• 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

InvisibleSandwi

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FERTing on the Enemy - The House of Savoy Fights the Overwhelming Omega

(AKA Prester John's Revenge)


A flash of light in the air
a meteor on the ground
an evil voice in your ear
human flesh sold by the pound


This AAR showcases the Omega mod, which turns a random country in your game into an extremely overpowered blob of death and destruction. As the creator of that mod, I feel no shame in labeling this an advAARtisement, even though I really should. My decision to take on the Omega as the Duchy of Savoy is motivated by a few things:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FERT (I'm classy like that.)
  2. It's an easy way to make sure I have something to do before fighting the Omega - Savoy has to work pretty hard for the unification of Italy; even then, the major powers of Europe can pose a significant threat.
  3. While I have to work for it, a unified Italy enjoys a good position, with excellent national ideas, a good shot at unifying the Holy Roman Empire, opportunities to trade in the Mediterranean and beyond (although that specifically requires tensions with the Turk.)

Because even a powerful and brutal Savoyard Italy has its share of giants to contend with, I'll be playing on this mod's normal difficulty. 5 extra unrest every time I fight the Omega is not something I really want to deal with, although a shrewd player might seek to turn the Omega's extra goods production on this difficulty to their own, trade flavored benefit. However, if I feel the Omega's too slow to claim their dominant birthright, I may feed them some poor unsuspecting AI nations in order to empower and otherwise accelerate them. I do not believe my own intervention will be necessary, as the Omega's spawning grounds in this iteration is the empire of Ethiopia. They were chosen semi-randomly, and are interesting country to play in their own right, with potential for easy expansion and trade wealth offset by early game religious strife, a relatively poor heartland, and guaranteed Mamluk or Ottoman incursions. Overpowering the only Copts of real significance in a sea of Muslims should hopefully create a suitable rival.

In a potentially shocking contrast with all the other AARs I've done, I expect this AAR to be mostly gameplay oriented, maybe with some narrative and historical components as I see fit. My ultimate goal is to somehow strike down and destroy the Omega, or, barring that, weaken it to the point of irrelevance. I don't expect this to be particularly optimized/min-maxed gameplay, since dismantling the rest of Europe too early might make things too easy, and even if it didn't, it doesn't really fit my style.

The first real update should be up tomorrow (technically today UTC), but like the rest of my AARs, expect regular Monday updates.

Table of Contents
Prologue - Profession of Professionalism of the Savoyard Player
Chapter 1 - Just Another Day In The Alps
Chapter 2 - Securing the North
Chapter 3 - The Imperial Excursion
Chapter 4 - Tipping Point (And Tyler Too)
Chapter 5 - Milan Probably Submits
Chapter 6 - Savoyards Seize The Good Parts of Italy
Chapter 7 - The Embassy Pays For Itself
Chapter 8 - Two Tag Changes In One Episode
Chapter 9 - Contesting Italy
Chapter 10 - Revenge
Chapter 11 - Iberian Gambit, Part 1
Chapter 12 - Iberian Gambit, Part 2
Chapter 13 - The Great Pivot Towards The West
Chapter 14 - Procrastination Time
Chapter 15 - The Age Of Green Stripes

The Long War begins after this update.
Chapter 16 - Unleash The Beast
Chapter 17 - The Paper Tiger
Epilogue - The Future Of The Omega


Mild interactivity approved for this AAR by Mr. Capiatlist on May 23rd, 2015.
 
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blklizard

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Looks very interesting! I'll follow along to see what surprises await Savoy. Guess this game will eventually be a clash between two superpowers.
 

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Looks very interesting! I'll follow along to see what surprises await Savoy. Guess this game will eventually be a clash between two superpowers.
Actually, I bet it's not just going to be two superpowers. As the eventual sole resident of the Italian peninsula, I expect to be surrounded by potentially deadly Europeans, although with any luck the Omega will expand north...
 

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Prologue (Profession of Professionalism of the Savoyard Player)

It wouldn't hurt to have a quick look at Savoy in its normal context, would it?

Territorial integrity is the number one export of the Holy Roman Empire! That's why it always ends up consolidating a bit through the game.

Savoy starts off with 6 provinces, rendering it a fairly capable power in the Holy Roman Empire, and a potential foil to Austrian attempts to dominate the area, especially in the hands of a player that isn't simply going to sit around and wait for France to find its natural borders. I discussed Savoy's ambitions in the first post, so the initial moves should make a nice counterweight to that.

