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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

macd21

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When the 1.2 patch came out I briefly took a break from my Munster - Ireland game. I wanted to play as another country for a while until I got used to the changes (didn't want to lose a vital war because I underestimated the number of casualties etc). I chose to play as Byzantium, who (from what I'd heard on the forum) where a much more interesting challenge post-patch. I decided to take some screenshots as I went along with the intention of posting as AAR if I got an interesting result and... well, here we are.

I won't be posting to this AAR as regularly as I am to the High King one, as I only play it when I'm taking a break from the Ireland game to catch up on posting here. I've got enough material now to make posting worthwhile, so here's the first chapter. It's an ironman game, so regular difficulty etc.

Chapter 1: Opening Gambit
Chapter 2: Pound of Flesh
Chapter 3: New Blood
Chapter 4: Roma Invicta!
Chapter 5: An Italian Holiday
Chapter 6: Stalemate
Chapter 7: A Council of Old Men
Chapter 8: Phoenix Rising
Chapter 9: Imperial March
Chapter 10: Liberation
Chapter 11: Terms and Conditions
Chapter 12: Manuel the Reformer
Chapter 13: Progress
Chapter 14: Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory!
Chapter 15: The Greek War of Independence
Chapter 16: Filiki Eteria
Chapter 17: Freedom or Death
Chapter 18: A Whole New World
Chapter 19: The Angelos Crusade
Chapter 20: Phoenix Rising
Chapter 21: Betrayal!
Chapter 22: Display of Strength
Chapter 23: Demetrios the Builder
Chapter 24: The Emperors of Rome
Chapter 25: Diplomatic Considerations
Chapter 26: The Guyenne War
Chapter 27: Pride and Ambition
Chapter 28: The Glorious Revolution
Chapter 29: Vassals and Victims
Chapter 30: The Second Guyenne War
Chapter 31: North and South
Chapter 32: Take the Good with the Bad
Chapter 33: Back on my feet...
Chapter 34: Nemesis
Chapter 35: Feint Right, Punch Left
Chapter 36: The enemy of my enemy...
Chapter 37: Interesting Times
Chapter 38: The Crimean War
Chapter 39: Imperial Dominion
Chapter 40: History of the Greco-Roman Empire 1444-1806
 
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RepublicanIV

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I am already hungry. RotHK 2 is an amazing AAR, so I have high expectations.
 

macd21

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Chapter 1: Opening Gambit
I think we are all familiar with Byzantium's starting position. Simply put: it's bad. I needed to gain as much power and allies as I could before the Ottomans declared war on me, so I wasted no time. My diplomats quickly secured alliances with Bosnia and Wallachia, I began recruiting some new units and my king and heir donned their armour and proceeded to drive their men into transport ships before anyone could ask them what was going on. Sailing west around Greece they were soon landing in Ragusa (who had granted me military access) and marching into Serbia. We were at war!






Bosnia and Wallachia had both answered the call to arms and attacked the Serbian army. It was soon routed and destroyed, allowing me to occupy the country with ease.






Meanwhile the Ottomans had taken Albania and now declared war on Karaman... giving me a little more breathing room.



Serbia finally surrendered, gaining me a new province and a second vassal. Unfortunately my allies weren't too pleased that they had sacrificed their troops and gained nothing in return and both broke their alliances with me.



And my new subjects weren't too pleased with me...



Still, all this was actually going to plan (except for the rebels, of course). I forged a claim on Bosnia and declared war. Wallachia joined the Bosnians against me. After one clash against the Bosnians I turned my attention to Wallachia. The Wallachian army was busy defending the Bosnian capital, leaving their own lands undefended.






Wallachia soon fell, becoming our third vassal. The quickly proved their loyalty by wiping out the Bosnian army that had joined them in the capital!




Unfortunately my heir was lost to a wound suffered in battle. Thankfully I had another heir ready and waiting...


Bosnia soon surrendered, adding another kingdom to the Empire!

 
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macd21

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I am already hungry. RotHK 2 is an amazing AAR, so I have high expectations.

