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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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First Lieutenant
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Im with Seelmeister here! If austria splits its stacks, you still stand a good chance of dealing immense damage to their war effort.

I found, everytime you steal a satelites army, they start rebuilding. Then at the end of the war, they have a bigger army. Next time, steal it all again, they build more and BOOM even bigger army still for the taking!

Perhaps a bit 'gamey' but might turn the tide in your favor
 

Voffvoffhunden

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Yeah, for some reason I've only occasionally used expeditionary forces before, but I am definitely starting to see a lot of value in them in all sorts of ways, even ignoring the whole "saving the country"-aspect!
 

Voffvoffhunden

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Chapter 4: Battle of the Alps

I could kiss Saxony right know, if the manifestation of their state hadn’t been a row of vines. Of course, my troubles aren’t over, but that insignificant satellite once again becomes my saviour, simply by standing still and refusing to sacrifice their men for my cause. Until I order them, of course.

I take a couple of weeks to regroup. Austria reclaims more lands, but I desperately need the morale boost. Eventually I form up, and start retaking retaken territory. It goes as it has to, and I end up engaging with the massive Austrian army. Only this time I’ve had time to prepare, and I have 20,000 fresh troops joining the fray! Unfortunately…


…the screenshot I took doesn’t actually show them. They are the ones who just used MttSoG. My army should show up as almost 20,000 men stronger than theirs, but you will have to take my word for it. When I think about it, it was an amazing battle. I’m willing to bet it’s one of the most decisive ones ever fought on European soil. Man, you should have been there.

The outcome of the battle was twofold: his army split back into their constituent parts, leaving 25,000 men in Iglau, while marching the other remaining half off to Trebitsch. They are summarily rounded up and dismantled. Suddenly I am on the offensive again, and it is a blast!

The army in Iglau is eventually forced to launch an assault, and I get rid of them as well, freeing me up to occupy more and more areas. My force in the south is now busy taking on several small recently recruited armies walking blindly around, and soon the same phenomenon pops up in the north as well. I am actually relieved, as the almost fifteen small battles I fight accounts for a large portion of Austria’s recent drop in manpower.






I am calmly and collectedly besieging forts, eradicating small troops, and having an excellent autumn. Austria’s little guerrilla-effort is little cause for alarm. But then winter grips my heart. I realise that the brigades have all been moving towards a specific goal: luring me into a false sense of security.


They are planning something. I send another 15,000 men to help out my southern force. It will pit even numbers against each other, and by this point I am confident my superior leaders and hardy troops can pull that off against my weakling enemy.

Of course, my weakling enemy still has a 100% war capacity, and by the time my southern reinforcements are even halfway to Ragusa, the enemy army is more than 30,000 strong. I begin to worry, and send some more forces. 35,000. 40,000. I am completely unable to halt the inexorable resurrection of the Austrian army!


I decide to commit to this. All my armies leave whatever fort they are besieging behind, and storm south as fast as their supply trains manage. I cannot afford to lose a single battle more! My small armies in the south move around to escape from the now 50,000 strong Austrian army. It’s like watching a dance. I would have dispersed completely, but if I lose sight of that mass of people I’m done for. My men need to stay close, both to them and to each other.

Then, just as new year passes and we enter the year of our lord Eighteen-seventeen, the Austrian army is on to my plans. It does one of the worst things it could have. It marches northwards, to meet the relief force. I want to scream. I had them just where I needed! I was going to keep them in place, and then overwhelm them! If they get to face a single one of my armies on its own, it’s over and out for Prussia. It is a 60,000 strong force that marches towards my relief-force half that size, and my southern armies pursue as closely as they dare. Maybe I can still sort this out. But then something strange happens:


That area I can’t see? That’s where the other 50,000 Austrians decided to spend their winter. Of course, as I can’t see it I can’t tell where they are going, but they even detached 10,000 men to avoid crossing the supply limit! The Alps aren’t friendly to an army in February. At least it gives me time to join up my forces. The ones you see in the picture? That’s all of them. Saxony and all. Manpower: 81.

