinces... I can wait all day at this point. The Otts have taken care of business, reclaiming their lost territory, but I feel they are getting close to the limit now too...

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A double edge sword happens while I wait. Good for me in that I have a troop superiority over my eastern "friends", but bad in that rebels that pop in my provinces will be armed to the teeth. I'll begin to adjust my troops now to keep them close, but not in high RR provinces. Nothing worse than 12K popping up and taking your 6K by surprise and wiping them out before the 5 days is up.

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The Ottomans also get a copy of the home game... but the fact they're asking makes it close at hand.

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Another year comes to a close, and I'm waiting still. My WE remains at zero, theirs is still climbing... I find it appropriate and funny that the 25th picture comes in December...

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It's not exactly Christmas in July, but I'll take it. Now I can start moving my troops around, get healed up and work my way into the next expansion phase.

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Again, fortune shines upon Aquileia, as Bohemia calls upon our help against Venice and Hungary... who are allied!!! Oh happy day as I pop into Treviso and Venezia like locusts, wiping their 4K contingent from the map in a few ping pongs. My goal is Treviso... Ultimately, Venezia too, but as the capital it will have to wait until the lower islands are gone. I don't think the ink was dry on the treaty of alliance before they called us in, but I have my chance to grab Croatia and get out... but only if I can get there before Bohemia bails out.

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I try for peace with Venice 3 times, just for Treviso... but they deny me. I manage to grab Croatia and frantically send a diplomat to Hungary so I can keep the bridge to Bosnia open. I ask for Croatia AND Treviso, along with a little coin... and get it. Take that Venice... As an added bonus, Hum gets taken in a separate conflict, and WE rebels form Ragusa. Once the dust settles and I get some BB out of the way I now have my next targets... All of this happens a month before Bohemia takes a goodly chunk of Hungary, whom I don't see getting very far now. If I can grab a few provinces from Hungary before they go down, it will be a nice bonus.

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I don't know if I could have scripted it better... but rebels pop out of the Ottoman empire and take control of Hum, re-spawning Bosnia. For the last 7 years I have been stocking men, healing WE and BB... I am close to ready, but this is too good to pass up. It costs me 3 Stab, but they have no allies and are not guaranteed... It's a quick annex in the making that brings another 400 MP and another 2 FL support.

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The siege goes smoothly with few repercussions. Venice and I have a love hate thing going... We've been allies almost the whole game, with mutual access, yet I am embargoed by them and we've fought against each other... but never together as allies. Kind of funny, seeing his troops wander around, but it won't be long until I won't have to worry any more about them at all.

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The annex goes smoothly, and my MP and FLs grow... I am able to keep to within a third of the Austrians forces, and even with the Ottomans. Not bad so far. If I ever do this again, I want to try to be a little more aggressive, but that's another day.

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Advisers are dying, and I've had to try to keep things in check, but now my BB is getting up there, so I strike preemptively to keep it going in a generally downwards fashion...

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As usual, the new advisers coming in are fairly useless. It isn't as critical now, as I am closing in on my 2nd NI, and my FLs and MP are growing with the new acquisitions. Soon I'll be able to get workshops going too, so the dependence on advisers will diminish enabling me to focus on advisers with extras should they come along.

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So... Ragusa, Serbia, Zeta... where to go... In checking I found that Ragusa had the least amount of entanglement, being allied to Serbia on the SE. This was good, as they had been having some rebel issues and had few men to worry about. As an added bonus, the were being Guaranteed by Montenegro,
the current occupier of Zeta. If I was going to make a play, this was the one. My only concern was my BB... but I wanted to get this going now before the alliances started flying or the Ottomans got antsy and took them from me, or worse yet wanted to take me down.

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A quick check reveals I'm at 7 BB now... add 1 for the Dow that's 8. We'll play it by ear and see how much we can get away with. WE will be going up too as I enter enemy territory. I also have to raise war taxes and take some inflation in case it goes south and I need Mercs...

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I take on another BB adviser in preparation for the festivities...

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A quick shot showing the MP situation. I'm carrying 27K right now, with almost 5K in reserve. They'll go fast if I get any kind of resistance. The nice part is my 200 a month... it might seem like much, but compared to the 88 we were getting... It also means once my MP goes out, I'll get 400 or so a month to the front for awhile. Those men may be critical indeed.