Thanks! Chapter 1 is a bit abrupt, but to be honest I think the opening moves to what I call the Balkan option are pretty standardised by now. Things don't really get interesting until you've vassalised the three of them and decided what to do next.
 

unmerged(785851)

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Cool! Will follow this. It's going to be interesting to see who you decide to ally, Hungary or Poland/Lithuania? Or someone else? Either way, hoping to pick up some pointers from you! :)
 

RepublicanIV

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Good stuff. I'm very happy with how this AAR is going :D
 

unmerged(58610)

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You made three vassals in 20 years. That's it? What were the Ottomans doing? Rolling around on the floor laughing?
 

unmerged(58610)

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Er, what? I made three vassals in 6 years.

I assumed a 1440 start (why wouldn't you?) and read the last map date as 1459 rather than 1450. Greeks and sieges -could take 9 years , look at Troy. What else did you do during that time, besides make three vassals?
 

RepublicanIV

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Technically the Byzantines think themselves of Romans and are descended from Romans, so the title is slightly incorrect. But epic stuff nonetheless. Also, to the Chief, 1444 is the earliest non-modded start in EU4. If you look at the last picture, Bosnia is vassalised on the 14th December 1450, and as the game starts on the 11th November 1444, it took Mac 6 years, 1 month and 3 days to vassalize the three nations.
 

macd21

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Chapter 2: Pound of Flesh

I'd added one province and three new vassals to the Empire, putting Byzantium in a much better position. My forces were at full strength (I'd only fought one major battle throughout the Balkan campaign), though my manpower had been drained by siege attrition. Hungary had agreed to an alliance, which would hopefully come in useful. I'd also received a nice surprise bonus - Cyprus.



I'd been so busy concentrating on the Balkans that I hadn't noticed that the Cypriots had rebelled against their lords and declared for the Roman Empire! I was amused to note that the Venetians, who had declared war on Cyprus, were still at war with the Mamluks, who came to their defence. Both wanted Cyprus for themselves, but neither was currently willing to declare war on Byzantium. Yet their fleets continued to clash in the Aegean and Adriatic, neither willing to concede defeat or settle for a white peace. Sensing weakness, Milan and Hungary had decided to declare war on Venice and moved troops into their Adriatic provinces.



The Mamluks defeated the Venetian fleet, driving it to port. I decided the Hungarians had the right idea - the time to strike at Venice was now! I promoted (the rather unimpressive) Eirenaios Botaneiates to Admiral and declared war. Crete would be liberated and rejoin the Empire!






My goals were fairly obvious. In addition to taking Crete, I hoped to conquer Naxos and Corfu, both Venetian vassals. I also hoped to complete my current mission, "Improve prestige", which would give me a nice stability boost. I'd be happy with any gains at all, however. The Venetian fleet, while currently hiding from the Mamluks, would eventually emerge and threaten my forces again.

While my troops landed on Crete, my galleys fought against the Naxos navy, defeating it off the coast of Cyprus.



When my transports returned to Zeta to collect additional forces, however, they were trapped by the Venetians, who had recovered more quickly than I had expected.



Thankfully I had built two additional transport ships in Greece. Crete soon fell to my forces, freeing up some troops for new deployments. My options were limited, however. Corfu was too heavily defended and Naxos was being attacked by the Mamluks. Rather than have my boys sitting around doing nothing, I decided to open up a new front - Rhodes!. I declared war on the Knights and landed troops on the island. Their army was soon defeated, but the city was heavily fortified and would take some time to fall.



Elsewhere the Venetians were having mixed results. Milan was in trouble, with its land occupied or besieged, but Hungary had seized Venice's Adriatic colonies.



The Mamluks defeated the Ventetian navy once more, then made peace. This allowed me to move troops to seize Naxos, but meant that it was only a matter of time before the Venetians dominated the seas once more. Milan then made peace with Venice, breaking their alliance with Hungary and paying a few ducats.



Venetian troops landed on Crete. I needed to make peace soon, but I hoped to take Naxos first.



Naxos finally fell, soon followed by Rhodes. The Knights surrendered, joining the Empire, and then Dalmatia fell to our forces.


Crete, Naxos and Dalmatia were now occupied, allowing us to dictate terms to the Venetians.



In addition to ceding Crete and Naxos, Corfu would no longer be the Venetians' vassal. I hoped to seize the island at some point. For now, however, I was quite happy with my gains. I had added three more island provinces to the Empire. If I could control the seas then those territories would be safe from Ottoman occupation, making them invaluable additions to the realm. They also increased my force limits, especially my naval limit. With that in mind, I began building new galleys. I would need a great fleet to compete with the naval powers of the Mediterranean.
 