  1. In the early game, I favor Austria as my primary ally. While it's sometimes possible to balance both Austria and France and play buffer-state for a while, Austria won't demand and degrade the territories I plan to conquer, and therefore should be kept friendly at least until I can win wars against them. Castile/Spain is also a viable long term ally, although they might end up squabbling with me over trade in the Indian Ocean if their attention turns in that direction.
  2. I have six immediate neighbors; besides France and Burgundy, all are on the menu.
    1. Switzerland is not particularly wealthy, but their ideas and territory make them a viable march. They may be properly annexed later if I'm starved for basetax.
    2. Milan needs to be eaten in order to form Italy. No exceptions. Lombardia starts with 14 base tax and can get better from there.
    3. Genoa needs to be banished to its far flung eastern outposts. I do rather appreciate the extra goods bonus I get from their being a merchant republic, but I figure infusing myself with short term trade cash will allow me to grow enough that the goods production bonus won't be too missed. After all, Venice may be able to pick up the slack, and they might always end up forming Russia...
    4. Provence's home province *shudder* gives me much the same benefits of Liguria, and even more trade power, but attacking them may accelerate the inevitable conflict with France. Then again, even denying France a single province of Provence may make all the difference.

Because this is an AAR and I feel obligated to play more flashily than usual, Provence gets a day one claim fabrication, with the hopes that they do not find allies better than whomever I can turn to my side. In private, I probably would've started by assaulting Genoa instead and letting Provence live at least until Italy was solid and capable of smashing Frenchies, although this comes with the downside of it possibly falling into French hands.


"I forgot my last name" - Lorenzo Luserna di Whatever, 1444

I took the liberty of acquiring a single adviser - some extra reputation could spell the difference between an alliance and a sad, pathetic defeat. While I probably had enough cashflow to take another, I decided against it, since I wanted to retain a bit of surplus in the name of simply not running a deficit. Besides, when I take Provence (he said, not having played long enough to see whether this would be the case), it'll provision a decently cash-like source of trade wealth suitable for hiring even more advisers.

Anyone know how discovery chance works? I'm told it bears some relation to your country's spy offense and defense, but that's not much information to go on.

Furthermore, I'm building slightly over my land forcelimit. Savoy's starts at a fairly underwhelming 11 and this brings me up to 12. I think I can handle the slight drain on my finances until the inevitable acquisitions start rolling in.

If my actions at this point seem a bit domestically focused, keep in mind that in order to take on the Omega, I have to survive to the point of first contact, lest the entire point of this AAR be subverted.
 
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It will be interesting to see where Ethiopia will be headed. After all, they had lots of options to choose from and quite far from where you are. I think you don't have to worry about them until fairly later. Savoy's situation is always interesting since they have many expansion options while walking a dangerous line near dangerous foes.

Can you see Ethiopia at the start of the game? If so, will you be providing us with a small update of them every decade?
 

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It will be interesting to see where Ethiopia will be headed. After all, they had lots of options to choose from and quite far from where you are. I think you don't have to worry about them until fairly later. Savoy's situation is always interesting since they have many expansion options while walking a dangerous line near dangerous foes.

Can you see Ethiopia at the start of the game? If so, will you be providing us with a small update of them every decade?
I can't yet see the Omega on the map, but I will keep you guys posted. I did take the time to tagswitch over and look at their progress, but I've decided to keep that a secret for now. You'll get your first look at them in episode 2.
 

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Episode 1: Just Another Day In The Alps

And then I actually unpaused the game! Able bodied men started training for a career in the military, diplomats practice their calligraphy, and a comet presumably burns over the Ahmar mountains or something. The actual nature of the Omega has been relatively obfuscated in what little lore this mod actually has. Maybe they're demons, maybe they're alien invaders, maybe they're mind controlling parasites or grey goo given new purpose or something. Ambiguity is fun.


Within days, Provence immediately responds to my glorious plans of them getting destroyed by allying with Milan and Hungary, and I suspect that I may need more allies in order to properly take them down.


"Nope"

It's apparently also relevant to Brittany, who promptly requests an alliance with us and probably wants to take a bite out of Provence as well. Luckily, Austria falls into our orbit by the end of February 1445, leaving me free to pursue other allies in Europe. Without my extra diplomatic abilities, this could've taken a while. Bohemia is also promptly conscripted into our bloc; I follow them up with Brandenburg since I might as well try to usurp the title of Emperor as soon as possible... although expanding into Italy may carry some diplomatic penalties.


Also, given the chance to strengthen or weaken the Omega... I toss that chance away, although I could technically trigger this event again through the console if I so pleased. Dev's privilege!