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Just as I'm about to pull the trigger, our old friend reminds us of why I carry so many men...

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Then, in true EU3 fashion comes another insult to injury. My plans take a back seat on a wing and a prayer... I have to keep these guys happy. If I don't, there's no one to keep the Otts busy while I dissect the lands just to the north. Hopefully I can get out of it fairly quickly...

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This is a bit of a shock, actually. It does say something about where I'm at... and I may be able to get all of us out of this war sooner rather than later. I had no thoughts of leading anything for quite some time...

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I do get out pretty quickly, and turn right around and DoW Ragusa. My allies come to my aid but it's over before it starts. I annex Ragusa and Serbia, but my BB is dangerously high, so I vassalize Montenegro. Not what I wanted, but at least I can get some coin out of it. I'll also leave them alone... If rebels pop in they may cause the country to just disappear on it's own. My MP and FLs are again on the upswing, and I take another "BB King" to help get me back under control.

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A rather bad 16+ BB... If I had annexed Zeta, I would have added 7 more, 5 for the annex and 2 for the province... at 23+ out of 28, the revolts alone would kill me due to the risk increase. As it is, I expect alot of rebel yells for awhile...

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War weariness remains in check though at 4.03... Not great but not bad considering. I will be pulling my troops back into the provinces with minimal risk, using my 12K cavalry stack to swoop in on rebels and my 10K infantry to the adjacent province to keep them going far when they run. Usually 2 or 3
ping-pongs and they're done.

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My manpower is starting to approach a usable number. The 5700 max lets me have a few battles with reinforcements, and the 241 is three times where I started. By far not great numbers at all, but significantly better than what we had. You can see I also burned a slider move on getting rid of one of my negative modifiers. One caveat to this government form is only 16 years between changes... It basically means I get an extra move per 100 years or so. Again, not so big... but when you're this small, it's huge.

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I start spreading the faith and healing up the troops, the BB and the WE. I also consider the next move. There are 2 I want to get done, and they depend on what happens in the world around me. I will encourage revolts in Dalmatia... If I can get it to spawn another state I can take it and annex it. I
also want Venice gone. They have been a royal pain, and I want the COT badly. The income will be such a help in supporting the poor eastern provinces. Right now, Stability is actually a problem. I have traded off the Stab hits for the spy costs of fabricating claims. I can get it back by minting a ton within a year, but the inflation is creeping steadily...

I am basically waiting for the lands to the south controlled by Venice to fall. Crete has already formed, so there's only 2 left. Once they're alone up top, I'll annex them.

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Curve Balls can be annoying... you know? I turn my back for a minute and somehow Genoa sneaks in and takes my vassal without a word of it popping up to me. Turns out, those rebel guys changed it to another state that lasted a few months independently... Now I'll have to find out how to get in against Genoa through the back door so I can take Zeta off their hands. Short term I lose the vassal cash, but long term it's much better this way... no diplo BS to get the province.

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The Ottomans relieve Venice of their last island, and I am on it... I just got back to 3 Stab, so at least I won't go negative. And that curve ball missed the outside corner and I walked in from 3rd base. "Huh" you say??? Check out who's guaranteeing Venice... Our old pal Genoa. It's a Two for one sale in the
province department, one day only !!!

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Success rules the day... some ping-ponging happened, but no worries as I wrap up the peace deal netting Zeta and annexing Venezia. I was allied with Burgundy, and they had taken Luguria and Corsica. I made Genoa give up Corsica as a nation in the peace. Another ally, though small. Nice part is it's an Island... Makes enemies burn a little extra, keeps them off my back. Also makes me part of that alliance that's just a bit bigger now...

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Manpower again jumps nicely. My ceiling goes up 2K and I get 324 a month now. Getting there slowly but surely. Another bonus as rebels that spawned in Hum decide to retreat to Dalmatia... Bohemia has since taken more Hungarian provinces. Pretty good since Hungary is guaranteed by none other than... Bohemia. Sounds like they want everyone else to keep off the grass.