But by splitting their army, Austria has left me with a chance. I leave Linz, and the 10,000 men in supply fall straight in my trap. They approach the fort on the same day all of my forces rush back in. To make matters better, the Austrian forces are moving in, but far too slow!


The army arrives from the mountains just as my men get ready for a new fight. Neither army stands a chance, and Austria’s last forces are defeated!


I have to slow down for a little while, as I simply cannot believe how incredibly lucky I was. If Austria hadn’t marched up into the Alps and split their forces, I wouldn’t have stood a chance! Maybe it had something to do with the supply limit. Maybe they hoped they could do something with the army garrisoned in Wien. No matter, what absolutely has to be the final battle of Austria has been fought, and it has been won! The Austrian manpower pool has increased, which means they don’t seem to be planning another strike against me.

Of course, I stay on my toes – the last time I put my whole foot down I stepped on an Austrian sword – but I feel a lot safer now. Austria would only accept peace if I gave them 25 ducats, but there are only a few small armies marching around, and I besiege a lot more towns and fortresses as I wait for this to happen:


The siege of Wien is won, and two full, long years after the beginning of the war, Austria accepts my peace offer unconditionally.


I force them to release the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, because they get one of my dominance objectives. I make them transfer the HRE to me, because Saxony has proven the worth of satellites. Also, dominance. I take Karlsbad, because maaan, that fortress is a pain. I would have liked Königgrätz, but it still hadn’t fallen, and I wanted peace immediately. I take Innsbruck, so that if Austria goes to war again anytime soon, I can worry less about supply limits in the Alps (I heard somewhere it could cost you an entire war). I take Pilsen because it’s cheap in warscore, but provides a lot of manpower. And finally I take as many ducats as my leftover score allows. This war has cost me far more than that, but finally I am at peace. Nothing can ruin this moment.


Next time:
 

unmerged(703992)

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This is great reading, thank you for sharing it with us.
I hope it's Sweden or maybe Denmark, but I suspect the Russian bear has decided to pounce, good luck whoever it is
 

Voffvoffhunden

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Interlude: Peace and War

Peace has come at last. I take a deep breath. A lot of men have suffered in the struggle against Austria, but Prussia has emerged victorious.

I have gained everything I ever stood to gain from Austria, what with one domination objective being in the hands of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, and the other being held by my new lapdog, the HRE. If Austria knows what’s best for it, we will never have to go to war again.

Actually, looking at the state of my country, I wouldn’t mind never going to war again at all. Of course, I know that cannot be. My first course of action is to spend the money I plundered from Wien on a civilised development in Warshau, my second biggest manpower-provider. My armies are in tatters, and I need men any way I can. Similarly, I build depots in any area that provides more than a 1,000 men, including the ones I just took from the Austrians. Their culture groups are Saxon and Czech respectively, so I’m not too worried about their loyalty to their former empire.

Then I look to my right:


I look to my left:


I have a sneaking suspicion that one of these states, locked in deadly battle with each other, will declare war if I don’t do anything soon. From a different life, I know that particularly Russia is fairly trigger-happy when it comes to its P-endowed neighbour.

I have two options. I can ally myself with Great Britain, and by extension, Russia, or I can ally myself with France, and hope that their forces are enough to repel the Russian ones. I have a mad vision of the French winning my war on my soil with my armies hanging back, recuperating, and before I know it, I’ve made a decision.


In a moment, my relations to both countries are close to zero, but with Britain the only negative one. I give it a week, and suddenly France would like my help. In exchange for a LOT of money.


War's pretty expensive. Even when you don't intend to fight it.
The Anti-French coalition responds in a surprising fashion.


I figure, why play favourites? At least it doesn’t seem like they’re going to declare war, and for some reason it doesn’t seem as though France is going to call me into their war either. Everything’s coming up Prussia!

Then something strange happens.


Britain and France are jockeying for whether my relationship with Britain should turn into a serious commitment or all-out war. And despite these modifiers, I am back to having a positive relation to them!

I check. Yup. I am no longer in the French coalition. At least Russia is still unwilling to declare war, now that they’re marching hundreds of thousands of soldiers through my territory on their way to be brutally defeated in France. Hey!


I also notice that France isn’t doing too well in their German territory, but I’m not taking that as a sign of weakness. Both the Netherlands and the French home territory remains unmolested.