There's not a great deal to do while I wait for the fabrication to count down that I didn't already show off in the prologue. I mothball the two cogs Savoy starts with, because it's not like I'm going to be waging any naval invasions just yet, and I get a few events of no major significance. I also take a mission to fabricate a claim on Switzerland; I was going to do it anyways, so I might as well follow it up with extra military power.


You know what's hard? Getting subjugation CBs.

And then, the claim procs. Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly), everyone is willing to assist me in my Provencal ambitions. This is going to be an easy war.


I repeat, this is going to be an easy war.

My monarch is a poor general, but he ought to be sufficient to mop up Milan's army. I expect most of my allies to focus on looting Hungarian territory, so I'll probably have to be more careful than otherwise.

I turn out to be right, since the Milanese rolled an even worse general than I did (at least for earlygame, since fire is at its weakest). The Milanese army retreats to Lorraine after being defeated, because it's clearly the best option. These sorties against the Milanese are the only battles I fight during the war, since Provence, Lorraine, and eventually even Hungary are more interested in besieging Brittany.


"Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be the Spanish Road!"

By 1446, Provence has enough local force to inconvenience me should they seek to defend their own capital, and that's about it.


Milan, however, has an extra 10% boost to their infantry combat ability. That is a mild inconvenience.

German and Czech operations in Hungary do have one advantage in that their successful sieges quickly acquire some warscore, which I turn into a truce flavored with a bit of cash and some further war reparations. I don't want a Hungarian doomstack endangering my own army, otherwise I might've waited and tried to get more cash.


This reflects very poorly on the Hunyadis.

But now, Savoy has enough cash to afford a scientist, and the war isn't even over yet.


I was going to make a joke about this guy not being very good at science, but the 15th century was home to the Italian Renaissance...

Provence falls soon afterwards, and I can safely say we've taken our first step towards forging a nation that can take on the Omega. With the first shreds of extra trade and production income, I hire a land forcelimits adviser and further boost my monarch power.


Having to organize stuff is a waste of time.

Then I'm hit with an irritating event and figure a little extra autonomy can't hurt as much as the early loss of so much administrative mana. With all this in mind, I decide to sit on my gains, at least until Provence is cored.


Stupid nobles! Can't we try our hands at republican governance, or at least an absolute monarchy?

At this point in the game, I certainly do not want to accumulate any more animosity than is strictly necessary. On the other hand, Burgundy is trying to be friends with Switzerland, and even Genoa is seeking out allies of more than a single province or two, so eventually I'm going to have to clash with the locals again.

During the peace, Austria decides to conquer Württemburg to pass the time; I take my first level of diplomatic and military technology, and start building a trade fleet. France seems concerned about our actions in Provence, so I send a diplomat to assure them they will not be immediately destroyed (which has the side effect of improving relations). Bohemia immediately tests my goodwill by asking for help in their own wars of conquest, but I don't intend to give them more than the most nominal support... which they don't even need.


It would sure be different if not pulling your weight in a war had diplomatic penalties.

Provencal cores bring Occitain culture acceptance, but that's... probably not going to last very long, at least if I have a say in the matter.


I don't think I'll be taking Humanist ideas, but you never know.

By the time that's done, nobody of significance wants to help me subjugate Switzerland, and Danzig has been subdued by the Danish. More handsitting? Nah. I start working on a claim on Liguria.


I expect this to lead to some long term tensions in the area. Maybe the UN should intervene?

With ADM tech 4 under my belt, it's time to fret over whether I choose diplomatic or influence ideas. This takes a while, but I settle on influence for now, since I do plan to have at least one long-term vassal and many short term ones. Overall, things are looking pretty good, with one potential blot on the record.


If expanding away from Venice disturbs them this much, just imagine how scared they're going to get when I actually do come for their land and money!

I've not had the best of luck with my claim fabrication and my aggressive expansion relation penalties are beginning to bloody Europe a bit. It will take some trademark Savoy diplomacy to keep the unification going... although whether the Omega appreciates the effort I went to in order to fight them is up for debate.

Next time: "I sure hope Saint Ambrose forgives me."
 
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Slow and steady expansion is definitely the way to go. Coalitions can be a pain if you expand too quickly.
 