The Ottomans have also been busy... It won't be long before the East and West clash in the All-Star game. I'm hoping to get Dalmatia squared away before then.

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My BB is really near the top as far as I like it to be. I don't like to go over 20... so taking Dalmatia may be one of those "hurry up and wait" deals. I figure I need to lose 7 BB to get it annexed under the cap. I can only hope it works out that way.

I continue to build military numbers. Even though I try to keep within 5 of the FL it IS a drain on the economy. Venezia helps alot though, almost making up for the added tech costs by itself. Missionaries continue their work and I go back into waiting mode, focusing on Stab, Production Tech and Government level 9 for another Idea.

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I've managed to keep my WE reasonable throughout. As you can see, I did take a little attrition. It's what happens when you have too many men in Zeta when you make peace... Something I learned in the Mantua WC AAR too. I have to watch that more closely. While not a big deal now, it could be
catastrophic at the wrong time.

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Even after all of this, my poor country makes a whopping 30d a month. Inflation is becoming an issue, currently at 26%. I figure I'll be between 40% and 50% by the time I reach the buildings that will help. Until then, I'll start looking for advisers to help short term. I don't know if I'll burn an NI on though Over the next 50 years I'll start to see some cores and have workshops which will allow me to run lower inflation numbers. The fact I have Gold mines doesn't help, but as long as I can continue building infrastructure and income, inflation will become less and less of an issue. I'd much rather put my NI to use as a MP boost or as a revolt reducer. As I expand East, the heretics and
heathens will bring me down a heck of alot faster than inflation.

A nice plus... I am getting 2.5 from PE now vs the .2 I started with... Not a big deal, but it's starting to help...

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Taking Venice also gives me something to do with my merchants. Remember what I was saying about competing %? I have no chance of effectively trading right now... I would need 5 slider moves, an NI and a rockin' adviser or 3 to get near a decent number. Considering it's 8d to send a merchant at the
cheapest, I can burn through 40-60d a year just trying to break into one COT. Then I have to keep them there. I got better things to do with the coin.

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So... things are going OK until my old pal from Burgundy calls me up and says, "So, I'm going to, like, um... DoW Austria. No big deal. Just wanna take a province or two, y'know..."

I respond:"Um, you do know they are the HRE now... with like 47K manpower, right?"

"Oh yea, we know. We'll be fine. You just be there, K?"

So, off I go. Here's where I had a chance to do the new thing, but didn't. I got caught and reacted before thinking it through. Instead of pulling back and letting them come to me, I went to them. Well, actually, they left to go after Burgundy and I snuck in behind... Good plan, right? WRONG. Look at where I am. I'm not VISA... I'm not everywhere I am supposed to be. And my back door is wide open.

Fact is, I get lucky... I take a few provinces and get the heck out with a white peace and get my boys HOME. During the course of the war, my WE skyrockets and my MP plummets. This while Austria makes 15K troops DURING the fight... Stupid. I should have stayed home, laid low and them come in to
siege. I did do this in a few of their provinces with decent success, but i think I went too early... they still had morale to burn.

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After that fiasco, the little province that could reincarnated Ragusa... I decided the WE was the price I had to pay, I had to get it done so I jumped before they formed any of those entanglements that make life difficult. All went very well, and I had another province to help me feel better. I had enough BB to make it under my self imposed cap, so I pulled the trigger. Another drop in the bucket to call home...

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So, here I now stand... 20 years shy of a hundred even. Government Tech 9 has just come through, and I think about what NI to go for next.

I have the national decision to pass the press act, though personally I think it to be one of the worst decisions you could make. Not only are the consequences bad, but the 2 slider moves are both the wrong way from where I'd like to go.

I REALLY wish there were a way to defer or eliminate decisions on both the national and provincial

levels. I never build embassies, so the icon for province decisions is always there. I have to go through all the windows every few months to find out if anything new is there... It's a serious pain in the you know what.

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A last look at where I am before I continue. At this point I feel I'm at a rather critical juncture. The diplomatic conditions put me at odds with both Austria and the Ottomans. Burgundy and Naples are my allies, no vassals are involved.

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I'd be interested to hear any thoughts on course of action before I continue... NI suggestions, whose next on the hit parade...

What would you do???

T