RepublicanIV

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Nice job :D

In ten years you've vassalised three nations and captured four provinces. For Byzantium that's pretty good :D

What next? The annihilation of Naxos and Athens? A proper war against the idiotic traders of Venice? Possibly even an African incursion?
 

macd21

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Nice job :D

In ten years you've vassalised three nations and captured four provinces. For Byzantium that's pretty good :D

What next? The annihilation of Naxos and Athens? A proper war against the idiotic traders of Venice? Possibly even an African incursion?

Heh, note that Naxos is already gone...

Integrating some of my vassals would be nice, but difficult and time consuming, especially since I really need more allies to hope to withstand the Ottomans. A diplomat who is busy dealing with a vassal could be better put to use at the court of the Poles or Austria. Of course, allies come with downsides - they may draw me into wars that I can't afford.

My biggest priority at this point is increasing the size of the fleet. I've been mostly ignoring it until now, focusing on the army - a risky strategy, but one that has paid off.
 

RepublicanIV

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Heh, note that Naxos is already gone...

Integrating some of my vassals would be nice, but difficult and time consuming, especially since I really need more allies to hope to withstand the Ottomans. A diplomat who is busy dealing with a vassal could be better put to use at the court of the Poles or Austria. Of course, allies come with downsides - they may draw me into wars that I can't afford.

My biggest priority at this point is increasing the size of the fleet. I've been mostly ignoring it until now, focusing on the army - a risky strategy, but one that has paid off.

Oh yeah Naxos is gone...
 

macd21

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Chapter 3: New Blood



With the conquest of the Aegean and the Balkans completed, I decided it was time to take a look at the big picture and see how the rest of Europe was faring. England had lost the Hundred Years War, conceding most of their continental possessions. They were, however, now crushing the Scots, who had foolishly underestimated them, and were currently holding their own against Burgundy, who sought control of Calais. The English were unfortunately allied with Hungary and had drawn them into the war. I was worried the Hungarians might do something foolish, like march their armies across the Holy 'Roman' Empire and get slaughtered in Burgundy, but there wasn't anything I could do about it.

Thankfully the Ottomans were currently distracted. Castille sought to complete the Reconquista and attacked Grenada. This had started a war that raged across the Mediterranean, with most of North Africa and the Turks fighting against Castille, Portugal and Navarra. This would hopefully give me the time I needed to secure more powerful allies and consolidate my holdings (and maybe even expand them a little).

The only other war was in the Baltic and northern Germany, where the Hanseatic League was losing a war against the Kalmar Union. This was of no consequence for me, of course - I had more immediate concerns.



Well, it was hardly a surprise that the Ottomans had designs on my lands, but the reminder wasn't nice. Nothing I could do about it, however, so I moved on.

Another development far beyond our borders:



While normally the disposition of the Franco-Imperial border would be of little interest to us, the extinction of Burgundy unfortunately now meant that Hungary was at war with Austria, increasing the odds of them getting themselves wiped out before I was done using them as a human shield. Though my force limits had increased nicely, I still didn't have the manpower to recruit many more troops - and even if I did, I still wouldn't have enough regiments to withstand an Ottoman attack. On the other hand, the navy was looking good, having almost doubled in size.



I really needed to find some less suicidal allies. On the other hand I did receive some good news - I had succeeded in converting the culture of Zeta to Greek. Though only a small bonus, it helped secure the realm (and I had a mission to do so, effectively giving me a discount on the conversion).



An advance in military technology allowed me to build armouries. While I preferred to keep most of my gold in reserve, I did build one armoury in Crete. This island haven would serve as an offshore training ground for my legions as I increased their strength.

I considered taking Corfu, but realised that doing so risked an Ottoman intervention. My troops stood down and I looked for other avenues of expansion.

And then some tragic news - the Emperor was dead! Thankfully Ioannes the 9th was ready to take the throne. A decent military leader and a capable diplomat and administrator, he was a great improvement over his aged predecessor.



One of the Emperor's first acts was to secure an alliance with Poland. While Poland was currently struggling with a peasant uprising, their Lithuanian subjects were far more stable and had an army 20,000 strong - which could prove very useful. In order to strengthen the alliance (and the Poles), I sent some troops to help them deal with the peasant rabble.



Unfortunately we had barely begun to put down the rebellion before the message I had been dreading finally arrived...