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Slow and steady expansion is definitely the way to go. Coalitions can be a pain if you expand too quickly.
Coalitions don't HAVE to be a pain if you have friends to beat them up for you. On the other hand, you can't always rely on your friends. I did a test game some time back with Savoy where I started by rapidly vassalizing Milan. The resulting coalition was so huge it completely routed me even with the help of both France and Austria, and lead to England, Castille, Burgundy, and Portugal, etc. declaring opportunistic wars of conquest. A few lessons follow from that:
  1. Don't vassalize Milan in one go unless you really have to.
  2. France's vassal cloud is pretty strong earlygame, but consolidated France is still stronger.
  3. Influence ideas really are that strong in the HRE.
In this AAR, for all my claims of playing more aggressively and flashily than usual, there are still limits on what I'm willing and unwilling to do.
 

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Episode 2: Securing the North


It's hard to gauge the success of the Omega so early on, especially when their spawnpoint can vary so much, but... so far, they've managed to let Medhi Bahri take the spoils in the conquest of Adal, have colonized two marginal provinces in their backyard, and generally been fairly underwhelming.


If the Omega was too smart and resourceful, though, this AAR would be nasty, brutish, and short.
I'll give them a while before I start passing them handouts, since you never know when an Omegan drone hive might pop up.


In my test runs while developing the mod, this has occasionally happened, and can be a pretty interesting wildcard.

Still, the Omega already has higher income and technology than me, and this might only get worse as the game continues (mostly on the income frontier; the Omega should only be one or two techs ahead of me throughout the game, for the most part). But war reparations have fed me well, and I already have a fledgling fleet, so Savoy is definitely better off than it was 10 years ago.

Also, France actually likes me! It won't last, but we can celebrate by forcing friendship upon them. Not even the love of Austria dissuades them.


Great rivals require great mediators.

And now, for a gamble based on something I did in the past, except possibly modified for the future... except not. Austria seeks to blob yet again, and they call me into a little war of conquest with Baden and friends. I provide some questionable help by stackwiping a convenient Bavarian stack, but I'm still in more of a 'build up manpower mood', and the armory I'm building in Piedmont agrees. Eventually, that war ends with Austria vassalizing Baden. Classy.

Now it's time to vassalize Switzerland!


This 'bilateral assistance' thing might become an unpleasant and restrictive trend with time...

With France on my side, who cares what Burgundy thinks? There is the risk that the Burgundian inheritance will fire, but I think that's the least of our problems, as Burgundy immediately turns their entire army into a blob and tries to hunt mine down.


Not pictured: Thousands of Savoyard casualties.

After some wacky hijinx involving my army hiding in Bourbon, the French blob bails me out, and then promptly carpet bombs the Burgundians.


Pictured instead: Burgundian defeat.


The lesson? France trivializes war.

France does at this juncture have a single core on Burgundian territory, and would probably be unhappy with me if I did not let them have it, but every point of basetax they get is potentially an issue later in the game. This worries me for a moment, but then France follows up on this opportunity by ignoring Picardie. It seems like I won't have to deal with this, and I take the opportunity to flush Burgundy's treasury.


Some players would probably take the opportunity to blob into Burgundy. Having already taken Provence, I would label that a terse suicide note.

As I wait for sieges to complete, Genoa makes another stab at usurping the Crimean Khanate. Apparently, they've been reading my previous works.


With the improved naval AI of recent EUIV versions, the last thing I need is a horde of screaming Crimean Tatars on my doorstep every time I want to antagonize the Genoans.

Switzerland takes quite a few years to properly siege, but I'm not in a big hurry, and I accept their vassalization in 1459.


I hope that by the time my main allies turn on me, I will be able to establish good ties with Castile, Poland, and so forth.

Now everyone hates me... except for my important allies. A huge coalition will form, but I might be able to screw the coalition out of existing if someone I have a casus belli on joins it... nudge nudge. At this point, I have two options:

  1. If Genoa joins, I'll forcibly involve the coalition in a conquest war.
  2. If Milan turns into an Ambrosian Republic, I won't have to worry about fabricating claims, even with the idea that reduces claim fabrication time.

Meanwhile, I send a diplomat to the Papal State in an attempt to undo some of the damage of rapid expansion. Their friendship is good for papal influence, at the very least. In the name of further breaking the coalition, I also hire a diplomat advisor. Hard to believe that Savoy relies so heavily on diplomacy, am I right?


What a dolt. That hairstyle won't be popular for at least 200 years!


It's probably the Influence Ideas speaking, but I start receiving a steady supply of diplomatic power from events.

"If you love not being hated so much, why did you get married?"