Even if war is raging around me – or especially because of it – my manpower is not returning swiftly enough. It will be two full years until I am completely replenished, and that’s two years I simply cannot afford. I have three standing armies at the moment, two around 20,000 men, and one below 10,000. I disband the smallest one to support the biggest. It helps a lot. I also go through the brigades I’ve got, and disband any that has less than a hundred men.

If war came tomorrow, I’d rather have a small, fully supplied army, than a large, half-full one.


The Elbe Armee, or as I like to call them, the 23rd Homecomers.​

Half a year after the end of the war with Austria, I am still at peace, despite not being in any coalition. I thank the gods. Britain has kept on increasing our relations, and France has kept on staging coups to break them down. You’d think that when Prussia is seen as the perpetrator trying to overthrow their government every other month, it would have long-lasting political consequences, but they are still more than eager to please.

In February 1808, I get a new idea, and it’s one I sorely need: Prussian Military Academy! Yes, it has a lot of neat effects, but the one that matters? +25% manpower modifier. With the Academy in place, there’s just half a year left until I am fully stocked. Phew!

I spend the time trying to improve my relations with Russia. I’ve somehow ended up being the most prestigious nation in the world, so I’ve got plenty prestige to spare even when I get on my knees to beg Russia not to attack me.


By November, I have turned my manpower-situation around, and I can start building more units for my armies. The first thing I need is more cavalry, and more light infantry. Everything else I still have in adequate, if not good, supply.

Going into 1809, enough time has passed that I get a new national idea. Of course I pick Prussian Education System. It will guarantee me a new idea every 8 months. Even more often if I fight a lot. And as I said in an earlier chapter, I don’t intend to lose ANY battles (no need to worry about those I’ve lost already).

France and Britain still hasn’t settled their war of Prussian relations by June. I find that highly comforting. However, now that I have a functional army again, I need to look beyond my borders.


And Europe thought Prussia dormant...​

I only need one more land Domination Objective, but I need several naval ones. I could storm into Denmark and Bavaria, both guaranteed by France, while taking the naval provinces I need from Denmark and France. The downside is that I would need an immense army to defend myself while doing so, not to mention a massive fleet to knock Britain off the top naval spot.

If it could be done, this war would be over in a year. But I have doubts. Doubts as in France has six times the army I have, and so many nations on their side that I would have no chance of settling peace. That plan would have me embroiled in a war against both the French and the British coalition at the same time.

I can feel Russia shaking its head at my insolence.

No, I will have to take my objectives piecemeal, while staying friends with France. And that begins in Malmö…


Hello, Kingdom of "I Have No Allies" Sweden.​

I hover over the declare war button. Even if they have better ships, I have a fleet as large as they do. I can ferry people across, and fell the country in a single strike. Yes, that is how it should be done. Prussia and Sweden, facing off in an undisturbed struggle over the southern tip. It shall be a glorious campaign, where we break the Swedish Empire once and for all! A beautifully executed, flawless-


Oh, come on!​

Someone clearly didn't learn their lesson in that war they nearly won.

Next time: Putting the cows out to pasture
 

Seelmeister

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Clearly the Austrians still fancy their chances. Did you actually declare war against Sweden, or do you only face the Austrian's just now?

You may have taken all your dominance objectives, but there are plenty of towns which can boost your manpower. If you want the Austrian's off your back, you're going to have to really cripple them in this war, and leave them as a second rate power who cannot raise enough forces to challenge you again.

In terms of next moves, I'd recommend an attack on Bavaria. They tend to often be guaranteed by Austria, so while you have a truce with them you can isolate them. They are the largest of the German minors, and will require two wars to annex, but they are worth it as Munich is a dominance objective and has a very high manpower value. Keep checking to see whether that French guarantee has expired!
 

Voffvoffhunden

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Only war with Austria for now! And yes, last time clearly wasn't enough to break them, so the plan this time is an absolutely devastating victory (isn't it always). If I have to I'll strip away another 100 warscore worth of provinces again.

When it comes to Bavaria, it would be an amazing asset, but it'll be all about that French guarantee. It seems as though the coalition war is going nowhere, but if Britain and Russia were to get the upper hand...
 

