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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

naggy

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Note: Completed as of November 18th.

Introduction:
So, on a lark, I decided to try the impossible - play as a French minor with lucky nations on and survive.

I drafted a set of goals:
1.) Dominate trade to get money.
2.) Break the vassalage from France without getting killed instantly.
3.) Ally with France and use her shamelessly.
4.) Become Holy Roman Emperor
5.) Destroy and annex France.
6.) Form France.

A nice ambitious set of goals, I think.

Notes:
Difficulty/Aggressiveness: Normal/Normal
Version: IN 3.1
Mods: Nerf Ethiopia
House rules:
* Save/reload only allowed when some extraneous issue causes things to go awry. Examples: get up to deal with baby, and leave clock running during war with France (whoopsie!).
* No declaring war on faraway places just to get war taxes.

Format:
I want to try a mix of things.
* I will write some posts in character, as the idea of taking a French duke other than Burgandy and trying to take the crown of France is probably rare.
* Some posts will be an explanation of how I did things, especially if I abused the games rules. :cool:
* Some posts will be crazy. Be forewarned.
* I'm notoriously bad about forgetting to take screenshots, especially of battles. This is ironic, since I'm a Software Tester by day, which requires me to constantly take screenshots (I remember to do it then, I swear!). I also have a (currently) 25 day old baby. Do not be surprised if the king wakes up to find out he's won a war, because I forgot to take screenshots of all the battles.

Table of Contents

Prologue - The Hundred Years War
Chapter 1: The Period
Chapter 2: The First Year
Chapter 3: Keep your friends close...
Chapter 4: I ain't done wit' you yet, boy!
Chapter 5: Interlude in 3 province minor
Chapter 6: England defeats France
Chapter 7: Whisky for my men, beer for my horses
Chapter 8: Rome (if you want to)...
Chapter 9: Showdown with France
Chapter 10: During the war with France

Intermission #1

Chapter 11: Eroding the King's Authority
Chapter 12: Kick 'em while they're down
Chapter 13: England throws down the gauntlet
Chapter 14: Prettier borders and expansion into Italy
Chapter 15: The calm before the storm
Chapter 16: One step closer

Intermission #2
Vote on the conduct of the next war!

Chapter 17: It's not paranoia when they really are out to get you...
Chapter 18: Opening moves
Chapter 19: Persecution complex...
Chapter 20: The Aragonese and Breton fronts
Chapter 21: The Dutch and Italian fronts
Chapter 22: Back and Forth
Chapter 23: Peace. Kinda.
Chapter 24: Bohemian Rhapsody
Chapter 25: The Empire meets its match
Chapter 26: Pole vaulting
Chapter 27: Consolidation

Intermission #3

Chapter 28: The Provencal Conquest
Chapter 29: The Occupation of the British Isles
Chapter 30: War of Lithuanian Succession
Chapter 31: A Holland-sized snack
Chapter 32: Another two-front war
Chapter 33: Footholds in Britain and the Baltic

Intermission #4

Chapter 34:Religious Civil Disorder
Chapter 35: To be the man, you have to beat the man
Conclusion: France in 1517
 
Last edited:

naggy

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Prologue: The Hundred Years War

In 1066, the futures of France and England were forever intertwined, when William of Normandy defeated and deposed King Harold II, making himself the King of England. This created a situation where the King of England owned fiefs that nominally were under the King of France - leaving the King of France the titular master of large swaths of France that he did not have control over.

The kings of France did not stand for this, and set about retaking land from the English: first with the conquest of Normandy (1214), then the Saintonge War (1242) and finally the War of Saint-Sardos (1324). This left England's holdings in France limited to Gascony and Calais.

Between dynastic turmoil in France and anger in England over the loss of rich French lands, the stage was set for the Hundred Years War.

The war started out with great advantages for France - richer lands, more knights, even a better navy by hiring Genoese ships. France set about systematically losing all their advantages: their fleet was completely destroyed at the Battle of Sluys, their knights and many nobles were slaughtered by Crecy, and finally King John II allowed himself to be captured at Poitiers in 1356. A bitter peace was finally signed in 1360, returning great swaths of land to England.

With the death of John II in 1364, the tides were turned. King Charles V immediately set about reclaiming lands lost in the first phase of the war. The English, led so well in the first phase, lost all their great generals in the second, due to capture, age, or illness. The war wound down in 1389 in a stalemate.