Events like these will help in the long run, especially once I unlock the 4th idea and get a 20% AE reduction. With that in mind, I start fabricating a claim on Milan regardless. Apparently I'm forgetful or something. From the vantage point of a few minutes after I predicted the coalition from hell, I'm kind of surprised that the coalition isn't THAT large yet. A couple of coalition fans are locked in truces, though, but they'll probably be joining pretty soon.


Genoa eventually joins the party, and I prepare for war.


Trade goods? More like... uh... I'm going to kill you someday, you know that?

...and then France decides to conquer the one remaining Provencal provence, hopefully ensuring this is the last time I use that exact phrase. A while back, they asked for my nominal help in acquiring Anjou and Maine. Needless to say, I was very "helpful" during that war, and I'm going to have to be very helpful yet again. When your allies are busy securing their own power bases, they're less willing to help you secure your rightful place, and if I tried to act on my Genoese desires without France's help... there might not be much of a Savoy left afterwards to mourn the tragedy.

Furthermore, since Austria vassalized Baden and conquered land from Wurttemburg, they're eying the Swiss Confederation's lands with a lust I would describe as "sinful" in polite company and "YOU WANT TO GO, MATE? I'LL &#%* FIGHT YOU" for anyone with a spine.


In 1466, it really was this bad! It subsided a bit afterwards.

Next time: "Stop doing that thing where you infringe upon Habsburg majesty!"
 

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Allying the two major European powers can be beneficial but they will ultimately be your biggest rivals. The Omega is taking its sweet time which is only good news for you. Consolidating in Europe will be the key. Will colonizing be on your agenda?
 

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Let's see, where this goes.
 

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Interesting for sure. I'll support the Omega in their World Conquest ! :p
 

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Allying the two major European powers can be beneficial but they will ultimately be your biggest rivals. The Omega is taking its sweet time which is only good news for you. Consolidating in Europe will be the key. Will colonizing be on your agenda?
I plan to grab stuff in Indonesia and the Pacific if I can get to it, but the Omega gets free colonists and explorers. Once they get access to the sea, they'll probably start colonizing that area and making protectorates en masse. This may have the effect of weakening Western European nations, whom I think at least will be able to pull on the resources of the Americas through trade and tariffs.

Let's see, where this goes.
Things are shaping up to be challenging enough at home, although I probably won't have to fight the Omega in Italy itself unless I have exceptionally bad luck with Omegan drones.

Interesting for sure. I'll support the Omega in their World Conquest ! :p
Just keep in mind that if they expand too much, Egypt is going to get axe'd... although I do plan to grab the Egypt's Suez Canal provinces at the very minimum, and the Nile Delta if I can get my hands on it.
 

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I don't care, it's Mamluks and Mamluks aren't true Egypt :p

It sure will be an interesting ride until we meet the Omegans in Europe
 

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I don't care, it's Mamluks and Mamluks aren't true Egypt :p

It sure will be an interesting ride until we meet the Omegans in Europe
Do you hear that? It's the sound of a horde of Kipchaks coming to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

Episode 3: The Imperial Excursion

Today we'll be continuing our look at the meteoric rise of the League of Mayapan into one of the strongest states in the Western Hemisphere (or the Mayan hemisphere, as their politicans are want to call it). Our focus will be on the growth of the Xiu chiefdom's dominance in the mid-15th century-


One of the Xiu chiefdom's first real opponents after their adoption of new expansionist policies was the Zapotec civilization to their west.

What do you mean this isn't a Xiu AAR? Prior obligations? Screw you, I'll write about whatever I want! Now for some educational content.

Bored? Aristocratic? Twitter is an excellent way to connect with your citizens and impress upon them the value of loyalty and obedience to the crown. Many dukes and kings use Twitter to publicize their royal proclamations, from the Portuguese in the farthest West, to even the heathen Turks in the east (may Christendom free Anatolia from their grasp). Here's an example:

Ludovico, as his friends called him, had over 100,000 followers on Twitter at the peak of his powers as a monarch.

Okay, that got really boring really fast. We now return to your normally scheduled program. Spoiler: Louis dies and is replaced with his less competent son. All is as the lords of Europa would want.


God wills that the Duchy of Savoy be ruled by a fool. If I remember correctly, Amedeo is 2/3/0, which isn't great, but it could be far worse.

Things are fairly normal. Austrian and French lust for Savoyard territory waxes and wanes, and both countries experience extended periods of wanting Savoyard help in their own wars. In 1467, France offers another war with Burgundy. Not a bad way to keep the coalition weak! In a move that probably stuns everyone, I'm not going to offer any real assistance.


France won't even need moral support once they unlock "Elan!".