Voffvoffhunden

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Chapter 5: Austrian Offensive

I have just reached a point where I am confident about a war again, and so has Austria. I was even so sure I have started bolstering the ranks of my armies with more guards! The fools to my south will quickly learn that the one chance they had slipped through their fingers at Bad Ischl two years ago.


Sweden remains unmolested to my north, apart from a war against Denmark. For a brief moment I am worried that France or Spain, Denmark’s guarantors will reach them, but the two great powers seem busy with Britain and Russia. Perfect.


In a matter of weeks, I win a number of border skirmishes. Things are going very well until Austria starts gathering their army into a single great force. This time I know how to react, however. I respond in kind, and while the Austrians initially outnumber me, I pull the good old ace from my sleeve: Saxon expeditionary force.
With some swift manoeuvring their army is utterly crushed.


Since I don’t really want anything else from Austria, I send them an offer of white peace, but with tons of manpower remaining, they ignore it. I will have to teach them this lesson the hard way.

With my manpower – desperately needed for more guard troops – quickly dwindling, I return the expeditionary force to Saxony, leaving them to sort out the reinforcement. Maybe they’ll be done by the time I need them again.

I say that, because around me a familiar picture is taking shape.


Once again Austria is trying to rebuild its grand army. There were two reasons that worked last time. One was the fact that my forces were utterly drained, the other was that it took me by surprise. Not this time. This is the Napoleonic Wars. You learn from your mistakes, or you’re grinded into dust.

I divide my armies into two groups of two, one group responsible for besieging fortresses, the other group responsible for mopping up any single-brigade armies they come across, as well as assaulting undefended towns. Which makes it less of an assault and more of a "walk through the gates while waving guns around," really. Helping this is a single cavalry brigade under the command of Mad Gustaf, running around scouting, ensuring that I am not surprised by any Austrian horror-stacks.


The beginnings of one of them. It won’t last long.​

While there are pockets of greater resistance, this setup allows me to take most of Western Austria with next to no casualties. In a matter of months, carrying into 1810, Wien has fallen. Austria finally wants a white peace, and my king replies, verbatim, "as if." A few more weeks, and Pest is taken as well. Austria is ready for complete capitulation.


I'm not quite done, though. The Austrian fleet has finally made its way to the Baltic Sea, but their few paltry ships are no match for the now (semi-)grand Prussian Navy. In return, my troops have reached the Austrian seaboard, occupying town after town after town. Soon my warscore ticks over a hundred, and I am ready to make my demands, for the glory of the Prussian Army. Or nation, whatever.

I make it simple: I take every piece of land from our border all the way to Wien.


This achieves a few things. Mainly, it cripples any future Austrian war effort by depriving them of some immensely manpower-generating towns. I am hoping Austria never recovers. Consequently, it gives my own manpower-production a nice boost. I also hope that the loss of land convinces some of Austria’s enemies (HELLO OTTOMANS) that they are ripe for the taking, making them suffer at the hands of someone who doesn’t have better things to do, unlike me. Finally, and hopefully irrelevantly, if Austria were to declare war on me at an inopportune time, such as while my armies are being pummelled by the Russians, I know have a large swathe of land to potentially appease them with. Not that I ever would do anything to appease the filthy Austrians, but you know… Russian campaigns make beggars of us all.

Next time: Sweden at last
 

EUTony

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I don't own MotE (no Mac version :( ), but I'd just like to say that this is a great AAR. The Swedes won't stand a chance.

Prussia is my favorite nation (?) to play with in Paradox games ever since my Brandenburg -> Prussia -> Germany -> HRE game in EU3.
 

Seelmeister

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Excellent, control of so many Austrian towns will boost your manpower, and in the event of another attack you are well poised to rapidly rack up some war score around Vienna. How is the manpower at the end of the war? Hopefully now you will be offered the space to get started on your planned action in Sweden.
 

Voffvoffhunden

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How is the manpower at the end of the war? Hopefully now you will be offered the space to get started on your planned action in Sweden.
The manpower pool is close to empty, but thankfully there are next to no reinforcements that haven't already been sent out, which means that I'm refilling it from day one of peace! And speaking of Sweden, it is soon going to become clear that Prussia isn't the only nation that has been struggling with manpower...
 