At this point, both England and France managed to fall into chaos. England had uprisings in Wales and Ireland, border conflicts with Scotland, and civil war. In France, Charles VI went mad, and the dukes of France chafed. The Duke Burgundy became all but independent, and the dukes of Orleans, Bourbon, Foix, Armagnac, and Provence started to move towards independence. Of all these players, only one could hold the throne of France.
 

naggy

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Chapter 1: The Period

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

On October 13, 1399, King Henry IV was crowned King of England, signaling that the peace between England and France was to be short lived.

Duke Louis II, Duke of Anjou, Calabria and Touraine, Count of Maine, like the other Dukes in France, knew well that the madness of Charles VI was a sign from God, that the House of Valois was no longer fit to rule France. The only question was...who would rule?

He knew he had the ability, but he did not yet have the means. His lands in Anjou and Provence provided him a steady, but small income, but not yet nearly enough to take on even a mad French king.

Duke Louis' Stats:


Provence and Anjou's stats:


Sliders:


The starting map:
 

naggy

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Chapter 2: The First Year

Duke Louis knew that time was short, and that his duchy could only survive by preparing now.

With news of the coronation of King Henry in hand, he immediately signed proclamations that would increase Free Trade and set about on a trading strategy that would bring him the wealth needed to further his aims.

He sunk 3 galleys from his navy, reasoning that anyone he'd be fighting any time soon would either greatly outclass whatever navy he could build, or not have a navy to fight. Either way, the galleys were an unnecessary expense.

His trading strategy was simple: send every merchant he could out to the trading centers of the world, starting with the richest and moving to the poorest.

The next day, a courier arrived from Paris, relaying a request from the King to allow his armies access through Provence. Louis agreed, knowing it would keep relations with the king high.


As the courier turned to leave, one of Louis' advisers, a priest from Anjou, relayed a vision from a local friar, that Louis should protect his brother Occitans in Languedoc, by invading the King's lands. The Priest and Louis laughed heartily at this nonsense, and instead chose to increase the size of the army to match Brittany's army.



France declared war on Brittany, and immediately smashed her army. Mission accomplished!


Next, Louis' advisers suggested that he increase the size of the navy. Having already laughed at God once, Louis chose to bide is time before choosing a more worthy goal.


On October 14th, 1400, the good Duke was awakened at the crack of dawn by his herald. "Sire, several dozen people have shown up unannounced, offering their services as advisor."

"You're kidding. All at once?"
"I'm not kidding. They claim that they'll all leave at sundown if you haven't hired them."

Louis went out to meet the potential advisers, on the assumption that he could always execute them if they were unworthy. As luck would have it, he found two decent trade ministers (2 stars), and an excellent Master of the Mint (6 stars), who would greatly help him bring wealth to his modest demense.


Explanations:
* + to Tax and Production is irrelevant if you have 2 provinces, but + to TE is extremely helpful early. The compete chance increase is also nice. Later, I'll have to move back to Mercantilism, though, if I start taking lots of CoT's.
* Whenever possible, try to get the best Master of the Mint that you can to start - this lets you delay getting National Bank.
* Since at the beginning you need trade money, Trade Efficiency advisers give you better compete chance and more money - at the beginning 4% TE is about 16% more trade income.
 

naggy

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Chapter 3: Keep your friends close...

Duke Louis was content bide a little time as his merchants went forth and brought riches to his treasury, but he knew that time was against him - every year the king of France was left unchallenged, the more his chances would slip away.

On June 20th, 1401, his chance appeared. A courier from the King of France arrived, requesting an alliance. Quickly, he sent a courier back to the King, announcing that he was breaking his vassalage - taking care to date it right before his next step - accepting France's alliance. As soon as the King's courier left to carry the acceptance of the alliance, he sent yet another courier to Lorraine with a declaration of war. Louis made sure that the King of France would have his hands tied before he could turn on his ex-vassal.

Alliance offer:


View of relations with France after alliance/devassalization:


Declare War on Lorraine:


War summary:


The war was uneventful for Provence, but eventful otherwise. On November 26th, Burgundy's king died, causing them to become the lesser partner of a Personal Union with Friesland.


At one point, it appeared if France's army decided to help Lorraine assault their own fort. Those wacky French!


Bohemia (the emperor) couldn't decide whether to fight with or against Burgundy...so she did both!


During the war, Provence's army snuck up and took Nevers, while France was busy taking everything else. On September 18th, 1402, Burgundy wisely chose to cede Nevers to Provence before France could demand even more.


On October 30th, Louis passed away, leaving his son Charles III a perilous strategy. Luckily, Charles looks to be up to the task.