At the end of the last episode, I suddenly had enough diplomatic fiat to start securing votes for the prestigious position of Holy Roman Empire, or so I tell everyone. I started improving relations with Saxony, who seemed particularly interested - the secular prince-electors seem more interested in Savoyard power than the allegedly "spiritual" bishop electors.


That is a REALLY nice mission reward.

In this episode's gameplay, I then get a mission to make Brandenburg vote for us, and notice that Bohemia has a chance at the electorate, but so do I! If the Emperor is nice and drops dead, it could push the balance of power pretty nicely in my favor...


What, did Salzburg crawl up Austria's nose and die? ...I think I see their flag in the list of princes.


And in 1470, my truce with Milan expires; I decide to immediately declare a war with them before they can join the coalition.


Savoy is expanding in order to ensure the continual expansion of Savoy... right?
In that, it succeeds, but then the enemy alliance sends a stack to Cuneo that I need Switzerland's troops to deal with... it takes a bit of AI poking in order to get them to actually help me ("Attach to this unit", supportive AI). Cursed Hungarians. In the interest of allowing my aggression expansion to wane further, I decide to humiliate Milan instead of taking territory, and quickly use the extra monarch power from going over 50 power projection to gain more diplomatic relations.


"Ha ha! Did you REALLY think we were going to take your territory when doing so wasn't necessary to make you look like a bunch of schlubs?" "...my troops hurt."


While Milan is getting smooshed, I take the opportunity to "help" Brandenburg and Austria crushing Poland in a minor dispute over the succession of Brunswick.


Savoy on Brunswick: "Who cares?" This war did little beyond undoing many of Poland's Hungarian gains.

A significant problem - this sort of thing makes Austria look good, and my dreams of quickly seizing the title of Holy Roman Emperor are dashed by Austrian diplomatic reputation thusly recovering. I want to continue building my powerbase in the conventional (conquest-driven) way, but I need more diplomatic reputation to get France's assistance against the coalition of Genoa's buddies.

INTERLUDE: The Omega in 1475

By 1475, it's become apparent the Omega is having prioritization issues, as they are giving all the spoils of the Somali coast to Mehdi Bahri instead of reaping them for themselves. I've decided that if they don't have any coastline by 1500, Mehdi Bahri is getting forcibly integrated into their territory. That should do the trick nicely.


I think they managed to devour Alodia, but the continued existence of Kaffa is problematic.

New plan: Wait for 400 diplomatic power to unlock my next idea or the decay of the anti-Savoyard coalition, and hope the political situation doesn't change. Signs of France's eventual treachery appear as they ask for 10% of my trade power. I'm sure I don't need to explain why giving Frenchmen what they want is a bad idea. As I wait, a significant war breaks out a bit deeper on the Italian peninsula; Tuscany is expanding and conslidating just like myself. They would make a fine vassal to later absorb into the Savoyard state.

In 1476, Genoa leaves the coalition that was protecting them. I forgot to get a screenshot because I'm great. Rule #1 of having a Savoyard neighbor: You NEVER leave the anti-Savoyard coalition. Those who disobey turn into Savoyards. While France is still unwilling to help us out, I think we can handle everyone else.


We'll see what we can do against Lithuania... aren't they supposed to answer to the Poles?

Surprisingly, our alliance has more troops than theirs, although odds are Lithuania will soon put a terrible end to that, and the Grand Duke immediately attempts to dismember some Czechs (sorry, Athalcor) with a slightly larger army, a markedly better general, worse tactics, and a big terrain penalty.


Technically a victory.

He wins, if barely, and Venice decides they want in on what is sure to be some great pillaging. They are about to get Bohemia'd, as I rush down from the Alps, unlocking Military Tech 7 while I charge.


Don't slip in the Alps. You'll fall for hours.

What are logistics? What is organization? How do my troops figure it out? Maybe for once in this universe, someone learns something. Venice's troops are somewhat demoralized, too. I saw them fighting some peasant rabble.

Days after my technological research, the Reichsreform goes through. If I'd known... Austria probably knew. The AI will do everything to waste your monarch points 5-10 points at a time. In return, they burn their own in unneeded forced marches or similar.

Everyone disembarks for Mantua for the decisive battle (Venice immediately cut and ran, before you ask). While I manage to win this, it still comes at immense cost to my army, and big manpower losses are the last thing I need earlygame. I need to find a way to get Lithuania out of the war... or do I?