Voffvoffhunden

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Chapter 6: Prussia Rising

Now, where was I before that awful Austrian intervention? Oh, right, war against Sweden!


The first thing that happens, however, is that Austria asks me for military access. I pause for a second, but then figure “why not.” I’ve got so much of their land, they’d probably need the access to move out of their recruitment offices anyways.

A quick glance at the ledger shows me that after a number of wars against Denmark (and presumably some allies) Sweden is no longer what it once was.


I spy with my little eye… A severely weakened great power.
Yes, it’s Sweden.​

All my armies get into position, and I finally get around to sending that declaration of war I planned for last summer.
Summer, huh. I guess I should have thought about the time of year before doing something outrageous like planning a heavy military campaign in Northern Europe while my manpower is still on uneven footing.


Oh well. Nothing to do but take it like a Prussian.​

I have a three-pronged plan. The left point of the trident marches through Denmark to occupy Swedish Odense (from an earlier war against the Danish), one army is shipped across to Malmö, while another is shipped over to Karlskrona. Finally, my last army marches into Stralsund. To, uh, form the base of the trident. Oh shut up, it’s difficult to make this metaphor work.


I forgot to take an elegant “after” picture, so enjoy this “before.”​

The Swedish fleet, once the terror of the Baltic, has been severely damaged in its repeated fights against Danish and Spanish ships. That means my grand armies are unmolested in the traversal on my grand fleet. Similarly, once Odense falls, it’s easy to move my ships from blockading to transporting a final army across to the Swedish mainland.

Already before New Years the Odense-army makes “the Christmas March on Stockholm,” arriving December 24th. Meanwhile, the winter is as harsh as I feared. With the cold winds from the Öresund whipping across the forces camping outside the walls of Malmö, they suffer immense attrition.


I could have lived without this.


It’s not until mid-January Karlskrona falls, and the forces there are able to break their camp, wearily marching towards what they hope will be a more welcoming inland. As they arrive in Jönköping, they are horrified to discover that what they had seen was far from the worst of it. As they assault the town, they find civilians lying face down in the snow, frozen stiff. Soldiers are walking barefoot in their undergarments, boots and coats given to their family in the hopes that they will make it through the winter alive. The Swedish War Exhaustion is abysmal.

That goes a long way to explain how I have managed to occupy a third of their country without meeting opposition, as their only army seems to be the one still besieging Kobenhavn. That gives me a thought. I desperately want Denmark, but I don’t want to end up in a war against France. If Sweden were to vassalise them, however… That’s why I decide to let the Swedish army in peace. Even if they’re not able to vassalise, they might take some provinces that will make it easier for me to vassalise them later.

Finally, Sweden is ready to accept peace, and I take no more than I need: Malmö for the domination objective, and Stralsund for… aesthetic purposes.


I ship every army except for the one in Malmö back to Prussia. I dub Malmö “New Prussia,” because let’s face it, Sweden is never getting that little piece of land back.


I don’t know. I don’t speak German.​

Looking out across the rest of Europe, I am pleased to see that France and Russia are still at it. On the other hand, I am disappointed that Sweden immediately settles a peace with Denmark. A white one. And Denmark is still guaranteed. Curses!

After half a year, my forces are back at full strength, and I’ve started producing guards again.
They are really effective once you get enough of them together with a nice mix of artillery, cavalry and inferiors. I mean infantry. My current army setup is kind of like the tacos of the Prussian army, where the guards are the meat, and the generals and flanks are the tortilla holding it all together, and the infantry is salad, and the artillery is the cheese, and I should never have started this metaphor. Back to conquest!

By taking a sneak peek in the ledger, I can see that France still has the most – and best – soldiers in the world, but both they and Russia have somewhat less than they used to. Indeed, Russia only has about 50,000 soldiers more than me. Of course, they also have a manpower of 300,000, but I’ve seen worse. At long last, I think I have made my choice.