Wisely, Charles followed Louis' strategy of letting France do all the work, and on April 26th, 1405, Charles accepted Lorraine's vassalage.


On August 13th, Charles decided to end the war with Bohemia, since France was unlikely to walk that far, and Bohemia didn't have any money to ask for.


Explanations:
* As long as you declare the war, you're the leader.
* As long as you're at war, a country cannot cancel an alliance. Thus, this bought me 4 years where France couldn't possibly declare war on me, and I was getting more and more merchants sent out.

Situation on 8/13/1405
Trade: 5 in Lubeck, 5 in Antwerpen, 1 in Ile de France, 1 in Venice
Provinces (3): Provence, Anjou, Nevers
Vassals (1): Lorraine
Money: 90 ducats
Stability: 0
Prestige: -32 (ow!)
 

Didaa

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Well, I don't think that France is going to break their alliance just to attack you o_O
 

naggy

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Didaa said:
Well, I don't think that France is going to break their alliance just to attack you o_O
Having run a couple of test games as Armagnac and Provence...

Yes, yes they will. You're sitting on their cores, so they'll break alliances, guarantee you, then crush you. The only question is what order they go after everyone sitting on their cores.
 

naggy

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Chapter 4: I ain't done wit' you yet, boy!

Duke Charles walked out of a meeting with a Parisian courtier in a thoughtful mood. The French court was furious with Charles for his father's policy of involving France in a war, and essentially claiming all the spoils while France did all the work.

Knowing that he was a future enemy of the King, he decided that the best course of action would be to declare war again, keeping France busy elsewhere. Genoa was an obvious choice: she was allied with Switzerland, and Saxony would intervene as the Holy Roman Emperor. Not too hard for France, but hard enough to keep her busy for a bit.

On the very day peace with Bohemia was signed, he declared war on Genoa. The French honored their alliance grudgingly, and Louis smiled to himself.


Switzerland fell quickly on June 7th, and became Duke Charles' second vassal.


During the war, Charles was finally able to convince his advisers that building a fleet was stupid at this point. Instead, the council decided that the wisest course of action would be to become Holy Roman Emperor to have any chance to match France's army. The first step: Make Cologne vote for us.


On May 4th, 1407, Saxony fell to the French, and Louis vassalized them before France could annex them. The Electors refused to allow Saxony to lead the empire, and elected Rupert III of the Palatinate as their next Emperor. Duke Charles suspected that Rupert must have angered someone...



On July 9th, Genoa fell. Having no way to beat the Genoese fleet to invade Corsica, much less Kaffa and Azow, Duke Charles decided to force Genoa to release Corsica as a free nation.


Duke Charles and his council studied the map for days, trying to decide who to declare war on to keep the French busy. On July 23rd, the French signaled that they were tired of being used in Louis' conquests, and broke their alliance. Charles knew that he now had the bull by the horns, but he also knew what happened to those fools in Iberia that chose to run with bulls.


Explanations:
* As a general rule, the AI usually does not instantly respond to things (advisers being an obvious exception). However, to ensure that the AI cannot react to stuff, be prepared to instantly demand peace when your ally occupies provinces.
* As far as I can tell, AI aggressiveness considers the following things in order: cores, missions, defined AI targets in the scenario, and opportunity. Thus, if you don't want someone declaring war, make sure you don't have any of their cores, they don't have a mission to attack you, you're not a defined target, and that your army is big enough to keep them from thinking you're a pushover. If you have their cores or they have a mission to come after you, it's not a question if - they will eventually declare war on you. Always know who has what cores, and keep an eye out for what missions people have. In this case, all of Provence's provinces are French cores...but then so is Rousillon (Aragon), and much of Burgundy.
* The tactic of getting your allies to fight for you carries one drawback: had France not honored my alliance, she probably would have declared war on me. Owie!
 
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naggy said:
On October 14th, 1400, the good Duke was awakened at the crack of dawn by his herald. "Sire, several dozen people have shown up unannounced, offering their services as advisor."

"You're kidding. All at once?"
"I'm not kidding. They claim that they'll all leave at sundown if you haven't hired them."

Louis went out to meet the potential advisers, on the assumption that he could always execute them if they were unworthy. As luck would have it, he found two decent trade ministers (2 stars), and an excellent Master of the Mint (6 stars), who would greatly help him bring wealth to his modest demense.
:rofl:
 

unmerged(58610)

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With the war exhaustion you've built up for the French, they'll have revolts to dea lwithover the coming years and will have to deal with them instaed of you. That's what I guess your plan was.