You see, France's willingness to help us with wars has been vacillating very close to the point of yes for some time, and for some reason, my trust and/or diplomatic reputation has pushed them over the brink, so once I notice their provisional willingness, I ask them for their help.

The war turns trivial, and I take Liguria easily. Genoa will no longer be allowed on the Italian peninsula, to put it bluntly. Already I miss the extra goods production, although the Genoese subsidize me a little by creating a trading post in Corsica. I take the opportunity to pick up Defensive Ideas; I am 14 years ahead of time in military technology and probably can get away with it. I pick up my extra 2 diplomatic reputation as well. This has to be good for something. It's not long until I unlock the first defensive idea, and the decent, if not particularly amazing second Savoyard idea.

I also get a random 'traveling minstrel' - is this part of the famous Savoyard Brigand Band?


Never mind. The Savoyard Brigand Band is clean shaven (by the standards of the 15th century). They say it helps them pick up groupies.

Let the record state that France is a great ally... and... they've picked up quite a few enemies who want to see them drop dead!


Realistic.

While I meditate upon this, I take the time to core Liguria and drop my war exhaustion a little. Unless I can put together a nice nest egg, we won't be warring for a while, but keeping the coalitions under control is a good thing to do, so whatever. Some problems arise for the future - Tuscany is allied with France, and Milan is at truce with my allies until 1485 or so. For the record, it's 1481. I kind of want to join the anti-French coalition and backstab them, but I don't feel like I'm strong enough to overpower the web of alliances slowing access to Italy just yet...

Next time: "Maybe I should've played as Tuscany."
 

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Well, the Czechs can handle some brawl. At least they are realistic in their HRE voting preferences.
 

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If France and Austria go to war, who would you support? Waiting for aggressive expansion to lower is definitely boring but at least you can keep a close eye on Omega progress.
 

InvisibleSandwi

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Well, the Czechs can handle some brawl. At least they are realistic in their HRE voting preferences.
Every elector for themselves, I guess. The Czechs participate in another one of my wars in the coming episode.

If France and Austria go to war, who would you support? Waiting for aggressive expansion to lower is definitely boring but at least you can keep a close eye on Omega progress.
Definitely France, at least for now. They never seem to become the emperor of the HRE without player intervention, but if I lose the patronage of Austria, I can still expand successfully within the empire without necessarily having to worry about unlawful territory, and they haven't actually been helping me with offensive wars anyways. This will probably change when Italy is more mature, or if I become the emperor, in which case the emphasis will be more on containing France instead of letting them run rampant.
 

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Episode 4: Tipping Point (And Tyler Too)

So far, I've prepared for the coming of the Omega by taking centers of trade, impoverishing the entire region in a bid for Savoyard power. In the interest of further continuing my expansion, we're going to have to try taking other provinces.

With the political situation as it is, other provinces means Parma. This will further open up a path to Italy, although the Franco-Tuscan alliance still concerns me.


They're also not happy about me working to dominate Italy, but then again, they lack ambition and are fools.

I have an idea on how to handle it, though... You see, Tuscany is allied with Mantua, who is one of the many countries on the Savoyard buffet. If Tuscany honors that alliance, I will reward their loyalty to their ally by forcing them to annul treaties with France... who might not like it, but I'm sure France would rather have their buffer state than risk us falling into the orbit of Austria.

Meanwhile, Milan is more diplomatically isolated than usual, but we still have a truce for them for a little while. Fast forward to July, 1482!


The Savoyard people, on the other hand, have to live through the period in question.

During this time, Amedeo IX allegedly eats a plate of rice. The rice could not be reached for comment due to an obscure anti-necromancy law that we have been so far unable to strike from the books.

Needless to say, Milan is still a little short on allies and troops, although they have a surprisingly good general.


"Save us, Garibaldi!" "I can't! The timeline has already diverged too much!"

Still, by abusing my Swiss march and allies, they go down quickly, and I sign a rather humiliating (if not specifically humiliating) peace treaty with them. You might guess that this isn't a timeline where they become a major naval power.

Hey, we forgot to take their crown jewels! Oh well, they'll probably have to sell them to us to pay for the rest of their reparations.


Some of the money I laundered from Milan goes to building more trade ships, although I'm eventually going to have to start sending merchants to currently distant nodes like Alexandria and Constantinople in order to secure more funding.

I unlock the 6th (!) influence idea, which will come in handy for forcing electors to like me. This time, it's Cologne's turn. I also unlock Military Drill (defensive idea #2), in the hopes that extra morale for my armies will come in handy. Hint: It usually does.


Not quite elan... for want of a Nale.