So have they…


Next time: The Russian Mistake
 

Seelmeister

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It seems the Russian's have signalled their intent. Good work grabbing your naval dominance objective in the north, it seems that despite the season your losses were minimal.
 

Afaslizo

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Preußen is neutrum (das Preußen) thus it must read "Neues Preußen". Better would be "Neupreußen" though. Truth to be told both are ugly as the English manner to name places and towns "New . . ." is not that well translated to German and should be skipped alltogether. Swedish is very much alike to German anyway and Malmö is a perfectly fine name. ;)
 

Voffvoffhunden

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Preußen is neutrum (das Preußen) thus it must read "Neues Preußen". Better would be "Neupreußen" though.
Curse my lack of knowledge! I should have enacted "Prussian Education System" way earlier.

Maybe I'll find some new name for it. I'm not about to let those Swedes get the last word!
 

Voffvoffhunden

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Chapter 7: The Error of My Ways

Once again I am at peace! And as always, peace means production of new guard regiments! I want my armies to be well-balanced, which translates to somewhere around 50/50 between guards/not guards.

It’s not only me who has settled peace, however! The reason Russia no longer needs military access? The two grand coalitions have settled peace. That’s a bit of a shame, really. That war would have seen them get off my back for a while.


Try besting this one, you old bear!​

Well, if this is how things are, I better prepare to take on the Russian menace. With the exception of one army placed in my new Swedish territories, my forces assemble in the east. When they attack, I am going to fight them every step of the way while slowly retreating backwards, grinding them down while rarely attacking. It is the only way. I mean, the only country with an army size and manpower pool in the same league is France.


If they really want to, they have every right, I suppose…​

Which is why Algiers chooses to form its new coalition against Great Britain, rather than France. Why Algiers wants a coalition against them, I don’t know. But there they are! I say no thanks to an offer to join. I mean, I’m flattered, but nowhere near ready for a war against a great power.

What I am ready for is a war against a medium-sized power! No, Bavaria is still guaranteed by both France and Austria, but when it comes to Denmark, we have just entered open season.


O boy o boy o boy! I'm a kid on Christmas Day!​

I am almost ecstatic. Denmark holds no less than two of my naval objectives! One of them might be their capital, but we’ll jump that hurdle once we reach it. I move a single army west, while backing it up with my Sweden-based army. It’ll be enough to take on the broken remnants of Denmark. If I can, I want to vassalise them. If not, I want to hurt them bad enough that I can vassalise them next time. After all, I really need Kobenhavn.

War is declared even before I’ve reached them with the army marching from the east. I am not willing to wait for them to receive another French guarantee. I don’t know where their main fleet is, but the 5 ships situated around the sounds aren’t really enough to stop my troops from marching straight across into their capital. Similarly swift is my march onto their mainland. Fortress after fortress falls, some of them with horrifying numbers of casualties on the Danish side, without my troops taking a single loss.


Swoosh!​

By the time everything on the mainland is occupied, I am so unafraid of their fleet I send an army up to take their Norwegian territories. Akershus falls in days, but as I ship my troops down the coast, I suffer the only loss of the entire war: a naval battle takes me by surprise, and half my army goes down with their transports. CURSE YOU DENMARK! Don’t you realise my manpower is limited?


Hmm, I’ve never tried this army setup before…​

Thankfully, the Danish fleet is easily broken once my main strength of ships arrives, and my army continues on to Iceland. It marches in, and camps down to occupy. By the time Iceland is taken, Kobenhavn should be in Prussian hands as well, and I can take anything I want.

The only thing that could have ruined this moment was if Russia decided to attack, and even then I have my backup plans. Indeed, this has in many ways been an exemplary war. Swift, cheap, and most importantly victorious. It is a demonstration to the rest of the world what Prussian military might can achieve, and how no-one, and I mean NO-ONE, can stand in our-


Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-​

Okay, so a Russian invasion was the SECOND worst thing that could happen.

NEXT TIME: The War of French Aggression
 

Willum

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That made me laugh, but I can imagine my own astonishment, to put it mildly, at seeing an unexpected front open up against a great power. If I were you I would probably... get stuborn, lose my whole army, and be forced into accepting cripling terms. But I would also kick myself for not offering concessions with my army still intact.