Your other plan seems to be to become HRE and get the boosts that come from that, when France does eventually DoW Provence.

An interesting two-step.
 

naggy

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Chief Ragusa said:
With the war exhaustion you've built up for the French, they'll have revolts to dea lwithover the coming years and will have to deal with them instaed of you. That's what I guess your plan was.
I was surprised at how much war exhaustion France got. I seem to have lost the screenshot, but right before declaring peace, they had 17+ WE. My guess is that they got a little too happy with the Assault button.

Your other plan seems to be to become HRE and get the boosts that come from that, when France does eventually DoW Provence.

An interesting two-step.
Yeah, but HRE is a huge two-edged sword, especially since Riga still lives. I just have to hope I don't get drawn into several wars and then attacked by France.
 

naggy

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Chapter 5: Interlude in 3 province minor

With France recovering from a decade of hard-fought war, and Provence still not completely ready to take advantage of it, Charles chose to play a waiting game - building up his duchy's economy and stability.

In January 1410, he finally completely embraced free trade. In July, he finalized an alliance with his vassal Saxony. In August, word reached him that the Republic of Switzerland had fallen to noble rebels and become a duchy. Unfortunately for Switzerland, this would not be the last they would see of noble rebels.

In September, spies brought back news of the relative army sizes of some countries - specifically, that England had roughly double the army of France. Charles knew that it was merely a matter of time before England acted to take advantage of France's weakness, although it baffled him that England was foolish enough to wait.


On September 2nd, 1411, the Archbishop of Cologne was finally convinced that Duke Charles was the obvious choice of God's will to defeat the King of France.


Next, the council decided to convince the Palatinate.


In 1412, it became clear that important things happen in September. In this case, Genoa foolishly declared war on Corsica, despite Corsica being allied to Provence and Sicily, and despite being warned by the Golden Horde. Provence became the leader of the war due to Duke Charles' huge army of 4702 men.


A week later, some Savoyard dissidents begged the nobles and duke to support their attempts to overthrow the Duke of Savoy. While the Duke did not really wish to waste money on a doomed enterprise, it seemed a better choice than deal with the instability of whining nobles.


About the same time, reports came in from the north: rebels had taken the French province of Dauphine!


Unfortunately, the rebels were brutally quashed. But a year later, after 3 years of tea, crumpets, and cricket, the English finally bothered to declare war on France, hoping to take advantage of a 60% larger army and naval superiority.




Would England crush the mad king of France? Would the French crush England? Would Ethiopia crush them both?

Find out next time...
 
Last edited:

naggy

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Chapter 6: England defeats France!

In November 1413, France was on the ropes. In the years since her last war, she struggled to overcome instability and war exhaustion, and to rebuild her armies (0 stab, . Obviously, she would have a tough time with England.


In December 1414, word reached Duke Charles that perhaps England was going to have a wee bit of trouble...



While watching the war from the sidelines, the Duke of Corsica died in October 1415, leaving his throne to Duke Charles in acknowledgment for his help in freeing his country from Genoese aggression.


In February 1416, Genoa finally accepted Charles' demands to be his vassal. The war had been simple: Genoa had no army in Genoa, so Louis easily took it in a siege. The Golden Horde wiped out their armies in Azow and Kaffa, and then settled for a white peace. Normally, the Genoese Navy would have stopped Louis' 2 cogs, but instead of actually moving to block Charles from landing troops, they sat outside their former home port of Genoa as Provence's cogs sailed past. Azow and Kaffa fell easily. A month later, they allied with Provence.



In December 1417, Charles decided to press his claim upon the Duchy of Bourbon, being related as a 3rd cousin, 12 times removed.


In May 1418, the Palatinate saw the light, and switched their Imperial vote to Duke Charles in return for his cutest daughter.


The council met and made their demands to Charles: it was time to save the Occitans in Dauphine!


And finally...all Charles' work had come to fruition, as the electors of the Holy Roman Empire chose him to be the next Holy Roman Emperor!


Emperor Charles was ready to put his trading wealth (5 merchants in 8 CoTs) to use, recruiting as much cavalry as he could afford. Every male within 50 miles of Aix-en-Provence that didn't look busy found themselves in Louis' new army...

Explanations:
* The war with Genoa was pretty easy, considering Genoa still hadn't replaced their army from their last loss.
* England lost to France for one simple reason: Military Drill. Then they posted on the EU III General Discussion board asking why France cheats in war. :rofl: Had England attacked in 1415 or so, she might have won.
 
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