Admiral Georgios Mikrulakes was given charge of the fleet, while the Emperor took personal charge of the army. The Ottoman assault fell first upon Walachia and Moldavia. The Lithuanian army moved south into Crimea, who had joined the Ottomans in the war against me. I moved my fleet through the Bosphorus to the Black Sea, while my army moved east to link up with the Poles and Lithuanians. The fleet caught the Crimean navy and shattered it, capturing a few of their ships and driving the rest to port.



With their fleet defeated, their ports blockaded and a huge enemy host on their lands, the Crimean's enthusiasm for the war disintegrated. In order to assuage their pride I had to concede defeat, allowing them to save face. Unfortunately this caused our allied forces to split up, as each kingdom's forces returned home by a different route.

While my army headed for Constantinople, my fleet engaged the Turkish navy, capturing another two ships.



Rather than try to regroup and engage the Ottoman army directly, I decided to simply take advantage of the fact that all of their forces were concentrating on attacking my territory, leaving no one to defend Anatolia.



The Poles and Lithuanians, meanwhile, had more or less withdrawn from the conflict, instead focusing on defending their own borders and putting down the peasant uprising.



With their Turkish and Byzantine rivals both distracted, the Venetians decided to regain control of Corfu, robbing me of the chance to seize the island for myself.



More and more Anatolian territories began to fall, and I thought I might be able to actually force the Turks to concede some territory. If Izmir were to fall before Raska, I would have enough warscore to take a province...



But it was not to be. Raska fell and Zeta - the wargoal - was on the verge of surrendering as well. Accepting the inevitable I conceded defeat.



Though technically I had lost the war, I was quite pleased with the result. I had weathered the Ottoman's first attack and come out a few ships ahead, with no territorial concessions. I'd expected to lose a province or two in the first war. I would hopefully be in an even better position for the next one.

Unless, of course, all my troops ended up getting killed in another war...


 

Hans Lemurson

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What? Don't they know that the purpose of allies is to fight battles for the benefit of the HUMAN player?

Oh well, us humans secret technique that the AI's haven't learned yet to fight wars without loss of life: The Sitzkrieg.

Let's hope your vassals will have their armies rebuilt by the time you need to face the Ottomans again. My first Ottoman-War was an aggressive one that I declared the moment I saw their troop-morale start rising due to full-funding, and they started marching to Europe. I declared war and cut their army in half as it was crossing the Dardanelles and defeated it one half at a time. Then again, I also had an heir who was a 6-shock general, soo...lots of luck!

Since gold is more plentiful than Manpower, I even went so far as to gift money to my vassals so that they can rebuild their armies faster. Every country has a minimum regain-rate of 1,000 per year, so your vassal's manpower pools are a nearly inexhaustible resource, large enough to replace 150% casualties. What they can't do easily is make the down-payments on fresh regiments.
 

macd21

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Let's hope your vassals will have their armies rebuilt by the time you need to face the Ottomans again. My first Ottoman-War was an aggressive one that I declared the moment I saw their troop-morale start rising due to full-funding, and they started marching to Europe. I declared war and cut their army in half as it was crossing the Dardanelles and defeated it one half at a time. Then again, I also had an heir who was a 6-shock general, soo...lots of luck!

Unfortunately a good opportunity to attack didn't really present itself. The Ottomans kept their army in the west for the most part and even when they didn't, my allies weren't inclined to join me in an offensive war. The Hungarians were too busy getting their asses kicked in foolish wars, while the Poles were too busy dealing with their peasants.
 

macd21

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Chapter 4: Roma Invicta!
The last thing I wanted was to get into a war with Bohemia and some German Baltic state on the other side of Europe... but I couldn't afford to offend my allies (and they had helped us fight off the Ottomans), so off to war we marched. Thankfully we quickly defeated the enemy's forces at the Battle of Stettin. My troops then chased down the enemy and destroyed them, leaving us free to lay siege to Pomerania's cities. They soon surrendered, agreeing to break their alliance with Bohemia and give Poland 50 ducats in compensation.



Unfortunately the war had prevented the Poles from putting down the peasant rebels still rampaging through the country and they had occupied many provinces. A powerful pretender had also risen and taken the capital.



And the pretender wasn't the only one who sought to take advantage of Poland's weakness. Brandenburg declared war, joined by the Austrians.