Austria is using their imperial privilege to expand deep into Bavaria, and they seem to be getting away with it. I wish I could brush away such things in such a fashion!


As my attempts to quickly coup the imperial titles in the last two episodes suggests, the Habsburgs can get away with a whole lot of things.

At the end of 1486, the truce with Mantua expires, but I forgot to fabricate a claim. Whoops! If this AAR's investors ask, please tell them I wanted to rejuvenate more manpower, although I'm not sure they'll actually believe it.


Despite the names, the manliest Italian minor is probably Urbino.

After I finish fabricating the claim (luckily dodging a further aggressive expansion penalty), France promptly joins in on my side, which reduces the amount of nonsense I need to hoist upon Tuscan diplomats; I'm still forcefully annulling their treaties. The war begins simply enough, with me hoping to force a knockout blow against Mantuan soldiers before they can coalesce with their allies. Do I get that?


Nope.

Amadeo, as a man of few real talents beyond happening to be surrounded by Savoy's best and brightest, runs away before the Savoyard army takes serious casualties.


Artillery is expensive, although I'm probably going to start accumulating some in the next play session.

Looks like I'm going to have France do the legwork again. The Tuscans take pity on me and "donate" some of their spare trade ships. Meanwhile, as suspected, the French army crashes into the Tuscan-Mantuan one and wrecks it. I delegate the actual sieges to my allies since they're so happy about it, while special attention goes to Modena, which I have special plans for. They get a hint of that when I liberate them from the Tuscan yoke. Because they only have 5 base tax, I can actually diplovassalize them sooner or later.


I don't always try to empty my enemies' treasuries during wars, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.

Mantua, on the other hand, is getting annexed, but I'm probably going to have to wait for five years to pass in game before I can do so, since operations in their allies territories are either slow, or... I wanted to say disastrous, since Mantua and friends spent most of their time smooshing Bohemia (who promptly got knocked out of the war) until the Palatinate decided to tear Brandenburg to shreds for some reason. So many stories in the rest of Europe that aren't quite relevant to us... yet.

Aragon decides they want Corsica for their own, and with the further decay of Genoa's Italian trade efforts, it's getting harder to rationally oppose this. Genoa will probably be Sunni within 50-100 years, unless Muscovy can keep up its performance and break into the Crimea. It could happen!


I'm surprised Theodoro has been allowed to exist this long.

So I'm twiddling my thumbs and waiting for warscore when I notice that the (admittedly ailing) Mamluks aren't quite the right color...


Uh oh.

Looks like I won't have to feed the Omega a coastline! Omegan drones are the absolute bane of any country that seeks to fight the Omega while collapsing. If there's one thing the Mamluks are known for, it's getting thoroughly broken and occasionally overrun with rebels. The continued existence of Mehdi Bahri is still somewhat problematic, though... but needless to say, the Ottomans won't be advancing further into Egypt this game.

And then, the sort of event that changes entire strategies (because the immense toughening of Egypt apparently doesn't count in insane InvisibleSandwich moon logic land) - I either have to anger the papacy (my rightful subject as the heir to Italy, before you ask) or fight off a massive stack of nobles... can you blame me when I decide to take out my frustrations on papal relations? I'm kind of lazy about using the Catholic bonuses at the best of times.


At this rate, I'll probably go Protestant! You never know.

It turns out I have to wait the entire 5 years to annex Mantua, because France can't siege down Crimean land quickly enough. As a rich province, it'll take a while to core, but it'll certainly come in handy. Good thing I got in before they decided to take aristocratic ideas Meanwhile, just as suspected, Modena quickly comes into our orbit (they accept vassalization), and Ferrara will probably do similar when they get over my entirely reasonable self strengthening measures. They have to know that the Omega is upon us by now!

I finish up the influence ideas, unlock slightly cheaper mercenaries through the Savoyard idea chain, and decide that's enough for the session. After all, it's not like the Omega has any influence outside of Europa Universalis IV, right?


A point of strategy: The Omega is in a potentially awkward naval position. While they will presumably colonize down the African coasts to some degree, they will still have to send ships built in the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, and since the Suez canal isn't available for a few centuries yet, that will take time. Furthermore, while the Omega can build an absolutely gigantic navy, it does not gain a naval bonus that really corresponds to the soon-to-be-infamous "futuristic weaponry". If I can keep control over the Mediterranean, at least relative to them, I might not have to deal with their armies much, at least not until I inevitably have to attempt an amphibious invasion of their territory.

Next time: Milan probably submits.

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