This was too much. I wasn't throwing my troops into a fight with the Holy Roman Empire. I answered Poland's call to arms, but decided to avoid combat. The Poles and Lithuanians defeated the Pretender and then struggled to fight off the German aggressors. At first my troops loitered in Hungary, threatening to attack Austria from the south. This actually seemed to have a major impact, as they committed a large stack to shadow my forces. Eventually the enemy moved off to counter another attack, so my troops returned to Poland and began to take those cities held by the peasant rabble that were the furthest from the front lines.



Thankfully the Austrians were also at war with Bohemia. Together the Bohemian and Polish forces managed to hold the line against Austria, then to force them back.



The Emperor chose to settle for a white peace, rather than risk defeat. Brandenburg soon followed.



The next few years were quiet ones. We helped the Poles retake those cities still in rebel hands. Athens agreed to integrate fully into the Empire. Serbia soon followed, adding a nice splash of purple to the map.






With two of my vassals integrated I could now focus more of my diplomatic efforts elsewhere. This soon paid off, as Austria agreed to an alliance. Unfortunately the Poles then cut their ties to us. It would seem that they now considered us to be a rival - a complement of sorts, but hardly the thanks we expected for all the sacrifices we made on their behalf.

Looking to the Ottomans, I noticed that they were once again at war with Castile. This would keep them busy for a while as I sought out more allies. Thankfully the Lithuanians were no longer in a personal union with Poland, allowing me to arrange a royal marriage with them. They quickly followed up with an alliance proposal, which I happily accepted.



And then I noticed a bunch of Turks boarding transports. I duly followed them, and found that they were landing in Urbino, Castile's ally.

Interesting.



This presented an opportunity. The Ottomans now had almost no troops in Greece. I could simply walk in and occupy their western provinces. While they could march around the Black Sea, it would take time, and my Lithuanian allies would hopefully slow them down. Unfortunately the Austrians were not willing to assist me, but I felt confident that with Lithuania, Hungary and my vassals helping me I would be able to prevail. I gave the order to attack...



Initially the attack went well. My forces marched unopposed into Greece, while my fleet blocked the Bosphorus. The Lithuanians moved to attack the Crimeans, who had joined the Ottomans, as had Algiers and Qara Qoyunlu. But then I had a setback. Forced to engage the enemy navy, my fleet was unable to stop the Ottoman's eastern army from crossing into Greece. There followed a desperate evacuation of my troops to Crete. Thankfully I managed to board the last of my regiments just as the Ottoman army bore down on them, escaping just in time.

A change of plan was obviously required. So I just used the same one that had been so successful in the previous war. My troops landed in Constantinople and then crossed the strait into Anatolia. A few more joined the Lithuanians to help direct their war with the Crimeans. Their efforts, combined with the defeat of the Crimean fleet and the blockading of their port, soon enabled me to convince them to make peace.



The removal of the Crimeans from the war eased the pressure somewhat, but the outcome was still very much in doubt. The Emperor decided to take personal command of the army.



While the situation seemed dire, the Ottomans had more than just my little empire to contend with. In addition to Byzantium, Hungary, Lithuania, Wallachia and Bosnia, they were also at war with Castile, Aragon, Urbino, the Golden Horde, the Timurids, Baluchistan and Uzbek. Even as I lay siege to the eastern holdings, their fleet was being crushed by Aragon's navy.



The Algerian fleet threatened my blockades, but I managed to repeatedly drive them back, occasionally sinking or capturing ships. They refused to withdraw from the war, however, so I dispatched a squadron of ships across the Mediterranean to 'negotiate' an acceptable peace offer.

The Lithuanians had not been idle during this time. My forces had led them across the Crimean and in to Qara Qoyunlu. where they now harassed the local forces and lay siege to their provinces. Meanwhile my troops seized more and more Ottoman cities.



Unfortunately the Hungarians proved less useful. Their entire army was wiped out and they accepted a white peace with the enemy.

Thankfully the arrival of my fleet convinced the Algerians to negotiate and they accepted a payment of 55 ducats for peace. Qara Qoyunlu demanded we concede defeat, which we did, and then the Turks were on their own. With half of his empire under occupation and abandoned by his allies, the sultan had no choice but to accept our demands. Victory was ours!


 
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GulMacet

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Hmmm... you should have dragged it out a little more, drive up the Turkish war exhaustion and letting Greek rebels take back the rest of European Greece in a nice convenient way!